Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Business report and the big problem of capitalism in EVE

A quick, non-related info. If you want to understand school shootings, this scientific book helps a lot.

I stopped publishing business data after I published my findings about the importance of large corp size in nullsec. I considered it an ultimate defeat of the business approach as TEST is as communist as it can be and wins like no one before. What I've found is still true, however it doesn't necessarily mean the end of capitalism. Now I think that the automated, uniformized mega-corp that provides largely asocial life to the little guy (but very much not to those who aspire for more) is merely the optimal form of communism, a system where everything is for free but the little guy must shut up and stay in the line. However I can't ignore two things: every single nullsec alliance works on a communist basis (the member don't have to pay for services the system provides and gets no salary for the actions he does for the system). The more interesting is the Taggart Transdimensional corporation which requires only ideological objectivism for joining and they left the nullsec scene as soon as the wormholes shown up. If capitalism would be working in nullsec, these guys would surely make it work.

To understand the problem, let me return to my own business report. I've been doing the same thing since June: hauling +5% hardwirings (100M implants) between the hubs and also station trade them in all the hubs. I posted the item list many times. I've announced my income to show how easy it is to make titanic money here. After I thought that capitalism is defeated and my job will be to find the most livable form of communism, I scaled back on my trading. I used to update prices twice a day like a clockwork skipping days only when real life kept me away from my computer. After this I updated only once and may even skip that if I don't feel like trading. I expected my income to freefall down to 5-10B/month just enough to keep my accounts running in EVE Offline mode.

Oops? How did I just get 38B last month? At first the pie became larger due to the end of the FW disaster and also by the Orca fix. No competitor can use autopiloting Orcas anymore and the replacement, the non-scannable cloaky hauler is so weak that gankers can pop them blindly and hope to get lucky. You must use transport Tengus (that post is updated for an even better and cheaper Tengu fit).

Secondly it seems I have little competition so decreasing the update frequency did not push me back. In other words, I was overkilling before that. Now this is a problem. It shows that people don't really care about income, otherwise they'd come and claim my goldmine. The few other businessmen have enough income in their niche, not wanting mine. To have capitalism, you need capitalists, people who are motivated to gain ISK. However - like all other serious income source - it needs serious investment in time, capital and knowledge and many people don't want that. If I want to find some capitalist-selfish project, I have to look for some other income source: something small that can be done with little up-front cost. It also needs to be grindable, something someone can do for hours if he wants money now. In other words, I must find/create a capitalism-supporting middle class. So I have to think of something that is small, grindable and multiplicative. It doesn't hurt if it's fun to keep people in it. Finding such won't be easy. WH-s and null aren't for solo players or network of individuals, if you want to carve a space out of it, you need to join an already established (communist) group. But I'll figure out. I dedicate my following posts to brainstorm up a capitalist-selfish scheme that works in EVE-online.

PS: yes, I've just reached 300B total value. A small amount, 6.4B is in my passive income fund: I train now not 1 but 5 supercapital pilots for sale. 95.7B is spent on my "personal stuff". Things that doesn't affect my income generation. The largest part of it is the 65B I gave to TEST, the rest is money spent training my pilots (logi/carrier, Ragnarok, Dread, nullsec industrialist) and money spent on PLEX-ing the account of my main and the account of my girlfriend. Some of these assets are regainable like assets being liquidated in nullsec, some are permanently lost. The rest of the money, almost 200B is in ISK or in my wares for sale.


Anonymous said...

Communism is an economic system, what you've seen in TEST is a capitalist system where social cachet is the currency. A communist nullsec would have rigid central control, much more like the elitist nullsec groups. What you've seen more like feudalism than socialism, in that the members are given the use of certain regions of space, with the understanding that they front up and fight in any important wars, but are otherwise free to pursue whatever business they like.
You yourself joined TEST because you wanted to be part of something larger, and you didn't require any payment for your services, membership was reward enough. That's how everyone else out there feels too, and it's why the system works they way it does.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the PLEX system is why capitalists in EVE don't get so much traction?

If people who want in game cash can just pay real money for it, a lot of them will prefer to do that than devise an in game money making system.

ie. did CCP sabotage their own in game economy to increase their profits?

Anonymous said...

So 300b is your total accumulated wealth over time, of which 200b you still have in stock, orders and cash? Didn't really understand that paragraph.

Gevlon said...

300B is everything I've ever earned. 200B is on the hand of my highsec trading characters in cash and stock. 100B is spent by or in the hand of nullsec pilots.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so your real networth is 200b at best. Why do you include that arbitrary 300b number is beyond me.

Gevlon said...

My real net worth is about 220-230B as the nullsec pilots have bazaar value and have assets.

The total income is important because it's mainly a capitalist-trading blog. It shows that I earned 300B with my methods. The fact that I spent 80-90B of it on various actions doesn't change that.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 07:15

The central tenet of communism is that the means of production (of capital accumulation) are socialized.

Communism does not necessarily require a planned economy or drastic restrictions on private property (other than capital).

In my opinion the communal ownership of space, of the the most valuable moons and the strict communal control over supercapital production make TEST a communist alliance.

You have to look at the motivation behind the call to socialize the means of production if you want to understand why the fact that subcap production, seeding markets, ... is allowed in TEST does not make TEST a capitalist alliance.

The core issue (in Communist theory) with the private accumulation of capital is that it is always based on the exploitation of workers.
According to Marxism (and contrary to mainstream economic theory) only one production factor - labor - is entirely responsible for the creation of surplus value.
In a capitalist society workers are (again according to communist theory) paid the bare minimum required to retain their capability for labor (with a vast "industrial reserve army" of the unemployed ready to take their place if ever they should demand a raise), the whole of the surplus created by their work is appropriated by the capitalist.

Industry and trading in EVE tend to be one-man ventures. The industrialist is both capitalist and worker, there is no exploitation taking place.
(I am aware that one might view this very differently arguing that all the relevant labor input is already present in the minerals and that the miners are the true creators of surplus value in eve and should be rewarded as such.)

Exploitation can only take place when production relies on the labor input of workers while the means and the product of production are owned by a capitalist.
If moons and space were privately owned one would have such a situation - many people contribute countless hours of labor to take and defend these assets but the surplus generated by them goes to the single capitalist owning them. (Supercapital production depends on the ownership of space and is as included in this argument).

As such small-scale industry and trading need not to be socialized in a Communist alliance as they do not lead to any sort of exploitation.
However, moons and space must not be privately owned in such an alliance.

Private property is tangential to the whole issue, as long as it cannot be used as capital for an exploitative capitalist venture it doesn't really matter.
A corporation such as Evolution which tries to abolish private property all together is from my POV not any more communist than TEST alliance.

Sugar Kyle said...

People may not be motivated by interest in trading, at all. It is not that they do not want to have an income source. Not every method of creating income will appeal to every person.

Many people prefer to be poor (by whoevers terms) and enjoy the time they have for gaming then force themselves into trading, which may not interest them at all or they may find unenjoyable or just not have the head for.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: great find. The problem of the first anonymous came probably from the fact that Stalinism and Maoism (the practically implemented forms of communism) differ from the theoretical Marxism exactly in the treatment of 1-man companies.

According to the theoretical Marxism such person is neither an exploiter or an exploited, rather an exception. In the practically implemented communism such people were considered "class enemy", people who are loyal to the exploiters despite they are not one of them. They shared the fate of the exploiters, just look up kulaks.

So there is difference between the "Evolution" corp you mentioned and TEST: TEST is theoretical Marxist while the former is Stalinist/Maoist. In TEST personal labor income (ratting, mining, hauling, manufacturing, even trading) is not only tolerated but supported (there is dedicated ratting squad), while paid employee status is not. Works that must be done but generate no income (like tower fueling) are considered sacrifice for the community and not work.

Anonymous said...

My corporation has mining ops and want me to give up my minerals for free which they'll use to provide free ships to the pvpers. Call it capitalist or call it communist, I don't like it and chose not to participate. Pay me for my minerals and I'll pay for your ship, if you have the lowest price.

Gevlon said...

@Last anonymous: this is hardcore Stalinism. Total control over labor force and social ownership of all materials. RUN!

Unknown said...

@Gevlon's last comment: What foolishness. There's no need to run, rather minimize your contribution to the least amount you can get away with and go pvp in the free ships you're afforded. This is only bad if you're not a pvp-er (in which case why are you in a corp where your position is effectively that of a slave) or you have hopes for the corp lasting any serious amount of time and not crumbling under the weight of it's own retarded system.

Debra Tao said...

I don't believe that Test, goons or any other alliances in null sec are communist. Let me explain why.

First these alliances relly on a heavy division of labor : there are "experts" as you call them : FCs, spies, directors, recruiters, people in charge of the logistic. Yes the basic grunt is more or less free but the general idea is that he has to show up every now and then for an op.

This shows that these so called "communist" alliances are actually relying on a surprisingly complex division of labor. Decisions are made by the directors without consultation or vote. This isn't communism...

I find it actually more similar to the organization of a private firm : directors are in charge of the decision process, managers try to increase the work (participation in ops) from the base... And the moons belong to the company, so basically to the directors. As any good leaders/CEO they use these ressources to not only accumulate wealth but also to increase and ensure the health of their company : that's ship reimbursment.
We can see the same process in every big enough firm, let's take Exxon for instance, employes are well payed and profit from their work but the oil belongs to the company, to the board. Likewise we can see for instance that in NC. directors were using money to pay for PLEX (like a salary) and stuff while most grunts and experts don't profit from it. A true communist society would split the riches evenly between people.
The analogy can go further, like Apple, Google or any big society with cash CFC has bought space (ressources, potential growth) via isk ! It's almost like a tender offer.

A communist alliance would reimburse losses but also split the surplus evenly between members, or even better, let the membership decide what to do with that money.

Unknown said...

If TEST's "communist" system is so bad, why does it control such a huge chunk of nullsec space? As a capitalist, you should know better than to argue with results ; and you shouldn't ask CCP to change the rules ("overregulate") to discourage or make TEST's strategy unviable.

Anonymous said...

So do you think you will join Taggart or do you think you will join a larger, more successful "communist" WH alliance?

Looking over Taggart they kind of look like a capitalist circlejerk, and appear completely unable to band together any sort of fighting force.

Compare to the larger entities (the ones with the "stories" you called for a few posts back, they are a meaningless nothing....

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: I'm not sure Taggart couldn't put up a fighting force rather than don't want to. Why bother PvP if you can get damn rich without it?

@Joan: The main problem with whole null is that it's not profitable. The little guy in TEST made 50M/hour ratting in a Naga. Practically no capitalist would want to go null, leaving the whole zone to communists.

@Debra: but everyone works for free, as a volunteer, "for the team". The moon owners are not the directors as they can't sell it or hope to keep it without the people. "The people" own the moons, the directors just manage it. Democracy was never a custom in any RL communism, so the dictatorial leadership of TEST - even if not coming directly from Marx - is similar to the real life communisms.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gelvon,

I recently started doing some trading. After reading your blog i decided to give a shot at implant market as an experiment. The outcome was a disaster lol. Compared to other items I trade, implants seems to be traded by the majority. I check orders once a day and every day I get my BO filled in and become larger then SO, or opposite, BO gets left behind. and price moves up far ahead. I end up mostly freezing assets or selling at a loss.

Do you have preferred limit of items to be traded to know market better and limit quantities with min/max?

I am trading 100 items+ in 3 hubs to manage price spike risk. I grinded my standings for a month to have an advantage in taxes, however every time i try to push for lower margin to have bigger item/isk flow, I often end up with sell price going below threshold selling price.

P.S. I am trading non manufactured items.

Debra Tao said...

@ Gevlon:

but directors can sell, give and recieve moons. Look at what happened with Evoke.... I don't think people own the moon, the income of the moon is in the hand of the directors and they choose to use it in the most profitable way to assure the growth of their alliance.

Experts do work "for free" but they have a little power, in my experience these guys, because they aren't in charge, are the most susceptible to abuse their power. That's enough of a reward for most people. It can even be seen from a capitalistic point of view : if there are enough people wanting to do the job for free or for a low salary why pay them money ?

The world is not split between communists and capitalists, dictatorship and democracy and even is TEST isn't exactly like a real life corporation, it's too far from communism, in my opinion, to consider them communists.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon: I am not sure you are doing Taggart any favours by suggesting they don't fight and just sit in wormholes getting rich..suggesting such paints a rather big target on their back.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism works plenty well in nullsec. Test reimburses ships lost on strategic operations (in recent weeks a small minority of fleets) but those are cash payouts.

Every item bought on the market in any deployment system is something purchased or manufactured by a Test member and shipped to location. If that's not capitalism I don't know what is.

As for the circle jerk, between reimbursements, logistics, forum IT, the Wiki, Intel maps, Skillchecker tools, overview packs, the android app, and the authentication system literally thousands of man-hours have been voulenteered twoards free of charge member services. Paying a large amount of money gained from manipulating the market isn't nearly the same contribution as donating your actual time twoards something, that's the difference between a banker and the guy who spends every Sunday night working at the soup kitchen.

When you talk about that kind of commitment it's right that they get a lot of recognition from other players.

This might upset you, but the reason you were kicked wasn't because of your posting (as inflammatory as it was) it was because you stopped paying your rent. You were admitted to the corp as long as you paid 20billion a month, and when you stopped paying they removed you, there's really no heroic drama there.