Elections are over and the new CSM has taken office. I am sure they are busy getting up to speed and while we can argue about candidates, few argue that having engaged players being in daily communication with the game company is a bad thing. Right?
Well, it turns out that in EVE, the vast majority does not vote. Foo and Gevlon analyzed the data and report that 31294 accounts participated in the CSM election, down from 49702 for CSM 8. This drop in participation has the blogosphere all excited. The consensus seems to be that the majority of EVE pilots simply do not care about CSM. In the sandbox that EVE strives to be, this apathy is perfectly acceptable but it isn’t really following the democratic ideal where everyone participates equally in shaping the destiny of all.
I the real world, I have long been uneasy about the concept of democracy. It is true, it is the least buggy operating system out there but that does not mean we can’t think of ways to improve it.
One man, one vote has been the mantra for a very long time and I always wondered why it doesn’t get challenged. The classic model of democracy required voters to be adult, male and citizens. Slaves and women need not apply. As recent as 1790, property was required to vote, one simple reason given for that was that property means that you have a stake in your decision. The penniless, the destitute, those with nothing to lose are often the motor of extremism. But as we know, democracy evolved and granted everyone the same voting power.
Lets be honest for a minute and forget political correctness: why should someone with extremely limited information and education have the same say over matters that affect my life than someone who dedicated her entire career toward it? Would you have some neighbor with a pair of pliers fix your tooth or rather see a professional dentist? See?
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Winston Churchill
It is of course this uneasiness with direct democracy that spawned the invention of delegates who can buffer, interpret and translate the whims of the voters into reasonable politics. But to reach a representative is hard, they need to be selective in who they see; it has to be a person who can advance their cause of re-election substantially.
Enter the lobbyist. A lobbyist influences the political decision making process and gets paid for his work. Paid well, I may say, political influence does not come cheaply and only the rich or large corporations can afford to purchase enough influence to change politics.
But now we are back to square one, those with lots of money make decisions that affect all of us. This time, instead of being upfront about it (like the Athenians), we mask it with some political correct but highly inefficient process. I now need to make money to pay a lobbyist to pay a politician to pay for an election campaign that generates votes. Geez. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to purchase the votes directly from the citizens, cut out the middleman?
Well, I am glad that I am not alone in this opinion. The well-known venture capitalist Tom Perkins clearly spelled out what I said for years – instead of “one man, one vote”, make it “one dollar, one vote”. We mean “income tax” of course which makes perfect sense. At time of election, you simply ride up to the voting station, present your ID and your income tax statement and receive an equal number of votes as you have paid tax dollars the previous year. Then you vote, print out your record and present it to your politician as proof that he now owes you.
I fail to see a weakness in the argument especially in the US where upward mobility and the central position of money as the measure of all things are deeply ingrained into society. You want more political clout? Work harder, make money, pay your taxes, purchase a politician. Its really easy.
Back to Spaceships. In light of the above, it becomes ridiculously simple to address voter apathy in EVE. All CCP has to do is to tie the right to vote to a “physical” item similar to a PLEX. This item – lets call it New Eden Voting Registration or NEVR.
When the time comes to vote in a new CSM, CCP uses the existing “gift” mechanic to offer each active account a NEVR. When the player accepts it, the NEVR shows up in his hangar.
Still with me? Good
Now the player has the NEVR in his hangar. It will allow him to participate in the CSM election but it can also be sold on the market, traded, contracted, transported and – of course, this is EVE – stolen, scammed and awoxed, just like a PLEX. I would suggest two differences, it can not be destroyed (other than by voting) and it must be handed in at one of the major tradehubs. The former condition is in place so that killing a ship that transports a NEVR guarantees it to drop. The latter condition is that enough people move it around New Eden so that it becomes a viable profession to hunt them down.
So, whats the net effect? Well, for most of us engaged players, the is no difference whatsoever. We simply use the NEVR as intended and just vote, one per account, job done. For a politically disengaged player the NEVR becomes a real source of ISK since he can be put on the market. By doing this, he will have to compare the monetary value of ISK with the idealistic value of voting and maybe, just maybe in this process makes a different decision. The last group are of course those who aim to influence EVE politics by using capital. They can drive the price up and collect votes with which to purchase CSM members. They would have to transport it, making themselves vulnerable to their enemies who have the same goal. But once they have them collected they can consolidate their voice much more efficiently than today with “bloc ballots”. And of course they can show the newly elected CSM member the record of their voting, making sure he knows to who he owe his seat.
As in the democracy model above, I fail to see the downside. I mean, who loses? Those who cry that they don’t have a say? Pffsht to that, I say. Make tons of ISK, buy NEVR and vote.
New Eden, the laboratory of democracy.
In case you are wondering whether this post was a troll or whether I am serious. Keep wondering.