Essay - The Unintended Rise of the Capsuleer and its Effects on Cluster Politics
By Professor G. Kellarran, University of Umokka, Political Science Department
In YC 105 the capsuleer technology came to the empires and they began using them in military applications but found the process time consuming and resource intensive as training and testing the candidates required the utmost care and deliberation. In order to offload some of the difficulties and cost the Minmatar Republic licensed the process to corporate interests so that they could create private citizen pod pilots. The other factions soon followed suit in order to maintain the balance of power since a single ship flown by a capsuleer is magnitudes more powerful than standard vessels of the same class.
However, the four main empires and all other political entities in the cluster would soon begin to realize their mistake and all attempts to put the genie back in the bottle have failed horribly with unintended and far reaching consequences.
The Start of the Spiral
While capsuleer vessels in the military are useful, they are still bound by the restrictions all military must have in order to prevent militarization of the government. In addition they must be held accountable and their actions must not reflect poorly on the leadership. Right from the start independent pod pilots were not bound by such restrictions. While ostensibly being employed by mega corporations the demand for the services of the powerful mercenaries meant that the mega corps could not exert any coercive control over their newly created pilots; instead they could only offer rewards for service and had to compete with any other corporations.
The result was that the mega corps hired agents to hire the capsuleers for work that the navy and local police forces were too busy or too weak to deal with. Or for work that was in the grey areas of legality. As competition for the services of the capsuleers grew the rewards increased; as the capsuleers became more affluent, they were able to use more expensive ships and weapons and accomplish much more difficult tasks; and as the tasks became more involved, the rewards increased further.
Along with the monetary rewards, there were other perks as well. Entire decks of stations dedicated to the sole use of the pod pilots. Complete industries arose to provide services and special items like exotic drugs or advanced implants. Legions of exotic dancers and indentured servants. Specialized custom designed star ships. The list goes on.
This spiral of inflation had two major effects: the first was that it created an environment of entitlement to the capsuleers which began to isolate them socially from most everyone else; and secondly it gave them much more opportunity to become mobile to search out better business dealings.
The Loyalty Detachment
As the capsuleer community developed into its own social circle, the barriers to cross faction cooperation slowly dissolved1. For example, a Gallente capsuleer on an Amarr station has more in common with a Caldari capsuleer on the same station. Plus both individuals share a common language, monetary system (i.e. ISK), job hazards, associates, etc.
When CONCORD recognized the formation of Capsuleer alliances of corporations in late 106, it was already a fait accompli. Corporations owned and operated solely by capsuleers had been in existence since late 105 and cooperation between them started almost immediately afterward. Where a single capsuleer was deadly to standard ships, groups of capsuleers were forces of nature. Independents operating under pirate flags were virtually wiped out of high security space in a matter of months and all efforts to infiltrate those systems have proven futile.
These social developments meant that many capsuleers began to experience a sense of detachment from their "home" civilization. Their loyalties became more focused to the pod pilots in their fleet and less to the government they were considered citizens of.
CONCORD's Unintended Interference
During the rise of the capsuleer the officials at CONCORD sought to use these new mercenaries in an effort to bring law and order to low security space and null security space. To to this CONCORD signed a treaty with the empires (but more intended for the capsuleers) specifying that bounties would be paid to private individuals or corporations for the destruction of ships of the "pirate" factions (the amount paid determined by a schedule based on identified ship class). Since most corporations had defence forces capable of disuading minor attacks but not capable of launching massive assaults on pirate strongholds, only the capsuleer benefited from this new treaty and they immediately began to wage an unrelenting war on the bounties.
The unintended upshot of this development was the increased pressure of pod pilots to work together in pseudo-military fashion to attack further and further into the pirate territories. This cooperation forged tighter bonds and in a matter of months turned the capsuleer community from a collection of individuals to a number of organized military forces both in low sec and null sec.
The Development of the Alliance and Coaltion
The sense of loyalty replacement is further exacerbated for pod pilots who seek their fortunes in the space beyond the control of the four major empires. In the lawless space the capsuleer alliances become the local governments handing down rules and rulings on a daily basis, competing with the existing "Pirate" factions and other alliances for control of the vast resources found there. Sometimes several alliances form mutual defence pacts and form what is roughly referred to as coalitions which can comprise of thousands of pilots and untold tonnes of war ships.
The Balance of Power
The total number of capsuleers currently in the combined empires' navies is roughly a quarter of the number of currently active private capsuleers2. Fortunately, several factors prevent this new faction from overwhelming cluster politics.
1) Most capsuleers have no interest beyond self interest - they just want to make themselves rich and don't bother with inter-cluster politics.
2) Many capsuleers have not completely disengaged from their home societies - the Minmatar especially are drawn back to Pator and Rens to reconnect with their fellow Matari. Some even join the faction sponsored war for establishing administrative control of low sec areas between the empires.
3) The largest and most organized capsuleer alliances exist in lawless space and compete with each other for resources there.
Should some event drive the capsuleers together, they would form a single industrial-military faction as powerful as any of the four empires.
With the recent CONCORD announcement3 of the revoked prohibition on capsuleer ownership of planetary resources, the accumulation of power in this new class of society continues to accelerate. Thousands of small local corporations have already closed doors or been purchased in this new land rush. Since even the poorest capsuleers are millionaires many times over (current market value trading has 1 ISK = 1032 State Credits) the limit on what they can accomplish is continually being pushed back.
Is it not inconceivable that faction politics and CONCORD are already being unduly influenced by these military moguls. And we have to ask the question: are conspiracy theorists right4 that the Jovians' most damaging attack on the empires was to unleash cloning and pod technology upon them? Could the rise of the capsuleer be an effort to disrupt the empires beyond all repair?
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1 - The Scope's Cluster Census for YC 106
2 - DED Enforcements Military Analysis Guide '08
3 - CONCORD Press Release 09/06/12
4 - Jovian Politics and Motivations by G. Turner