The situation in null sec has been described as “the big blue donut,” in reference to all of the various levels of relationships between the alliances in zero-zero space. The term is especially popular with EVE Online players who aren’t in null sec alliances, but who enjoy watching them fight each other and who grow bored when there is a lull in the fighting. If we’re not fighting, they’re not happy.
Null sec is not only a marketing tool for CCP, it is also a great gladiatorial arena for much of New Eden.
The fact that the blue donut theory has been shown to be false by the almost constant stream of sovereignty level wars hasn’t stopped people from clinging to it as gospel truth. Arguments go on about it being myth or reality. So I am here to offer up an alternative theory that keeps some of the spirit of the blue donut, but which I feel describes the situation more accurately.
I give you the map.
The names are references to an obscure book you probably never read, but do represent the level of entrenchment that each of these power blocs represent. There is Oceania, or the CFC in the north, so-name because I happen to live there and the rest of this parody won’t make sense unless I claim this as my home. Plus we have a MiniLuv already. Go us.
There Is Eastasia, or the N3 coalition, because they are in the east, so they can suck it. Plus we have always been at war with them. And there are the Russians, who get the geographically correct name of Eurasia.
Rather than a single blue donut, we have these three powers at war forever. The wars flare up, the wars fade for a bit, but there is always pressure to strike at your potential foe lest they become too strong and pose a threat to your political philosophy. War must also continue to keep each society going, to keep each pod pilot engaged and active. The sense of null sec begins to take shape when viewed through this prism.
For example, you might look at the map and wonder why Eastasia and Eurasia haven’t teamed up to attack the physically larger Oceania. The thing is, Oceania actually had to step in and ally with Eurasia as Eastasia had pressed Eurasia back to the point of near collapse. It is in Oceania’s interest to keep the three way balance going. It is also in Eastasia’s interest to do so, and so they have accepted Oceania’s entry into the war with barely a mutter. All the better to keep Oceania engaged and to keep Eurasia alive.
This story has played out before. In the distant past, Eurasia help Oceania when the current version of Eastasia at the time went for all-out extermination of Oceania. That was before all parties understood the need for each other to maintain the balance, when they might have truly believed they were different from each other rather than being shadowy reflections.
Each bloc is made up of a hierarchy which, while they might have different names, are essentially the same. For Oceania the hierarchy looks like this:
At the top there is The Mittani. He exists as the personification of Oceania and doesn’t even have to fly in space in order to lead. He actively led a war of conquest while banned from the game. Some say he may not actually exit, but simply be an amalgam of the members of the next level, the Inner Leadership.
The Inner Leadership sets the goals and agenda of Oceania. They are the only ones fully in “the know” as to why we are at war and what the real purpose of each campaign is. Did we really fight TEST for a bunch of moons, or was it a purge to preserve the political orthodoxy of null sec? Sure, Eastasia kept TEST going for a bit just to inflict pain on Oceania, but in the end they knew where their interests lay. TEST had to go.
The Inner Leadership is also the group that benefits from all of the RMT riches that Spiny Norman keeps going on about. The Inner Leadership lives in relative luxury compared to the rank and file.
Finally, the Inner Leadership maintains cordial relations with the leaders of the other two blocs and conducts trade and treaty talks in the midst of any wars. The spice must flow.
Next is the Tactical Leadership. These are the corp leaders, pet alliance leaders, people with Wing Command V trained who are are allowed to backseat drive on ops, Fleet Commanders who aren’t allowed to FC capital ships (except Dabigredboat), and others in minor to middling leadership positions. They rally the troops, get numbers to show up for ops, spread the word on doctrine and, most importantly, enforce orthodoxy through propaganda and the mandatory two minutes of hate before each op. (I love the SirMolle part.) They are the ones who remind the masses that riches are spread about based on fleet participation, that the war is for moons or honor or whatever, that N3 is literally Band of Brothers, and that Oceania has always had rental space. There is some debate amongst outsiders as to whether they actually believe these things when they are saying them or not. Doublethink is complicated and not easy to comprehend unless one is immersed in it.
Below the Tactical Leadership is the highest tier of the masses, the pilots who have managed to train Leadership V and can thus occupy squad leader positions in fleets. They are not allowed to do anything special and get no benefits, but they are occasionally praised as giant fleet operations could not get off the ground if nobody could take squad leadership. They are like, to quote Tom Lehrer, corporals without portfolio. This is me, so I might be biased about the level of importance.
Then there are the proles… erm… the pods. They are fed wartime propaganda, are encourage to hate the enemy (with whom, as I noted, the Inner Leadership is actually friendly), driven to train for a constantly changing set of fleet doctrines so that they never feel like they have “caught up,” and who are told to group their guns or assign their drones, to target only what is broadcast, to form up on their designated anchor ship, and to otherwise follow the directions of their Fleet Commander and press F1 when required. Oceania provides them ships at a slight markup and pays a sum out for any ship lost during a fleet operation in order to keep participation numbers up in a sort of “Space Communism” or “GoonSoc” that provides the minimum necessary to keep its pod soldiers in the game.
And then, somewhere below all of that, there are the renters that the blocs use to fund their empires. But they hardly count. They are resources to be fought over and have shown that they will pay rent to whoever controls their space… and sometimes to people who don’t even hold their sovereignty at the moment, just to ensure a smooth transition.
The other two blocs have similar hierarchies tailored to match their own philosophies, Neo-Tsarism for Eurasia and CapFleet Worship in Eastasia.
And so it goes in null sec, where war is eternal and provides jobs, resource destruction, entertainment, and marketing value for many.
Well, war would be eternal if the nodes were up to it. But that is another story.