Are there any positive traits of the Jovian Junta?

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ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Tiberia with over 250

Tiberia with over 250 comments in this thread now would you mind going back to the first post and editing in permalinks to posts you found high in quality or highly constructive?

Tiberia Tiberia's picture
I have been thinking of doing

I have been thinking of doing just that actually. May take awhile. I work most of the week, so most of the work will get done on the weekend.

fun fact, unless I missed something, THIS is the longest topic on the forum.
I take some pride in that.

bblonski bblonski's picture
branford wrote:I think you

branford wrote:
I think you may be inadvertently agreeing with a great deal of the criticism of how the non-Autonomists are portrayed in EP.

Despite the number, variety and perspectives of the narrators and setting characters, no less the purportedly unbiased GM materials, you concede that the Jovians (and to a lesser extent, the other capitalist or more conservative factions) are always depicted as caricatures, while the more left-leaning polities are often idealized or romanticized. You appear to simply excuse it because you just expect the setting, both fiction and non-narrative materials, to reflect the authors' political biases. In fact, you praise the authors for not completely overwhelming everything in the setting with their political, social and economic views.

Wow, slow down there. You're assuming a lot of things I did not say. You always jump to the most extreme interpretations. I'm trying to find a little middle ground and painting everything in extremes is not helping.

The point I was trying to make is that I find EP no more biased then most history textbooks, and if we hold EP to a higher standard then history textbooks then it's basically an impossible to reach standard. It's practically impossible to write without bias on these types of subjects. History textbooks are, I imagine, one of the places we try to eliminate bias the most, but are not completely successful because we inevitably have to interpret another culture through our own cultural filter. There are going to be countries that we view more favorably because their cultural values align more with our own. This is not just some author bias, but based on actual policies, attitudes, and history held by other countries as well as the biases of the reader.

branford wrote:

I think the point of Tiberas, myself and others was that the obvious author bias, particularly with the Jovians, was heavy-handed, gratuitous, effectively reduced role-playing opportunities, forced an even greater suspension of disbelief in connection with the setting, and actually managed to alienate or offend a number of readers.

It's mostly the language I have issue with. You keep using words like "gratuitous, heavy-handed, straw-man, caricature" which I find are grossly exaggerated. I don't think you'd find nearly as much push back if you toned it down a bit. I think most of us would agree the EP is written from a left leaning perspective, but the bias is, at worst, fairly subdued and easily ignored. The authors tried to reach a middle ground. Whether they succeeded or not depends on what your definition of middle ground is. Moving the middle ground more to the right would just offend people on the other side. I don't think it was the author's intent was to insult anyone, but eventually you have to make decisions about what works well and what doesn't and someone is going to disagree.

There are positive portrayals of capitalism, religion, central government, and anarchism. EPs strength is the number of different ideologies that all function well. Whether you support socialism, anarchism, libertarianism, democracy, capitalism, environmentalism, techno-progressivism, etc, there is at least one faction to support. It's really slavery and fascism that get all the negativity which I don't think is that radical of a position.

branford branford's picture
bblonski, first and foremost,

bblonski, first and foremost, I was not implying any bad faith on your part in your understanding or analysis of the bias, or lack thereof, in EP, or our discussion in the thread.

As a starting point of reference, you (we) clearly acknowledge the pervasive political bias in EP. However, you then appear to effectively dismiss, or at the very least not really feel bothered by it, believing it understandable due to the authors' political views and/or unavoidable cultural relativism (e.g., some history books). You additionally perceive the writers' bias as relatively subdued, and the depictions of the various polities generally balanced.

My politics are not even remotely comparable to the Jovians (although as a politically moderate American and capitalist, I guess I could be perceived as a "Jovian-like fascist" if one is a hyper-partisan on the VERY, VERY far left), and my objections concerning bias would be identical if the left-wing factions were what I believed to be caricatures and the right-wing factions idealized. I simply do not agree that any bias need demonstrably infect a RPG that is written professionally and conscientiously (although admit that perfect objectivity is clearly impossible), nor believe that the authors' come close to reaching a "middle ground." Regardless, our primary disagreement is basically the extent to which this bias, to whatever degree, has a detrimental effect on the game and concomitant role-playing opportunities.

I see the "Space Nazi" vs "Space Scandinavia," authoritarian capitalist and conservative vs. noble and enlightened socialist and anarchist, dichotomies jarring, unnecessary and ultimately limiting. Consistent with this thread and other discussions, it is readily apparent, both theoretically and practically, that virtually all forms of political, social and economic organizations have clear benefits and drawbacks. The authors' choice to intentionally portray such stark and partisan differences no doubt alienated some, failed to impress many more, and resulted in far less depth and moral ambiguity in an otherwise great setting.

bblonski bblonski's picture
branford wrote:As a starting

branford wrote:
As a starting point of reference, you (we) clearly acknowledge the pervasive political bias in EP.

We do not. I consider the bias on the side of reader interpretation with the core text being fairly academic in presentation. Trying to find common ground, I acknowledged that EP could be biased in a way that a left leaning individual might try to write as unbiasedly about ideologies they might not agree. The only way to do better than this is for the authors to actually hold different ideologies which I find is an unhelpful criticism.

I acknowledge bias in that it is impossible to avoid. It's like racism or sexism. Most is minor and unintentional, like not being unable to tell the difference between a Korean and Chinese person, or unconsciously assuming a doctor would be male instead of female. We are all guilty of that at times, it's impossible not to be. But that is much different from the overt "I hate foreigners" racism. When I mention the authors might have bias I mean the former, where you seem to mean the later. They are different things even though we both use the term bias.

branford wrote:
Regardless, our primary disagreement is basically the extent to which this bias, to whatever degree, has a detrimental effect on the game and concomitant role-playing opportunities.

Which is a matter of opinion, so we'll just have to agree to disagree. I guess that's the end of it then. No point beating a dead horse. I want to thank you though. I've seen similar threads pop up every once and awhile and I'm always perplexed why there were so many complaints about the Jovians. You've helped me understand some, and gave me a chance to give my opinion.

So for Tiberia's sake, I'll do a quick review of my thoughts.

Are there positive traits to the Jovian Junta? Yes, primarily security and military. Other positives are debatable since not everyone consider them universally positive, but at least the Jovians consider them positives.

Are the Jovians nuanced? Depends on how the GM wants to portray them. Both sympathetic and superficially evil portrayals are supported depending on the needs of the campaign.

There are complaints about the tone, consistency, and general portrayal of the Jovians.
* The tone is (and thoroughly has been) debatable.
* For consistency issues, Surly brought up some very good points in post 150 which I think are pretty valid.
* For general portrayal, the complaints I mostly hear about are that their habs are dirty, they have high cancer rates, and that they aren't more dominant in the setting. I find this reasonable due to their technological restrictions, but this would be a good place to start if you wanted to change some details. Branford suggested pulling inspiration from Heinlein's Starship Troopers or Moore's Battlestar Galactica, and LatwPIAT shared a nice rewrite of the Jovians in post 177 if you are looking for a more comprehensive overhaul.

My favorite personal contribution is the last half of post 165 where I give some plots hooks that show how I see the Jovians can be portrayed as both good and bad using the setting as written.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
branford wrote:

branford wrote:

I see the "Space Nazi" vs "Space Scandinavia," authoritarian capitalist and conservative vs. noble and enlightened socialist and anarchist, dichotomies jarring, unnecessary and ultimately limiting. Consistent with this thread and other discussions, it is readily apparent, both theoretically and practically, that virtually all forms of political, social and economic organizations have clear benefits and drawbacks. The authors' choice to intentionally portray such stark and partisan differences no doubt alienated some, failed to impress many more, and resulted in far less depth and moral ambiguity in an otherwise great setting.

I honestly still have no idea about what it is you're unhappy with.

We agree that there are differences between political systems, and these differences have consequences.

How do these differences play out?

If you choose to more or less ban nanotech, fabbers, morph use, and AIs, that is going to have some very real effects on the quality of life for the population compared to the factions that allow their populations those benefits.

If you choose to not have a government, you're not going to have corruption (and again, no, the anarchists are not all noble and enlightened individuals, they just don't have the hierarchal structure to oppress people as efficiently as is possible with a government).

And so on. I've asked you what you wanted to change about the Jovians. You've said you wanted their leaders to be noble and enlightened, the very thing you criticize the anarchists for! You've said you wanted them to clean their habs with brooms, the same thing that could be said about every dirty place ever - why don't they just clean it?

It's very simple. The anarachists avoid corruption because they don't have a government. They have clean habs because they have nanoswarms and robots to clean up. The Jovians have chosen differently and get different results.

The Jovians have advantages from those choices too, that the anarchists don't get. The Jovians have a strong military, they don't have potentially dangerous tech in widespread use.

But for some reason, you want the anarchists to not have the advantages their choices bring them, and you want the Jovians to not have the disadvantages from their choices.

Or maybe you've conceded that - you seem to be focusing on the language more than anything concrete now. But as most of this language is in-character talk, that makes little sense. People in the setting are obviously going to be taking sides. If you look at the game information text, it is very different - like the section on playing the Jovians in Rimward which is balanced, not biased.

If you want to compare the in-character voices, try reading the Titan entry in Rimward again. The guy is a total douche. Everyone he talks about that don't like the Titan way, he calls immature or something of that order. The Titan underclass he says it's because they don't wish to participate and adapt to the economy - an argument you normally hear from social darwinist investment bankers.

Compare that to the much more sympathetic, reasonable voice that the Jovians have. Imagine if he was a self-righteous asshole like Titan's, how the junta would have come off.

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