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Case Study: Ex-Moralists


Tevron

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Case Study: Ex-Moralists

 

And so we’re in what may be the final alliance sphere topic: Ex-moralists. Sometimes called Ex-AFM, or the old-beer-o-sphere minus XX. Ex-SF, etc. As you can see, the first and easiest criticism of the sphere is that they are not known as anything in particular, but rather are referred to as what they once were. In recent years, no one has referred to the “Chestnut” sphere or anything similar to that. How could this smattering of alliances be responsible for the political stagnation of Planet Bob? Well, the first is the most obvious.

 

Inactivity.


No sphere has suffered from inactivity more than the ex-moralist one. The alliances of Invicta, NADC, Sparta, RIA – just to name a few – are shells of what they once were. Their talent has either left the game or fled to other AAs; their remaining cores are stagnant and unwilling to look to alternatives (save part of NADCs membership, who merged into TTK earlier this year). Simply existing as institutions, these alliances do not contribute to politics in any meaningful way or at least have not in the last five years or more – and there is little indication that this can or will ever change. Inactivity is a more general problem that plagues the planet, but it is especially prominent in this sphere when it comes to their (lack of) politics.

 

The next issue with the Ex-Moralist sphere is their relatively inflexible position when it comes to moralist politics. The remaining leadership in these alliances are only interested in political narratives that make them the good guys and everyone else the bad ones. While Cobrasphere was criticized by me for their inability to build a coalition based on behavior – the Ex-Moralist sphere tends to reduce alliances into two categories, those who are with them and those who are Oculus. This very reduction tends to inhibit the alliance from dynamic possibilities and it is assured that their FA will only have a single, but non-pursued direction. Because they have not become the active villains capable of challenging the political status quo, which from their perspective is led by an evil Hegemon, they perpetuate the system they supposedly loathe. It doesn’t help them that their overall ideologies are inherently even more defensive than those of Oculus or RFI. I would be curious as to the last war (with more than two alliances) that this sphere actually started as a belligerent. Since the ideology of the Ex-Moralist is so much focused on their own inferiority and underdog story, they also frequently fail to analyze the political, military and economic realities of their situation. I can recall various times where I was privy to the goings on of this sphere over the years, and the most consistent theme is the belief that their alliances are ideologically required to defend their allies by attacking the biggest threat. The complete lack of strategic thinking is a result of their ideological constriction: Better strategists would not spend their time in the leadership of an alliance that inhibits their ability to make moves. The end result is clear. They are predictable in politics to the point where it is generally less valuable to hold a mutual level treaty with them than an optional one, since the alliances of this sphere are more likely to bring risk with little to no upside into the equation.

 

 

If we think about why these alliances are the way they are, we just need to look at history. When the CnG - SF hegemony fell apart, these alliances were cast into a sort of free agent status, racking up treaties with a variety of spheres but never committing to any of them. Aftermath, among the worst blocs I’ve been able to witness, formed and the sphere found itself frequently at odds with whoever was in power at any given time. When Oculus red carpet rolled out, their sphere had already fractured. Its leadership maintained the status quo. Half of them were anti-Oculus and the other half wanted things to go on as they had. These alliances have been shaped almost entirely by the history of hegemony rather than their own individual actions. It never mattered who was in charge ultimately – this collection of defensive oriented alliances without firm ambitions and who could not even agree amongst themselves were always going to be pushed to the periphery. It comes as little surprise then that the wheat separated from the chaff as time went on, and in many cases, that meant the draining and disbandment of the majority of the sphere.

 

How can they be blamed today? Leadership. They can be blamed for what they didn’t do, for what they continue to not do and their continued ambitions to be great without putting in a modicum of effort to be more than what they are. For some of these alliances, they are resigned to a position of contentedness – not one that is born of security but founded on the belief that the alliances simply do not matter enough to do anything anymore. They are “waiting for the lights to go out” and their leadership cares so little for their members that they aren’t even willing to try to improve their precarious situations. These are alliances with failed leaders who care more about the prestige of their titles than their membership’s security or alliance cultures, which they have both allowed to erode. The very boredom that paralyzes their membership and plagues their leadership is sourced at least in part by their lack of internal cultures and utter inability to churn out rustlings of excitement from within their memberships.

 

The diamond in the rough for these alliances has historically been TTK, the only alliance militarily capable and active. And while CCC & Sparta are appearing to wake up after their long slumbers, I’m not convinced that this sphere is really reigniting. Unlike the other spheres covered in the case studies, I have no belief that these problems can be rectified or can be addressed from the outside. From my perspective, the majority of this sphere might as well disband or declare neutrality if they aren’t playing the political game anymore.


After this, the next post in the series will be focused on the commonalities and standout points in the case studies. I want to discuss some of the issues raised in General Kanabis’ insightful comment ( https://forums.cybernations.net/blogs/entry/4365-case-study-cobrasphere/?tab=comments#comment-40044) about some of the issues identified in this series of case studies, as well some others that I will bring in. Hopefully that sort of “wrap up” assessment of problems will point us toward some solutions or at least open a discussion about them.

Edited by Tevron

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You apparently don't know our sphere too well then. None of us were required to hit the biggest threat, we wanted to hit the biggest threat, because we believed in defending our allies no matter the cost. Something CN has completely lost, we arennt called the moralist sphere for nothing. We aren't just allies, but true friends who have been there despite the overwhelming odds stacked against us. 

 

Speaking of, there were a number of times we wanted to branch out into other spheres, but we were always shot down from those outside, usually by those big and blue, or friends of those people, we've been threatened even, for considering ties or actions that went against a certain spheres agenda. This created a lot of political instability within ourselves, because we feared being isolated by that side. Anytime a military conflict arose, it was our leadership following the coalitions wishes, to put it bluntly, we were cannon fodder for those bigger than us. At best, we were treated as irrelevant, and at worst, like garbage. In hindsight, we should have said screw it and did what we wanted anyway. 

 

It is actually more deeply rooted than that, and stemmed from a "pacifica bad, polar good" type of thing. Although, staying close to one of those spheres cost us more than we ever, ever benefited from it. There is quite a bit more details I could share, but I'm sure I'll have pissed off enough people posting this as is.

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6 hours ago, Liltrekkie said:

You apparently don't know our sphere too well then. None of us were required to hit the biggest threat, we wanted to hit the biggest threat, because we believed in defending our allies no matter the cost. Something CN has completely lost, we arennt called the moralist sphere for nothing. We aren't just allies, but true friends who have been there despite the overwhelming odds stacked against us. 

 

Saying you're not ideologically required to hit the biggest threat in the same sentence where you say your sphere always wanted to (and thus, did/do) because that's what you believe in no matter the cost just reinforces that it is in fact an ideological requirement.

 

6 hours ago, Liltrekkie said:

Anytime a military conflict arose, it was our leadership following the coalitions wishes,

 

I can personally attest to that not being true on several individual alliance levels and at least one coalition scale level, if not two (it's been like eight years now), and that's just off the top of my head. Often times it really did boil down to, as you yourself said above, "defending our allies no matter the cost" even if that meant making politically questionable decisions. Decisions that further increased the external view that the sphere was unreliable with regards to being political assets. However they were viewed as reliable as a very specific kind of strategic asset:

 

6 hours ago, Liltrekkie said:

to put it bluntly, we were cannon fodder for those bigger than us. At best, we were treated as irrelevant, and at worst, like garbage.

 

As implied above, yes. When you have a sphere that is uncompromising in moralism and will immediately swarm in exactly predictable ways, the only way to fit them into your interests it using them as cannon fodder (see: Equilibrium War) or as meat shields (see: Doom War). It also makes them targets tactically to summon their allies (again, see: Doom War, though it goes back to Dave War and before too), which coincides with being a strategic liability (per the above: politically questionable decisions).

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You apparently don't know our sphere too well then

Then where do we disagree in your post except over the next point?

 

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None of us were required to hit the biggest threat, we wanted to hit the biggest threat, because we believed in defending our allies no matter the cost. Something CN has completely lost, we arennt called the moralist sphere for nothing. We aren't just allies, but true friends who have been there despite the overwhelming odds stacked against us. 

You guys don't defend your allies no matter the cost though, if you did you'd learn a bit of strategy and try to make situations into ones where you actually could win or that would benefit your allies in the long term. If it was at the cost of the pride of an alliance in this sphere, they would never take the hit. These days, that false bravado about friends > infra is irksome, since it's not even the ex-moralist sphere's catchphrase. The short term LEROY JENKINS at the biggest scariest alliance in any global is not honor, it is pride along with moralism. This strain of moralism is one that claims friendship as a justification for diplomacy without making even minimal efforts to make any friends or maintain friendships. I'm sure that you've made huge efforts though in the last five years to change your foreign affairs position though and can also provide evidence of the other members' of the sphere actually doing anything other than seethe about their past grievances. Can you name a few things you've done on the FA side of things in the last five years?

 

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Speaking of, there were a number of times we wanted to branch out into other spheres, but we were always shot down from those outside, usually by those big and blue, or friends of those people, we've been threatened even, for considering ties or actions that went against a certain spheres agenda. This created a lot of political instability within ourselves, because we feared being isolated by that side.

Are you referring to the years when I was in Polaris and we were repeatedly rolled together (2010-2012)? I don't see how those people could've been shooting down your chances. Maybe you're mistaking them for the inept machinations of Liz or Xiph after SF's fall from grace. Polaris was looking at diversifying its foreign affairs which is how it (for a time) rose to the top and rolled NSO.

Sure, you had political instability, what alliance hasn't? That doesn't make my statements less true.

 

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Anytime a military conflict arose, it was our leadership following the coalitions wishes, to put it bluntly, we were cannon fodder for those bigger than us. At best, we were treated as irrelevant, and at worst, like garbage. In hindsight, we should have said screw it and did what we wanted anyway.

That is my indictment against this sphere. You can't even talk about the existing ex-moralists in the present tense -- that's how removed these broken alliances are from the game, and they are the ones who were responsible: You're right.

 

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It is actually more deeply rooted than that, and stemmed from a "pacifica bad, polar good" type of thing. Although, staying close to one of those spheres cost us more than we ever, ever benefited from it. There is quite a bit more details I could share, but I'm sure I'll have pissed off enough people posting this as is.

The majority of the #beer-o-sphere was only on Polaris' side for a little while. The "Pacifica bad, DH bad" dilemma was much more significant than the decision to latch the sphere to Polaris. It's ridiculous to attempt to steer the blame onto them for your own sovereign alliances decisions though -- If you don't get what you give, that is the failing of alliance leadership and sphere politics. I know for a fact of times when Ex-AFM (as an example) had the opportunities to sign with three different spheres and reshuffle their politics. Instead, they stayed exactly where they were.

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10 minutes ago, James Spanier said:

 

Saying you're not ideologically required to hit the biggest threat in the same sentence where you say your sphere always wanted to (and thus, did/do) because that's what you believe in no matter the cost just reinforces that it is in fact an ideological requirement.

 

 

I can personally attest to that not being true on several individual alliance levels and at least one coalition scale level, if not two (it's been like eight years now), and that's just off the top of my head. Often times it really did boil down to, as you yourself said above, "defending our allies no matter the cost" even if that meant making politically questionable decisions. Decisions that further increased the external view that the sphere was unreliable with regards to being political assets. However they were viewed as reliable as a very specific kind of strategic asset:

 

 

As implied above, yes. When you have a sphere that is uncompromising in moralism and will immediately swarm in exactly predictable ways, the only way to fit them into your interests it using them as cannon fodder (see: Equilibrium War) or as meat shields (see: Doom War). It also makes them targets tactically to summon their allies (again, see: Doom War, though it goes back to Dave War and before too), which coincides with being a strategic liability (per the above: politically questionable decisions).

Overall, I agree with you in your responses, but I'm a bit lukewarm on the first point. I think they do have a vague ideology (Moralism) but that it suffers several contradictions that their leadership have not yet successfully digested. The biggest of these is how they are willing to do anything for their friends, but how they also limit themselves with constraints based on the supposed moralism. For them it's clear that moralism > friends. Unfortunately, it doesn't jive to me very much as an ideology because it is very inconsistent.

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This was a good read! I've been looking forward to this entry for a while as I obviously have a lot of interest in seeing how my sphere is viewed from the outside. I kind of figured it wouldn't be very complimentary since there's frankly not a lot about us to compliment these days, and it certainly wasn't lol. I see where you're coming from on most of these points, but there's one that really stuck out to me that I have some thoughts about.

 

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Simply existing as institutions, these alliances do not contribute to politics in any meaningful way or at least have not in the last five years or more – and there is little indication that this can or will ever change. Inactivity is a more general problem that plagues the planet, but it is especially prominent in this sphere when it comes to their (lack of) politics.

 

Maybe this is where I should've challenged you more about mergers and the like, since I agree that this is a serious problem in our alliances (obviously, I'm still trying to help lead one of these alliances into recovery from it), but barring random strokes of luck like CCC and Sparta have had, I'm curious how else you think this can be solved. You even made a more damning statement later that really gets at the heart of why these alliances are in such a failed state.

 

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For some of these alliances, they are resigned to a position of contentedness – not one that is born of security but founded on the belief that the alliances simply do not matter enough to do anything anymore. They are “waiting for the lights to go out” and their leadership cares so little for their members that they aren’t even willing to try to improve their precarious situations. These are alliances with failed leaders who care more about the prestige of their titles than their membership’s security or alliance cultures, which they have both allowed to erode. The very boredom that paralyzes their membership and plagues their leadership is sourced at least in part by their lack of internal cultures and utter inability to churn out rustlings of excitement from within their memberships.

 

Again, I actually mostly agree because I witnessed this from the inside. Often these alliances already had memberships that were disengaged - that wanted to stick around with the community that they'd made deep connections with, but couldn't be bothered to contribute anything to actually keeping the alliance afloat - and so the people who led these alliances did their best to keep the communities in existence while their energy for doing the actual hard part of running a functional alliance became more and more limited. The only thing I disagree with is that you are criticizing and demeaning them for it. What would you have done in this situation, should GATO have had the misfortune of falling into the same depression of a once-vibrant community wanting to continue existing but no longer contribute to being alive? You've condemned mergers as an almost-always wrong approach, and disbanding all the groups of 10-40 people who are literally only here because they have a sentimental tie to some friends they made 5-10 years ago is a surefire way to kill the game immediately, so obviously that's not an option. What else is there? It's to do what most of these alliances have done: keep the lights on until the game either finally shuts off or one of the old guard comes around and jump-starts things again. 

 

Honestly, if you have a better solution or approach that these people could have taken, I would genuinely love to hear it. I understand why people would write our entire sphere off - I almost did last year - but there are still people in these alliances that I'm sure would love to see their communities up and running again, were it only for someone else who had the answers.

 

7 hours ago, Liltrekkie said:

None of us were required to hit the biggest threat, we wanted to hit the biggest threat, because we believed in defending our allies no matter the cost. Something CN has completely lost, we arennt called the moralist sphere for nothing. We aren't just allies, but true friends who have been there despite the overwhelming odds stacked against us.

 

I mean, to be fair, I think this mentality is exactly what he's criticizing. It's not rocket science that this is a horrible approach to politics for the sake of politics; you don't get to the top by fighting all the people twice your size, you do it by picking winnable battles until you're big enough to not have anyone twice your size anymore. That's exactly Tevron's criticism: our sphere wasn't playing politics for the sake of politics, but for the sake of real friends that we would die for. You can argue that this made us better allies than most, and I would agree, but it certainly didn't make us smart political players of Bob, and it's easy to see how it prevented us from ever gaining any real power. 

 

A better question we should be asking is how this contributes to the death of politics on Bob. It's an easy and a fair criticism to point a finger and laugh at the people who went to bat for their friends instead of undercutting them when it would have been beneficial, but a real vibrant political sphere needs this sort of element to it. If no one trusts that anyone has their back when things get tough, what point is there to even making friends and alliances? And it doesn't always fail: look at CCC and TTK defending their allies against NpO with the threat of the greatest superpower that the world has ever known looming as a consequence, and it actually worked! Maybe it's not the move that geniuses like Moldavi and Moo would've made, but does that mean it's killing politics, or is it just a different approach to keep things interesting?

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3 minutes ago, Tevron said:

Overall, I agree with you in your responses, but I'm a bit lukewarm on the first point. I think they do have a vague ideology (Moralism) but that it suffers several contradictions that their leadership have not yet successfully digested. The biggest of these is how they are willing to do anything for their friends, but how they also limit themselves with constraints based on the supposed moralism. For them it's clear that moralism > friends. Unfortunately, it doesn't jive to me very much as an ideology because it is very inconsistent.

 

I'm sorry, which 'first point'? I don't recall saying they don't have an ideology in my first point, in fact I heavily implied there was one.

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23 minutes ago, James Spanier said:

 

I'm sorry, which 'first point'? I don't recall saying they don't have an ideology in my first point, in fact I heavily implied there was one.

I mean to say that I'm still questioning if it's a real set of beliefs or if it's just made up in post to justify their behavior.

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@lilweirdward, my suggested solutions will be the final entry in this series. But I welcome others to tackle these questions here and/or there.

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2 hours ago, lilweirdward said:

there are still people in these alliances that I'm sure would love to see their communities up and running again, were it only for someone else who had the answers.

 

Tevron mentioned old guard politics earlier.

That could be a start.

Promote from within.

Sit back.

And see where the next generation takes us.

The longer we hold on, the more we will lose our grasp on this world.

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Dear Tevron, 

 

I was going to wait to hear your conclusions before commending you on a most interesting blog.  Kudos to you!  Thank you for your bravery in sharing your honest analysis!  You really do stand out and deserve recognition and appreciation!

 

I don't understand exactly what you mean by "moralist" or "ex-moralist".  I was wondering if I could ask you for a Hegelian dialectic analysis of what you mean.  If moralists are the thesis, what is the anti-thesis and synthesis of the two?

 

Thank you providing the opportunity to help clarify what morals are and who has morals and who doesn't.  I look very forward to your overall conclusions!  Good job and keep sharing!

 

In friendship,

Fen

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I respect your analysis, Tevron but GK makes an extraordinary point.

 

At the risk of misrepresenting positions since I not fully engaged in the full discussion, I will toss my two cents in here. 

Things are dying because the obvious disequilibrium that exists. There are several alliances that have amassed the great bulk of nations of which, maybe 20%  are seriously active and the rest merely seeking sanctuary. They remain uninvolved, and why should they be? They have the facade of protection of their overlords. 

 

There is no incentive for activity when there is no consequence. In fact, there are rewards for inactivity in minor interests rates, etc. 

 

With that said, the solution would have been a combination of real world consequences of "cause & effect" and real world degradation in performance or "entropy" for inactivity. Failure to upkeep a nation, should result in negative consequences to nations and alliances. There should be inherent degradation and natural anarchy resulting from stagnation. However, the overlords can simply check-in on day 20 and send bolts down to their frightened minions. 

 

Further, aggregation of resources in a nation or nations in an alliance should naturally result in conflict as populations or nations develop varying and conflicting opinions. Again, instead of this natural progression, the hegemonic structure that exists reinforces that status quo and promotes stagnation. This makes it improbable for developing nations to exercise their will in game unless they sycophantly bow before their overlords. 

 

You state, 

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the Ex-Moralist sphere tends to reduce alliances into two categories, those who are with them and those who are Oculus. This very reduction tends to inhibit the alliance from dynamic possibilities and it is assured that their FA will only have a single, but non-pursued direction.

 

I would submit that analysis may be too narrow, and betrays the gray space that exists in all things. Most of Oculus members can (and should) independently survive and (perhaps) thrive but this hegemonic spirit that permeates planet bob bounds them to an overlord. The natural human spirit to set off on their own and sink or swim by the mercy of their fate and their will is absent. So once again, this invites stagnation and inactivity. 

 

Finally, I would argue the inability to perceive a direction may not necessarily indicate there is no vision or no purpose. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. At the end of day, is it a game of alliances or a game of war?

 

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