Hypercorps, are they just "evil"?

106 posts / 0 new
Last post
Kssian Kssian's picture
Hypercorps, are they just "evil"?

It seems to me they are represented as evil esclavist organizations. I would like to know if there are good things about them.

Thanks in advance!

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
The books are very black-and

The books are very black-and-white in their presentation, yeah. While the hypercorps are probably by far on the darker side of grey, they're not pure evil.

The hypercorps were one of the first bastions of security and stability in the era after the Fall. It is no surprise nor secret that, despite Luna being the most populated polity at the time of the Fall and the one with the greater infrastructure availability, Mars became the future home of transhumanity.

The hypercorps are like blast furnaces; taking the raw fuel that is transhumanity's creative capacity and using it to power a vast economic engine which produces a staggering array of goods and services to meet the needs of transhumanity. Although it comes at a cost of human misery - or at least malaise - the Planetary Consortium produces the best and most advanced products and technologies for providing services and improving quality of life than any other polity in the solar system. These goods and services aren't evenly distributed by any means, but the majority of transhumans living around Mars or Venus have a quality of life far beyond anything anyone alive today enjoys. They are fit and healthy without effort, never get old, are rarely tired, and can upgrade and improve themselves as easily as you or I might by a new phone.

The price for this lifestyle is to live under constant threat; you're only one missed rent payment away from homelessness. You will never retire, never really have an escape from the endless treadmill of work. Your days are monotonous work, followed by mindless distraction, unless you fall between the cracks, in which case every moment is a struggle to make sure you can survive through to tomorrow.

The thing is, if you live in the developed world... That's pretty much how you live now. It might not be fun, but it's hardly hell, now, is it? You might feel some small measure of ennui working in a call center, but it's not like your life is passing before your eyes anymore. And if you've got a higher end job, like working as a researcher or market forecaster, odds are good you live a good life. You're not just enjoying all those earlier benefits mentioned before; you're probably sleeved in a higher-end morph; you're not just fit and healthy, you're also smarter, stronger, better fed, and really good-looking.

This might sound like apologism for capitalism, and it is, but that's the thing: The hypercorps are the incarnate forms of capitalism in the setting. Regardless of all the evils capitalism has caused and continues to cause, it is a system which has the power to pull truly staggering numbers of people out of poverty and improve quality of life. It just... Frequently also deprives people of meaning and destroys anything that cannot be readily commodified.

All the talk about subjecting egos to cruel experiments in labs to try and develop new tech? Those things happen, periodically, here and there. But those are the exceptions, not the rule. There are hundreds of millions of egos on Mars, and tens of millions more in its orbit. The vast majority of them have lives that would be considered luxurious compared to ours, and have access to services even billionaires cannot get today. That is how the hypercorps should be thought of, because that is how the majority of people who compose them think about them, not in terms of social revolution.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Kssian Kssian's picture
Flawless post, really thanks.

Flawless post, really thanks.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
If anything the HyperCorps

If anything the HyperCorps are the most invested in keeping Transhumanity safe, self perpetuating. They are also the most invested in increasing the number of ego active, and working. It can be argued that they are doing it in a more responsible manner, if incidentally, then Titanium Commonwealth. The PC only instates folks who can actively contribute to the economy, folks who can actually attempt to pay for their rent, food and services. And the Commonwealth will give anyone a body, even if you dont have any skills, or means to contribute to the economy and because of this there is a large homeless clinking population.
If there is any polity in Sol, which will eventually get every Ego in cold storage out, in a body, it'll be the PC. The @ Alliance would like to but realistically cant. Their life style, is by default rather inefficient. Though the PC does this through Indentureship, everyone is immortal. A 10, 30, or even 100 year contract, is finite and small compared to infinity they have to come.

However the Hypercorps require stagnation, not technological stagnation but cultural and social stagnation. They need things to remain as status quo as much as possible. Mass, and constant social change is bad for business. Business thrive through stability and to promote stability requires being conservative.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Something worth noting is

Something worth noting is that indenture contracts probably aren't decades long, except maybe for uplifts. The whole point of an indenture contract is to extract wealth from what amounts to slave labour, but ultimately it is better to eventually release the indenture than to keep them on eternally. An employee whose hopes are far away is largely unmotivated, whereas one who can, through diligence, see tomorrow arrive today is going to work twice as hard. Plus, every released indenture is now looking for work, meaning they're stimulating the economy.

Slavery is actually really awful in a modern economy as a business model. It's super-inefficient because it leads to consolidation of wealth instead of its movement and, while movement of wealth means you have to pay your employees, it also means other people paying their employees. Those employees can, in turn, buy your products.

Most indentures who were reinstanced right after the Fall have probably been free for over half a decade by 10 AF. The ones who are going through indenture contracts right now are probably the ones who were only recently reinstanced.

The average indenture contract for a skilled worker (like a researcher or designer) is probably only 1-2 years, maybe 3 if they're getting a slightly better morph. For a relatively unskilled labourer, it's probably 3-5 for a basic splicer, tending towards 3 if a pod. There probably aren't any contracts that offer synths because they're just too cheap; the person would work it off too quickly and it might encourage more people to see biomorphs as not being the real top-of-the-line.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
None of us live in Eclipse

None of us live in Eclipse Phase capitalism because most of us live in some sort of a hybrid capitalist system, with laws to protect us from lead in the water, state-sponsored medical and retirement funds, an independent judicial, laws against certain abusive behaviors (child labor, etc.) Eclipse Phase is less like 2017 and more like 1927.

With EP, most of that went away, and with competition being as it is, any hypercorp that decides it would rather put morals over profits finds itself quickly outdone by its competitors.

You're right that hypercapitalism is bringing most of the best things for transhumanity, and doing so more efficiently than the autonomists. But the price is ever greater wealth disparity. As those on the top acquire more and more property, those on the bottom are forced to do with less. Sure, the Consortium needs transhumanity to live--but it doesn't need all of them to live well. And wealth circulation is good for everyone, but holding wealth is good for me personally.

We have seen this before. It ends up with either a tiny group with absolute political and economic power, and/or it ends in revolution. We've seen this in Russia, we've seen it in Venezuela, and in the EP setting where leaders can literally clone themselves infinitely and never die, it's the most likely ends for the Consortium as well.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Well it'll end for the PC

Well it'll end for the PC eventually regardless. Eventually Eclipse Phase will hit post scarcity in raw resources and manufacturing. It'll become more expensive to keep scarcity then to allow the prices drop to defacto nothing.

Capitalism will seek out new raw resources. It'll prefer to have its own source for any raw resource required. It'll work to make the acquisition, processing and logistics of that as cheaply as possible. It'll do the same with its manufacturing. Eventually the PC will be so successful it'll have to switch out of scarcity based economics. I cant tell you when. But eventually those extra solar colonies will mature. I'd say 100 years.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
A Curious Thing

Venezuela and the USSR are rather curious choices for examples of "capitalism". :p

Though another curious thing is how "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" manages to be such a persistent meme despite being manifestly untrue, except as a temporary condition found in failed command economies. The actual trend worldwide, and especially in countries with economic freedom, has been more like "the rich get richer quickly and the poor get richer slowly".

Such a situation does still lead to a net increase in inequality I suppose, but if you're still enjoying an improved standard of living overall does someone else improving faster really do any harm besides just inspiring envy?

What's funny is the situation in the PC seems to be similar, despite the setting's blatant attempt to invoke the meme by fiat. The game expects us to believe that the poor are getting poorer in the PC, and yet the poorest people in the PC can access things for free or near-free that we consider either expensive luxuries or sci-fi magic. Isn't that interesting?

End of line.

sysop sysop's picture
Depends on the time frame you

FWIW: Depends on the time frame you're talking about. Russia isn't the same thing as the USSR. Same geography but not exactly the same economic/political policies. You've kind of got to narrow down to the years to be sure which flavor you're talking about. ;)

I fix broken things. If you need something fixed, mention it on the suggestions board.
I also sometimes speak as website administrator and/ moderator.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
nezumi.hebereke wrote:None of

nezumi.hebereke wrote:
None of us live in Eclipse Phase capitalism because most of us live in some sort of a hybrid capitalist system, with laws to protect us from lead in the water, state-sponsored medical and retirement funds, an independent judicial, laws against certain abusive behaviors (child labor, etc.) Eclipse Phase is less like 2017 and more like 1927.

With EP, most of that went away, and with competition being as it is, any hypercorp that decides it would rather put morals over profits finds itself quickly outdone by its competitors.

Something to remember about the Planetary Consortium is that the Consortium and its members aren't the ones who own and administrate everything. Certainly, they have undue influence, but the Consortium formed by linking up independent habitats and leashing them into a common economic bloc, not by building habitats as corporate slave-states. It's more like the EU than anything else, if for no other reason than that it's more cost-effective to let the locals pay for their own governments through taxes, rather than run the habs themselves.

Most of these original habitats and cities on Mars or in its orbit are going to be from an era when the kind of support networks you speak of were just plain necessary. The more exploitative behaviours, like child labour, aren't beneficial to long-term cost projections either and, here, this is something that the Consortium actually works towards: It allows hypercorps to restrict one another's hands in an act of mutual long-term planning.

None of this is to say that you're wrong - the hypercorps and the PC are exceptionally exploitative and aren't hesitant to employ plenty of brutal practices - but it's more of a subtly manipulative evil than anything overt. Remember, the Morningstar Constellation outright voted itself out of the PC, which runs a bit counter to the idea of it being an all-powerful plutocratic regime.

Hm. Wonder if it'll get called "Vexit" now.

nezumi.hebereke wrote:
You're right that hypercapitalism is bringing most of the best things for transhumanity, and doing so more efficiently than the autonomists. But the price is ever greater wealth disparity. As those on the top acquire more and more property, those on the bottom are forced to do with less. Sure, the Consortium needs transhumanity to live--but it doesn't need all of them to live well. And wealth circulation is good for everyone, but holding wealth is good for me personally.

We have seen this before. It ends up with either a tiny group with absolute political and economic power, and/or it ends in revolution. We've seen this in Russia, we've seen it in Venezuela, and in the EP setting where leaders can literally clone themselves infinitely and never die, it's the most likely ends for the Consortium as well.

The thing about the Planetary Consortium is that the wealth disparity is already incomparably colossal. The oligarchs at the top of it are already so wealthy that they can create nation-states as pet projects. In this situation, though, that doesn't mean that there isn't wealth enough to go around at the bottom.

Right now, the Planetary Consortium is in a state of expansion. All such empires are a kind of Ponzi scheme; requiring new land, new resources, new people to glut themselves on, but so long as such things exist, they will be in a perpetual state of Good Times. Build new colonies, new cities, new planned communities, new research stations; more commerce, more production, more consumption, more growth.

For over a century, the United States was built on this system; westward expansion and the persistent displacement and genocide of Native peoples was the fuel for the US economy, and it worked. Not for the Natives, but for the people of European descent, it was a way to ensure a constant source of opportunity for young people seeking stability.

Mars needs terraformers, sand sifters, designers, construction workers... It is growing. The cities have millions of people willing to pay for decent quality housing. The indenture system wouldn't work if there weren't jobs in need of doing and people willing to pay for the services.

MrWigggles wrote:
Well it'll end for the PC eventually regardless. Eventually Eclipse Phase will hit post scarcity in raw resources and manufacturing. It'll become more expensive to keep scarcity then to allow the prices drop to defacto nothing.

Capitalism will seek out new raw resources. It'll prefer to have its own source for any raw resource required. It'll work to make the acquisition, processing and logistics of that as cheaply as possible. It'll do the same with its manufacturing. Eventually the PC will be so successful it'll have to switch out of scarcity based economics. I cant tell you when. But eventually those extra solar colonies will mature. I'd say 100 years.

Mars could already be post-scarcity. Titan demonstrates that a post-scarcity society is possible. Difficult, but possible.

The PC still exists because it has a monopoly on violence, be it force of arms or threat of starvation, not because its economic model is in any way necessary.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

What's funny is the situation in the PC seems to be similar, despite the setting's blatant attempt to invoke the meme by fiat. The game expects us to believe that the poor are getting poorer in the PC, and yet the poorest people in the PC can access things for free or near-free that we consider either expensive luxuries or sci-fi magic. Isn't that interesting?

It should be interesting. It's a frustrating point that the books frequently overlook except the odd mention here and there. The PC is a place full of suffering, but that it's not bad for everyone is an important factor in portraying it. People have reasons for liking the status quo (reasons besides being "dumb") and wanting to maintain it shouldn't make them feel like aliens. For most people in the PC, life is good, and they don't have to see the sweatshops of infugees working to make that life possible. Given that the odds are good that most of them are former infugees who worked their way out of that system, now enjoying peace and familiarity after years of war... It's easy to see why they wouldn't raise the red-and-black banner.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

Such a situation does still lead to a net increase in inequality I suppose, but if you're still enjoying an improved standard of living overall does someone else improving faster really do any harm besides just inspiring envy?

THIS needs challenging, though. Wealth disparity DOES do real harm, especially generational harm. The same wealth, more evenly spread, improves quality of life more greatly for more people, while also turning them into avenues by which further economic boosts can be generated for the community because people below a certain wealth bracket are more likely to buy locally and thus invest in their local community.

It's not just "envy" that some are wealthier than others; things could be better for everyone and that they are not is real harm, even if things are better than they were.

The PC is still emphatically bad - it's exploitative to its core - it's just not Hitler doing cartwheels.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Sounds nice in theory, but how is it in practice?

Axel the Chimeric wrote:

THIS needs challenging, though. Wealth disparity DOES do real harm, especially generational harm. The same wealth, more evenly spread, improves quality of life more greatly for more people, while also turning them into avenues by which further economic boosts can be generated for the community because people below a certain wealth bracket are more likely to buy locally and thus invest in their local community.

It's not just "envy" that some are wealthier than others; things could be better for everyone and that they are not is real harm, even if things are better than they were.

Redistribution by force may temporarily result in more people being able to enjoy some wealth in total, but will it really work out in the long run, especially considering how economies of scale work?

For example, before the industrial revolution, the largest single reservoir of wealth on Earth was arguably arable land. Before the industrial revolution, arable land was widely distributed among a huge number of small-time farmers. During the course of the industrial revolution though, farmland was gradually concentrated into fewer and fewer hands until all the farming was done by less than 2% of the population in most developed countries.

Did this massive concentration of wealth lead to famine and people dying in the streets? Not at all, developed nations now have more food than they know what to do with because large farming corporations were able to invest huge sums of money to develop cutting-edge agricultural technology, and their economies of scale allowed them to drive down the cost of food to where, as a share of income, it's a mere fraction of what it was. Of course, those people who were no longer farming went off to work in (or to run) factories, and by the end of the industrial revolution so much new wealth had been created in the manufacturing sector that arable land no longer held a dominant share of the nation's wealth.

However, there are two historical examples of countries who went the other way. Countries who stripped farmland away from rich landowners, and redistributed it to groups of communal farmers (and to political cronies). China in 1958, and Zimbabwe in 1999. Both resulted in economic catastrophe, and mass starvation.

That's not to say that inequality has any inherent good. Obviously if one single person held all the wealth, and everyone else none at all, that would cause problems. But history seems to show that any healthy economy will have some natural wealth inequality merely as a consequence of how economies of scale and exponential growth functions operate. It's not inherently good or evil, it's just a consequence of the math. Things are often the way they are for a reason, and that reason usually isn't "because I enjoy watching you peasants suffer."

Of course, Mao and Mugabe probably didn't *intend* to starve their countries either, but they were meddling with forces far beyond their comprehension.

End of line.

eaton eaton's picture
Not to make this all

Not to make this all political, but framing the question as "Marxist societal upheaval followed by famine" versus "Capitalism and its riches" kind of begs the question. The point made by Chimeric — that wealth disparity does cause legitimate societal problems — still stands. Free market capitalism is an effective system for the creation of wealth, but it has no in-built mechanism to ensure that humans have any place in that fabulous engine of wealth creation. Humans, fundamentally, are inefficient — and many of the gains made by civilization have come by automating them away. (The industrial revolution is nothing but that: the rise of machines that perform manual labor more reliably and efficiently than human beings.)

The individuals, AGIs, and algorithms that make up hypercorps act in a self-interested fashion, and their interests are broadly served by the survival of transhumanity: without transhumans, there would be no market. At least, not yet… But Hypercorps in Eclipse Phase are not immoral or evil — they are amoral, existing without any consideration of morality or (trans)humanity.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Apologies for responding with

Apologies for responding with the whole post quoted and chopped up, but I always find it makes it easier for me to reply.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

Redistribution by force may temporarily result in more people being able to enjoy some wealth in total, but will it really work out in the long run, especially considering how economies of scale work?

This is demonstrably false, though.

I wager that, by "redistribution by force", you mean the forceful seizing of land and property and goods and then passing them on to others and, in that respect, you're absolutely correct. Taking the wealth a given person has accumulated and just passing it to someone else and expecting the system to carry on but better is doomed thinking.

On the other hand, "redistribution by force" is also an effective descriptor for taxation and spending on public works and services; the taking of someone's wealth under threat (because if you don't pay it, you WILL suffer for it) and redistributing it among the population at large. In such cases, we can see endlessly that not only does taxing and spending not result in catastrophe, it can and typically does directly benefit the populace at large.

The idea that there can only be pure capitalism or absolute tyranny is a false dichotomy, one that I don't think you intended to impose but one which your statements skirt. It is entirely possible to reduce wealth disparity, reduce suffering, and increase quality of life for everyone without declaring the proletariat need to seize the means of production from the bourgeoisie.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
For example, before the industrial revolution, the largest single reservoir of wealth on Earth was arguably arable land. Before the industrial revolution, arable land was widely distributed among a huge number of small-time farmers. During the course of the industrial revolution though, farmland was gradually concentrated into fewer and fewer hands until all the farming was done by less than 2% of the population in most developed countries.

Did this massive concentration of wealth lead to famine and people dying in the streets? Not at all, developed nations now have more food than they know what to do with because large farming corporations were able to invest huge sums of money to develop cutting-edge agricultural technology, and their economies of scale allowed them to drive down the cost of food to where, as a share of income, it's a mere fraction of what it was. Of course, those people who were no longer farming went off to work in (or to run) factories, and by the end of the industrial revolution so much new wealth had been created in the manufacturing sector that arable land no longer held a dominant share of the nation's wealth.

This doesn't really accord with history. Prior to the industrial revolution, most people were farmers, yes, but land ownership was not widespread. The United States is pretty much the one exception to this in the West, and that's because of the capacity for westward expansion. Much of Europe, meanwhile, existed with lands owned by lords who rented out to tenant farmers. We see the origins of radical egalitarian movements following the Enclosure Acts in England around the time of the English Civil War, with the True Levelers coming into existence precisely to oppose that land was already highly concentrated in the hands of a few people and the previously common lands were being closed off and given to friends of the king.

Don't confuse the number of people who worked the land with the number of people who owned land, because the two are very different. The very idea of actually owning land, instead of merely keeping it in trust, was outright considered blasphemous in much of Europe pretty much up until the 16th century (and, even then, continued to be afterwards, but those who decided to worship Mammon found a much more rewarding god).

As for whether this caused famine and people dying in the streets... Actually, it did. I keep bringing up Britain, and England in particular, because that's where I have the most experience, but there it was most viciously evident in the Irish potato famine, where constant displacement of tenant farmers, combined with a failed crop, left poor Irish farmers starving to death. Likewise, during the Industrial Revolution, so many people flooded the cities because farm work was no longer available, and many of them starved or froze to death; the rise of the workhouse occurred entirely because there were lots of people and not enough land or jobs to supply them.

France, notably, suffered from this as well in the 1790s. After two years of terrible weather, the old rights held by the landed gentry who owned most of the land and the mills needed to grind grain into flower did not budge; the already starving peasants were starved further still. "Hang the bastards from the lamp post" became the national song of France because of cruel agricultural practices that, while endurable in good times, drove people to murder when things got rough.

And this is without mentioning all the incidental suffering that went along with any of these things.

Now, the thing is, all of this awfulness and suffering doesn't stop any of this from being the path that led to the world we have today. Agriculture going from being the default state to big business meant more people were free to work other jobs; it created a consumer culture that was the fuel for the advancements in production of goods that led to the society we have today. Yet every bit of progress, every step, was paid for absolutely in blood. Safety regulations, living wages, worker protections, a 40 hour work week, all these things are things people have actually died for; not merely spent time picketing and protesting and such over but actually been killed for demanding.

Capitalism isn't some absolute virtue, especially not when it empowers people who pour huge amounts of money into suppressing and even killing those who try to further liberate and emancipate humanity from the pains inflicted by a cruel universe. It produces good things for people, but it does so as a by-product, not by design.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

That's not to say that inequality has any inherent good. Obviously if one single person held all the wealth, and everyone else none at all, that would cause problems. But history seems to show that any healthy economy will have some natural wealth inequality merely as a consequence of how economies of scale and exponential growth functions operate. It's not inherently good or evil, it's just a consequence of the math. Things are often the way they are for a reason, and that reason usually isn't "because I enjoy watching you peasants suffer."

I would say that, if that inequality had no negative consequences, it would be neither good nor evil. It is morally neutral when considered as an island. It does have consequences, however, and so it is morally good to try and limit the excesses of such inequality. Perhaps not to eliminate them entirely - the incentive to excel is one of capitalism's better features - but the idea that any one person should have ascendancy and undue influence over the lives of others is a recipe for toxicity.

As for the reasoning, I don't think someone has to be a sadist to cause suffering. If you have the choice between building on a prime piece of environmentally-sensitive land and one that is less desirable but not catastrophic to build on, you don't need to cackle and laugh giddily at the thought of destroying those wetlands; you can rather banally simply write a letter to go with the more desirable location because you want to keep your profit margins higher.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Rallan Rallan's picture
I wouldn't say the hypercorps

I wouldn't say the hypercorps are evil so much as risk-averse. They want to maintain the status quo of market economies and hierarchical power structures because it's the only system for governing large populations that's been proven to work over the long haul, and drastically changing their society by diving into a post-capitalist post-scarcity economy would be guaranteed to cause all sorts of ugly short term upheavals without any guarantee of long term gain or stability. So they lumber along making do with a system that's strained to the breaking point and that they know has led to all kinds of incredibly shitty outcomes, because they'd much rather try to gradually improve their situation with market forces that they know and understand than take a gamble on radical untested new modes of society.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
Sorry, my English isn't

Sorry, my English isn't enough good to try explain better, but capitalism and oligarchy are different things, the true free market is the opposite of oligopoy. Do forget state is Robin Hood stealing from richs to give the poors, but the king Jhon Lackland collecting taxes. Anticapitalism doesn't want to distribute wealth but to monopolize all economy, and then only "friends" of the party can be rich.

Of course the corporatocracies can be antagonist in the fiction, but the true evil corporatocracy is controlled by state or political parties.

* Do you know about the politic revolving doors?

* Have you read Thomas Sowell or Ayn Rand?

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
LuisCarlos17f wrote:

LuisCarlos17f wrote:

* Have you read Thomas Sowell or Ayn Rand?

Ayn Rand in particular is accessible, though she is not kind or nice to anyone she even mildly disagrees with. She makes quite a cogent explanation for why capitalism does not equal a continuation of oligarchic systems, though.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:the true free market is

Quote:
the true free market is the opposite of oligopoy

It's hard to say, though, isn't it? If there's never really ever been a free market — if the forces of regulation have always intruded on the glorious ideal, and any bad outcomes in modern capitalist economies is blamed on "imperfect" markets, then no one can make strong claims about how a perfect market really would turn out. Much like those who say that large-scale communism has never been attempted, and thus can't be judged by any real examples, this transforms free market capitalism from an economic system into a genre of fan fiction.

Kojak Kojak's picture
Rallan wrote:I wouldn't say

Rallan wrote:
I wouldn't say the hypercorps are evil so much as risk-averse. They want to maintain the status quo of market economies and hierarchical power structures because it's the only system for governing large populations that's been proven to work over the long haul...

Yes, it worked so well the last time that it only culminated in the Fall. I can see why they'd want to stick with it.

eaton wrote:
Much like those who say that large-scale communism has never been attempted, and thus can't be judged by any real examples, this transforms free market capitalism from an economic system into a genre of fan fiction.

I have always suspected that this is intended as a feature rather than a bug.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
I dont think you can blame an

I dont think you can blame an economic model on the Fall. The TITAN were sapient, and no one knew then came across a ETI, and uh, murderfucked everything after that. The Exstrugent Virus isnt a product of Capitalism. Well, I guess it could be. Its origins are unknown.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
Have you seen the battle rap

Have you seen the battle rap Keynes vs Hayek? It helps to explain some things about economy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTQnarzmTOc

* The real economy isn't like the OCP corporation from Robocop movies. Capitalism is when you don't like a movie (because is boring propaganda) you don't go to the cinema to watch it. Anticapitalism is when you pay taxes to subsudize that boring propaganda movie because the cinema producer is friend of some politicians.

* I don't ask you to trust big corporations, but I ask you to no trust anticapitalism, because these fix nothing and cause new problems. Anticapilism isn't stop abuses by corporatocracies, but only a corporatocrazy controlling all the economy.

* "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong".

Thomas Sowell

“When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.”

Ayn Rand

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

- P. J. O'Rourke

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Fortunately a little freedom goes a long way

Milton Friedman is also really good at putting economic ideas into simple, easy to understand terms. Highly recommended.

However, the idea that a free market must forbid any charity or altruism is also patently false. At the most basic level, a free market is little more than leaving people alone and letting them do whatever they want.

So if someone wants to spend their own money helping the poor, or they want to form a group of people who voluntarily pool their money to help the poor? That is a perfectly fine free-market thing to do. If someone happens to own a cornucopia machine, and decides he has no need to spend money or have a job because he's quite satisfied with what his machine can produce? He's free to make such a choice, it's his property and he can do what he likes with it.

Of course, in-game the PC are hardly paragons of the free market. Their ban on CM machines is an obvious example of their short-falling. Extropia is a bit closer.

A perfect free market is likely impossible, of course. Partially because the government isn't the only entity that can violate your property rights, so even an anarchy like Extropia isn't able to perfectly guarantee them. In fact, if you're getting as close as possible, the government's primary role is to ensure that *nobody else* violates your rights.

However, unlike Communism, Capitalism doesn't have to be perfect to work. In fact, a tiny drop of capitalism introduced to a formerly communist country can turn the whole thing around and undo much of the damage inflicted by communism's failure, as China has recently discovered. It can even work entirely on accident, when the government has no intention of following capitalist ideals but their citizens just keep trading with each other on their own. It's quite user-friendly that way.

So while it is true that no country has ever had a 100% free market, the good news is we don't need to. We could get by fairly okay with as little as 10% free or 20% free, but history has empirically demonstrated that the freer we are the richer everyone becomes, therefore it stands to reason that we should strive to get as close to 100% as we can.

After all, if neither system can be perfectly realized, shouldn't we go with the one that works just fine even when your implementation is massively flawed?

End of line.

Tango Tango's picture
The beautiful thing about the

The beautiful thing about the free market is that it's organic. It will pop up automatically wherever there's human activity. I'd imagine rimward societies would be very free market oriented because of scarce resources thus the need to find the most cost efficient system to manage 'em.

- "Mom's chicken soup, maybe?"

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
LuisCarlos17f wrote:Sorry, my

LuisCarlos17f wrote:
Sorry, my English isn't enough good to try explain better, but capitalism and oligarchy are different things, the true free market is the opposite of oligopoy. Do forget state is Robin Hood stealing from richs to give the poors, but the king Jhon Lackland collecting taxes. Anticapitalism doesn't want to distribute wealth but to monopolize all economy, and then only "friends" of the party can be rich.

Of course the corporatocracies can be antagonist in the fiction, but the true evil corporatocracy is controlled by state or political parties.

* Do you know about the politic revolving doors?

* Have you read Thomas Sowell or Ayn Rand?

We only learn by trying, eh? Kudos for trying to learn other languages.

If I understand you correctly, though, I strongly disagree. There's some fairly broad brushing in your post that needs to be addressed.

Autocratic systems tend to be prone to corruption, this much is absolutely true. Indeed, all power has the potential for misuse and corruption, but autocratic systems concentrate that power by definition. As such, once the system is corrupted, there are very few checks on it and very little which may be done to reform it after the fact.

However, not all systems which seek to check capitalism's excesses are autocratic. This is pretty demonstrable with social democracies around the world. Likewise, the reduction of government control does nothing to guarantee protection from abusive power and, indeed, tends to produce the opposite effect; the company towns of the coal companies during the Great Depression and the black lists speak as long testament to the abuses the powerful may lay upon the masses. The system did eventually change, but only through legislation and violence and a great degree of suffering.

I've read a fair amount of Rand - I was a big fan of her in my youth - but she is prone to oversimplification and assumptions that do not fit reality. Her belief system was, like that of many philosophers, suited only to an idealized world of rational actors who all act alike and to a scrupulous morality. Atlas Shrugged itself, her idealized vision of the future, was predicated on this notion of the superhuman Great Man who drove society forward; who, upon recusing themselves, would cause societal collapse. Yet the very villainy she used as her opening example of abhorrent government control was price collusion and monopolization - something Theodore Roosevelt was famous for fighting precisely because it was something the businesses of the time loved to do. Trade guilds and similar monopolistic groups mark human history extensively prior to the modern age because monopolization and artificial inflation of prices are so eminently profitable.

Rand was an interesting writer, but her political theory has been picked apart many times over the decades.

tl;dr: Yes, politics can be corrupt, but that hardly means humanity becomes saintly in its absence. Far more often, the opposite.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
the idea that a free market must forbid any charity or altruism is also patently false. At the most basic level, a free market is little more than leaving people alone and letting them do whatever they want.

I don't think anyone brought up altruism in this particular discussion, though, or made the Friedman-style assertion as such. What I will say, though, since you brought it up, is that if altruism is an expected feature of human behaviour such that it fulfills the gaps in what society provides and what people need, that expectation is manifestly incorrect. Certainly, altruistic behaviours might not hurt you, but they're not the ultimate goal or the behaviour subject most to maximization by market forces.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

Of course, in-game the PC are hardly paragons of the free market. Their ban on CM machines is an obvious example of their short-falling. Extropia is a bit closer.

The PC is, indeed, not an absolutely free market. They don't ban CM machines, though; just require they be restricted so as to ensure that they don't print blueprints that haven't been licensed or which could potentially be hazardous.

Extropia, meanwhile, is depicted in a surprisingly flattering manner, for what it would likely be. I have a hard time envisioning Extropia as a place where debt slavery is anything but the norm for a substantial portion of the population.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

A perfect free market is likely impossible, of course. Partially because the government isn't the only entity that can violate your property rights, so even an anarchy like Extropia isn't able to perfectly guarantee them. In fact, if you're getting as close as possible, the government's primary role is to ensure that *nobody else* violates your rights.

A perfect free market is possible only in the same circumstances as a perfect communist system: One in which all actors are rational and internalize the exact same values to the exact same degree, such that they always effectively act upon them. These values must, in turn, all include an absolute knowledge and respect of property rights. Since this isn't possible, a perfect free market isn't either.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:

However, unlike Communism, Capitalism doesn't have to be perfect to work. In fact, a tiny drop of capitalism introduced to a formerly communist country can turn the whole thing around and undo much of the damage inflicted by communism's failure, as China has recently discovered. It can even work entirely on accident, when the government has no intention of following capitalist ideals but their citizens just keep trading with each other on their own. It's quite user-friendly that way.

So while it is true that no country has ever had a 100% free market, the good news is we don't need to. We could get by fairly okay with as little as 10% free or 20% free, but history has empirically demonstrated that the freer we are the richer everyone becomes, therefore it stands to reason that we should strive to get as close to 100% as we can.

After all, if neither system can be perfectly realized, shouldn't we go with the one that works just fine even when your implementation is massively flawed?

You really need to characterize what you mean by "work". Certainly, a capitalist system is generally capable of self-perpetuation, but what cost that self-perpetuation has is important.

(It also needs to be pointed out that China, a communist nation, works by your definition, suggesting that a communist nation need not be perfectly so to succeed either.)

Your claim that "the freer we are, the richer everyone becomes" is not a historical truism. It holds true in some senses but only - and importantly - up to a point. Nowhere is this more evident than at the turn of the last century, the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and the Union Movement. Unregulated business led to a massive rise in wealth disparity and saw huge expansions in suffering masses inside cities, and it took hard fighting on the part of labour organizers and subsequent protections written into law to ensure their success. Yet once these goals were achieved, prosperity manifested much more readily, as wealth flowed down from isolated pockets at the top and into the pockets of the consumers at the bottom.

When free trade arose, those economic protections became worth the paper they were printed on, as manufacturing jobs were lost overseas or, as the modern trend appears to be, automation. Salaries became desynchronized from rises in efficiency and the effective value - and effective income - of workers has stagnated ever since. This has happened with a rise in freedom, not a decline.

This is without even going into discussions of things like pollution laws or global warming. Talking about cost externalities with capitalism is just painfully exhausting.

Now, as a footnote to all of this, it needs to be said that capitalism is powerful. Like nuclear power, when harnessed effectively, systems of incentives can make humans do the most with least time and again. Again, like nuclear power, a lax attitude and unwillingness to properly regulate how we handle that system can lead to devastation for large numbers of people.




[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:The beautiful thing

Quote:
The beautiful thing about the free market is that it's organic. It will pop up automatically wherever there's human activity. I'd imagine rimward societies would be very free market oriented because of scarce resources thus the need to find the most cost efficient system to manage 'em.

Theoretically, sure. But if you're willing to use a broad enough definition of "free market" it starts to include black markets and the ever-popular-in-eclipse-phase "red markets." In resource-scarce habitats where survival depends on efficient allocation of limited faber stock, strict rationing might be just as likely.

Market systems are great for efficiently meeting optional wants, but their biggest weak point has always been meeting needs. Free Markets explicitly exclude anyone who lacks valuable resources to start with, and there is no inbuilt mechanism to ensure that (say) someone who needs a fabber to manufacture antitoxin within the next 10 minutes gets it before the person who wants a suitcoat for their smartcat and can outbid all comers.

I feel like this discussion has veered away from "Are Hypercorps Inherently Evil," and now some of us are having a heated discussion about the exact opposite: "Are Hypercorps Morally Good?"

I stand by my earlier position — they're a legal construct, they're inherently amoral, and they demonstrate the same flaws that modern market-driven corporations do if externality costs aren't imposed by an outside force.

Kojak Kojak's picture
The chaotic conditions that

MrWigggles wrote:
I dont think you can blame an economic model on the Fall. The TITAN were sapient, and no one knew then came across a ETI, and uh, murderfucked everything after that. The Exstrugent Virus isnt a product of Capitalism. Well, I guess it could be. Its origins are unknown.

The chaotic conditions that led to the various major powers developing the TITANs, though, caused by the massive climate damage that capitalism inarguably wreaked, can absolutely be laid at its feet. The exsurgent-infected TITANs were just the finishing blow.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
You can evil corporations in

You can evil corporations in your RPG but you should avoid the abuse of cliché or stereotypes. Not all multinational companies are like Umbrella (from Resident Evil) or OCP (from Robocop). In the real life you can't trust anti-capitalists because History has showed the remedy may be worse than the disease.

Do you think anarchy is cool after watching "V of Vendeta" in the cinema? I am going to tell you what is anarchy in the real life, it is a group of narcos ringing at your door and telling you "I like your daughter, she has to go the shower because after your wife she will be the next" (and this has happened really). The fiction from the main media doesn't show the true reality.

The anti-capitalist stereotype of evil corporacry is so dangerous like racist clichés. Do you think all young men are like the characters from "Grand Thief Auto: San Andreas"? Sorry, I have seen too many stories about McCarthy's witch hunt, but not enough about Mao's cultural revolution. I don't spend my money when I buy geek fiction to find more boring propaganda.

* "Destroy the free market and you create a black market: you overwhelm the people with laws and regulations, and you induce a general disrespect of law.

If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law"

Wiston Churchill.

“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”

― (both quotes by) Frédéric Bastiat

"Si los bienes se poseyeran en común serían los hombres malvados e incluso los avaros y ladrones quienes más se beneficiarían. Sacarían más y pondrían menos en el granero de la comunidad". (Translation = "If the goods were held in common, it would be the wicked, and even the greedy (men) and thieves who would benefit most. They would take more and put less into the barn of the community.")

Francisco de Vitoria. 1483 -1545

'The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.'

Ronald Reagan.

“One of the great debates of our time is about how much of your money should be spent by the State, and how much you should keep to spend on your family. Let us never forget this fundamental truth: the State has no source of money other than the money people earn themselves. If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by bothering your savings or by taxing you more. And it’s no good thinking that someone else will pay, that’s someone else is you. There is no such thing as public money, there is only tax-payers’ money”.

Margaret Tacher.

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.”

― Thomas Sowell

* I suggest to watch the Mexican movie "la ley de Herodes" (Herodes's law) about how the new politician may be worse than the previous one.

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
I have no idea what point

I have no idea what point LuisCarlos is trying to make.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
How explaining better? Let's

How explaining better? Let's try with this example: You can create a story about a corrupt cop, but you can't show all police like crooked or stupy. You can add a blackskin criminal character in your story, or in your rpg module, but you shouldn't show all blackskin characters with a bad image like the stereotype of rap-singers from MTV videoclips, should you?. You can write a rpg module where the main antagonist is a jihadist group, but you have to take care or you would be reported for fomenting islamophobia.

When you are creating a story, a rpg adventure or fan-fiction, you are showing your own point of view, but people don't like to find cheap annoying political propaganda. Evil businessmen can be the villains of your story, but do remember here in the real world anybody don't like the anti-establishment clichés in the fiction from the main media, and worse, more annoying, when the horror by revolutionary groups or communist dictatorships is taboo (in the main media). Who are you to try teach lessons? Do take care about that. You may be reinforcing ideological predjudices without noticing.

* "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have."

Thomas Jefferson.

"Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government".

Ayn Rand

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

― Adrian Rogers

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
How little men know about what they think they can design

Axel the Chimeric wrote:

You really need to characterize what you mean by "work". Certainly, a capitalist system is generally capable of self-perpetuation, but what cost that self-perpetuation has is important.

(It also needs to be pointed out that China, a communist nation, works by your definition, suggesting that a communist nation need not be perfectly so to succeed either.)

Your claim that "the freer we are, the richer everyone becomes" is not a historical truism. It holds true in some senses but only - and importantly - up to a point. Nowhere is this more evident than at the turn of the last century, the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and the Union Movement. Unregulated business led to a massive rise in wealth disparity and saw huge expansions in suffering masses inside cities, and it took hard fighting on the part of labour organizers and subsequent protections written into law to ensure their success. Yet once these goals were achieved, prosperity manifested much more readily, as wealth flowed down from isolated pockets at the top and into the pockets of the consumers at the bottom.

When free trade arose, those economic protections became worth the paper they were printed on, as manufacturing jobs were lost overseas or, as the modern trend appears to be, automation. Salaries became desynchronized from rises in efficiency and the effective value - and effective income - of workers has stagnated ever since. This has happened with a rise in freedom, not a decline.

This is without even going into discussions of things like pollution laws or global warming. Talking about cost externalities with capitalism is just painfully exhausting.

Now, as a footnote to all of this, it needs to be said that capitalism is powerful. Like nuclear power, when harnessed effectively, systems of incentives can make humans do the most with least time and again. Again, like nuclear power, a lax attitude and unwillingness to properly regulate how we handle that system can lead to devastation for large numbers of people.

By "work" I mean more than mere self-perpetuation. After all, North Korea has been perpetuating itself for quite some time, at the expense of its enslaved citizens.

A working system is one that is able to adequately feed its people, which facilitates upward mobility, encourages technological advancement, and drives economic development such that the standard of living can be improved across the board. In other words, a working system is one that generates wealth and prosperity. The faster wealth and prosperity is generated, the better the system works.

Communism nearly killed China. Before they abandoned it, it was literally killing them by the millions. To say that Communism "worked" in China because market reforms pulled them out of the fire, is like saying that lead is nutritious because you ate it for a while, got sick, and then got better after you stopped eating it.

As for the stagnation of middle class income you're worried about, I can assure you that is in fact a result of a decline in freedom. Specifically, the middle class' freedom has been significantly reduced in recent decades with a proliferation of regulation regarding their businesses and day-to-day lives. The average American today is less free than they were 50 years ago. For example, in many states you now need a license to cut hair. There has been a significant increase in the number of similarly petty, unnecessary regulations.

Every reduction in freedom has slowed the growth of their prosperity, and there would be no surer way to throw that growth into a decline than to further curtail their liberties. If we want to see the middle class grow again, we should deregulate them.

End of line.

eaton eaton's picture
Regulations do not apply to

Regulations do not apply to people, but to activities. "Deregulate the middle class" is a meaningless phrase unless you clarify what you're talking about. Traffic regulations? We could be talking about my freedom to travel from point A to point B at the speed required by my schedule. Food safety regulations? We could be talking about my freedom to sell spoiled meat to those willing to take the risk of eating it (or my freedom to take that risk and buy from Spoiled Meats R Us).

Obviously, regulation of human activity is not per se good, but we are not children: we do not have to choose between "X is Good or X is Evil". We can say, "X is a neutral tool and each use of it must be judged by its effects."

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
A minimum is not an absence

That's why the key words there are "petty and unnecessary".

Any regulation will introduce overhead to the system. People's choices will be curtailed by it, which can lead to unintended consequences. You will also have to hire and pay people whose only job is to enforce the regulation, paperwork will have to be tracked, and actions will be delayed as more and more decisions must be run past the regulators before they can be implemented.

Opportunity for corruption is also created, as the more burdensome regulations become, the more attractive it is to bribe the regulators to bypass them. This attraction is on both sides, because the larger bribes are seen as "worth it", the regulators are more tempted to accept bribes.

The accumulation of this overhead is why it is important to pare regulation down to only what is absolutely necessary. When introducing a new regulation, it's important to consider whether it is really, truly necessary. If it's not, it is just wasting everyone's time and money.

That's the essence of minimalism: to intervene only when absolutely necessary, and otherwise let people solve problems on their own. After all, people *can* do things on their own. Just because you want something done, doesn't mean you need the government to do it.

End of line.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
* Regulation is necesary, but

* Regulation is necesary, but not too much. If the politicians controll all the economy then they ruin them. Politicians don't lose their own money when they fail, but our money, from our taxes. I am going to give a give example about the reason because keynesian economy doesn't work. The Spanish cinema industry lives only by the subsidies we pay with our taxes, like bloodsuckers creating boring propaganda, but we don`t watch that "product", but the Spanish public like a lot of Spanish teleseries, why? Because the Spanish teleseries are produced by TV channel (private) company, risking their own money, without subsudies, and they make higher effort to make something people like.

Capitalism doesn't mean oligarchy, the corporatocracies don't like the true free market. Defending free market isn't licking businessmen's boots, but defending to can run your own business without needing to lick any politician's boots. Don't trust any babysitter state who promise solve all your problems. If state has got too much power, the bureaucrats will spoil all. Remember Venezuela and Cuba.

* The current China isn't true capitalism, because to be rich there you need "guanxi" (= links), the right friends, it isn't about to have a good idea or to be a good manager/administrator. There you must to take care or you will suffer like Richard Gere's character from "the red corner" movie. Russia isn't capitalism if you need ask previous permissions to Mafia to start your business. They aren't the right places to create a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

In my rpg there are "evil corporations" from Russia and China whose CEOs are ex-politicians enjoing "revolving doors" (and also mafia members). In my own rpg background some multinational companies are micronatios on arcologies (super-buildings) with their own laws and sovereignity (like the embassies) (and maybe covering illegal business like casinos or porn with loli ginoids, child-like female robots, for example).

* (I like adding a quote for the end of the post)

"The word "free" applied to public services, contains the most rude and puerile of sophistry. I am surprised that the public is deceived by that word; Because there is nothing that is free in the absolute sense. Public services cost everyone, and because everyone pays in advance is why they do not 'cost anything' when they are received"

Frédéric Bastiat (sorry, but I didn't find the English language version and I have translated it from Spanish)

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

eaton eaton's picture
Once again, I think we're

Once again, I think we're talking past each other. The original question was whether Hypercorps in Eclipse Phase are portrayed as 'inherently evil'. It's the economic version of the 'Why are Jovians bad guys' question that pops up fairly frequently.

Given the post-Fall timeline, and Humanity's past experiences with megadisasters, I think EP's take isn't particular skewed. Hypercorps are everywhere — they're a legal mechanism, and everyone from a random scrapper to a megaconglomerate qualifies as one as long as they have the right paperwork. The power bloc of the Planetary Consortium is trying to hold onto power and influence in the inner system, with military force backing IP law and enforced scarcity mechanisms. That dynamic doesn't demand that Hypercorps be inherently evil, it just requires a casual perusal of human history.

Quote:
"The word "free" applied to public services, contains the most rude and puerile of sophistry. I am surprised that the public is deceived by that word; Because there is nothing that is free in the absolute sense. Public services cost everyone, and because everyone pays in advance is why they do not 'cost anything' when they are received"

I hate to break it to you, but no one believes that "Free Lunch" means that a sandwich was created ex nihilo by a hungry person's desire for sustenance. It is no more sophistry than insisting that stateless, might-makes-right anarchy is "Free."

Realistically, turning this discussion of EP's Hypercorps into a Randian rant against the evils of collectivism is pretty silly. If you really want to do that argument justice, moving it to the Off Topic folder might be a good idea.

sysop sysop's picture
Yes.

Yes.

Please do move that aspect of the discussion here over to Off-Topic so OPs original question re: IC corporations can be addressed.

I fix broken things. If you need something fixed, mention it on the suggestions board.
I also sometimes speak as website administrator and/ moderator.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
Anytime have you wonder about

Anytime have you wonder about how would be cyberpunk fiction if it had written by minarchists or anarcho-capitalists?

You can create a evil businessman characters, but not all businessmen should be evil, you can add a bad cop in your story, but not all cops should be bad, you can use a corrupt politician in a module, but not all politicians have to be corrupt.

* APEX corporation from the videogame "Homefront: the revolution" may be a good example of "evil corporatocrazy". My opinion is the worst corporatocracies are the cover and puppet companies created and controlled by keynesian dictatorships. They are the worst because their CEOs and bosses aren't true entrepreneurs but "bureaucrat". They don't want to be competitive, to offer the best quality-to price ratio, but to impose its monopoly or cartel/oligopoly, with illegal price agreements. They don't want to be loved by the consumer, but favors by the politicians.

Other example of evil corporation (for your rpg modules) is the tentacle of secret lodges or mafia (organized crime), for example the trade federation from Star Wars was manipulated by the siths, or Abstengo Industrie, controlled by templars from Assasin's Creed games, or Wolfram & Heart from Angel teleserie (Buffy vampire slayer universe).

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
I apologise for being late to the show, but:

There's a false equivalence here that's worth noting, specifically that Hypercorps =/= The PC.
There are plenty of non-PC hypercorps and hypercorp-based societies, and not all of them support the indenture system.

Therefore, we can separate these three entities and use them comparatively - there are Indenture-using societies that aren't Evil (e.g. Morningstar) so Indenturism isn't implicitly evil (I know , Slavery Bad. I'll get to that in a sec). Likewise, the Non-Evil Hypercorp societies mean that the system itself also isn't implicitly Evil.

As a corollary, Hypercorp societies that do not use Indentures are not economically stunted in comparison to those that do, so the use of Indentures cannot be an economic-based decision.

Is the PC evil? I say No.

That's not to say I like them at all - the PC is a Very Bad Place - but the nastiness of the PC is born of a love of stability and security - it's a machine designed to reliably and indefinitely channel Wealth to the Oligarchy.
Harm due to wealth imbalance is a valid concern, but thanks to EP tech the problems of actual Poverty are much reduced. The issues are solely Social in origin.

Weirdly, the Oligarchs themselves are arguably less of a problem here as one might think, because they've essentially bought themselves out of the market; they control the PC as a transitional economy, but they aren't subject to it thanks to the aformentioned EP tech and things like Private Habitats. The wealth they take from the populous is almost solely informational in form.

Again, this doesn't make them nice or friendly, it just means that any harm they cause is due to them Exerting Power/meddelling in social structures rather than through resource drain.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Indenture is really a lot

Indenture is really a lot like the mandatory military or civil service the gas giant powers do, it's just shadier thanks to the PC's generally kind of weak central regulations. Basically everyone with a transitional economy is using indenture or something similar.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
IRL I consider mandatory military service actual slavery.

That's pretty similar to what I was going to say, except it isn't just transitional economies - societies in EP have some sort of non-voluntary labour requirement.

Beyond that, it's worth thinking about what it is about Slavery that makes it Bad, and then seeing how much of that applies to the Indentureship.
Ignoring for a second those who actively abuse the system, Indentureship as described in the Core books and Transhuman doesn't seem that much worse than what we endure today, almost a combination of an office drone 9-5 job and the wonders of Student Debt.
Indentures don't suffer much in the way of mistreatment or personal harm... it's just DULL. Harm is caused primarily through the lack of preparation for them leaving the system, rather than the system itself.
The system as described does leave a lot of room for abuse, and that certainly is a problem (AKA Plot Fodder) but again it isn't implicit to Indentureship itself.

This topic and the PC in general really highlights the dichotomy of Transhumanism and Cyberpunk - the problems aren't the social systems or technology but rather the Humans behind them: the PC is the Polity representing the argument against Transhumanism that advanced technologies can be used by the powerful to inhibit personal Liberty.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

sysop sysop's picture
*nods to ThatWhich* That's

*nods to ThatWhich* That's pretty close to my take on it as well.

There's an element of coercion in any system that demands work in exchange for food / shelter / necessities. As it turns out starvation is a pretty convincing gun to aim at any worker's head to get them to do work. If you don't have a survivable option that involves *not* doing work then coercion is implicit in the situation. (It doesn't need to be a pleasant option, just one that isn't bartering for your life.)

In general, the lack of regulations and transhumanities own greed result in systems waiting to be abused. But the same could be said of right-to-work laws (aka 'right to be fired' laws) in the US or of the emotional labor for social coin aspects of gift economies. Show me a system and I can probably show you where it will, if not kept in line by an outside force, fall apart on a moral and ethical level.

In the setting, the transitional economies of the PC do have some variety, Morningstar isn't a bad direction to look for a less-evil example. And there are certainly going to be over-the-top evil corporations too... PCs need bad guys to fight.

I think key to understanding what's going on in any of these setting choices is that science fiction, all speculative fiction really, is written in context and dialogue with the concerns of the real world at the time of writing.

So yes, some of the setting pieces are going to be framed as irredeemably bad so that PCs can go at them and have a good time without having to think too deeply. (Looking at you Jovian Republic.) Some pieces are going to be exaggerations of their real world equivalents to serve as warnings of what could develop, some will be fantasy - hopes for what could develop. And some of the pieces are going to be complicated mirrors of the real world stripped of obfuscation so the reader can more clearly see them for what they are.

I fix broken things. If you need something fixed, mention it on the suggestions board.
I also sometimes speak as website administrator and/ moderator.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
I can find it relatively easy

I can find it relatively easy to make a good hypercorp but I cant really make Jovian republic good. A Hypercorp, can have very lenient indentureships. They could let you work longer, to bring out other unskilled family members. They could pay above market value. Its a Hypercorp, it makes a lot of money by just existing. It could be very ethical, and very transparent. And because of this, it probably isn't super competitive, probably sitting on the lower part of the bell curve of succesfull rich hyper corps. But it doesnt do anything with malice or anything unethical.

The Jovians are just kinda butt munches. I could tell how from the Jovian point of view why they're awesome, morally superior. But they arent. They're butt munches. They arent evil either. None of the factions in EP are evil. Not even the creepy, alien, ex humans. They separated themselves so far, that their moral standards are just incomprehensible.

puke puke's picture
Change assumptions

Take the perspective that any network connected transhuman is TITAN or even exurgant infected.

The only safe place is inside the radiation belts of Jupiter. Uploaded minds and AGI's are not anathema in themselves, but anything that has touched the larger mesh could be a threat. The rest of transhumanity is literally in the "eclipse phase" of the infection.

Alternately: cast them in the same light as any modern, regressive, medievalist religion. Or provincial, protectionist, autocracy. Those guys aren't necessarily "evil", they're just self-motivated and short-sighted. About 50% of your own countrymen (wherever you are) are probably examples. Not bad people, just human.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
'Butt Munches' sound like off-brand erotic caramels.

MrWigggles wrote:
I can find it relatively easy to make a good hypercorp but I cant really make Jovian republic good. A Hypercorp, can have very lenient indentureships. They could let you work longer, to bring out other unskilled family members. They could pay above market value. Its a Hypercorp, it makes a lot of money by just existing. It could be very ethical, and very transparent. And because of this, it probably isn't super competitive, probably sitting on the lower part of the bell curve of succesfull rich hyper corps. But it doesnt do anything with malice or anything unethical.

The Jovians are just kinda butt munches. I could tell how from the Jovian point of view why they're awesome, morally superior. But they arent. They're butt munches. They arent evil either. None of the factions in EP are evil. Not even the creepy, alien, ex humans. They separated themselves so far, that their moral standards are just incomprehensible.

I mean, if it's a more Commission based Corp then just having a large pool of contributors could make it competitive enough to survive.

The Jovians are definitely harder, but a lot of that is because just like the PC they're a specific group of Bioconservatives with extra elements muddying the water.

The first step to making a sympathetic Jovian/Biocon society or Habitat is basically to Buy Into The Hype – "Resleeving is morally, ethically and/or religiously unacceptable" and "Advanced Technology is Unsafe".

This doesn't mean 'You' need to believe it, but you need to adopt the mindset to move forward.
Maybe Faux-You thinks the inevitable personality changes that resleeving causes (because of hormones, different neural capabilities ect.) mean it's not the same person, or you believe in a soul which doesn't come with, or whatever. You live in a world where most 'People' have unknowingly sacrificed themselves, also making themselves vulnerable to the Robot Monsters which destroyed the world should they ever return.

This gives us Keystones to move on with – use the simplest, most robust technology possible to avoid vulnerability to attack from hostile entities, and watch for signs of social or technological subversion.
So far, so Jovian, but it actually makes sense – even if Transhumanity never becomes a threat, there are far greater horrors lurking in the dark.

However, that's basically it.
The polity is concerned with security, but that can easily expressed through a strong sense of Community or public service rather than a flat-out Police state. Technological development veers away from Nanotech or similarly complex Systems and towards 'functional' simplicity and solutions which are broadly applicable instead of adaptive.
Medicine focuses more on chemicals, pharmaceuticals, surgical procedures and cloned-tissue transplants instead of nanotech and automated drones.

Think 'Stereotypical Small Friendly Farming Town With Modern Cultural Views'; Mint Juleps on the Porch, Festivals and Social Groups standard, blithe acceptance of cultural/racial/lifestyle differences, everyone knows what everyone else is doing because Gossip, and Everyone Has A Gun.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Kojak Kojak's picture
To be honest, I think a big

To be honest, I think a big part of why the Jovians are seen as Bad Guys is because transhuman fiction doesn't tend to attract a lot of highly religious social conservatives, in my experience. I suspect if it somehow did, you'd see lots of them identifying with the Republic and finding it quite laudable.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
They do run a little counter

They do run a little counter to many of the ideals of the setting and it's underlying assumptions. That can be neat, and great to think about even if you don't identify as Jovian - but it tends to attract a lot of "contrarians" who just want to reject the premise either for ideological reasons or just because it's really annoying.

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
To the points that

To the points that 'ThatWhichNEverWas' brought up, for me that just sounds like framing the Jovians internally, domestically as awesome. And If I were to run a Jovian Game with Jovians, that would pretty easy.
But Jovians are diametrically opposed to the rest of the setting. A tolerant Jovian, is a poor Jovian. Its like having an Empiral in a Rebel group Revel era starwars game. the Empirial should be trying to turn in the rest of the party, and work counter to their desires.

They're xenophobic, which generally means they are also anti immigration. They have a robust military but its only used to protect its own space, and to exact toils for using Jupiter for gravity assists.

LIke maybe, I am too dour on Jovians, but if there was a @-hab with a major problem and a Jovian Military Assests were able to reach them to render aid, I dont think the Jovians would do so. At least not being nagged or bribed by the Commonwealth to do it.

The most positive thing that Jovains do for transhumanity, is they are probably the only Polity with a positive birth rate. The other positive thing, depending how you lean with the Firewall politics, is they prevent monoculture and allow for Transhumanity as a whole to tackle the same problem with different enough prospective.

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Kojak wrote:To be honest, I

Kojak wrote:
To be honest, I think a big part of why the Jovians are seen as Bad Guys is because transhuman fiction doesn't tend to attract a lot of highly religious social conservatives, in my experience. I suspect if it somehow did, you'd see lots of them identifying with the Republic and finding it quite laudable.

Nah, the Jovians are somewhat unlikable even with that. They aren't total turds with that perspective, but you'd be surprised how many highly conservative religious groups are totally fine with a large number of transhuman endeavors (e.g. human augmentation, gene therapy, and the like). When such things are available, denying people from pursuing them of their own agency can become a problem for certain religious groups.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
If the Jovians are...

If the Jovians are..."dystopic" or "anti-utopic" is because that is the design by the game creators, but after the players can destroy the canonical background and change them.

In my setting robotic beta are allowed by the Jovians, but only a organic morpho for only a ego.

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Semper Fi In Spaaaaaaace!

The Jovians suffer from the very real problem of being Canonically Wrong.
That's a pretty big bias against them.

Moreover, they have a similar problem to the PC: Their leaders are a pile of Hypocritical, Power-Hungry Beaurocrats. A great deal of the harm associated with the Jovians could be removed if those in charge acted in accordance with the polity's stated goals.
Thematically speaking, they're the faction where the SciFi Noir plotlines happen.

Calling them Xenophobic is somewhat accurate, but it's more that they suffer from a Garrison mentality – everywhere except Here is dangerous. Opposition to immigration can be framed as Prejudice, but also as a simple fact of practicality; without resleeving immigration must occur via physical transfer, and the immigrant need to be in a morph which presents a minimal risk of being a vector for hostile technology.

The lack of Egocasting and Forks re-enforces the Garrison theme: each habitat actually is physically isolated to an extent that isn't apparent to those who do use those technologies.
From the inhabitant's point of view it can take days, weeks or months to reach their nearest neighbour – they really are all alone in the dark.

All interactions with other polities are subject to this point of view, so everything is going to be judged as significantly more risky or difficult than one might expect.
Does that mean they wouldn't help to others if they could?
If they feel they actually have the capability then No, but the method and manner will be very different than from anyone else.
Difficulties with technology will likely be ignored due to the risk of infection and how unlikely it is that they can give sufficient aid. Lack of resources could resolved by packing an unmanned drone full of feedstock and firing it off.

And if they're under attack from exsurgents, exhumans or TITAN warmachines?
Hell Yeah they'll help, at the very least to prevent that enemy from gaining resources or a foothold near Jovian space.
The flipside of the Garrison mentality is that those who willingly 'go out into the wilderness' are those with Courage, Conviction or Lust For Adventure, which means 'doing what's right' despite personal threat.

They'll willingly throw themselves into the Fire, because from their point of view they already have.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Yea. That is defiantly a

Yea. That is defiantly a saving grave for the Jovians. Like the Ultimates, the Jovians stand with Transhumanity even if they bicker over nearly thing. But a threat against one of them is a threat against all of them. I can totally get behind that. They would totally throw in their weight with the COmmonwealth Navy, and PC hastily built one on any threat, thats going to consume Sol.

MDFification MDFification's picture
If I might chime in, all

If I might chime in, all questions of the morality of social/economic systems are moot unless we have a shared definition of what 'good' and 'evil' is. So far, most of the thread seems to imply most of us here are defining 'good' as a) inherent resistance to x-risks and b) economic/social capital is distributed in a way that nobody has too little or too much.

For the prior condition, there's evidence to suggest that organizations that are more hierarchical, intrusive and demanding (in essence, totalitarian regimes) are better at preventing existent x-risks from accidentally being triggered. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union had far less accidents in the maintenance of it's nuclear weapons per weapon. However, it's worth pointing out that they deliberately built those weapons, developed them to theoretical extremes (they planned to build the Tsar Bomba twice as big, and relented when their scientists told them it would probably ignite the atmosphere), nearly intentionally caused an x-risk at least once, and that the societal difference between the USSR and USA pale in comparison to the vast gulf between even the various members of the Autonomist Alliance.
What society in Eclipse Phase is least likely to accidentally or deliberately unleash an x-risk isn't something we can conclusively decide - my money's on the Jovians, but then again I'm a statist and a pessimist. As to which societies could most easily survive an x-risk they didn't cause, that's a tossup between the hypercapitalists and various anarchist factions - in general, once shit has already hit the fan, those who can adapt survive and those who can't die. Hypercapitalists might not be precisely as adaptive as anarchists, but the anarchists have the disadvantage in terms of what adaptations they can adopt - if anarchists need to accept constraints on freedom, or have to commit some grave attrocities to survive and prosper, they aren't capable of assuring their population will comply with it like the hypercapitalists can.

The latter condition is troublesome, because precisely what is an unacceptable distribution of social/economic capital is something that can be (and has been) debated indefinitely without a universally acceptable definition emerging. I think cultural relativism needs to be brought up here - ones definition of 'impoverished' depends on ones' birth circumstances. For example, everyone reading this has access to more man-hours worth of goods and services than rulers of empires had several centuries ago thanks to labour-saving technology, and some of you feel (and I'd argue that you are) poor as dirt. It's worth pointing out though that for all the talk about how the PC is deliberately creating poverty, every non-indenture in the Consortium (and indentures are a significantly smaller portion of the population than are living below the poverty line today) has a higher standard of living as we'd define it than any person living today.

In the future, would my job be called anthropology, transanthropology or memetic research?


CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
I'm risking repeating what

I'm risking repeating what others already told but damn it:

Maybe I am reading it wrong but nothing in the write up of Jovians strikes me as evil. They are portrayed as the bad guys only if you accept the Anarchist societies as pinnacle of human way of life. Then they are bad guys for seeing it and rejecting it. But that is, as most people here agree, author bias.
When you take an objective look at the faction and its ideals they're internally consistient with what they're doing in reality. There is no bullshit like "democratic" elections in former communistic countries and North Korea. There is no bullshit like in current America where the government agencies take away peoples right to privacy in the name of statistically insignificant terrorist threats.
Yes, their focus on security slows down their social and technological progress, but that is the price they are willing to pay. People will die from cancer and other afflictions, but when thats the price for societal near immunity to basilisk hacks, exurgent virii and TITAN infiltrators the price is worth it.
You can say that is fear mongering, but unlike our USA the danger is real and significant.
Big brother society and fascist state will not probably care about improving its citizens level of well being, but it will surely care about their survival.

In game terms: How many of you played the standard Firewall mission? This Anarchist hab was carefree, tolerant and heaven for all. Now have an antimatter grenade, go clean up the exurgents.

Exurgents wanna eat your ass and you are low on ammo? Register to mobile gear catalogue at eldrich.host.mesh! ORDER NOW! FOR FREE PLASMA MINIMISSILE PACK! *explosive delivery options included

Pages