Greedy Goblin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Atlas didn't shrug? (communism in nullsec)

Atlas shrugged was the visionary fictional book, becoming one of the most read books in the World. She describe a strike of the most productive people who refuse to be taxed and leeched on making the system collapse. The ideas of the book form the basics of the Objectivist philosophy. But nothing what described in the book ever happened in large scale, despite taxation and general leeching has increased greatly since Rand typed in her words. My time in TEST and my removal from there for posting (no one even accused me of doing anything wrong outside of that or claimed that I slack as practically didn't miss a stratop) the most successful EVE alliance gave a clear answer why.
  • M, my most busy hater, the one who digged up each and every post I've written, no matter how technical or irrelevant they were, is a reimbursement clerk in TEST. He receives reimbursement requests via the management software, checks the loss report to calculate the value and pays the guy.
  • R, my most obnoxious hater, who wished my IRL death countless times is... well, let's say he makes sure that M never runs out of work.
  • N, my first hater, the one who hated me before it was cool and before I did any "trolling", fuels towers day and night.
Their work is necessary for the operation of the alliance. Of course they aren't the only ones qualified for these jobs as the jobs themselves are rather tedious than intellectually challenging. Yet, the alliance would be in trouble if they'd quit. Why? Because they work for free and they can fully be trusted.

What makes them so perfect employees? Their sociality. Let's check back to the Theory of Trade of Fun. Time is money, in EVE it's about 100M ISK/hour for an established player. Assuming they do 1 hours of work a day for TEST, they'd be 3B/month richer if they'd quit doing unpaid work for TEST. But they traded this money for fun: they are "socially relevant", meaning they can speak on the forum without being flamed, they get their own ass-kiss threads (seriously, people start threads "callout R: I just want to say that R is the most awesome guy in TEST" with such words. There is a reason why it's called "circle-jerk" even among members). No it's not power, my favorite "trolling" was asking some trivial political question and then making fun of them for having no clue as the leaders did not even bother to inform them of the decisions, they learned it from EN24 or Dotlan like you. They are like Kim Kardashian in TEST, powerless but famous. They are clearly happy about this. They won't quit and they would never steal as the ISK has no value in their eyes, just the "love" they get on the forum.

The core problem is that the TEST leaders made the completely rational decision protecting the circle-jerk of the functionaire class from the "evil troll", as replacing their whole class by paid employees would be way too expensive and TEST couldn't afford that. Why? Because people don't want to pay to have better management. The amount of support I got after I'm kicked show that many people were happy that someone fought the circle-jerkers but they didn't care for it enough to put their own upvotes/membership on the line. Nor to pay in money or time (by volunteering) to replace the jobs of M, R and N if I troll them out of the alliance. The alliance is permanently understaffed, even with the amazingly high level of automatization. There are "we need more X please volunteer" requests on the forum all over.

Atlas can't shrug because Atlas already shrugged. The selfish and productive ones have left the leadership positions long ago. The people who hold the society on their backs are mostly free-working socials paid by "love" and status. They suck. They are obnoxious (sex scandals left and right). But they are free and reliable. We see it in real politics and even in corporate managements. The politicians spend their own money to be elected and the managers work horrible hours just to "push their career". The reason why management - both real life and EVE - is filled with obnoxious idiots is that they simply outcompeted the non-idiots by working for free, wanting only symbolic social payment. The World is in trouble exactly because they are dumb and mediocre: the bank managers didn't OK subprime loans due to greed or evilness, they did because they honestly believed that the trees can reach the sky. So did the politicians regulating them.

In the real world, there is clear hope that their mediocracy collapses: they simply created too much debt and lead their countries/corporations into bankrupcy. In EVE Online the hope isn't so clear. CFC and HBC will overrun the Galaxy taking every single star systems (when I predicted it half year ago everyone laughed). The miracle of these coalitions is that their huge core corporation makes this obnoxious middle management relatively small and also far from the players. All the nullsec alliances are communist, Goons and TEST just perfected communism by centralization, uniformization and isolation of the functionaire class. Despite I'm criticizing them and I was kicked by them I still suggest you to join them if you want to take part in the nullsec warfare.

While having to keep your had down and your mouth shut is maybe not the best way of living, but people choose that over paying. No alliances have serious paid staff. If you don't pay for it, you don't talk back, you have to take what you get:

As long as I paid, I survived everything. Despite I infuriated R beyond measure, I was instantly saved because 20B is awful lot. Money talks. As soon as I stopped paying (and the obnoxious ones kept paying their 3B/month in worktime) I obviously became nothing but trouble. People warned me that "you can't talk back to these guys" but it wasn't clear to anyone why: not because they are "connected" or "loved", but because they are simply paying more to the alliance (in time spent working), so they are more valuable. The mediocracy of the communist functionaires will not change while people are both poor and reluctant of paying for anything. The alternative of communism has a nasty side effect: you have to pay for your lunch. Most people unfortunately prefer a free lunch, not knowing that such thing doesn't exist. The work of the alliance functionaires isn't free, it's just paid in upvotes, personal cult threads.

However recognizing the communist roots of EVE won't make me leave. I'm pretty curious how events unfold when the game world itself is changed by CCP:
  • CREST API will allow replacing lot of clerks with scripts.
  • Fixed POS interface will devalue trust in POS management and lowers the barriers of entry.
  • If DUST is successful, it will create serious ISK demand from EVE, making pro-business solutions more profitable
What can I do? Teach people to earn money. Those who have billions will easier part from a few 100M to give decent salary to decent professionals, so the ISK-free, socially expensive (obnoxious) ones can be replaced by paid public servants. I'll be more active in the moneymaking posts and on the "goblinworks" channel. I'm also damn curious why communism conquered nullsec.


Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely certain why you cling to objectivism and the writings of Ayn Rand so I cannot answer on that, but I may be able to shed some light on "why communism in nulsec works".

There is a problem with the mechanics of nulsec. The vast amount of income is earned passively via moons. This moon mining is a very "top down" flow of income.

The next most popular way for large entities to make money is via renter systems, which are simillarly top down.

There are no "farms and fields", no trades that the line member can build himself into within his home of nulsec (ok, there are a few but the vast majority will never find them or have the intelligence to participate in them).

In order to equitably distribute the wealth of the alliance the largest entities have chosen to run ship replacement programs (PvP for free) as a means of sharing the wealth of their alliance. This creates positive feedback - free PvP = large fleet form ups = more land captured = more moons (or more rental space) = more income = more free PvP and so forth..

Other political methods have been tried in nulsec's history but the current state of the mechanics of nulsec dictate that a communist state is the most effective political system at work as evidenced by its ruthless efficiency at claiming half of the map.

When (if?) CCP fix nulsec and introduce "bottom up" income we may well see the rise of a new type of ruling class - one which is based off individual earnings and power and greed... but right now I think that communism is just the dominant political model in eve online.

Anonymous said...

The reason "communism works" in Null is the same as it works in North Korea, no one does anything about it.

The vast majority of countries that were once commies were overcome when the people revolted - when they realized that there was a better way and that they were being oppressed.

People keep talking about a big new coalition to overcome HBC and CFC, that one day it will arrive and overthrow them. That wont be it. It will be when an idea sparks in someone's head, and few whispers in dark corners become shouts and next thing you know you've got a revolution on your hands.

It's just a matter of if Eve will last that long.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: while the line member is being fed on bread and circuses they have no reason to whisper in dark corners. The vast majority of line members and indeed member corporations of these coalitions have so completely drunk the kool-aid that they will never revolt, and for the moment they have no need to.

Gevlon said...

There is more than that. The average person has no more WISH than being fed with circus and bread. As long as his ship is reimbursed and he can shoot other players, he is happy and want nothing else. He isn't deceived or oppressed, he is simply an average guy with very limited wishes. He can't care less who he is shooting at or why or where.

If he turns from hunter to hunted or he can't conveniently buy his stuff on the station or the reimbursement money dries out, then the alliance failcascades.

Deth Delkanara said...

People come to Eve for entertainment. This IS their circus to a large degree. They come for many other reasons but in the end, this is the base reason, to get something in Eve that they don't get in real life. Because of the top down wealth structure of alliances, the cost of things is skewed from what it would be in a fully free market economy. Just notice that in Soviet Russia, they sold bread at half the cost to produce and imported computers at 3-5 times the cost in the west. People put up with it because the vast majority of consumers of items on a regular basis are PvP peeps and they mostly don't pay as their losses are reimbursed. They don't care about the cost, they aren't paying it, the same way idiots today don't care about the cost of government because they don't see/understand how they are paying for it.

If sov is worked on and changed to a bottom up wealth generation, then the economy is going to go nuts for a while. Keep in mind that alliance size and space holding should dramatically increase with the size of the alliance both in members and space held. After all, the defense budget of the US is much larger than that of say the UK and the US has a lot larger population and land area to defend. The same for health care, education, infrastructure or any other meaningful measure, the larger the system the more it costs. It isn't necessarily linear but it does happen.

The other issue with Communism being the dominant political structure comes from the game mechanics themselves regarding fleet combat. There is little in the way of terrain, cyno, titan bridging and jump bridges all mean you can deploy and re-deploy without delay and so, in the end, the blob wins. There is no battle of Thermopylae in Eve since there is no where you can limit access for the enemy who has jump bridging. This is why people long for small gang roaming combat and smaller fleet fights since in those fights individuals do matter and individual skill, situational awareness and other skills can turn the tide of the battle.

Anyways, I have read your posts on how and why you got kicked and so on, and I have to say, honestly I am amazed that someone as intelligent as you come across was surprised by or did not anticipate your removal. The body tends to fight to get rid of invading organisms, be they the human body, the social body or the body politic. You can overwhelm the body and destroy it like anthrax, creep in and subvert it like aids or rise from within and spread slowly until enough damage is done to kill the body like cancer. In all cases, if the body is strong enough, it will expel the attacker one way or another.

Stick to more posts about making money and the economy, you are better at them.

Kurt said...

The answer to why communism, fueled by people working for 'free' motivated by social considerations, is your post analyzing how nullsec is a worse place to make money than high, and so functions as a place where people spend the money they made in highsec towards ends defined by social considerations. In the real world a capitalist economy outproduced the communist ones; EVE doesn't provide an environment which models this, and so the fact that the communist structure is much better suited to maintain morale and participation in war efforts makes it superior.

Bluseychris said...

To be fair to M (I know the guy irl, I don't actually play EVE) he has a lot to put up with.

Last time I popped round he'd not long moved house. "Look at this" he said once he'd let me in and given me a brief tour and made a pot of tea. He showed me his monitor with some comment/calculator software page on it. "This is some of the rubbish I have to put up with. What I have to do is work out the value of a ship lost on an op and reimburse the player."

I said that sounded alright. "Yeah" was my reply "but half the people using it can't be bothered to fill it in properly." He brought up a forum post with rules as to how to reply and what you go for your loss in reimbursement. "Basically, if you bring the right ship with the right loadout to a battle and fill out the form correctly then you get all your money for ship and upgrades back, most people can't be bothered to do that though."

He showed me some examples, the first one he opens is along the lines of 'I got ass raeped by AAA and need more money.' I ask him if there should be more info and he says yes. "Basically, we need to know which fleet he was in and which battle. Secondly he needs to list his ship and exact loadout."

So basically he couldn't be bothered to fill it out?

"Yeah, basically. That or he's an idiot, or a moron. Look at this!" I am shown another webpage with a long line list of users and requests. He opens a few, some he says are filled out correctly whilst others are not. "If people can't be bothered to fill out things properly after we have written constant posts about it and noted it on the pages here then they either resubmit or don't get money. Repeat offenders just don't get cash because they clog up the system. But then if they play eve they need some intelligence so I put it down to being lazy."

The next one he shows me has a partial refund. "Like I said earlier; right upgrades, right ship, full refund. This guy..." Apparently he had the wrong ship and the wrong loadout. Some slots were empty, i assumed not fully upgraded, I was somewhat right. "If you do the form correctly and have the proper loadout then you get all your money back, this guy is missing two upgrades so he loses 10% of money [i think it was that]. Aside from that he's fine and gets the rest." I thought that sounded fairly ok, after all, full money wouldn't be paid for a used car if two wheels were missing and there was no spare. But the next guy got a reply which he apparently deserved. "This guy is a repeat offender" he says.

He types something along the lines of 'I would like remind you that we pay out for the RIGHT SHIP with the RIGHT LOADOUT. We don't fully pay out for the WRONG SHIP with the RIGHT LOADOUT, the RIGHT SHIP with the WRONG LOADOUT and the WRONG SHIP with the WRONG LOADOUT.

I Highlighted the bits where you went wrong.'

I piss my self laughing, a guy who fails to manage even the basics of understanding what he can get money back for tried repeatedly to get money on stuff he can't. "If he'd get it right in the first place he wouldn't have a problem. Then again all this lot that were que'd earlier were fine." Bringing up a load of entries he shows me all the full imbursements so far. " Most people do it fine, or only lose a few percent on one missing or empty upgrade slot. Some guys...look at my sig pic, all those words in the back ground are what people actually put in their reimbursement notices."

I explained the system we had in Cybernations. How it was similar, the way my then Alliance worked. Loans, aid and trade circles, wars. It seemed similar, just without dicking around on a spaceship for hours doing nothing (which is what put me off eve).


M did inform me that "the only things that aren't factually correct
are listing a loadout, that's automatically done"

It has been kept in and a note made.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you read this:

Anonymous said...

"The vast majority of countries that were once commies were overcome when the people revolted - when they realized that there was a better way and that they were being oppressed.

People keep talking about a big new coalition to overcome HBC and CFC, that one day it will arrive and overthrow them. That wont be it. It will be when an idea sparks in someone's head, and few whispers in dark corners become shouts and next thing you know you've got a revolution on your hands."

In real life, revolutions happen because there is no alternative, and because people are actually miserable. 0.0 peasants usually aren't actually miserable, and if they are, their solution isn't going to be to start a revolution. They're going to change alliances or just stop playing.

Anonymous said...

What you have described is not communism, but capitalism. Nullsec alliances valuing people who are willing to work like dogs for a pittance is exactly what you would expect to see under such a system.

maxim said...

I don't think mediocracy can ever be destroyed in the real world. It can be temporarily supressed by collapse of worldwide systems, because said collapse means that people who relied on dumping strategies will no longer be able to rely on them.

However, once the world is once again stabilised to the point where dumping strategies are again viable, mediocracy immediately resurfaces.

IMO the correct way to go about it is the way TEST leaders do. If there are people out there, willing to sell themselves THAT short, then the best course of action is to let them and use them as cheap replacements for systems that are (at least, at the moment) too expensive to automate. E.g. clerk jobs.

The interesting part is that, even with improvements in automations, the "dumping" people find more ways to continue their "dumping". In other words, even if CREST succeeds in eliminating a certain layer of clerk jobs, through appearance of simple automated scripts, a new layer of clerk jobs will immediately get created.

Ayn Rand's big mistake is that she framed this situation as a problem. And, obviously, had to go as far as condemning 99% of the world population to death in her attempts to solve this non-problem.

It is not a problem. It is simply a matter of different people needing different things. Mediocracy, after all, are not M&S. They are useful level 2 rule-abiding workers, who play their part in helping the level 4 asocials to build something great.

Anonymous said...

for testing purpose, can be deleted

RubyPorto said...

Just for the sake of historical accuracy, the top marginal tax rate in 1957, when Atlas Shrugged was published, was 91%. The starting tax bracket was taxed at a rate of 20%.

Today, the brackets are 35% and 10%, respectively.

"But nothing what described in the book ever happened in large scale, despite taxation and general leeching has increased greatly since Rand typed in her words."

So, this is not actually true.

Just try to keep your timeline straight before making things up (i.e. Be objective).

Alex Cresswell said...

Actually the highest marginal tax rate is currently Belgium at 54.9%

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand's atlas shrugged was a fun read, and tempting but it has nothing to do with the way the real world truly works. In real life the looters ARE the producers, the largest corporations that produce the most, say Exxon for example also manipulate our goverment and give themselves massive subsidies

the people with the greatest capacity to produce are also those with the greatest capacity to loot, in Rand book the looters are all inept, stumbling over each other, not really good at anything but taking and mooching. This couldn't be further from the truth.

as for how this relates to Null-sec
the first poster absolutely hit the nail on the head, in CFC nearly all of the total ISK is earned passively, moon minerals right now are analogous to oil in our society.

I think you would do well to study the situation in Qatar, the richest country in the world, very seldom does anyone in Qatar "works" electricity/water/insurance are free, instead of taxes the government gives its people free money, the people for the most part are entitled, lazy, and not particularly intelligent.

then why has their model been more successful than capitalism? its because they have unlimited amounts of oil and gas and can defend it. This system will collapse in the long run because oil and gas will run out.

in EVE things are very different, moon minerals never run out, and their are a finite number of them in the game.

"working" is not what makes an alliance rich, you can work your butt off in qatar and you will be just about as well off as everyone else because no matter how much you make your income is nothing next to the Technetium moons.

with financial incentives to work gone, all that is left are social incentives so it should be immediately obvious that the people who care most about social gain, are the people that do the most work.