Imperialism: Past and Present
It was requested that I give a lecture on the role of imperialism and the imperialist sphere in NationStates, particularly modern imperialism. The imperialist sphere has undergone significant changes over a decade and a half of evolution. This process of historical change has shaped how other actors understand imperialists today. In order to comment on the role of imperialism in the modern world, we must specify and contextualise what is meant by ‘imperialism’ and the ‘imperialist sphere’ as terms describing a gameplay ideology and a group of actors within NationStates inter-regional politics. This lecture presents a history of the imperialist tradition from its origins up to and including the modern era, reflecting on key events as well as the actions and decisions of imperialist regions.
Historically, the major imperialist regions have defined imperialism as an ideology based on aggressively expanding and projecting power. This standard definition is principally concerned with a central idea about the conduct of foreign affairs, although most imperialist powers have been organised internally as constitutional monarchies with a parliamentary system. Through what methods do imperialist regions seek to aggressively expand and project power? Forms of diplomacy (including declaring and pursuing war, inter-regional conferences and treaties), military operations (including both offensive and defensive operations in particular contexts), intelligence and counter-intelligence activity, rhetorical argumentation, and colonial endeavours are all approaches that have been used by imperialist regions for aggressively expanding and projecting power at different points in history. Not every act of an imperialist region is related to the imperialist objective (of aggressively expanding and projecting power). Not every region which uses the same methods, or even every region which adopts the same motivation at a particular moment in time, is normally classed as imperialist. The key distinction is this: for an imperialist region, the external objective of aggressively expanding and projecting power is always at the heart of the framework which guides foreign policy decision-making over the long term and is frequently part of the region’s core identity and culture. Other individual regions, including independent regions who share independent ideology and an overarching view of inter-regional politics with imperialist regions, may act in an imperialist way at particular moments. However, these regions do not fall within the imperialist tradition if their long-term foreign policy framework is not based on aggressively expanding and projecting power.
Within NationStates gameplay discussions, the imperialist sphere (and commonly the adjective ‘imperialist’) is used in reference to the group of allied regions which developed and practised imperialism as a gameplay ideology. This tradition originated in 2005 in the region of Great Britain and Ireland. A forefather of imperialism and independence, GB&I rejected the idea (which dominated NationStates politics at the time) that raiding was an activity to be morally condemned and practised exclusively by widely-reviled raiders. Their proto-independent view of military action led GB&I to occasionally pursue offensive operations, most notably fighting the RLA in a siege battle for the region of Palestine. Multiple strains of opinion were represented within GB&I’s domestic politics (which contained vocal isolationist and pro-defender factions), but the development of NationStates imperialism was rooted in the thinking of its monarch and other key individuals shaping its external strategy (most significantly North East Somerset).
The imperialist sphere, such as it became, expanded substantially in 2006. This was closely related to the emergence of The Land of Kings and Emperors (founded in October 2005, but not active in gameplay politics until the spring of 2006). The LKE’s members had their own confrontation with the RLA in March 2006 when occupying and colonising Munster (which was allied to the RLA region of Ireland). It was as a result of the occupation of Munster that I as an RLA member first encountered and infiltrated the LKE, eventually culminating in my defection and the creation of my Onderkelkia persona in August 2006. In the early LKE, I combined a career in party politics, becoming Prime Minister for the first time in September 2006, with senior positions in the leadership of the military and intelligence services, later succeeding Lucius as Emperor for the first time in November 2007. I saw the early LKE’s development mainly from an LKE perspective, but North East Somerset perhaps provides better insight, from his different vantage point as a senior GB&I official at the time, given in a lecture marking the LKE’s tenth anniversary in October 2015: ‘It was a region which its Founder, Lucius Magnus Rex, modelled in some ways on GB&I. But in others it was very different. Much more aggressive in both its symbolism and actions, it rapidly became the face for a series of daring military missions confronting the defender establishment in a way which they had been largely unaccustomed to.’
In addition to opposing the major defender organisations, the early LKE pursued significant colonial projects, with dominions ranging from founderless regions conquered after invasion, to regions founded by LKE members, to regions gifted to the LKE voluntarily by their founders (sometimes against the wishes of the region’s population more generally). One of the first regions in the latter category was The New Inquisition, which was gifted to the LKE Empire in August 2006 (at a time when it was a region of Monty Python fans with no gameplay involvement). In September, the LKE granted sovereignty to TNI after it became clear its native residents would not comply with its incorporation into the Empire, but TNI emerged transformed into a monarchy. After further tensions between the founder/monarch of TNI (Viktoria Gryfynn) and its native population, leading to the forum root administrator attempting to put the founder on trial, Gryfynn quashed the rebels and changed the forums of TNI in October 2006. She was supported by politicians from both the LKE and GB&I. This was TNI’s October Revolution.
Thus, the main constituent elements of the early imperialist sphere were in place following the October Revolution; the regions of GB&I, the LKE and TNI. This was given institutional shape in November 2006, when the Treaty of the Four Realms was signed, bringing together GB&I, the LKE, TNI and Empires of Earth (a less active imperialist region whose king, Most Great Britannia, became an LKE Prince that month) in a multilateral alliance named the Congress of Sovereigns. A series of ambitious military operations followed, usually instigated by the LKE or TNI on their individual initiative, but with additional resources provided by all the members of the Congress. The imperialist regions challenged the military supremacy of the large defender alliances representing the dominant institutions and ideology of the era. Our operations included siege battles in Valhalla, Iraq and Marxist Leninist Party, as well as notable occupations of Adelaide, New Europe, The Sand Village, The Wild West, Hethrum and Soviet Union, often working closely with Catlandatopia. The LKE’s victory in capturing the RLA region of Marxist Leninist Party was particularly important, as it was the largest siege battle (89-82 endorsements) in a User-Created Region ever won by the non-defender side. On the part of the LKE and TNI, military operations were accompanied by formal states of war (for instance, the LKE declared war for the RLA and the FRA for the first time in December 2006, and would subsequently declare war on the ADN’s successor, the Defender Security Alliance, in June 2007 after the MLP invasion). This is the context in which the imperialist sphere emerged and has developed subsequently since.
The period from 2008 to 2009 was one in which the LKE underwent significant internal turmoil and change. While the early LKE’s extreme levels of activity and highly competitive political environment presented several external advantages, and its culture influenced the founding of several other UCRs by LKE members in 2007 (the most notable of which is Europeia), our internal politics proved highly unstable. A dispute led to the creation of the splinter region Nova Imperium, which in turn caused serious constitutional friction within the LKE during early 2008. Lucius and I as the rulers of the region were set against the founder of Nova Imperium (Anumia) and his supporters. Nova Imperium’s aim was to relocate the region’s entire membership (copying all of the region’s laws and other documents en masse in the process). In the ensuing confrontation, in which the founder of Nova Imperium was first given the LKE throne and then deposed after appeasement failed, the LKE collapsed. Multiple revival efforts I led were sabotaged by Nova Imperium members. In October 2008, the LKE entered into a union with United Kingdom of Britain, another region founded by Lucius, ceasing to be autonomous.
During the first half of 2008, despite the LKE’s internal problems, GB&I and TNI broadened their global aims to encompass significant military interventions in Game-Created Regions. With TNI in particular bringing significant resources to the table, GB&I and TNI coordinated military activities with Gatesville and other relevant stakeholders as part of the War Council. The resulting cooperation over 2008 reflected mutual interests, although the motivations of the parties were not fully aligned (as GB&I and TNI were less interested than Gatesville in notoriety for its own sake, particularly as regards the operations in feeder regions). At one point TNI threatened to disassociate itself from the War Council when Gatesville planned to declare war against Catlandatopia (which had collaborated militarily with the CoS regions in 2007). TNI maintained this threat until Gatesville removed reference to Catlandatopia from the document and the resulting statement focused solely on the FRA. Fundamentally, TNI saw a opportunity to precipitate a shift away from defenders in GCR politics and to counter the power of the FRA. In this context, TNI and GB&I (as well as the LKE during a revival effort) contributed forces to a coalition which briefly unseated leading FRA member Northern Chittowa as Delegate of Lazarus in April 2008.
The LKE’s situation led to the dissolution of the Congress of Sovereigns and its replacement with the Sovereign Regions Alliance Treaty Organisation in June 2008. A month earlier, I joined TNI to take up an appointment as its Director of Intelligence and also started a political career in GB&I, subsequently becoming their First Sea Lord, leading to my election as SRATO Supreme Allied Commander by my fellow heads of military. SRATO’s initial membership was GB&I, TNI, Europeia and The Last Kingdom (a region which had participated in the War Council with GB&I and TNI), but the TLK later left and was replaced by Gatesville. While only GB&I and TNI were imperialist in ideological terms, SRATO was very much modelled on the CoS and there were some significant military confrontations, similar to those in the CoS era, fought against defender forces (notably in Rajahland in August 2008). Unfortunately, GB&I fell inactive and closed in September 2009. Prior to this, Europeia left SRATO and it was dissolved. With the LKE’s troubles and decline, and then the closure of GB&I, TNI became the leading imperialist power. TNI’s declaration of war against the FRA remained in force, despite a period of relative military quiet in 2009. There were several serious incidents where senior FRA members committed espionage against TNI and Europeia, resulting in highly effective TNI retaliation against the FRA (including the major intelligence mission that TNI announced in 2015) and sadly less effective TNI warnings to Europeia about FRA activities.
When most players today refer to or think of the ‘imperialist sphere’, more often than not they have in mind the United Imperial Armed Forces. Despite its final incarnation being disbanded five years ago in March 2015, the UIAF today is still spoken of with fear and respect, sometimes to a greater extent than the historic regions TNI and GB&I individually, despite also belonging to the past. There were three incarnations of the UIAF. The basic concept was first formulated in 2010, rooted in the military cooperation between TNI and the LKE. The first UIAF was established with the signing of the Treaty of Arms Convergence in July 2010. Lucius and I ended the LKE’s union with UKB in October 2009, returning as Emperor and Crown Prince respectively, ushering in an intensification of first the LKE’s and then TNI’s military activity. The most notable operation of this pre-UIAF period was the LKE’s invasion and passwording of Free Thought in December 2009, leading to an 85-day occupation until we withdrew in March and a WA Security Council Liberation in January which passed by only 64 votes (2,896 to 2,832). In May 2010, the LKE declared war on the FRA for a second time (having terminated our previous war with the FRA during 2007) over the FRA invasion of UKB (a region founded by Lucius and which was admitted to the LKE Empire after the end of our union, albeit not without some resistance from separatists). This meant that the LKE and TNI (which had never terminated the first FRA war) were once again simultaneously at war with the FRA. Given this, and as I now commanded both regions’ militaries (and in April 2010 had become TNI Crown Prince while holding the same role in the LKE), TNI and the LKE’s monarchies decided to institute a unified command structure headed by myself as the Joint Commander. Unfortunately, shortly after the treaty was enacted and the first official UIAF operations, it was necessary for me to take a leave of absence for real-life reasons. The first incarnation of the UIAF was subsequently dissolved.
When I returned to the game in December 2010, I assumed the LKE throne, commencing my eight-year continuous rule as the Emperor. In TNI, I was appointed to serve as the Commander of the Armed Forces alongside resuming my general responsibilities as Crown Prince. We decided against reunifying the command structure, so I focused on commanding TNI forces and the command of the LKE Imperial Army was delegated. As in earlier (and later) years from 2007 onwards, North East Somerset and I collaborated together, now in our respective roles as TNI’s intelligence director and military commander. The 2011-12 period saw military and diplomatic expansion for TNI and the LKE, including 15 large TNI-led occupations, several in targets linked to the FRA or otherwise politically significant (most notably the January/February 2012 occupation of Belgium, historically a member of the Allied Liberation League, which led to the ensuing invasion where I seized the delegacy of The Rejected Realms, a GCR in the FRA, the first and only time that solely military rather than native units were ejected when capturing TRR through ejections); an LKE-led counter-invasion of The United Kingdom of Britain in May 2012, ending an occupation by The Greater German Reich; systematic TNI and LKE piling on occupations by The Black Hawks and The Black Riders (underpinned by mobilisation of TNI’s active population, uninterested in R/D gameplay, as reinforcement units through patriotic propaganda and a merit-based incentive system that I introduced), rendering these TBH and TBR occupations impregnable to defender ‘liberation’ attempts; TNI and the LKE’s intervention in The South Pacific against the 2011 Devonitions coup (leading to TNI’s treaty with TSP); and TNI and Europeia’s joint steps to secure a sovereign Balder free of UDL control, symbolised by the Pact of Friendship signed by TNI, Europeia, the LKE and The United States of Europe. The successes of this period laid the framework for an even more ambitious agenda in 2013-15.
The period from late 2012 to the first half of 2013 saw significant domestic growth in the LKE as well as the
emergence of new regions styling themselves as imperialist and aligned to TNI and the LKE, namely Kantrias and Mazeria. A central figure in early 2013 was Charles Cerebella, who had previously served as my deputy and became the acting and then permanent Commander of TNI Armed Forces during my absence in this period, having also earlier become the Delegate of Balder in October 2012. Cerebella additionally renewed a successful political career in the LKE, founding the Lion Party and engaging in a rivalry with members of the more established Imperial Party for control of regional politics. This was the context in which the second incarnation of the UIAF was formed by TNI and the LKE at the start of April 2013 with the signing of the Second Treaty of Arms Convergence, using a wholly identical treaty text to its 2010 predecessor. I returned to activity shortly afterwards in April, at which point Cerebella was in an acrimonious battle for the LKE premiership which pitted the Lion Party (composed mainly of new members who joined in 2013) against the Imperial Party (composed mainly of members who joined in 2011-12). The swing group was the LKE’s nobility and long-standing (pre-2011) members, who largely voted for Cerebella as they understood him to be my preference owing to his TNI association. Yet Cerebella had become frustrated about the need to engage in politics in the LKE against what he perceived as lesser players given his own seniority in TNI and Balder, as well as the prominence and popularity that he had gained in wider gameplay circles in 2013.
These feelings contributed to Cerebella’s decision to found his own region, Albion, launched on the same day as the Prime Minister election in the LKE, which he won. It soon became very clear that Cerebella was recruiting large numbers of existing members from TNI, the LKE and Balder to Albion, which angered the LKE and TNI monarchies, as well as Solorni (who succeeded Cerebella as Delegate of Balder earlier in April). In the LKE, I responded with immediate steps to reassert control and prevent our citizens being recruited, including the elevation of Gavin Novawk (one of Cerebella’s political rivals) as Prince Imperial, alongside updating the composition of the Guardian Council to ensure that it reflected the full range of our region’s meritorious politicians and officials. This proved effective in the LKE and Cerebella largely withdrew from politics there as a result, as indeed he subsequently did in Balder. However, TNI was a different matter given Cerebella’s leading role in its community. There was also the wider question of the UIAF (in which Cerebella was the Joint Commander) and Albion’s relationship to the LKE and TNI. In the preceding months, Cerebella had made noises about a new, less aggressive kind of imperialism - chiefly defined by its contrast with my own approach.
Concerned that these tensions should not compromise imperialist unity, North East Somerset brought Cerebella and myself together for negotiations on an old TNI intelligence forum. A deal was struck: Albion would join the UIAF, at that point still only consisting of the LKE and TNI, ensuring the pre-eminence of TNI’s policies. The UIAF would be run by a triumvirate of Cerebella, North East Somerset and I representing Albion, TNI and the LKE respectively. Cerebella’s existing UIAF deputy (and his chosen Crown Prince in Albion), Christopher Bishop, would become Joint Commander reporting to the three regional representatives. In exchange for Albion joining the UIAF, Cerebella would become the monarch of TNI, with Cerebella to succeed first myself as Crown Prince of TNI and then at a later time Gryfynn as monarch. Despite reservations about what I perceived as Cerebella’s decision to prioritise his own interests over those of TNI and the LKE as sovereign entities, I accepted the deal as I recognised the potential of the UIAF and that TNI’s community would be split in half if control was not ceded to Cerebella (given that a large portion of the membership had already followed him to Albion). In retrospect, this agreement ensured a successful period for LKE and the imperialist sphere as a whole in 2013-15 during the third incarnation of the UIAF, but was not in TNI’s long-term interests (which would have been better served by resetting internally, as it had done when faced with rebellion against the authority of the Crown in October 2006, instead of accepting a UIAF-centric arrangement). I honoured my part in the agreement by standing down as Crown Prince in June 2013. Gryfynn also assented in principle to the agreement, subject to Cerebella accepting clauses that I drafted regulating access to the founder and root administrator accounts. Gryfynn was still understandably reluctant and it was not until February 2014 when she abdicated to Cerebella.
In geopolitical terms, the UIAF’s most significant operation was our intervention in Osiris in July 2013, which occurred prior to (and delayed) the entry of Albion in August 2013. Following the coup of Osiris by The Dourian Embassy and Gatesville, the history of TNI and GB&I’s relations with Gatesville ideally positioned the imperialist sphere to positively influence the situation. Initially, there was a standalone (non-UIAF) LKE mission endorsing The Dourian Embassy. As the next step, under the banner of the UIAF, the LKE and TNI deployed significant reinforcements (exceeding 40 units at the peak) endorsing The Dourian Embassy for most of July. In public, it appeared that we were supporting the coup. In private, we reached agreement with Osiris officials that we would appear to support Gatesville before cross-endorsing to maximise the influence stock of our units and using this leverage to force Gatesville into negotiations for surrendering the region to Cormac as the legitimate Pharaoh. This plan was North East Somerset’s initiative, implemented in spite of concerns (voiced by those advocating a less aggressive ‘imperialism’ within TNI’s leadership) that the manoeuvre risked compromising our general relations with the GCRs. Events subsequently transpired exactly as North East Somerset had planned. Osiris and Gatesville entered into negotiations, resulting in Osiris pretending to agree with Gatesville’s terms, Gatesville leaving the region and Osiris regaining control, Osiris renouncing the terms, and recognising the LKE and TNI’s contribution. Following this victory, Albion joined the UIAF a few days later and the third incarnation of the UIAF began.
Another significant moment involving the imperialist sphere and the GCRs occurred in September 2013, shortly after the creation of the third UIAF. In addition to serving as sovereign of TNI, Gryfynn pursued a distinguished career in Lazarus, which included three terms as Delegate (in 2008-09, 2011 and 2012). Gryfynn never sought to move Lazarus in an imperialist or raider direction and supported its status as a neutral democracy. After several months of tensions when it appeared that the New Pacfiic Order planned a coup of Lazarus, the NPO senator Feux performed a coup of Lazarus in September 2013 in which Gryfynn, North East Somerset and Cerebella were unlawfully removed from the region. With the possibility of democratic political opposition quashed, the People’s Republic of Lazarus was established as a Defender-Francoist dictatorship and Lazarus joined the FRA, with which the LKE and TNI were at war. The expulsion of Gryfynn was accompanied by the release of a document entitled the ‘NPO’s Retort’ by NPO senator A Mean Old Man, cataloguing the supposed political misdeeds of the so-called ‘Ondersphere’. In November 2015, the NPO subsequently issued an apology for the insults directed towards ‘coordinating bodies within TNI, LKE, Europeia and Balder.’ Sadly, however, the PRL was not the last occasion when Defender-Francoism emerged as a threat.
The third incarnation of the United Imperial Armed Forces was undoubtedly a highly successful period for the imperialist sphere. The earlier intervention in Osiris laid the ground for future UIAF deployments supporting the founding of the Osiris Fraternal Order. New alliances were secured by TNI, the LKE and Albion with both The West Pacific and Osiris. More generally, the UIAF followed the previous model of running our own occupations, and piling occupations by TBH and TBR, developed by TNI and the LKE’s militaries in earlier years, initially on a larger scale owing to the combined resources of three regions (albeit the UIAF’s piling capacity fell in time, as the military of TNI contracted considerably in line with TNI’s internal decline over the course of 2013-14). In January 2014, the UIAF invaded the FRA region of Slavia. I negotiated a settlement with its native leaders based around assurances that it would renounce all ties with the FRA in exchange for our departure, but the consensus within the UIAF leadership was in favour of re-founding (the first time that we had attempted a re-founding operation since TNI’s successful re-foundings of Gatesville’s historic enemy Concosia in September 2011 and June 2012, the latter an interception of an attempted UDL re-founding after the officer whose speed in clicking secured the first re-found suddenly disappeared). The re-founding of Slavia failed. The Slavic Cooperation Pact subsequently retaliated by invading Anzia, a role-play region under UIAF protection. We counter-invaded Anzia and then invaded Slavya, Slavia’s ally, where we secured SCOP’s surrender based on the agreement planned for Slavia. Generally, considering the tensions that preceded and came after it, there was good cooperation between the UIAF leaders and regions. In this period following Albion’s admission to the UIAF, neither Cerebella nor Bishop raised any concerns at any point about TNI or the UIAF’s operations or policies. On a day-to-day basis, on behalf of the Imperial Military Council, I provided guidance to Bishop as the operational commander and I drafted the text of UIAF announcements. With the exception of his preference for re-founding over negotiating with Slavia, I do not recall a single occasion where Bishop favoured a different policy or suggested any change to UIAF statements. There was a consensus around military operations in pursuit of the LKE and TNI’s wars against the FRA, representing a continuation of previous practices rather than a new style of imperialism.
The extent of the UIAF’s influence is illustrated by the expansion of imperialist ideology to the GCRs, in particular the sinkers of Balder and Osiris in 2014. These sinkers became not merely allies and friends of imperialist regions, but co-partners in the imperialist project. In April 2014, Balder and Osiris enacted the Treaty of the Old Gods ‘to work together to ensure the security of our realms and to advance the cause of military imperialism’, replacing their previous December 2013 treaty. This established the Imperial Sovereign Realms Army as the joint military of Balder and Osiris. ISRA was conceived by North East Somerset, during his reign as King and Delegate of Balder from January to June 2014. Osiris and Balder explicitly declared themselves to be imperialist regions, and hoped to replicate the success of the UIAF through their own combined military. This was only possible as a result of TNI and the UIAF’s previous actions in support of Osiris and Balder sovereignty. The project had great potential and the ISRA made contributions to multiple operations, including the UIAF and TNP’s invasion, occupation and re-founding of Nazi Europe. Charles Cerebella and Cassius Cerebella (also known as Consular, who was additionally Albion’s UIAF Division Commander) served as the Joint Commander and Deputy Commander of the ISRA respectively. Unfortunately, ISRA became mired in internal disputes and discontent within Osiris about the actions of ISRA Command, in particular arrangements about operational credit and the decision of Cassius to deploy under the UIAF flag in situations where ISRA was deployed and no other units from Balder were present. High antipathy towards Cassius developed within Osiris, affecting their relations with Balder and the UIAF regions. As a senior UIAF official uninvolved in ISRA, I intervened by making a UIAF statement defusing the situation. Cormac, a Pharaoh of Osiris during 2014, would later reflect that Cassius ‘almost singlehandedly wrecked the alliance between Osiris and Balder due to his arrogant mismanagement’. The ISRA later disbanded in October 2014, although other joint institutions (including a Joint Operations Centre and the position of Joint Director of Intelligence, held by North East Somerset) were retained until March 2015 when these arrangements were repealed by Tim Stark during his tenure as the Pharaoh of Osiris. Rather than remaining imperialist regions, the two sinkers took different directions, with Osiris adopting a raider identity and Balder defining itself as an independent region which was no longer imperialist. Nonetheless, Balder’s history as an imperialist region during its membership of the ISRA remains a deep-rooted influence on Balderan identity and policies.
To the extent that disagreements arose during the third UIAF’s existence, these occurred in the latter half of 2014, centred on the conduct of Cassius (Consular) over multiple incidents where his actions were unprofessional and threatened the UIAF’s working relationships with allies including Europeia (in relation to his failure to share details about the occupation of Canada), Osiris (in relation to his decisions around ISRA) and TNP (in relation to the occupation of Nazi Europe). The most serious incident was Cassius Cerebella’s failure to be online during the update while serving as the UIAF delegate/point nation during our joint occupation of Nazi Europe with The North Pacific. This led to the region of Nazi Europe being temporarily reclaimed by far-right regions. Thankfully the region was re-invaded and subsequently successfully re-founded by the UIAF and TNP. Nonetheless, failing to be online in the update when serving as the point nation was inexcusable, especially for an important and sensitive operation. North East Somerset, Charles Cerebella and I considered dismissing Cassius, but it was determined that this would be detrimental to domestic opinion of the UIAF in Albion. Cassius received a public reprimand instead. In retrospect, the failure to dismiss Cassius was a grave error, as he subsequently harboured significant animosity towards North East Somerset and I. Cassius began his shift from imperialist to defender and became vocally critical of TNI and the LKE within Albion. This contributed to Albion’s exit from the UIAF and later his May 2019 Condemn LKE proposal composed of lies and misrepresentations, supported by fabricated evidence. In both cases, Cassius’s partnership with Bishop appears to have been a significant factor.
Despite the imperialist sphere’s external strength, the internal condition of TNI deteriorated significantly relative to Albion and the LKE during the period of the third UIAF. Militarily, the use of the UIAF flag masked the fact that the number of TNI units had reduced considerably. In October 2014, Charles Cerebella informed me of his intention to abdicate the throne of TNI and that his preferred successor was Harshhaven rather than the Crown Princess Lynneiah. There was no objection to Harshhaven succeeding in principle, but a disagreement ensued over whether Harshhaven would share access to the founder nation of TNI with Gryfynn, which had previously been the arrangement with Cerebella. As no agreement could be reached between the relevant parties, it was ultimately not until March 2015 (when Harshhaven dropped the demand of shared access to the founder nation) that Cerebella abdicated. Later that same month, Albion (now ruled by Bishop rather than Cerebella) issued a statement announcing its exit from the UIAF, which automatically triggered a dissolution of the organisation. This decision was not notified in advance to the LKE or TNI (although it soon became clear that a faction within TNI was coordinating with the leadership of Albion).
The public explanation for Albion’s decision was the claim that it was providing the greatest share of the UIAF’s resources without any say in its direction (focused on the LKE and TNI’s wars). The LKE issued a statement disputing this. Since the third UIAF was instituted in August 2013, at no point had either Charles Cerebella or Bishop made the slightest suggestion of moving the UIAF in an alternative direction. If Albion had no voice, that is because it did not speak (possibly because any conception of less aggressive, less anti-defender ‘imperialism’ was a contradiction in terms). Furthermore, imbalances in force levels related mainly to TNI (and had arisen in part because so many TNI members had been recruited to Albion in the period from 2013 to 2015). Fundamentally, Albion’s membership of the UIAF was always tied to Cerebella’s rule of TNI. Once Cerebella was no longer the monarch of either region, the deal that we struck in 2013 became irrelevant. Shortly after, I resigned my executive positions in TNI, in the context of strong internal disagreements centred on Albion’s departure from the UIAF. TNI subsequently moved to a new forum and sadly it had fallen silent by the summer of 2015.
In reflecting on modern imperialism, our analysis becomes clearer by defining modernity as well as imperialism and the imperialist sphere. On the NationStates site, nations founded before a certain date in November 2003 are dated to ‘Antiquity’. However, it would not be sensible, in this instance, to define the entire imperialist tradition discussed in this lecture as modern because it all came after November 2003. The key turning point that provides the best point of reference for framing the chronology of later imperialism is the dissolution of the third incarnation of the UIAF, not only for the end of the UIAF itself but because it was associated with the demise of TNI. From 2006 to 2008, the major imperialist regions were GB&I, the LKE and TNI. From 2008 to 2009, the major imperialist regions were GB&I and TNI, in a period when the LKE endured major internal disruption and then entered a union with UKB. From 2009 to 2013, the major imperialist regions were TNI and the LKE. From 2013 to 2015 (March 2015 to be precise), the major imperialist regions were TNI, the LKE and Albion, as well as Balder and Osiris in the shorter period of the ISRA’s existence from April to October 2014. From 2015 to the present day, the only major imperialist region has been the LKE, unless we count TNI in its death throes and the short period between Albion’s exit from the UIAF and its formal renunciation of the ‘imperialist’ label. The latter step came in June 2015, when Charles Cerebella (after returning to the throne of Albion) announced that Albion would follow a new path in which community was prioritised over politics, adding that the imperialist brand was too associated with other powers and that ‘we have always been an odd imperialist region’. Albion’s emphasis shifted from seeking a different kind of imperialism to a rejection of imperialism. If by the ‘imperialist sphere’ we mean the group of regions whose history we have traced from the Congress of Sovereigns, the modern (post-2015) imperialist sphere’s sole member is the LKE.
From 2006 to 2015, there were usually two or three major imperialist regions and since 2015 there has been one. The dramatic end of the UIAF, and to a lesser extent the realisation that there was no longer a network of major allied imperialist regions, prompted much bleak commentary about the state of imperialism in 2015. Yet nothing about imperialist ideology inherently requires there to be two or more imperialist powers working in close concert. One region is enough to practise imperialism, provided that region has sufficient internal, diplomatic and military resources to pursue an imperialist agenda over the long term. Naturally, any region which cares about inter-regional relations (including any imperialist region) stands to benefit from developing and maintaining bilateral or multilateral alliances with one or more other regions who share a commitment to mutual interests and their collective security. In many cases, such alliances will be stronger if they are built on shared ideological principles, to a greater or lesser degree, but a common outlook does not require an identical ideology. Factors other than a shared ideology can also sustain strong and mutually beneficial alliances, provided that each region respects the other region’s ideological position. The LKE enjoyed a close alliance with TNI rooted in a shared imperialist ideology (and, perhaps compared to Albion, a shared understanding of what imperialism entailed). Yet this was not the only factor underpinning the LKE-TNI alliance. Historical connections, common cultures and overlaps in membership were also features of the LKE-TNI alliance. The most fundamental factor was a shared recognition that the two regions were stronger together than they were without. This same core attribute can be found today in the LKE’s current alliances with Balder, Europeia, The West Pacific and United Kingdom, in addition to the additional specific attributes that define each relationship. None of these allies is as ideologically close to the LKE as TNI was, but very few regions have ever been so privileged to have another major region with such a similar world view. The key ingredient of a strong alliance for an imperialist region is the same as it is for all regions.
Immediately after the end of the UIAF, the LKE’s instinctive reaction was to find other allies which identified with imperialist ideology. Thus in April 2015 came about the unfortunate endeavour that was the second and much less distinguished Congress of Sovereigns, consisting of the LKE, United Kingdom and The Kingdom of Great Britain. British Isles was a later addition. This alliance collapsed in October 2015 as a result of the dishonest, unprofessional and insulting actions of the King of KGB, beginning with a bizarre and fictitious allegation that the LKE’s WA Delegate was spying for Albion. KGB subsequently made an unsuccessful attempt at invading the now founderless region of Kantrias (with which the LKE had previously repealed its alliance due to inactivity) in a vain attempt to engage the LKE. The LKE joined with Albion and Europeia, the actual allies of Kantrias, in repelling the invasion. In May 2016, KGB issued a detailed apology for its malicious campaign against the LKE, but we still refrained from making any treaty with them again (in an era when several other prominent regions maintained treaties with KGB) and later dissolved all relations after the events of September 2017. In retrospect, the entire second Congress of Sovereigns was unworkable with the range of regions that comprised it. Among the participants other than the LKE, only KGB had any meaningful imperialist element to its foreign policy and KGB demonstrated its extreme unreliability. A new post-UIAF imperialist sphere could not be constructed artificially. The LKE continues to maintain a fruitful bilateral treaty with United Kingdom, based in part on our shared identities as monarchies and independent regions as well as limited crossover in membership.
The other, more significant multilateral alliance which the LKE joined in the years since the UIAF was the Independent Joint Command Coalition in 2018. When Europeia approached the LKE with the proposal for this alliance, the IJCC was expressly modelled on the UIAF. While the idea of such a military union with Balder and Europeia was not one which occurred to us previously, the LKE responded favourably to the idea of recreating the UIAF and there was a degree of pleasant surprise that Europeia wished to be part of such a project. As in 2013, there was an emerging Defender-Francoist nexus threatening independent regions. The IJCC Treaty was subsequently drafted based on the Third Treaty of Arms Convergence from 2013, itself containing language originally written in 2010 for the first incarnation of the UIAF. In practice, while the IJCC probably still could have been far more successful if better executed, it faced greater practical challenges than the UIAF. Whereas the LKE and TNI militaries already enjoyed significant leadership overlap and were both highly militarily active before launching each of the incarnations of the UIAF (in furtherance of the wars with the FRA), the IJCC did not have either advantage. Despite the initial proposal to create the IJCC, there was no shared expectation of replicating the same level of integration and steps in that direction remained tentative. More generally, as an alliance composed of only imperialist regions, the UIAF expected and even desired to be widely feared by, and therefore unpopular with, many regions. Not all the officials in the IJCC regions had the same desire, which also made the entire project more susceptible to external opinion as a constraint. Even where common policy objectives existed, there was greater caution about how these were to be achieved. In situations where the UIAF previously would have led, the IJCC found itself only a participant. There are many ways in which a region can aggressively project military power, but a multilateral military union has particular demands if it is to succeed. The sovereignty of all three regions was preserved, but the effectiveness of the organisation was limited (even before the incident involving Writinglegend and Osiris). The IJCC’s contribution to the 162-147 endorsement November 2018 siege battle in St Abbaddon was a fine note on which to conclude the IJCC in a manner that reflected its original aims.
The irony is that the LKE has still prospered internally and externally, in certain respects to a greater extent than was the case for most of the period before the end of the UIAF. The LKE has succeeded even without any new imperialist sphere or equivalent emerging from the somewhat ill-fated attempts to recreate old multilateral alliances. The LKE had always operated as part of a sphere of other major imperialist regions, but we have now proven that such a sphere is not necessary for the LKE to succeed as an imperialist power for the benefit of itself and its allies. The LKE in 2006-07 may have been more active and dynamic, but the LKE since 2015 has proved more robust and unyielding. The LKE in 2009-15 had a close partner in TNI, but the LKE since 2015 has directly taken a leading diplomatic role within the wider sphere of independent regions, developing and intensifying previous relationships with key partners such as Balder. Globally, the LKE has also played an important agenda-setting role, whether drawing attention to the activities of the Grey Wardens in the 2016 Fourth Monarchist Conference or later popularising the term Defender-Francoism (in a thesis proven correct by the revelations of late 2018). The LKE in 2010-16 may have conducted more military operations than in 2017-20, but the main opponent that the LKE fought met its end with the FRA’s dissolution in October 2016. The LKE meanwhile has retained and demonstrated significant military capability. Most significantly, through deploying unflagged units in a coalition under Balder command, the LKE provided substantial piling capacity in support of the Undead Dominion of Lazarus and then the Khanate in 2017-18. If it had not been for a Border Control officer turning against the Khanate, the LKE’s joint action with Balder could have altered the long-term course of Lazarus history and in any case was successful in sustaining the Undead Dominion for a substantial period of time. Most recently, in April 2020, the LKE conducted an occupation of Xedas, in much the same way as in the past, and, in May 2020, made a pivotal contribution to thwarting a large defender ‘liberation’ effort through significant and timely reinforcements to TBH-LWU’s occupation of Boston. In leaving the UIAF, Albion deprived not the LKE but itself (and sadly TNI) of a successful imperialist future. Far from being held back by the end of the UIAF, the LKE remains an imperialist powerhouse in 2020.
The biggest challenge facing the LKE’s imperialist agenda since 2015 has not been the lack of other major imperialist regions, but the evolution of modern gameplay away from political, military and ideological conflict. This has been particularly significant since late 2018 and has created a NationStates world which is less suited to many forms of inter-regional politics, including imperialism. Social and community ties between many regions are increasingly counteracting traditional political allegiances. The defender political project remains a threat to regional sovereignty, though it is now concentrated on The South Pacific and The Rejected Realms as GCRs rather than in the inter-regional alliances of old. Yet sovereign regions also face another threat; one which is far more amorphous. The LKE could declare war on the Founderless Regions Alliance, but it cannot declare war on how other players choose to play the game. The threat is the tendency of players to think of themselves as individual participants in a social entity called the gameplay community and not as politicians dedicated to serving and advancing the interests of sovereign regions engaged in political rivalry. Raiding and defending is reduced to a mini-game played between friends, rather than serious conflict fought between hostile powers within a political simulation. If each region’s overriding priority is ensuring their popularity within the gameplay community as a whole, then the scope for genuine conflict between different ideological positions is severely limited. Defender moralism has been supplanted by a rejection of inter-regional politics as the primary enemy of regional sovereignty.
This development is not merely a challenge for imperialism, but for a wide range of other ideological positions and styles of gameplay premised on meaningful political, military and ideological conflict. In particular, it is a problem for independence. Independent regions historically sought autonomy and sovereignty from universal moralistic rules imposed by the institutional power of the defender political establishment. Independent regions must now assert their autonomy and sovereignty from the concept of the gameplay community and its influence on the process of gameplay separate from the acts of regions as sovereign political entities. The Independent Manifesto specifies that ‘An Imperialist region is functionally also an Independent region in terms of possessing the characteristics outlined in this statement. However, Imperialist regions have additional characteristics that do not apply to all Independent regions, and Independent and Imperialist regions have had at periods separate historical traditions, despite sharing common origins.’ The central imperialist idea of ‘aggressively expanding and projecting power’ and related ideas are the additional characteristics distinguishing imperialist regions from other independent regions, but all independent regions should stand united in opposing the concept of a gameplay community and the suppression of inter-regional politics in NationStates.
As a result of instituting stamp recruitment following the recent population surge, The Land of Kings and Emperors has surpassed our previous May 2013 population record of 715 nations, peaking at 815 nations on 20 May. At time of writing, we have a population of 730 nations. Our Delegate presently enjoys 124 endorsements after peaking at 138. Excluding puppet storage regions, we are the 6th-largest UCR. Much of this growth is the result of a NationStates-wide population surge, but we have been strong domestically throughout the period since 2016 and especially in the last two years, with a stable population mainly between 300 to 400 nations. Forum participation has been excellent, particularly although not exclusively in 2019 and 2020, with large numbers of members logging-in daily to participate in government business, electoral politics and the Imperial Army. In January 2018, I abdicated to Theoden Sebastian and assumed the position of Emperor Emeritus. Under the outstanding rule of Emperor Theoden, the LKE is rising to new heights while continuing to uphold and represent the imperialist tradition developed by ourselves and our historic allies in TNI and GB&I. Any region or player who expected the demise of imperialism with the UIAF has been proved wrong. Far from being in any type of decline, the LKE is thriving as a modern imperialist power.
TERRA REGUM IMPERATORUMQUE TOTUM MUNDUM REGET
His Imperial Majesty, Onder, by right of law, Emperor Emeritus of The Land of Kings and Emperors, King Emeritus of Norwood, Basileus Emeritus of Polis, Grand Prince Emeritus of Niso, Prince Emeritus of Maxonberg, Autokrator Emeritus of The Land of Dragonia, Landgrave Emeritus of Munster, Emeritus Voivode and Hospodar of Moldavia, Doge Emeritus of Vienna, and, by gift of His Supreme Majesty, Archduke of Niso
Archduke of the Empire of The New Inquisition
Viscount of the Empire of Great Britain and Ireland