The STEEL-cameralist Manifesto Part 10A: The STEEL Reset.

 

 

Contents

 

Part A: Goals, Strategy and Constraints.

 

1: What is the Goal or Goals?

2: How Are These Goals to be Achieved?

3: What are the Imperatives of the State?

4: Do the Imperatives of the State Conflict with the Imperatives of Sub-State Organisations, Groups and Individuals?

5: What is Good for Sub-State Institutions, Groups and Enterprises?

6: What is Good for the Individual?

7: What is Good for Economic Growth? Science? Technology etc?

8: What about Trade-offs?

 

Part B: Absolutism, Imperium in Imperio and War.

 

9: What is Nuclear Absolutism?

10: Can we Eliminate Imperium in Imperio and if so How?

11: What are the Dangers of a “Perfect Design” or a State that is Overly Centralised?

12: What Role does War Play in the Growth of the Left and State Power and Can War Be Stopped?

 

Part C: The System and Structure of STEEL.

 

13: When it comes to any Hypothetical Restructuring, What is the “Bottom Line” or the Sine Qua Non for Neoreactionaries?

14: What can Neoreactionaries Learn from System’s Thinking?

15: Hypothetically Speaking, what would the Structure of a STEEL-cameralist Look Like?

 

 

Part 1: Goals, Strategy and Constraints.

 

 (For the next three posts, we have decided to adopt a more “didactic” format of Question and Answer.)

 

1: What is the Goal or Goals?

As neoreactionary political engineers, the goal is to restructure the state so that it structurally and operationally resembles any other normal, human organisation. That there is:

A: Centralised command and control (hierarchy) terminating in a single (executive) decision maker subject to some responsibility mechanism (such as a board, council, cabinet, politburo etc).

B: Elimination (at best) or mitigation (at least) of (political) Imperium in Imperio (competing, semi-to-fully-independent, political power centres).

C: Unification of ownership, responsibility, control and security for political Elites.

D: A system design that is capable of balancing the conflicting values of efficiency, stability and resilience so that the design is optimally placed to achieve its function.

What this means is that any restructuring that develops and implements some or all of the above design principles entails a complete political paradigm shift.

 

2: How Are These Goals to be Achieved?

There are a number of possible routes but essentially there are just two.

Moldbug:

A democratic reaction is the uranium bomb. A military reaction is the plutonium bomb.

Moldbug is pessimistic, as should we all, about the prospects of “democratic reaction”:

Therefore, the Amerikaners are unlikely to organize and act effectively until their electoral position has declined to the point at which a democratic restoration is not only nontrivial, but in fact impossible. At this point, USG will have imported tens if not hundreds of millions of new Third World residents. It will be obvious that military government is the only route to any kind of American restoration. The inevitable alternative is a North America indistinguishable from the rest of the Third World.

Have you been to the Third World? The armed forces will have to act. Let’s hope they can all get it together to be on the same side.

A military restoration may have some advantages over a democratic one. For one, the issue of democracy is settled at the start, or at least should be. A transition from democracy to democracy may have some nontrivial restorative effects, but come on, people. Ideally this needs to be done just once.

Any transition of sovereign responsibility to the military, however temporary, is dangerous.

How to Govern and Occupy a Foreign Country.

 

3: What are the Imperatives of the State?

The Imperatives of the state, as a state, are:

A: Become wealthy in order to

B: Become strong (economically, technologically and militarily) in order to

C: Become secure (from all enemies foreign and domestic).

That’s it.

Any sufficiently informed and intelligent person can easily see how the imperatives of the state conflict with the imperatives of other sub-state systems, groups and individuals.

Let’s not delude ourselves here. The state is a “machine”; it is a predator. Human individuals are, at best, trapped within this system; at worst, they are slaves. But at the very best, they can be find meaning and purpose within the constraints of the system.

Again, those of the Right (as we can see in the work of Michael Oakshott or Thomas Sowell) understand that politics is tragic and that there is no such thing as utopia.

While optimism is psychologically and strategically useful, there must be acknowledgment that, overall, the position of not only those who consider themselves “conservative” but neoreactionaries is bleak. It should also be said that for those on the far-left, the position is also bleak. Just as the (strategic) position of radical Muslims is bleak after not only their series of defeats but the fact that recent geopolitical evolutions (in Saudi Arabia and Qatar) have weakened the radicals position.

However, for more and more people generally, in first and developing worlds (never-mind the “third” world), the future is not looking attractive to those who reflect upon the current geopolitical tensions and evolutions, along with the unstoppable march of technology.

However, one thing we are fairly confident about is that if you are very rich or well-connected and have a position (with prospects of advancement) in the military-industrial system, then you will probably have a great future ahead of you.

Sovereignty is alwasy conserved and collapse, civil war and crack-up or not, the American Minotaur of War is going nowhere. And the worse it gets, the more powerful the military and other security forces will be. Adam, over at GAB, understands the crux of the issue, as you can in one of his recent posts. We talked about this dynamic here. In short make yourself useful to power and Power.

 

Our purpose in writing the STEEL-cameralist manifesto is a consequence of some of the following influences:

1: Moldbug’s work, the literature he recommends, and the work of Reactionary Future.

2: Our conclusion which, while present in Moldbug and less so in Reactionary Future, is that the causal role that war has played in the growth of state power and the advance of Leftism/Tranzism. In short, war makes the state and the state makes war and war makes Leftism. Reactionary Future’s Patron Theory, while correct in its essential details, is undergirded by the Elites (Patrons) need to wage war.

3: We paid extremely close attention to the recent presidential election and who was backing Trump (the military or “Red gov”). It seemed to us to be a paradigm changing moment, though we had our doubts (and still do); however, we are convinced that “Blue” and “Red” are in an escalating spiral of conflict and neither is backing down. The “Blue” gov is in a much weaker position that almost everyone thinks. If “Red” goes all the way, we may see a military government. In fact, the military have now come to play an executive role in USG greater than any other time in American history.       

4: From this, we consider what possible futures might be realized and what could be made out of the materials of such realized possibilities.

5: As for Napoleon, Moldbug recommended studying great political engineers and we had studied Napoleon before even reading Moldbug.  Napoleon’s rule from 1800-1805 is an excellent example of a reset and the difference an extremely talented individual can make; however, Napoleon’s rule also showcases the dangers of personal rule and great power. For this reason, and for other more general reasons, we do not favour absolutism or any overly personalist, informal autocratic ruler (typical dictator).

6: The probability that America will have some form of “Bonapartism” or “Caesarism” within the next ten to twenty years is, in our view, greater than 50%. Bonapartism or neo-Bonapartism is not STEEL-cameralism or even Nrx.

Thus, as one of favourite questions has it, what would say to such a person if you had five minutes with them?

 

4: Do the Imperatives of the State Conflict with the Imperatives of Sub-State Organisations, Groups and Individuals?

Absolutely.

There is no way round the fact that the state (as a system) has its own logic, incentives and “goals” and sub-state or tran-state systems (churches and corporations say) have their own logic and set of incentives, needs and goals. Furthermore, as libertarians never tire of pointing out (correctly) the needs of the state and (many) individuals are in irreconcilable conflict.

As Thomas Sowell correctly points out, for the Right there is no “solution”, in the sense of a design that removes the (systemic) problem once and for all; there is only a choice between different trade-offs.

Consider what one of the most rigorous defenders of liberalism, legal philosopher, Joel Feinberg, has to say about the “garrison state” for instance. This limiting principle, under liberalism, entails that if the state/society is sufficiently threatened either by an external enemy or by, as Feinberg uses, a society where large numbers (“10 percent”) drop out to become “lotus eaters”, then the state can compel these individuals to do what the state wants.

Feinberg argues that, given the harm principle, a liberal state would be justified in coercing individuals in order to make them defend the “garrison”.

It is highly likely that Reactionary Future would find Feinberg’s liberalism a folly of anarchistic ontology but what is the neo-absolutist answer?

From what we understand, under neo-absolutism, people are both born into, trained for and selected for certain roles within society and these roles embody moral and non-moral virtues with a specific telos that coheres with everything else under the supervision and rule of the sovereign.

According to neo-absolutism, the idea the people are individuals (in the liberal sense – “free”, “rationally self-interested” and “contracting”) – is bad philosophy heaped on top of bad anthropology.

Neo-absolutist anthropology fits well with our experience of many modern Chinese people and it would also pertain to other mono-ethnic and mono-cultural, nationalistic nations.

The problem for the West and America in particular is – philosophy and anthropology aside – that anarchistic ideas and “rebellious” practices are practically a tradition.

We are not the first to claim that Progressive activism and faux rebellion is now a tradition, a “rite of passage” and a sign of group membership. What this means is that it will be difficult to impossible to reason people out of what they were never reasoned into to begin with.

Beyond this, America is not and never really has been a mono-culture or mono-religious nation. Though, it has mostly been an ethnically homogenous one, but even this, from the start and throughout, has plenty of exceptions (Blacks, Irish, and Chinese).

STEEL-cameralism, in contrast to neo-absolutism, sees a clean distinction between state and society; state and church; political “employees” and “customers”; between empire and nation and between federal and state levels and between state and family.

(To be clear, this “distinction” has nothing to do with either moral or practical concerns (though those are not irrelevant) but as a matter of prudence and good government.)

Someone once said that while England is a “garden”, America is a “wilderness”. This is apt on so many levels. Politically, America is the “wild west”, the “frontier” where tensions and conflicts are part of the essence of the nation, people and history.

For instance, consider the following post, where the author (Jay Manifold) claims that America is a “barbarian” nation and that this is a good thing (you can find our commentary here).

Here is Manifold’s ultimate recommendation:

The general rule is: you may still, and often should, respond with alacrity to both exogenous and endogenous threats—but not as a “civilized” state would. Overdependence on perimeter defenses, and overcentralized power with its temptation toward coup or civil war, are to be avoided.

..“overcentralized power” does not mean that there is no central power, however.

Furthermore, as part of America’s “barbarian wilderness” there will be different “tribes”, “castes”, “religions”, and “racial groups”.

Again, if you are committed to maintaining the union, without excessive bloodshed – never-mind the wider Empire – then a certain amount of variety and social and cultural and economic variation is the price that has to be paid.

The important thing is that any restructuring must mean that vicious, dangerous and destructive mass politics is removed. This does not mean there will be no politics. It does mean that political conflict between racial, religious and caste groups is minimised.

Consequently, politics and governance becomes a formalised (as opposed to informal) Elite activity. That is, politics and governance and political actors are clearly distinguished from the rest of society and stand at a distance to it.

The military is, in many ways, a perfect example of what we mean by “Elite” here (in ways similar to Catholic priests).

The American military is an all-volunteer force; there is selection, differentiation, virtues, duties and responsibilities; there is also separation (geographically, professionally and psychologically) from the rest of society.

In the end, the military or the military-industrial-security system is the only important institution that already exists at the moment that is centralised, hierarchical, and effective and that embodies values that run contrary to Leftist ones.

Crucially, the military requires its soldiers to jettison their own individuality and identity and to work as part of a team or institution and, if necessary, make the ultimate sacrifice. This is necessary and desirable for the military and for the government, but not for the rest of society.

In short, there is a merger between state and military, while the rest of society is separated, firewalled and decentralised.

Politics is not about the ideal, it is about, should you be so lucky, choosing the least bad alternative. A military government or permanent governance by a conglomerate of private military corporations would be more satisfactory (for many) than the Modern Structure.

 

5: What is Good for Sub-State Institutions, Groups and Enterprises?

 

A: Corporations and small businesses?

Corporations, at the minimum, do need a state of some sort or something that can protect property, persons (their suppliers, employees, customers anyway) and enforce contracts. In a larger sense, some corporations may need a powerful state to protect them from other corporations backed by other powerful, predatory states. Finally, corporations may need states to open up and protect “foreign markets”.

Small businesses need essentially the same thing, though on a smaller scale. However, their needs may and probably will conflict with larger businesses and corporations. Small businesses may, in fact, be deeply skeptical and hostile to the state and state bureaucracy as politicians and bureaucrats will likely be in the “pocket” of the large corporations.

Moldbug’s insouciant genius was that instead of outright bribery, he advocated (oh yes he did!) just running the government as a business where the rich can buy shares or buy policy directly.

The design we favour, which is similar to what the Japanese and Chinese also favour is that the state is a corporation which owns either some or controlling shares in some companies and corporations and that companies and corporations own shares in the state in return.

 

B: Churches?

The conflict between a state and a church depends on the “church” or religion in question and the answer varies from country to country and from time to time.

Overall, history suggests (modern history most especially) that churches and states (God and Guns) exist in a position of basic conflict.

The modern Bonald is surely right that democracy defeats Catholicism and that it gives strength to Islam, Protestantism and anything else that augments state power.

Catholicism is Imperium in Imperio par excellence and as such is destined for eternal and essential conflict with any (secular, nevermind non-Catholic) state. The state, as a secular institution (taxing, enforcing law and order, war and diplomacy ), is intrinsically opposed to the Catholic Church’s imperatives which also involves revenue (tithes), law and order (moral teaching) and war (preventing Catholic nations from fighting or supporting crusades).

The only (modern) state in which Catholicism could thrive is a state that is run formally and informally by priests, bishops, arch-bishops and the Pope himself. That is, there are no secular politicians or bureaucrats; indeed, there is not even a king for a king has just as much reason to free himself from the control of the Church as any political party.

Of course, this is not to say that any other religion is necessarily better over the long-term. Islam’s Caliphate system is also vulnerable to troublesome imams accusing the Caliph of apostasy. Protestantism needs no explanation here.

Even such a statist friendly philosophy as Confucianism contains within it the seeds of conflict as the Confucian priests vie for competition with the soldiers and the merchants as Chinese history readily demonstrates (See Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order).

Politics is not theology; the state is not a Church and the dynamic of power and peace is not the dynamic of piety and spiritual passion.

Morgenthau’s six principles of political realism should probably be read once a week for people who have trouble overcoming this distinction. Failure to do so means ceding the ground to the likes of Neoconservatism.

At best, the state can protect the free exercise of religion and the property of churches. In return, churches pay their taxes and refrain from attacking the persons or property of other religions and of subverting the imperatives of the state.

At worst, the state and the church(s) will be at constant war with each other and unless the church/religion can make full use of the energies of science, technology, commerce and war (which Protestantism mastered so well) it will, in time, be relegated to a subordinate position with regard to the state. This seems to have been the fate of Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity and was, for a long time, the fate of Islam. History does not stand still though.

 

D: Other Groups, Cultures and Enterprises?

More broadly, depending on the state and its political formula, different groups will face different threats.

In a neocameralist or STEEL-cameralist state, where Elite power is secure and Imperium in Imperio is eliminated or mitigated, the only trigger for interference, beyond plotting revolution and death, is failure to pay one’s rents (taxes).

That is to say, from the perspective of secure Elite power, they have no interest in that which threatens their power or impedes the exercise of it.

Again, this is obvious. Look at the Amish. No one bothers the Amish. No one bothers the Amish because they are not a threat to power. However, if most of the country lived that way or started to, then the needs of the state would demand that the Amish way of life be degraded, diminished, defeated and, if necessary, destroyed. As we saw with Feinberg, liberalism would endorse this last claim.

The Cathedral (Harvard and the New York Times being the prime movers) have waged war over the last century against both Catholicism and traditional Protestantism because they are a threat to the power of the largely Harvard trained Political Elite.

It really is as simple as that.

The neoreactionary project, if it is to mean anything, must mean that Elite power and the structure of the state is secure (in the Right way) so that Elites have no incentive, no reason, to use Expendables (Low) against the Essentials (Middle).

Is this a satisfactory answer?

That depends on your own goals, values and beliefs.

 

6: What is Good for the Individual?

There is no “generic” individual so the question is possibly confused.

However, at the very least, in whatever type of state that exists in the future, human freedom or autonomy will be radically curtailed and restricted as compared to previous historical periods.

The state need not always be the prime or proximate motor here.

Companies like Amazon, which “tracks” their employee’s behaviour in great detail, are one example. A company which knows and make use of their employee’s genetic and psychological profile is a second possibility. Thirdly, a company which knows and makes use of their employee’s internet history is yet another possibility. There is no reason that, in the future, every company will fully exploit these possibilities. Consequently, such things as privacy, freedom and autonomy will no longer exist or struggle to do so.

Neocameralism and Land’s Techno-Commercialism will do nothing to mitigate this and will, in fact, intensify the process.

If one wanted to be snide, the best that these systems can do for the human individual is to place them in a protective zoo.

The fundamental fact of the matter is that humans are animals and they are now completely removed from their evolutionary environment. There is no going back, there is only forward. To what end? That is probably the most important question of the 21st century; perhaps it is the last question.

This is the bleak and tragic reality and it is one without much alternatives.

 

A: Men?

Quite simple. Men matter, or used to matter, to the state because it is the men who fight and die.

However, it is of course true that it is the men who plan, build and improve things. It is men who police, protect and extend the state’s power.

In the West, men have been under assault from state power for decades (never mind centuries). The modern, Western world, favours women because women are more docile, obedient and harder working (or more consistent in their work) than many men. Women are also cheaper than men to employee and easier to get rid of.

Technology has much to answer for; however, men do not face the same threat from state power in Russia, China, Japan or any other non-Western nation. That is, non-Western nations are more “patriarchal”. As a result, the Western states, principally America, will undermine these nations (Russia and China) by attempting to infect them with feminism. In order to do that, America and Europe have to have women in positions of power already (so as to make it attractive to women in China, Iran and Saudi Arabia).

America’s permanent war with Islamic fundamentalism and geopolitical competition with patriarchal China and Russia means that, under current conditions, men will continue to be displaced, degraded, diminished, defeated and destroyed.

 

B: Women?

Traditionally, women were always seen as valuable property of either fathers or husbands. Until the 20th century, this traditional view had the support of the state. Today, the needs of power are different. Thus, women, who used to be low in status and power, are now becoming Essential and in more and more cases the Elite.

Nevertheless, the needs of Power brush up against the facts of Nature. Only women can have children. The longer a woman delays childbirth, the less likely she has of conceiving naturally and, now, even artificially.

The low birth rate among White, Western women is no doubt a factor in the importation of millions of non-Western immigrants. However, if the first or second generation females from these cultures assimilate, then they too will join the low-birth rate ranks of women. This means the state (may) need more immigrants. However, if they refuse to assimilate, along with their extended family, then this creates cultural and political conflict with the host nation.

For women, it is unnatural to have a full time career and to forgo having a family, just as it is unnatural for a man to work 9-5 every day in a cubicle. Men complained of being “wage slaves”, now it is the turn of women to experience what this means.

In any case, no state can completely forgo having people who do not form families and the means necessary to maintain and sustain family formation forever.

A neocameralist state would allow things to return to a more “natural” setting simply by removing the state’s thumbs from the scale. That is, traditional relationships would result once more by ending mass education, equality laws and vote-buying state welfare where women marry the government.

Women need not be formally and legally excluded from the workplace; if the state became truly disinterested in micro-managing businesses, then the more competitive men will push out the vast majority of women. The result is that most women will focus on finding themselves husbands and not in pursuing careers while the truly exceptional woman will find some way to rise.

 

C: Castes?

Soldiers always matter but they do not matter so much that the state will not send them to their deaths. Anyone who doubts this need only consider the horrendous slaughter of World War 1 and wars both prior and posterior to this “war to end all wars”.

All states need soldiers. However, the state does not want “warriors”. The state needs men who are willing to carry out controlled, instrumental violence. Glory and passion increasingly play little to no part in modern, western warfare. The best example of this is “drone warfare”.

However, there are serious problems with this “technocratic” way of fighting. For one, the values of loyalty are degraded and that is dangerous.

Merchants are also necessary. “Merchant”, in the extended sense, which means: managers; engineers; scientists; doctors; traders and shop-keepers.

Nevertheless, the future will trend towards conglomerates, corporations and state owned enterprises. The role of the “entrepreneur” – much cherished by Austrian economists – will grow more and more irrelevant.

What about “priests”? There are two types of “priest” here. Firstly, there are those who work in “politics” in the extended sense: professors, teachers, journalists, analysts, media managers etc etc.

Their role, if anything, will only grow more important whether Red or Blue.

The second type is those who cater to more esoteric concerns like “spirituality” or just traditional religion. Again, the state needs priests of this sort. The secular, state friendly “priest”, however, is the therapist. Traditional “priests” matter only to the extent that they do not either disturb or enhance the needs of state power.

 

In the end, everyone and everything can be evaluated according to a single value formulated in the following question:

How useful to Power is X?

Generally, the more useful you are to Power and the powerful, the more likely your life will be pleasant, though hardly free at times from great stress. However, in some cases, you will simply be consumed by the state.

Adam, over at the GAB blog, recently made a similar point about power, education and the selection of what we call the Elites and Essentials and their relationship with “Expendables”:

A side effect of seeing education explicitly as the process of recruitment to the elites and essentials is making “protest” unthinkable.

And by the same token we can see why in a poorly governed, democratic order, protests must be a regular occurrence—it’s the way the “reserve armies” of the various elites keep track of their standing—how expendable are they in relation to other expendables? And it’s also the way the elites keep their networks of power active.

In other words, in a state riddled with Imperium in Imperio, the “Expendables” need to make noisy and showy “auditions” and the various Elites need to know (and show!) how powerful they are and to find and select new Expendables to threaten recalcitrant Essentials with.

Adam’s conclusion:

The expected effect of any idea, action or policy on the marginal security force can give us a precise measure of its value.

As we discussed earlier, if you are an Expendable, then make yourself Essential and if you are an Essential then be essential  and maybe one day you will or might get lucky (or unlucky) enough to be an Elite.

 

7: What is Good for Economic Growth? Science? Technology etc?

At the minimum, a state that protects property and persons and provide a certain level of stability. However, beyond these minimal conditions, a power-hungry state needs to have a vast centre of power that is able to control, direct and supervise the creation and re-distribution of resources to other centres of power, wealth or technology creation.

A fully centralised state – of which China is probably the best example – is fully capable of generating growth and producing scientific knowledge and generating technology. Western claims, meanwhile, that China cannot “innovate” is almost certainly wrong. In any case, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan refute the charge that one needs Western, Liberal Democracy for economic growth, science and technology.

Thus, while “democracy” may have been necessary for growth, science and technology, it is probably irrelevant today and in the future.

However, a centralised state, one that eliminates Imperium in Imperio is only necessary and not sufficient for growth etc. What is needed is incentives, knowledge and will. Fortunately or not, the globalised nature of the world today means that few states can afford to turn away from growth, science and technology as they are now fully exposed and in contact with other states seeking power and advantage.

 

8: What about Trade-offs?

A: Freedom/security?

There is no necessary conflict between a state that is fully secure and a state that places a high premium on security in general with one that allows for a wide – but not unrestricted – range of personal freedom.

Nevertheless, the possibilities of human freedom in general will almost certainly diminish in the decades ahead.

 

B: Freedom/equality?

States value both; states that have insecure Elites will value equality (for the Low or the Expendables) so as to secure their power against the Middle or our “Essentials”.

The more secure a state is the more freedom it can allow; the more insecure, the more equality it will need to create.

However, the Elite creation of “equality” reaches a point of diminishing returns – a “Left Singularity”, such as in the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The Left’s call for greater “equality” is almost always deceptive and dishonest and when it is not, it is almost always mistaken.

The Left call for equality in order to weaken their enemies whether each Leftist knows it or not. When this is not the case, what the Left are really complaining about is that the people who suffer from “inequality” do not have the same abilities, talents, skills and luck to reach their full potential and have a “good” life.

Human meaning and fulfilment can be found not in creating more “equality” but in restoring personal freedom and returning to virtue.

 

 

4 thoughts on “The STEEL-cameralist Manifesto Part 10A: The STEEL Reset.

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