We owe the term STEEL to Alrenous – who has an excellent blog about philosophy, ethics, politics and anarchism. It was good to see him post about his Steel anarchism again, so we will use that as an opportunity to contrast the two.
Steel anarchism (Steel-anarch) is premised, Alrenous claims, upon the realisation that the state has “defected” against you. Steel-anarch, furthermore, claims that the state is a “parasite”. Alrenous:
The State is defecting on you, therefore you should defect on the State.
Alrenous is a clear-sighted and logical theorist of the state:
If the State were not defecting, it would be able to use a voluntary agreement with you. It would gain legitimacy and emotional investment by doing so, in the same way, a volunteer army is better than a conscript army.
What he says in the above passage is a substantive yet succinct statement of the problem and the opportunity that the problem presents. His analogy between a “volunteer army” and a “conscript army” is apt. A government based on voluntary agreements versus those that aren’t, may well, one day, prove Prophetic for Alrenous goes on to claim:
Any group who does not collectively understand this point is ultimately doomed. It will be defeated by the first group to develop resistance to the parasite. As long as the parasite exists, it creates pressure to develop resistance, guaranteeing that sooner or later an ideology or species that resists it will arise.”(Bold mine.)
Arise! Arise! Arise:
Among men like these let there arise— there cannot but arise— some vast genius. He will lay hands, as it were, on the knowledge of all the community, will create the political system, put himself at the head of the machine and give the impulse of its movement.
Guibert. Quoted from The Campaigns of Napoleon. David Chandler.
Nevertheless, STEEL-cameralism is more trenchantly tragic and unrelentingly sceptical in its theorising of state and people.
The problem with the claim of “defection” is that it rests upon informal and often vague, indeed, deliberately confused and confusing political formulas – government as a “confusopoly”. Thus, there exists nothing like the kind of formal, legalistic, agreements with enforcement and incentive systems that both Steel-anarch and STEEL-cam requires.
To the STEEL-cam, unlike the Steel-anarch, the state is not a parasite but a predator.
The chief problems for the STEEL-cam theorist differ depending on whether you reason from the point of view of the state (the predator) or as an individual and secondary sovorg (the prey).
Reasoning as a state, there exist two fundamental challenges. The external challenge is competition (great power conflict involving geo-economics, formulas of “legitimacy” and armed conflict); the internal problem is Imperium in Imperio a state within a state).
The prey’s needs and interests are best served when the following four necessary conditions are met. These conditions must be achieved in a step-by-step sequence as each condition is necessary for the next:
For the state, however, it has a has a different set of priorities which require the state to be constantly and simultaneously “patrolling”, “hunting”, “skinning”, “cooking” and “eating”. Specifically, the state has the following functions:
1: Command and Control of the means of organised violence.
2: Command and Control of the means of wealth extraction.
3: Command and Control the means to eliminate, subdue or absorb internal and external rivals regarding violence and wealth or both.
4: Command, Control and Coordinate all instrumental means that are necessary to the attainment of the previous 3 functions.
Clearly, predator and prey have different interests that do not necessarily align (surprise!); nor do they even contingently align most of the time (another surprise!). As the Grand Master himself claimed – the relationship between individual and state is “fundamentally adversarial.”
Most people want peace because it is pleasant but often the state wants war because it is profitable; because IT IS THE PATH TO POWER.
You (who are the state’s prey – we are all prey-by-the-way) want things, in general, to be better (more security, more liberty etc) because it will be better for you.
The state (the predator or what we later call the “Minotaur”) often wants things to be worse because the worse things get, the better they will be for the Minotaur.
The Grand Master once did battle with the mighty Fnargl.
Imperial Energy, however, once faced an enemy so relentlessly ferocious, so existentially threatening, that Fnargl was a pipsqueak by comparison. This Minotaur’s name was:
One of the central insights – if not the central insight – of neoreaction is that trying to limit, divide or disperse power is a mistake.
Divided power results in a weak, insecure, central power. This power will, nevertheless, immediately begin to centralise and consolidate its power by subverting, destroying and or absorbing all the other centres of power which prevent it from carrying out its four “feeding” functions. The paradoxical conclusion that neoreactionaries posit, however, is to remove as many barriers as possible for the state to achieve its functions – to have its “feed.”
This paradoxical conclusion is Zen-like (or Wu Wei) – which is not surprising since the Grand Master recommends Zen-like “passivism” as both a discipline and as a strategy. Indeed, here is a quote from Zen Master Suzuki Roshi on the subject of control:
Even though you try to put people under control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in a wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first, let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good. That is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.
― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice.
While Steel-anarch and STEEL-cam agree about all the problems regarding the Modern Structure, the difference between the two can be clarified when we state the following thirteen assumptions or “black pills” of STEEL-cameralism:
1: War, as Thucydides said is “the human thing.” Human nature cannot be changed (at least not without radical technological and state intervention). War is an intrinsic aspect of the human experience. War cannot end until human nature ends. War is therefore forever. It is forever because evolution by natural selection is forever. Until human nature ends or until war has exhausted its evolutionary possibilities (technology merely provides evolution with more possibilities to work with) war will be forever. Since war made the state and the state makes war, the state is therefore forever because war is forever.
2: The state, which is decaying and becoming increasingly dysfunctional, will, nevertheless, exist forever; indeed, STEEL-cam assumes that USG will last forever (though America might not). Consequently, the state faces the eternal problem of Power conflict.
3: The logic of Power conflict (external and internal), and the emotions involved such as fear, anger and resentment, which help fuel war and conflict, cannot be solved (eliminated) – only managed by sound political engineering, sound political structures and sound leadership.
4: Nuclear weapons cannot be unmade, nor can they “ever” be used; thus they must be controlled – forever. The central question here is: who will control them? How will they be controlled? What structures are in place to ensure that they may never be used, or fall into the hands of people who will use them?
5: While the state will exist indefinitely, along with its military — the “people” might not; indeed, we are seeing the great replacement of white European and White American people — a fact that is to be explained by the unsecure, ruling elite of USG whose goal is to displace the democratic “advantage” of their enemies. However, you cannot lose if you do not play, and STEEL-cam is playing a very different game. The state is forever and the military is forever because war is forever. Political ideologies, political parties, religions, philosophies, formulas and even wars and rivalries are temporary, contingent phenomena. STEEL-cam has the longest of long-term time preferences and bets its chips on the thing that will provide the ultimate pay off for power.
6: USG now exists in a forever war abroad, and a state of increasing national emergency at home; consequentially – as we have dramatically seen with the Trump election, though it is a clear and consistent trend since 1945 – the military will come to play more of a decisive, and, finally – almost certainly — a dominant role within the state in the fullness of time.
7: Political power, ultimately, comes from the barrel of the gun. Guns require “gold”, however; thus, “economics” which STEEL-cameralists understand as “geo-economics” is a matter of national or state security.
For the state to be wealthy, it requires an integrated economic strategy (geo-economics), rational management of land, equipment and human capital. The STEEL-cams argue for strategic protection of key industries, goods and services and strategic development of its key industries and human capital – which will increasingly require the use of technologies, including “bio-technologies.”
8: The motto of the STEEL-cam state is Guns, Gold and Genes.
However, the state requires some further animating principle — something which excites the necessary passions (pathos) among the “influential” and “essential” players. The STEEL-cams go not only Gold but Glory.
The role that “God” can play, meanwhile, if only for Americans, is that when we talk about “God” we mean the sacred value of liberty. (A STEEL-cameralist believes in restoring religion to its old (American) rightful place: the safe, serene and silent relationship between Man and God with as little state interference as possible.
Thus we have:
Guns, Gold, Genes, Glory and God.
9: The difference between STEEL-cameralism and other political systems and formulas – such as Fascism, Progressivism and Communism – is the formal and real rejection of demotism and the formal and real rejection of any idealistic “government as a charity” political formula.
10: If neocameralism is the state at peace – where the government is a real estate enterprise because the “state is a business which owns a country”, then STEEL-cameralism is the state at war – where the military becomes the state and the state becomes a business.
The government, meanwhile, runs the country like a hotel at home (with a weapons factory, alas) and a
protection racket security service abroad.
The Grand Master says:
As a neocameralist state you have two security problems: securing your own territory, and preventing attacks by others. Securing your own territory is done by having no independent military forces – “militia” or anything else – on its territory. Preventing attacks by others is a matter of deterrence. Deterrence, as you note, does not demand infantry. Conquest is not required.
The critical point of the joint-stock model is that one can analyze the incentives of the state solely in terms of profit and loss.(Comment at 12:55 PM).)
STEEL-cameralism emphasises the importance of developing a philosophy and technology of statecraft in a systematic way; this will include purpose, structure, feedback loops, incentives, traps and intervention points.
11: STEEL-cam is elitist, like the Grand Master’s neocameralism; however, the ethos, pathos and logos of the elite (and only for the elite) is neither religion or race (Ethno-Nationalism) or “Techno-Commercialism” (Capitalism) but Aristocratic, Militaristic Radicalism.
Thus, STEEL-cameralism is the next generation of neoreactionary thinking: model 4.
12: Our friendly disagreement with many neoreactionaries is that many of them have adopted an earlier form of demotist religion as a political formula — which the Grand Master would reject as a form of idealism — where the priests are the ruling class (the ruling class type we have now).
Arguing for a return to religious idealism is wishing for a return to an earlier form of progressivism –which is the mistake that “conservatives” and libertarians make. Master Land captures the remedy in conceptual outline with the neoreactionary mantra: “the way out cannot be the way in.”
For the STEEL-cam the way out is to accelerate certain trends within the current regime – something we will have more to say about in the coming weeks.
STEEL-cam, in contrast, to rule by priests, is a regime where the soldier (not warrior) caste becomes the ruling elite; capitalists, entrepreneurs and technologists, meanwhile, are the regime’s auxiliaries on the one hand, and formalist lawyers and judges (public and private) on the other.
(STEEL-cams are also in agreement with Steel-anarch with outsourcing or “delegating” much of the work currently done by the state to profit-making secondary organisations — STEEL-cam, for example, recommends privatising much of the legal system, but with ultimate review resting with the state.)
As the Grand Master said in reply to Nick Szabo:
You’d give up on sovereignty? This is indeed progress — even if you choose my nasty competitor to provide your judiciary services. 🙂 (Nick).
Not at all! This is exactly the crux of the matter.
By retaining Szabo Judiciary Services, I do not in the slightest give up on sovereignty. I can fire Szabo and hire its nasty competitor, or insource, any time I like – just the same way GE, for example, can change auditors.
On the other hand, Szabo – for example, if it doesn’t feel its rulings are not executed properly – can also drop me as a client. Which, if my actions damage the brand, I’m sure it will have no hesitation in doing!
Now what do you think will happen to my stock price if either of these events occurs? What happens to GE’s stock if it has a blowup with its accountant?
If I switch judiciary providers, I had better have a damn good reason. Otherwise, the perception that I am running a lawless Third World operation will become widespread, and all manner of commerce and personnel will depart for safer havens.
As a profit-oriented sovereign, I am caught in my own web of incentives. I need to promulgate laws very carefully, because I cannot afford to be in the habit of breaking them. Just because I could, militarily, break them, doesn’t mean I have a reason to.
And, in reply to George Weinberg, the Grand Master said:
Say, if your government is contracting out national security and the administration of justice, and doesn’t get involved in charity or enforcing personal morality, what is the state actually doing? Is it just sort of a general contractor?
This question exhibits a high degree of enlightenment, I feel.
The sine qua non of the state is the monopoly right to govern a territory. In my view this is exactly identical to any property right which confers a monopoly of use.
The difference is only that the state’s right exists in a world of anarchy, in which all law must be self-enforcing. I don’t really agree with Leeson that self-enforcing law can scale to a city of a million people, but on a planet of hundreds or thousands of states I think it can.
“The state” is just whatever organization owns this right. The details of whether it insources or outsources some function – whether it buys it or administratively controls it – is as irrelevant as asking whether your condo complex does its own landscaping.
The only exception to this principle is the provision of security, in which the owners must have effective practical control over the security forces. As I’ve said before, cryptographic security is of enormous assistance in the solution of this ancient problem. (Bold and underline mine.)
For the STEEL-cams, the security forces become the owners of the state.
13: STEEL-cameralism is a “research project” that aims to construct an architectural blueprint for a hypothetical STEEL-cam state and coordinate existing literature, theories and insights into a systematic body of knowledge regarding statecraft. STEEL-cameralism has three pillars in particular: A: Grand Strategy ( integrated political, military and economic policy); B: Geo-economics, a new industrial policy and urban renewal; legal reform (formalism) and privatisation. Secondly, our aim is to create and train a new cadre of theorists and practitioners – the STEEL-cams – to serve as midwives, staffers and spokesmen for our new
corporate military regime and its overlords or as consultants for foreign governments should they – or their military – be willing to take this baby out for a spin; finally, the creation of a political party/pressure group/special interest lobbyists that will either receive re-structuring power in a “true election”, an “auto-coup” or because the system becomes ungovernable – leaving only one possibility to break the deadlock.
STEEL-cam then is at once very familiar but also very strange.
Our chief influences for this political system, beyond the Grand Master himself and his key influences – De Jouvenel, James Burnham, Hans Herman Hoppe, Friederich List, Gaetano Mosca and Thomas Carlyle – is statesmen like Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander Hamilton, Augusto Pinochet, Lee Kuan Yew, Vladimir Putin and now Donald Trump (who, rather ironically, was first a real estate entrepreneur; science fiction authors such as Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle with the following works such as this, this and this being the most notable; neoreactionaries such as, in particular, Reactionary Future, but also Foesti, Handle and Nick Land; libertarian and legal philosophers such as David Friedman, Douglas Husak, Thomas Sowell and American Supreme Court Judge Anton Scalia; military strategists and political theorists and such as Edward N. Luttwak, Martin Van Creveld, Christopher Coker and William S. Lind; the fictional characters Russell “Stringer” Bell and Michael Corleone; political theorists, philosophers, thinkers and authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche; C. Wright Mills, Hans Morgenthau, Samuel Huntington, Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, Charles Tilly, Lee Harris, Ian Fletcher, John Gray, Donella H. Meadows; Theodore Dalrymple and Jack Donovan; the bloggers Undiscovered Jew and Richard Fernandez and finally entrepreneurs and Executives like Erik Prince, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Jack Welch.