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by The Regional Nation of The Northern Light. . 347 reads.

The Northern Lights - Issue XXX, January 14th

We are aware that not everyone is equally appreciative of image-based NS newspapers. As such, we've included the standard format mostly plain-text version of the newspaper in the spoiler below. We hope you enjoy reading this month's issue! If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to telegram the current TNP Minister of Communications Ethnon (Marcus Antonius).

The Practicalities of Defending
by Praetor

It is frequently commented that The North Pacific (TNP) is raider in all but name by those outside of the region. Less frequently comments are made of this nature from citizens of the region itself.

Both are wrong.

Raiderism is fundamentally incompatible with TNP. While this should be fairly self-evident, apparently it is not. Prior to explaining the basic facts which make TNP and raiderism mutually exclusive, it is best to specify exactly what is meant by raiderism. By raiderism, I refer not to the raiding itself, nor to the mechanics of raiding, nor regions which are raider. I refer to instead the ideology of raiderism and all of that which is contained within; from raider unity to senseless and purposeless destruction of regions to without reason preventing resolutions from obtaining quorum to knocking over Delegate streaks for their own amusement.

It is this package which is at odds with TNP.

TNP takes part in various regular activities of raiding from replacing native Delegates, tagging, and ejecting nations. The latter of which only done in Warzones or on liberations.

As such any proposals that argue TNP should be raider are advocating for either increased raider activities (either in severity or frequency) or a decreasement in defensive actions. In a similar vein, those that state TNP is already raider ignore the necessity for TNP of defensive actions.

There are a variety of reasons for which the North Pacific Army (NPA)—TNP’s army—will conduct an operation from self-defence, defence of allies, training, maintaining activity, and advancing our foreign policy (listed in no particular order). Unquestionably some of these activities are more of a priority than others (self-defence would be a priority over a training operation). As well, an operation is able to satisfy multiple reasons for which an op is conducted.

Some of these reasons may be accomplished by more than one different type of operation or may partially be accomplished by all (eg. literally any operation contributes towards maintaining activity). However, each and every other reason will be conducted by the NPA at some point whether deliberate or incidentally in accomplishing another goal.

The mechanics by which each objective can be accomplished differ whether that is by an operation which is classified as raiding or as defending. The NPA is active regardless of whether it is tagging or detagging regions. The NPA can advance our foreign policy by working with other regions regardless of their alignment by once again tagging or detagging regions.

There are certain objectives which raiding is innately unable to accomplish. TNP is unable to defend her allies or herself without defending. These activities are directly at odds with a raider organization. However, these actions are of the utmost priority for the North.
The missions which the NPA (and TNP) value more than anything else are those in which we are coming to the aid of our allies. When the NPA is scrambling troops within the span of 12 hours to liberate or protect an ally whether it is because the region was raided or the founder CTEd are the crux of our military’s existence. Such is the importance of the issue that recently, a long time Security Councillor (McMasterdonia) resigned from his position to ensure the safety of our long-time ally Stargate.

The NPA may partake in different operations whether they be raiding or defending, the proportion and activity of these operations will fluctuate at times.

But at the end of the day? When all is said and done? We may raid but we will never be raiders. We need defending.

Freedom 4 Dummies: A Reader's Guide to the Politics Behind Harmoneia's "In Defense of Morality in NationStates." A Precursory Piece.

by Grim Reaper

Harmoneia's "In Defense of Morality in NationStates" explores the concept of Hegelian freedom as a basis for participation in NationStates as a game. Beginning by stepping away from 'realpolitiks' as a method for understanding NationStates' political relationships, Harmoneia rejects the realist model of politics on the grounds of the meaninglessness of its utilitarianism in cyber-reality. Instead, Harmoneia proposes that politics in NationStates must be understood as an experience only meaningful through the application of ideals & morals - in line with Hegelian ethics, true freedom can only come by being free to adopt a moralist framework that reflects one's personal convictions. To 'win' the game of NationStates, if there is no material goal to achieve, then the goals must be moral ideals.

Harmoneia's work is effectively a meta-ethical approach to the NationStates environment, covering some of the fundamental questions of political philosophy and their applicability to a game. Her argument against 'realpolitiks' is an underpinning concern of modern international relations, where post-realist scholars argue that utility in the real world is similarly immaterial to that of NationStates. The schism of modern IR (international relations) is concerned with the definition of utility, with different schools discussing either an ontological approach (i.e. that states have an identity that they aim to secure, and which traditionally happens to, but does not necessarily, constitute a largely realist approach to the world, associated with "social constructivism"), or a normative approach (i.e. that states aim to maximise their moral structures through both domestic law and international law, the latter of which is facilitated by modern global capitalism, associated with "IR liberalism").

A benefit of her proposed moral truth framework is that it avoids the promotion of meaningless utilitarian goals that lead to zero-sum games - wherein regions can only achieve their goals by damaging the goals of other regions; a critique of modern realism's ability to predict international cooperation. Her seemingly abstract, philosophical argument that Hegelian freedom permits a healthy game-environment for the emergence of new systemic ideals therefore produces a meaningful conclusion, in that it simultaneously maximises the ability for individuals to adopt and achieve non-contradictory political goals.

In Defense of Morality in NationStates: An Argument from the Perspective of Freedom

by Harmoneia

The right of individuals to be subjectively destined to freedom is fulfilled when they belong to an actual ethical order, because their conviction of their freedom finds its truth in such an objective order, and it is in an ethical order that they are actually in possession of their own essence or their own inner universality.
- G.W.F. Hegel, "Third Part: Ethical Life," in the Philosophy of Right, §153.

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. - George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Morality has become a dirty word in NationStates, despite the fact that NationStates is a political simulation game. Though it is indeed the true that politics and morality can be mutually exclusive as in the case of realpolitik, anything outside of such political model necessarily inter-relates to a conception of morals. To my mind, realpolitik is a political concept of a utilitarian nature that is simply not applicable to NationStates by virtue of it being a fictional cyber reality. In other words, it is precisely the purpose of such space where are provided the possibility of imagination, of going beyond "what needs to be done" for the sake of basic social order, for it is the simple case that in a game where there is no concrete winner, nothing "needs to be done" in a strictly in-character sense, for there are no "basic needs" (I.e. food, shelter, clothes, etc) to attend to. Needless to say, such pragmatism and no-nonsense view of politics may work in real life, but in a cyber reality, it is nothing but a waste of opportunity and imagination. As such, we shall proceed with the understanding realpolitik is not a viable political model for a fictional game. It is thus for this reason that a meaningful experience cannot be divorced from ideological and moral considerations – though I shall elaborate more on this later.

For our purposes, however, I shall define morality as a set of values through which we can measure the rightness or wrongness of our actions, and the game as its life-world, where the players are its agents.

Though it is no secret that NationSates is not a game where all realities can be mapped out in a single, authoritative, and unchanging, system, for the reason that the concept of "winning" is blurred, such collapse of a meta-narrative might not necessarily mean a collapse of coherence, that is, the nihilistic denial of meaning and morality. In fact, the argument from which this work draws is that it could very well be the case that it is because of such contingency, that there is a necessity to a concept of morality in the game – though not necessarily through guiding principles, but through acknowledging the organic and dynamic nature of the game by virtue of allowing for the capability of each individual player for maximal pleasurable ends. This premise prevents, I claim, the collapse of the whole.

The argument I aim to make is a simple one: that if we take the notion of freedom as a necessary component of the game, then it must be that 1) moral truth is to be measured by what we push forth as the struggle for freedom which, in our case, is the freedom to choose and experience our ends as players; and that 2) objective morality is a necessary element to ensure the flourishing of the whole of the game which is more than the sum of its parts.

Freedom as Objective Ethical Truth

Freedom as a starting point may come as a surprise in its relation to morality, but if we take to be true what a great German philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel, once said, that is that the final purpose of all human history and activities can be said to lead to the final purpose that is the fulfillment of Freedom, then we can extensively derive that this activity is also an activity to exercise our free will, whatever part of ourselves we choose to exercise. As such, any conversation on right and wrong must begin with the conversation of what it truly means to be free. Indeed, when we demand for our right to be free, what do we mean? What are, if any, the limits of freedom and where does it sit in between our equal convictions for both scientific determinism/predictability and moral responsibility? Should we simply, as Richard Taylor suggests, “be content with discovering difficulties,” as elsewhere in metaphysics, where our aim is to discover inconsistencies which remind us of our ignorance?

In any case, any conversation on freedom is a conversation on causality, for the most basic, primary, and therefore ontological, definition of freedom is probably "uncaused cause,' in the sense that it is an unconditioned event that leads to an act which, itself, is a cause to something else. In this context, we may take freedom to be equivalent to Necessity, which is the indispensable cause to something.
The easiest definition to freedom, however, would probably sit along the lines of the existentialist tendency to say that freedom means responsibility – that is, the assertion that man is condemned to be free, as Sartre would have it. In a more optimistic sense, Isaiah Berlin would call it “negative liberty,” that is, the freedom to choose our ends as human beings. In a more or less similar vein, Martha Nussbaums’ Capabilities Approach would define it as “the power to form a conception of the good and to select action toward its realization.” It is questionable, however, of whether we truly are capable of having unconditioned choices at all. According to Richard Taylor Richard Taylor, we are not, and he presents a powerful argument for the incompatibility of our supposed moral ideals and the apparent determinism of the world at work in order to prove this. According to Taylor, moreover, our attempts at making these two contrasting things compatible with each other has so far only failed. He notes, for instance, that "soft determinism” is an attempt to account for determinism as well moral responsibility by trying to balance both, in as much as soft-determinism argues that if our inner states, which are not externally caused, are responsible for our choices; it is, however, a failed one with regard to making such opposing claims compatible because it neglects the fact of the matter that determinism proves that those inner states are not without causes.
The question of freedom as causality, therefore, is a question of causality where it cannot be denied that our choices and decisions are often themselves caused despite our belief that they are unconditioned. However, this does not mean that freedom, “uncaused cause,” is impossible. If, however, we view the issue in such a way that is non-linear and dynamic, that is a type of causality that is both necessary and contingent, or an agency that is conditioned but conscious, then we may be able to think of freedom as both necessary and contingent. In the context of causality, this may be explained in terms of X causing Y, and Y causing Z, while Z causes X – it is to mistake it for linear causation but ultimately X is both necessary as well as contingent to X and so on and so forth.

That is, it is spontaneously emerging from moment to moment, determined not by constitution nor any particularly linear cause, but by everything else, that is, the transformation and movement of everything. As such, we see a unique notion of freedom: one that is necessary and singular in as much as it is purely contingent in constitution and transformation, in relation to the necessity of everything else’s contingency; one that is satisfied and at ease—this is what is meant by freedom.

In other words, freedom understood as becoming one with the movement of an organic system, is what relates our freedom to the freedoms of others, presenting us with a robust notion of freedom which is not confined to one section of players, but to others as well, making fulfillment possible in a multi-layered network of players.

In this same vein, freedom as fulfillment appeals to a type of essentialism that is not inherent but is contingent. Ethical objectivity can thus exist but not in a fixed manner; that is, for every circumstance there exists a right that is unquestionably correct, but for every changing circumstance, the objective truth for those specific circumstances are also changing. This is the necessity of contingency that is meant when determining what ought to be done in specific situations, and in this sense it can avoid the problems associated with both the lack of moral truth, but also the dogmatism associated with it when we try to impose a universal set of values for changing situations.

In our specific case, when we say that raiding is wrong, it is not because the act itself is inherently evil, but because in most circumstances where it is done, it goes against the contingent essence or spontaneous nature of given situations. For instance, to declare war for a reason is an exercise of this type of freedom, but war on everything for no reason is an external causation which infringes on the distinct narratives of the particularity of regions which must be protected in order for them to have the freedom to determine their own ends, for so long as those ends do not deliberately infringe on others’ as well.

In other words, freedom is only the freedom to play as individual players in an environment of mutual consent. The capabilities of a region to direct its own fate, by its own natives, must be affirmed.

Spontaneous Unity and Emergence

What this means is that everything must be put to an order, allowing for the possibility of moral truth. That is, "freedom" as the freedom not to be infringed; the freedom to be right, in order for the possibility of emergence to exist. In other words, though parts are distinct, they are inherently connected and one small act against the internal movement of the whole can cause significant damage to a significant community.

What this suggests is that freedom is neither externally either imposed or sought for, nor is it internally constituted within each and all. This kind of freedom, though it is not a kind of veering away from, as is traditionally understood in the liberal sense,16 still saves this interpretation from the type which Isaiah Berlin critiques as “a deep and incurable metaphysical need; … to allow it to determine one's practice is a symptom of an equally deep, and more dangerous, moral and political immaturity.”17 Indeed such positive freedom which Berlin holds as oppressive, in contrast to the negative freedom of liberalism, is not possible here. This is because something can only be oppressive if it is imposed upon by something else, something other, which is precisely what we are trying to avoid here. Rather, it is spontaneously emerging from moment to moment, determined not by constitution nor any particularly linear cause, but by everything else, that is, the transformation and movement of everything. As such, we see a unique notion of freedom: one that is necessary and singular in as much as it is purely contingent in constitution and transformation, in relation to the necessity of everything else’s contingency; one that is satisfied and at ease—this is what is meant by freedom.

From this, we can surmise that such notion of freedom tells us that though moral truth is constantly changing, as is what is right or wrong – that is, though there are no inherent essences to players whatsoever, this does not prevent the existence and emergence of moral truth that is accessible within specific circumstances. It is not therefore the case that it is just a game – it is the game upon which we exercise our political ideals and as a political game, a politics without an ideology or ethic is not worth playing as is either sinks into the nihilism of meaninglessness in an environment where winning is already vague as it is, or into a politc of realpolitik, the non-viability of which we have already established earlier.

This realist objectivity in the context of morality is necessary thus in order to maintain order to the whole, and to keep the necessary and singular freedoms of the distinct parts intact. In this manner, the entirety of the game keeps its meaning and purpose, while leaving open the possibility of the emergence of new meanings and purposes – that is, if we choose to abide by the objective yet spontaneous nature of moral truth.

It is the hope of this philosophical piece for us to find an ontological structure of causality and the nature of the game, that shows us the fundamental unity between freedom and destiny, and why this is not something that denies us of the maximal experience of play– in fact, quite the contrary, when liberty or the freedom to play is, at once, self-fulfillment as a player according to one's own position and role in his or her environmental conditions. In other words, freedom understood as becoming one with the movement of the game and not its deliberate infringement, is what relates our freedom to the freedoms of others, presenting us with a robust notion of moral truth and fulfillment which is not confined to one faction of the game or another, but to all the others as well, in order to confront the ongoing challenges moral truth in an infinitely diverse and multi-layered network of players that is the game.\

[1] Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, “Section Three: Philosophic History,” in The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Dover Publications, 1956), § Introduction
[2] Richard Taylor, ““Freedom and Determinism,” in Metaphysics, 4th ed., Prentice-Hall Foundations of Philosophy Series (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1992), 219
[3] Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Four Essays On Liberty, Oxford University Press Paperback. (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 32
[4] Nussbaum, Martha C. "Human Functioning and Social Justice: In Defense of Aristotelian Essentialism." Political Theory 20, no. 2 (1992): 234.
[5] Richard Taylor, ““Freedom and Determinism,” in Metaphysics, 4th ed., Prentice-Hall Foundations of Philosophy Series (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1992), 35-53
[6] There is limited space in this lecture but this conception of causal relations is indebted to Quentin Meillasoux. For a more comprehensive discussion, see his book on the Necessity of Contingency.

The Musings of a Soldier

by Trondstorm

When I joined NationStates, I was solely an issues-answerer. But later on, I wanted to get more involved in the game and explore new ways to play. So, as all new players do, I asked myself: What am I doing here? What should I stay for? And is it worth my time, effort, and attention?
At the surface, NS is a simple browser-based political simulator that parodies real life issues, puts whimsical, exaggerated twists on them, and gives you the choice to implement laws in your own personal and fictional society, with no end, and no victory. You can do what you wish with the people of your nation.

Under the surface, however, there are many different levels to the game. The various communities are proud and vibrant, with ideas and dearly-held beliefs flowing from all corners. Some invest their time in role-playing, while others devote themselves to the advancement of the game-world and its politics, but the most intriguing concept, to me, is participation in Military Gameplay, otherwise known as Raiding/Defending (R/D).

Upon brief observation of military gameplay within NationStates, it is clear that NS militaries conduct their operations uniquely to anything in real-life or any other simulated game. Raiding and defending uses the mechanics the game is known for; targeting regions through its delegacies using endorsements and influence. Activity is concentrated during the game’s two-update schedule, relying on both careful planning and quick reaction time.
Being in The North Pacific (TNP); I’ve enlisted in the North Pacific Army or the NPA for short. I was excited to put my time in NS into use, hoping that my service will contribute to the betterment of not just the organization, but also of the region as a whole. At the same time, I was raring for the chance to experience R/D. NS military gameplay is simple, easy to understand but simultaneously compelling and different. It was a new challenge, just waiting for me to step outside the box and take it. In short, I’ve heeded the call, completely immersing myself in the process.

Presently, after serving in several operations, all varying in motives, methods and sizes, I can say that military gameplay is one of the most worthwhile actions in NS. I find it amusing that R/D brings out emotions that may seem outlandish for a Text-Based Political Simulator; There is that lingering enthusiasm for prospective operations, the adrenaline rush for every Go order issued and the sense of accomplishment in every region hit. Even in failed operations, the opportunity to try again and improve are too good to pass upon. The R/D community is unparalleled; with different active organizations, each with their own policies and hierarchies, conducting their own, or joint sets of missions. The camaraderie within an organization is beyond question. These individuals have gone above and beyond to make NS warfare thrilling, and they are not shown signs of stopping.

It is hard to project what lies ahead. There is always the possibility of an unforeseen event may force me to stop logging into NS, but I can say that after taking the leap into R/D, it made the game much more enjoyable. I’ll continue to serve with the best of my abilities and I won’t let thoughts about the future interfere with the present.

Independence Builds Strong Communities

by McMasterdonia

Independence builds strong communities - and the evidence for this has never been stronger or more apparent. Nevertheless, at times, independence comes under criticism. It cannot fit easily into a box or the more traditional constraints that are placed upon regions, so like anything that challenges the norm - especially as it does so so successfully - it becomes a target of traditionalists. Some vaguely suggest that independence is in decline, or no longer relevant. Others dismiss it as raidersim by another name. A few assert that there is strength in fanatic idealism. However, as with most polarizing arguments in NationStates, examples are rarely offered to support these claims.

Instead, Independence remains more relevant today than ever. It is important to remember that Independence does not subscribe to the notions of polarity in military gameplay and utterly rejects the idea that military activity - whether that be raiding or defending, should define the region as a whole. Independence advocates that the military is a tool of the regional government and an expression of the people’s will.

This definition has historically come into conflict with the traditionalist view of regions based upon where they sat on the spectrum of raiding and defending. Independence challenges these traditional viewpoints and instead advocates for a more pragmatic approach to military gameplay.

Independence As Foreign Policy
Independence has allowed for regions to adopt a more diversified foreign policy. Foreign relationships and partnerships are based upon the cultural identities of the regions involved. This takes into consideration more important facets of regional life, such as roleplay, issue answering, World Assembly engagement, democratic ideals and more recently, even NationStates cards. Foreign policy of regions that strictly adhere to defending or raiding foreign and military policy are less likely to put much emphasis on these aspects of regional life, as instead, these relationships are viewed entirely through the perspective of raiding or defending.

Effectively, most major regions embrace an Independent philosophy. While some regions may choose to subscribe to another label, the reality is that these regions are taking an Independent approach to their foreign policy. These regions maintain a wide variety of relationships with regions on both sides of the ideological divide - or at least, they attempt to do so, in some shape or form.

The Independent ideology has allowed regions such as The North Pacific to establish long-lasting bilateral and multilateral relationships that have stood the test of time, survived wider conflicts in the NS world, and persevered through many of the summer lulls. These enduring relationships have persevered because of the deep ties that are much broader than the relationships formed by those only concerned with where a region sits on the ideological spectrum.

Independence As Regional Culture
An Independent philosophy assists in the sustainable development of the region. Given that Independence focuses not just on militaristic activity, or how xyz services that activity, it is not treated as the sole priority or driver of a region's success. The result is a holistic development of all aspects of NationStates life - including the development of diverse roleplay communities, a proactive engagement with the World Assembly and the fostering of democratic ideals.

Furthermore, Independence results in a more diverse community. Unlike regions that strictly adhere to raiderism or defenderism, independence fosters community openness. Independent regions are accepting of almost all players and do not set barriers to entry based upon a player's raider or defender alignment. As a consequence, this diversity leads to a better region - and generally a better government. The elected government will be one that prioritizes the delivery of services for the community, ensuring the meteoric rise of officials with diverse skill sets, viewpoints and areas of focus.

Everything put together ensures that Independent regions thrive, and that they will continue to thrive for many years to come.

The Northern Lights: Beauty in Truth
Publisher: McMasterdonia :: Executive Editors: Kaschovia & Marcus Antonius

The Northern Lights is produced by the Ministry of Communications on behalf of the Government of The North Pacific and distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Except where otherwise indicated, all content does not represent the views of the Government of The North Pacific.

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