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Why Nothing Will Ever Change

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BamaBuc

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This is an essay I wrote about the political system of CN and the nature of hegemonies. It's an OOC essay, and I tried to write it independent of my IC beliefs. Indeed, the final conclusion of the essay is somewhat opposed to my IC stance.

Why Nothing Will Ever Change

When the Karma War hit, a lot of people talked about change. Change in how the alliances at the top act. Change in how polarity works. Change in this, change in that, and so on ad nauseum. And many things did change. The alliances on top changed. Community tolerance for EZI undeniably and irrevocably ended. And, for a time, there was no hegemonic power sphere. These changes, however, were superficial. The way CN works has not changed and probably never will. In this blog entry I will endeavor to explain why.

The first big change that people talked about during the Karma War was a change in the attitude of the alliances on top of the game. After all, the Karma War was partly about the previous hegemony's enemies finally getting vengeance for various wrongs. People were fed up with the way this group of alliances treated those who it viewed as enemies and threats. For a time, it seemed that the previous hegemony's attitudes would not be seen again. However, this was simply because no one alliance or group of alliances had the power to impose their will without fear of repurcussions. The world was in a polypolar state (I dislike the term multipolar because it can refer either to a state of two poles or of many poles, which are very different). Not until the TPF war did the various poles coalesce into two. With the destruction of one of them in the BiPolar War, the world became unipolar. Now, after the necessary months of rebuilding have passed, we once again see a single group acting with near impunity. Before the comment section degenerates into a listing of individual wrongs of the previous hegemony that the new has not matched, let me clarify: I'm not here to debate who is more evil than who. What I am here to say is that all hegemonic groups have the same fundamental attitude: all threats and enemies must be crushed. This is how humans behave when they are given the power to act with near impunity. This has not changed since 2009, and it will never change because when humans get power we tend to do what is necessary to keep it. In lawless environments like CN, those with hegemonic power are free to exercise it as they wish with no intervention from any higher authority, so long as they do not break the game rules. As a result, any group with global hegemony can do anything they want to those they see as external enemies. When given such power, we humans tend to wield it. That includes NPO. They are still an alliance that plays to win, and should they gain global hegemony again, I am sure that they will go right back to trying to crush anyone they see as an enemy or a threat. Same goes for any other group that might gain global hegemony. The specific actions (EZI, tech reps, disbandment, viceroys, beer reviews, blah blah blah) don't matter. What matters is that anyone who gains global hegemony will attempt to use it to crush perceived enemies and threats.

The second hope that was often trumpeted in the Karma War was the concept of an "independent CN". In most previous times the vast majority of alliances had been lined up in an "us vs. them" paradigm where either two poles contested global power (bipolarity) or one pole destroyed perceived enemies before they could become major threats (unipolarity). This dream was of a polypolar world where alliances sought out their own independent groupings instead of aligning into one or two megafactions. Like the first dream, this one appeared, for a time, to be coming true. However, it was again a mirage. The polypolar state that existed until the TPF war was the inevitable result of the Karma War, in which the old world order was swept away by a huge coalition made up of many groups that didn't necessarily like each other. But it could not be permanent, and it only lasted as long as it did because the huge global enmity toward the concept of hegemony ensured that nobody was willing to seek to consolidate power and be seen as "the new Hegemony". However, the nature of a polypolar world is to eventually trend toward bipolarity should no one consolidate power. This happens because, at some point, one pole perceives another as a threat and seeks to unite with a third (who perhaps fears the consequences should the second pole gain power), then the second pole seeks the support of a fourth, and so on until just about everyone is lined up in a state of bipolarity. This is what happened in the TPF war. TOP and the remnants of the defunct hegemony lined up on one side, SF and C&G lined up on the other. Such incidents are an inevitability on Planet Bob, and eventually they will result in any polypolar state yielding to bipolarity.

Nothing has changed.

Nothing will ever change.

And that is a good thing.

Can you imagine a CN with a benevolent hegemony? One that never antagonizes anyone? Or can you imagine a CN where numerous independent groupings simply sit there and don't seek global power? Either of these fantasies would mean the death of the game. CN needs its hegemons and its freedom fighters. It needs its moralists and its antimoralists. Regardless of which role each of us plays, I hope we can all recognize that.

-Bama

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Solid entry. I think the main thing keeping us from having more than two poles is everyone's desire to be at war when someone else is. If poles 1 and 2 went to war while poles 3 and 4 sat on the sidelines, maybe offering diplomatic support or whatever, we could have more than two. Ultimately, there are two sides in every war here, and as long as everyone sees other people at war and goes, "ooo, I want to be at war too!", inevitably picking a side in the conflict, 1-2 poles is what we'll see.

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I think you make some excellent points, but I'm not certain that I agree with your conclusion.

Rather than clog up your replies -- and possibly derail the discussion -- by putting my thoughts down here, I think I'll write up something of my own and post it when my current blog entry drops off 'page one'.

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Good read. Thanks for writing this up. I'm not sure the fact that nothing will change is a good thing, as I'd love to see the polypolar world you described. Should MK and friends be peaceful? Hell no. But it'd be fun to see 3 or 4 groups or roughly the same size that legitimately hate one another enough to never be friends. Now that'd be an interesting game.

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The world is unipolar, but not in nearly as ridgid a sense as it was when NPO was at the top. The new predominant alliances did not methodically build up power the way NPO did, but rather inherrited the power vaccum that followed the Karma war. The way the world has shaped since then is largely due to how former hegemony alliances have re-introduced themselves to the world. Rivalries among the blocs like SF-CnG have not developed in large part because when NPO came out of terms, it deliberatly set itself up in a directly oppossing role to them with no real political basis besides being bitter about losing a war.

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That is complete nonsense, DictatatorDan. When the NPO came out of terms we kept our heads down and attempted to engage in diplomacy with anyone who would listen. It was the hegemonic alliances that used us as a boogeyman to scare the children back in line, and even banned former alliances that wanted to sign treaties with us from doing so.

This was pretty self-evident to anyone with eyes, leading me to write on it as early as May last year: http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?app=blog&module=display&section=blog&blogid=104&showentry=1712

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Can you imagine a CN with a benevolent hegemony? One that never antagonizes anyone? Or can you imagine a CN where numerous independent groupings simply sit there and don't seek global power? Either of these fantasies would mean the death of the game. CN needs its hegemons and its freedom fighters. It needs its moralists and its antimoralists. Regardless of which role each of us plays, I hope we can all recognize that.

The simple answer is yes.

After two years of the alliances which now comprise C&G and PB screaming bloody murder and that all the awful things NPO was doing were making the game boring and not worth playing, yes, in fact I did expect them to behave differently when their turn came.

Of course, that required me putting lots of faith into the cognitive abilities of what amounts to a lot of high school grease-machines being led by a bunch of college dormbodies. I know, how dumb was I?

So, here we are. The only things that upsets me are idiots like DictatorDan who have the gall to say that NPO has been antagonizing them, or that they are not acting the same way that past hegemonies have acted. Particularly nauseating are self-sucking threads and posts like Azaghul's which argue that they are saving the game. Like, seriously, shut the hell up and be a man about it if you are going to curbstomp people. Can I get an amen?

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Good read though honestly i would like to see a world where treaties didnt cause every war to turn in to a global one. People could have fun with out it chaining the world in. Im not a huge fan or Reps but i do believe they have a place in the game on a case by case basis. I know people still !@#$%* about this game but im still having a blast for the most part. Let there be war then rebuild and lets do it again.

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In order for there to be non-global large wars, you need a truly multipolar world. This is made difficult by people like Pandora's Box who, observing that there is a new pole developing, decide to force it to merge in with another existing pole and then complain when it doesn't coordinate well with the pole that they attacked earlier.

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While I might quibble about a few specifics (For instance I believe the tendancy to bipolarity is more a function of the treaty web plus game mechanics plus boredom), I agree with the overall picture you paint, and it's nice to see something written in a relatively objective tone.

I would say though, is that over time some things will change (as you mentioned, EZI no longer happens), but not human nature.

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Thanks to everyone who responded, I appreciate the feedback.

Solid entry. I think the main thing keeping us from having more than two poles is everyone's desire to be at war when someone else is. If poles 1 and 2 went to war while poles 3 and 4 sat on the sidelines, maybe offering diplomatic support or whatever, we could have more than two. Ultimately, there are two sides in every war here, and as long as everyone sees other people at war and goes, "ooo, I want to be at war too!", inevitably picking a side in the conflict, 1-2 poles is what we'll see.

Boredom is certainly part of it, but I think it has more to do with factions' desires to get the most favorable outcome out of a war. When two poles go to war (or start to look like they might go to war), other poles start to think along the lines of "which possible outcome of this war favors us the most?" Once they decide which outcome is most favorable, poles tend to throw their weight into ensuring that that outcome is what happens. There are exceptions in which poles don't see any gain in joining either side, like Duckroll in this war (Duckroll isn't actually a pole in my opinion, but the point stands), but in general, poles usually decide that the stakes are too high for them to sit out and hope for the best.

I think you make some excellent points, but I'm not certain that I agree with your conclusion.

Rather than clog up your replies -- and possibly derail the discussion -- by putting my thoughts down here, I think I'll write up something of my own and post it when my current blog entry drops off 'page one'.

Can't wait to read it. :)

Good points, Bama. Unlike Zog, I can agree with your conclusion. It would be boring if MK was more GPAish.

Yeah, I think it's fun having "bad guys", as long as somebody's opposing them. When you have a situation like in late 07/early 08, where there's no opposition to speak of, it's boring.

Good read. Thanks for writing this up. I'm not sure the fact that nothing will change is a good thing, as I'd love to see the polypolar world you described. Should MK and friends be peaceful? Hell no. But it'd be fun to see 3 or 4 groups or roughly the same size that legitimately hate one another enough to never be friends. Now that'd be an interesting game.

It would be, but I think poles will almost always hold their noses and support whichever side offers the outcome they prefer, even if they hate both sides. I think the only way a polypolar world can be sustained is if everyone basically leaves one another alone.

The world is unipolar, but not in nearly as ridgid a sense as it was when NPO was at the top. The new predominant alliances did not methodically build up power the way NPO did, but rather inherrited the power vaccum that followed the Karma war. The way the world has shaped since then is largely due to how former hegemony alliances have re-introduced themselves to the world. Rivalries among the blocs like SF-CnG have not developed in large part because when NPO came out of terms, it deliberatly set itself up in a directly oppossing role to them with no real political basis besides being bitter about losing a war.

Certainly it is not as centralized. Though I think NPO's direct control over the old hegemonic group is often overestimated... There were a lot of factions in the Hegemony, all with their own agendas. But no doubt, it was more centralized than the current hegemonic group. I also agree that having the Orders as a common enemy has helped the current power structure stay together. Though I'd argue that NPO didn't have a ton of choice as to who they signed with coming out of terms... Who else would have wanted to? They are still pariahs as far as much of the world is concerned.

That is complete nonsense, DictatatorDan. When the NPO came out of terms we kept our heads down and attempted to engage in diplomacy with anyone who would listen. It was the hegemonic alliances that used us as a boogeyman to scare the children back in line, and even banned former alliances that wanted to sign treaties with us from doing so.

This was pretty self-evident to anyone with eyes, leading me to write on it as early as May last year: http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?app=blog&module=display&section=blog&blogid=104&showentry=1712

Like I said to Dan, no doubt that having you as a common enemy has helped them avoid internal cracks. And I don't doubt that they wanted to keep you isolated.

The simple answer is yes.

After two years of the alliances which now comprise C&G and PB screaming bloody murder and that all the awful things NPO was doing were making the game boring and not worth playing, yes, in fact I did expect them to behave differently when their turn came.

Of course, that required me putting lots of faith into the cognitive abilities of what amounts to a lot of high school grease-machines being led by a bunch of college dormbodies. I know, how dumb was I?

So, here we are. The only things that upsets me are idiots like DictatorDan who have the gall to say that NPO has been antagonizing them, or that they are not acting the same way that past hegemonies have acted. Particularly nauseating are self-sucking threads and posts like Azaghul's which argue that they are saving the game. Like, seriously, shut the hell up and be a man about it if you are going to curbstomp people. Can I get an amen?

The thing is, having the power to do anything to almost anyone without repercussions intoxicates people. There are thankfully very, very few real-life situations where anyone has this kind of power, but when someone does get it (totalitarian dictators, for example), they almost always use it to crush all perceived enemies and threats. CN is an environment where the people on top, if they have a firm enough hold on power, can do anything at all to their external enemies without near-term consequences. For that reason I don't think we'll ever have a benevolent hegemon.

Good read though honestly i would like to see a world where treaties didnt cause every war to turn in to a global one. People could have fun with out it chaining the world in. Im not a huge fan or Reps but i do believe they have a place in the game on a case by case basis. I know people still !@#$%* about this game but im still having a blast for the most part. Let there be war then rebuild and lets do it again.

To be honest, I think the treaty web's importance is overrated. Everything is non-chaining now, for one thing. More importantly, alliances and groups of alliances tend to all go with a certain side or stay neutral together, regardless of treaties. There are exceptions, like SF right now. But in general, factions tend to support whichever side gives them the most favorable outcome, even if they have treaties on both sides. As for every war dragging the world in... It all depends on whether the poles are ready for an all-out world war. If no pole wants a world war, it will not happen, period. But if one or more poles want to fight, everyone will tend to line up on whichever side offers them the most favorable outcome.

In order for there to be non-global large wars, you need a truly multipolar world. This is made difficult by people like Pandora's Box who, observing that there is a new pole developing, decide to force it to merge in with another existing pole and then complain when it doesn't coordinate well with the pole that they attacked earlier.

This is indeed what happens in a unipolar state... The hegemonic pole seeks the destruction of threats, preferably before they can become too dangerous. Though it's not unique to the current power group... others have done it before and others will do it again.

While I might quibble about a few specifics (For instance I believe the tendancy to bipolarity is more a function of the treaty web plus game mechanics plus boredom), I agree with the overall picture you paint, and it's nice to see something written in a relatively objective tone.

I would say though, is that over time some things will change (as you mentioned, EZI no longer happens), but not human nature.

Boredom and treaties are definitely part of it. But I think the treaty web is kind of a scapegoat... As we've seen many times, people will "selectively honor" or completely ignore treaties in order to get the outcome they want. Very rarely does anyone enter a war without wanting to be there, either due to boredom or loyalty or wanting to keep their ally in the future.

-Bama

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