What Metal Gear Solid 4 says about the economy of war

After the conclusion of Metal Gear Solid 2, the influence and dangers of the "Patriots" group have not yet ended and they have become a bigger threat in Metal Gear Solid 4. In general, they are called "system". System is not just a word to describe a hypothetical set of political, social or economic institutions, but a set of tangible artificial intelligences and supercomputers built by patriots to ensure behind the scenes the financial, political and social stability of the United States. Somewhere between events number two and four, the scope of the system's influence becomes so great that it affects politics, technological developments, and the global economy. At the heart of this system and its governance, we see "war economy".

BingMag.com What Metal Gear Solid 4 says about the economy of war

After the conclusion of Metal Gear Solid 2, the influence and dangers of the "Patriots" group have not yet ended and they have become a bigger threat in Metal Gear Solid 4. In general, they are called "system". System is not just a word to describe a hypothetical set of political, social or economic institutions, but a set of tangible artificial intelligences and supercomputers built by patriots to ensure behind the scenes the financial, political and social stability of the United States. Somewhere between events number two and four, the scope of the system's influence becomes so great that it affects politics, technological developments, and the global economy. At the heart of this system and its governance, we see "war economy".

This issue has different layers in Metal Gear Solid 4. One of them is the PMCs (Private Military Companies) and the many soldiers who, among other laws, help to put the private military companies at the heart of this economic stability. Most importantly, the market system controls all weapons from production to distribution and even end use. Control over this global economy is what gives this international control system.

We see the most important manifestation of this issue in the gameplay where the system has decided to reproduce only certified weapons. In the previous Metal Gear Solid games, the player could pick up weapons and cartridges from any fallen enemy, but in Metal Gear Solid 4, such a task has become fruitless because almost all weapons distributed by the system have a digital certificate. Each weapon belongs to only one soldier, and through nanomachines, the certificate of the weapon can identify its owner. Ownership of the weapon is only transferred to someone else if he first goes through the system's protocols.

Such a system has many uses in military and tactical discussions: it prevents the looting of weapons shipments by guerilla forces, and keeps them out of the hands of terrorists. It keeps away and prevents armed revolutions. As a result, the manufacture of certified weapons was praised by the public because, in the words of Colonel Campbell, it made for a "safer and cleaner battlefield." At the same time, this capability helped the system to monitor the manufacture and distribution of weapons and sell them only to private military companies approved by the system. Derbin, the arms dealer, says in the game: "Certified weapons cannot be sold on the black market. The system has practically given us brokers a license to print money." p> Although they were introduced to the public as a safe tool, full system control over all weapons is more like a torus on the economy. The system monitors the development, production, distribution and use of all weapons; Literally monopolizing and seizing the market. In fact, the main part of the advancement of private military companies in Metal Gear Solid 4 depends on this economic structure of purchasing and upgrading weapons. If the soldiers prove themselves in battle, they get better weapons and equipment as a reward to kill the enemies and again in this endless cycle of using better weapons. Even the bonuses that we see in other games of this genre have disappeared here. Soldiers no longer fight for medals, pride, or even promotion; They fight because they reach for more powerful certified weapons. Such an in-game economy is a capitalist system, and it is the first time in the Metal Gear Solid series that players directly deal with the economy.

Since Snake is not officially a member of any private military company, so to survive the war depends on There are gun dealers like Durbin who are willing to sell unlicensed guns that are hard to find. However, Derbin is not doing this out of benevolence and will only sell if Snake keeps collecting certified weapons and equipment from the battlefield for Derbin. "I'm sure you're going to collect a lot of weapons from the battlefield," Derbin says. I will also buy them from you, and you will get points that you can convert into money and buy my services. This is a completely capitalist contract. Both Snake must accept this contract to survive the war and the player himself to advance the game. Even when Snake finds a new weapon, he must pay a fee to the dealer to have the weapon's certificate revoked.

BingMag.com What Metal Gear Solid 4 says about the economy of war

Forced contract

This capitalist contract shows its other side in the gameplay. Mk. II is a device that Snake gets at the beginning of the game and it shows itself as an advanced robot that can observe the war and transmit various data from the battle map at the same time by becoming invisible. Although the early game certainly has that goal, by the time Snake meets Durbin, MK. II is transformed from an auxiliary military tool into a tool for economic development. Even Atakan, the maker of this robot, encourages Snake to enter the business game: From now on, Mk. II we use to trade with Durbin. This device is like a courier that connects you to it. I have to the user interface Mk. I will add the door menu. Whenever you pick up a few of the same weapon, the excess will automatically be sold to Durbin the next time you meet him."

Earn more currency (known in the game as Durbin Points) to buy and unlock weapons. New cartridges and equipment become one of the central parts of the game. As the game progresses, Snake's dependence on Mk. II as courier [or rather gunner] goes higher for profit. This robot will automatically pick up all weapons and ammo so that we can add new parts and upgrades to our weapons later. We haven't seen this much focus on business in the series yet, and players are all forced to participate in this new financial gameplay system. It is especially interesting that the economy grows against the progress of the player/avatar because it strengthens the foothold of the war economy as the logic of the game world; Not only in the narrative level but even in the gameplay. In the opening session where Campbell explains Snake's mission, he tells him about this new historical period:

The system has made war an economic activity. Analysts have dubbed it the "war economy" because it is compensating for the underperformance of the oil market, which is on the verge of collapse. Considering the military power of private military companies and the impact they have on the economy, war in the 21st century has the same role as oil did in the 20th century, i.e. the foundation on which the global economy is built. For private military companies, expanding the market means further fanning the flames of war. The world community is concerned about this, but it is passive because it fears the collapse of the war economy.

It is important to note how the player earns currency in the game. They make money by killing other enemies and selling their weapons and tools. Since Sneak is out of the system and not employed by any government, organization or private military company, he is still locked in the shackles of this global war economy and must play by their rules.

BingMag.com What Metal Gear Solid 4 says about the economy of war

War is life

Although the player takes the role of Snake and the story is often told from his point of view, But the player is often chased by soldiers who are members of private military companies, as most of Sneak's missions and objectives are related to them. This kind of soldier in Metal Gear Solid 4 can firmly claim one thing: war is life. Even more startling are the explanations about the scope of such soldiers:

The border between citizen and soldier is closing to a hair. Sooner or later, all human beings will become green collar [Green Collar: workers who are neither white collar nor blue collar and most of their work is related to the environment]. It can be said that soon we will all enter proxy wars. But well, with this war economy, I can bring bread to my table.

Even before the game starts, the players see TV commercials in which the same companies and the war economy are advertised and show their popularity. These live-action ads are the first things players see after pressing the start button. Whenever the player leaves the handle for a while or does not do anything in the main menu, these ads will be played again. This is a postmodern narrative technique that proudly shows the lifestyle of PMCs and preaches the "war is life" ideology.

Compared to the real world propaganda of armies, there is no mention of defending the motherland and the nation; We only see cinematic and dancing montages that are full of fight scenes, women and money. They say that such a lifestyle means success and freedom because it makes one economically rich. Although this early game advertisement introduces various private military companies and gives the customer the right to choose, none of these companies belong to a particular nation or ideology, but only fight for economic reasons. These companies fight only on their behalf and for themselves to achieve personal profit under the banner of economy. They are anonymous tools in random battles for random reasons. Since the war economy system controls the global economy, it also affects the individual's standard of living because he determines what jobs are available. And unfortunately, in the world of Metal Gear Solid 4, the most profitable and accessible jobs are hiring private military companies. If society believes that war is something necessary, natural and profitable, then it becomes a cornerstone of human existence and something normal.

Ultimately, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a harsh description of what happens when in a business-oriented culture of private military companies. Being at the heart of economic development, human life becomes a means of exchange. Maybe Big Boss's final words at the end of the story can be considered as a warning to governments, imaginary or real, that have taken a similar path:

The current era works with the economy and not nation-states. A revolutionary era that has been strengthened by the industrial and digital revolutions of the past has also created in the economy; A revolution in war. He created a new world that has no meaning. In this new world, there is no ideology, principle or ideal. There is only war economy.

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