by Max Barry

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by Neo polisophos. . 57 reads.

Thoughts on The League of Conservative Nations' Constitutions

The Constitutions

At the time of writing this, the League has had four Constitutions. How do they compare? Here is what I know and understand about them:

First Constitution: This has a history that precedes my presence in the region. Written by Icaris, it was a very rudimentary document. Its objective was simply to give the region some ground and avoid arbitrariness. This is where power abuse was first officially delimited; where the first political institutions were consolidated; where the army had its opportunity to grow into one of the very essential gears of the region, in the second and third republics. Though commendable, I believe this Constitution was very abstract: everything, from the three solidified judicial positions, to the way the president's cabinet was organized, to the duties of the speaker of the Senate, looks more like a test than a consuetudinary conclusion. Of course, this is NationStates that we are talking about, and, therefore, the complexities of the outside world don't warrant their way into analyses of the game; but it's remarkable, nonetheless, that Icaris arrived at this document. Besides, the structure of the Senate was extremely democratic (which is something that I admittedly find nostalgic) and fitting for those times.

Second Constitution: Sadly, I currently cannot find this Constitution, so I must go mainly from memory. This document refined the First Constitution, corrected some of its problems and sought to make the region more stable. In fact, the Second Constitution's was perhaps the most unstable of times for the League. Conflicts between the region's founder, Adawn, and his adversaries in principles most of the active influential members of the League, that is ; the fragmentation into groups of diverging opinions, most notably CSNA's (Conservative States of New America); the discussions regarding the plurality of opinion in the League, and how a region called Conservative could allow Communists in... Those were all problems that the League had to face. There was also the recurrent threat of Nagarno: mayhap his was, inadvertently, the most important role in making the League stronger. By attempting so many times to destroy the region, Nagarno forced its residents to acknowledge their commonalities and work together, a spirit of unison that would overcome the dissent over internal matters. Of course, this does not mean that all went well: some residents left or started to become inactive during these times; but a filter was inevitable for a region so riddled with conundrums, and the number of dissidents was minuscule compared to the achievements of those who remained. In conclusion, the Second Constitution was, arguably, the easiest to find problems in; but that was because of its context: it was the abstraction of the First Constitution confronted by the inexorable reality of power and ideological struggle. In that regard, this is maybe the noblest of the four Constitutions.

Third Constitution: I proposed this Constitution myself. My initial intention wasn't to really replace the Second Constitution, but to present a what-if to other residents. The idea was that the previous document was too flawed, verging obsolescence in some aspects (such as the judiciary system, whose People's Attorney was removed in the Third Constitution entirely). The idea was very well-received, and thus began the League's most peaceful Constitutional Convention. According to Icaris' dispatch, this convention took almost three months to conclude its activities, and there's no mystery behind this wait: the Third Constitution was the product of stable times, made possible by the struggles of the Second. With a strong preamble backed by rather explicit ideas and intentions, this Constitution was mainly responsible for putting an end to historically-problematic concepts, such as that of impeachment, which it has an entire article dedicated to, with nine clauses. The stability of the League is confirmed by the article regarding the Department of Defense: with only three clauses, that are mostly repetition from previous documents, this Constitution meant practically no change to the already well-established army whose leader, Andrew Du, was very important to the Constitutional Convention. Other institutions suffered small tweaks, which could have been passed as amendments to the previous Constitution. But the Third Constitution was a much more symbolic achievement: it was the culmination of the unifying factor that prevailed after months and years of disputes, the confirmation of the changes that the region earnestly desired, the most conservative of the Constitutions.

Fourth Constitution: This document obliterated the tradition initiated by the First Constitution. Nowadays, the previous three Constitutions mean next to nothing to the region's institutions, and I can only imagine how newer residents would perceive them as alien artifacts, I presume. Just as I exercise my imagination with the new, I imagine what the old, long-gone members of the League would say about this historical culmination. The Fourth Constitution was a blatantly revolutionary project, a "disgrace and a traitorous act" in a conservative region that's what I imagine people like the founder would catalogue it as. Well, it was indeed revolutionary, and it indeed put years of organizational efforts to rest, in a way. But you have to be unhealthily charged to interpret any revolution as bad, as you would have to be to interpret any conservative disposition as ideal. The main challenge of NationStates the root of all problems, I think is to actually make a forum work like a government. The reality of it is that most of us can, after a disagreement, leave the region we are in, or even the game, or we can use our meager virtual powers to send our opponents to the trash bin; but that warrants the question, "Why bother?" None of this is "real", none of it matters, and in our day and age, as the social-media ecosystem imprisons more people in bubbles, and the oppression by the State feels like an exponential threat, who would be the lunatic who would consider going through the annoyance of fictional (!) bureaucracy a pleasure?! I think I have the answer to that, or at least a fragment of it.

When you look at NationStates, a lot of the nations are crazy dystopian experiments for the occasional delight of the player. That is not very surprising: who wouldn't want to play god for a while? Who wouldn't want to escape the absolute boredom and hardship of the life of a commoner and just have fun with fictional scenarios? That explains a good portion of the players. Now imagine their polar opposite: the people who actually take this game seriously and want to build something great out of it. These people are not so simple to explain: they certainly are here for the momentary pleasures of silly game issues and interactions, but that wouldn't explain their greater objectives. In reality, most of them are either individuals with ideas or ideals. Those with ideals (which I'm using as a synonym for ideology) would like to see their utopias prosper, and are possibly the most powerful founding forces in this game, due to their exacerbated convictions. The League of Conservative Nations was based upon conservatism, but what kind of conservatism? Even Adawn could not answer this question. He was a charged founder transforming his personal matters into a region. He had a set of beliefs which, although he could hardly explain, attracted numerous nations to the League, and so its history began. But the League would never prosper under Adawn's supervision: he had no plan, didn't understand the game very well and, rather often, got into conflicts regarding the usage of his powers. His was an important role in creating a flag that fellow players could wave, but his attempt to ideologize a social structure that has hardly anything to do with historical political structures was disastrous. Enter the people with ideas, of whom Icaris is a great representative, with his first two Constitutions. These people are not so easily fooled by the transfiguration of real-life issues into virtual ones. When the First Constitution was written, this region had nigh no history, and a key aspect of modern conservatism is that we ought to respect the traditions that we cannot fully grasp. What tradition is there to respect in a recently-founded region? Thus, Adawn's conservatism falters both off and in-game.

Icaris' work was a mixture of real-life knowledge and in-game interpretation, a revolution upon null traditions. And thus began the League's conservatism: through a revolution. As I said, the Third Constitution was the culmination of the conservative spirit developed throughout the first two republics. It had very little to adjust, and mostly preserved the region's institutions, while refining core aspects of the political system. What right has the Fourth Constitution to exist, then? It destroyed our progress towards the apex of conservatism, restarted the system, put an end to democracy as we knew it! Well, that is correct, but this happened after months of experience with the Third Constitution, and the region was coming to a halt. Interest in the positions consolidated by the first republics was reaching all-time lows, and that seemed to be it. We had finally won. But the cost of victorious stability was inactivity, and inactivity was a very real threat to the institutions that we sought to maintain. Paradoxically, the supremacy of conservatism meant its own annihilation.

The privilege of retrospection is amazing: I am now convinced that the Fourth Constitution was inevitable it would have come one way or another, from whatever individual was most fit to lead the region towards a new path. If the Fourth Republic signaled the end of many great things, it also meant the beginning of many others. I like the interpretation that there is a religious significance to most large-scale changes, and I think that applies, in essence, to what this culmination represented: a new search for meaning, because we had already found all of the meaning that we could with the first three Constitutions. And that is what, by popular vote, the League chose: a revolution to supersede that which sprouted from another, a new age of experimentation (with the political parties, the provinces, the many councils...) and innovation (with role-play and off-site interactions increasing exponentially).

Neo polisophos