The STEEL-cameralist Manifesto Part 6B: STEEL Reaction II (Strike Fast, Strike Hard and Strike with STEEL).


1: The Space of (Reactionary) Possibilities. 

2: Outline. 

3: From Russia with Love.

4: The Crisis, the Catastrophe, the Great Fear and the Terror.

5: STEEL Reaction Considered A Priori.

6: STEEL Reaction Considered A Posteriori.

7: Next Time.


1: The Space of (Reactionary) Possibilities. 

Here at Imperial Energy we are concerned with the fate of the American Republic and the future of the American Empire.

Right now, after years of crisis, we have, so it seems, reached a culminating point with the election of Donald Trump. The Empire is now in the early -and quite fragile – stages of a paradigm shift. The start (only a start) of what looks like a massive purge of the political and cultural elites is underway. No one knows what the result will be, but we do have some purchase on the range of probable possibilities.

Earlier we described a prophesy:

The possibilities would seem to be: Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie liberalism as far as the eye can see … which, since nothing human lasts forever, at some point will give way to one of the other three…….But for those of you who are sober: can you sketch a more plausible long-term future than the prior four following a Trump defeat? I can’t either.

The Flight 93 Election. Publius Decius Mus.

As we pointed out here, there is one more possibility that Publius does not consider: civil war.

Even in the case of a civil war, there is good reason to think that that too would end….in….Caesarism.

Whether it be collapse, civil war or crack-up it will all (so it seems) end in Caesarism.

Why do we think this?

Our argument is simply that USG is crisis. This is a crisis that has, first and foremost, left the Political caste exposed and weakened. The Merchant caste is doing a little better, but since they never rule in principle, they are, while far from irrelevant, not central.

The Soldier caste, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength since USG’s entry into the Second World War, despite being mostly irrelevant, feared and despised in the past. Today, it has reached unparalleled heights of not just political influence but political office.

The power and importance of the military in USG is not going away. This fact is something that reactionaries have not paid all that much attention to. This is one of the reasons why STEEL-cameralism is 4G neoreaction.

Our second argument follows from the first. Who gets to control the nuclear arsenal? When the Soviet Union collapsed, the control of nuclear weapons was a critical issue and since political power ultimately comes from the barrel of the gun…..

The firepower of USG requires constant care, feeding and nursing and the people who look after these babies require lots of pay, perks, prestige and power. They are not likely to think kindly to any attempt to take their little children away…

Thirdly, USG is an empire and it is an empire that is ultimately held together by Guns and Gold (military and economic power). The economic power is waning, and the rest of the world do not give much of a shit for God (Progressive values), but the military hard power remains, nevertheless.

Fourthly, and most crucially perhaps, war will not end. War will not end until it has exhausted its evolutionary potential.

What this means is that, when you add together political decay, economic decline and a fractured nation with a powerful, trusted, fairly competent military, you have a rising probability that you will get military government.

Following on from our post last time, we can summarize the neoreactionary trike in the following way: religious reaction; economic reaction and racial reaction.

Imperial Energy, however, is 4G Next-Gen neoreaction because it is military reaction, soldierly reaction. As we said that time:

Imperial Energy’s “STEEL-cameralist” approach is thus a form of reactionary modernism, or perhaps, best described as the approach to politics that a really good defence minister might take.

Someone is going to rule and there is almost nothing that anyone can do to really determine the outcome either way (except for a small number of Elites in all three castes).

We are not advocating anything – reactionaries don’t advocate – we are merely exploring the space of reactionary possibilities and what will probably happen and what could happen and then what should (ideally) happen if those possibilities are realised.



To support our claim that crack-up and collapse leads to Caesarism, we are going to look at two historical examples. Briefly, we are going to look at Post-Soviet Russia and Putin’s transformation of the state. Secondly, we are going to take one more look at the French Revolution.

Following this, we will examine Samuel Finer’s Man on Horseback which examines the role of the military in government and why and under what conditions the military intervenes.


3:From Russia with Love.

Everything is going to plan, according to this Russian.

Dimitri Orlov, writing with poker faced hilarity, argues that USG is in a state of deep dysfunction and predicts that the American government will collapse.

In one book, he compares the American people with the Soviet Russians and argues – persuasively – that Americans will be less able to protect themselves from all the dangers that arise when a collapse occurs.

Nevertheless, out of the Soviet crisis and collapse – with all the chaos that followed – a new Russia emerged. Russia reborn saw a man emerge who would be king or rather Tzar: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man:

Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia—a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

By American standards, Putin’s respect for the democratic process has been fitful at best. He has cracked down on peaceful demonstrations. Political opponents have been arrested and jailed throughout his rule. Some have even been murdered—Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading Chechnya correspondent shot in her apartment building in Moscow in 2006; Alexander Litvinenko, the spy poisoned with polonium-210 in London months later; the activist Boris Nemtsov, shot on a bridge in Moscow in early 2015. While the evidence connecting Putin’s own circle to the killings is circumstantial, it merits scrutiny.

Yet if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who can vie with him? Only perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that. In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he rescued a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.

Putin has been centralizing power as any good reactionary must:

… Putin, who centralized, concentrated, and personalized power while establishing himself as Russia’s sovereign authority and sole political luminary. To centralize power vis-`a-vis Russia’s regions, Putin replaced provincial security-services personnel with his own appointees, altered the distribution of the tax take to favor Moscow, sent “federal inspectors” to provincial capitals to keep an eye on governors, created powerful new federal agencies at the provincial level, and established “superregions” whose heads monitored the governors and reported to the Presidential Administration. Finally, Putin scrapped popular elections for governors and assumed the power to appoint them. By midway into his second presidential term (2004–2008), he had restored near-Soviet levels of centralization, but with a unified, hierarchical command structure headed by the Presidential Administration rather than the Communist Party.

Putin also reestablished a Soviet-level concentration of power in the executive branch, converting the Federal Assembly into a rubber stamp. He rewrote the respective rules for election to the legislature’s two houses, the State Duma and the Federation Council, and tasked close associates with building the United Russia party to dominate those elections. United Russia now runs parliament, supported by three “opposition” parties—the Communists, the ultranationalist and impressively misnamed Liberal Democratic Party, and the nominally social-democratic A Just Russia—that provide a veneer of multipartism, but readily supply unanimous or near-unanimous votes on behalf of presidential initiatives. Draft laws originate in the Presidential Administration or other government agencies under the ruler’s immediate control.

Power under Putinism is not just centralized in Moscow and concentrated in the executive, as in Soviet times. To a far greater extent than during the Soviet era, it is also intensely personalized. Except during Stalin’s time, no one individual ruled the USSR; rather, the Party ruled. Even Stalin ceaselessly affirmed his allegiance and subordination to the Party. But there is no Party in Putinism, only a party, and Putin treats United Russia—which was founded and exists solely to support him— more as a necessary nuisance than as an asset.

Putin is not merely Russia’s best-known, most powerful politician; he is its only politician. Anyone who seeks public acclaim apart from the ruler does so in defiance of him. Among such figures, only Alexei Navalny, the jaunty corruption fighter who splits his time between jail and organizing protests, has even partially succeeded in winning recognition as a politician. Among officeholders, only Putin is endowed with the authority to cultivate a national following, and only he has one. The rest are administrators who derive their authority from the ruler’s favor and their service to him. The four-fifths of Russians who approve of Putin have no common second- or third-favorite national politician, though some like their own Putin-appointed governors and Putin-approved mayors.

Putin’s authority stands independent not only of any organization or ideology, but also of the office he holds. He has been the center of power both as president (2000–2008 and 2012–present) and as prime minister (2008–12). If Putin chose to become minister of transport, the minister of transport would rule Russia. Elections do not determine who rules; they merely display the ruler’s mastery. While Putin would probably win free and fair elections with ease, no one knows for sure how he or United Russia would fare. To most Russians it does not matter anyway, since they do not see themselves as the source of Putin’s power. Putin’s authority derives from his being Putin, not from his winning votes.

As sovereign, Putin also stands above impersonal rules. He makes, alters, and ignores the law at will, and he retains the ultimate power to decide when other officials—and major economic actors—may flout its provisions with impunity. Each of Russia’s scores of billionaires thrives only at Putin’s pleasure or at least with his forbearance. Those who openly defy him land in prison or exile, often with vastly diminished assets.

To be sure, Putin calls himself a mere servant of the people and subject of the law. He never even hints that le loi, c’est moi (“I am the law”), as traditional hereditary rulers sometimes do. Nor does he trade on his formidable charisma to invoke the Führerprinzip, the Nazi theory that sacralized the ruler’s will as the highest source of decision.

Putinism also eschews the trappings of a personality cult. Photos of the ruler displaying his semi-magnificent torso while riding on horseback may receive attention (and elicit chuckles) abroad, but they are about as far as the pageantry goes. Although the media never fail to make Putin and his policies shine, nothing akin to the cults of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, or post-Soviet leaders such as Turkmenistan’s Saparmurad Niyazov and Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev are to be found in Putin-era Russia. Putin prefers to legitimate his authority in rational-legal rather than charismatic terms. This approach preserves Putinism’s smart modern façade, and the choice of decorum over fervor fits well with the regime’s fundamental conservatism.

Two cheers and only two cheers for President Putin!

For while he has achieved great things, he has still not abandoned democracy and formally made himself Tzar – though there is still time for that.

The key point for us here is that after the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian “deep state” – its military-industrial complex – reasserted itself and, whether or not it was intended at the time, Putin gradually emerged as the undisputed leader of Russia. If a similar collapse befalls America, a similar outcome is likely.


4: The Crisis, the Catastrophe, the Great Fear and the Terror.

Revolution, no matter how long it takes, eventually leads to Restoration.

Egypt’s latest revolution which was ended by General Sisi is only the latest demonstration of this truth.

Madness eventually ends, though it almost always requires the military. The most well know example of this is the French Revolution.

The following edited set of extracts, from Europe: A History by historian, A.N Davies, covers the lead up and some of the aftermath of the infamous French Revolution.

When you read the following, keep in mind how striking the underlying similarities are between France and today’s America. Furthermore, note that the Jacobins looks an awful lot like Moldbug’s Brahmins.

As Davies describes below, the revolution can also be described as a civil war, with periods of horrendous genocide. Indeed, an American civil war is likely to be as vicious, though certainly much more violent.

Since we do not have any online link to the book, but we do have it in our physical possession, we typed in the following.


The French Revolution plunged Europe into the most profound and protracted crisis which it had ever known. It consumed an entire generation in its tumults, its wars, its disturbing innovations. From the epicentre in Paris, it sent shock waves into the furthest recesses of the Continent. From the shores of Portugal to the depths of Russia, from Scandinavia to Italy, the shocks were followed by soldiers in bright uniforms with a blue, white and red cockade in their hats, and with ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’ on their lips.

Today, if a revolution or civil war befalls America, the rest of the Western world, and a good deal of the rest will feel the “shockwaves” and be “consumed” in “tumult” and “war”. The slogan, however, that will be on everyone’s lips will be “Equality” and “Diversity.”

For its partisans, the Revolution promised liberation from the traditional oppressions enshrined in monarchy, nobility, and organized religion. For its opponents, it was synonymous with the dark forces of mob rule and terror. For France, it spelt the start of a modern national identity. For Europe as a whole, it provided an object lesson in the danger of replacing one form of tyranny with another. It began with hopes of limited peaceful change; ‘it ended amidst promises of resistance to any form of change whatsoever’. In the short run, it met defeat; in the long run, in the realm of social and political ideas, it made, and continues to make, a major and a lasting contribution.

“Liberation” will not be over “monarchy, nobility, and organised religion” but “Neoliberalism, White Privilege and Christianity.”


The causes of the French Revolution are thé subject of endless debate. One can distinguish the setting (which sometimes threatens to become the whole of previous history), the profound causes, or deep-laid sources of instability, and the immediate events or ‘sparks’ which ignited the barrel. The setting, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, consisted of a generalized but deepening climate of unease right across Europe. The changes that generated the unease were not concentrated in France; but France was both a participant and a witness. France, facing political paralysis and financial stress, proved less capable of standing the stresses than her neighbours. ‘The revolution [was] imminent in almost all of Europe. It broke out in France, because there the Ancien Regime was more worn out, more detested, and more easily destroyed than elsewhere.’

There is certainly “instability” and a “deepening climate of unease” (even in Europe) and there is “political paralysis” and “financial stress”; there is also plenty of potential “sparks.”

Most Americans may detest their government, but few, besides neoreactionaries, consider it “worn out” (“conservatives” and “progressives” still believe in democracy).

In Eastern Europe, the three great empires were digesting the first Partition of Poland (see Chapter VIII). There was relief that war had been avoided; but the clouds of propaganda could not conceal the facts of violence. What is more, in Poland-Lithuania itself the Partition only inflamed resentments against Russian hegemony. The strains of Polish Enlightenment were leading inexorably to a confrontation with the Tsarina. The Russian sphere of influence was moving in parallel with that of France towards a collision between the ‘tyrants’ and the ‘friends of liberty’. It was no accident that the revolutionary era would eventually culminate in a titanic clash between France and Russia. Beyond or beneath everyday politics, there were indications that deep forces invisible on the ordered surface of late eighteenth-century Europe were somehow getting out of control. One source of anxiety was technological: the appearance of power-driven machines with immense destructive as well as constructive potential. The second source was social: a growing awareness of ‘the masses’, the realization that the teeming millions, largely excluded from polite society, might take their fate into their own hands. The third source was intellectual: a rising concern both in literature and in philosophy with the irrational in human conduct. Historians are pressed to decide whether these developments were related phenomena: whether the so-called Industrial Revolution, the collectivist strand in social thought, and the beginnings of Romanticism were connected parts of one coherent process or not; whether they were causes of the revolutionary upheaval, or merely its companions and contributors.

If the left succeed in creating a one-party-state with the intention of exporting violent revolution abroad with more energy than usual, they will encounter reactionary Russia as an enemy (and China, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) who will also back the “reactionaries”.

America also faces great “anxiety” over technology and not just automation but the pervasiveness of “social media” surveillance and the reliance on computers and coding.

(One interpretation of female hysteria and resentment is the realisation that technology will largely negate the economic “empowerment “of women – it negates the empowerment of everyone if someone like Elon Musk is right).

The fear of the “masses” could be compared to both Trump supporters but also the influx of illegal and legal immigrants and the fact that in the coming “democratic” future of America, white, Christian Americans will be a minority.

The culmination of the crisis:

As always in a crisis, psychological factors were paramount. The King and his ministers did not have to be told that disaster loomed; but, unlike historians, they did not have 200 years in which to study it. Indeed, with no popular representation in place they had no reliable means of gauging public attitudes. Similarly, in the depths of a serf-run countryside, or of proletarian Paris, there was no means of regulating the waves of poverty-led fear and of blind anger. The combination of indecision at the centre and of panic amidst large sections of the populace was a sure recipe for catastrophe. Above all, violence bred violence. ‘From the very beginning … violence was the motor of revolution.

What stands out to us here is that the Elites in Paris were as similarly clueless about the state of the country as Washington’s Elites were. As for violence, America is a violent country and it is easy to imagine a scenario where a few freak terrorist incidents or mass shooting at a political rally set of a cascading chain of events.

The last week of April 1789 brought death to the streets of Paris. An exceptionally cold winter had added to the hardships inflicted by a bankrupt government, rising prices, and lack of work. Hunger stalked the poorer districts, and raids on bakeries were frequent. When a rich manufacturer called Réveillon dared to say in public that his workmen could live well off half the 30 sous per day which he paid them, his house in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine was surrounded. On the first day, the angry crowd demolished several buildings amidst cries of ‘Vive le tiers!’ and ‘Vive Necker!’. On the second day, when soldiers of the Régiment du Royal-Cravatte were brought in, they were pelted with missiles; and someone fired a shot. The soldiers responded with volleys of musket-fire that left at least 300 dead. This was the news which awaited the members of the Estates-General when they converged on the capital at the weekend from all ends of France.

How likely is anything like the above in today’s America?


In France, as in England 149 years before, the general crisis came to a head when a bankrupt King summoned a long-neglected Parliament to his aid. The expectation on all sides was that financial relief for the royal government would be granted in return for the redress of grievances. By prior arrangement, therefore, all the delegations elected by the provinces and cities came to the Estates-General armed with cahiers de doléances or ‘catalogues of complaint’. These cahiers were intended by the King’s ministers, and are widely used by historians, as a prime instrument for assessing the nature and proportions of popular discontent. Some of the complaints were less than revolutionary: ‘that the master wig-maker of Nantes be not troubled with new guild-brethren, the actual number of ninety-two being more than sufficient.’23 The opening scene in Paris, on Sunday 4 May 1789, was painted in one of Carlyle’s memorable word-pictures:

Behold … the doors of St. Louis Church flung wide: and the Procession of Processions advancing to Notre-Dame! … The Elected of France, and then the Court of France, are marshalled … all in prescribed place and costume. Our Commons ‘in plain black mantle and white cravate’; Nobles in gold-worked, bright-dyed cloaks of velvet, resplendent, rustling with laces, waving with plumes; the Clergy in rochet, alb, or other best pontificalibus. Lastly comes the King himself, and the King’s Household, also in the brightest blaze of pomp … Some fourteen hundred men blown together from all winds, on the deepest errand.  Yes, in that silent marching mass there is futurity enough. No symbolic Arc, like the old Hebrews, do those men bear; yet with them, too, is a Covenant They, too, preside at a new era in the history of men. The whole future is there, and Destiny dim-brooding over it, in (their) hearts and unshaped thoughts

 Once summoned, however, the Estates-General proved impossible to control. The three orders of clergy, nobility, and Third Estate were supposed to meet separately, and to follow an agenda laid down by the royal managers. But the Third Estate, which had been granted double representation as in Dauphiné, soon realized that it could bend the proceedings to its own desires, if the three chambers were permitted to vote as one.

The clergy and nobility, who included many sympathizers, offered no concerted opposition. So on 17 June, having invited the two other Estates to join them, the Third Estate broke the existing rules and declared itself to be the sole National Assembly. This was the decisive break. Three days later, locked out of their usual hall, the deputies met on the adjacent tennis court, le jeu de paume, and swore an oath never to disband until France was given a Constitution. ‘Tell your master’, thundered Count Mirabeau, to troops sent to disperse them, ‘that we are here by the will of the people, and will not disperse before the threat of bayonets.’

Note that the rule-breaking by the “Third Estate” could easily occur today with the Democrat Party doing something particularly egregious, such repealing the 2nd Amendment or removing the tax-exempt status of Churches – or any number of things. Indeed, it could also be the Republican Party that breaks the dam; perhaps, by defunding universities or overturning Roe V Wade.

Pandemonium ensued. At court, the King’s conciliatory ministers fell out with their more aggressive colleagues. On 11 July Jacques Necker, who had received a rousing welcome at the opening of the Estates-General, was dismissed. Paris exploded. A revolutionary headquarters coalesced round the Due d’Orléans at the Palais Royal. The gardens of the Palais Royal became a notorious playground of free speech and free love. Sex shows sprang up alongside every sort of political harangue.

‘The exile of Necker’, screamed the fiery orator Camille Desmoulins, fearing reprisals, ‘is the signal for another St Bartholomew of patriots.’ The royal garrison was won over. On the 13th a Committee of Public Safety was created, and 48,000 men were enrolled in a National Guard under General Lafayette. Bands of insurgents tore down the hated barrières or internal customs posts in the city, and ransacked the monastery of Saint-Lazare in the search for arms. On the 14th, after 30,000 muskets were removed from the Hôtel des Invalides, the royal fortress of the Bastille was besieged. There was a brief exchange of gunfire, after which the governor capitulated. The King had lost his capital.

At that point, at the centre of affairs, there was still hope of an orderly settlement. On the 17th, to much surprise, Louis XVI drove from Versailles to Paris and donned the tricolour cockade in public. In the provinces, in contrast, news of the fall of the Bastille triggered an orgy of attacks on ‘forty thousand other bastilles’. Castles and abbeys were burned; noble families, indiscriminately attacked by hungry peasants, began to emigrate; cities declared for self-rule; brigandage proliferated. France was dividing into armed camps. It was the season of la Grande Peur, the Great Fear—a summer of unprecedented social hysteria fired by rumours of aristocratic plots and peasant atrocities across the country. From then on, the Revolution acquired its own momentum, its rhythms dictated by tides of uncontrolled events.

If a revolution occurs in America, reactionaries expect the left to engage in a “purity-spiral” and kill each other:

The Revolution started to devour its own children. The Terror raged, consuming an ever-mounting tally of victims. Danton and his associates were denounced and executed in April 1794, for questioning the purposes of the Terror. Robespierre, the chief terrorist, met denunciation and death on 28 July 1794, 10 Thermidor II.

The fate of the monarchy mirrored these developments. In October 1789, after a Women’s March of protest to Versailles, Louis XVI had been brought with his family to their palace of the Tuileries in Paris. He was already the butt of indecent humour: Louis si tu veux voir Bàtard, cocu, putain, Regarde ton miroir La Reine et le Dauphin. (Louis if you wish to see I Bastard, cuckold, and whore, I Look at your mirror I Your queen and your son.)

We will surely see a “women’s march” and a lot of “indecent humour”.

In June 1791, after repudiating all concessions made since the days of the Tennis Court Oath, he had fled in disguise to the eastern frontier, only to be caught at Varennes in Champagne. Returned to Paris in disgrace, he then signed the first Constitution as prepared by the National Assembly, becoming the ‘hereditary agent’ of the people. In August 1792, when the Tuileries was stormed, he was arrested and ‘suspended’. In September, he was deposed. On 21 January 1793 he was tried and executed as a traitor. On 16 October Marie-Antoinette suffered the same fate. The ten-year-old Dauphin, Louis XVII, was handed to plebeian foster-parents, and subsequently died from neglect and tuberculosis.

Next, we see Davies describe the Jacobins, who, don’t forget, were advocates of democracy and violence:

The Jacobins, in contrast, la Société des Amis de la Liberté et l’Égalité, were advocates of unlimited democracy, of revolutionary dictatorship and violence. They took their name from the site of their Club in a former Dominican convent on the Rue Saint-Honoré. (The Dominicans of Paris were known as ‘Jacobins’ because of their earlier residence on the Rue Saint-Jacques.) They formed a tiny, iron-hard clique—perhaps 3,000 persons who perfected the art of gripping the throats of 20 million. Their members ranged from the Prince de Broglie and a couple of dukes—the Duke d’Aiguillon and the young Due de Chartres (the future King, Louis-Philippe)—to the rough-hewn Breton peasant, ‘Père’ Gérard. Gérard once told them, ‘I had thought myself in Heaven among you, if there were not so many lawyers.’ Their leaders included Georges Danton (1759–94), whom Carlyle called ‘a Man from the great fire-bosom of Nature herself’, Camille Desmoulins (1760–94), a firebrand journalist, who died beside him, Jean Marat (1743–93), the ‘sick physician’, editor of L’Ami du Peuple, Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve (1756–94), sometime Mayor of Paris, Antoine Saint-Just (1767–94), known as ‘the Archangel of the Terror’ and as ‘St John’ for his servility towards Robespierre, and Robespierre himself.

Maximilien Robespierre (1758–94), the severe, the puritanical, the ‘incorruptible advocate of Arras’, was said to have refused a career as a judge before the Revolution rather than condemn a man to death. His power and influence assumed legendary proportions during the second Committee of Public Safety. He was the hero of the Paris mob, the devil incarnate to his opponents.

“3,000” men, many of them lawyers and the rest of them journalists who had their hands on the “throat” of a nation of 20 million people. Charles Murray considers the number of “Elite” Americans to be 100,000 for a nation of 320 million people. However, how many of this 100,000 are the real Power Elite? Perhaps, as little as a thousand or even just a few hundred. Yet, this is enough people to potentially bring about a tremendous reign of terror.

The Jacobins first surfaced in 1791, through the King’s risky politique du pire, based on the idea of promoting his wildest opponents in the hope of taming the rest. After Pétion was appointed Mayor of Paris with the King’s approval, they took an unshakeable hold on the capital’s municipal government, the Commune.

Thereafter, having systematically eliminated their rivals and tamed the Convention, they decimated their own ranks until Robespierre alone remained alive. Danton’s watchword was ‘De l’audace, encore de Paudace, toujours de l’au-dace’ Saint-Just, attacking the monarchy, declared, ‘One cannot reign innocently.’ In proposing the redistribution of his enemies’ wealth, he said: ‘Happiness is a new idea in Europe.’ Robespierre once asked the Convention, ‘Citoyens, voulez-vous une Révolution sans révolution?’ (Citizens, do you want a Revolution without revolution?) The associated Club of the Cordeliers, la Société des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, whose membership overlapped with the Jacobins, met in a former Franciscan monastery in the Cordelier district of Paris. Their later leaders, the true enragés like J. R. Hébert (1757–94), were marked out for their militant atheism and the cult of reason. Hébert was executed on Robespierre’s orders for ‘extremism’.

If the revolution comes, you will hear chants from the “science is fucking awesome” crowd.

If most of the Jacobins were professional lawyers and journalists, the majority of their active supporters were drawn from the anonymous proletarians of the Paris suburbs. These sansculottes contained elements that were still more radical than any of the groups and individuals that actually exercised power. They numbered among them Europe’s very first communists, socialists, feminists. Organized in meeting-houses in each of the Paris ‘sections’, obscure formations such as the Société Patriotique de la Section du Luxembourg or the Société Fraternelle des Deux Sexes du Panthéon-Français exercised an influence that has not always been properly assessed. Indeed, in terms of revolutionary motive power they may well have been more effective than the bourgeois who are usually given the credit. They supplied many of the revolutionary commissars of the Jacobin period. They forged a lasting tradition which contested established authority in each of the ‘revolutions’ of the nineteenth century.

An alliance of the newly emerging High (Jacobins) with the Low (proletarians) which established a “lasting tradition” of contesting authority. Unsurprisingly, communists, socialists and feminists were among the revolutionaries and will be again, should hard and fast revolution come to America.

After 1790, when forbidden by the Pope to swear the oath of loyalty to the civil establishment, the clergy were forced either to submit or to defy. After 1792, when the Revolution took an atheistic and not merely an anticlerical turn, all Roman Catholics, and hence the great majority of the population, stood to be offended. This major source of counter-revolutionary feelings remained active until Bonaparte’s Concordat with the Papacy in 1801. The peasant masses, who were given their freedom in 1789, were long thought to be among the main beneficiaries of revolution. It is now generally recognized, however, that a gulf of non-comprehension separated the peasant ethos from that of the revolutionary leaders in Paris. The peasantry soon turned against the oppressions of a republican regime which many thought worse than its predecessors.

This also should be marked: Elite hostility to religion sparking a backlash among the “peasants”.

Several French provinces remained staunchly royalist at heart, and repeatedly broke into open revolt. Royalist risings had to be suppressed even in Paris, notably on 13 Vendémiaire IV (1795). In some of the remoter departments, such as Le Gard, resistance continued right through to 1815.

 The most determined resistance, however, was undoubtedly concentrated in the west. Popular fury had been rising there for several years, after an initially favourable reaction to the fall of the Ancien Régime. In 1792 many parishes supported the priests who refused to swear allegiance to the civil establishment. They were often rewarded by gangs of urban republicans who toured the countryside, smashing churches and assaulting the ‘refractories’. In 1793 the same villages were hardest hit by the introduction of universal male conscription. They were specially offended by the exemptions that were frequently granted to the sons of republican administrators and professionals: it seemed that Catholic peasants were being ordered to die for an atheist Republic which they had never wanted in the first place. In May 1792 Danton was informed of a plot supposedly being hatched by the Marquis de la Rouairie in Brittany. The plot was nipped in the bud; but it was the precursor of two interrelated instances of mass rebellion, the rising of the Vendèe and the wars of the Chouans, that were to grip the west for more than a decade.

An American civil war would see armed gangs touring the countryside smashing churches and assaulting businesses and forcing people into the army of “resistance”.

But the “peasants” in France fought back and the fought back in the name of Christ and under the banner of Catholicism:

The rising in the Vendèe engendered civil warfare that lasted for nearly three years. It broke out in March 1793 at St Florent-sur-Loire, but soon spread throughout the villages of the bocage. It was started by peasants such as J. Cathelineau, a hawker from Pin-en-Mauges, and J. N. Stofflet, a gamekeeper from Monlévrier, who had refused the draft; but it soon passed under the command of the local gentry—the Marquis de Bonchamps, the Marquis de Lescure, ‘Monsieur Henri’ de La Rochejacquelin, General Gigot d’Elbée, the Prince de Talmont. The ‘Royal and Catholic Army of Saints’ was armed with scythes, pitchforks, and fowling-pieces. It marched under a white standard spangled with lilies and the device of ‘Vive Louis XVII’. Its fighters wore a scapulary round their necks, together with the badge of the Sacred Heart and Cross in flames.

The real resistance will be armed with far more than “scythes, pitchforks, and fowling-pieces” however.

They fought twenty-one pitched battles, triumphed on the bloody field of Cholet, captured Angers, laid siege to Nantes, and broke into the provinces of Maine and Anjou. Their desperate courage was caught in the orders of‘Monsieur Henri’: Si j’avance, suivez-moi! Si je recule, tuez-moi! Si je meurs, vengez-moi!’ (If I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!)

In October 1793 the Vendeans embarked on their most ambitious and (as it proved) their most foolhardy gambit. Some 30,000 armed men, followed by several hundred thousand civilians of all ages, crossed the Loire and wended their way towards the coast of Normandy. Their destination was the little port of Granville, where they had been led to believe that a British fleet and an army of émigrés would be waiting to greet them. But they were cruelly deceived: Granville was sealed. Rochejacquelin’s attacks were beaten off; there was no sign of British ships. So the retreat began. As the columns straggled back along 120 miles of winter roads, they fell prey to every form of misfortune and violence. Refused entry to the towns, they had to fight every inch of the way. Fifteen thousand died in the streets of Le Mans. They perished of cold and hunger. They were mercilessly robbed, raped, and hunted down by roving Republican forces. Those who reached the Loire found the bridges blockaded and the boats burned. Their fighters were split up and killed. The defenceless civilians could then be massacred with impunity. The end came at Savenay near Nantes, two days before Christmas. General Westermann, a client of Danton, reported to the Convention:

The Vendeé is no more … I have buried it in the woods and marshes of Savenay … According to your orders, I have trampled their children beneath our horses’ feet; I have massacred their women, so they will no longer give birth to brigands. I do not have a single prisoner to reproach me. I have exterminated them all. The roads are sown with corpses. At Savenay, brigands are arriving all the time claiming to surrender, and we are shooting them non-stopMercy is not a revolutionary sentiment.

Given the genocidal hostility building up today in America against “whites” and “republicans” such things as described above is not hard to imagine occurring.

The retreat of the Vendeans is known as ‘la Virée de Galerne’. In the sheer scale of loss of life, it was not dissimilar to Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.

By then the heartland of the Vendèe was being harried by General Kléber and a Republican army transferred from the Rhine. Throughout 1794 the ‘infernal columns’ of the Republic wreaked hateful revenge on the rebel villages. Tens of thousands were shot, guillotined, burned in their barns or their churches. At the harbour of Rochefort, several thousand non-juror priests were slowly starved to death on the decks of prison hulks. At Angers, thousands of prisoners were shot out of hand. At Nantes, thousands more were systematically drowned. Later, to contain resistance, a huge military fortress was planted in the centre of the troubled region with a garrison of 20,000. (First named Napoléon-Vendèe when completed in 1808, it was renamed Bourbon-Vendée in 1815, and is now called Roche-sur-Yon.) Nearby, in the open fields, stands a cross to the memory of the last stand of the last commander of the Vendeans, the Chevalier de la Charette de la Contrie, who, expiring before the firing squad at Nantes, uttered one last cry of ‘Vive le Roi!’, Thanks to the propaganda of the victorious Republic, ‘Vendéeism’ has been widely identified with peasant ignorance, religious superstition, and the rule of tyrannical priests.

This picture is unfair. It is true that some of the Vendeans were driven in extremis to forms of mystical martyrdom, and also to excesses of their own. But their rebellion was not irrational. They had been subjected to many real assaults and humiliations, including the fashion for public mockery of religion. In any other country of Europe, their devotion to their traditional way of life would have been widely admired. Their moral integrity was well illustrated when the dying Bonchamps pardoned all his 5,000 prisoners. Their tragedy was to have taken up arms during the phase of extreme Jacobin fanaticism. Their enemies did not hesitate to employ genocidal measures, and then to cover the victims with calumny. Napoleon called them ‘giants’. It has taken the best part of 200 years for France to come to terms with this terrible story of populicide of genocide franco-français.

Norman Davies. Europe: A History

So there it is – a genocide. To this day, France still celebrates the event that was seen to symbolise the Revolution: the “storming of the bastille” with a national holiday.

In the end, all the blood and chaos was ended (or transformed) by one man:

August 29, 1823. — There was but one single man in France who understood how to master the Revolution, and that man was Bonaparte. The King’s Government inherited from him, not the Revolution, but the counter-Revolution….

Memoirs of Prince Metternich. Prince Metternich.


5: STEEL Reaction Considered A Priori.

The following extracts are taken from Samuel Finer’s great work Man on Horseback: the Role of the Military in Politics.

Finer’s book should be read in full, as it is an excellent primer for thinking about the relationship between the military and the civilian government. Finer describes the nature and purpose of the military; how it is organised and the kinds of values and virtues it embodies. Secondly, as we shall see, Finer explores the why, when and how the military intervenes in politics and to what extent it can do so.


Organization and coherence

‘Non est potestas super terram quae comparetur’ runs the quotation on the title page of Hobbes Leviathan. May we not think likewise of the modern army?

The army is a purposive instrument. It is not a crescive institution like the church; it comes into being by fiat. It is rationally conceived to fulfil certain objects. One may be to assist the civil power, but the principal object is to fight and win wars. The highly peculiar features of its organization flow from this central purpose, not from the secondary one, and find in it their supreme justification. These features are (1) centralized command, (2) hierarchy, (3) discipline, (4) intercommunication, (5) esprit de corps and a corresponding isolation and self-sufficiency.

A perfect reactionary form, which is to say normal, natural and unexceptional. 

Military command is centralized. In practice, much is delegated to units in the field, but always within the supreme command’s general directives and always subject to be resumed by it should occasion arise. A continuous chain of command links the very lowest echelons with the supreme H.Q. This centralization of authority derives from the basic object of the army — in military parlance it exists ‘to be fought’ by its commanders and for this it must respond to their commands as a single unit.

There are no High & Low games in the military because it is already centralized and power is secure:

The army is arranged in a pyramid of authority, a hierarchy, each echelon owing explicit and… peremptory obedience to the orders of its superior. The army is therefore very highly stratified. Further to this, each echelon in the hierarchy is immediately and objectively identifiable by named rank and distinctive insignia. Authority is depersonalized; it is owed to the rank, not to the man, and it exactly corresponds to the rank, and the rank to the insignia. The importance of subordination and superordination is further enhanced by social practices prescribing a social distance between the superior and the inferior ranks. The hierarchical structure, like centralization, derives from the army’s basic imperative — to fight as a unit; it must have a supreme directing command — hence centralization; the command must transmit its orders from highest to lowest — hence hierarchy.

The distinction between officer and enlisted is akin to “Optimate” and “Vaishya” as it brings with it social distinctions in reality, if not in form.

From high to low, each member is subject to discipline. The army is difficult to leave — desertion is punished heavily, and desertion on active service might even incur the death penalty. The chain of command is sacrosanct; everything is supposed to ‘go through the channels’. In practice, this often is offset by the ‘Old Boy Net’, whereby one can speed up the ‘usual channels’. This is true of most large-scale organizations. It only thrives, however, where the organization has developed an esprit de corps (for which see below). Each echelon is subject to the orders of its superiors; failure to obey carries penalties, some exceedingly heavy. This obligation to unquestioning and prompt obedience is enhanced by the depersonalization of the soldier. The army is too big a machine to reck of individuals, and the soldier becomes a number.

Centralization of command, the hierarchical arrangement of authority and the rule of obedience — all are necessary to make the army respond as a unity to the word of command; but they in turn demand a nervous system, a network of communication. Armies have developed elaborate signal systems independent of the civil authorities. The most modern methods of telephone, wireless and teleprinter are supplemented by the older systems of physical communication — the despatch rider, and this in turn by the primitive methods of semaphore and the runner. For so important are communications that there must always be methods available, even the most clumsy. By these means the nervous articulation of every unit in the country and the combination of all arms and services is rendered physically possible. By the same token, the territorial dispersion of units, their geographical separation offers no impediment to their unity of decision and of action.

In order to counteract the “fog of war”, the system must allow for the rapid, effective and clear transmission of signals and information across the “body”.

But any army which possessed only these characteristics and none other would hardly win a battle. Its unity would be entirely mechanical, wholly compulsive, singularly lifeless, and not very bellicose. An army must in addition be animated by consciousness of its martial purpose and inspired by a corporate spirit of what Durkheim called organic solidarity, namely a ‘system of different and special functions united by definite relationships’, has to be supplemented by his (strangely named) mechanical solidarity, i.e. ‘a more or less organized ensemble of the beliefs and the sentiments common to all the members of the group. This can only be, as Durkheim says, ‘in proportion as the ideas and inclinations common to all the members…exceed in number and intensity those personal to each of them….’

The difference between “Aristocratic Militarism”, STEEL-cameralism and Italian Fascism, National Socialism and Communism is that in the first and second this “corporate spirit” only applies to the military and government and not the entirety of society.

This ‘more or less organized ensemble of the beliefs and sentiments common to all members of the group’ is deliberately inculcated in armies and constitutes their vital spark — their esprit de corps. It is grounded on service to a cause — as with Cromwell’s Ironsides or Trotsky’s Red Army — but, much more commonly, on service to the nation.

And that is the vital distinction, between “service to the nation” and inculcating “beliefs and sentiments” in the entire nation.

Such indoctrination is supplemented by measures to inculcate a sense of solidarity. The newcomer is instructed in the history and traditions of his regiment. He is taught to respect its insignia and its colours. And all this is enhanced by some of the physical arrangements of the military life. The army differs in function from the society that surrounds it and this function requires that it be separate and segregated. It requires a common uniform, and this immediately distinguishes it from the civilian masses. It requires separate housing, in purely military quarters, the barracks. It demands a systematized nomadism moving from one garrison town to another. It demands a separate code of morals and manners from that of the civilian population so that the normal freedom of life — to take leave, to change one’s employment, in some cases even to marry — are exercised only under surveillance and tutelage, and by permission. All this tends to enhance military solidarity by making the military life self-centred. It is easy, even, to inspire contempt for one’s own nationals — the ‘civvies’, ‘les pékins’, ‘les bourgeois’ — and so forth. The barracks becomes the world. 

It is easy to see how “aristocratic militarism” could arise in America, in fact it already has done so so a certain extent.

Thus because of their centralization, hierarchy, discipline, intercommunication and esprit de corps, armies are much more highly organized than any civilian bodies. Few of these attain to the degree of organization obtained by even the most primitive of modern armies. The Roman Catholic Church certainly displays these five features; but it is a voluntary organization which the member may enter or leave as he thinks fit; for those of tepid faith the penalties for disobedience are feeble; its segregation from the laity is much less extreme than that of officer-corps from civilians. Firms and bureaucracies may possess these five characteristics too, but, once again, they are voluntary bodies, the sanctions for indiscipline are feeble and there is no segregation, no very special code of manners or rules that have to be obeyed, and no tutelage.

This is an important point, one we emphasize when we get to the STEEL-cameralist conception of government. Churches are voluntary, as are firms; government, however, is never voluntary in principle.

Of political parties only the communist parties of the ‘popular democracies’ resemble the armed forces. Not for nothing have they been described as ‘lay armies’. Their high degree of organization and their formidably energetic esprit de corps are, as we shall see, of the highest importance to the question of civilian control of the armed forces; yet here again, they are neither as hierarchical, as severely disciplined, as physically interconnected, as armies, nor are they physically and psychologically separated from the rest of the population.

Again, this is a crucial distinction and the reference to “popular democracies” is telling. Democracy and democratic parties are “demo-armies” that “count” heads instead of shooting them.

Modern armies, then, are usually far more highly organized than any other association within a state. This is not the only political advantage they possess. The military profession often — though not always — carries with it certain emotional associations. In so far as this is so, the army may enjoy a politically important moral prestige.

Next, Finer discusses the “military virtues”, and again, the following is very congenial to reaction.

The military Virtues

‘Their sons’, wrote Herodotus of the Persians, ‘are carefully instructed from their fifth to their twentieth year in three things alone — to ride, to draw the bow and to speak the truth.’ Herein we see the prototype of the famed military virtues. These virtues — bravery, discipline, obedience, self-abnegation, poverty, patriotism, and the like — are associated, by long standing, with the soldier’s choice of career. They are values which all esteem. Where they are identified with the military, these acquire a moral halo which is politically of profound importance.

Yet we must be cautious…..traits like courage and discipline and self-sacrifice and patriotism, traits which seem almost characteristically to inhere in ‘the soldier’, are esteemed and cherished. From this there arises, at the lowest, a sympathy for the armed forces; at its highest a veritable mystique.

…That it may become as it ought to be, the career of arms requires from those who seek or are called on to pursue it, certain specific qualities which we call the military virtues: valour, fidelity, patriotism. The exercise of these virtues to a very high degree is so essential to the career of arms that they constitute its characteristic feature, define its own peculiar spirit. They are the necessary conditions of the existence of the career, and if they disappeared it would disappear also. How can one conceive of a cowardly soldier, an unfaithful comrade, a warrior who betrays his country? No! To the extent that cowardice, disloyalty and treason arise, there is no force, there are no troops, there is no army. There is only a multitude in arms — and for that very reason more dangerous than any other….

In internal structure, the army is not simply a collection of men: it is an organism to which union, collaboration and solidarity are indispensable. Fidelity in the army is necessary to make sure that at all times all organs will carry out their duty. For this reason there must be no plots, no disunity, no mutual distrust; watchful of itself the army must expel from its midst, like dead bodies, those elements which do not belong to it in spirit, and whose hearts do not beat in unison with its own….

For the soldier…there exists neither the hamlet, not the region, nor the province, nor the colony: there is for him nothing but the national territory.

The armed forces then are not only the most highly organized association in the state. They are a continuing corporation with an intense sentiment of solidarity, enjoying, in many cases, considerable favour. This formidable corporate body is more lethally and heavily armed than any other organization in the state, and indeed enjoys a near-monopoly of all effective weapons.

Now comes the crucial question:

Since this is so, why is military intervention in politics, or military government, the exception rather than the rule? Why and how do civilian forms of rule persist?

Finer then gives his answer:

The rest of this book sets out some of the factors which are relevant to answering these questions. Two of these, however, are sufficiently general — and indeed fundamental to all that follows — to be noticed immediately. They constitute the basic weaknesses in the political position of the military.

Understanding these rules and the context is which they apply will be crucial.


The Political Weaknesses of the Military

POLITICALLY the armed forces suffer from two crippling weaknesses. These preclude them, save in exceptional cases and for brief periods of time, from ruling without civilian collaboration and openly in their own name. Soldiers must either rule through civilian cabinets or else pretend to be something other than they are.

One weakness is the armed forces’ technical inability to administer any but the most primitive community. The second is their lack of legitimacy: that is to say, their lack of a moral title to rule.

These “weaknesses” are generally true, but they are not always true. Nevertheless, it will be important to address them (and we will) and how they could be overcome.


The Technical Inadequacy of the Armed Forces.

Even in those states commonly described as ‘military dictatorships’, the ruling body, junta or cabinet, will be found not to consist exclusively of military men. In Iraq, for instance (in March 1961), only 7 out of the 16 cabinet members were soldiers; in Pakistan, only 3 out of 14; in Spain, only 6 out of 18. There have been few exceptions to this rule, and those have been shortlived. Primo de Rivera’s first government, 1923, was called a ‘Military Directorate’ and consisted entirely of military, but in 1925 he changed to a largely civilian cabinet. In the first phase of the Argentine military régime in 1943, nearly all the cabinet posts and top administrative positions at federal and provincial level were manned by soldiers, but after 1944 civilians replaced them. In Peru, in 1948, General Odria formed an all-military cabinet in which colonels headed the ministries of public health, education, labour, the interior, the treasury and justice, while a rear-admiral conducted foreign relations; but this stage lasted only until 1950, after which the cabinet was composed of six officers and six civilians.

The more primitive the economy, the easier it is for the armed forces to administer it by purely military men and measures. Modern armies are a microcosm of the state; they possess their own separate and self-contained systems of provisioning, supply, engineering, communications, even of education. In primitive economies they may therefore be even better technically equipped than the civil sector, and it is not surprising that even in comparatively advanced societies like Brazil or Argentina the armed forces are used for promoting economic developments. In Brazil, for instance, the army has explored the interior, set up telegraph and wireless stations, developed agricultural colonies and helped educate the Indians.

As societies become more complicated, however, so the technical skills of the armed forces lag further and further behind them.

Armies could — or do — easily dominate such primitive societies. All they have to provide is law and order, and communications. Even the educational, social and economic development of such countries would be well within their capabilities, if they chose to undertake it; though, since the armies of these countries are not usually much more enlightened than the societies they serve, they do not in fact usually try to do so.

Compare the task of administering such societies with that of ruling, say, Great Britain or the United States, or, for that matter, even Detroit or Chicago or London! How very very much more is required can be seen from Allied experiences in military government in Italy and Germany after 1945. It must be remembered that in both cases the occupying powers were dealing with compliant and cooperative populations, anxious to ingratiate themselves with the victors and eager to restore their shattered economies; whereas in most (or at least many) military dictatorships the armed forces have to face a mutinously sullen or openly hostile people. Yet the occupying powers were only able to carry out their task by heavily reinforcing their military personnel with specially trained civilian administrators. In the U.S. Control Council for Germany ‘a roster of the names and business associations of the economic advisors and division heads’ reads, we are told, ‘like a Who’s Who of American industry and finance’. The United States army also had to recruit civilian technicians to supplement its very limited supply of specialists in the fields of ‘administration, law, finance, economics, public works, public health, public relations, public safety, public welfare, transportation, communications.’

Secondly, the administration was successful only in repairing material breakdowns. ‘Later’, runs the account, ‘as problems of security, sanitation and restoration of public utilities faded into the background, their inadequacy in such fields as denazification, political revival and re-education became apparent. It was far more simple for them to replace a broken water main, since both ruler and ruled could appreciate the service of a good one, than it was to select a suitable burgomaster on the definition of which they might differ.’

Thirdly, the military proved incapable, by their training, of ruling in any sense wider than putting the economy of the country on a ‘care and maintenance’ basis.

In short, in Germany, the professional military men conceived their task as putting the country on ‘a fodder basis’ — and little more; and even for this their forces’ own resources of technicians and administrators was entirely inadequate. Indeed, the military had to lay down their previous jobs and become policy makers, and turn over the doing of things to their own civilian staffs and to the civilians of the subject population.

Thus as an economy advances, as the division of labour becomes more and more extensive, as the secondary and then the tertiary services expand, and as the society requires the existence of a trained professional bureaucracy, of technicians, labour organizations, and the like — so the army ceases to be able to rule by its own resources alone. Its aim must be to cajole or to coerce the civilians and their organizations into collaboration. And to the extent that it has to depend on them, so to that extent is it weakened. 

Again, while this is true, it does not rule out the possibility of the military “contracting” out necessary tasks to private companies or letting churches take over certain areas (such as education, health and even local law enforcement). Furthermore, the U.S Military has a sprawling bureaucracy of its own and has been undertaking “civilian” tasks for quite some time now in foreign countries.


The Right to Govern

Now in an advanced society, i.e. just where the military’s technical inability to rule is at its greatest, its moral inadequacy hampers it still further, by denying it the civilian collaboration it must secure. For the second and cardinal weakness of the military as a political force is its lack of title to govern.

Rule by force alone, or the threat of such force, is inadequate; in addition, government must possess authority. It must be widely recognized not only as the government but as the lawful, the rightful government. A government that based its rule on the fact that it was materially stronger than any other force or forces in society would prove both shortlived and ineffective.

This is not ‘moralizing’. It is a generalization based on experience, and is capable of simple explanation. First of all, such government would be impermanent. The reason is simply that the claim to rule by virtue of superior force invites challenge; indeed it is itself a tacit challenge, to any contender who thinks he is strong enough…

They seek, in short, to exercise a right to govern; or, as the expression goes, to legitimize themselves. Some do this (e.g. General Gürsel in Turkey) by claiming to be on a ‘caretaker’ basis preparing the way for a legal government, perhaps on the basis of elections. Others take the plunge by organizing a plebiscite (like Colonel Nasser or Primo de Rivera or General Franco) to vote them into the power they seized by force of arms.

Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

A military junta legitimizes itself in order to slam the door of morality in its challengers’ face. Until it has done so, it bears the mark of Cain.

Let it once be legitimized, and it is entitled to hunt down the new contenders for power as rebels or mutineers.

Again, this is an absolutely necessary requirement (legitimacy), but it is not one that is impossible to obtain.

There is, however, a second reason which drives governments to seek authority rather than to rely on the prowess of their arms alone; namely that the threat of physical compulsion is not an efficient, i.e. an economical, way of securing obedience.

It is recognition of his authority that works the miraculous difference. This simple psychological bond between ruler and ruled does all the work of securing school attendance and discipline for him. In this sense, then, authority is the mother of power. Authority comprises a double-relationship. On the one side goes society’s recognition that in certain matters a person or body of persons has the moral right to demand obedience and on the other goes society’s recognition that in these matters it has the moral duty to obey such persons. It is for this reason that Rousseau’s words are so significant for armies that desire to rule: ‘The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master unless he transforms might into right and obedience into duty.’

Next, Finer explores the moral issues surrounding military intervention.


The Moral Inadequacy of Military Intervention

Thus, when the military breaches the existing political order, it will be forced to claim a moral authority for its actions. Now in certain societies the public are most unlikely to recognize any such claim; and will indeed resist it.

Finer goes on to discuss a favorite neoreactionary theme, that of the political formula:

Whether and how far a people will recognize or resist it, depends on the political formula current among them. This political formula is that widespread sentiment or belief on which the title to govern is grounded. Such are, or have been, the ‘will of the people’, ‘the divine right of the monarch’, the consciousness of forming a distinct nation, fidelity to a dynasty and so forth. Thus in the Middle Ages, where it was widely taught and believed that kings ruled by divine appointment, the contender for power had to demonstrate that he himself was really the ‘king’ and that the reigning king was not; and this was done by elaborate argument about and among genealogies. (That interminable and boring speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in Act I, Scene II, of Henry V exactly illustrates this point. King Henry finally asks: ‘May I with right and conscience make this claim?’ and is answered: ‘The sin upon my head dread sovereign.’) Once he had proved he was the king, i.e. the real king, he was entitled to command his subjects and they in turn duly bound to obey him.

These formulae change with time. Then the title by virtue of which the ruling group claim to govern becomes obsolete. It was no use Louis XVI claiming the right to rule by divine appointment when his subjects no longer believed a word of this rigmarole. As long as the rulers base their claim on a formula which is unacceptable to their subjects, these will regard them as illegitimate, as usurpers. That being so, the rulers will be able to maintain themselves only by increasing reliance on coercion.

Intervention depends on public attachment to civilian government:

Where public attachment to civilian institutions is strong, military intervention in politics will be weak. It will take the form, if it occurs at all, of working upon or from behind these institutions — be they throne or parliament — according to the political formula current. By the same token, where public attachment to civilian institutions is weak or non-existent, military intervention in politics will find wide scope — both in manner and in substance.

We can therefore think of societies as being at different levels of political culture according to their observed degree of attachment to civil institutions. At the highest political culture levels will be countries like Britain or the United States, where attachment to civilian institutions is very strong. At the lowest level will be those countries like, perhaps, Haiti or the Congo today, or Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela a hundred years ago, where a conscious attachment to civilian institutions does not exist at all.

But as we know, and as we shall see again shortly, public attachment to political institutions in America is declining.


The Disposition to Intervene.

(1) Motive

WE HAVE been using the expression ‘military intervention in politics’. By this we mean: The armed forces’ constrained substitution of their own policies and/or their persons, for those of the recognized civilian authorities.

The military may pursue such intervention by acts of commission but also by acts of omission. It may act against the wishes of its government; or it may refuse to act when called on by its government. In either case it brings constraint to bear.

Now to intervene the military must have both occasion and disposition. By a ‘disposition’ we mean a combination of conscious motive and of a will or desire to act. It is this disposition that forms the subject of this chapter.



The most obvious of such factors is, of course, the lack of motive. The military must not be conceived as everywhere simmering with discontent. We can therefore leave motives and turn to the second aspect of the disposition to intervene — i.e. desire or will. An important factor inhibiting a desire to intervene is military professionalism.

1: Professionalism and its Consequences.

Professionalism’ forms the central concept of a most important study of military intervention, Professor Huntington The Soldier and the State. For Huntington, it is the decisive factor in keeping the soldier out of politics, and the whole of his argument is made to hang on this.

For him ‘professionalism’ comprises three ingredients. They are expertness; social responsibility; and corporate loyalty to fellow practitioners.

Yet it is observable that many highly professional officer corps have intervened in politics — the German and Japanese cases are notorious. It is of no use to retort that in such cases these armies cannot be described as ‘fully’ professional. This is the whole weakness of Huntington’s thesis. All is made to hang upon a very special definition of professionalism, and by pure deduction from this, of a so-called ‘military mind’. The argument then becomes ‘essentialist’. If soldiers are observed to act in ways inconsistent with these concepts of ‘professionalism’ and the ‘military mind’, so much the worse for the soldiers; they are not completely ‘professional’, not purely ‘military’. The fact is, however, that, if the armed forces are not to intervene, they must believe in an explicit principle — the principle of civil supremacy.

We explored Huntington’s “thesis” in American Minotaur of War.

2. The Principle of Civil Supremacy.

The reason is that the very nature of the professionalism on which Huntington sets such store and which he regards as ‘politically sterile’, in fact often thrusts the military into collision with the civil authorities.

In the first place, the military’s consciousness of themselves as a profession may lead them to see themselves as the servants of the state rather than of the government in power.

To serve the State — far from all party politics, to save and maintain it against the terrible pressure from without and the insane strife at home — this’, said Gröner, ‘is our only goal.’ Exactly the same attitude is implied in the famous interview between Sir Arthur Paget, Commander-in-Chief of the troops in Ireland, and the recalcitrant cavalry officers, at the time of the Curragh ‘mutiny’. According to Gough’s account, General Paget ‘said that no resignations would be accepted, etc. etc….He said that we must clearly understand that this was the direct order of “the Sovereign”, and asked us “if we thought he would obey the orders of those dirty swine of politicians”.

Here Paget makes an implicit distinction between the community or state (symbolized by the Sovereign) and the government of the day. General MacArthur was to make this distinction explicit when he said in 1952: ‘I find in existence a new and heretofore unknown and dangerous concept that the members of our armed forces owe primary allegiance or loyalty to those who temporarily exercise the authority of the Executive Branch of Government rather than to the country and its constitution which they are sworn to defend.’ ‘No proposition,’ added General MacArthur, ‘could be more dangerous.’ On the contrary, it is General MacArthur’s view which opens Pandora’s box. The moment the military draw this distinction between nation and the government in power, they begin to invent their own private notion of the national interest, and from this it is only a skip to the constrained substitution of this view for that of the civilian government; and this is precisely what we have defined as the very meaning of ‘military intervention’. This purported care for the national interest as defined by the military is indeed one of their main reasons for intervening, as we shall see. The point here is that it flows inexorably from one particular facet of military professionalism.

A second motive for intervention also flows from professionalism. We may describe it almost as military syndicalism. As specialists in their field, the military leaders may feel that they alone are competent to judge on such matters as size, organization, recruitment and equipment of the forces. Yet on every one of these points they may find themselves in collision with the civilian government. In their professional capacity they may be impelled still further into trying to establish the security as they see it — both economically and socially — of what, as professional fighters, they regard as their civilian base. To them, the community is precisely this — a reserve of manpower and materials on which they can draw.

What is said next is of particular importance:

There is yet a third reason why professionalism may give rise to intervention. This is the military’s reluctance to be used to coerce the government’s domestic opponents. The professional army sees itself as the nation’s custodian against foreign foes; the foreigner is the enemy, not a fellow national. It also sees itself as a fighting force, not as a body of policemen. It often vents its discomfort at having to act against its own nationals by blaming the ‘politicians’, and by thinking of itself as being ‘used’ by these for their own sordid purposes.

Thus three tendencies all push the military towards collision with the civilian authorities; and each one grows out of professionalism.

Professionalism is not, therefore, what Huntington says it is — the sole or even the principal force inhibiting the military’s desire to intervene. To inhibit such a desire the military must also have absorbed the principle of the supremacy of the civil power. For this is not part of the definition of ‘professionalism’. It is a separate and distinct matter. By it we mean, to quote a recent and convenient definition, that, ‘both formally and effectively, the major policies and programmes of government…should be decided by the nation’s politically responsible civilian leaders.

Against this view stands the military’s quite clear understanding, in modern Britain, for instance, or in the United States, that the civil power is paramount and must be obeyed. Before the war, ‘American officers of both services typically referred to the armed forces as “instruments” on the dictum that national policy dictated military policy’. This simple dichotomy between national and military policy has nowadays become complicated and blurred, but the fundamental axiom of civilian supremacy has not been blown upon. ‘Economically, politically and militarily,’ declared General Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a famous controversy with Justice Douglas, ‘the control of our country resides with the civilian executive and legislative agencies.’ President Kennedy has made the position quite clear: ‘Our arms must be subject to ultimate civilian control at all times. The basic decisions on our participation in any conflict and our response to any threat will be made by the regularly constituted civilian authorities.’

Firm acceptance of civilian supremacy, not just professionalism, is the truly effective check.

A “check” that is weakening as we will see below.

3. Other inhibiting factors.

In addition to professionalism plus the tradition of civilian supremacy other factors serve from time to time to deter the military from intervention.

One of these is fear for the fighting capacity of the armed forces. If these became highly politicized with their members taking opposite sides, their value as a fighting force could be seriously undermined.



1. The ‘Manifest Destiny of the Soldiers’

Describing the army coup of 1948, President Bétancourt of Venezuela has written that from the office of the Chief of Staff there went ‘a message of Messianic intent – the “manifest destiny”, the providential mission of the soldiers as saviours of their countries.’ 

An elegant expression of such a belief is to be found in a speech by Dr. Salazar, five years after the establishment of his dictatorship.

‘It will not offend anyone to recognize that the material and moral disasters of the last decades brought the decay of the Portuguese nation to its final term. In politics, in administration, in the public and the private sectors of the economy, the same spectacle of permanent disorder was displayed, with its natural consequence in the collapse of the prestige of the State at home and overseas….

In such circumstances, with all the forces of society disorganized and in peril of dissolution, the chief problem was to find the fulcrum for the reaction of redemption….

The Army, neglected in the intemperate climate of recent years – wars, revolutions and reforms – is not, despite all, what we would like it to be; by the very nature of its peculiar constitution, it lives apart from politics, subjected to a hierarchy and discipline, serene and firm as a guarantee of public order and national security. This very superiority of discipline, existing in a body organized in the name of the honour and the destiny of the country was the sole factor capable of surmounting, with the minimum of dislocation and danger, the obstacles created by the empty rigmaroles then in being; and to support the New Authority, pledged to work for the salvation and resurgence of the country….’

Sectional bodies all plead the national interest when making claims for their own benefit, but the military are specially well placed to do so. In the first place, they are, purportedly, outside party politics; their charge is the state; and they exist, unlike churches and the like, by a deliberate fiat for the sole purpose of defending this state. Secondly, their claim is more plausible than that of most other sectional bodies. Quite apart from the public’s approval of ‘the military virtues’ no other national institution so symbolizes independence, sovereignty, or equality with other peoples as a country’s armed forces.

All military training lays heavy emphasis on the national identity, and whips up patriotism and nationalism in its recruits, and by contrast hatred and contempt for the enemy. Where all nations are enemies, one’s own nation is the focus of loyalty; and all military training presupposes an ‘enemy’.

No political party, church, corporation or private interest can make the same claim as can the military to know, pursue and implement the national interest.

2. The motive of the ‘national interest’.

All armed forces which have become politicized as described hold in some form or another a similar belief: that they have some special and indeed unique identification with the ‘national interest’. We have already seen how Dr. Salazar expresses this view. It is to be found elsewhere too. ‘The Army,’ said General Von Seeckt, ‘should become a State within a State, but it should be merged in the State through service; in fact it should become the purest image of the State.’

Our old friend (enemy) Imperium in Imperio appears once again, but this time with a difference – the military is the “purest image of the State”.

The Spanish Enciclopedia Universel speaks of the Spanish army after 1931 as ‘the last bastion of Spanish nationhood’. ‘The Armed Forces,’ said Perón, ‘are the synthesis of the nation. They do not belong to specific parties or sectors. They belong to the nation.’

Other armed forces, however, look on their rôle of custodianship differently. They see it as a duty to arbitrate or veto. They feel authorized to exercise it when some convulsion or decision of the civil authorities seems to them to threaten what they think are the permanent interests of the nation. In this conception the armed forces are not to merge into the public authorities but to remain distinct and outside them but with the power to intervene against them.

In Turkey where the Menderes government had harassed the opposition and fettered the press, the Commander-in-Chief, General Gürsel, seized power in May 1960. Arresting President Bayar, Mr. Menderes and a large number of deputies of the ruling Democratic party, he set up a provisional government and issued his pronunciamento. It stated that the army had acted to depose a small group who had acted against the constitution and repressed civil liberties. The new administration was to be temporary, it would restore rights and freedoms, draw up a new constitution, and bring it into being by free election. October 1961 was later fixed as the date for return to elections, and this promise was kept.

Just as the military may regard their ‘custodianship of the national interest’ either as a duty to rule or as as duty to arbitrate, so they have no uniform notion of what constitutes the ‘national interest’. For it is quite incorrect to supposed that the armed forces are always on the side of landed or industrial oligarchies; ad often ad not they oppose such groups. It is equally erroneous to suppose they are antidemocratic, or to be more exact, anti-parliamentary.

Thus, it matters what the background political culture is and what the ideas of the generals are.


3. Another Kind of Motivation – the Sectional Interest.

The plea of ‘national interest’ is often hpocritical. It becomes more and more suspect as the interests of the military shift from the more general to the particular – from the defence of a region to the defence of a class, from the defence of a class to the defence of the army as an institution, until it reaches its ultimate degredation in those cases – and there are very many – where officers intervene in order (even among other things) to improve their own personal careers.

(a)Class interest.

The most facile of all the theories of military intervention seeks to explain everything in terms of class interest.

(b)The Regional Interest.

 It sometimes happens that the officer corps is predominantly drawn from one particular region of the country or develops special ties with it; and this too can act as a motive for military intervention. The modern British example of military politics, the Curragh ‘mutiny’, is an instance in point. General Gough was himself an Irishman, and his cavalry officers, who preferred to resign their commissions rather than coerce Ulster, were connected with the Ulster gentry by birth or ties of friendship and domicile.

(c)The Corporate Self-Interest of the Armed Forces.

The military is jealous of its corporate status and privileges. Anxiety to preserve its autonomy provides one of the most widespread and powerful of the motives for intervention. In its defensive form it can lead to something akin to military syndicalism — an insistence that the military and only the military are entitled to determine on such matters as recruitment, training, numbers and equipment affecting the armed forces. As these certainly include foreign policy, and invariably include domestic economic policy and may well include all the factors making for morale, i.e. education and the mass media of communication, such claims are bound to bring the military into conflict with the civilian government which traditionally occupies itself with such matters.

We have already pointed out that such claims as these are an outcome of professionalism. A special body of persons, the military, are functionally specialized: designated, indoctrinated and trained to perform a special task, quite different from that of the rest of the community. The more specialized they are the more anxious to take the steps that will safeguard and guarantee their success.

The German army, both in the Imperial era ( 1871-1918) and under both Weimar and Hitler, was powerfully, indeed predominantly, driven by this corporate interest. Nationalism, arrogance, class bias, individual careerism all played their parts in determining its attitude; but most of what passes for a gratuitous itch for political power was due to its determination to safeguard, to win back, even partly extend its autonomous position in politics and society. Certainly the record looks extraordinary: in the period 1871-1914, two War Ministers ( Kameke and Schellendorff), a Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Von Bieberstein), a Minister of the Interior ( Boetticher) and two Chancellors ( General Caprivi and Prince Hohenlöhe) were made to resign by direct or indirect military pressure. Yet in so acting the military were all the time seeking to defend their autonomy.

It is so in most of the Latin American states, in the Middle East, and in contemporary South-east Asia, and was so in pre-war Eastern Europe. In most of the countries of these four regions the army provided a means by which boys of lower middleclass family, or even poor family, could rise to officer rank. Now there is no reason why the social aspirant, having come so far, should not wish to climb higher and to gatecrash into the circles reserved for the social set itself — i.e. the circles of government. To the extent that this is true of any particular state, it suggests self-interest as at least one of the motives for intervention.


 4. The Mixed Motives of the Military.

Such are the principal motives on which the military tend to act. They act from a mixture of them that varies from case to case.

In summary, if the above is a good guide, then the grounds for expecting intervention are quite strong, which indeed they are, as we shall see.


The Disposition to Intervene.

(2) Mood

MOODS are more difficult to describe than motives. Psychologists have not yet established a recognized vocabulary for them, let alone a standard classification, and they say that the experimental material on which to base such a classification is still lacking. These difficulties are accentuated in the case of the military where evidence of mood is entirely lacking in all but a handful of cases.

In all instances, however, one element is always present-the consciousness of kind; the military is aware of its special and separate identity distinguishing it from civilian corporations. This self-consciousness, as we have seen, is rooted in and derives from the objective peculiarities of the military life.

In many cases all we can say is that to induce the mood to intervene, only two elements need be added to this self-awareness. The first is a sense of overwhelming power, the knowledge that, in the peculiar circumstances of that moment or that particular country, there is nothing that can prevent them having their own way. The second is some kind of grievance. These grievances or grudges may be some difference of opinion on political issues – for instance, the coups and counter-coups in Syria between 1949 and 1962 were partly due to differences of opinion on Syrian foreign policy. Equally, the grievances may be the emotional aspects of some or other of the motives we have listed – class resentment, regional grudges, ambition or pure predatoriness before a supine and helpless public.

In a narrow range of cases, the military’s behaviour seems almost to follow the lines of a psychology text-book on ‘Frustration.’ Frustrated – no matter how or why – by their society or by the government of the day, the military react predictably (1) by the responses of anger and humiliation; (2) by ‘projecting’ the blame on the civilians and ‘rationalizing’ this reaction; and finally (3) by ‘compensating’ for the frustration and humiliation by ‘taking it out’ on these unfortunate objects of their censure. In this narrow range of cases it seems permissible to recognize a single basic mood which sparks off the revolt of the military and which may be summed up as a morbidly acute feeling of injured self-respect.

Is there any reason why the military might feel “humiliated”?

(d) The Motive of Individual Self-Interest.

 The seismic zones of military intervention, the areas where it is or has been endemic, tend by and large to be regions where social stratification is marked….


(a) The ‘Self-Important’ Armed Forces.

There are armed forces which have a good but not excessive opinion of themselves relative to the government or to civilians in general. In some cases, e.g. France or Pakistan, it would be hard to say that the sentiment went much beyond a professional pride in efficiency.

There is a striking analogy between what overtook the Egyptian army and the malaise in the French army which culminated in the events of May 13, 1958. The original mood is vastly dissimilar; unlike the Egyptian army, the French has a long and most glorious history; it was respected and respectable, and suffered no such feelings of inferiority or hatred of the ruling class as possessed the younger Egyptian officers. But, from 1940, and especially after 1946, its junior officers suffered successive humiliations similar to the Egyptian, and they reacted in a similar way. To begin with, they also began to feel abandoned and rejected by the nation. Their pay and conditions had begun to lag behind comparable professions. Instead of spending most of their lives on garrison duty in France, from 1946 the regular officers spent most of it in the colonies, returning to France for only brief intervals. During the long years of the Indochina war these expatriate officers in the arduous terrain of Indochina read in their French newspapers of the domestic attacks on ‘la sale guerre’. They knew that reinforcements came out and casualties were repatriated in obscurity. And so they got the impression that they were carrying the burden alone. In these conditions, rejected by French society, they turned in upon themselves. Thus in its own way, quite different from that of the Egyptian army, the French officer corps also developed a sense of rejection and a… corresponding grudge against civilians.

It is not difficult to imagine something similar occurring…..

Secondly, the French officers too began to experience a sequence of disasters and in their humiliation they too projected the blame on the politicians. The critical moment was Dien Bien Phu, which led to the abandonment of Indochina: thereafter the civilian government was singled out as the cause of military humiliation. General Navarre, for instance, attributed the defeat to two reasons: that ‘our rulers’ never knew what they wanted in Indochina, or, if they did, lacked the courage to say so; and secondly, they ‘permitted the Army to be stabbed in the back’ by allowing the communists free reign for their ‘permanent treason’. ‘The accumulated tergiversations, mistakes and poltrooneries’, he continued, ‘are too numerous and continuous not to be imputable to the men and even to the governments which followed one another in office. They are the fruits of the régime. They proceed from the essential nature of the French political… system.’

Not hard to imagine at all really….

But, hard on the heels of Indochina followed further reverses. Morocco and Tunis were abandoned,… and then came the Suez expedition. Technically, this was brilliantly successful. All the more humiliating was the withdrawal. ‘Two years after ( Dien Bien Phu), pushed out of Morocco and Tunisia where we had lorded it for so long, made desperate by the Algerian problem, suddenly we were expected to fight a classical combat, without the disseverances of civil war, a military adventure with the clear order of command, ‘knock out a dictator’. The disappointment over the Suez operation was as great as the enthusiasm it had roused. Nothing will ever describe the misery of the parachutists who, victorious, had to leave Egypt and turn their backs on victory.’

From this moment disaffection multiplied among the junior officers, who had borne the heat of the day. It was these above all who felt angry and humiliated and, significantly, they not only turned their rage and contempt against the régime and the politicians but also against the senior officers and the High Command. This was the mood that provoked the events of May 13, and the downfall of the Fourth Republic.

1.b) Armies with a morbidly high self-esteem

In the foregoing cases, none of the armies regarded themselves as inherently superior to civilians, and some, like the Egyptian, started off by feeling very inferior to them. Armies exist, or have existed, however, with a morbidly high opinion of themselves as compared with the rest of society. Affronts or imagined affronts to their pride tend to spark such armies into intervention more quickly than in the former class and for causes that are, objectively, much slighter.

Here again their self-esteem is nettled by vicarious humiliations as well as by direct ones or by society’s rejection of their pretensions. The G.O.U. (Grupo de Officiales Unidos) which seized power in 1943 had the greatest contempt for civilians. ‘Civilians will never understand the greatness of our ideal. We shall therefore have to eliminate them from the government and give them the only mission which corresponds to them: work and obedience.’ So ran a G.O.U. manifesto circulated a month before the uprising of 1943.

A similar mood was permeating the Japanese army by 1930. We have already had occasion to mention its great prestige. The military considered themselves the heirs of the Samurai, the traditional ‘lords of the four classes’, and adopted Bushido, its code of honour. The fact that officers were being drawn largely from middle- and lowerclass families did not affect this Samurai tradition which was wholeheartedly adopted by the newcomers. The military therefore continued to regard themselves as privileged.

Forget “white privilege”, the left need to start talking about “military privilege”.

In the 1920’s, however, the political parties successfully cut down the military budgets and boldly denounced the military in the Diet, and despite the patriotic secret societies, public opinion followed them. The soldiers became a target for mockery: ‘What use are spurs in a tramcar?’…’Big swords are a nuisance to passengers.’ The military therefore considered the parties and the Diet as their enemies.

The German Reichswehr officers also regarded themselves as a privileged caste. Drawn from a narrow, aristocratic and reactionary social stratum, every effort had been made to link them with the prewar Imperial army. The field-grey and the steel helmet were retained.

As we will see below, there is a showdown coming between the new generation of Democrat Party supporters and the military and one or the other will ultimately lose.


The Opportunity to Intervene

CERTAIN situations make the civil power abnormally dependent on the military authorities. Others enhance the military’s popularity while correspondingly depressing that of the civil authorities. The military’s opportunities to intervene are maximized if both situations coincide.

 1.(a) Increased civilian dependence on the military

‘War is too important to be left to the generals.’ Few civilians seem to have agreed with this and still fewer generals. War usually expands the influence of the military.

1: (b) The effect of domestic circumstances

Now we come to Finer discussing the role that a “crisis” plays in military intervention.

In the foregoing examples the government depends on the military because this is indispensable to its foreign policy. Domestic circumstances may also produce this effect. The government may have to rely on the military as a police force. We can distinguish three kinds of situations in which this is likely to happen: situations of overt or acute crisis; situations of latent or chronic crisis; and finally power-vacuum situations.

(a) Overt crisis. Overt crises occur even in long-established states with well-developed civil institutions. The characteristic of such crises is that rival political forces have arisen willing and… able to use violence, which are so equally matched that no government can rely on support from any single one without drawing on itself the full violence of the rest. Such a country is effectively in a state of potential or even incipient civil war. The causes sometimes lie in the dislocations of some disastrous defeat; sometimes in the aftermath of a protracted and bitter war of political liberation; sometimes they spring from a vicious spiral of domestic events.

Thus the characteristic of overt crisis is a fragmentation of opinion into mutually hostile political movements of such pugnacity and power that the government is deprived of any coherent body of popular support, and to survive at all must turn to relying on overwhelming force: and this means relying on the armed forces.

(b) Latent crisis. Much more common is the situation of latent crisis. This connotes a situation wherein a political or social minority rule in a way which the masses hate but which they are too weak to overthrow. Faced by a consensus of indifference or active hatred, often expressing itself in sporadic demonstrations, murders or jacqueries, the ruling oligarchy maintains itself by relying on the army, and, therefore, this becomes its master.

Ripe grounds indeed.

The Power Vacuum.

There remain cases where there is, effectively, no organized political movement of any strength, and singularly little if any political opinion at all. These situations are rapidly passing away owing to the emergence of industry in hitherto medieval economies on the one hand and the impact of Western ideas on the other. Among such ideas, Marxism must be reckoned a powerful force, carried as it is with missionary zeal and the implicit or explicit backing of Russia and China. Hence the most typical examples lie in the past though this is not by any means a remote one: Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia up to about 1920, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras up to about 1930, Paraguay and Haiti to this day, may be said to be countries in which organized public opinion did not exist or was so weak as to be inconsiderable.

Well, we can rule this condition out.


The Popularity of the Military

The popularity or prestige of the armed forces is a second objective factor which may help them to intervene. Such popularity is very erratic and it fluctuates with time and circumstance. The initial popularity which so often accompanies a coup may wear off quite quickly. Thus the vocal public and the intelligentsia of Pakistan are today increasingly disenchanted with the Ayub Khan régime. Likewise in the Sudan.

This is an important point to keep in mind.

In his study of the French army between 1815 and 1939, Girardet has shown how and why its popularity fluctuated so markedly during the course of the century. Tainted with Bonapartism and Jacobinism after 1815, it was coldly received by the wealthier classes, but by the same token was popular with the masses. A striking change began to occur after the events of 1848 when the army alone had stood between La Grande Peur of the Paris bourgeoisie and the insurrectionary workmen who invaded the streets. Under the Empire, the army became the darling of the upper classes, and it became increasingly clerical and aristocratic. For some twenty years… after the shock of defeat in 1870, it was the idol of both conservatives and progressives alike; national humilitation had wiped out rancour.

It is, therefore, impossible to generalize about the factors on which the popularity of the army depends. Nor is it necessary. One need note only that it is particularly helped, should it nourish any political ambitions, by any circumstances that tend to discredit the civilian régimes. Inefficiency, corruption, and political intrigue appear to be the very reverse of that austerity, brisk authoritarianism, political neutrality and patriotism which pristine publics, unaccustomed to military rule, tend to attribute to the military. It is not surprising, therefore, that the military find in civilian mismanagement the opportunity, the motive and subsequently the pretext for their intervention.

A great example follows:

Consider the case of Primo de Rivera. We have already mentioned that by 1923 Spain was deep in social crisis. The Juntas de defensa had contributed to this crisis and the principal reason for Primo de Rivera’s coup, or at least the timing of it, was to suppress the parliamentary inquiry into the Moroccan disaster. Yet his coup was acclaimed with wild enthusiasm. The reason is quite simple: the politicians and the régime could not have been more unpopular. In his own words:

‘We do not feel obliged to justify our action, which sensible public opinion demands and imposes. Murders of priests, exgovernors, public officials, employers, foremen and workers; audacious and unpunished hold-ups; depreciation of the value of money; the hogging of millions of concealed expenditures; a customs policy suspect for its tendencies but even more because whoever manages it boasts of impudent immorality; base political intrigues seizing on Morocco as their pretext; irresolution on this most serious national problem; social indiscipline which renders labour inefficient and of no account; agricultural and industrial production precarious and in a ruinous state; communist propaganda unpunished; impiety and barbarousness; justice influenced by politics; barefaced separatist propaganda; tendentious passions over the problem of responsibility [for Morocco ].’ 

An open and shut case really…

Kassim’s plaidoyer makes similar and equally valid play with the corruption and ineptitude of the politicians. ‘The revolution has taken place to free the people of Iraq from tyranny and corruption in domestic affairs…. Under the old régime there was no law or justice in Iraq. Only the interests of the governing classes were served by the administration of the law under that régime.’ 

Justification of the Pakistan coup was similar. ‘Self-seeking leaders had ravaged the country or tried to barter it for personal gain.‘Weak and irresolute governments have looked on with masterly inactivity and cowardice and allowed things to drift and deteriorate and discipline to go to pieces.’ – ‘Politicians have started a free-forall type of fighting in which no holds are barred. They have waged a ceaseless and bitter war against each other regardless of the ill effects on the country, just to whet their appetites and satisfy their base motives. There has been no limit to the depth of their baseness, chicanery, deceit and degradation.…’

The extent to which these remarks of General Ayub Khan hit off the popular mood can be gauged by Mr. Wint’s report on the ‘ 1958 Revolution’, as he calls it. ‘The government and politicians were despised‘, he writes. ‘In contrast, the army gamed prestige.

Finer then provides a summary of the conditions under which intervention takes place:

Disposition and opportunity: the calculus of intervention

Disposition and opportunity: the calculus of intervention

In the preceding chapters we discussed the military’s disposition to intervene, and we have now reviewed its occasion or opportunity for doing so. These, the subjective and objective factors, are both relevant to the fact or likelihood of intervention. It will be seen that there are four possible situations.

  1. Neither disposition nor opportunity to intervene. In this case no intervention will occur.
  2. Both disposition and opportunity to intervene. In this case intervention will occur.
  3. No disposition to intervene but the opportunity for doing so.
  4. Disposition, but no opportunity.

As we have seen, all the opportunities of this kind arise through some weakening of the public support for the government, and thereby its increased dependence on the military. The less its authority the more it must rely on force. But this is simply to say that the greater the ‘public attachment to civilian institutions’ the less opportunity and the less likelihood of success will the military enjoy: and vice versa.

The opportunity to Intervene, and the Level of Political Culture.

We called it the level of political culture. We suggested that one might conceive of societies as ranged at various levels of political culture according to the strength or the weakness of their attachment to their civilian institutions. We now see that the higher this level, the fewer are the objective opportunities open to the military; and that if it tries notwithstanding, the less support it will receive. The lower the level, however, the more numerous the opportunities, and the greater the likelihood of public support.

Samuel E. Finer. “The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics.”

If the above constitute the “theoretical conditions”, then in the next section we examine the “facts on the ground” as it where.


6: STEEL Reaction Considered A Posteriori.

Americans became exasperated with democracy. We were disillusioned with the apparent inability of elected government to solve the nation’s dilemmas. We were looking for someone or something that could produce workable answers. The one institution of government in which the people retained faith was the military. Buoyed by the military’s obvious competence in the First Gulf War, the public increasingly turned to it for solutions to the country’s problems. Americans called for an acceleration of trends begun in the 1980s: tasking the military with a variety of new, non-traditional missions, and vastly escalating its commitment to formerly ancillary duties.

America wanted solutions and democratically elected government wasn’t providing them. The country suffered from a “deep pessimism about politicians and government after years of broken promises.” David Finkle observed in the Washington Post Magazine that for most Americans “the perception of government is that it has evolved from something that provides democracy’s framework into something that provides obstacles, from something to celebrate into something to ignore.” Likewise, politicians and their proposals seemed stale and repetitive. Millions of voters gave up hope of finding answers.

The “environment of apathy” Janos characterized as a precursor to a coup had arrived. Unlike the rest of government the military enjoyed a remarkably steady climb in popularity throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. And indeed it had earned the admiration of the public. Debilitated by the Vietnam War, the US military set about reinventing itself. As early as 1988 U.S. News & World Report heralded the result: “In contrast to the dispirited, drug-ravaged, doyour-own-thing armed services of the ‘70s and early ‘80s the US military has been transformed into a fighting force of gung-ho attitude, spit-shined discipline, and ten-hut morale.”After the US military dealt Iraq a crushing defeat in the First Gulf War, the ignominy of Vietnam evaporated.

When we graduated from the War College in 1992, the armed forces were the smartest, best educated, and best disciplined force in history. While polls showed that the public invariably gave Congress low marks, a February 1991 survey disclosed that “public confidence in the military soar[ed] to 85 percent, far surpassing every other institution in our society.” The armed forces had become America’s most—and perhaps only— trusted arm of government.

Assumptions about the role of the military in society also began to change. Twenty years before we graduated, the Supreme Court confidently declared in Laird v. Tatum that Americans had a “traditional and strong resistance to any military intrusion into civilian affairs.” But Americans were now rethinking the desirability and necessity of that resistance. They compared the military’s principled competence with the chicanery and ineptitude of many elected officials, and found the latter wanting.

It wasn’t too long before 21st-century legislators were calling for more military involvement in police work. Crime seemed out of control. Most disturbing, the incidence of violent crime continued to climb. Americans were horrified and desperate: a third even believed vigilantism could be justified. Rising lawlessness was seen as but another example of the civilian political leadership’s inability to fulfill government’s most basic duty to ensure public safety. People once again wanted the military to help.

Hints of an expanded police function were starting to surface while we were still at the War College. For example, District of Columbia National Guardsmen established a regular military presence in high-crime areas. Eventually, people became acclimated to seeing uniformed military personnel patrolling their neighborhood. Now troops are an adjunct to almost all police forces in the country. In many of the areas where much of our burgeoning population of elderly Americans live—Brutus calls them “National Security Zones”— the military is often the only law enforcement agency. Consequently, the military was ideally positioned in thousands of communities to support the coup.

Concern about crime was a major reason why General Brutus’s actions were approved in the Referendum. Although voter participation by the general public was low, older Americans voted at a much higher rate. Furthermore, with the aging of the baby boom generation, the block of American voters over 45 grew to almost 53 percent of the voters by 2010. This wealthy, older electorate welcomed an organization which could ensure their physical security. When it counted, they backed Brutus in the Referendum—probably the last votes they’ll ever cast.

The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012. Charles J. Dunlap Jr.


Thus, the DoD should not wait for definitive national-level guidance on countering gray zone competition before thoughtfully considering its own options.

Outplayed: Regaining Strategic Initiative in the Gray Zone. Authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier, Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Burnett, Colonel William J. Cain Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Christopher d. Compton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean M. Hankard, Professor Robert S. Hume, Lieutenant Colonel Gary R. Kramlich II, Colonel J. Matthew Lissner, Lieutenant Colonel Tobin A. Magsig, Colonel Daniel E. Mouton, Mr. Michael S. Muztafago, Colonel James M. Schultze, Professor John F. Troxell, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis G. Wille.


During the election campaign the power elite’s corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump’s military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite’s factions became visible within the US establishment’s entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state’s covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated “color revolutions” that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

The Political Science of Everything in 2016. David Chibo.


Trump has been yelling “Drain the swamp!” on the campaign trail, and even some Democratic voters who would rather chew off their own legs than vote for him felt a private thrill when he said that. Almost everybody hates the Washington swamp, including lots of people who live there. Of all American institutions, Congress has the lowest approval rating, less than 10 percent, and the military has the highest at 73 percent. In the Middle East and Latin America, numbers like these would portend a military coup. But we don’t live in the Middle East or Latin America. We live here. So instead of a military coup, we got Donald Trump.

An Uncertain New Era Begins. Michael J. Totten.


The only institution of the US state that still seems to be functioning as normal, and which appears to have retained a measure of public respect and support, is the military, which politically speaking seems increasingly to be calling the shots.

It is striking that the only officials President Trump can nominate to senior positions who do not immediately run into bitter opposition have been – apart from General Flynn, who was a special case – senior soldiers.

Now the military in the persons of Kelly, McMaster and Mattis find themselves at the heart of the US government to an extent that has never been true before in US history, even during the Presidencies of former military men like Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant or Dwight Eisenhower.

Steve Bannon Goes as the Military takes Over Trump Administration. Alexander Mercouris.


The result is that the foreign policy of the US is being decided to an extent unique in US history by a former military officer – General Mattis – who does not hold elected office, but who does sit on top of the US’s gigantic defence and national security bureaucracy.

Goodbye “President” Trump. Hail “President” Mattis. Alexander Mercouris.


7: Next Time.

Next time we begin to look at cameralism: STEEL-cameralism and after that we look at the “romance” of the three cameralisms (Prussian, neo and STEEL).



14 thoughts on “The STEEL-cameralist Manifesto Part 6B: STEEL Reaction II (Strike Fast, Strike Hard and Strike with STEEL).

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