WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 12:56:41 pm
How to Simulate Anarcho-Capitalism using Minecraft
Tired of getting bogged down in all the hypothetical debate about whether an anarcho-capitalist nonstate would be possible, feasible, or desirable?  Want to perform a fun practical experiment instead?  All you need is a copy of Minecraft, an internet connection, and confidence that a truly free society working together can enjoy more benefits with fewer drawbacks than a state.

Step 1: Set up a Minecraft server!
Set up a minecraft server using these instructions:  http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Tutorials/Setting_up_a_server  If you want that extra Sci-Fi feel, consider using the Technic Pack mod (AKA tekkit,) which adds electricity, ore processing, and lasers!  http://www.technicpack.net/technic6/  (Refer to the vanilla minecraft installation instructions and don't be afraid to search the tekkit forum if you encounter issues.)  Now you need to tell each and every player your server's IP address.  If you have a static IP address, or are paying for a professionally hosted server, this is easy.  If you're using your home internet connection, on the other hand, and if your ISP assigns you a dynamic IP, you may need to use a program like Hamachi to set up an alternative IP address.  When configuring your server.properties file, remember to make it SMP, and whatever you do, don't use a whitelist!

Step 1b: That's the Anarchy, now for the Capitalism!
If you're using Tekkit, you could treat EMC or whatever as a currency, but if you're running vanilla, you'd want to install some sort of currency plugin.  I recommend iconomy + MobBounty, so players have a rudimentary initial source of income, and some sort of shop plugin so they have a way to spend it.  An automatic shop command such as CommandShops is good if you want to track the effects of inflation over time, while PhysicalShop allows each player to know the risks and potential rewards of operating their own brick-and-mortar business, at the cost of being less efficient and convenient for shoppers.

In a pinch, players usually start to use diamonds or gold as a barter currency when no other currency is availible, but tekkit's late game tech can screw with this pretty hard.  There will also be a lot of haggling cluttering up the general chat channel, and occasional disputes when a deal goes south or someone "accidentally" picks up an item intended for another player.

Step 2: No rulers!  Only rules!
If you like, build a nice spawn area, perhaps with a little town, and signs posting some reasonable rules.  (No PVP in town, no breaking another player's house without permission, no stealing, no building structures that cause lag, no crashing the server, etc.)

Keep in mind that any command a Moderator, Administrator, or Op would normally use to enforce the above rules represents a monopoly on the use of force.  There are basically only two logical ways of addressing this: either make EVERY player an Op as soon as they join for the first time, or else only have one Op, never log in as that player, and never type commands directly into the console.

Step 3: Get ready for the first wave of refugees!
If running vanilla Minecraft, start a server thread here:  http://www.minecraftforum.net/forum/45-minecraft-survival-servers/ .  If using Tekkit Pack, start a server thread here:   http://forums.technicpack.net/index.php/board,24.0.html .  Follow the forum's standard format for Server thread first posts.  Remember, these need to be Survival servers with no whitelist.  You may also want to include the word "Anarchy" in the thread title and the server MOTD, just so players know what they are getting themselves into.

Step 4: Stand back and watch your society flourish!
No doubt players will flock to your server, lured by the promise of freedom from the oppression of inherently evil Ops and Moderators.  You'll probably have a hard time keeping enough slots available!  Fortunately, this is an easy fix, just state that you will accept donations to keep the server running.  Don't offer any special perks or Donor Powers in exchange for donations, because that would be the equivalent of a state monopoly.  Any item or ability you give to one player, you have to give to all players, not just the ones you like.  If you give DonorDan a fancy compass tied to the /jump command, EntrepreneurialEdward needs to be physically capable of providing the same service to CheapskateChester at a competitive price.

Here are some practices common on most Minecraft servers that you will need to avoid.  If you ever use one of these, you're a State, *unless* everyone else is also able to use them on you, the server owner:
- banning players
- IP ban
- protecting land
- spawning items for players
- rolling back the server to undo grief
- using WorldEdit to build, maintain, or repair large structures
- creating warps
- teleporting to other players (with or without requesting permission first)
- changing a player's mode to Creative Mode
- various sundry cheats and utility commands usually only given to Ops.  Most of these you'd need to install by hand but a few come with bukkit, the most popular way to run a vanilla minecraft server, and a few more come with Tekkit, the Technic Pack server.

Step 5: Anecdotal Evidence!
If an Anarchy is inherently preferable to Statehood, no doubt players will flock to your server, and a few will be eager to throw their money at you since you provide such a great Minecraft experience.  You will have more players and donations than even the most popular protected/moderated servers!  Sure, you will occasionally have problems with griefers, black-hat security crackers (some FAQs erroneously refer to these as "hackers", but whatever,) and PVP drama, but every moderated server also has to deal with these.  Post your experiences in this thread.  Talk about the problems you encounter and describe how you manage to solve them without giving any one player more power or authority than another player.

Troubleshooting Minecraft (and by extension, Tekkit)
Here's some technical issues I've encountered in the past:  If your router uses DHCP, you'll need to set up a reserved slot for your computer, then port forward 25565.  (If you like, you can forward a different port, just make sure you specify the same number in your server.properties file.)

Troubleshooting (Tekkit)
If you're on a mac using Snow Leopard or earlier, you won't be able to install Java 7, which the Advanced Machines mod requires, so delete the Advanced Machines zip file from the /mods/ directory of the server folder.  If you have Windows 7 or anything else that will run Java 7, you can use the community-brewed patch here: http://forums.technicpack.net/index.php/topic,2834.0.html.  Note that without Java 7, the WorldGuard plugin doesn't work right.  So if you want to protect players' structures, you'd need to install and use the iZone plugin instead.  When in doubt, google it, or search the tekkit forum.  If you start a new thread about a common problem, anticipate a side of scorn with your helpful links.  (There's a reason for that tagline in the top right corner of the screen at the tekkit forums)

Good luck, and have fun!
And hey, don't forget to post your server's IP here so we can all come see your results!
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 11:10:17 pm by WarpZone »

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 01:57:34 pm
This is an interesting idea... But unless you can ban players, by which I mean the actual person, not a login name, griefers will be a huge problem. The problem is (and this unfortunately applies to almost every simulation) there's no consequences to people's actions.

If that can be done - and given to every player - then you might have a good simulation.

Also, like a real AnCap civ, you might want to announce it on here first, before opening it to the rest of the minecraft community.

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 03:04:52 pm
Griefers will always be a huge problem, on all servers.  The combination of a user ban (these are paid accounts, you know,) and an IP ban is usually pretty effective unless the griefer is using a cracked client or has a lot of friends.  Then you need to start looking at damage control or other alternatives.

Now, on a well-thought-out, properly configured, well-moderated server with a great community and a few hand-picked security plugins, the impact of griefers can be greatly minimized.  But each of the mechanisms that are typically used to deal with griefers are usually placed into the hands of one or more trusted admins, each answerable to the server owner.  This is analogous to a delegated system of government with a central authority figure.

That's precisely what makes this experiment so compelling!  In real life, there's always folks willing to ignore the consequences of their actions.  There's even people literally willing to die for no other purpose than to damage a building!

So.  Your goal is to figure out a way to deal with griefers without elevating one trusted user over everyone else.  I told you everything you need to know in order to set up a server.  Go for it.  I'll wait.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 03:08:45 pm by WarpZone »

rfaramir on May 18, 2012, 03:32:03 pm
This may be one way to set it up, but it's missing an obvious component, the god of the world and his role. The owner of the server is as god to the virtual world created within the software running on his hardware. The hardware is his property and no one else has any say as to what peaceful things he does with it, including nearly absolutely any configuration of the electronic and magnetic parts of it (all the software and RAM memory and hard drive memory).

Now let's assume this god (real human in our world) wants to simulate an Anarchy of Player Personas. He (or she, but using old-fashioned inclusive 'he' throughout) will want to consider the nature of the Universe he wants the Players to have. It already has a god (himself), but he may want to his Universe to be appear to be godless (like EFT has the authors, but in-Universe has no gods that have shown themselves, yet). Unless he is willing to wait for random evolutionary processes (like cosmic rays hitting his server's hard drive in a miraculously specific pattern), he cannot *actually* have a godless Universe; the best he can make is a Deist one, where he as god sets it up and leaves the clockwork Universe and the Players to work itself and themselves out, while he continues to pay the electric bills, ISP bills, and rent/mortgage/taxes to keep it going behind the scenes. Any intrusions of the god into the inner workings of his Universe would make him more present and active than a Deist deity, so he has to constrain himself very carefully, or he will spoil his own intentions.

So what actions are these, and what should this god do? I'm referring to many of the things that WarpZone called statist actions. Most of them are really, instead, god-actions, since they pertain to real-world things like IP addresses and server configurations.

Whether any server mod is installed is a god-only action (assuming that no in-Universe player can root the server and install the software himself--admittedly not a great assumption). To see this, imagine the server already set up and you're a player playing in it without electricity, ore processing, and lasers. You log in the next day and suddenly you're in a different Universe! Everything is just as it was, except for these new capabilities. That was the god installing the mod. The only way this could be construed as interference would be if the owner listened in (as god) to the players and found that they wanted the new capability and installed the mod in response. He has "listened to their prayers" and responded positively to them (and negatively to anyone praying that things would stay 'vanilla'). The owner has complete discretion here, as this is not at all a State-like activity, although it is force, it is not player-to-player force, but god-to-creation force. He'll just have to consider what kind of god he wants to be and what kind of creation he wants to have.

IP banning is a grey area. If player activity has any negative effects on the owner's hardware or even interferes with his use of it (his liberty with his property), he has every right to ban the player with any mechanism he chooses, including IP banning. This is the right of the hardware owner to defend his property. Where this would be State-like interference, is if the god chooses to exercise this power in response to in-Universe actions that do NOT actually affect his hardware but only the players. This would clearly compromise the premise of an Anarchy. Where this would be a grey area is where the enjoyment of his property is contingent on the enjoyment of other real-world humans controlling their Player Personas. As proprietor of the Minecraft server, possibly with paying customers, he has to service their wants, but their wants will largely be in-game wants. For now, I'll leave this as an open question.

Protecting land is ambiguous. If it means setting up unchangeability of certain world areas ahead of time, then it is the god's prerogative. If it means using god-like ability in service of Players who claim world areas as their in-game property, that is interference. If you want to play that kind of god, that's for you to decide, but your Universe will be distinctly unlike the EFT Universe. And if you do it in response to their in-game behaviors, it will look like statist force. It will only *be* statist, if the owner also plays as an in-game Persona.

Same for "spawning items for players".

"rolling back the server to undo grief" is another grey area. If the 'grief' is actually harm done to the owner's hardware, including software configuration (but NOT including RAM/HD contents arrangement, i.e., Universe alterations by Player Personas), then it is the owner's prerogative. But if by 'grief' you mean using in-game mechanics for purely in-game effects that happen to greatly inconvenience other Players, it really needs to be solved in-game as well. Asking for god-like solutions here is awfully like asking the State for its 'solutions'.

"using WorldEdit to build, maintain, or repair large structures" is severe interference of a god-like kind. I'd recommend against it, but as the server owner, it's up to you. You'd have to have angelic restraint to refrain from doing this for in-game reasons, but I suppose it could be possible. More than likely, you'd be using these god-like powers in response to in-game actions you don't like, which is awfully State-like. I don't think most players want to live in a world whose god is still actively forming it.

"creating warps" If I understand correctly (I don't play Minecraft, yet), this is like the above building. A world with warp points in it is fine, if that's what you want your Universe to have. To create them at Player behest is being an active god and probably unwanted, and worse would be creating for your own enjoyment as an incarnated god.

"teleporting to other players (with or without requesting permission first)" is only a god-like action for an incarnated deity, as there is no way for a real world human owner to 'teleport' INTO the simulated Universe. I don't recommend playing in your world, unless you really want to see how hard it was for Jesus to be fully human without cheating and using any of his God-powers on his own behalf but only exercising them when His Father told Him to. You'd basically have to be as perfectly self-restrained as Him, so don't, you'd probably ruin it.

I first read that last one as "teleporting other players (with or without requesting permission first)" (notice lack of 'to'), which is purely god-like interference with no incarnation needed. Still, don't do it unless you want to play a capricious god, which you shouldn't.

"changing a player's mode to Creative Mode" This is giving god-powers to other Players. Highly NOT recommended, but up to you, if as owner you want a polytheistic Universe. The only sense of 'Anarchy' this would create is as Chaos.

"various sundry cheats and utility commands usually only given to Ops". Again, like the previous one, this is sharing god-powers with other Players. I don't recommend it, but it's not State-like, it is multiple god-like.


In short, almost everything that WarpZone brings up are theological matters, not political matters, after all. A few of them could mix, but a good owner/moderator won't mix them. The reason so much of this looks like Statism is that the State puts itself into the place of God, attempting thereby to justify its intervention and use of force. To the powerless in this world these acts feel as inevitable and inescapable as God's actions (note equality of "death and taxes" in the old proverb). But to be scientifically exact, they are not at all the same thing.

A better test of Anarcho-Capitalism through Minecraft would be to clearly define what is or can be in-game property of Player Personas and let Players work out their own rules voluntarily, with no rulers imposing anything, especially the owner of the server.

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 03:51:58 pm
That's actually a very good point, rfaramir.  Okay.

So to actually run this thing properly, the admin would have to basically lie low, not run an avatar in the world, not build anything, not delegate powers to other players, and not speak to or listen to players, ever.  

Maybe gin up some kinda custom script to let any player ban any other player at any time.  (Should be simple enough, just add the commands /ban, /kick, and /ipban when the user first joins the server... I think you can do this in permissions.yml, actually, if you're using tekkit.)

You'll find that actually killing another player using in-game weapons basically amounts to a mugging.  Bans would be tantamount to the death penalty.  (Yes, sometimes a few dedicated griefers can figure out a way around this, at least until you ban all their alts and their buddies, but just treat that as a particularly nasty war or something, with friends and family of the deceased enacting their revenge.)

The point is, anyone can permanently kill anyone, just like in real life.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 11:02:14 pm by WarpZone »

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 03:54:50 pm
Griefers will always be a huge problem, on all servers.  The combination of a user ban (these are paid accounts, you know,) and an IP ban is usually pretty effective unless the griefer is using a cracked client or has a lot of friends.  Then you need to start looking at damage control or other alternatives.

Now, on a well-thought-out, properly configured, well-moderated server with a great community and a few hand-picked security plugins, the impact of griefers can be greatly minimized.  

I don't have Minecraft (I know, I know, I'm in the stone age!), but this might be sufficient to get me to buy it. How would one deal with a user with a cracked client in a conventional server? (the 'bunch of friends', I think we can deal with by player action - ie the player ban... we'll just have a long ban list)

Well-thought out and properly configured I think we can handle. (in fact, I nominate rfaramir - they seem to have covered the well-thought-out part fairly thoroughly) If we have a great community, the well-moderated part will take care of itself. I am interested in these "security plugins". Where can I find more info on them?

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 04:07:32 pm
Bukkit (which is included with Tekkit,) includes a framework which allows developers to create plugins for it without decompiling the JAR file.  Some of the many security plugins are here:  http://dev.bukkit.org/search/?search=security

Some of the newer ones allow players to convert resources acquired in-game into coins which are used to purchase protected land without any direct moderator interference.

But again, if God goes around protecting everyone's house from burglars, or respawing their TVs after an attack, that's not really an AnCap, it's an accurate Theocracy.

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 04:57:31 pm
But again, if God goes around protecting everyone's house from burglars, or respawing their TVs after an attack, that's not really an AnCap, it's an accurate Theocracy.

Interesting. And I agree, the server owner should not go about "making things right," that's the role of the other players. I honestly think this could work. I don't have time to actually start a server at the moment, but I would probably join if anyone started up a server.

rfaramir on May 18, 2012, 06:17:11 pm
Quote from: myrkul999
I nominate rfaramir - they [he :)] seem to have covered the well-thought-out part fairly thoroughly

I'm flattered, but really, there's a lot more to consider. I was only responding to what WarpZone first proposed. It really helped that he listed so many specific things. That made it easy to react to.


But again, if God goes around protecting everyone's house from burglars, or respawing their TVs after an attack, that's not really an AnCap, it's an accurate Theocracy.

Interesting. And I agree, the server owner should not go about "making things right," that's the role of the other players. I honestly think this could work. I don't have time to actually start a server at the moment, but I would probably join if anyone started up a server.

Actually, in the competitive world of providing attractive Minecraft server universes for others to play in, each owner should advertise what level of pro-active interference he will provide. This is Anarcho-Capitalism in the real world. But an active god will feel like a State to the Players, in addition to ruining the in-game AnCap experiment. A protective one will feel like a nanny state, at best, for example, but it would be interference nonetheless. So what we should develop is a list of attributes of a Minecraft universe that we would like to play in, in order to try an AnCap world. This list should aim to help owner-operators to set up attractive worlds and also to educate and attract players who would like to experience such a thing.

Is it normal for Players to Pay to Play? (I'm displaying my Minecraft ignorance again.) If so, for what do they pay, exactly? The right to an account only? Or are there in-game advantages that can be purchased? These would all be very interesting for a server owner in a real-world Capitalist sense, but any purchasable in-game advantages would make for a very intrusive god who listens to out-of-world matters (real money) to perform in-game actions. I don't think we'd want much of this at all.

Some things that I think would work:
pay for Avatar customization (no function advantages other than appearance)
pay for Slightly faster production (maybe 50% faster while logged on and 5-10% faster while offline compared to non-payer)
pay for Ability to speak to in-game-distant specific players
pay for Ability to broadcast to all players

Some of the things we MIGHT want:
pay for Ability to speak with the server owner (this could be abused, but if only information were given out, it could be useful--maybe everyone gets a single ticket to talk a week, more have to be purchased?)
pay for god-like protected area

Some of the many many things that we would NOT want:
pay for fixing buildings or other destruction (should be done in-game only)
pay for harming the experience of other players (retribution should be in-game only, except for actions that affect the server itself and therefore the experience of all the owner's customers)
pay for any god-like powers (banning, Creator mode)

Some things we do NOT want from the owner/operator/god of the server:
Do not mess with the world after it is started up (be a Deist deity)
Or at least do not mess with homesteaded areas, changing wilderness might be tolerable
Do not mess with players (speaking with them possibly excepted, preferably not)
Do not ban IP addresses except where the actual operation of the server is jeopardized
Do not ban players (let them negotiate their own black lists)

Man there is so much more, but I gotta stop somewhere. Mostly a lot of freedom-froms, as you might expect in an AnCap, but as the server owner has these powers whether the players want him to or not, we have to ask nicely ahead of time for commitments to refrain from using them, so as not to waste a lot of time setting up a nice AnCap Topia to have it ruined by a nanny god later.

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 06:51:34 pm
Quote from: myrkul999
I nominate rfaramir - they [he :)] seem to have covered the well-thought-out part fairly thoroughly

I'm flattered, but really, there's a lot more to consider. I was only responding to what WarpZone first proposed. It really helped that he listed so many specific things. That made it easy to react to.

Still, the rest of your posting shows that you have thought out what it would take to get this going, certainly more than I have time for. ;)

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 08:05:15 pm
What I'd really like to see is a bunch of different servers all trying different things so we can see which ones attract the most players.  (Can we agree that more players and more long-term regulars generally indicates a "better" server?)

I have a problem with you offering donor gifts.  Not a problem with the practice as a business model, mind you, lots of servers do it.  (It tends to be a one-time lump-sum donation of between $1 and $20, with better perks for higher donation amounts.)  But it completely spoils the AnCap experience we're trying to simulate.  If DonorDan has ANY advantage "provided by god" in exchange for giving "God" money outside the system, that's basically exactly the same thing as a state picking winners and losers in industry.  

What's that?  The perk was just the ability to fly?  That's technology suppression.  A couple of extra iron ingots per day?  That's a government subsidy.  You made the guy's name-tag blue in chat instead of white?  That's an advertising subsidy.

If your AnCap server accepts donations, it is VITAL (for the purposes of the simulation) that real players giving you money have absolutely ZERO impact upon their in-game performance.  Otherwise, you're functioning exactly the same way an elected official does, taking contributions so you can remain in your position in exchange for kickbacks.  Any perk, big or small, has an impact.

Doesn't matter if you say it's the role of God Not The State or whatever.  If it affects some players, and not others, it's intervention, which makes you a Ruler.

And if this payment and negotiation for perks is all going on in Skype or TeamSpeak or in private messages, not on the actual server?  Then that's even worse, that's a shadow government!
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 08:08:06 pm by WarpZone »

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 08:30:09 pm
Good points, all. (And funny!) Of the things he suggests might work, only the customization of skin should be allowed, IMO. That has absolutely no in-game effect, everything else is at least a slight advantage.

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 09:08:39 pm
Actually, minecraft already allows every player to customize their skin anyway by default.  (If anything, it's a little too generous compared to IRL, where clothing can be quite expensive, but whatever.)  We're not trying for a 1:1 perfect simulation, we're just trying to get as many of the big themes covered as we can.  Poverty and wealth are in there by default, as are productivity, fear of the unknown, and a whole hell of a lot of logistics, especially if you go the Tekkit route.

What is conspicuously absent is the theme of life and death (you can die, but it just sends you to the spawn and drops your stuff on the ground, which can be anything from a minor inconvenience to the loss of your entire life savings depending on the details.)  In practice, the only possible form of "death" that would be analogous to an execution in real life is getting banned from the server.  Which is why I say if you ever ban a single griefer, you also need to give every player the ability to ban any other player.  Otherwise it's policing the server.

myrkul999 on May 18, 2012, 09:26:37 pm
In practice, the only possible form of "death" that would be analogous to an execution in real life is getting banned from the server.  Which is why I say if you ever ban a single griefer, you also need to give every player the ability to ban any other player.  Otherwise it's policing the server.

Agreed. Maybe giving every player the /ban ability right off the bat might be a bad idea, but we shouldn't put that in the hands of anyone... maybe on a timer. Give griefers a chance to show themselves before they go on a "killing spree".

WarpZone on May 18, 2012, 09:41:03 pm
Agreed. Maybe giving every player the /ban ability right off the bat might be a bad idea, but we shouldn't put that in the hands of anyone... maybe on a timer. Give griefers a chance to show themselves before they go on a "killing spree".

Oh, so a five day waiting period on guns?  Yeah, that doesn't sound like something a government would do at all.