Thursday, July 3, 2014

When Narrative Gets in the Way of Accuracy

Yes, this is another response piece.  In this case, it’s to a piece on EveNews24 without an author listed (gotta love those…).  Essentially, it consists of an N3 member (based on the context clues) trying to reinforce the N3 narrative that the CFC operates by Goonswarm leeching power off the coalition’s other alliances to keep them weak and dependent.

Let me give my perspective.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m a member of Repercussus, a Razor Alliance corporation.  Razor is part of the CFC.  I can speak with some authority on the nature of my experience in RP, Razor, and the CFC. 

The Danger of Generalities

Any time you talk about coalition identity, you have to be very, very careful.  There is no single identity, only competing narratives put forth by the CFC and N3PL (and I’m not putting the parentheses or question mark that the other author does; these two entities are like Hanna and Barbara) about their adversaries.

In this case, the false generality is the idea that the CFC bows to TheMittani’s will.  I know this through personal experience.  No Razor goat has any concern whatsoever about pleasing or disappointing TheMittani.  We fly with the CFC because we get fights.  We fly with the CFC because of the Jump Bridge network.  We fly with the CFC because of the community that allows us, when we roam, to join up with local blues to take down larger gangs.  We fly with the CFC because someone in the coalition will do something stupid that generates a huge supercap fight (Asakai, anyone?).  We fly with the CFC because of content.

As a result, this whole B0TLRD universe we live in has a lot of CFC pilots grumbling, because it seems to run contrary to content generation.  That’s not a coincidence.

On the alliance level, there’s one simple fact that the original author overlooks that provides the most compelling reason CFC alliances follow TheMittani’s political leadership: the CFC has never lost a war.  GSF let Razor “crash on their couch” in Pure Blind, after which Razor provided the second most number of pilots during the conquest of the north (Behind GSF, who had about 4x our numbers at the time).  As a result, as the spoils were divided, we got exactly what we wanted… Tenal.  And through all the wars, we’ve kept it for the past two years, without any issue.  Razor is pleased to be a part of the CFC because of this track record of success.  The CFC stated that alliances who chipped in to the common cause would profit from the common spoils.  Through all the actions since, this has been borne out.  And all of the actions have seen us profit increasingly.

Has GSF sought to keep Razor weak?  No, we’ve done that to ourselves through incompetence and bumbling.  The only reason TGRAD was allowed to form its own coalition and hirr was not was because hirr had no connect with Eve Uni and didn’t have a critical mass of members to make a viable alliance by themselves (TGRAD is about 700, hirr was 350 or so).  Add to it the fact that TGRAD regularly put up huge numbers for alliance operations and hirr did not, and you start to see that hirr was significantly weaker and less valuable to the CFC than TGRAD.  In fact, if anything, the fact that the CFC accepted – without protest or the need for persuasion – Razor’s blacklist of hirr speaks to the respect the CFC has to component alliances.

The divergent results were the result of the same thought processes and policies, not an about-face or attempt to mitigate losses.  In all cases, the internal problems with Razor (which I admit freely exist) were responsible, not some external pressure from GSF to “poach” our best corporations.

TheMittani as Svengali

So, you tell me… if a leader tells you he’s going to do something, he does it, and he distributes the spoils fairly and according to everyone’s initial expectations, does that make him an egomaniac or a tyrant or a Svengali?  No, it makes him a fair leader.  Why is TheMittani the leader?  Because he runs the largest member of the CFC and the most organized alliance in the game and he spins a good motivating speech.  And leadership is about logistics and narrative.

Do I feel oppressed or duped?  Am I being oppressed or duped?  Not at all, and nor does/is Razor.  I suspect few, if any, of the CFC alliances do either.  TheMittani has kept the promises he made.

Not once has GSF or the CFC ever complained about Razor deploying somewhere.  Nor did they resist when FCON wanted to deploy to Geminate by themselves.  The CFC’s attitude was very much, “Godspeed, guys.”  Whether FCON succeeded or failed is of no consequence… the CFC and TheMittani (no one denies he’s the leader) didn’t seek to oppose the effort.

Some would argue, “Yeah, but TheMittani knew FCON would fail, and that failure would reinforce the belief that FCON needed the CFC.”  That’s just silly.  Even if TheMittani believed FCON would fail and wanted them to believe they needed the CFC to succeed, it’s still a tremendous risk to take.  Moreover, it’s a tremendous risk to take time and again.  When TheMittani doesn’t stand in the way of Razor deploying independently, FCON deploying independently, FA deploying independently, etc… those risks pile up.  If you’re always holding your friends’ coats every time they want to get in a fight, you aren’t trying to keep them dependent on you… you’re actually letting them have their own identity.

But I suspect that those who want to spread the narrative that GSF wants its allies to be weak would continue to spread that narrative even if TheMittani wished CFC alliances well on independent deployments a hundred times.  Narrative can’t be stopped by facts, silly!

The Far Side of the World

As for N3… I find it laughable to call it a “feature” that the alliances can deploy on their own effectively.  The success rate of N3PL coalitions deploying is no different than that of CFC coalitions.  First off, PL doesn’t deploy on their own; they tag onto conflicts and tip the balance (or they don’t, as has proven out more than once).  They don’t really play for their own objectives, but rather seek to maintain balance by assisting the weaker side for significant profit (“Supercaps for Sale or Rent, Supercaps for 50¢.”).  To claim that they successfully deploy is a bit silly… what sov objectives do they achieve when they go it alone?  The answer is… none; they never go it alone.

As to N3… perhaps I missed it, but it seems to me they operate pretty consistently together.  That’s their strength, they know it, and they apply it effectively.  Despite being beaten time and again by the CFC, they continue to retain their identity and come back in the next war equally strong.  This is admirable, and claiming that individual deployment success is a feature of their identity is as meaningless as it is inaccurate.

What You CAN Say About Style

I think you can say some things about the style of the coalitions very clearly.  The CFC can easily be described by the word, “Organization”.  Everything in the CFC runs from a central belief that organization and logistics rules the day.  For N3, I’d choose “Confederation”; a group of independent-minded entities joining together for common purpose.  And for PL, I’d use “War Chiefs”, as the alliance operates mostly from a highly de-centralized group of FCs who take up leadership in the short-term for specific campaigns or battles, then step back into the fold when it’s complete.

Those are descriptions of three very different styles, but they’re intentionally very loose descriptions.  To do otherwise is to constrain the reality, which is that each group is a giant mess of different opinions, beliefs, and realities, regardless of the utility granted to commentators who want to easily encapsulate the nature of the groups for a reading audience.

The entire gameworld isn’t conspiring to destroy the CFC.  Sure, N3 stated that their goal is to destroy the CFC, but that’s not surprising since it consists of a bunch of alliances who lost their original space because of the CFC.  Saying “People who we punched in the face want to punch us back,” is a far cry from, “Everyone’s against us!”

Conversely, the CFC doesn’t consist of one puppet master with all of the members of the component alliances worshiping him in cult-like fashion.  Rather, it’s one guy leading a good logistic system making deals with other alliances and creating a rising tide to lift all ships.  He knows that his power rests on continuing to successfully provide content and live up to the trust that honoring his past agreements with CFC alliances has earned him.

Final Thoughts

Based on the context clues, it’s pretty clear that the author (who is anonymous… always a bad sign for credibility) is very favorably disposed towards N3.  With that assumption – which I feel is pretty well-justified based on the tone, emphasis, and platitudes expressed – the whole article strikes me as being a, “Let me tell you about the other guy!” piece.

In this article, I’ve tried to share my honest thoughts about my own coalition, an exercise that is infinitely more trustworthy.  Some may claim I’m simply putting forth propaganda, but that’s a pretty thin argument.  Why?  Because I didn’t put this piece out first; it’s a response to someone else.  An essential element of propaganda is to set the tone of the conversation, not respond to someone else’s thoughts.

But more than that, I have direct, daily experience with being in the CFC, whereas the author of the EN24 piece clearly does not.  No one I’ve spoken to in Razor feels slighted by the CFC, or feels as if we’re being repressed.  None of us is angry at GSF or the CFC for what happened with any of the corporations who left us recently.  When we deploy on our own, our success is a matter of pride for us. 

And when we fail, no one has ever thought or said, “Boy, we best not deploy without the CFC.”  Rather, we look to our failures as indicators of where we need to improve, and make changes.  Sometimes, those changes work, and sometimes they don’t, showing us that we need to make further changes.

That’s the process of improvement.  It isn’t dependency, as the N3PL narrative would like people to believe.

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