In the previous blog I discussed the implications of social networks and social economy within the context of Eclipse Phase, in this blog I will be covering the issues presenting in Eclipse phase regarding politics and governance in relation to individuals and social interactions. The political systems within the setting of Eclipse Phase are varied and all rely heavily on the interactions of the social system by the players. The systems range from the strictly state controlled autocracy of the Jovian Republic, where individuals monitor each other for dissent and technological heresy, to the extremely liberal true democracies of the Titan Commonwealth and the various Scum Flotillas that cruise around the solar system. Each and everyone has a reliance on social media, I will be covering the Jovian Republic, and Titan Commonwealth.
To begin with, The Jovian Republic exhibits classic signs of totalitarian rule, with a military leadership at its helm it would not be unexpected to see this as a classic dictatorship in the vein of our own. The differences come when comparing the control and usage of social media in everyday political involvement. The Jovian Republic, like all other political bodies in Eclipse Phase, relies on a system that emphasises Digital Citizenship, all citizens of the state have free and legal access to participation within the bureaucracy and military structure of the Jovian Republic, which emphasises skill and competence rather then birth or lineage. (Lindgren) This is of note because part of the skill and competence in the setting of Eclipse Phase is that of the body, which the Jovian Republic holds sacred, rejecting modification and the willingness to push boundaries without forethought (the qualities that caused the singularity to occur in the minds of the founders of the Republic). This brings forth an interesting dichotomy, skill and competence can be improved using a genetically modified body yet the Jovians see modified bodies as perversions of technology and humanity. The Digital Citizenship of the Jovian Republic relies on this Cognitive Dissonance with regards to ability and connection to serve as the foundation on which they control and exert influence through their respective political social media connections. Emphasizing elements of physical purity over those of modified perfection, the Jovians instill the concepts and ideas that lead to the continued existence of their political ideology while emphasising a meritocracy within its ranks. (Humphreys) Holding beliefs does not advance you, but maintaining beliefs and being exceptionally competent can advance you quickly. In this way, many Jovians adopt a principle of Networked Society, wherein they have various public identities relating to their competence and belief structures, using each in difference circumstances as benefits either one. (Humphreys)
The Titan Commonwealth is on the opposite side of the political spectrum, embodying what we would refer to as a “true democracy”. Everyone within the Commonwealth has a direct voice and input on every single issue and decision made by the government. The face speed of transmission as well as the sheer ubiquity of information allows all those who wish to be heard and involved that opportunity. The Titan Commonwealth is unique in another aspect, the government and every citizen are highly reliant and actively immersed in the academic, being a society composed almost entirely of intellectuals. This gives the society of the Commonwealth a specific set of affordances that the other governments lack, a knowledgeable and competent citizen population who rely entirely on reason, logic, and evidence when taking decisions into account. The Technoculture of the Commonwealth is easily one of the most advanced, and it is because of this interconnectedness within the confines of government that allows for this. The Networked individual sees the government and his fellow citizens as extensions of himself, and as a result the overall Directionality of the collective is ubiquitous, everyone is equally connected with everyone else. (Humphreys) There is no Gatekeepers to be had within this system, and as a consequence the concentration of the populous is always at an all-time high, with discussions and interactions being as common as the electricity that powers it all. (Humphreys) Within this society, Assemblages form and collapse on a near constant basis, around resources, theories, theses, events, and even dinner. (Humphreys) Because of this connectedness, the Titan Commonwealth is also particularly vulnerable to a particularly insidious method of political manipulation: Memes. (Dawkins) Memes in Eclipse Phase are everywhere, both in the social/cultural definition and in the image macro/leisure definition. The Titan Commonwealth, due to the ubiquity of connections and discussions allows for the rapid propagation of Intellectual Memes to sprout from this government, which while remaining in the Commonwealth is not an issue, often results in spreading dangerous ideas to societies and governments who take less consideration when it comes to the safety or integrity of its people.
When players are confronted by the diverse prospects of both these government types, there is often a clear preference for the government of Titan, noting openness and inclusivity as paramount to progress, not an incorrect assumption. However, I have found that just as the Commonwealth propagates dangerous Memes to the rest of the solar system unknowingly, so too do players make light of the significance of these occurrences. Often it results in complicated situations in games, where players’ understanding of our own social context, fail to realize the consequences of their actions on a social level.
Humphreys, Ashlee. Social Media: Enduring Principles. New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2016.
Lindgren, Simon. Digital Media & Society. Los Angeles, SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017.
Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene (1979)