The Myth of Capitalist EVE

2021-05-09

The title of this article, for many, will seem shocking. EVE Online has often been touted as one of the supreme examples of capitalism in action. A recent Talking in Stations article noted that:

A Caldari player 5hipy4rd pointed out on reddit recently that EVE Online represents pure unimpeded Capitalism at its finest. New Eden is full of Mercs, Warlords, Organized Crime, Arms Dealers. Wealthy players making money off of poor players who believe they can strike it rich. Power brokers who change the political landscape of the game through war and espionage to serve their interests. Hey, it beats space Communism. No one wants to play a bread line simulator where they’re told exactly what to do every session for the good of the state. (TIS News, Sent 2021.04.17 23:48)

Posts like 5hipy4rd’s perpetuate a rather long-ingrained fiction that EVE represents a capitalist ideal, or even capitalism at all. But EVE’s economy is not capitalist; far from it. In fact, EVE online represents a rather successful alternative to the capitalist mode of production; this includes the way ownership is distributed across New Eden, how ownership itself is produced, and how “labor” and large organizations enter into voluntary agreements with one another. Moreover, some of the elements most prominent in capitalist relations that are found in EVE, especially renting, are some of the most condemned practices by large portions of the community. In other words, EVE Online represents a far more socialist economy than a capitalist one.

This article does not aim to advocate any particular economic system. Rather, I recognize that topics like this can sew many divisions and can even, at times, be inflammatory. Therefore, in an effort to avoid inciting any major arguments or ideological debates, I primarily focus on the definitions of economic terms and provide examples of how such terms would play out in both the real and the EVE world. I hope that, no matter your particular political persuasion, you will be convinced that the EVE economy is not very capitalist. How you feel about that conclusion will be up to you. 

The capitalist worker works for wages only.

How Was This Misunderstanding Created?: The Free Market

I don’t know when EVE was first labeled “capitalist,” or even more erroneously, a “capitalist utopia”; but I believe the reason the idea has persisted so long is because of a misunderstanding of the term “capitalism,” specifically in its relation to another term: “the free market.” Many people conflate the two, but they are not the same. 

The free market is a concept most of us are familiar with: goods and services fluctuate by supply and demand and anything that can be monetized can be sold. The primary feature of the free market is that prices, being created via supply and demand, are not set (by a government or some other authority). Most people, when they talk economy/business 101, they think they are talking about capitalism when actually they are describing the conditions of a free market. 

Not All Free Markets are Capitalist

It is worth bearing in mind that the free market is old, far older than capitalist production, which arises during the end of the feudal era and gains real traction during the industrial revolution, indeed because of it. The free market, where prices are determined by supply and demand, has existed as long as things have been bought and sold. Importantly, the free market can exist in many kinds of economies: capitalist economies as well as socialist economies. Ineed, according to economic theory, even socialism/communism and the free market are not mutually exclusive ideas. 

It is helpful to think of a free market as a kind of a spectrum, rather than a have it/don’t have it dichotomy. Very few economies are ever fully free, or fully un-free. In most capitalist economies in the real world, many things cannot be legally sold in the public sphere: narcotics, a position as a student in a prestigious university, human organs, certain guns and other weapons. These examples show that even the free market is limited in what can be sold.

Further, the free market is limited in many capitalist economies by certain forms of price regulation: many capitalist economies limit how much pharmaceutical companies can charge for medications, for example. Most capitalist economies also, through government subsidies, provide large inducements (i.e. payments collected from taxes) to farmers and energy companies, often in the billions of dollars/euros etc.

Why? Because nations don’t want to suddenly find themselves out of energy or out of food because private business owners in these sectors have made poor business decisions and went belly up, especially in war time when such crises can be catastrophic. Vital markets, even in capitalist economies, are heavily protected by government subsidies, breaking traditional free market principles.

In sum, most capitalist economies don’t have fully free markets, though the level of “freeness” varies from place to place. In the same way, socialist/communist economies have many goods and services with prices being set by the ancient law of supply and demand. 

A typical factory in the 19th century: capitalism personified.

A Unique Experience

EVE Online’s economy is unique, not in its closeness to the capitalist ideal, but in how free its market is. In EVE Online anything that can be monetized is for sale and can be bought; there are no restrictions regarding how people can make ISK. All the prices of every good and service in EVE is determined by supply and demand, without any sort of regulation or price setting.

About the only prices that are set include those which are paid for in PLEX. The price of an Omega subscription, for example, is set by the government of CCP, though you could argue that this price is also set by supply and demand in the real world. CCP does not hand out subsidies to various businesses, though large corporations and alliances may do this to aid their various lines of production.

Goods like moon goo and ice may be sold to one’s alliance/corporation through a kind of buyback program, paid for by the taxes of the alliance’s members; one might call this a kind of subsidy, since it is a player-run government propping up a part of its industry with its tax dollars. Even in EVE, goods aren’t only sold from one business-minded individual to another, but are frequently socialized via buyback programs, SRP, etc. The prices, however, for these kinds of social programs are normally determined by supply and demand and other market forces.

Wages, Ownership, and EVE Online

If capitalism isn’t the same as the free market, what is capitalism and what is socialism? As a political question this has a thousand different answers; I’m not going to touch this one from the viewpoint of politics. But, as an economic question, it has a fairly simple and definite answer. Capitalist modes of production have a few key features that distinguish them from socialist modes of production: specifically the heavy presence of wage-labor and a very narrow distribution of property/ownership. 

A classic real-world example is the capitalist auto-factory. In the capitalist scheme, the factory is owned by a single individual or corporation. That individual has paid for and owns: 1) the land the factory sits on; 2) the physically building which houses the equipment and machinery which makes cars; 3) the equipment and machinery; and finally, 4) the raw materials used to create automobiles. After all these elements have been bought and assembled on location the owner/capitalist must 5) hire labor to run the factory and machinery. Capitalists hire workers to work for wages as they run the equipment/machinery. These fives steps cost a huge amount of start up money, but once set up, they allow the capitalist to generate income.

The workers built this ship, but they didn’t own it when completed.

In EVE, You Don’t Work for Wages

Two keys to understanding capitalism, then, are the heavy presence of wage labor and a narrow distribution of property/ownership. Let’s say the owner of the auto-factory hires 100 workers, each for a set wage, and the factory produces a number of cars. How is ownership/property distributed? The capitalist owns the land, the factory, the machinery, the raw materials, and also the newly produced cars, which the capitalist owner then sells on the market.

The wage-laborer owns nothing other than the wage they have earned for their labor; they have helped make the car, but don’t own any product which they could sell for profit. Therefore, the wage-laborer comes ends the pay period, after effectively renting the capitalist’s equipment, with purchasing power but not selling power; only 1 out of 101 people have selling power in this capitalist auto-factory. This demonstrates some key features of capitalist economies: they have vastly more buyers than sellers, vastly more wage-laborers than producers, vastly more renters than owners. 

This system looks nothing like the mode of production found in EVE Online. New Eden has roughly the same amount of buys as sellers, though the scale fluctuates wildly between players. Even the smallest newbie in their Venture owns the ship they mine with and the ore that they gather. In other words, even the lowest of players own both the means of production and what they produce, to be sold on the market like any other tycoon, though naturally in much smaller amounts.

The newbie Venture miner even does his work, if in highsec, on land free to all, without a private property sign in sight. Because anyone can go anywhere in high sec, except those with poor standings with the local authorities, and though in theory these spaces are “owned” by the empires, in practice they represent a free, unregulated, communist (meaning communal or community owned) space: anyone can be there, work there, and sell the products of their labor there without oversight. I can’t think of many places in the real world that operate like this.

In EVE, You Own What You Produce

In nullsec things are different; space is owned and enforced by various powers and organizations. If you are neutral and wander into another alliance’s space, they will likely shoot you on sight. However, if you are a member of a nullsec alliance, you are free to travel and do just about anything, other than shooting blues, within your borders.

Nullsec players are free to work at anything and each player owns what he gathers and produces to sell on the market; they do not relinquish ownership of what they gather or produce to the owner of their corporation and then are given a wage for their labor. They are not told what jobs to do, nor can it be said that an alliance “fires” a player if they get kicked out. Factories and refineries and ore compressing is free for all members to use, if sometimes taxed.

In this sense, EVE corporations operate very differently from corporations in the real world. They are more like nation states than businesses. I would never be able to walk into a real auto-factory with some raw materials, use their machinery, and walk away with my own vehicle to either use or sell. Likewise, I would be hard pressed to find a corporation in EVE which loaned me a Procurer which I traded back in at the end of the day, with all the ore I mined, and was paid a wage for my effort after clocking out.

Is EVE Socialist?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. In terms of lore, EVE is absolutely not socialist. I presume, within the framework of the lore, that each ship and station is supposed to be heavily manned with a crew to support the ship’s size. Even the lowly Venture, I assume, has a crew that has been hired by the capitalist player and paid wages for operating the ship. If you are an Amarrian character you might simply have your slaves do it. I assume, in terms of lore, the PI materials don’t just gather themselves; we are probably supposed to believe that, depending on the amount of automation going on, there are thousands, maybe millions or even billions of workers on planets laboring for EVE’s playerbase and that these invisible lore workers don’t own the materials they gather/work for because, well, we do.

In this sense, EVE is very much a capitalist world, but without many of the troubles a real-world capitalist might have to deal with. For instance, I am not periodically alerted that the workers on my PI planets have gone on strike until I raise their wages, or worse, that I must put down a slave rebellion in order to keep getting Oxygen from my gas planet. Inside stations, we do not see advertisements from charity organizations informing us about the many people who survive on less than one ISK a day, working in sweatshops producing T1 frigates; the camera does not zoom in on the face of a very sad and frail woman belonging to the Sebiestor tribe.

In terms of lore, players must represent some of the most wealthy and opulent capitalists of New Eden and have managed to isolate ourselves from the nitty-gritty aspects of capitalist maintenance: thank God I don’t have to manually pay my ship’s/planet’s workers’ wages, or negotiate with their union. Don’t you dare get any ideas, CCP.

The Essence of Socialism?

Aside from lore, though, what about for players. Is EVE socialist? In essence, yes. EVE’s modes of productions more closely resemble socialist modes of productions than capitalist, though EVE’s market is one of the freest ever conceived. All players own what they sell and produce, free to use or sell the products of their labor as they see fit. Very few, if any, players work for ISK wages—at least none I have ever heard of. Ownership is distributed much more widely in the EVE economy than in capitalist economies, and there is even a huge swath of property in the middle of New Eden, called empire space, that isn’t privately owned but is traveled, inhabited, and worked by the EVE community.

Social programs like ore and ice buyback and SRP are paid for by player taxes, centralized, and distributed by player-run governments. EVE gameplay is defined far more by co-operation among players than competition; any player will tell you that every-man-for-himself isn’t the way to be successful in EVE, even if people are working together for their own interests. The strongest nations in EVE are those who work together rather than competing against their own citizens.

Imagine if every Goon or Horde member shot each other to get at the biggest loot at the end of a battle or structure bash; or imagine a single player willing to tank their own corporation’s market during wartime just so that they personally could make a huge profit at the expense of every other blue. Even in EVE, much of our behavior is socially motivated and for the good of the collective.

Neither Capitalist or Communist, but Something Else

The following is a passage from the work Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice by the American socialist Rudolf Rocker: “In place of the present capitalist economic order Anarchists would have a free association of all productive forces based upon co-operative labour . . . In place of the present state-organizations with their lifeless machinery of political and bureaucratic institutions Anarchists desire a federation of free communities which shall be bound to one another by their common economic and social interests and shall arrange their affairs by mutual agreement and free contract” (originally published 1938).

This short description outlines the most basic framework of Rocker’s version of syndicalism, a kind of libertarian-socialist economic philosophy; it much more closely resembles EVE economic relations than the “pure unimpeded capitalism at its finest” fallacy 5hipy4ard proposes. Players in EVE experience an economics not defined by wages, private property, and never getting to sell the goods you produce; on the contrary, it is defined more by “co-operative labour” and “federation[s] of free communities [i.e. “corporations” and alliances] . . . bound to one another by their common economic and interests” all tied together “by mutual agreement and free contract” i.e. NIPs, treaties, mergers, and trade agreements. In other words, the EVE economy is more accurately defined as a socialist/syndicalist economy (perhaps of an anarchist variety, depending on where in EVE you live—nullsec or empire space).

In Conclusion

One of the basic features of EVE gameplay, and the key tenets of socialism, as an economic theory specifically, is worker control and ownership of the means of production. This means that workers collectively own the factory and the machinery in it, and collectively owning the products produced by their collective labor. Rather than wages, workers are paid (usually equally, though not always) by dividing up the profit of their sold goods.

The main takeaways: 1) in socialist economics and in EVE, the workers own the car or ship at the end of the supply chain to be used or sold, not the capitalist; 2) in socialist economics and in EVE, the worker has access and ownership of the means of production, such as a ship to mine with; and 3) in socialist economics and in EVE, space, buildings, machinery, and production services are publicly available, inhabited, and worked on with little restriction.

Furthermore, it does not follow that because EVE’s market is incredibly free and unregulated it is capitalist. Nor does the fact that there are incredibly wealthy players who make money off of poor players, nor that there are “Mercs, Warlords, Organized Crime, [and] Arms Dealers” in EVE mean that it is an example of a capitalist economic system. (By the same token, simply because EVE’s players exhibit some behaviors motivated by the good of their collective rather than themselves as individuals mean EVE’s economy is socialist.) What matters is not the existence of these behaviors and businesses but the mode of their production: how wealth, ownership, and property are distributed as goods/services are produced.

It is also important to remember that EVE’s economy will always be driven by different motivations and needs than real life economies. A person in real life may work, even at a job they don’t like, because they and their family would starve or be made homeless otherwise, and they want to send their child to college. EVE players work and produce, theoretically, in order to have fun. There exists little penalty for not participating in some aspect of EVE, or even playing altogether. The same is not true for real working conditions. Therefore, while in real life there are positive as well as negative consequences compelling one to work, in EVE there are only positive ones. Death and homelessness don’t affect New Eden clones, at least not in the same way as us. Any accurate analysis of the EVE economy must take this into account.

The truth is Karl Marx would view EVE’s economy with less criticism than that of Europe’s in the 19th century. It’s true: in EVE you won’t be playing “bread line simulator where they’re told exactly what to do every session for the good of the state”; but you won’t be playing bread line simulator doing exactly what your corporation’s CEO or middle-manager tells you to do either. EVE is neither the Soviet Union nor Amazon. You might think this is a good thing or a bad thing. Your politics are your own, and I am not here to persuade you either way. But no matter your politics, EVE’s economy is most certainly not a capitalist one and, if we want to accurately understand this game we love to play, we need to stop claiming that it is. 

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Comments

  • In reading this, I’m sort of scratching my head trying to understand the argument.

    In Eve players own their ships and also the profits they make from it. Yes.

    From Investopedia:
    “In a capitalist economy, private individuals and enterprises own the means of production and the right to profit from them; private property rights are taken very seriously and apply to nearly everything.

    In a socialist economy, the government owns and controls the means of production; personal property is sometimes allowed, but only in the form of consumer goods.”

    This means that by the property rights argument, Eve is capitalist.

    Granted the reference is not exactly high academic quality, but allowing the definition of socialism to mean “workers own the means of production” means that there is no functional difference between the two, and misses the distinction between socialism and capitalism on the issue of property rights. You’re perhaps conflating communism with socialism, where all means of production are held in in common.

    There is nothing stopping anyone in a capitalist society from buying a shovel and starting a digging company. In a socialist society, all shovels are issued by the state. In communism, there’s a big pile of shovels which people put back after they’ve used it.

    You might get away with the notion that CCP is the state in Eve’s case, in that they hold the exclusive rights to all production in Eve, and can unilaterally take everything away from a player and redistribute as they see fit, but that rather breaks the 4th wall of the imaginary economy we have in New Eden.

    The argument that the means of production are freely available to all players is also incorrect. When I manufacture something, I pay station taxes and fees. Whether that is to a person or an npc is dependent on the station. I only avoid that by owning a station that is my property, an inherently capitalist idea. You might say that some null sec corps don’t charge, but that makes that particular corp socialist, and not the economy at large… and you’ll still pay for those services when it’s time for you to fleet up and press F1.

    Finally the notion that socialism is equal to cooperation and capitalism only competition is surface level understanding at that. Competition in most cases is only a facet of cooperation; we all agree to the rules of a game before we play it. To use a sports example; no one turns up to a chess match with a football. You might well argue that socialism is more cooperative since outcomes are state controlled, but this really doesn’t apply to Eve. Yes, you get players working together… but usually to compete with other players by blowing up their ships and taking their stuff/sov.

    Just because players cooperate does not mean the economy is socialist. That would mean that every company in every capitalist society is socialist.

    And just because I’m filthy low sec scrub, jealously looking at the hopelessly unequal distribution of ISK between the different sec statuses (a key criticism of capitalism writ large in New Eden), I want to pick on the statement “In Eve you don’t work for your wage”. If you’re in null, you’re right. You tend to orbit the fight and let the drones do all the work.

    You could call them your workers.

    I think my rebuttal can be summed up with, your definition of socialism and capitalism is wrong.

    In Eve, players own their stuff, and no corp, no matter how draconian can take it without consent. Theft exists for communal resources, but without breaking the rules of the game and committing bannable offences there should not be anyway for someone to take what is in your hangar. You own your property, not your corp, nor anyone else in the cluster. The only way for someone to take it from you is to blow it up.

    Hell, the dark underbelly of Eve’s scam and griefing culture would not exist without property rights being at the fundamental core of Eve’s design. Combine that with a free market, and you’ve got capitalism.

    My advice? Accept that you enjoy owning that shiny Stratios, knowing that through whatever means you earned it. Monocle and top hat aren’t strictly necessary, but you’re still a capitalist in game.

    May 9, 2021 at 2:48 PM
    • Seir Luciel Tabletop Teacher

      I appreciate your long response, and addressing my points seriously. However, either through misunderstanding or something else I disagree with most of the points you’ve made.

      I’m in the middle of something irl right now, but when I have a moment and a computer I’ll address your points in more detail.

      In sum, though: the concept that government owns the means of production = socialism is incorrect. Mainstream socialist thought has always had as its fundamental tenet workers control of production, as opposed to a strong centralized power, completely uninvolved with the on-sight lived reality of production.

      May 9, 2021 at 4:51 PM
      • No worries, this is a dense topic. Looking forward to your response!

        May 9, 2021 at 6:44 PM
        • Seir Luciel Tabletop Teacher

          Ok. Now things in real life have calmed down and I can address your excellent comment as it deserves. I will try to address your major points methodically. Correct me any place that I might get your ideas wrong.I am also going to do my best to keep all this connected to EVE specifically.

          Point 1) I have the definitions of “socialism,” “capitalism,” and “communism” confused or simply wrong.

          Quote: allowing the definition of socialism to mean “workers own the means of production” means that there is no functional difference between the two, and misses the distinction between socialism and capitalism on the issue of property rights. You’re perhaps conflating communism with socialism, where all means of production are held in in common.

          Response: One of the challenges when talking about economic systems is just this: agreeing upon the terms. The images conjured up by the word “socialism” mean very different things to different people. To a large degree, these differences are regional. I don’t know where you live, but socialism is a dirty word in the U.S. and it people use it very differently than they do elsewhere, Europe for example. Here is an article that tries to address some of the complications of terminology, written by a well known scholar and activist quoted by Jurious Doctor in one of his economic articles not long ago. https://chomsky.info/1986____/

          But to the point. It is going to be challenging decipher whether we disagree actually, or are merely arguing over the meanings of words.

          As far as I know communism and socialism have never been particularly different in concept. Communism is socialism by another name, and the two wouldn’t have been confused until after the Russian revolution and communist China. Both terms refer to a “communal” or “social” ownership of production. (This is to say nothing yet of property as a legal concept) However, this was interpreted differently depending on what branch of “socialism” or “communism” one subscribed to.

          For instance, some right wing Marxists and communists (seems like an oxymoron, but it isn’t) considered the best way to socialize production was putting it in the hands of a strong centralized government, ideally under democratic control. If the state owned everything, and if the state could be influenced by democratic vote and opinion, theoretically, everything was socially owned. This was the route that Russia and China etc. went, but as we know these governments were hardly democratic. Moreover, state control of a factory and private control of a factory looks about the same. Works were getting paid wages and were taking orders from party members instead of “bosses.” Lived experience wasn’t too different from capitalist production, at least in terms of the structure of authority, blah blah, for working people. (I would point out here that China right now still considers themselves communist. But the sweat shops that produce goods for our Wallmarts are about as far from what Marx intended as anything).

          But we must remember that many socialists/communists bitterly rejected this interpretation of socialized ownership. They abhorred the idea of a large, powerful, centralized, bureaucratized state government owning everything. These left wing marxists/socialists/communists (not every socialist or communist was loyal to Marx’s doctrine), also known as libertarian socialists, didn’t see a whole lot of liberty in being owned by the state. Rather, they wanted to get rid of private ownership and capitalist production, along with what they called “wage slavery” and, instead of putting everything in the hands of state tyranny, put it in the hands of normal, everyday working people to run and organize for themselves.

          Instead of private businesses with work forces, or state owned production centers, they advocated a series of worker organized collectives, organizing trade and relations with other collectives. Anti-state socialists/communists/marxists didn’t win the political warfare in history, so we hardly hear about them. Winners write the history books, after all. But my main point is that you shouldn’t think it a given that “socialism” = state control/ownership of production. Think workers councils, where worker get together and vote on what decisions they want the “company” to act on. That might be more pay for everyone, to sell their collective goods to this buyer instead of another, to increase working hours or lessen them, to raise the price of their goods. Instead of such decisions being done by a CEO or a member of the state government, the workers would collectively make these decisions for themselves.

          EVE governments are all over the map. More often than not, there is little democracy involved. But in economic terms the name of the game is direct action. When I mine ore I am free to sell to whomever, at whatever price, and I work for however long I want. I have much more freedom than any worker in a capitalist system. Ask a miner in real life what control he/she has over what they pull out of the ground: none, they have no control. Those decisions are made by the capitalist owner of the mining company/business. Or what hours they choose, or what pay, or whether they have to wear a uniform or not. Just about anything. Workers in capitalist economies pretty much do what they are told, and have little to no control over their own productive lives.

          That just doesn’t look like EVE; there are very real differences. In sum, whatever definitions you are using for socialism and capitalism, yeah what I am talking about is going to look completely wrong. Especially if your definition of socialism mean state ownership of everything, like your shovel scenario where workers return the shovels. But I am unfamiliar with that definition: I have always understood “socialism” to have a couple different strains or movements. Namely, the state-socialist and anti-state-socialist variety. There are other shades of grey, but those are the two really big divergences.

          Point 2)

          May 10, 2021 at 9:24 PM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            And once again, you are wrong.

            Eve is a type of economy that cannot exist in the real world. It has too many absolute protections, a lack of necessities, and a lack of direct resource scarcity. However, if you force it into a category, it is capitalist rather than socialist.

            Let’s start at the most fundamental level – property ownership. In Eve, everything has a single owner. Items, be they ships or resources, belong to whoever has them in their hanger/hold. Ownership transfers atomically and automatically – as soon as you jetcan something, you don’t own it anymore and as soon as something is scooped to hold it belongs to you. Structures always have an owner, even if that owner is a corp with only one member who hasn’t logged on in a year. Only hauling contracts ever conceptualize the idea that “my stuff is in your hold” and then only as long as the hauler leaves the shrink wrap on. Further, there is no way to take something from anyone. You have to choose to sell, trade, or jettison your property for someone else to have it.

            Under socialist schemes, ownership of just about everything falls under some form of communal ownership. The “means of production” is such a vague term that it encapsulates anything and everything that could be used to work, which can include the house you live in and the table you eat off. You are always handling property that is only fractionally yours under full socialism. Depending on the style, you might drive a state-provided car or work using commune-owned tools, but the stuff you handle isn’t your own. You may not be able to enumerate the owners, since under state socialism the “means of production” are owned by everyone in the state including generations not yet born.

            Under capitalist schemes, ownership is quantifiable and singular. It matches very closely with Eve’s ownership model, except that I can pick up your coffee pot without it becoming my coffee pot in the process. The closest thing you get to collective ownership is a publicly-traded company, with shareholders each owning a portion of the company.

            You are correct that wage labor basically doesn’t exist in Eve – outside of pirate bounties and mission rewards, at least – but you failed to contemplate the reason why it doesn’t exist in Eve. In the real world, humans need food and shelter and death is final. Capsuleers never will starve and will never freeze and death is only the loss of whatever ship they were flying at the time. Why take a wage in the real world? To avoid starving, freezing, and dying. Why take a wage in Eve? That is a whole other kettle of fish.

            In Eve, the only reason you would ever work for a wage is because the wage is better than whatever else you could do with your time. At the minimum, there’s mission running in highsec. Join a nullsec alliance and there ratting in anomalies. These set the floor for what a viable wage would be, but what job would you pay someone to do? It has to be something valuable enough to have done, otherwise you wouldn’t pay them more than they could earn via ratting, but which isn’t something that people will just do by themselves and which can’t be handled by contracts or simply buying the finished product from the other guy. Because of all the automation in Eve, this confluence of factors exists in only small niches, such as refueling an alliances network of jump bridges. Wage labor might be more viable if you had to have a thousand ships using welding lasers on your new citadel, but without boring, labor-intensive work that needs done, no one is going to pay someone else to do the work for them.

            May 11, 2021 at 8:52 PM
          • Seir Luciel Kyeudo

            Well, let me take each of your points in order.

            Point
            1: “Eve is a type of economy that cannot exist in the real world. It has too many absolute protections, a lack of necessities, and a lack of direct resource scarcity.”

            Response: This is absolutely correct. EVE’s economy is never going to have the same necessities and motivational forces as the real world. But that is to be expected; it’s a video game. You are never going to get realistic conditions for a player-run economic simulation. But because EVE’s economy is player generated, almost all the way through (though not totally), it comes much closer than to other games like World of Warcraft, or whatever. So I agree with this point entirely; all of this
            economic theorizing when applied to EVE has to be taken with some grains of salt as a result.

            Point 2: “Let’s start at the
            most fundamental level – property ownership. In Eve, everything has a single owner. . . . Under socialist schemes, ownership of just about everything falls under some form of communal ownership . . . Under capitalist schemes, ownership is quantifiable and singular. It matches very closely with Eve’s ownership model.”

            This is incorrect, in more than one way. Let’s start with “everything has a single owner [in EVE.]” This is formally true, but practically is more nuanced. Take your example of structures. I’m currently living in T5Z’s Keepstar and back at my home in the R1O BEANSTAR. Both these structures are formally owned by one person, but in practice they act like
            communes. Thousands of people inhabit them, quite freely. Thousands of people occupy the space, use its market, use its facilities. It is a little bit like if I owned a home but then told all my friends to come live with me. Yeah, on paper I own the house. But in practice the place is communally owned because it is communally used. This concept of ownership via use (as well as via labor, as I’ve talked about elsewhere here) is very important in socialist conceptions. Consider the following example.

            You say that “Under capitalist schemes, ownership is quantifiable and singular” but this isn’t really true. Capitalist systems of ownership are a lot more fluid in practice than socialist ones which actually are rather quantifiable. For example, if I purchase a car I don’t actually own it yet; if I am like most people I start making payments. I drive the car, I spill coffee in the car, I crunch up the fender and pay for repairs on the car, I call the car “my car.” But so long as I am making payments, I don’t own it. The bank owns my car. And they can take it away from me.

            My parents have been living in their current house for over twenty years. It is their home. They’ve remodeled multiple times. The bank owns their house; they are still making house payments. You get this kind of semi-ownership in capitalist systems because property/ownership in capitalist economies is a legal concept, rather than a fact of existence.

            Different socialist conceptions have different conceptions of how property would/ought to work. But most of them allow (even encourage) some sort of what we would call “private property.” The difference is these socialist conceptions of property aren’t legal ones, practical conceptions: if you are living in the house, you own it in fact. If you are driving this or that car repeatedly, you own that car. There isn’t some other kind of legal ownership, with a bank ready and waiting to evict you or repossess your car. Some socialists have tried to distinguish this difference by saying “property” will be abolished but everyone will continue to have “possessions.” The difference between “property” and “possessions” can be confusing though, and it isn’t always spelled out clearly (depending on the author/thinker).

            The idea that individuals don’t own things in socialist economies that they can call their own and no one else’s, even big things like a car or a house, is a misconception. That’s just not true; no socialist is awaiting the day they share a toothbrush with everyone else in the house. Rather, in a socialist economy, all those things that people in
            capitalist economies typically conceive are their own but are formally owned by the bank, would actually be overturned to those who actually make use of them. In a socialist economy, a bank can’t possibly use the thousands of cars and houses that they own; therefore, they would lose ownership of that which went idle, or was picked up and used by someone else.

            In a
            socialist economy you wouldn’t having to start sharing your house and
            car with anyone who wandered up. What would happen is you’d stop making
            payments on both these things, because under capitalism you don’t
            actually own these things; a bank that has never touched or even seen
            your house and car extracts money from you until they release you from
            the threat of having them repossessed.

            In sum: in
            capitalist economies legal property and the fact of possession/use are
            separated from one another. In socialist economies the two are one and
            the same. You just don’t have the kind of pseudo-ownership in socialist
            conceptions that you have in capitalist realities. Moreover, EVE
            property is formally owned by single people, but in practice is shared
            and used collectively on a grand scale. No private property signs, no
            guards, no leaving at closing time. You just don’t have this kind of
            communal space at scale in capitalist societies IRL like you have in EVE
            Online.

            One more point: “The “means of production” is
            such a vague term that it encapsulates anything and everything that
            could be used to work, which can include the house you live in and the
            table you eat off.”

            This is somewhat true in real life.
            At least, economist are often not very clear when they talk about the
            “means of production” though really they are talking about literal,
            quantifiable things–its an abstract concept talking about very real,
            not abstract things.

            But this is not true in EVE. It is
            very easy to point to the means of production in EVE Online. A mining
            barge. A structure’s industry utilities. A hauler. All RL equivalents to
            these in capitalist societies would be owned by the capitalist or
            company, borrowed by workers paid a wage for their labor. In EVE these
            are owned, accessible, and usually shared on a wide scale by even the
            smallest player/worker in a venture. Again: EVE looks a lot more
            socialist (as in worker controlled/organized production) than
            capitalist.

            You say “The closest thing you get to
            collective ownership is a publicly-traded company, with shareholders
            each owning a portion of the company.” But that’s not the closest
            example. Imagine a company whose shareholders are the
            workers of that company, and only owned by the workers. Imagine a
            company whose had all their shares purchased by their own workforce who
            refuse to sell their shares to anyone who doesn’t work there. This isn’t
            a thought experiment; here is a list of employee owned companies:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_employee-owned_companie

            May 12, 2021 at 3:03 AM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            Yeah, on paper I own the house. But in practice the place is communally owned because it is communally used.

            Nope. All of the other people have no say in what happens to the house. If you sell the house, you get the profits. If you evict your friends, they have no recourse. You own the house and it doesn’t matter that they have been sleeping on your couch.

            For example, if I purchase a car I don’t actually own it yet; if I am like most people I start making payments. I drive the car, I spill coffee in the car, I crunch up the fender and pay for repairs on the car, I call the car “my car.” But so long as I am making payments, I don’t own it. The bank owns my car. And they can take it away from me.

            Wrong. When you purchase a car using a loan, there are two transactions that happen, but which are clear in the result. The first that happens is the loan. The bank provides you with money now in exchange for being paid back with interest. As part of securing this loan, you agree to leave the title to your car in their keeping until you pay off the car or default on the loan. If you default on the loan, the title automatically transfers to the bank. The other transaction is paying the car dealership for the car.

            The car is now yours. The bank has no say in what you do with the car until you fail to meet your obligations under the loan agreement. The bank does not own your car, which is why you can sell the car or even give it away. Whoever has the car does not have to pay the loan – you have to pay the loan. You even have to pay the loan if the car is destroyed. The loan for the car and the ownership of the car are two separate things.

            The difference between “property” and “possessions” can be confusing though, and it isn’t always spelled out clearly (depending on the author/thinker).

            That’s because the idea is inherently incoherent. It is an attempt to ward off the clearly horrible implication of someone who did not do the labor to earn the car taking the car away from you. In civilized societies, we call that sort of thing theft. Everywhere that socialism has been seriously tried, they call that sort of thing Tuesday.

            In a socialist economy, a bank can’t possibly use the thousands of cars and houses that they own; therefore, they would lose ownership of that which went idle, or was picked up and used by someone else.

            The same principles that would strip the bank of that house would result in that hobo over there moving into your house, eating your food, and driving your car. This is also why economic depression and collapse has been the result of large scale implementations of socialism. When anyone can take your “possessions” because you aren’t currently using them, as defined by the state/commune, there is no reason to work hard and produce more. If you have more than someone else, it will be taken from you by the lazy.

            Moreover, EVE property is formally owned by single people, but in practice is shared and used collectively on a grand scale. No private property signs, no guards, no leaving at closing time. You just don’t have this kind of communal space at scale in capitalist societies IRL like you have in EVE Online.

            Only because Eve Online is free of the problems of theft, wear-and-tear, throughput limits, and legal liability. If you have a fully supplied workshop, open to use for all, you will quickly have all of the tools stolen or broken, you’ll find that there isn’t enough space for all who would like to use the workshop to use it, and that anyone who injured themselves in the workshop would sue for medical expenses.

            I have a bunch of tools that I use for my own projects. If I could continue to use those tools for my projects and simultaneously allow everyone else to use those same tools for their projects with no chance that the tools would be damaged or stolen, I would totally let people use my tools. But I can’t, because in reality my tools would disappear immediately and even if they wouldn’t I would still never get to use my tools because there’s a finite limit to how many people can use my tools.

            You will notice that “socialist” societies in RL also lack such communal resources at such scale. If anything, their poverty means they have less availability.

            All RL equivalents to these in capitalist societies would be owned by the capitalist or company, borrowed by workers paid a wage for their labor.

            You own countless “means of production” in your everyday life. Small businesses often start out operating out of a home basement or a garage. Your car is the foundation of a taxi service. Your kitchen is the beginnings of a bakery or catering service. Your computer is the seed of a software studio. In a capitalist society, everyone owns some capital and many people own more than they realize.

            Your problem is that there are “means of production” that are prohibitively expensive for large swathes of the population. That’s just reality. Not everyone can buy a Rorqual or a Noctis or a mining barge. Nobody can afford a Palantine Keepstar. Even big companies IRL have to plan major expenditures like new factories carefully and pay for them using loans.

            You say “The closest thing you get to collective ownership is a publicly-traded company, with shareholders each owning a portion of the company.” But that’s not the closest
            example…This isn’t a thought experiment; here is a list of employee owned companies:

            You use a more restricted example of communal ownership as though it is a closer to complete communal ownership than a less restricted example. You may want to think about this some more.

            One form of socialist economy would be an economy entirely made up of employee owned businesses, along with every employee owned company worker managed by workers also instead of management being given to a few or a single person/CEO. As I’ve said before, think workers councils democratically run. Think factories and companies run like democratic governments, employees being mini-citizens in a small nation/workplace where they vote on policy and representatives.

            What a horrific nightmare. Nothing would be done and everyone would starve. Politics and bureaucracy are poison to productivity and efficiency. Why do you think every major nullsec power is a dictatorship?

            May 12, 2021 at 5:15 AM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            Yeah, on paper I own the house. But in practice the place is communally owned because it is communally used.

            Nope. All of the other people have no say in what happens to the house. If you sell the house, you get the profits. If you evict your friends, they have no recourse. You own the house and it doesn’t matter that they have been sleeping on your couch.

            For example, if I purchase a car I don’t actually own it yet; if I am like most people I start making payments. I drive the car, I spill coffee in the car, I crunch up the fender and pay for repairs on the car, I call the car “my car.” But so long as I am making payments, I don’t own it. The bank owns my car. And they can take it away from me.

            Wrong. When you purchase a car using a loan, there are two transactions that happen, but which are clear in the result. The first that happens is the loan. The bank provides you with money now in exchange for being paid back with interest. As part of securing this loan, you agree to leave the title to your car in their keeping until you pay off the car or default on the loan. If you default on the loan, the title automatically transfers to the bank. The other transaction is paying the car dealership for the car.

            The car is now yours. The bank has no say in what you do with the car until you fail to meet your obligations under the loan agreement. The bank does not own your car, which is why you can sell the car or even give it away. Whoever has the car does not have to pay the loan – you have to pay the loan. You even have to pay the loan if the car is destroyed. The loan for the car and the ownership of the car are two separate things.

            The difference between “property” and “possessions” can be confusing though, and it isn’t always spelled out clearly (depending on the author/thinker).

            That’s because the idea is inherently incoherent. It is an attempt to ward off the clearly horrible implication of someone who did not do the labor to earn the car taking the car away from you. In civilized societies, we call that sort of thing theft. Everywhere that socialism has been seriously tried, they call that sort of thing Tuesday.

            In a socialist economy, a bank can’t possibly use the thousands of cars and houses that they own; therefore, they would lose ownership of that which went idle, or was picked up and used by someone else.

            The same principles that would strip the bank of that house would result in that hobo over there moving into your house, eating your food, and driving your car. This is also why economic depression and collapse has been the result of large scale implementations of socialism. When anyone can take your “possessions” because you aren’t currently using them, as defined by the state/commune, there is no reason to work hard and produce more. If you have more than someone else, it will be taken from you by the lazy.

            May 12, 2021 at 5:09 PM
          • Seir Luciel Kyeudo

            You seem very angry, and we are getting farther and farther from talking about EVE Online. Perhaps, if you would like to debate politics or the virtues of one economic system over another, you could message me and we can do this somewhere else. But here on INN we ought to restrict ourselves to analysis and descriptions, rather than evaluations and preferences.

            May 12, 2021 at 6:19 PM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            Moreover, EVE property is formally owned by single people, but in practice is shared and used collectively on a grand scale. No private property signs, no guards, no leaving at closing time. You just don’t have this kind of communal space at scale in capitalist societies IRL like you have in EVE Online.

            Only because Eve Online is free of the problems of theft, wear-and-tear, throughput limits, and legal liability. If you have a fully supplied workshop, open to use for all, you will quickly have all of the tools stolen or broken, you’ll find that there isn’t enough space for all who would like to use the workshop to use it, and that anyone who injured themselves in the workshop would sue for medical expenses.

            I have a bunch of tools that I use for my own projects. If I could continue to use those tools for my projects and simultaneously allow everyone else to use those same tools for their projects with no chance that the tools would be damaged or stolen, I would totally let people use my tools. But I can’t, because in reality my tools would disappear immediately and even if they wouldn’t I would still never get to use my tools because there’s a finite limit to how many people can use my tools.

            You will notice that “socialist” societies in RL also lack such communal resources at such scale. If anything, their poverty means they have less availability.

            All RL equivalents to these in capitalist societies would be owned by the capitalist or company, borrowed by workers paid a wage for their labor.

            You own countless “means of production” in your everyday life. Small businesses often start out operating out of a home basement or a garage. Your car is the foundation of a taxi service. Your kitchen is the beginnings of a bakery or catering service. Your computer is the seed of a software studio. In a capitalist society, everyone owns some capital and many people own more than they realize.

            Your problem is that there are “means of production” that are prohibitively expensive for large swathes of the population. That’s just reality. Not everyone can buy a Rorqual or a Noctis or a mining barge. Nobody can afford a Palantine Keepstar. Even big companies IRL have to plan major expenditures like new factories carefully and pay for them using loans.

            You say “The closest thing you get to collective ownership is a publicly-traded company, with shareholders each owning a portion of the company.” But that’s not the closest
            example…This isn’t a thought experiment; here is a list of employee owned companies:

            You use a more restricted example of communal ownership as though it is a closer to complete communal ownership than a less restricted example. You may want to think about this some more.

            One form of socialist economy would be an economy entirely made up of employee owned businesses, along with every employee owned company worker managed by workers also instead of management being given to a few or a single person/CEO. As I’ve said before, think workers councils democratically run. Think factories and companies run like democratic governments, employees being mini-citizens in a small nation/workplace where they vote on policy and representatives.

            What a horrific nightmare. Nothing would be done and everyone would starve. Politics and bureaucracy are poison to productivity and efficiency. Why do you think every major nullsec power is a dictatorship?

            May 12, 2021 at 5:10 PM
          • Thanks for the long response, and I think it only warrants a long response in return!

            “But to the point. It is going to be challenging decipher whether we disagree actually, or are merely arguing over the meanings of words.”

            I think this is entirely my point; your definition for socialism is incorrect, or at least the argument you are making for it is wrong.

            Agreed, when it comes to socialism there are many approaches. The state run socialist model is typically the one seen, often described as the transition model to full communism. The stateless model, correctly described as anarcho-communism/socialism is the one you are referring to here.

            Without the specifics and obfuscation referring to different types of socialism, can we agree on this simplified definition?: Socialism is where the means of production are held communally.

            In Eve, the means of production are not held communally. Every player owns their own capital in the ships they fly, the modules they use or the isk they accumulate.

            The fact you pay rent to the npc factory owners does not mean you own the means of production. The npc does. The fact that it’s a fictional character means nothing in the context of Eve… everything is fictional already.

            Saying that you take the produced goods home and therefore Eve is socialist is stretching the definition beyond its intention. This would mean that rented office space is socialist, and that really is not the case. An uncharitable interpretation of that logic would mean capitalists could claim socialism by paying their workers in produced goods, but I appreciate that is not your meaning.

            Likewise, a vassal lord could claim socialism by allowing his peasant farmers to keep the crops they grow, whilst only taking a percentage taxation (one for the master, one for the dame, and one for the little boy that lives down the lane in Baa Baa Blacksheep economics). That’s absurd, since that is very much a feudal system.

            I also feel like the interpretation of Locke’s property rights arguments have been misread to you. If the capitalist has planted the apple tree, and spent his time keeping the pests off, should he not then receive the benefit of that labour? The logic you have used seems to be more like a moral justification for seizing control of the means of production… and that’s a bad justification since it denies the labour of the land/tree owner.

            Your final statement that Eve is labour based over money and deed based is so counter to reality that I cannot believe I am critiquing it on a sov null sec news site. Literal wars are being fought over who has the right to own space, and the acquisition of capital ships and supers is a direct consequence of that. Even a cursory look at the isk faucets and sinks a few months ago shows just how money based the economy is*.

            * You could make an argument that blue/red loot or salvage from NPCs isn’t money based, but that’s essentially in game piracy/privateering… i.e. a more glamourous version of theft from NPCs.

            Put simply, I think you are stretching details of socialism to match Eve, and well beyond the breaking point at that. We certainly could change the definition of socialism to mean private factory owners rent out their services/tools to allow people to produce items for a fee. But that the factory is privately owned means individual property rights for the means of production.

            But, I could well be wrong in my observations of Eve. So giving the devil his due, I can accept that the means of production are communally held.

            So that being the case, can Goonswarm give me free access to 1DQ and a couple of supers for ratting? I’ll only need them for a few days to have enough isk to last me the rest of my Eve life, and I promise I’ll give them back.

            I promise!

            May 12, 2021 at 9:06 AM
          • Seir Luciel Tabletop Teacher

            You make some very good points.

            I would agree that formerly in EVE there is ever only one owner of the means of production. So you are right; my mining ship is not communally owned. I own it. However, as I’ve noted elsewhere here, many socialist systems do not deny the concept of what we would term “private property” but instead using the term “possessions.” I.e. in socialism all “property” and the means of production are communally owned but individuals will naturally have many “possessions.” Often this is critiqued as splitting hairs, and there may be something to that critique.

            My point: You’re right that some of the means of production, like ships, are never socially owned or used. But forgive me the attempt to wiggle out of this by offering that ships may be an example of what some socialist thinkers have termed “possessions.”

            I would still point out that, so far as structures are concerned, that formerly they have an owner even an NPC owner they really function more like communes with shared living spaces and equipment. That you pay a tax seems to me little more than putting the tools back after you use them, or cleaning off the shared counterspace if you spill milk on it. That the space is shared on a grand scale, and that it is widely available and accessed, and is a means of production for industry and other services, seems to me to fit a socialist model far more accurately than a capitalist one. This is despite the technicality that the structure is owned by one person. The taxes are so minimal, they could never constitute rent. As taxes, they are simply that which I give to make sure the roads are paved, so to speak. I pay for my roads IRL to use them as well, but they are communally owned public property.

            Your point about a capitalist planting the apple tree does complicate the ownership model. I will give you that. It would be interesting to debate how long apples would remain the capitalist’s who planted the tree after he stopped caring for its development and hired workers to do so. Its a debate we could have. But philosophical debates aside, it doesn’t happen in reality. Not at scale. What you get is a bunch of investors giving money to someone who’s going to plant an apple orchard/plantation. He uses another’s money to hire workers to plant and care for the trees and transfers the money back to investors who never even touched an apple. That’s capitalism working more realistically, but looks nothing like EVE because in EVE the apples would be transfered right into the hull of the workers ships with full ownership. The capitalist wouldn’t be able to get them back, sell them, and transfer money to his/her investors. So your complication of Locke’s scenario is a head scratcher, but it isn’t something that occurs in real world capitalism pretty much at all. Capitalists don’t build factories or apple orchards from the ground up, literally, personally, before hiring workers. It just doesn’t happen.

            Your point about money being a basis of property in EVE is a fair one. People are fighting over owned space, and obviously you don’t have to work for everything you own you can purchase just about everything with cash if you have it. But to me, this isn’t so much a counter to a more socialist model and more an acknowledgement that currency has real power in EVE’s economy. It isn’t a barter system. But nothing says that in socialist economies money doesn’t have a role to play, or is even a basis for personal ownership—specifically that of possessions (as opposed to legal property). So what I wrote about labor being the basis for ownership was stated too universally. You are correct. You can also gain ownership by simple purchasing. But labor is also how all property in EVE is first conferred, even if sold later. And that does not fit capitalist frameworks.

            Your final point about renting and feudalism connected to the war I think is mostly correct. EVE’s economy is complex, and there are multiple elements working through it in different places. EVE renting is pretty feudal. But I don’t see this as countering my general analysis of the system at large. There’s never going to be any real, working economy that is purely socialist, or purely capitalist. There are pure models, but never pure examples. I’d say EVE society is more socialist than capitalist; but there are still capitalist elements and even feudal elements here and there. I wouldn’t argue against that. Those terms just don’t fit the general scheme at large.

            May 12, 2021 at 1:57 PM
          • Again, I think we find ourselves having to ensure our definitions are clear. The waters are being increasingly muddied by attempting to change the meaning of words.

            My point: You’re right that some of the means of production, like ships, are never socially owned or used. But forgive me the attempt to wiggle out of this by offering that ships may be an example of what some socialist thinkers have termed “possessions.”

            That you feel this is a wiggle is rather telling. I am happy to grant you the definition of the socialist term “possession”. Unfortunately what we have in Eve is “property”. Quite the reverse of your implication, there are very few communally held “possessions”, of which asteroids in low and high sec are the only ones I can think of.

            This is despite the technicality that the structure is owned by one person. The taxes are so minimal, they could never constitute rent. As taxes, they are simply that which I give to make sure the roads are paved, so to speak. I pay for my roads IRL to use them as well, but they are communally owned public property.

            This does not make it communally owned, merely cheap.

            Sadly the roads you talk about in the real world are not communally owned (excepting some possible examples in very socialist states). The state owns them, and competes in the market with private roads, and just happens to be super effective at it*. If you’ve ever paid a toll on a motorway (as we have in the UK), you quickly find that your right to use roads is contingent on the state saying so. If you wish to test this, try driving without a license. You can do that on your own property, but not on “public” roads.

            *Er… kind of. There’s a lot of potholes in country side roads that take years to fix.

            What you get is a bunch of investors giving money to someone who’s going to plant an apple orchard/plantation. He uses another’s money to hire workers to plant and care for the trees and transfers the money back to investors who never even touched an apple.

            Capitalists don’t build factories or apple orchards from the ground up, literally, personally, before hiring workers. It just doesn’t happen.

            If you want the obvious flaw: all actors in that situation performed labour. Perhaps it wasn’t physical labour, but as someone that was potentially rewarded for writing an article online, not all labour involves working in a factory or on a farm.

            I think you have the word “capitalist” confused with “business man”. Capitalism refers to having individual property rights, as in the ability to own capital. The wages you seem to imply are distinct are just another form of capital. A particularly liquid form that can be used for anything. The workers in all of your examples have the right to individually own that… which from your description of possession in a socialist society would only be true for as long as they were holding on to it?

            If you’d like to argue that socialism is where “possession” is only granted where labour is performed, then this is a definition exclusive to you, and by your admission not what takes place in EVE:

            You can also gain ownership by simple purchasing.

            Your ideas are increasingly incoherent and reliant on redefining terms. However, even these redefinitions are not reflected in the reality of Eve.

            But labor is also how all property in EVE is first conferred, even if sold later. And that does not fit capitalist frameworks.

            I’m really unsure about that last statement. Are you suggesting that labour in capitalist society cannot confer ownership? A quick look at the software, entertainment or art industries proves this wrong. If you’d like a more manual labour version you can look at fishing, or even the numerous independent independent foresters that are quite enjoying their capitalist property rights.

            With all due respect, the way you speak about the bad points of capitalism and so highly of socialism does suggest that you’d like Eve to be socialist rather than seeing the reality of it. I don’t think this is your fault; I feel like someone has deliberately given you a skewed view on both systems, leading to such false claims as the one above, or the double think in saying that capitalist investors cannot claim ownership through investment, but socialists can claim ownership through purchasing.

            I mean, it would be fairly galling to an indoctrinated socialist to realise that the relatively free and equal lifestyle you’re enjoying in game grew out of capitalist principles rather than socialist ones.

            I can grant you that through a long convoluted change of logic we could arrive at something similar looking to the socialist model. But the basic premise of Eve, and how everyone in game acts, is that you can win individual property, be it a ship, a station or even a whole star system.

            I would go as far to say this is true for the vast majority of games out there.

            Or, put your money where your mouth is: I need around 600 million isk for a Stratios, a means of production for some wormhole exploration. Are you willing to give that to me? My character’s name is Benh Thanh.

            If you cannot do that, then you yourself believe in private property rights.

            May 13, 2021 at 9:04 AM
          • Seir Luciel Tabletop Teacher

            It seems unlikely that we are to agree, or even agree upon the terms we are using. I think I’m going to tap out. I’ll end with two final points.

            1) I think where we are having the most trouble is in the definition of “property.” Socialist conceptions tend separate property into two categories: a) property as a legal concept and b) possessions owned by individuals. Capitalist economic conceptions have no such distinction, so the difference between turquoise and teal look incoherent when there’s just “blue.”

            2) As of yet, I haven’t made any praise of socialism nor condemnation of capitalism. On INN I’m merely trying to be descriptive, not evaluative. You must be inferring my opinions based on my descriptions, but I’ve yet to actually voice them.

            Hence, don’t expect 600 million isk. I’ve been arguing that EVE Online, not Seir Luciel, is more socialist than capitalis. Great discussion though!

            May 13, 2021 at 2:45 PM
          • Certainly was, and I appreciate the opportunity to hash out political theory in the context of internet space ships!

            As a mark of impact for your work, I had a few discussions over whether any games could be considered socialist with students, and a few have gone away to attempt a minecraft mod with a communal inventory.

            May 13, 2021 at 6:11 PM
  • Mr Augur

    Aren’t some Players get payd by isk for their in game job like FCing or Mercenary Corp it is not wages(full time job) but contract hire so isn’t that a kind of capitalism form?

    May 9, 2021 at 3:07 PM
    • Seir Luciel Mr Augur

      That would be something closer to capitalism, yes. It would be akin to service work in capitalist societies, like when a doctor or teacher is paid a set amount for the service they are providing. But it isn’t widespread across the entirety of the economy. Its more of an exception to the rule.

      Services are an interesting case, compared to productive jobs. Normally in capitalist frameworks the capitalist makes money off the sale of a product which workers produce. They then distribute wages to workers as they see fit, and profit off the excess—ideally more than the wage laborer. Why else be a business man if you aren’t better off.

      But with services there isn’t something produced in the same way. There isn’t something left over, or something owned at the end of a work day. A miner has material after labor, an FC doesn’t. Therefore what he is selling isn’t something that could be stored, bartered, etc.

      I don‘t think there is any economic rule that says services are sold differently than physical products. An owner of a private university pays teachers wages and keeps the surplus profit from tuition money. So services can absolutely be “capitalized on.” FCing might be one of the only wage jobs in EVE. But if contracts are negotiated on, with the FC having enough power to haggle for their wages, then it starts looking less like institutional capitalism and more like simply two people agreeing upon a deal.

      May 11, 2021 at 3:36 AM
      • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

        “Institutional capitalism” and “two people agreeing upon a deal” are the same thing.

        May 11, 2021 at 8:57 PM
        • Seir Luciel Kyeudo

          I’m a bit lost. What makes you say so?

          May 12, 2021 at 3:13 AM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            The foundation of capitalism is the making of agreements.

            Every sale is an agreement: “I will give you this much money and you will give me that thing”.

            Every company that has employees has employees because the company and the employee came to an agreement: “I will work for you and in return you will pay me”.

            The people making these agreements may have different bargaining positions and so be able to get a better deal for themselves than someone else, but that changes nothing.

            May 12, 2021 at 5:20 AM
          • Seir Luciel Kyeudo

            Capitalism may be based on agreements up to a point; I would argue most workers would agree they ought to be paid more, and most business owners agree their workers ought to be paid less. That workers continue to work for pay and employers continue to pay the legal minimum wage I wouldn’t fully constitute as an agreement between the two.

            Moreover, capitalism as an economic system is less than 250 years old. People have been making agreements for all human history. The two can’t just be the same.

            May 12, 2021 at 1:22 PM
          • Kyeudo Seir Luciel

            I would argue most workers would agree they ought to be paid more, and most business owners agree their workers ought to be paid less. That workers continue to work for pay and employers continue to pay the legal minimum wage I wouldn’t fully constitute as an agreement between the two.

            You really don’t know much about reality. Hardly any workers make the minimum wage – less than 3% of the US labor force. Those workers? Mostly part-timers. Go find someone who works for the minimum wage for a long time and you will find them to be unambitious, lacking in any marketable skills, or both.

            In reality, workers don’t just take what they are handed. They look for better jobs if they feel they are being underpaid and they find them if they are actually underpaid. Employers that don’t pay well enough experience huge turnover in their workforce. Walmart, for example, only keeps workers for an average of 2.2 years. All of the better paid and long-term managers and executives can’t dilute the staggering turnover rates of the front-line workers.

            Moreover, capitalism as an economic system is less than 250 years old. People have been making agreements for all human history. The two can’t just be the same.

            Capitalism as given by whatever definition you chose is only 250 years old. Capitalism, in practice, is what happens when the government gets out of the way and lets people just do their thing.

            Let’s take a look at two of the precursor systems of economics: Mercantilism and Feudalism.

            Mercantilism was characterized by policies like these:
            High tariffs, especially on manufactured goods.
            Forbidding colonies to trade with other nations.
            Monopolizing markets.
            Banning the export of gold and silver, even for payments.
            Forbidding trade to be carried in foreign ships.
            Subsidies on exports.
            Promoting manufacturing and industry through research or direct subsidies.
            Limiting wages.
            Maximizing the use of domestic resources.
            Restricting domestic consumption through non-tariff barriers to trade.

            Notice the massive government intervention?

            Under Feudalism, the majority of the population were serfs, granted barely more rights than slaves, and they were hobbled by mandatory duties from their lord and by high taxes on what little land they could call their own. Again, massive government intervention.

            Meanwhile, all the same forces that drive modern economies were still there: supply and demand, the benefits of specialization over generalization, and so on. You could say that all other economic systems are just capitalism with hampering limitations imposed upon it by government intervention, forcing it to limp along until people realize how stupid they are and get rid of some of the shackles.

            May 12, 2021 at 5:06 PM
          • Seir Luciel Kyeudo

            “Capitalism as given by whatever definition you chose is only 250 years old.”

            You say this as though I am making this stuff up:

            Modern capitalist theory is traditionally traced to the 18th-century treatise An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Scottish political economist Adam Smith,
            and the origins of capitalism as an economic system can be placed in the 16th century. From the 16th to the 18th century in England, the industrialization of mass enterprises, such as the cloth industry, gave rise to a system in which accumulated capital was invested to increase productivity—capitalism, in other words.
            — Encyclopaedia Britannica

            https://www.britannica.com/topic/capitalism

            You should follow this link and read the entry.

            May 12, 2021 at 6:10 PM
  • Afri

    Im lost. Maybe if English was my first language i could understand more. But the longer i read the less i understand

    May 9, 2021 at 9:54 PM
  • Moomin Amatin

    “capitalism – an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition. If using this definition then it can easily be said that capitalism does not exist in New Eden. The main reason for this is that we have an all powerful entity that can and does intervene in substantial ways at points.

    At best New Eden offers a mild economic simulator when it comes to market practices. I should stress that this is not a bad thing as there is lots that can be learnt from market behaviour within New Eden. Many of these skills are also very useful in the real world. The same is true for other aspects of humanity such as with social interactions within New Eden.

    A final thought. The “technological singularity” is something that many great minds have agreed on as being inevitable. If this should happen then one of the realities is likely to be the costs of production being reduced to effectively zero. If there are no costs, especially ones where humans get paid, then one has to wonder who exactly will be buying all of these goods and services. Perhaps that would be a more interesting experiment for CCP to conduct.

    May 10, 2021 at 3:23 AM
    • Kyeudo Moomin Amatin

      There is one thing that we can always be sure will be a scarce commodity: time.

      May 11, 2021 at 8:55 PM
  • Terminator025

    Perhaps most interesting is that the EVE economy effectively simulates a plausable example of anarcho syndicalism for the player, but paradoxically only for the canonical capitalist class. I’m sure there is an interesting tether from this to how the capital class generally gets to experience the post-scarcity conditions strived for by typical left movements (albeit at the expense of rest of the population), though I’m not quite sure how to refine it.

    May 11, 2021 at 6:50 PM
    • Seir Luciel Terminator025

      I think this is well put.

      May 11, 2021 at 7:54 PM
  • Elithiel en Gravonere

    I don’t see cooperatives, communes and worker’s council’s controlling and having equal say in the null sec federations they are part of. It’s definitely NOT socialist, but I also accept some of the argument that it is not purely capitalist. What I think we might have here, is not Anarcho-Syndicalism, nor Stalinism, nor western Capitalism. It seems to be more a mix of Crony Capitalism (in which the most wealthy get the most say) and instead of a middle and working class, we have a petty bourgeoisie running the everyday production instead. Thus we don’t have Mutualism but a corrupted version of Capitalism, in a sort of mixed economy made up of Crony Capitalists and Petty Bourgeois producers. The wage slaves are as you state, in the lore but assumed. Crony Capitalism seems to be a feature of Eastern Asian development, but the PB element is that all players are essentially, their own petty capitalists. In Crony Capitalism, those that are wealthy, keep people loyal to them by handing down goodies. Often, these take the forms of military dictatorships (think Burma, Indonesia, Thailand) and Eve is no different. Become a Dissident in TEST, Goonswarm or Horde and you will be shown the airlock out of the alliance quicker than you can sneeze.

    May 12, 2021 at 4:39 AM