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?
9: What is Nuclear Absolutism?
Let’s define what we mean by political absolutism or absolute monarchy.
A plausible and fair definition of absolute monarchy is where the ruler has complete authority (though not necessarily the power) to rule on any matter whatsoever without restriction by law, morality or custom. It can be succinctly expressed in the phrase “your wish is my command your majesty”.
Now, what do we mean by nuclear absolutism?
The problem with talking about nuclear weapons is akin to the problem of talking about God. It is generally best to say nothing about God, just as it is probably best to say nothing about nuclear weapons.
For instance, how can one honestly talk about the possibility that God could justly condemn the majority of humanity to flaming pits of hell? By the same token, how can one honestly and responsibly talk about the strategy of nuclear war and the prospect of unleashing hell on Earth without sounding like a liar, a lunatic or a lord of war?
Of course, there have been many theologians who have carried out many poker-faced studies of the problem of evil just as there have been theorists who have worked out a “philosophy of human annihilation”.
However, it could be argued, as in theology, that the more rational one appears and the more logical one’s position is, the more it comes across as completely insane.
Stanley Kubrick had this problem when making Dr. Strangelove. He originally set out to make a serious movie about an accidental nuclear holocaust. However, as he researched the topic, he came to the conclusion that it was simply not possible to take the prospect seriously. That is, among the minutia of absolute catastrophe, what can one do but laugh?
The difference between God and nuclear weapons is that while God may or may not exist, nuclear weapons nevertheless do. God may or may not destroy the world with fire but it is a certainty than nuclear weapons can.
On August 6th 1945, the world changed forever. Humanity crossed a threshold from which there was no realistic possibility of ever returning. The nuclear age had begun. The full consequences of this world-historical event, however, still await a denouement. Since then, the sword of Damocles permanently dangles over man from the moment of his conception to the final hour of his death.
Let’s state one of our deepest and darkest assumptions here at Imperial Energy in clear and simple language, for it is central to America’s future:
Humanity in general, and “residents” within nuclear states in particular, are now (effectively) permanently enslaved by nuclear weapons.
In what we could call the “nuclear system”, like all systems, there is an internal logic that creates rules, incentives, constraints, feedback loops, traps and dangers that are resistant to human wish and desire.
Nuclear science can never be unlearned and nuclear technology can never be unmade. The reason is that so long as independent nuclear states exist (USG, Russia and China say) there will be no unilateral or multi-lateral disarmament.
Secondly, nuclear weapons convey geopolitical advantages and political prestige that nuclear powers will wish to retain and prevent others from obtaining.
Thirdly and crucially, the production, maintenance, refinement and the protection of nuclear weapons and nuclear material storage facilities necessitate a state that has a minimally functional military and military-industrial-technological system. And in order to maintain, even minimally, this system, there needs to be a state that regulates and stimulates the production of wealth and extracts and directs this wealth to the military-industrial-technological system.
In short, nuclear states are “too big to fail”. Should a state collapse lead to either nuclear weapons or nuclear material being lost, sold or commandeered by rogue generals, political upstarts or terrorists, the results could potentially be catastrophic. Even absent a political collapse, nuclear states must maintain nuclear plants, warhead storage facilities and nuclear waste disposal sites in virtual perpetuity.
The weapons exist and there is no question as to their destructive potential.
There is also no question that understanding and using nuclear knowledge requires individuals with high IQs and who have received formal education and training. The nuclear system then selects some of these individuals to maintain and perpetuate the system – forever. Moreover, the protection, maintenance, inspection and use of nuclear technology and offensive readiness requires not just smart men but trustworthy men. Thus, the nuclear system requires sub-systems or “feeder systems” so that it has a continuous supply of human capital.
Any nuclear state must not only have a sophisticated educational and bureaucratic system for educating and selecting these men but men who will protect them. The engineers and scientists, and the institutions that select, train and “feed” them into the nuclear system, require government funding (via taxing). Furthermore, the nuclear system requires police, military and intelligence services to guard and protect them and to ensure that the taxes are collected.
Finally, we have the undeniable premise that all of the above costs vast amounts of wealth and resources which could be put to alternative uses but no longer can.
Conclusion and Corollaries:
The nuclear system, like our global, economic and technological systems more generally, are all “too big to fail” – though some are more “too big to fail” than others.
The political, social and, indeed, moral imperative of preventing political and social collapse overrides virtually everything else; in the end, the logic of the nuclear system means that political Elites must devote, at the minimum, X amount of resources to avoid collapse and Y amount of resources to avoid nuclear accidents and catastrophe.
However, the costs of this system is just part of the overall costs of maintaining a number of systems (the military, communications, transport, energy and agricultural systems say). Logically, a state can pay these costs provided they have the means to do so. Nevertheless, the state will, whatever else happens, maintain the nuclear systems, and their supporting or auxiliary systems, at the cost of sacrificing everything else.
One corollary, therefore, is that once we begin to reason as a state and reason instrumentally we discover that a state – as a state – must take any and all means necessary to maintain the nuclear system.
A second corollary is that, as we argued earlier, “USG is forever”. That is, even if a collapse occurs, as some think, or USG undergoes a period of political turmoil – which could see succession and rebellion – the nuclear system (which remember is only a sub-set of a larger system) will carry on regardless.
A third corollary, one that we will explore in more detail later, is that states, including nuclear states, will still engage in wars against each other and against non-nuclear states; however, nuclear and non-nuclear states will engage in indirect, unconventional and or proxy warfare. That is, war will come to be played by non-state actors (terrorists and mercenaries) using technologically sophisticated weaponry (drones, nano-bots, and, perhaps, genetically engineered viruses).
The consequence will be an ever growing regulatory and surveillance state system which will demolish privacy and human freedom and autonomy.
Drones will carry out “strikes” against targets based on computer algorithms that output probabilities as to the target’s identity. If the threshold is only a 51% probability that the target is “Mohammed Yusef” – derived from government controlled, interlinked medical and school records – then the drone will fire a hellfire missile and eliminate him. No human oversight, no human judgement, no human control necessary.
This is the escalator of “progress” that we are all on and there is no way to stop this “infernal machine” – we can only slow it down.
Let’s abandon dry logic and empirical fact for a moment and talk poetically:
Nuclear Weapons are now the gods and masters of Man and they require sacrifice and propitiation for ever and ever!
Science fiction reached this very conclusion decades ago, as we can see in the following, chilling movie scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes:
Nevertheless, this is all a prelude to the question of authority and power over nuclear weapons and their potential use.
For instance, see this American Conservative post where it describes the authority of the president as that of a “monarch”. The term “nuclear monarchy” derives from Bruce Blair’s essay in Politico. Here is the relevant passage:
In the atomic age, when decisions must be made very quickly, the presidency has evolved into something akin to a nuclear monarchy. With a single phone call, the commander in chief has virtually unlimited power to rain down nuclear weapons on any adversarial regime and country at any time. You might imagine this awesome executive power would be hamstrung with checks and balances, but by law, custom and congressional deference there may be no responsibility where the president has more absolute control. There is no advice and consent by the Senate. There is no second-guessing by the Supreme Court.
And there it is: nuclear absolutism.
War is both the ultimate and often the proximate cause of the remorseless and inexorable growth of state power which we, inspired by Jouvenel, have called “Minotaur”. As we noted in the American Minotaur of War Part 3: Hamiltonian Absolutism: The Minotaur’s Golden Ticket where we quoted Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist number 23:
The principal purposes to be answered by union are these the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries.
The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their support. These powers ought to exist without limitation, BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORESEE OR DEFINE THE EXTENT AND VARIETY OF NATIONAL EXIGENCIES, OR THE CORRESPONDENT EXTENT AND VARIETY OF THE MEANS WHICH MAY BE NECESSARY TO SATISFY THEM. The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed. This power ought to be coextensive with all the possible combinations of such circumstances; and ought to be under the direction of the same councils which are appointed to preside over the common defense.
This is one of those truths which, to a correct and unprejudiced mind, carries its own evidence along with it; and may be obscured, but cannot be made plainer by argument or reasoning. It rests upon axioms as simple as they are universal; the MEANS ought to be proportioned to the END; the persons, from whose agency the attainment of any END is expected, ought to possess the MEANS by which it is to be attained.
Whether there ought to be a federal government intrusted with the care of the common defense, is a question in the first instance, open for discussion; but the moment it is decided in the affirmative, it will follow, that that government ought to be clothed with all the powers requisite to complete execution of its trust. And unless it can be shown that the circumstances which may affect the public safety are reducible within certain determinate limits; unless the contrary of this position can be fairly and rationally disputed, it must be admitted, as a necessary consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority which is to provide for the defense and protection of the community, in any matter essential to its efficacy that is, in any matter essential to the FORMATION, DIRECTION, or SUPPORT of the NATIONAL FORCES.
In other words, there ought not to be any restriction or limit on the sovereign (in this case the president) to make use of any and all means necessary for the “common defence of its members” and of the “protection of the public peace”. Whether formalised or not, this is how Power behaves and it can always be best seen in war or in the preparation for war.
What does this authority that has “no limits” amount to in the case of nuclear weapons?
There are no restraints that can prevent a willful president from unleashing this hell.
If he gave the command, his executing commanders would have no legal or procedural grounds to defy it no matter how inappropriate it might seem. As long as the president can establish his or her true identity by his or her personal presence in the Pentagon’s nuclear war room or its alternates (places like Site R at Fort Richie near Camp David), or by phone or other means of communications linking him or her to these war rooms using a special identification card (colloquially known as “the biscuit” containing “the nuclear codes”) in his or her possession (or, alternatively, kept inside the “nuclear briefcase” carried by his or her military aide who shadows the president everywhere he or she works, travels and plays), a presidential nuclear decision is lawful (putting international humanitarian law aside). It must be obeyed as long as it is constitutional—i.e., the president as commander in chief believes he or she is acting to protect and defend the nation against an actual or imminent attack.
But within these broad constraints there is no wiggle room for evasion or defiance of the president’s orders. That’s true even if the national security adviser, the secretary of defense (who along with the president makes up the “national command authority”) and other top appointees and advisers disagree with the president’s decision. It does not matter whether the United States has already come under attack by nuclear or non-nuclear weapons. It does not even matter if the commander in chief simply orders the use of nuclear weapons on an ordinary day for reasons unknown to all but him or her. Under the president’s open-ended mandate to decide when the national interest is threatened, ordering up a nuclear strike is his or her prerogative, and obeying the order is incumbent upon the military servants of civilian authority.
Indeed, the military commanders have prepared for this imperative moment. At the apex of the nuclear chain of command, the operators of the arsenal have trained, exercised and managed nuclear forces to respond dutifully to orders from the president, even an order that comes out of nowhere. Everything revolves around this one individual. The president selects a war plan from a pre-prepared menu of target countries (identified earlier) and three target categories (nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, military-industrial facilities that are generally located in or near cities, and leadership redoubts ranging from the Kremlin to remote bunkers in the hinterlands).
It is here that we run into the “nuclear theology” problem we started with: any discussion of nuclear weapons, like any discussion about God, quickly begins to sound like sheer craziness, though “consensual craziness”.
The first thing to note is the distinction between Form and Reality. Any president may have the formal authority but not necessarily the informal power or the reality to make nuclear decisions. For instance, during the last days of the Nixon administration, Secretary of Defence, James Schlesinger, informed key military personnel to ignore any commands from Nixon unless they first checked with either him (Schlesinger) or Secretary Kissinger.
Thus, it is not clear (and would probably vary president by president) how much real power any president would have. This is going to be true for any nuclear state, so long as the sovereign needs other men to execute his nuclear commands.
The second thing to note is the horrible paradox at work with nuclear monarchy. On the one hand, the president has “absolute authority” but on the other hand, the president, the state and the nation, are subject to an extreme version of “protocol government”.
Because of the logic of deterrence.
If USG changed its decision procedure so that either the president must have the consent of other cabinet members or if the president announced that he and his administration would not launch a counter-strike against a state that attacked with nuclear weapons first, then this is an invitation to attack. For example, Blair discusses the possibility that USG could negotiate with a state that has just carried out a nuclear first strike against them.
Negotiate over what, however!?
Even the possibility that USG would not retaliate creates a dangerous ambiguity in their nuclear “posture” and that ambiguity could prove existential.
Thus, USG, the president and all other nuclear states must publically or Formally maintain the posture that they will retaliate against any state that carries out a nuclear first strike.
What this logic entails, when married to the nuclear chain of command, is that, as Blair describes, the president has only minutes (at best) to make God-like decisions involving the fate of humanity.
The philosophy and strategy of nuclear weapons boils the problem of power, leadership, command and control down to their very essence. That essence, as Carl Schmitt infamously captured with his claim that the “sovereign is he who decides the exception”.
And yet, despite the fact that human judgement and personal rule is involved, the nuclear sovereign’s freedom and autonomy is deeply constrained by protocols and procedures to the point where he is almost nothing more than a mere cog in the machine should the day of Armageddon – whether intentionally or accidentally – ever become a reality.
How can it be any other way?
How would collective decision-making be possible when there are only minutes to make any decision? Unless such a decision group were in constant proximity, it would not be possible to gather them all together in time. Even if this was possible, it is highly unlikely they would reach a unanimous decision (should the protocol require it).
In the end, the fate of humanity will come down to the choice of a handful of men and ultimately just one or two exercising the power of God. The truth is that so long as these weapons exist and so long as there is even a small chance they could be used, a single decision maker must be tasked with the ultimate responsibility for using or not using them.
It is no wonder that Robert Oppenheimer quoted, after witnessing the Trinity test, the Bhagavad-Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.
Oppenheimer, reflecting upon Trinty years later, also said that “the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”
The “sin” is no longer the exclusive property of physicists; nuclear “original sin” now belongs to every human being – forevermore – but without the possibility of redemption and with only the sliver of hope of salvation.
What’s done cannot be undone.
And so, USG will exist forever (unless Armageddon occurs) and so will the military; consequently, if you ever hope to defeat the Modern Structure and restore some small semblance of sanity to political and social life then “screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail” by, as Adam advises, supporting the (permanent) “marginal security force”.
10: How do we Eliminate Imperium in Imperio and if so How?
The military, the Catholic Church, the Chinese Community Party and the modern for profit corporation do not suffer from Imperium in Imperio, at least not the extent to which the Modern Structure does.
However, any human organisation of any kind will have the problem of rivalry, competition and resentment between High and Middle or Elite and Essential. Let’s take a trivial hypothetical example.
Suppose we have a franchise (McDonalds?) and the players here are the “district manager”, “store manager” and the employees.
Let’s suppose the district manager has a “problem” with the store manager of the most successful branch in his district. The district manager views the store manager as a potential competitor for his job one day. However, the district manager cannot simply fire the store manager without cause and nor can they make life too hard or difficult for him. (This is akin to the feudal kings not being able to simply kill, punish or extract too much wealth from his lords.)
For the district manager (king) what is to be done?
There are only two choices:
Let’s assume the district manager selects option “B”. How do they make the store manager “disappear”?
Well, one way would be to cultivate a relationship with one of the store’s employees – potentially one who could replace the store manager and who could offer something more than the store manager. Perhaps, it could be that the employee could work more hours, work for less pay or be loyal “going forward”.
So, over an extended period of time, the district manager (the Elite) cultivates a relationship with this employee (the Expendable). The employee becomes the district manager’s spy and, potentially, saboteur. In other words, the district manager becomes the “patron” of the employee.
The second stage of the “plot” now begins. Perhaps the employee begins to “act out” or “complain” about the store manager. This “complaint” brings the district manager into the “problem” and allows him to make life hard for the store manager. Indeed, if the store manager has any faults or has made any mistakes, he can be put on “report” or sent for further “training”. Who manages the store while this is happening, however? The employee, of course.
At the limit, if the employee and other employees know that they can get away with less work and even undermine the store manager – because they have the support of the district manager – then they could drive the store manager out of the business because the workplace is too stressful.
Similar things could be said about the military, the police or any organisation whatsoever.
Nevertheless, Elite and Expendable games against the Essentials in a hierarchical, centralised political structure will be better, all things being considered, than in one which is a mass democracy with a formal “separation of powers”.
Why? Simply put, in a centralised state where politics is formally and informally an Elite “game”, the Expendables (potential Essentials) are just individual players but in a mass democracy you have entire ethnic/religious groups of people. This is a difference between a two-person duel and total war. The neoreactionary hypothesis or conjecture is that whatever damage done to the system and wider society in the former is less than the damage done in the latter. That is good enough.
Again, Modern China offers us a fine example here. After the Cultural Revolution, the unspoken assumption among the Political Elites and Essentials is that they will not involve the “masses” or Expendables in the pursuit of power. Bo Xilai is an example of an ambitious Elite who went against this assumption and paid dearly for it.
To return to the question of how Imperium in Imperio is eliminated, the answer is neither surprising nor hard to understand, though it will be extremely difficult to achieve and it implies a complete break with the Anglo-American political tradition.
In short, the perils of Imperium in Imperio are eliminated or vastly reduced by having a normal human organisational structure. There are three basic, long-standing, models to choose from:
Model A: The Military.
Model B: The Corporation.
Model C: The Catholic Church.
We could also add:
Model D: The One-Party-State (Chinese Communist Party).
Here is the characters on the Sopranos describe how the thing works:
“We need a Supreme Commander at the top not the fucking Dave Clark Five.”
11: What are the Dangers of a “Perfect Design” or a State that is too Centralised?
It is true that there are risks from centralisation that de-centralised structures do not have.
The trite but true answer is that the best kind of state is one that is very powerful, very small and very efficient and effective in maintaining law and order, collecting “rents” and, if necessary, waging war on other states.
Anything beyond this has significant risks of not only failure but of creating institutions or power-centres (think bureaucracy) that soon grow difficult to control and eventually become grossly parasitic on the state, nation and people.
Example A: The Dangers of a “Planned” Society.
In an earlier post, we reviewed Rao’s essay CEO’s Don’t Steer and favourably compared his thesis, with some modification, to the nature and function of sovereigns as well.
Extending Rao’s thesis, we can say that states don’t steer society or should not for the result is likely to be a failure at best and a catastrophe at worst. In other words, the idea that a state can rationally manage the development of society according to some plan is not likely to succeed over the long-term. What a state can do, however, is either preserve an existing order or expedite its destruction.
This is why it is critical to allow secondary or sub-state systems (like Churches and corporations) who can engage in social “micro-managing” because they have the information and the incentives to steer and steer successfully – at least more than states.
The best that a state can do for society, in normal times but not in a state of total war, is to create an environment that is akin to a state creating a good environment for business.
Capitalism – Government actors set the common business environment without favoring particular private actors; individual private actors are then free to take any business action within the boundaries of the established environment.
Libertarianism – Private actors set the common business environment without favoring particular private actors; individual private actors are then free to take any business action within the boundaries of the established environment.
Liberalism – Government actors set the common business environment without favoring particular actors; government actors then decide on all individual economic actions within the boundaries of the established environment.
Replace “Capitalism” with neo or STEEL-cameralism and “business environment” with “social environment”.
A Triangle of Value Signals influences how efficiently processes allocate resources in production. The three value signals production operations are based on are:
What the customer views as valuable.
How valuable satisfying demand is to the producer.
How clearly information about value relevant to a given business environment is signaled to all economic actors in that environment.
The nature of any given business environment depends on many factors.
Some factors are under a nation’s control, some are not: external military threats, degree and type of business competition, geography, natural resources, and so forth.
To the extent environmental influences are the result of government actions, those influences best serve society when government acts as a neutral arbiter in the creation and enforcement of common rules for all individual actors. What role and influence the government should have in shaping the business environment is a special focus of this article.
Again, replace “business” with society and “individual actors” with churches and corporations.
What are the advantages of this type of system, in which “government acts as a neutral arbiter in the creation and enforcement of common (social) rules for all individual actors (and sub-systems)”?
1: Social peace between various sub-systems, groups and individuals or at least the reduction of friction and uncertainty.
2: Resources of the state and various sub-state systems and groups can be used for purposes other than acquiring or maintaining power (businesses, religious pursuits etc.) due to friction and uncertainty.
3: Relevant and necessary information, information channels and feedback loops are not restricted or retarded by the state between, on the one hand, sub-systems (churches) and individuals (congregants) and, on the other hand, between the state and sub-state-systems (corporations). In other words, sub-systems and individuals are able to better pursue their goals.
4: As with having a diverse economic portfolio, the state has a diverse social portfolio of various sub-systems that, in the event of one sub-system collapsing, others can “fill the void”.
5: All in the all, the state remains powerful, wealthy and secure. The STEEL-cameralist answer to John Rawls’s vision of America as a “union of social unions” is of an America that is a corporation of corporations and a state that is a “contractor of contractors”.
This vision is consistent with the American tradition which sees the state as one in which the “business of America is business” but this time the business is the security business.
(See this post where we discuss similar issues, though from the perspective of a Sovereign.)
Thus, in conclusion, the dangers of an inordinately “tight” centralised state is that it becomes ideologically and bureaucratically inflexible, ineffective and less resilient – which brings us to our second example.
Example B: Resilience.
What is resilience and how can the state be made more resilient?
Donella H. Meadows in Systems Thinking: A Primer defines and describes resilience in the following terms:
Resilience has many definitions, depending on the branch of engineering, ecology, or system science doing the defining. For our purposes, the normal dictionary meaning will do: “the ability to bounce or spring back into shape, position, etc., after being pressed or stretched. Elasticity. The ability to recover strength, spirits, good humor, or any other aspect quickly.” Resilience is a measure of a system’s ability to survive and persist within a variable environment. The opposite of resilience is brittleness or rigidity.
Resilience arises from a rich structure of many feedback loops that can work in different ways to restore a system even after a large perturbation. A single balancing loop brings a system stock back to its desired state. Resilience is provided by several such loops, operating through different mechanisms, at different time scales, and with redundancy—one kicking in if another one fails.
A set of feedback loops that can restore or rebuild feedback loops is resilience at a still higher level—meta-resilience, if you will. Even higher metameta-resilience comes from feedback loops that can learn, create, design, and evolve ever more complex restorative structures.
An overly centralised state, especially one that is held together by a single or a few “nodes” is vulnerable to devastating attack.
Consider, for instance, the fragility of the Roman Empire. Should an Emperor die or be assassinated, the Empire was often plunged into civil war as a result. While the Empire never collapsed during any one of these many civil wars, the Empire was not resilient in meta-resilient sense. In the end, it paid the price as it was too weak to defend itself.
In a Republican system, if the Consul or President is assassinated, the system has a protocol in place for his replacement and the system carries on without significant change, meanwhile.
The problem with a highly personalist, absolute monarchy is that if the monarch is eliminated, there is likely to be vast uncertainty as to how the successor will act never mind be chosen or succeed. This problem is worse in an informal dictatorship because it is not even clear who the successor is should the dictator die.
Having a single “capital city” say poses similar problems; if this “capital” is destroyed or captured, then the state is either defeated or gravely weakened.
For example, would there have been a French Revolution if there had of been two or three capital cities and that the King could have moved his court across the country at will? Thus, the regime is resilient against popular discontent for the King can avoid the danger by simply getting out of the way.
A resilient state, like a resilient sovereign, is an avoiding (danger) and exploiting (opportunity) entity.
Part of becoming resilient is by continuously practicing and perfecting OODA loops but it also means having an effective structure of attention, information acquisition and utilization.
Dennett presents us with five hypothetical creatures arising from Darwin’s evolutionary process. Each of them uses generate and test but the process becomes more sophisticated with evolution.
Darwinian creatures are created by random mutation and selected by the external environment. The best designs survive and reproduce.
Skinnerian creatures can learn by testing actions (responses) in the external environment. Favourably actions are reinforced and then tend to be repeated. Pigeons can be trained to press a bar to receive food.
Skinnerian creatures ask themselves, “What do I do next?“
Popperian creatures can preselect from possible behaviours / actions weeding out the truly stupid options before risking them in the harsh world. Dennett calls them Popperian because Popper said this design enhancement “permits our hypotheses to die in our stead”. This is Dennett’s enhancement of behaviourism. Popperian creatures have an inner environment that can preview and select amongst possible actions. For this to work the inner environment must contain lots of information about the outer environment and its regularities. Not only humans can do this. Mammals, birds, reptiles and fish can all presort behavioural options before acting.
Popperian creatures ask themselves, “What do I think about next?”
Gregorian creatures are named after Richard Gregory, an information theorist. Gregorian creatures import mind-tools (words) from the outer cultural environment to create an inner environment which improve both the generators and testers.
Gregorian creatures ask themselves, “How can I learn to think better about what to think about next?”
Words / language are necessary to sustain long predictive chains of thought, eg. to sustain a chain or combination of pattern recognition. This is true in chess, for example, where the player uses chess notation to assist his memory.
Learning from mistakes is an important and hard to learn part of this process. To learn from mistakes one has to be able to contemplate them and language / communication assists that process. For example, by being told by someone else you have made a mistake.
Finally, we have Scientific creatures which is an organised process of making and learning from mistakes in public, of getting others to assist in the recognition and correction of mistakes.
A truly resilient state would attempt, as far as possible, to implement and sustain a “scientific process” – to be a “scientific creature” in other words.
This is difficult and failure to adapt and change is almost inevitable but it is not impossible as we discussed in this post where we described what a pure and unadulterated cameralist (neo and STEEL) state security system would look like.
12: What Role does War Play in the Growth of the Left and State Power and Can War Be Stopped?
In Part Three, we will discuss Systems Thinking more….systematically; for now, we will answer by stating, according to Meadows and then exploring what one of the most important claims of systems thinking is. Meadows:
System structure is the source of system behavior.
For “system structure” read “Imperium in Imperio” and for “system behavior” read “Cthulhu swims slow, but he only swims Left”.
The Alt-Right and Nazis blame Jews and, perhaps, Christians; the Alt-Left and Communists blame Capitalists and White people; Christians blame Atheists; Liberals blame Donald Trump; men’s rights activists blame feminism and feminism blames toxic masculinity in return; conservatives blame neoconservatives and liberals blame “regressive-leftists”; Democrats blame Republicans and so on and so on.
What Moldbug, Reactionary Future and Adam attribute causal responsibility to is Imperium in Imperio or unsecure and “scattered authority”; it is the political system which is the cause of “bad government” or “sadism” as Moldbug describes it here:
So we see two general ways in which a sadistic government can appear. One, it can be run on the pure shepherd model, with perfect central authority, and said shepherd can be insane or otherwise irresponsible. If your shepherd is Marcus Aurelius or Lord Cromer, you are doing well. If he is a sadistic, Hootie-loving Nazi, you will have to grin and bear it. But again – since USG is obviously not run on the shepherd model, this option does not apply.
Two, sadistic government can arise in a state of scattered authority. This class of defective political structure, which is about halfway done destroying European civilization, is generally held at educated circles at present to be the philosopher’s stone of government. Indeed: the more people who have input into a decision, the better that decision is likely to be. As so often, the fallacy is the simple polar opposite of the truth. The Romans knew this error as imperium in imperio – the ass’s bridge or fool’s mate of political engineering.
The ideological parent of modern scattered authority is Montesquieu’s doctrine of separation of powers – originating in a very misguided view of the 18th-century British constitution. Since one may search the modern power structure of Britain, inasmuch as any such thing remains, in vain for any relic of the Crown or Lords – or even much of the Commons – Montesquieu is easily seen as refuted. No separated authority structure is stable. (Note that in all private administrative structures, corporations and nonprofits alike, executive authority is often delegated, seldom shared or divided, never scattered.)
The behavior, that is seen overtime, results from a political structure which sees Elites (in either one system or in sub-systems of a larger system), in conflict with their Essentials. The result is that the Elites aim to diminish, degrade, defeat and destroy dissenting Essentials via the use of “proxies” or what we term Expendables.
In categorising unsecure power and secure power Mencius Moldbug correctly identified that the primary motivations for power centers to engage in leveling conflict were the insecurity of their positions and the blocks they faced, they simply could not, and cannot, govern in a direct and concise manner. This has many further ramifications which we shall cover later, but for now it suffices to note that as these power centers were placed in positions of chronic conflict within society. The centers were unable to engage in actual direct conflict to resolve the tension, so the alternative option was, and still is, to pursue that of advancing their attempts at centralisation and conflict against competing power centers by appeal to greater societal good.
Secure power in contrast is power which is not placed in a position of conflict. This conflict can take the form of either the balancing of institutions against one another, such as with the republican structure and the balance of power it enshrines, or by claims of law or human rights being bounding, thereby placing the judiciary as a competing institution – there are many variants of imperium in imperio.
The stratagem makes use of the state’s legislating power to implement “universalizing” and “equalising” values – formally speaking. The result in reality, however, is that this allows Elites to expand the pool of Essentials (such as immigrants or Affirmative Action hires), strip Essentials of assets (wealth, power and “privilege”) and muzzle any criticism or discontent (“hate speech” laws, hostile media coverage and internet platforms, censorship and unemployment).
The ultimate and often the proximate driver or cause of “friction” or conflict between Elites and Essentials is the state’s ultimate “need” and the Elites’s proximate need to wage war against other states. Since war making requires men, money and materials – which will disproportionately come from Essentials and their “stock” – Elites, such as the feudal kings, will need and demand what only the Essentials can supply. Essentials, in turn, will resist because they will fear the power that Elites will amass as a consequence of waging war.
Man makes war; war makes the state and the state makes Fascism. This is the basic formula of the Minotaur’s mayhem and march to victory.
The libertarian answer to this problem is to do away with the state; thus, no state no problem.
Moldbug’s answer, however, is to not only have a state but to empower the state and a single individual (subject to some responsibility mechanism) to take whatever actions they see fit. Moldbug also potentially foresees that this system may make use of tactics in war that, while it would make Secretary Mattis blush, would make men like Clausewitz, Carlyle or Cromer yawn with boredom.
Moldbug’s real innovation, however, was to subject the state to the same incentive structure of the for profit corporation.
Thus, while Moldbug never explicitly states it, neocameralism recapitulates the same Capitalism v Communist dynamic of the Cold War. To oppose neocameralism and the Patchwork “super-structure” is to objectively oppose “Capitalism” and objectively support “Communism”.
Checkmate and chutzpa all in one.
The difference between STEEL-cameralist and neocameralist philosophy of the state and theory of political evolution is the role that war plays and how human nature, the anarchic international system and the persistence of “arms-races” almost certainly condemns states and mankind to a state of permanent war at worst and permanent geopolitical competition at best.
Consequently, removing Imperium in Imperio is necessary but not sufficient for removing, constraining and preventing the systemic incentives for the growth of Power (the Minotaur) and the spread of Leftism (Cthulhu).
What is sufficient then?
Nothing seems to be the only honest answer. A conclusion that is perfectly unsurprising from the sceptical and tragic right-wing vision of politics.
In short, as we stated earlier, humans and states are reduced to the paradoxical position of waging permanent war against permanent warfare.
As Marcus Aurelius wrote “it is a king’s lot to do good and be dammed”.
Is war and the imperatives of war-making , largely but not completely, the ultimate cause of the Minotaur and of Cthulhu?
Let’s answer the same question differently by starting with stating a different key claim of systems thinking; Meadows:
System behavior reveals itself as a series of events over time
Let’s see how war, Power (Minotaur) and Leftism (Cthulhu) go together like white on rice, but this time presenting a “narrative” or a historical story:
Act 1: Genesis.
Constantine the Great triumphs in a series of civil wars and secures his power via the adoption of Christianity as a new political/theological formula and raises Christians (who were “Low” status) to an “Essential” position in his new system.
Act 2: The Fall.
Martin Luther starts the most consequential “protest” and “activist” movement in history. Luther’s “protest” is successful because, in large measure, the various princes and kings (who occupied only a Middle or Essential position) wage war against the Pope and the counter-reformation.
Act 3: The Rise of the New Babylon.
Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan warriors successfully wage war against King Charles I and subsequently execute him and create a short-lived republic but lay the foundations for a long-lived parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. One of the main triggers for the English Civil War was that King Charles attempted to raise a loyalist militia in order to secure his power against his Puritan Essentials, who refused to cede taxing and regulating power to the King.
Act 4: Leviathan’s Revolution.
The French Revolution was triggered as a result of the monarchy’s parlous financial position, largely brought about by its support for the American war of independence. After a tremendous period of bloodshed and slaughter, the chaos is halted by one man: Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon, however, carries on the centralising work of his royalist forerunners and unleashes years of chaos and constant warfare across the continent of Europe. The old regime is restored with the final defeat of Napoleon, but leftist hopes and desires will never die and begin to slowly recover and gather strength across the rest of the century.
Intermezzo: The Conquest of Infidel America by Godly Massachusetts.
The northern, Protestant/progressive Elites of America smash the southern, conservative power centres; end Federalism and begin the expansion of Black Expendable power and privilege against the southern White Essentials. The American Civil War lays the foundation for the later American conquest of the world.
Act 5: The Crucifixion of Christendom.
European and Christian civilisation commits collective suicide in World War 1.
The catastrophe allows America to displace Great Britain by default and, as a result of Prussian proxy warfare and American Progressive diplomatic and geopolitical stupidity (or Machiavellian genius) Communism and later Fascism rises to power.
Act 6: The Last Temptation of Satan.
World War 2 sees the greatest struggle in human history commence. By the war’s end, entire countries, cities and peoples lie in smouldering ruins. Earth destroying technology is born and the world is divided into two major Leftist “factions”.
America, unlike the Soviet Union, is largely untouched by the war and changes from a republic to global empire. However, USG competes with the Soviets for client states and the hearts and minds of not only its own people but of the Communist world more generally.
USG maintains and expands upon a vast military bureaucracy, intelligence services, direct and indirect government controlled propaganda.
USG, in its struggle against Communism, embraces civil rights, mass immigration, feminism and hedonism in order to both win the hearts and minds of the world’s Elites and Expendables and to prevent the growth of Communist revolutionaries at home.
In the end, USG triumphs by default as the various Communist states either collapse (the Soviet Union) or reform themselves (China).
Act 7: Brother against Brother: Isaac V Ishmael.
Osama Bin Laden, and his band of radical Muslims, declares war against America and the West. After a number of attacks, Bin Laden scores a huge victory in the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and forces USG and its vassals and allies to wage permanent war against radical Islam.
Despite the fact that America and Europe was now at war with radical Islam, millions of Muslims are welcomed into Europe and America by its political Elites. This influx of Muslims, along with the second generation of American and European born Muslims, leads to a surge in terrorism and national and geopolitical tensions. As a result, the Western nations secure the already massive growth in state power and justify new powers which are now augmented by surveillance, communication and computer technologies and an ever escalating spiral of Leftist extremism in universities, the media, courts and political parties.
Act 8- The Age of Final Revelations.
What the above narrative shows is the tight correlation between the growth of state power (the Minotaur), Leftism (Cthulhu ) and war making.
We claim, along with Jouvenel and Charles Tilly, that what we are seeing here is not mere correlation but systemic causation. In other words, there is a feedback loop between unsecure power, war and Leftism.
What are “feedback loops”?
Again, here is how Donnella H. Meadows defines and describes them:
A feedback loop is a closed chain of causal connections from a stock, through a set of decisions or rules or physical laws or actions that are dependent on the level of the stock, and back again through a flow to change the stock.
Reinforcing feedback loops are self-enhancing, leading to exponential growth or to runaway collapses over time.
The information delivered by a feedback loop—even nonphysical feedback—can affect only future behavior; it can’t deliver a signal fast enough to correct behavior that drove the current feedback.
(What effect will “invade the world, invite the world” have on America’s future?
A stock-maintaining balancing feedback loop must have its goal set appropriately to compensate for draining or inflowing processes that affect that stock. Otherwise, the feedback process will fall short of or exceed the target for the stock.
(The system gave us Donald Trump.)
Systems with similar feedback structures produce similar dynamic behaviors.
As we have described, explained, and analysed in great detail, using a variety of sources, from a wide variety of historical periods, when you have a state riddled with Imperium in Imperio which also needs to wage war, you will see “similar feedback structures” and “similar dynamic behaviour”.
In the third and final post, we take a look at systems thinking in more detail and in the post that follows we directly take on the problem war and peace in A Reactionary Vision of World Order.