The following agora took place between the 31st of July, 2021, and the 11th of August, 2021. The moderators were Sammy23, Nociav, and Aivintis. The participants were Cappedore, Patchourisu, CanadianTechnocrats (Red), and Nociav (Nuswaree).
Brought to you by myself, our NS topic: Which political system works the best in NS?
Lemme start this off by saying Parliamentary systems work… to an extent.
As Cappedore, in 2017, i joined a region that was kinda parliamentary. I guess that, in NationStates, parliamentary systems work best not by allocating seats, but by giving anybody the opportunity to become a member of the legislature so long as they are a Citizen/Resident. Semi-Presidential Systems don’t really work in a way that you can’t really allocate executive powers to a head of government unless their office was tied to WA Delegate. But then, that way, it would mean that the Founder would be the Head of State / the President, but everybody knows that Founders can’t be elected.
Full presidential systems work, too, as is evidenced by default regions or founderless regions. However, in player-created regions, constitutional monarchies / parliamentary democracies, I believe, are the ones that work the best. You could always have it so the Founder, or in this case the Monarch, acts as a figurehead, whilst government and executive duties lie with the Head of Government, or in this case the WA Delegate.
Well, I will first answer Out-Of-Character-Ly
So, Nationstates is a political simulator and Massive Multiplayer Online Game. So it is based off on Networks.
And Networks are mostly run in an “Network Administration” thing, kinda an Autocracy where the Administrator runs the Executive and the Legislative, and delegates the Judiciary Power to the moderators. So the Administrator builds up the infrastructure of the community, whereas the Mods looks up and sees if everything is fine. I think it is the primary and kinda “native” political system of NS. Now the administrator can decide to delegate their administrative power to the community, or to provide some legislative power by listening to the community, or a part of the community. But in the end, they holds all the power.
Now, Nationstates has an interesting feature that is Delegacy. Delegates are nominated with endorsements, given by the community. And that provides some democratic elements on NS. And I think those democratic elements are good to give some activity on the community, as it includes the community in the political system. However, this may be counter-productive, as the Delegate may hold some executive power, too, if the founder decides so. And this is all the mechanics of Raiding-Defending!
Well, it all depends on the mindset of the community. If the community agrees, there can be a Monarchy, an Oligarchy, a Democracy, an Autocracy… It all depends on the will of the ruler.s to provide activity and make the community active.
I’ve seen Autocracies working just fine, with a benevolent ruler that wished to provide activities for the community. Although those autocracies have had some democratic elements or give powers depending of the achievments of the players. (Kinda meritocratic, then).
However, Meritocracy gives the power to those who have proven good to serve the community. Hence I think it is the best political system for NS, independently of power structures.
As such structures permits the finest to work, hence improving efficiency to pursue the objectives and carry the mindset of the community (could just be to provide a fun environment for the players!)
The Overarching System of NationStates (that being the Game-Website itself) is run by Max Berry and the Admins as Patch eloquently stated in the first section, so I wont repeat it again.
The NationStates Nation is always a Dictatorship, no matter how its lore is due to the Fact that the Player calls all the shots with no need for looking at Approval Rating, Re-elections, Loyalty or other.
The interesting Part comes in the NationStates Regions, because it is here where the Networks of People come together to further a goal of some kind, be it a positive atmosphere, a social group or winning R/D-Battles. The type of Regional Governance depends on the Goals of the Group, from anything to Direct Democracy to Dictatorial Control.
My Personal Favourite for NS-Regions is an Elected Oligarchy for the Leaders, owing to the fact that not so many (too few for a reasonable Parliament) have the time, energy or will to invest much time into what in the end still is a game, but the few that do still have to make it work for all voters, and a Meritocratic (or even Technocratic) approach to fill the lower Positions such as Ministers (though this might be difficult with low applicant numbers).
This system works to keep the People in the Loop of Governance while making sure that the Positions that benefit more from longer-term commitment and experience over time can work effectively without sacrificing the democratic system.
If we want to answer the question we’ll first need to know what we’re a considering to be a successful system. To me, it’s one that builds activity and keeps it.
Assuming normal conditions (no state of total war, no emergency, no internal threats, etc.), I believe in meritocracy. Meritocracy encourages people to contribute to advance further. Those who contribute the most advance the furthest. Those who contribute the least advance less.
I dislike other forms of government such as autocracies and governments that place too much faith in democracy.
Autocracy creates stagnation since those in power have no reason to change things from the way they currently remain.
Democracy ends up being a popularity contest. Democracy, to work out well, requires a community that focuses more on skill and potential. Such a community is rare in a democracy since it democracy doesn’t need skill, it needs popularity.
I agree with this. NationStates regions work best when everybody has the opportunity to advance as much as they can to gain power, and those who are less interested to advance slower.
It gives people the ability to contribute more to the game and indeed the communities that are built by hundreds of regions every day.
So I guess we agree to say that Meritocracy works well for NS regions. Though, to go deeper, what kind of structure should organize this meritocracy?
A Democratically elected Oligarchy (See: Delegate and Vizers) and a Meritocratic rest, assigned by the Leader of the Departments which can be appointed by the Delegate would be my system of choice, basically what TEP already has. This, as I described in my opening statement is able to effectively mix Democratic Safeguards with Meritocratic Efficiency given the relatively small Electorate of the Region
As far as I’ve seen, Meritocratic Democracy works well on NS. TEP is a good example, but I can also think of Caer Sidhi where the executive is elected, too. But I don’t know many NS communities and can only talk in theory, and untested theory may not have any meaning.
Democracy may be prone to populism, but that seems to not be the case in TEP, where elected have a decent program and usually holds it, as far as I have seen, since the three last elections.
So TEP brings empiric elements to uplift your position.
Red, you have a fondness for elected oligarchy. How would the elections work in your ideal government? Would they be elections by the citizenry or by a legislative branch which requires membership? If the latter, what would membership require? Would elections be for terms like our Delegate or lifetime like the Viziers?
Patch, I’d like to know the specifics of your ideal meritocracy. The divisions of power, the checks, and the balances.
Capp, I don’t know too much about parliamentary systems in NS. How do they work and how would your ideal system work?
The Election would by by the Citizenry in a ranked-choice system. The Elected officials (see: parliament) would serve Terms with a Term-Limit, the assigned council-positions dont have a limit, they are until assigned to someone else. I have a diagram I made of the System I thought of (NationStates | Dispatch | On the Political System of our Nation), it might have huge issues I have not foreseen
My Ideal Meritocracy would be a nominated oligarchy, where the diverse aspects of the state (WA, Internal Affairs, External Affairs…) are lead by different counselors, who chose those who help them to do their duties. The counselors would be nominated or elected by the former counselors, on the basis of an examination to attest their competences and skills. The overall aspects of the community would be voted by all the counselors. However, I am aware that such a regime is prone to corruption, and so far I haven’t thought of ways to ensure good conduct, other than oversee of a Main Administrator (which can be the founder). And that may, on the contrary, lead to bigger corruption. Still, on this council, a democratically-elected delegate and two (or more) randomly nominated counselors among the citizens could represent the voice of the people.
To fight that, perhaps an election where the testimonies of the candidates are the results to an exam posed by the community could resolve this.
Moreover, such a system could lack directions, as the results to an exam doesn’t show the political spectrum of the candidates. It could be a system that works, but for what?
I would say that any Governing System that has the good of “the People” as a goal should contain them in the governmental control loop in some way or another. That could be rather direct as in a Direct Democracy, through representatives in for example a Parliament or with some other way to act as a part of the checks and balances of the System.
This would also solve the “no directions” issue because the interests of the voting people provide a goal.
Agreed, I think that the government should build a cohesive environment for the people, hence “the good of the People” seems a reasonable goal for all institutions!
However, as this “good” depends of the “People”, the political structure may change depending of them, too!
Indeed. Thats how democracies fall with the will of the people changes.
There is an argument to be made if “the people” understand their own good and if some kind of overarching guidance may be required, but this can drift into authoritarianism really fast
Agreed, the line is hard to draw.
I like how the answer is basically the same as the one we reached in the Agora about “knowing everything”. A Line in the Sand to be drawn by personal preference
It sounds so reasonable and productive when it basically just means “we could not find a solid definition and politely agree to disagree on its specifics”
And that’s why I like oligarchies - A nice line and compromise between an autocracy, prone to the intents of the dictator, and a democracy, prone to crowd effects and populism
the way of choosing the oligarchs (and the number of them, from 2 to [insert number bigger than 2 here]) is the most important aspect of it, which I would still do with a democratic process.
My will to trust of “the people” to choosing rationally in their best long-term interest through informed, civilised discussion is probably too high
That’s an issue with Oligarchy, indeed. How many to rule. I’d say that depends on the size and diversity of the country. I’d say at least one per cultural group! And sufficiently to be efficient (that’s blurry)
I believe that, though, a Rational Democracy can be attained if the population is sufficiently educated to have rational thoughts in a macroscopic (or Crowd) scale
Also the debate has moved from “how to run a NS-Region” to “How would you run a real country”. Obviously things cross-apply to a certain extend but still
Well, could we say that Region Management and RL Politics are ruled by the same mechanics? I believe so, as Regions are microcosms of states. However, some aspects like economy are occulted in region management! So the ways to ensure the welfare of the people are not the same, and can’t say that the mechanics are the same, too
Well, to end this Agora with my words:
We all agree that meritocracy is the best form of government, at least in NS. Indeed, such form of government permits those who are involved and efficient in the community to take the reins of it, hence building sustainable infrastructure and activities in it. Even if we don’t really have an Idea on how it should be implemented, democratic elements might help to understand and serve the community to accomplish their goals, or just to provide a fun and healthy environment for them. Now, to go further, we could wonder if this logic applies to Real-Life political environment.
It was an interesting debate, although I think we could go further, discussing the tenants of some forms of government! But that’s the trickier part.
I think Patch summed it up quite well, a meritocracy with seams to be the best form of government for a Region, especially is combined with some Democracy (which, thanks to Fedele we now know is fragile). The First and foremost goal of the government should be to keep the region healthy, active and stable.
The second part of the debate, where we went from NationStates Regions to real world Governance was interesting, yet not quite conclusive. Though certain systems can cross-relate (thats part of the game design), we still have to discus the issues and details of such a transfer of ideas.
The Debate itself was enjoyable and civil. Further discussion (in an open forum) may be required and also very interesting to see the wider viewpoints of more people.
THIS IS THE END (of the ending Statement)
Aside from agreeing with the above two posts that meritocracy is the best system.
I conclude that a degree of democracy is needed to get an idea of what people would like to see in their meritocracy. No system exists that fits all sizes. We can only make generalised principles.
Mixing IRL governments to NS governments should be kept at a minimum since the circumstances of NS and IRL are immeasurably different. Ideas should be taken but entire Governmental systems shouldn’t be ported.
I’ve had fun thinking on what has been said and wished I spoke up a little more.
Sorry for the late statement, my last few days have been rather busy.
I do agree with everybody else here; in NationStates regions, meritocracy certainly does seem to be the best governmental system, along with at least one house of legislature makes for a very stable region indeed.
It needs to be remembered that NationStates is an online game and community; not everybody is going to be as involved as others, which is why I certainly agree meritocracy works best.