Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Inherent Dangers of Space Communism

Communism, as defined in common western society,
is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless[1][2] and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.[3]
 (Source: Wikipedia)

But typically what I mean when I say "communism" is a state where everything is owned by a central authority, and everyone's work effort goes into a common pool and is doled out by the central authority as it sees fit for everyone's benefit. The idea is that the central authority ensures everyone has what they need to survive and thrive and that no one gets more of the resources than they deserve to the detriment of others, especially if they end up contributing less to the common pool.

One would think that in a game like Eve where individual wealth and ownership is so paramount to e-pride and gloating privileges that a concept of toiling for the common good to lift everyone equally would not find fertile soil. Yet more than a few major null sec alliances have described themselves as "Space Communists", most famously the Goonswarm Federation.

Are they really?

On the other hand, Fascism is defined as "a form of radical authoritarian nationalism" that

seek to unify their nation through a totalitarian state that promotes the mass mobilization of the national community,[3][4] relying on a vanguard party to initiate a revolution to organize the nation on fascist principles.[5] Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism.
(Source: Wikipedia)

"Mass mobilization", "veneration of the state", "strong leader", "militarism"... does that not sound more like Goonswarm that words like "classless, moneyless and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production"?

NOTE: I am not comparing Goonswarm to Nazis nor am I criticizing their form of organization! I don't care how ruthless or authoritarian you make your space empire because in Eve people have the option to leave or avoid said empire, unlike the civilians in real life.  

I only bring this comparison of definitions up because I want to make a point: a true communist society would typically attempt to live within its means, while fascist societies with "mass mobilization" and "militarism" on the mind would require more resources to accomplish their goals.

But whatever; this is internet spaceships and we can make up our own goddamned terms to describe internet space empire organizational structures if we want to. To that end, what are the properties of Space Communism?

- Resources extracted by the central authority (corporations/alliance) are used for programs to improve pilots and their willingness to participate in operations (ship reimbursement, skill books, etc), as well as general alliance upkeep (towers, jump bridges, sov bills, upgrades, etc)
- pilots are expected to be connected to central authority as much as possible (forums, jabber, intel channels, etc)
- pilots are expected to "x up" for fleets as often as possible
- all organizational units are in a constant ready state for war, and indeed are encouraged to wage war themselves when the entire state is not already at war

This is a rough approximation and as you can see, most of it applies to all space empires in Eve. The really unique thing about the "Space Communism" is the increased emphasis on helping pilots get into ships, either by outright paying for the ship in the first place or assisting in skill books required (such as for expensive ones like capital skill books).

All that being said the takeaway is that running an alliance is expensive but running a space communistic alliance is very expensive, even in peacetime if you continue to run your ship reimbursement program because want to encourage your pilots to keep their PvP skills sharp and honed.

Which brings us to the Fountain War.

I admit I was skeptical when the war began that the reason was about taking moons. After all, look at any map of null sec sovereignty and you see that the CFC controls a vast swathe of space.
Null Sec North West Corner
Surely, one thinks, that is more than enough resources for the alliances living there to make it work. But there was the moon rebalancing that completely nerfed the value of Technetium moons in the north, and traditionally the north has been less fortunate in number of profitable R64 moons. One could speculate that after becoming accustomed to supping at the table of the Technetium Throne for so long that, much like Western Civilization and oil, they became addicted to a certain lifestyle to the point where they decided it would be preferable to go to war for moons to replace the Technetium than to learn to live within their means in the new reality.

Now, some have said that the war between CFC and TEST is a war to extinction for one side or the other. I never got that feeling. I still think that the CFC, Goons in particular, still think of TEST as family and that this war was about moons and saying to TEST that "we're the big older brother and you are the younger smaller one; remember your place". Perhaps when the HBC was alive and kicking it their might have been a tone of fear in that relationship but I think the CFC spymasters and political manipulations took care of that problem earlier this year.

Space Communism is very expensive and very addictive. And like any addiction, you think you control it but in the end it controls you as long as you give into it.


  1. I have to admit I was a little worried where that analogy was going with Fascism, but I'm glad you affirmed you're not painting the Goons as Nazis :D

    Very thought provoking post, I like it!

    1. Just to re-iterate, I have no issues whatsoever with how Goons or anyone runs their space empires. Its a game. :)

  2. Anonymous4:49 pm

    I think this actually highlights an important political problem in the United States, which is where the Goons from Something Awful traditionally call home. That problem is that, for more than 60 years, the political right of our country has repeated "welfare is socialism is Communism" until people believed it. So, the GSF organizational system, whether fascist or communist or simply authoritarian, is "Space Communism" because the mere act of providing citizen welfare is considered the primary component of communism, at this point. It doesn't matter what Marx, or even the various Russian revolutionaries said or did: actually making sure people can afford things is communism, these days, even if it is for cynically calculated reasons.

    1. Anonymous5:45 pm

      The political left has repeated for the last 60 years that "state-run welfare is the only viable welfare." The myths run deep on both sides.

    2. Anonymous6:35 pm

      Your assertion is neither here nor there.

      I'm not talking about myths so much as I am talking about inflammatory language distorting political discourse to the point where a political scientist says A and means A while an audience not made up of political scientists hears B. (or vice versa, which seems to be the case here...) If the various interlocutors use mutually incompatible dictionaries, lots of confusion can happen, like, for example, "Space Communism" which looks more like a corporate travel reimbursement than even socialism if you look closely at it.

    3. Anonymous9:27 pm

      Its right where I left it actually - when people hear welfare now, they assume it must be state sponsored and run. I have ample proof of that assertion from your own posts, since you believe welfare to be a political concept.

    4. Anonymous11:18 pm

      To complete the circle, though, I consider sov-holding alliances to be states. GSF certainly is, and the CFC arguably is one too. The rest of them are arguably governments in exile, even if they don't have aspirations of having their name on a piece of space. There's a reason that a significant position in corporations and alliances is "diplomat".

  3. Anonymous11:25 pm

    That escalated really quickly.

    Welfare is the responsibility of a society. To what extent is governed by the moral conscious of the population of the time. A more tolerant view of those unable to remain within the bell curve of contribution should be something to be proud of. It shows a deeper understanding of the importance of cohesion and compassion within a society.

    Pointing the finger and applying blame in the first instance is not a constructive opener.

    You run to your mum with problems, you teach your children to offer solutions.

    On point, the distortion referred to regarding space communists is interesting and shows an irony in the understanding of the concept. In context though, this is an internet spaceship game where the primary player interaction is blowing each other up.

    Who would you rather run with; the Fascist spaceship warmongers bent on galactic domination through the attrition of their line members or the Space Communists who are merely reappropriating the available resources for all the children of the CFC state?