Sunday, June 28, 2015

Brave: The Failure of Democracy

So, clearly, nothing at all is happening with Brave.  Oh, except for that whole democracy thing falling through entirely.

Mind you, I’m not trying to kick them while they’re down.  Far from it.  Brave, Eve Uni, PRF, Test… these groups do good with trying to deepen new player immersion in Eve.  And that’s a very good thing.  For the longest time, Brave, however, suffered from “The Modern Sickness”, which affects nearly everything built in the 20th century.  That sickness, of course, is the foolish belief that democracy is the solution for everything, in all cases and situations.

Uh oh, here we go…

Democracy is a great thing, of course.  The theory that a group of people should decide the rules under which they live is a way to ensure long-term happiness and fulfillment of personal desires.  And that’s very good from psychological, financial, and social aspects.  I’ve often said that democratic governments are a great “time-killing” government.  They encourage innovation, inspiration, and exploration of individuality and what is means to be human.  In providing a venue for everyone to have a voice, they also cast light on inequity and allow subcultures and formerly oppressed groups to flourish.

Like alcohol, hydrochloric acid, or oxygen in the atmosphere, democracy is best when diluted.  True democracy is chaos… thousands of voices clamoring for attention without limit or any guard rails.  Mob/majority rule is the order of the day, and it’s far too prone to either being derailed by a burgeoning tyrant or resulting in cultural schizophrenia held hostage by the fickleness of the people.

Pure democracy is passion without vision, and it’s sometimes more dangerous than autocracy because its members aren’t able to predict future conditions and can’t plan long-term.

In modern times, we feel we must apply democracy to EVERYTHING, even when it makes no sense.  In the most obvious example, war should not be conducted by democratic means.  A war needs to be conducted from the perspective of achieving victory; this sometimes requires unpopular actions for the greater good.  Consider George Washington, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosis, or Sam Houston.

Democracy fails when applied to situations of extreme stress.  “The Modern Sickness” is the tendency to apply democracy as the be-all-end-all solution regardless of the situation, a default answer that bias makes us believe is always correct.  That’s not to say that democracy is worthless, but rather that it does not contravene the general maxim, “let the solution suit the problem”.

In Eve, every major alliance – and all but two null-sec alliances I can think of – apply some form of autocratic governance.  The first is the Phoebe Freeport Republic.  The latter is – or, rather was – Brave.

Perhaps there’s something in there about Eve being an inherently competitive game and a single dominant voice becoming “king of the hill” being the necessary result.  Perhaps you can say something about people needing to be led.

Personally, I think it’s far simpler than that.  In every alliance, you only have one CEO of one executor corporation.  And no matter how many people share the responsibility of leading, in the end, that one person maintains absolute control.  Nothing is done without that single person’s tacit or overt permission.  Eve is a designed system operating on discrete rules, and in the end, that one person in that role will always win out.

And that kind of makes sense.  To go after sovereignty in Eve is to commit yourself to a permanent war footing.  No longer are YOLO welps simply fun experiences, but they can mean the loss of real assets.  If Brave wants to be a sov null entity, it has to commit itself to that form of life – decisive action and a single mission uniting all of the members who choose to stay.

But in so doing, Brave has lost something special.  No long can Brave be considered a newbie corporation dedicated to a casual, “no fucks given” playstyle.  They’ve graduated now, and are committing themselves to full sovereignty play.  It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they’ve lost a lot of members, saw Karmafleet break off, and have seen their members noticing a change in tone and atmosphere.  That’s to be expected.  They went from a fun/hr group to asset protection.  You can’t be both at the same time.

So, you get what you have with Lychton Kondur… in a single motion, he did away with the democratic institutions of Brave.  The changes were needed – we all saw the chaos that ensued from attempts at democracy.  For a society, delay, debate, and analysis are critical to its survival.  To a war entity, though (as all sov nul alliances are, whether they want to be or not), those lead to defeat and confusion.

It was the necessary move, particularly given the drama, but it is one with consequences.


  1. The more straightfoward response is that the alliances and coalitions in game are purely military. Even the most ambitiously democratic nation has a non-democratic military, because you simply need people to make decisions within a limited time window that a democracy can't hope to meet.

    That will never change, so democracy will always scale poorly in EVE.

  2. Alliances and coalitions in nullsec are military organizations. Even the most ambitiously democratic nations in the real world have hierarchical militaries.

    As a matter of lore, civilian life is a punchline in EVE, so civilian structures of govenrment are irrelevant and they will always scale poorly in player organizations. Capsuleers are weapons.

    1. *sniffles* This is the nicest thing anyone has every said about me, as a capsuleer!

  3. I think nobody in Brave really wanted the CNM to continue even the elected representatives.The vision was that they would be a communications conduit to leadership. But everything gets routed around them - if a player has an issue they feel entitled to the ear of leadership. If leadership want the players to know something they announce it themselves. So they did nothing except take a seat at the table and chime in with their own opinions without really representing anyone else.

    1. It is not clear to me (as an outsider) what the CNM, which struck me as a formalized version of the sort of advisory body which would need to exist anyway, actually had to do with what I consider to be the organizational issues that BRAVE is suffering from. It may have been the case that people only realize later that they really don't want to be part of that body, but that doesn't change the fact that you need to have *some* way to have a sense of these things.

    2. What I find so interesting isn't that the CNM shut down, but the WAY it was announced - by absolute fiat by Lychton. That signals the end of democracy more clearly than if the CNM or the collection of CEOs got together and announced the end of it.