1: General Summary of the Manifesto’s Thus Far.
2: Philosophical Summary of the STEEL-cameralist Manifesto.
1: General Summary of the Manifesto’s Thus Far.
1: The Western world, and America in particular, is undergoing a crisis.
2: The concept of a “crisis” here is used in the specific, Kuhnian sense of the term.
3: The nature of the crisis is not a religious, moral or even an ideological one.
4: The nature of the crisis is political; specifically, it concerns the state: its structure, nature and function. That is the “deep crisis”; the “shallow crisis” that everyone can see and partly grasp relates to political progressivism or liberalism or Tranzism.
5: Our evidence that a crisis exists, beyond the fact that the term “crisis” is widely used and acknowledged across the political spectrum, is fourfold:
A: The “anomalous” election of Donald Trump. This fact contradicts the narrative of “progress” and points to many flawed assumptions within the progressive/tranzi belief system and of the Modern Structure’s “security system” in preventing such a person from becoming president.
B: The anomaly that, while the U.S is a republic, it has a vast “deep state” or “administrative state” that contradicts the formal or constitutional design (what the government is on paper) and the fact that this fact is widely acknowledged, if imperfectly understood.
Secondly, while the progressives, and even some conservatives, refer to USG as a democracy, the reality is that USG is an oligarchy.
C: The anomaly that USG has not won, and does appear to be able to win, wars against relatively weak, non-state actors. The “war on terror” has only created more terror and that the American homeland is no longer a “sanctuary” from Islamic terrorism. Muslim assimilation has failed in Europe and that many European countries are in, or will soon be in, national states of emergency due to terrorism and civil disorder, with America not far behind if things continue.
Contrary to the claims of Stephen Pinker, global violence has not declined over the last several centuries, but has increased exponentially.
Crucially, the liberal international order is either or in crisis; great power conflict has returned; numerous wars exist on nearly every continent with USG having an active and or decisive role in most of them.
In general, and in particular, crime, violence and disorder within America have increased over the last several decades and in recent years in particular.
D: USG’s government debt is in the trillions; state and local governments are going bankrupt; the petro-dollar is under increasing strain; USG has huge trade deficits and its manufacturing base has declined; unemployment is high and is probably set to grow higher over the coming years; the “middle class” is shrinking while more and more Americans are poorly educated, poorly paid and poorly motivated – this, despite the fact that immigration has grown exponentially over the last several decades, which has contributed to the interlinked political, economic and security crises.
In short, the perception and reality is that the current economic system no longer “works” for most Americans.
E: The “Narrative” is no longer believable. Trust in political institutions and confidence and optimism about the future is declining – a consistent trend; political extremism is growing; there is growing talk of a “civil war”; America is “coming apart”.
In short, the progressive paradigm is in crisis. Whether or not Trump represents a complete or partial paradigm shift or just a temporary anomaly is a question that cannot be answered at the current time. There now exists, within “Blue” and “Red” political elites, a “cold war”.
There is a high probability that within the next few years, many people within the federal government and within the extended, informal government – Moldbug’s Cathedral – will be fired, arrested and even imprisoned.
There is a clear perception that something is broken and it will not be put back together again.
6: The basic possibilities for the immediate future are:
A: Collapse (Like the Soviet Union).
B: Civil war (like in Yugoslavia or Syria).
C: The next stage of Progressivism: more totalitarian, repressive and violent than ever before as a reaction to the Trump anomaly.
D: Succession and separation (perhaps brought about by a collapse or early stages of a civil war).
E: Caesarism and or military government (again, brought about by a collapse, civil war or a coup against the Modern Structure).
7: In nearly all of the above possibilities, the assumption is that they would only be temporary stages on the road, no matter how painful, terrifying and disruptive, to Caesarism and military government (whether direct or veiled/indirect).
8: America is no longer in a republic in another sense for it is now a globe spanning empire.
9: The US military is going nowhere and nor will war end anytime soon, if ever. The military, along with the police and other security agencies, will be a major, if not determinate, factor in determining the future of USG, especially if the other elite castes falter (the political and economic castes).
10: Neoreactionaries and neoreactionary thinking can be divided into roughly three groups or “parties”, which we shall rename as:
A: The Party of God (Theonomists).
B: The Party of Gold (Techno-Commercialists).
C: The Party of Genes (Ethno-Nationalists).
None of the above necessarily corresponds to Moldbug’s neocameralism, including Land’s Techno-Commercialism.
11: STEEL-cameralism is a deliberate counterweight to all of the above “parties”.
12: STEEL-cameralism is a thought experiment – an exercise in “theory fiction” – that grapples with the possibility of a “Caesar” arising or a military government occurring.
13: STEEL-cameralism is a modification of neocameralism in three specific ways:
A: It does not work with a “clean slate” but considers how the current governmental structures could be adapted or re-purposed.
B: STEEL-cameralism attempts to seriously grapple with the fact that America is an empire.
C: If neocameralism is what a “good finance minister” might come up with, then STEEL-cameralism is what a defence minister might propose.
14: STEEL-cameralism then, is the “Party of the Gun.”
2: Philosophical Summary of the STEEL-cameralist Manifesto.
Q1: What, if anything, does neoreactionary thinking – at least ala Moldbug – bring to the table that no other school of thought brings? What is the unique selling point of neoreactionary critique and design?
Different “schools” can agree on the general outlines and even the specific nature of the crisis but differ as to the cause or causes of the crisis. For example, some might favour economic explanations – see here for a good example of this type of explanation. Others, meanwhile, might favour an ideological explanation and others still might favour psychological, sociological or even technological explanations.
What makes neoreactionary thinking different and special is that posits a structural explanation for the political crisis.
Consequently, neoreaction offers a structural “solution” to the crisis.
Q2: What is Neoreaction’s structural explanation of the crisis?
Moldbug often names the cause of the various problems and would explain today’s crisis as a result of Imperium in Imperio, which translates – literally – as a “state within a state”.
To be clear, however, what Moldbug is getting at is that modern Western states have management or governance structures that no corporation, military, charity, football club, school or church would ever have.
What occurs then, as a result of “Imperium in Imperio” or “democracy” is that the formal purpose of the organisation (in this case, good government) is subverted, undermined or abandoned so that the “owners”, “controllers”, “ruling elite” or just “managers” maintain their control over the organisation: their real purpose.
The real purpose is, always and everywhere, political power.
We can essentially state Moldbug’s philosophy in the following formula or proposition:
The more secure Elite power is within an organisation, the more time, money and attention they will devote to achieving the formal goals of that organisation.
The corollary of this proposition then is:
The more insecure Elite power is within an organisation, the more time, money and attention they will devote to achieving their real goals: gaining and maintaining (more) power.
A classic example of Elite power that is unsecure to the point of complete breakdown is the civil war. The many civil wars that occurred in the Roman Empire were a consequence of the fact that the Empire contained many “states within states” in the guise of military commanders who would fight each other for power after the death of an emperor.
A second example of unsecure Elite power is the feudal Kings who relied upon their barons for supplying men, money and “consent” for waging wars against external enemies. (See here for our analysis of Jouvenel’s On Power.)
A third example, one relevant to today, is immigration. Both political parties (Democrat and Republican) favour immigration, though for different reasons. However, those reasons are, fundamentally, about power: political power and economic power respectively.
Democrats favour immigrants because immigrants vote Democrat.
Republicans favour immigrants (or used to) because their donors (“big business”) favour (cheap and easily exploitable) immigrant labour.
A fourth example comes from the for profit corporation. Within a Corporation, a CEO is sometimes the chairman of the board. If the board are unhappy with the CEO’s direction, performance or ambitions, they may fire the CEO. However, if the CEO can either enlarge the board (weaken the vote of difficult directors) or make the board smaller (have only “loyal” directors) or reshuffle the directors via an election, then the CEO can secure their power.
In order to achieve this objective, the CEO might try to bring about a merger of two corporations which would provide them with an opportunity to create a new board with more pliant or loyal directors. (Mesquita gives an example of this CEO (Elite/High) Board (Essential/Middle) struggle in his book the Dictator’s Handbook .
(See here and here for more examples drawn from Mesquita’s work).
In short, the Tranzi ruling elite are an unsecure power in America. The Tranzi strategy of suffocating their disagreeable “Essentials” (the Middle Americans) via mass immigration, media and educational propaganda and indoctrination (and much else) was, while historically successful, undone in not only Trump’s election but the Brexit election in the UK.
Furthermore, the global Tranzi elite escaped similar debacles in France and the Netherlands but failed to do so in Poland, Hungry and Austria. Turkey, while not European, has returned to its Islamist roots – a failure, ultimately, because progressive memes did not work on enough Muslim minds and the fact that conservative Muslims voted Erdogan into power.
(Telling, when Erdogan secured his power, he fired lawyers, judges, bureaucrats, professors, teachers and journalists; indeed, he even jailed many of them.)
The Left loses when it either has no more enemies to overthrow or is unable or unwillingly to do so.
The Right wins when it builds structures of power and patterns of human relationships that are resistant to Leftist subversion and revolution.
Q3: Even if this where all true, what practical difference does it make?
Well, if we assume that the problems are a result of structure, then the neoreactionary solution – its unique selling point – is to fix the structure.
That is, to remove or mitigate (political) Imperium in Imperio. In other words, to restructure the state so that it corresponds to any other human structure. It need not (and probably better not) mean removing or restructuring all independent sources of power (cultural, religious, economic and technological).
If change is to occur, if the problem is to be solved, or at least mitigated, then a group which seeks to execute a paradigm shift must have either a single, concrete, realizable goal or a very small set of consistent and mutually re-enforcing goals.
Moldbug’s goal of re-structuring the state so that it corresponds to a modern corporation is, while difficult, not impossible. It is concrete and everyone can understand what they are likely to get by implementing such a paradigm shift. The next step, a natural one, of running the government like a business (taxes are “rents”) is also consistent and mutually re-enforcing of the primary goal of removing Imperium in Imperio.
In contrast, making America more “free” or “equal” is an abstract goal, with no clear practical way of being realised because the concepts are unclear and contested.
It should be said that if one wanted to re-structure America as a Christian empire, with the official religion as Catholicism (why not Mormonism?) then this plan is concrete, practical and possible. Furthermore, creating an ethno-nationalist America is also concrete, practical and possible.
However, it should be noted that these conceptions are “thick” goals or could be described as “end states”. That is, they have a definite social, religious, ethical and ethnic end.
Having Christianity as the official state religion is, however, inconsistent with having an ethnic state, for Christianity is a universal religion which brooks no racial distinctions.
Moldbug’s neocameralism is, in contrast, “thin” and a “patterned state”. That is, it operates as a religiously and ethnically neutral state/corporation (like McDonalds or Walmart). Furthermore, neocameralism operates according to a logic that runs completely contrary to Leftist political formulas; that is, the formal and real purpose consistent and that purpose is profit.
For Moldbug, peace, security, law and individual liberty are the political ends of the neocameral state. A Muslim, Catholic or Jew could accept all of those ends as, while necessary, only a means to a more metaphysically rich end.
In short, Moldbug’s neocameralism is, despite all the song and dance on Unqualified Reservations, a clear, simple and rather unexceptional claim that governments should be structured and operated like any other business. It is a concrete, practical solution that can bring, probably more than any other, a diverse range of political Elites and Essentials to the negotiating table and serve as a startpoint in any plan for restructuring.
Q4: What problems, if any, does neocameralism not solve?
The primary purpose of Moldbug’s work is to avoid violence, large scale political violence in particular. Moldbug believes that his design, of which neocameralism is a major part, solves or comes close to solving the problem of human conflict and competition.
We, however, have two fundamental objections or criticisms to make of Moldbug’s design.
Firstly, it is extremely unlikely, to the point of being logically and empirically impossible, that conflict and competition can ever be eliminated from human life.
If, as seems likely, that Moldbug’s design pertains to America as an empire (patchwork is only his ideal world) then Moldbug (and most other neoreactionary thinkers) have failed to fully grasp the importance of the American military or the military-industrial system to any possible restoration.
Q5: How has Moldbug’s design failed to sufficiently consider and solve the problem of conflict and competition?
Conflict and competition can never be eliminated – in principle – because in order to do so, at the very least, it would require complete control of not only one particular society, nation or “patch” but the entire world.
The possibility of a “world government” looked likely following WW2, but it failed to materialize due to a split between the Anglo-American (Tranzi) and the Sino-Soviet (Communist) world. In addition, world government looked, finally, to be a certainty to some after the end of the Cold War. However, in the quarter century since the end of the Cold War, the chances of a world government being realised is far, very far, from realisation.
Absent an external threat (aliens?), an existential catastrophe (global pandemic?) or a third world war, a single, unified, all-powerful and permanently stable world government is all but an impossibility.
Realistically, the most likely possibility for producing a world government is a world war waged by the major powers (America, Russian, China, India and Europe) with one coming out triumphant. However, even if a world government did arise (“globeorg” say), it would – from the start and throughout – be challenged by secondary organisations (global corporations and religious, racial and political groups).
While the global government may retain its global position of power, conflict and competition has not ended for resistance to its rule will be ongoing. Indeed, as with terror and criminal groups today, natural selection would operate on the challengers to global rule. Thus, over time, the sophistication of the challengers would only grow and if the global government would have to expend more resources countering the new threats.
The global government could maintain its positon for a long time but even if it exercised terrifying totalitarian power, history and logic suggests that it would collapse at some point – probably as a result of its inability to manage complexity and the myriad threats and competitors it faces. Therefore, after the collapse of this “world government”, competition and conflict (that was long suppressed) would be unleashed with new energy and terrifying lethality.
More fundamentally, even if political competition and conflict was successfully suppressed, a global power would not – necessarily – end technological, economic and cultural competition and conflict. Since competition and natural and Power selection leads to new powers arising and old powers falling, the permanent stability of a world government and the global elite who govern would remain permanently precarious.
With respect to USG as an example, consider the possible threat that “Silicon Valley” (SV) poses to Washington. SV is not only rich, it is also the source of new ideas and new, potential, Elites. SV Elites and their culture (diverse as it is) do not align with the three traditional types of power and caste: 1: Military (West Point); 2: Political Technocrats (Harvard); 3: Corporates (Wall Street). SV could probably not defeat this Washington triumvirate on its own, but if it aligned with one faction against the rest, it could become part of a new political consensus.
By analogy, there is nothing that rules out a new, emerging, centre of power -driven by technology, markets and ideas – to challenge a hypothetical world government.
Finally, if such a world government did exist, it too would be subject to the problem of Imperium In Imperio. The Global Elites, like all Elites, would have to rely on their Essentials to effectively govern but if the Elites are threatened by the power of the Essentials, then the Elites will find global “Expendables” to degrade the power of the Essentials.
What shape might this hypothetical conflict look like? No one knows but it could involve things like “rights for robots”, increased “automation” or promoting “marginalised” and “oppressed” genetically engineered humans to places of power and responsibility.
To summarise, there is nothing in Moldbug’s work that answers the problem of economic, technological and cultural competition. At best, it solves political competition and conflict – or at least it minimises its destructive consequences by minimising the scope and scale of the conflict (boardroom fights, as opposed to national and international demotist fights).
(Of course, economic, technological and cultural competition is an aspect of political competition.)
Q6: How has Moldbug’s analysis failed to sufficiently give explanatory weight to war as a cause of state power and Leftism and that his design fails to sufficiently consider the role of war in sustaining Leftism (today’s Tranzism) in the American Empire?
More fundamentally (and this is a specific objection in its own right), Moldbug’s analysis and design solutions give insufficient explanatory weight and design to the greatest and most dangerous type of competition and conflict: war (as in the Minotaur of War) and American imperial wars specifically (as in the American Minotaur of War).
Of course, the connection between Leftism, state power and war is peppered throughout UR and Moldbug points out many times the fact that the more puzzling elements of American foreign policy seems to be perfectly explained by the conflict between State and Defence (Blue and Red), itself an artefact of Imperium in Imperio.
However, as Reactionary Future aptly and probably correctly points out, Moldbug in UR undergoes a significant evolution as the full consequences and understanding of his philosophy becomes clear.
What stands out when one reads one of two of Moldbug’s key influences, Jouvenel’s On Power, along with our own influences, such as Charles Tilly’s Coercion, Capital and State Formation and Mesquita’s the Dictator’s Handbook, is the role of war as an ultimate, sustaining and proximate causes of the growth of state power and Leftism becomes much clearer.
For example, the reason why Elites resort to using Expendables to undermine their Essentials (High uses Low to weaken Middle) is almost always predicated on the need to secure power in order to wage war or compete geopolitically.
For example, while we have anecdotal and testimonial evidence, our “priors” lead us to suspect that the central rationale behind the American civil rights movement was because of the threat of global Communism and the need to influence and control African and other non-Western (or White) client states and potential client states.
Indeed, the role that “diversity” plays today is geopolitical; USG is investing in a “global alliance” that may one day have to constrain and challenge a ethically monolithic China.
Thus, even if America was a neocameralist country or had some other design that prevented Imperium in Imperio, there would still be geostrategic reasons for America to be “open” and “inclusive”. However, the manner and the means of this “racial” and “religious” diversity would very much likely be different.
Nevertheless, Moldbug’s reactionary vision of a “world order”, if one adopts and adapts the general ideas in patchwork to a more realistic geopolitical situation, is probably the best or one of the best, answers that anyone has ever came up with for dealing with war and human conflict. However, it does not go far or deep enough.
Q7: How does STEEL-cameralism differ from neocameralism?
1: Progressivism, Tranzism or simply Leftism as a set of “ideas”, as realised, extended and defended by state power is driven by competition and conflict, the most fundamental of which is war.
2: War will not end. Because war will not end, neither will the military as an institution. Because militaries will not “wither away”, the state will not “wither away” either. War makes the state and the state makes war.
3: USG is an empire; it is also an empire at permanent war.
4: If neoreactionaries are committed to empire (and not “patchwork”), then they are committed to permanent war and great power struggle (at worst) and a permanent arms race of (geoeconomic and technological) competition and low intensity conflict within America and throughout the world (at best).
5: If USG is and will always (almost certainly) be in a permanent state of war (at worst) and a permanent state of conflict and competition (at best), then they are committed to having a permanent military and the military-industrial system.
6: If one is committed to having a permanent military, then one must permanently recruit, train, supply and make use of this military (keep it sharp).
7: If one must manage a military, then it is also necessary to have sufficient control over all the resources necessary to managing and maintaining this military. That is, one must maintain sufficient control over the economy, production of technology and the minds and bodies of potential soldiers and the people who aid and assist the military-industrial system.
8: More fundamental still, the technology that has produced and can produce nuclear weapons can never be unlearned and nuclear weapons technology (should a state have them) can never be given up. If one gave up such weapons, one risks attack – annihilation – from other, nuclear states. By a similar token, this reasoning applies to other chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction that currently exist and may exist
9: As a consequence of the facts and logic set forth in the previous claim (8), a modern, military-industrial state, never mind a global empire, must commit itself to a permanent project of guarding, maintaining, refining and improving such weapons systems.
10: Thus, all the great powers (at least), such as America, Russia and China are in a permanent military-industrial-technological trap; a trap from which there is no possible escape.
11: Man is, therefore, a permanent slave to these machines of mass death.
12: There is no solution to this problem.
13: What we mean by “no solution” to this problem is that there is no solution – on Earth – that allows for man to escape this trap.
14: To repeat, even if a world government came into existence, there is no guarantee that such a government would be permanent. If such a hypothetical world government collapsed, the world would almost certainly be divided into many competing, warring factions once more.
15: Again, to repeat, there is no solution to this trap. Even if a world government embarked on a project to return mankind to style of living that pre-dated the rise of modern technology, the government would have to make use of the very technology that it sought to outlaw and destroy. Moreover, even if such a goal was achieved (a world free of modern technology), the world government would have to maintain some of this technology so that no challenger emerged who wished to make use of modern technology or the precursors to modern technology.
Clearly, this is a self-defeating strategy.
16: If man desires freedom from this military-industrial trap, then only EXIT – from Earth – will offer some potential for freedom.
17: To bring things down to a more mundane level, STEEL-cameralism accepts not only the inescapable fact of American empire, but sees it as not only necessary but, all things considered, desirable.
18: The permanent core, at the heart of the evolving American empire, is the military-industrial system: The American Minotaur of War.
19: Someone and some group will control this machine one way or another: sovereignty is conserved.
Even in the event of a collapse, like the Soviet Union, the military-industrial system will remain in place. Decayed institutions will be renovated; collapsing and collapsed structures and systems will be re-built. The Minotaur of War will march forward.
20: A re-structuring, of some kind, will occur. Maybe, it will be a “hard reboot” or a soft one; maybe, the reform will be gradual. However, if the currently existing political centres of power continue to decay, or collapse outright, then the military-industrial system (which includes local and state police, the Federal law enforcement agencies and the intelligence gathering systems) will, in partnership with select corporate interests and select church and religious groups, will take over the operations of USG.
21: STEEL-cameralism is an example of “theory fiction”; one that sees, via collapse or civil war or some other calamity, the rise of a “Caesarean” figure and the installation of military government; hence, “steel cameralism”.
22: What follows is what the structure of the state could look like, if was structured in a “cameralist” way – a STEEL way.
Over the course of the next few posts, we will consider the structure of the state and other constitutional issues.In part B, we examine Richard Posner’ ideas about what USG would be like if it was structured like a corporation. In part C, we look at how USG could be re-structured along STEEL-cameralist lines.
9 thoughts on “The STEEL-cameralist Manifesto Part 9A: The Permanent War against the Minotaur.”
One of your priors, that pacifism is a justifiable/postiive good, clouds judgement||
Why is permanent war a problem when it’s our nature as Men?
How would an off Earth Colony not have its own competition or be used as an asset to fight on Earth?
Seek not anyone else’s feet but those of Hari, the Guru, and Dwija. That whose name is recited throughout the four ages, against Him by fighting and dying one is carried across|| – Sri Guru Sarbloh Granth Sahib
The difference between Elite & Essential, is one does not shy away from conflict||
“Why is permanent war a problem when it’s our nature as Men?
How would an off Earth Colony not have its own competition or be used as an asset to fight on Earth?”
It becomes enormously destructive when wedded to modern technology.
Your second point is true. However, think of it as outrunning of exiting the conflict space. It is similar to how the first humans came to populate the Americas (leaving and setting up their own camps).