Eveotorial: The Mass of Men

"The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. ... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones, and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw, or a lump of dirt."  - Henry Thoreau (Civil Disobedience)

Thoreau's point was directed at the "State" in a sense that we have all sadly become familiar with over the last century. The great weight of social and political power that drives people in mass to commit crimes, injustices and horrors to which any individual would often consider of the worst caliber. It is important to remember, and a point often forgotten when students take up civil disobedience in the spirit of Thoreau, that his warning applies to all sides.

This we have seen as well. Injustice committed in the pursuit of liberty is no excuse either. Crowds of straw men are still built on straw. And are just as likely to create the cycle of injustice, as are their oppressors.  This is, after all, the great conundrum of civil disobedience.

In a nutshell, it serves no good purpose to become those whom you are fighting against.  That road leads to vigilantism and the usurping of one Dictator for another. Or the lynching, or the bus bombs killing your own people. On and on.

Over the past five days I have watched in horror as my fellow Eve players have become men of straw. I've watched people I thought I knew spread rumor, leak documents, alter facts and ignite the flames of anger for their own personal gain (virtual masturbation for the most part, what else can you call it?)  Perhaps I come off a tad harsh and it is not my intention to point to any one person in particular, as I believe there is more "crowd" at work than "person" here.  But I've watched it, tried to steer it as much as any one person can, but I've felt a lot like Gandhi standing alone against the British in doing so.  Waiting to be trampled, but hoping that deep down, human dignity would prevail.

These are all big words for a stupid virtual universe.  Probably.  But this is my pulpit and today I am preaching.

I've asked over and over again on Twitter, what exactly people are angry about?  And I've yet to get a good answer. The mass screams that CCP lied to them, told falsehoods and they need to be taught a lesson.  But what lies are those exactly?  I can't find any evidence of lies.  The only lies I've discovered have been on the lips of the players.  Oh but RJ, they say, they lied to us about MT.  Did they now?

MT has been on our lips for a long time, in fact I first wrote about it and Eve almost a year ago.  CCP made it clear that the vanity store was coming, in fact only a few weeks ago they released information about it.  It has been up and running on SiSi for awhile now (I can't say how long since it doesn't work on my Mac).  

So does the anger stem from vanity items?  I find that hard to believe. You're angry about an optional list of highly priced non-essential items?  I mean really.  I haven't even opened the vanity store and I have no plans to EVER do so.  The whole concept sounds like, A fool and his money are soon parted, to me.  But I also understand that a sucker is born every minute, in fact CCP says 52 people have bought monocles! (Unconfirmed source)  But the vanity store doesn't impact me, its optional and hardly a source for great anger.

So many people have made assumptions and suppositions based on ill-gotten and wild speculation, it can be difficult to get at the truth.  Goodness knows I am not an apologist for CCP, anyone that reads my blog should know that.  But I'm really trying to see the anger, to share in it and help if I can.  I'm the first person to light a torch and join a cause I can believe in, but I find nothing here to believe in.

Are you pissed because CQ sucks?  It does, no doubt.  But we've known that for a long time.  I've been saying it over and over again here on Eveoganda, I don't see the point of WiS.  But this is the way the game is headed and in fact, although I don't see the point, it does make sense.  Eve is expanding, DUST is coming and we need to be able to interact with this new world.  That is obviously the direction they are taking us.  CQ is what it is, but it is only the first of many steps.  And CCP went out of their way to say that over and over again.  So any falsehood here was built up in the minds of the players, not from anything they told us.

When I started playing Eve three years ago it was called "ambulation" and slowly became Walking In Station.  So this general direction has been known and talked about and anticipated for a long time.  Maybe a little longer than it should have been, maybe that is part of the problem?  I'm not sure what could be done about that now, it is here and it will continue to be here as we go along this path.  My game is outside in space however, and unless something drastic happens to change that, it always will be.

I admit, the protest in Jita made me smile. That was an excellent example of civil disobedience.  Pointless though it may have been, it did expose the power that we as players always have.  The power ultimately lies with us, as it always has.  Many of my good friends are using that power to quit or shut down there accounts in protest.  I am sad to see that and, as misguided as I think it is, I respect their decision.  It always comes down to personal, individual, power.  The power to say NO, I won't take it anymore.  We all have our limits and for some, obviously, this past week has broken their limits.  Far be it for me to say anything against that, more power to you all.  Best of luck and godspeed.

I can't help however, thinking back to this time last year.  A similar thing happened.  Anger, frustration, rage exploded on the scene and swept through the world of Eve.  Many long-time players quit in protest, blogs went dark, and CCP was the great satan once more.  That one started on Spring Break last year and then re-ignited at the beginning of Summer.  Funny, this is Summer also.

Anyone else see a connection there?  Can anyone say, "Too much time on your hands?"

I'm ashamed by my community at large right now.  Frankly I thought you were better than this.  No matter how much you want it to be, speculation is NOT truth.  Blue-sky internal documents are NOT policy.  And leaked documents in violation of NDAs result in bans, they just do.  

Many have asked, why doesn't CCP just talk to us and come right out and say what they mean?  Why?

Would you?  Are you worthy of an adult conversation right now?  

Jack Welch, who brought GE back from the brink of bankruptcy, wrote a book that sits on my shelf.  I've read it several times.  Among many things within its pages, one thing got a lot of press at the time it was written and I'll never forget it.  Every year when he was CEO they would fire or lay-off 10% of the work force.  This kept the work-force vital, got rid of the dead-weight and told everyone else that was doing their job, that the leadership took their efforts seriously and respected their commitment.  Beyond that it is common knowledge that basic employee numbers break-down like this:  30% of your work -force is behind you and supports the direction of the company: 50% consider their work to be a job, they are never overly excited about it or actively against it, they do their work and go home: the remaining 20% are a mixed bag, but 10% of them are actively working AGAINST your company, they are disgruntled, stealing supplies, or otherwise actively working to bring your company down.

I suspect that the Eve population isn't all that different.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Eve isn't worth it.  If you hate it that much go find something else to do, seriously.  It is supposed to be fun, enjoyable and relaxing.  It is a diversion, it isn't real.  Real is outside your parent's basement, or your bedroom.  Real is outside.  And the outside world needs your help.  Much more than this virtual made-up spaceship game does.  Outside are real issues that need real solutions.  Go there and add to the human condition, help those in need, lend a hand, share ideas, make a difference.  Eve will be fine without you.

It will be fine without me someday.

And remember, the first word in civil disobedience... is "civil".  Non-criminal relations among a community, Courteous and polite.

"They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others—as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders—serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few—as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men—serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and are commonly treated as enemies by it." - The rest of the quote