Ave, pilots. I hope this post finds you all well. I’d like to take some time to share some of my views on the nature of international relations during these last couple of decades. Though somewhat on the longer side, I hope that you will nevertheless find it a worthwhile read.
The predominant narrative in public discourse surrounding international affairs often emphasises themes of mutual-competition, conflict, and limited cooperation between four sovereign states; those being the signatories of the Yulai Accords that collectively participate in the CONCORD international framework: the Amarr Empire, the Caldari State, the Gallente Federation, and the Minmatar Republic (hereafter often referred to as ‘the Signatories’ or ‘the Great Nations’). This narrative has not been entirely without merit. Certainly, interactions between these four entities have in many ways defined the landscape of New Eden for much of the interstellar age. What I fear this perspective does lack, however, is an appropriate level of recognition of the events and phenomena across a range of domains - geographical, demographical, technological, and otherwise - over the past twenty-or-so years that have severely challenged the Signatories’ ability to shape the state of affairs to which they collectively subjected. This narrow perspective of the state of modern interstellar affairs results in a widespread chronic overestimation of the great nations’ degree of agency in shaping them, frequently leading to advocations and behaviours that one could reasonably argue actually act against the best interests of those entities today.
When one overestimates the level of influence of the four great powers on New Eden’s current state of play, the natural conclusion one logically draws is that the primary threat to the interests of any of them individually is found in the actions and influences of the other three. When one takes such a view, intergovernmental institutions, such as CONCORD and its many sub-organisations, are perceived primarily as alliances of convenience - short-term arrangements born and maintained out the mutual recognition of each signatory’s inability to survive a significant, direct conflict with the others - to be disregarded the moment a sufficient power-disparity emerges such that one constituent nation could feasibly enforce hegemony over the others.
The above approach to international affairs held considerable merit during the time of CONCORD’s formation and, indeed, has done so for much of its existence since. Its continued acceptance as the dominant logic driving international relations today can be seen in a myriad of recent political decisions such as: the escalation of intra-CONCORD hostilities in and around the CEMWPA war zones since YC124; the refusal of the Signatories to share relevant Triglavian technological findings and discoveries with EDENCOM; and the suspicious, or even downright hostile, rhetoric often employed by political leaders and popular figures towards the CONCORD institutions - frequently portraying them as tools of aggression and control deceitfully wielded by the other Signatories. It is here where I must perhaps take undue liberties with regards to the exercise of free thought, as I must acknowledge that even Holy Amarr’s decision to withhold its Stellar Transmuter technologies from the relevant EDENCOM bodies - and its subsequent unilateral decision to deploy those experimental technologies on the Republic side of the CEMWPA war zone to catastrophic effect - very much appears to have been driven by this train of thought as well. Even at the height of the Triglavian Invasions of YC 122, rumours often circulated throughout capsuleer intelligence networks that other EDENCOM-aligned defenders were actively exploring opportunities to effectively weaponise the Triglavian threat against the other signatories. All of this clearly demonstrates that the aforementioned perspective on international affairs continues to dominate political thought through to the present day.
Yet, despite the above, the last two decades of this current age have utterly upended many of the traditional assumptions that defined the earlier interstellar era. Such status quo-altering developments during this time include: the advent of and potential demographic imbalances caused by the birth of the capsuleer sociopolitical class; the reshaping of interstellar geography caused by the emergence of Anoikis-linked wormholes, Pochven, and their subsequent subversion of the traditionally-understood concepts of static, contiguous borders; the introduction of several new political and military actors of similar or greater strength than the CONCORD signatories, such as the Triglavian Collective, the Drifters, and Sansha’s Nation; and the development and introduction of new technologies still largely outside of the understanding of the great nations, for example stellar transmuters, hyperspatial filaments, and ‘strong’ artificial intelligence.
It is my view that these developments have collectively presented enough of a transformational change to the interstellar status quo that the traditional, signatory-centric perspective of international affairs is inadequate, and that rather than perceiving intergovernmental institutions as short-lived, discardable tools of convenience within a finite, zero-sum game, the political actors and commentators of today should instead see them as a method through which participants can enrich and safeguard member states’ collective sovereignty - pooling together resources to preserve their agency in an environment in which they find themselves increasingly challenged by forces outside of their control. I’d like now to try to elaborate further on why I believe this is neccessary.
Destabilisation of Interstellar Geography
Of all of the developments to have upended the assumptions underpinning the modern interstellar era, none disturb me - yet nevertheless seem so underappreciated in popular discourse - quite as much as the reshaping of interstellar geography and subversion of national borders throughout recent decades. The two main events I would like to emphasise here are the emergence of wormholes connected to the region of space we now know as Anoikis, and the creation of the pseudo-region of Pochven following the Triglavian invasions of YC122.
On March 10th YC111, the stars of several systems across New Eden simultaneously experienced main-sequence anomalies resulting in erratic behaviours including sudden bursts of radiation and mass ejections of solar plasma. The initial impact of these anomalies was most keenly felt within the Gallente Federation’s system of Seyllin, in which the heavily-populated first planet was, tragically, all but completely destroyed with the vast majority of its population still planetside. Whilst much of New Eden was understandably shocked and disturbed by the colossal loss of life on Seyllin I, with Holy Amarr notably offering aid to the beleaguered Federation, this tragedy would not in fact prove to be the most important event that unfolded that day. Only hours following the events in that system, the Servant Sisters of EVE organisation issued warnings regarding the predicted sudden emergence of “multiple instances of defect-mediated turbulence in the fabric of spacetime”. These predictions quickly came true, as CONCORD soon confirmed the emergence of wormholes across the cluster. Within a single day, the topological integrity of New Eden as we knew it had been subverted. Any future discussion around the geography of our cluster would be forced to take into account the geography of another: a place we have since come to know as Anoikis.
The core nations and many smaller entities of New Eden set out almost immediately to explore this new domain. Within hours, signs of intelligent life were discovered. Initial rhetoric in response to such findings were, admittedly, positive. Holy Amarr’s Deputy Chief for Exploratory Reconnaissance, Admiral Ren Karetta, stated perhaps most potently: “We stand at the dawn of a new era. […] If the suggestions prove true, new civilizations may exist in corners of the universe that we are just discovering today. It falls to us to seek out what lessons the Lord has provided us in them. We must bring peace and knowledge, shining our purifying light as we scatter the darkness.”
It cannot be understated, however, despite the focus on opportunity seen in many of these early statements, just how much threat potential these discoveries also brought with them. The potential existence of unknown civilisations, now geographically connected to our nations through unpredictable wormhole connections bypassing our previously defined borders, brought with it the ability for emergent hostile threats to strike out at core New Eden systems while completely bypassing existing border defences. Furthermore, if such a network of wormholes could be traversed reliably, then their emergence could also allow other New Eden entities to exploit them towards similar ends.
Compared to the creation of the domain known as Pochven, covered momentarily, Anoikis’ emergence brought with it considerably less predictable and more erratic perforations of topological boundaries. Wormholes connected to Anoikis typically only stay ‘open’ for approximately 24 hours before their instability causes them to collapse, and the emergence of new wormhole locations is exceedingly difficult to predict. Yet, in many ways it could be argued that such unreliability only exacerbates the problem: ever since the developments of YC111, every system within a nation’s territories has essentially become a frontier, with military planners and security forces being largely unable to predict exactly when and where these frontiers will shift to on a moment-by-moment basis. Indeed, events in Safizon some six years later may very well have developed differently were this not the case.
Of course, the events of YC111 would not stand alone as the only occasion in which new forms of wormhole connections would emerge in New Eden, subverting our previous notions of interstellar geography. Only eleven years later, in YC122, following repeated invasions into CONCORD-Signatory space, the emerging Triglavian Collective threat finally succeeded in wresting control of a system from its defenders. The fall of Raravoss was followed by the capture of twenty six more systems, before the Collective would reshape the structure of our cluster dramatically by disconnecting the stolen stars from the existing stargate network - essentially creating the pseudo-region of Pochven; a place only accessible from the outside via semi-predictable-but-nevertheless-inconsistent wormhole connections. In a sense, the slightly increased predictability of Pochven’s external connections to the rest of New Eden, coupled with the region’s internal consistency via its static stargate network, poses a different sort of threat to our previous understood concepts national borders than that of Anoikis, as any military actor with access to a Pochven connection can now reliably utilise it as a form of shortcut into relatively predictable locations deep inside another nation’s territory.
Perhaps the reason these transformations in spatial geography disturb me so much, and also why I feel they go so underappreciated in popular discourse around modern security issues that instead focuses primarily on intra-CONCORD political dynamics, is that - even where some of the above developments were brought about by the actions of human beings - geography in itself is not human. Human beings, I feel, have a tendency to bias their concerns towards the actions and behaviours of other human beings. We gravitate towards and emphasise, whether in appreciation towards or in fear of, the actions of other societies and cultures. There is something almost seductive about being able to build one’s sense of identity out of support for or opposition towards others.
By contrast, non-human, inanimate phenomena such as geography and space themselves are not quite so alluring a target for our concerns. We cannot rally our troops against space itself, we cannot so easily build a sense of identity out of our opposition to something that doesn’t think, feel, nor care about anything in the first place. And yet, it is precisely the fact these phenomena ripping apart our historical boundaries are unthinking, unfeeling and uncaring that terrifies me so much about them. One cannot reason with geography, we cannot engage in diplomacy with a wormhole, we cannot wage war on unreliable, perforated borders themselves. Now that they are here, we can only try to understand these phenomena, and work in tandem with their existence.
To do this, we need resources - human, technological, financial. We need communication and coordination. We have more of all of the above when we utilise shared institutions in good faith. We have less of the above when we view shared institutions with suspicion and doubt.
Many of the emergent threats we find ourselves facing today involve technologies largely outside of our understanding and control. ‘Strong’ Artificial Intelligence development has long been one of the most concerning technological fields across the cluster. Sufficiently powerful AI can easily outperform human cognition in a wide variety of fields to a substantial degree. Further, the theory of instrumental convergence has long heralded the danger of a sufficiently capable Artificial Intelligence platform behaving in manners exceedingly harmful to humanity’s survival; predictions of such a post-Singularity society frequently remind us of the dangers we face from our own technology - especially at the point it becomes no longer ‘ours’. As such, AI development has been heavily regulated by CONCORD’s Department for Enforcement of Restrictions on Artificial Intelligence and Life, more commonly known as DERAIL, since YC105. Nevertheless, these measures have not been perfect. Perhaps no example best highlights these failings than the ‘Rogue Drone’ epidemic we are currently facing.
Though tracing its origins to YC93, just before the creation of DERAIL in YC105, it is perhaps the developments of YC109 that best exemplify just how much of a threat the Rogue Drone epidemic has become to human civilisation. It was this year in which the so-called ‘Activation Event’ occurred, wherein which stargates to the regions of null-security space now commonly known as the ‘Drone Regions’ spontaneously and unexpectedly opened. In many ways, the opening of these gates could just as easily have been included in the above section on the threats posed by the unexpected changing of interstellar geography. Nevertheless, I mention the event here because, as the name of the newly discovered regions suggest, the Activation Event revealed in no uncertain terms just how substantially the Rogue Drone infestation had grown outside of our control.
Eight regions of space: Cobalt Edge, Etherium Reach, The Kalevala Expanse, Malpais, Oasa, Outer Passage, Perrigen Falls, and The Spire. All infested by the rogue AI menace. To put that into context, the mighty Gallente Federation, second largest of the great nations, ‘only’ occupies six regions of space. Currently, the only presence in these areas acting as population control against this emergeant threat is that of independent capsuleers - entities that are largely individually-sovereign and whom generally act out of their own volition with little regard for signatory control.
Further to this, Rogue Drones have in more recent times been frequently sighted in the newly established pseudo-region of Pochven, regularly engaging in conflicts with the Drifters and the Triglavians, again largely outside of the control of the great nations. Their presence within Pochven represents a new dimension to their threat, as the geographical nature of the pseudo-region enables them, should they decide to mobilise in force against the Signatories, the capability to strike out straight into the heart of New Eden’s core territories.
Beyond the rogue drone epidemic, a whole host of other new technologies have surfaced in recent years that have threatened to rewrite the rulebook on interstellar matters. Stellar Transmuter technologies initially introduced to the cluster by the Triglavian Collective have proven themselves to be both exceedingly powerful drivers of improved resource collection, and exceedingly dangerous bringers of mass destruction - whether intentionally so or otherwise. Horrific events in the Turnur system towards the tail-end of YC124 demonstrate severely the incredible risks the nations take as they pursue efforts to understand these devices. The technology must be understood if the Signatories are to stand on equal footing with the Collective, this cannot be in doubt, but intra-CONCORD rivalry and mutual distrust cannot be allowed to stifle cooperation and the sharing of both resources and knowledge to this end as it appears to have done so far, lest the nations ultimately sabotage their own efforts and place themselves in further peril through their own hubris.
Further to the above, even more technological developments have compounded on the previously-discussed alterations in spatial geography and subversion of typical notions of national frontiers. The Equilibrium of Mankind’s campaign of false-flag planetary bombardments against Signatory worlds during YC123 debuted new forms of covert cynosural technologies that enabled the terrorist organisation’s forces to bypass the great nations’ security measures and inflict great harm against our peoples. Hyperspatial filaments, meanwhile, have enabled spacebound vessels to near-instantaneously transit extreme distances across the cluster. Even as of the week of this post, there are new murmurs of new technologies being under development that could further upend transportational norms. Tying back into the previous section’s theme of subverted geography, the introduction of these new technologies demonstrates all too clearly and with potentially severe consequence how, sometimes even relatively small, entities are now able to undermine traditional notions of border security in the current age.
Much as with our responses to the rapidly-changing face of spatial topography, our strategies for understanding, countering, and/or utilising these frequently-emergening transformative new technologies are far better served through the collaborative pooling of resource, open sharing of information, and collective harnessing of the greatest scientific minds across all of the great nations than they are otherwise. By contrast, the approaches shown by the great nations in the last year, such as the hoarding of newly discovered or otherwise acquired Triglavian technologies at the expense of the other signatories, have very much come across as short-sighted and counter-productive.
The Independent Capsuleer Social Class
The ‘Empyrean Age’ terminology that some occasionally use to refer to the present era takes its name from the emergence of the so-called ‘Empyrean’ social class, or, to give them a less-grandiose title, the emergence of Capsuleers. These still-reletively-new actors are notable for their exercise of extreme levels of individual liberty, for their ability to accumulate exceptional levels of individual wealth, and for their significant individual longevity brought about as a result of their considerable (even if not absolute) circumvention of the traditional notions of death. Discourse around the level of collective influence wielded by this emergeant capsuleer class has been both spirited and plentiful since their inception.
What I have found most curious, and indeed worryingly myopic, throughout this time has been the popular argument amongst sceptics that capsuleers do not currently pose a significant threat to the great nations’ hegemony over interstellar affairs as they can only muster enough forces to be a deciding factor in how engagements between the nations play out. This argument seems rather self-defeating to me, as it quite succinctly demonstrates just how quickly such a tiny fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of New Eden’s population has developed the ability to effectively decide how conflicts between the largest entities representing the overwhelming majority of New Eden’s population actually resolve. The twenty-seven stars stolen away by the Triglavian Collective through YC122 were successfully taken, in large part, because of the decisions capsuleers took during the conflict. The CONCORD signatories regularly rely on capsuleer militia forces to turn the tide of the CEMPWA wars. Capsuleer forces are often the first responders and front lines of defence against Sansha’s Nation incursions. Capsuleer forces are, as discussed previously, furthermore one of the only sources of population control checking the Rogue Drone pandemic. It should be painfully clear to even the most sceptical of observers that the capsuleer class is, whilst not collectively united in action or purpose, collectively able to present a significant and repeatedly-demonstrated challenge to the great nations’ hegemony over interstellar affairs.
What compounds this fact is the worrying realisation that independent capsuleers have existed for only a very short length of time now, particularly in the grand scheme of international affairs. Considering their aforementioned circumvention of most historical notions of death, and the fact that many capsuleers who seemingly retire from active space activities appear to do so out of the development of excessive riches and a desire to simply 'win at life’, rather than as a result of their actual death, we can only assume that the size and influence of this class of people will only grow and grow over time. One has to wonder, therefore, just how powerful this group of persons will collectively be in, say, hundreds or even thousands of years from now. Given the exorbitant levels of wealth even the ‘poorest’ of capsuleers tend to amass, and their considerable detachment from the social structures of the great nations, these so-called ‘Empyreans’ represent an astonishingly terrifying threat to the political demographic order and balance of New Eden that the nations must be more proactive in addressing now. Otherwise, it is hard to imagine what this social class will look like in one hundred years, one thousand years, or even further into the future.
No individual nation can single-handedly write the rulebook on the policing and management of the capsuleer class. The cluster-wide nature of their existence necessarily requires a coordinated cluster-wide response. Only through shared initiatives and empowered cooperative institutions, such as through CONCORD, can the signatories have any hope of taming this emerging threat from within.
Path dependency and institutional memory are exceedingly powerful forces. Together, they exploit human temptations to accept pre-existing narratives as permanent truth. Our desire to seek security in the known often results in the tendency for human beings to harden in their existing views as they age. Most of us were raised and spent the majority of our lives in a cluster in which the four great nations could unquestionably dictate between them the overall state of interstellar affairs: times in which we could exert direct control on where our territorial borders would be and when they would change; times in which the only threat actors we knew were human, and therefore relatively well-understood; times in which we could feasibly strike out at hostile threat actors’ home territories if necessary (something, it should be noted, we cannot currently do with the Triglavian Collective); times before capsuleers ever existed. We may therefore very well find a considerable feeling of security in downplaying the significance modern emergent threats and the way they have undermined those capabilities, whether through arguing that the Triglavian Collective’s immediate military threat has subsided; that the Rogue Drone menace is not significantly different to any human pirate entity; that the capsuleer class’ level of influence is overstated; that the continuous evisceration of our national borders by both hostile outside actors and by nature itself is an individually manageable concern.
Such rationalisations are exceedingly myopic, leading to the continued misguided and self-harming emphasis on historical points of contention and competition between CONCORD signatories as primary axiom of international politics. Little can be quite so comforting as the sense of assurance provided by long-held convictions regarding who The Enemy really is and how interactions with them work. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that many of us cling so closely to the belief that the state of affairs that we have known for so long remain unchallenged today. Yet one honest, critical, and holistic look at the previous twenty-or-so years of interstellar history should be enough to convince even the most unchanging of individuals that the great nations’ collective position of dominance over New Eden’s status quo has been severely challenged by a myriad of wide-ranging developments and, more importantly, that those developments have come at horrifyingly rapid pace and seemingly without cessation. There is nothing to indicate that this trend will reverse in coming times; certainly not if the last twenty years hold any prophetic warnings of what the future still holds. We can only assume that our understandings of this cluster and our formerly privileged position within it will be further subverted in the years to come.
I truly believe that if the four great nations of New Eden are to survive, let alone thrive, in this new era, a fundamental change in attitude towards intergovernmental institutions between them must come to pass. That change in attitude needs to be at least partially informed by the recognition of the disturbing reality that the four CONCORD signatories are no longer able to collectively dominate the state of interstellar affairs as they once used to. Instead, they have all largely been put on the back foot by many wide-reaching transformational developments across a range of different sectors - many of which compound on each other’s effects. International cooperation between the great nations in this uncertain era cannot afford to be treated as being part of zero-sum game between hesitant rivals who alone hold collective hegemony over the state of New Eden’s affairs. It must instead be recognised as the realisation of a sense of greater collective sovereignty that can alone enable the great nations to wield the increased levels of power and resource necessary to meet these unprecedented challenges.
Thank you for your time.