You know what? $%&@ being politic. I put a great deal of consideration into how I should write this and what I should or shouldn't say. In the end though, this is my blog, so I'll express my opinion. If you don't like it, feel free to let the door hit you on the way out. I'll even give it a little shove to help you along. No sense in not being neighborly.
In Christianity, the creation myth states that God spoke and the world came into existence. Now, if it's true that mankind was created in His image, I've got a pretty good inkling of what it was he first said. Something along the lines of "You know, things were much better back when I started this sentence." The world has pretty much gone downhill from there, or so everyone would have us believe. My entire stay in the game has been plagued by cries of stagnation and longing for times past. Of course, the present keeps moving backwards, which creates the interesting effect of people longing for periods that they had previously complained about incessantly.
Now, this isn't to say that some of the issues people bring up aren't valid. I just think it's necessary to put things in a historical perspective. Even if all the wrongs people go off on these days are redressed, we're never going to live in a world where everyone joins hands and sings Kumbaya. Someone will wind up pointing out that NPO's palm is sweaty or that IRON is singing off key and the complaints will stat all over and people will go back to wishing for days that were hated when they were here.
While this means that there will always be issues, it doesn't necessarily mean that there are no real issues or that none of them need addressing. There are numerous intelligent people on both ends of the spectrum. I'm even proud to call a number of them from both extremes my friends. These aren't idiots nor are they asshats. The major disconnect lies in the manner in which this issue, status quo versus, well, not the status quo, is handled. Almost inevitably, members of each camps come out gunning for the other side at every opportunity and deliver so many strawman arguments that I'd be surprised to find a crow that hadn't died of fright within a 50 mile radius of the server.
This has a lot to do with the current atmosphere of the game, although not for quite the reasons most people believe or claim. To the casual observer, the current politics of the game seems to be strangled by the gigantic amorphous mass of wood pulp upon which are printed so many treaties that this hypothetical player will wind up questioning the sanity of the other players before making a dent in understanding the web. Notice how I said "seems" in that sentence. The politics of the game haven't actually been strangled by the mess of a web but there have been some significant side-effects of it.
In days of old, there were a mere handful of significant alliances and they were all lined up on their chosen sides. Everyone knew who was on which side and there was very little in the way of attempts to sway parties to or against each side. At least, not to the degree we have now. For the most part, everything was perfectly fine out in the open. This meant that the entire game had a front row seat to the twists and turns of the political drama that was CN.
As alliances grew and kept building allies, however, two things started to happen. There were a lot more people that happened to be uninvolved in whatever power struggle was going on in any direct way, and many of your friends might also be allied to your enemy. This lead to a far more privatized level of political maneuvering. Being overt about who your enemies were suddenly went from commonplace, to a move that risked alienating potential new allies or driving other alliances to befriend your enemies. This means that alliances have to work to isloate their enemies politically as much as possible behind closed doors before letting on that they are going after them.
The ultimate result of this is a player base that has no idea what is going on until something actually happens, and even then doesn't really know why. The more experienced players can take what they know and outline basic patterns the game will follow, but unconnected players spend most of their time in the relative darkness. Leadership are really connected enough to know what's going on at any given moment outside of a fewer players. This leas to the perception during long stretches that nothing is happening. The average player has suddenly lost the ability to live vicariously through the actions of other players and this makes the game seem far more stagnant and boring than it actually is.
A direct result of this? More people flock to leadership roles in order to try to have fun and, when they can't get it in an established alliance, start their own. It's a sort of hilariously vicious cycle. The more drama that plays out in private, the more annoyed the general membership gets. The more annoyed they get, the more alliances spring up. These random new alliances serve no purpose except to annoy the older established leaders. Ok, that's not really a cycle, but it does wind up with everyone being ticked off.
Unfortunately, the other symptom of this privatized drama is that most of the people who comment on issues publicly literally have no idea what they are talking about. This means that the uninformed receive no education except unfounded speculation while the even mildly knowledgeable learn to ignore pretty much everything anyone says on the public boards. That means that when someone that actually does know what they're talking about finally does say something worth listening to, people are either too ignorant to listen or too used to lumping all public discourse into the realm of ignorance.
Ultimately, this leads to the severely derogatory tone that pervades the forums as each side in a debate, generally, except in rare cases, through common ignorance of whatever it is they're arguing about, proceeds to trash the other side rather than actually address the issues with the community itself. There is a general tendency among people to be dicks to those who they perceive as weaker than they are. I'm not talking about NPO government here. either. The worst offenders tend to be alliances that are only powerful by proxy, or low ranking government members, if government at all, who can't wield authority over anyone else. If this community wants to survive, it needs to seriously dial back its tolerance for the random stupidity that goes on here. The politics aren't what is choking the life from the game. It's the people.