August 2, 2018 - Personal

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Let’s talk about the ethical and moral bankruptcy of “neutrality”.

Well, what is touted as neutrality anyway. As we’ll come to cover, it is in fact anything but. There’s been a lot of self-styled neutral entities among capsuleers over the years. One of the more common buzzwords in play tends to be ‘apolitical’ for instance, and these organizations use these claims to try and recruit or work across all borders and factional loyalties. I once accidentally ended up aiding the formation of such an organization, when Hilen Tukoss contacted Electus Matari and I along with Altaen organized a fleet to escort his freighter during his defection into Republic space. The end result of this mistake of mine was Arek’jalaan, an ‘apolitical and neutral’ project that was ‘open to all’.

I think it’s pretty obvious why I today wish that I’d turned that freighter and Hilen Tukoss into a few light-seconds long smear in space. Let’s have a look at why, though, just in case it’s not obvious to everyone.

“Apolitical”. Not interested in, or involved in politics. In a cluster like ours, this then means not being interested or involved in the conflicts, cooperations, military or trade stances in or between our nations and factions. The Republic wanting to resist the infiltration of a hostile faith, reclaiming by force and the eradication of its culture. The Federation wanting to spread its own and enforce its standards of government across New Eden and so on. The State’s aggressive trade practices and relations with the Khanid and Amarr for self-preservation and improvement. The Empire’s divine mandate and core purpose of subjugating and enslaving all of humanity under the Rite. The Sansha’s similar objective except under one madman and mind, and so on and so forth. Angels, Blooders, Gurista, whoever and whatever entities there are. All of this, to be ignored and no stance taken on any of these. Some problems should start to become rather apparent already, but let’s go on.

“Neutral”. Not supporting or helping either side in a conflict or disagreement etc. Impartial. This one is quite similar to apolitical, but even stronger in some ways. It goes so far as to acknowledge all of the differences and conflicts previously mentioned and then deliberately taking the ‘neutral’ stance, in effect equivocating all involved factions, stances and views by simply disregarding all of them equally. The problems should start to now be glaring neon red, flashing brightly.

Let’s look at how that affected something like Arek’jalaan. Here’s what happens when you do ‘neutral and apolitical’; you in effect remove barriers to entry, creating an Open For All policy. Sounds like a good thing, right? No prejudice, no barriers for cooperation and working together across loyalties and borders, right? Well, in theory it would be lovely. It’s an idealist stance. One that utterly fails to take reality into account, unfortunately. Open to all means open to all. “All” in New Eden terms includes, and are not limited to the following: Sansha, Sani Sabik, Blooders, the vilest of slavers, the most fervent of religious zealots and indoctrinators, horrifying criminals, and more. The key word that follows neutrality, apolitical and open to all is No Standards.

This, in effect, then completely removes neutrality and apolitical stances. Oh, theoretically it is still open to all and ‘apolitical’ and so on, but in reality this is no longer so. As worse and worse entities are admitted and recognized, you lower the common denominator every time. You can’t uphold different standards for different involved entities, without relinquishing the neutrality and the standards floor goes right into the basement for everyone involved. The political, ethical and moral stances of the lowest common denominator involved, becomes the baseline political, ethical and moral stance of the entire project or corporation or alliance.

If anyone would want to get involved, but have higher standards, morals and ethical stances, they are in effect barred from entry by this baseline as they would be forced to conform to that level of moral, ethical and political standards. Anyone who do get involved, immediately forfeits any such stances or standards, in favor of whatever benefit this project, corporation or alliance provides. I myself have done this, and should indeed be judged for it and my actions and words need to be viewed with the care and suspicion that demands.

So, the conclusion is then that ‘neutrality’, ‘apolitical’ and ‘open to all’ is inherently not so, and inherently proves to be ethically and morally bankrupt to begin with. It’s a very simple fact that if you do not take a stance against something, you are in effect taking a stance for it.

Let’s look at another example. Some alliances claim neutrality and apolitical stances. They have several loyalists, even some loyalist corporations within their organization and a rather ‘open to all’ approach to their activities. Some of these members even go out and fight in overtly political “wars” in lowsec, for their Empire and against the Republic. Some that are considered enemies of all four nations in our cluster have full access to their facilities, using them for various purposes. This alliance thus demonstrates without a doubt either an unwillingness or incapability to enforce this “neutrality” or “apolitical” standpoint. The alliance being through these loyalist actions tied directly to the violent military loyalist destruction of dozens of ships of the political opponent.

There has even been public bemoaning of not getting the cooperation of said political opponents. This of course shouldn’t be particularly surprising given the inclusion of overtly political entities, and actively hostile forces within that alliance. The alliance is actively, aggressively and violently acting on behalf of one nation’s political objective. Even within the borders of another nation. This isn’t in question. It’s a matter of very public record and can be verified with even the most cursory of Galnet searches.

So is this then ‘neutral and apolitical’? Of course not. It is either an outright lie, or the entity is incapable or unwilling to enforce neutrality and apolitical stances. So what is it then? Well, a cynic would say it’s just a public facade hiding the same old popularity contest and trying to hide the unwillingness to deal with the inconvenience of having actual standards, principles and taking stances. The desire to appear as some good and true people, organized for good purposes, while in reality it’s simply another buddy club. Neutrality goes out the window when actions or stances desired by some parties involved are ignored or allowed because they’re ‘friends’ or part of that social circle, in spite of being inherently not neutral or apolitical.

In short, moral and ethical bankruptcy, utter lack of standards and principle, and about as neutral and apolitical as… well as I am. Just without being honest about it.

Is neutrality then an impossibility? Surprisingly enough, no. You can actually do it, while retaining some semblance of ethical and moral high ground. It’s surprisingly simple in principle, while somewhat difficult to achieve in practice, as it employs the opposite philosophy of the above-mentioned examples. It is not open to all. It does not lower the standards and barriers to entry with every new lowest common denominator. It sets neutral, i.e. equal standards, demanded of all participants.

If you want a truly neutral approach, the rules are simple: It is open to all, who adheres to a universal set of rules and standards. You do not lower the standards, ethics and morality of the organization or project to that of the participants, but raise the participants’ practical standards, ethics and morality to that of the organization or project. For the duration of the project or cooperation, the standards, ethics and morality will have to be adhered to universally.

One small example of this is in order I suppose. Recently Second Lieutenant Samira Kernher of PIE and I cooperated in a week long operation against the clown and his attempted murder of a million of my people. The reasons either of us had for trying to stop him are fairly irrelevant, beyond the fact that our interests and end-goal aligned. However, it’s fairly inescapable that we are on opposite sides of a conflict. Our stances are inherently political and neither of us are even remotely neutral. So, how do you cooperate in spite of this? You set universal rules both sides can adhere to, while retaining the principles we stand for. It was a fairly unofficial, casual and informal thing of course as we simply trusted in each other to work it out ourselves for the most part. Given my principles and stances, any slaves recovered were to be freed of course. No actions taken in this cooperation was to be harmful to my people or nation. The limitations put on me, even if not formally laid out, was that the same kind of courtesy was to be extended to the Empire. During our cooperation there was no action taken to harm the Empire, its people or faith. In short, we adhered to universal rules of neutrality for the duration. Neither of us lowered our own standards or principles, and neutral cooperation was achieved while maintaining ethical and moral standards.

Neutrality is possible. It just requires maintaining even higher standards.

… or, you know. Just take a damned stance, show some bloody spine and have some bloody principles you spineless lazy sacks of worthless blather. It’s inconvenient, certainly. It’s going to take a toll on your potential cuddlefuckery partners, but I can assure you it’d be a damn sight less pathetic than the lie you’re living right now.

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”