It's never been a bunch of proxies for the bubble powers, though.
- Working with the other player factions to try and unify the disparate factions and make an effort to create a Colonia Republic. Maybe Colonia's colors aren't red, green, or blue - maybe it's yellow. And maybe it's not just a bunch of proxies for the bubble powers vying for control of the frontier.
- Arguably just five of the CEI factions have any connection to a superpower, and one of those explicitly in the sense of "getting away from" (3 Imp, 2 Fed). The region has always been absolutely independent.
- Only four of the CEI factions are associated with a bubble faction controlling 50 or more systems ... goes up to nine if you set the cut-off to 40 systems. (And I guess you can count an extra one if you count all of Galcop's bubble members as if they were a single faction there, too ... and another one if you count both SEPP and CdH together for Explorers' Nation) The vast majority of the big players in bubble politics ... basically ignored the whole thing.
- On the other side, the CEI faction which hauled the most travel guides (by a substantial margin) ... had no bubble presence at all at the time
- Sixteen of the CEI factions in total had no bubble counterpart ... and a seventeenth has so little bubble-side territory (none) that it would be absurd to describe the Colonia faction as a proxy for it, even if you think that an accurate characterisation of the rest.
- Even many the ones with major bubble holdings as well, the primary nebula personnel are often near-permanent residents of the region who have demonstrated over the years their commitment to the region. If they're proxies for a bubble power, Loren's Reapers equally are.
- I think at least three of the CEI/CEI-adjacent factions original to Colonia do have quite successful bubble proxies, but those came later
As for a Colonia Republic, there's never been a desire for the level of centralisation (even on a non-hierarchical basis) such a thing would require - something an anarchist can presumably sympathise with - but having fought or hauled or mined alongside members of pretty much every group in the nebula - faction-associated or otherwise - when there was a job that needed doing, there doesn't need to be one. Jaques' founded the region on Cooperative ideals when it was just him and his crew adrift in a dying station, after all.