by Max Barry

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by The Protectorate of STU State Broadcasting. . 97 reads.

The Boiling Pot Issue 5: A New Way of Cooking

Issue 5 - A New Way of Cooking

This may only be the 5th issue of the Boiling Pot, but the STU has come a very long way since our first publication. In our last edition, Reflections, I shared some of the troubles we had been having without a rationalised structure or schedule. Writing NS papers is always hard, but I think it’s infinitely harder when your output is fundamentally random, and you’ve got no obligations either. I failed at managing a paper with a release schedule before, back in Osiris, which is what prompted me to opt for our initial smaller scope and no-pressure arrangements over here.

With all that said, as many of our readers will surely know, the current People’s Tribune was elected with a mandate to overhaul the Boiling Pot. I’ve given them my backing and implemented a schedule and structure for the Boiling Pot based upon a proposal paper they submitted to the Directorate. In addition to this, behind the scenes we have made a lot of quality of life and organisational improvements, so we can all more easily coordinate and access resources.

As a result, the way the Boiling Pot will be delivered to you, our glorious readers, will be changing. Instead of focusing on small quick-fire issues, the Boiling Pot will be moving to a monthly release schedule with larger issues. From now on, you should see us release a new issue on the 10th of every month. Additionally, according with recently implemented changes to the Tribunate election schedule, every second month’s issue will focus primarily on issues raised in the election, and interviews of candidates. Our off months will focus on NS more widely, aiming to bring the STU’s views on governance, game mechanics, and some of the interesting things our interregional friends (and not so friendly neighbours) are doing out there.

I’d like to especially thank the writers of this edition for their speedy work. Normally, they’d have had a month to generate content, but that has not been the case this time, for reasons which should be obvious. We’ve not managed to get everything in here that we wanted to, but all the same, good job people!

I would also like to thank Bran Astor for his quick work on our new logo. It looks awesome! Here's an alternative version:

Writing credits: Imperium of Josh

Point and Counterpoint: Legislature Woes

Well would you look at what’s back… Thanks to the kind assent of our friends in Osiris, the Boiling Pot is able to bring you a revived version of Point and Counterpoint! If you’ve not heard of it, first of all, you should go and check out the previous editions in Osiris’ Oracle, there’s some good stuff in there. You can find it on Osiris’ forums. P&C aims to bring you interesting discussion of higher concept ideas than your average NS newspaper article, in the form of debates between myself and another NSer. If you’d like to argue with me in one of these someday, come and step up to the bat! I don’t bite too hard.

These might even stray into real-world political philosophy or current events on occasion. Who knows? It did before! That said, I’d like to keep us a little more down to NS for this production run, starting with today’s topic; What exactly is the best way to do democracy on NS (if you must do it, ugh)? More specifically, is it better for a region to have a direct (all-citizen) legislature, or an indirect (elected representatives) one?

An Argument for Direct (All-Citizen) Legislatures

I should really preface my point here with the fact I am obviously not a democrat on NS. In fact, I’d wager a fair few readers are laughing at the concept of me arguing for any kind of democracy right now. Obviously, a system of legislature by decree of an autocrat is my preference, so don’t think I’ve gone selling out on the authoritarian meritocracy crowd, I haven’t. But with that said, I do actually have relatively strong opinions on this little difference of practice in the democratic sphere, and I hope to convince you of not just the merits of the argument but my sincere belief in what I’m selling you.

The basic impulse to form an elected legislature is at the surface level rather understandable. After all, the world’s governments are full of elected representative structures. The impulse doesn’t even stop there. As I am sure many of our readers are aware, the amount of new regions which attempt to model themselves after the United States government is frankly concerning, most of all because they will inevitably crumble under the impossible task of actually replicating said structures. Such regions fail, and they do always fail, for a multitude of reasons. Inexperienced and unimaginative players being in charge of them is the root cause of their misguided governmental structures, after all. As anyone in the NSL discord will tell you, it’s a lot better to found a region with experience and knowledge under your belt, as well as a unique vision for the region.

So, allowing for at least a relatively competent founder, the biggest factor besides founder ineptitude however is that government is a numbers game. Complex systems require a lot of staff to maintain, and thus demand high populations capable of providing a surplus population not required for labour in other areas. Obviously NS is not real life, and thus we can bypass the need for a sufficiently economically and technologically advanced civilisation to provide the surplus. One might think this would be enough to solve the problem before it begins. After all, this is surely a game! Everyone on here is on here to play! Alas, NS cannot eat everyone’s attention 24/7, as much as it may try to do so, and no region will be capable of engaging 100% of its population in any activity, let alone government, at any one time. There is always a resting baseline of players who simply will not get involved too intensely - and that baseline is a supermajority of players. Thus regional governments which are too over-ambitious with their structure will not be able to sustain themselves.

How, you might ask, does this relate to legislatures in the specific case? And how does it make sense to argue for an all-citizen legislature when, as I have said myself, only a small group of players will pay any active attention anyway? It is a question best answered with another; why would one wish to have only a small subset of a small subset of players participating in their legislature? It makes very little sense to restrict access and participation in the legislature to a tiny handful of players in the region, if democracy is truly the aim of its government. An all-citizen legislature relieves pressure on the system, and makes no specific demands of any one citizen. In an elected legislature, the obvious expectation is that representatives are active participants in all issues. As NS is a game, and thus at best a secondary time commitment, that dream rarely plays out. Instead an all-citizen legislature can and will be a major source of activity and debate for important matters, where citizens feel as if they have a significant stake or a need to make a case, and less so for less contentious matters. The all-citizen legislature can ebb and flow according to the demands placed upon it and the priorities of the community it exists within, allowing a voice for all its constituents. Such a legislature will be most beneficial for a young or small community, but can feasibly work far beyond the numbers of active citizens any NS region is capable of maintaining. Once again, we see the underlying influence of the numbers game.

It is worth stepping back at this point, and asking why indirect legislatures are so prevalent in the real world if they can so effectively manage the challenges on NS. Besides the obvious fact that NS is a game, the difference is numbers. Indirect legislatures are a consequence of societies growing large enough that it would be unfeasible to get to know, or even communicate with, all members of that society. Not so on NS. Everyone knows each other! Everyone can reasonably talk to each other about policy; we have central communication hubs for this very purpose. We may live in disparate locations on earth, but the government and game itself exists entirely online. Everyone can be involved in the legislative discussions, and it's not at all unreasonable to expect that people will be involved in those discussions which matter to them. To use an indirect legislature on NS makes little sense, as their purpose is to solve a problem which does not exist on NS; you’re trying to solve a problem that isn’t there.

None of this is to say that it is impossible to make indirect legislatures work in a sufficiently large and sufficiently established community. It clearly is possible, and there are regions out there which do it. They tend to be on the larger end, with one prominent example being Europeia, for the very reasons argued above. Of course, the less actual democracy and representation matters to a place, the more politically useful a small legislature might be. My time in Gay comes to mind... With these caveats mentioned, it remains clear that an all-citizen legislature is the better option for the vast majority of regions which desire a democratic legislature.

Stay tuned for next month’s edition of The Boiling Pot, when we will publish a pro-indirect legislature piece, written by a guest!

Writing credits: Imperium of Josh

The Social Technocratic Union Celebrates UCR Con

From the week starting November 16, to November 21, citizens of the STU joined in on the festivities of the third User Created Region (UCR) Convention, an annual event where UCR's come together to display and educate others on their unique social, cultural, and political environments, in what has got to be one of the largest events held across NS.
In total there were 375 participants, and 47 different showcases, all hosting a variety of exciting activities; for example, to much of the delight of many of the attendees, Kitsy shared her daily Peach picture in the STU booth, The Black Hawks created a puzzle quest that had many people racking their brains and searching different nations and regions for answers, and our allies from Edlhus even created a Link"See which house you'd fit in!" quiz!
The event was an incredible opportunity for us to network with other regions, and to explore the many booths led by representatives of each UCR, who were all incredibly willing to engage with their visitors and inform guests on where they were from, and what makes their UCR an incredible place to be in. Of particular interest were the many lectures conducted through voice chat from some of the big names in NS, and for guests to read and ask questions for panel participants to answer in text format. Notably, our very own founder, Josh, was one of three panelists of the Foreign Affairs and Regional Image lecture, which you can listen to Linkhere, and totally didn’t crash JayDee’s VC lecture at all. Nope, not him, never. Other lectures and panels included a variety of topics related to NS Gameplay, from Out of Character Moderation, NationStates Families, and even on Region Building.
It also hasn't gone unnoticed that in the daily giveaways of games, stamps and discord nitro memberships, our region fared very well! STU World Assembly Delegate, Momus (Antarctic SARNZ), won a nitro membership and used it to boost our server, while GTFourty (MiriAi) won 10k stamps and donated them to our founder. Thank you both!!! This year's convention was an absolute success, led by a very hard working team of convention organisers and moderators, which made it even better for The Social Technocratic Union to be able to take part in it; we're already looking forward to the Fourth Annual UCR Convention.

Writing credits: Istil

Christmas Charity Drive!

We were originally going to publish a piece by Bad Science here, but due to a personal emergency they were unable to submit it in time. All the best, Bad!

From the 11th, many regions across NS will be taking part in a Christmas charity drive in aid of The Trevor Project, and the STU will be enthusiastically joining them. On Friday the 18th of December, Josh will be hosting a “Josh ruins a nation” discord stream of Democracy 4, where participants who have donated to the drive will be able to set policy goals, however nonsensical and contradictory they might be, for Josh to impose upon a poor unsuspecting western democracy. Afterwards, the STU will transition into hosting a games night, with a line up of Skribbl, Jackbox, Secret Hitler, and Among Us (alterations may occur due to popular demand).

Other events will be hosted throughout the month by regions such as Anteria, Caer Sidi, Edlhus, Res Publica, The Sasquatch Republic, and Spiritus. We hope that everyone has a good time and raises a good amount for a worthy cause!

Writing credits: Imperium of Josh