So, I had written my post about CFC hegemony before I saw James315’s post about the CFC and stagnation. My post is more about dominance, not complete victory, but it was close enough that James’ post was particularly interesting to me. Go ahead and give it a read…
I’m impressed by nearly all of it. He goes into a lot of depth about history and how the allies of the past are enemies of the future. And that’s all true, which makes his argument compelling.
But there is one glaring error in the thinking behind his well-reasoned argument. His syllogism is correct, with sound logic and a sound conclusion. But it’s nonetheless false, since one of his premises is false, albeit not flawed.
And that false premise is one of identity.
Null-sec is sort of like a large, extended family fighting over a place in the will of a wealthy relative. All of the players will continue to be involved no matter what they do. Even if they lose out one day, they still live to fight another day. Logic and emotion play out as individual members form temporary alliances to gain a favorable place in the will.
It would stand to reason that family members would act based on their best interests at the time, keeping the prize in their sights. However, that’s not what happens. Why? Because of identity. Some members have strong affinities that simply will not break regardless of personal benefit. Some members have jobs that meet their needs very well. Some are within the same immediate family and have merged interests. They identify with other members of the family as belonging to their “team” in a way nothing will ever change.
Let’s look at the CFC in the same light. Some alliances are relatively new, being added recently and still proving their value to the coalition. Their participation numbers are reviewed very carefully to ensure they’re pulling their weight, and the rewards they’re receiving right now are fairly minor. This isn’t out of seniority, but simply because neither side is willing to commit too deeply to a new relationship. The trial alliances are hesitant to “dig in” in their space and spend significant amounts of isk if they aren’t entirely sure they’re committed for the long haul. And the CFC isn’t likely to reward them with holdings they aren’t sure the trial alliance is capable of holding.
These alliances may very well end up turning on the CFC in a future time of great strife. They simply aren’t that vested in the success of the coalition and their allies. However, they don’t represent the lion’s share of coalition services that really matter… joint logistics, FCs, infrastructure, organization, and leadership. Their loss would reduce numbers, but little else.
You have the dedicated alliances that are very small. They have heart, and they contribute, but they simply don’t provide significant numbers of members, because their numbers are low. However, those members they do have contribute enough to prove their worth.
Then you have those alliances that have roots and interconnections that run very deep among each other. They’re the core alliances within the CFC. Goonswarm. Razor. FA. FCON. These groups provide FCs, logistics, leadership, infrastructure, and significant numbers of dedicated pilots. These alliances have dual identities both as their alliance and as a CFC member. They are fully vested, they provide the majority of the services that make the CFC effective, and they’re committed to success.
But – and let me restate it – part of their identity is as a member of the CFC. When people talk about the CFC in the future, they will remember the involvement of these alliances, and these alliances will remember their role in the CFC. If the coalition fails, discussions about each of these alliances in the future will reference their participation in the CFC.
That cannot be said of everyone. But the alliances that have a true CFC identity rather than a CFC affiliation will be forever marked by it.
Despite what James says, TEST never had a CFC identity, nor did the CFC member alliances believe TEST to be a true CFC member. “Reset TEST” was a common theme in Razor forums and comms. You can’t reset CFC members, but you can reset allies. So a claim that TEST defected is silly… you can’t defect if you don’t first believe yourself to be part of a group. They were never part of the CFC because a) TEST didn’t identify itself as a member of the CFC and b) the CFC never identified them as a member, only an ally.
Identity is what keeps coalitions together. The lack of a common and unified identity is what doomed the HBC to failure. It’s what has doomed coalitions in the past.
What keeps Razor, FA, FCON, and Goonswarm together? What makes the CFC identity so strong? Time. Several years’ of coordination breeds familiarity, comfort, and a common identity, even as the alliances maintain their own separate focuses.
N3 has a chance of rising to that level if the member alliances stick together through the fallout of the Halloween war. But they’ll need several more years before they start thinking of themselves as one with many parts, instead of a collection of individuals.
Identity is at the heart of nationalism, religious affinity, and group dynamics. It’s strength comes the fact that it resides within the minds of those who share it. They choose to be part of the group. And, ironically, it becomes stronger with strife.
James also raises the good point that no coalition has endured indefinitely. And none ever will. But until something threatens the way core alliances hold a CFC identity, nothing will dislodge CFC hegemony in Eve.
But roots that grow deep over time take time to dislodge. The CFC was the coalition that brought about the age of coalitions. Ask yourself this… in the age of coalitions, has any coalition lasted as long as the CFC?