An autopsy of Charlottesville.

 

Charlottesville was as close to a controlled social science experiment as you will likely ever get. On the one hand you had right wing protesters, and on the other you had left wing protesters. What happened? It seems rather pointless repeating this, but I will do so anyway. The right wing protesters acting within the confines of law, behaving peacefully, and exercising rights officially granted by the US government were subject to a state of emergency decree from the governor and shut down. As far as it appears, the decree declared that all protests should be removed. This didn’t happen. Instead, the left wing protesters who showed up and were prepared and organised for violence were not disbursed. Violence ensued culminating with a car being rammed into a crowd of anti-fa resulting in one death. Universal condemnation of the right was the result.

The take away from the above events from the mainstream right and alt-right has been boringly predictable. The usual bland platitudes and calls for everyone to lay their balls on a chopping block have flowed. Some of the more ridiculous criticisms include complaints of bad optics, complaints of unfairness from the police, and claims that political violence is somehow wrong and should be dissociated from. Generally it’s a confused mess.

The central problem here is that the political theory that everyone is working from is radically wrong and people are paying the price in blood. We can start with the role of protest in the political eco-sphere and the effect of popular conceptions of protests. Our current political system has come into effect with protests. From its very beginning the liberal system has been one long procession of protests and it is so ingrained that everyone takes these protests as being genuine causes for social changes, yet there is a problem with this common belief, this problem is that there has never been a successful protest which was not being used by someone already in a position of power. If you are going to use a protest, which is a political tool, a weapon, it is imperative you understand how it works and when to use it. The principle is no different to being proficient in firearm usage – knowing where the safety is, how to hold it, how to stand etc.

Now to break down a protest simply you have to do a number of things, you need numbers obviously which requires a network, you also need promotion. In addition, you need organisation. You need to plan where it will be, what time, and what the theme of the protest is. In addition, you will need to provide logistics. Transport, water, signs, food, security, and so on. The Charlottesville protest seems to have ticked all these boxes well. Now finally, and most importantly, you need a patron within the power structure who will provide cover while you piss in the face of his or her political enemies. In public. For everyone to see. If you don’t have this, then you are the one who is going to be the public spectacle, and a counter protest will be sent in by power actors so that they can use you to set an example against their enemies. Politics is about violence and degradation. Either you beat your enemy for all to see so the hierarchy is clear, or they beat you.

As we can see, the Charlottesville protest lacked this final piece of the puzzle. Worse, it didn’t even demonstrate a good audition for any power actors who may find them useful. Among the more egregious failures was a lack of centralised messaging. If something goes wrong, like a car ploughing into a crowd, the narrative should be obvious and every one should get on the right page quickly. At least demonstrate discipline. If the car incident was accidental – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. If it was on purpose – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. If you don’t know at all what happened – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. I’m sure you get the idea.

Having the ability to demonstrate some discipline and ability to rally when and where needed will be useful to someone in power at sometime. That is your role as a protester. You are not the cause of spontaneous change. You don’t set off a chain reaction in a population of rational individuals as is central to liberal theory (left and right, all modern theory is liberal.) What you do is provide a threat and exude power to give a patron in power the appearance of legitimacy. Our current system is built on popular legitimacy. Any crack in this is a justification for a segment of the elite to use it to gain more power. Again, you are a gun, not the man holding the gun.

A brief example of this mechanism laid bare can be seen from any example of the Civil Rights Era. Take Little Rock Nine for example. Here a group of nine black students enrolled in High School following the Supreme Court ruling in the absurd Brown V Board of Eduaction (1954) case. Here we have a strange situation and one symptomatic of the US at this point in history. The local state governance was in constant conflict with the Federal Government which along with Foundations was on a mission to reshape the US. The black students were enrolled by the NAACP, which was and still is a North East anglo/ jewish liberal entity maintained by foundation money and the enrolment was completed under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division.

This case can be viewed from two angles. The first is the common one where these students enrolled without prompting, and the protests created a ripple effect through society which transformed rational individuals spontaneously with the radiance of their moral righteousness. This is the model that the Charlotesville protestors work on. The other view is that various centers of power in the US were in chronic conflict and the NAACP engineered a protest backed by federal government to impose their position and attack their enemies. The protests then being a setup as all successful protests are, thereby undermining the moral claims of the event.

So if the protest is merely a tool of someone in power, then someone in power must be located, money must be found, infrastructure and discipline needs development. That’s the take away, not “you need better optics so you don’t scare normies”

The Catholic Church and Neoliberalism

Throughout Inventing the Individual, Larry Siedentop details historical events and the cultural development of individualism. He will often outline the position of the agents developing this conception as being in a position of social/political conflict vis a vis another segment of society, where they will then wield it is as a means to justify a power move.

Another interesting thing that Siedentop does is apply what seems like an absolutist/anarchist ontology. Here is a section from page 234-236 on the development of canon law by the Church as an application of anarchism aimed against secular authorities:

PicAPicBPicC

Now I want to direct the read to a recent essay by David Ciepley which I have linked before. Note the parallel nature of this argument, and the way neoliberal thinking is structurally isomorphic to the Church in being directed at the secular authorities:

“Neoliberalism was born in reaction against totalitarian statism, and matured at the University of Chicago into a program of state-reduction that was directed not just against the totalitarian state and the socialist state but also (and especially) against the New Deal regulatory and welfare state. Neoliberalism sought to privatize public services, deregulate private services, and shrink social spending.

[…]

For the contradiction between neoliberalism and the corporation to be clear, it is necessary to say a few words about the nature of the business corporation.The business corporation, like any corporation, is a little government. Its deepest roots run back to the municipality of Rome, the first corporation in law, which was at the same time the civitas, or Roman state. More proximately, the business corporation was modeled on the incorporated medieval town, and it carries forward its central legal features.

As is true of the town, a corporate firm’s assets are not owned by natural persons, but by an abstract legal entity—the “artificial person” of the corporation, which assumes the legal position of sole proprietor. This fact should immediately explode the most insidious myth about the business corporation, that it is owned by its stockholders. The whole point of the legal form is to transfer ownership of the business assets to this legal entity, which in principle “never dies.” This prevents investors from pulling these assets out and liquidating the firm, and it allows all economic liabilities generated by the firm to be shifted from natural persons to this entity. Since the legal entity owns the assets of the business corporation, the stockholders obviously do not.

[…]

The next legal feature that the business corporation carried over from the town is that, like the officers of a town, the managers and investors of a business corporation are exempt from liability for corporate debts, and in practice almost always escape liability for corporate harms, or torts. This is a second advantage of the corporate form for business. Debts and damages are paid by the corporate entity, not by natural persons. Here, however, an important distinction must be noted between the corporate town and the corporate firm. The officers of the town are elected by those over whom they rule and upon whom they act. Therefore, if they cause harm, it is at their own political risk, regardless of their protection from normal economic and legal risk. The officers of the corporate firm, in contrast, neither rule over nor act upon those who elect them, but rather rule over disenfranchised employees and act on numerous third parties. This relieves those who control corporate firms of most of their personal incentive to avoid causing harm when it is otherwise profitable.

If neither the shareholders nor the managers own the assets of the corporate firm, whence derives management’s authority? Like a town, every corporation receives from the state a jurisdiction within which its officers legislate and rule. A university’s board of trustees, for example, legislates and rules over the property and personnel of the university—an authority it receives from the state, via the corporate charter. Similarly, in a business corporation, the board of directors legislates and rules over the property and personnel of the firm, even though the directors may not own any of it. This authority of the board, too, is delegated to it by the state, via a charter. It does not come from the shareholders (who, although they select the occupants of the seats on the board going forward, do not create the board’s structure, procedures, powers, or duties). Indeed, the board is created and begins to operate the business before shares are even issued. The board creates the shareholders; shareholders do not create the board. And prior to that, the state creates the board, and endows it with its authority. This does not make the board and the firm it controls an agent of the state. Rather, it is the state’s franchisee. To spell this out: the corporate firm gets its “personhood” (its right to own and contract as a separate legal entity), its liability regime, its governance structure, and its governing authority from the state, but it hires its own personnel and secures its own financing. This is a franchising relationship, and for this reason, I refer to corporations as “franchise governments.”

[…]

The above exposition of corporations as governing authorities franchised by the civil government is, with slight modification, the classic view of corporations, as expounded, for example, in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. “None but the king can make a corporation,” which the king does either directly or through delegation to others such as the legislature. The authority the corporation wields, Blackstone continues, is a “franchise” of the king, analogous in this respect to the authority that the feudal vassal wields, also delegated from the king. Like lordships, corporations are part of the overall system of government established by the king.3 And this is part of the reason that classical liberals, including Adam Smith, were so suspicious of corporations and wished to circumscribe them.4 They recognized that they were not part of the free market, but represented state interventions in the market.

This is, of course, not the view of corporations espoused by neoliberals. The problem that the corporation posed for neoliberals, when neoliberalism first emerged as a self-conscious ideological movement at the end of World War II, is that one could hardly put over a free market agenda if one’s leading business actors were seen as state-created entities. So neoliberals had to retheorize the corporation as a creation of private contract (or at least something that could in principle be created by private contract). Accordingly, stockholders—rechristened “shareholders”—were theorized as owners who hire a board to act on their behalf. (Again, remember how wrong this is; shareholders are not owners of corporate assets, and the board gets its authority before they even exist.) In other words, neoliberals cast the corporation as a glorified partnership, to be operated in the interest of its imagined owners and principals, the stockholders.

This account superficially squares the corporation with market principles of private property and contract. But the social cost has been high. The institutionalization of this account in recent decades has transformed both the boardroom and the workplace, producing what I call the “neoliberal corporation.” And this is responsible for many of the economic inequities and dislocations that plague us today.

We are, quite simply, going around in circles. This isn’t rational, it’s a set of people in a specific power configuration developing arguments that are aimed at a goal irrespective of any overall meaning or understanding, which is why they have to revert to mystical bullshit like providence and progress to fill in the metaphysical gaps. They frankly don’t know what they are talking about.

All Western political thinking is appallingly bad, it needs dropping immediately. There is no salvaging it.

The Jouvenelian presidency – a thought experiment for an alternative reality.

The first stage of a coherent and organised strategy is to see everything within the framework of unsecure and secure power. Period. Drop every libertarian, liberal, anarchist etc. argument and disregard everything they say. They are like little demons sitting on your shoulder constantly suggesting you auto-asphyxiate because it would be good for you. Securing power and removing conflict within the political system is the goal, not maintaining the current arrangements.

With this in mind we have to consider what tools are at our disposal for eliminating the institutions which are a problem, or at the very least weakening and neutering them so that a serious re-organisation of political institutions can be accomplished once they are unable to offer serious resistance.

The first call of business as dictated by the first step is to disregard the current political thinking wholesale. This cannot be repeated enough. This means rejecting all categories of politics. Key is the Public/private distinction. This is a normative concept not an objective observation. Our enemies can maintain this distinction whilst ignoring it without thinking; we can go one step further and ignore it while thinking.

Having jettisoned this distinction as a real one, which is only of use to our enemies, we can get to work. First, we can use the arena of “private” as an open battlefield for our usage. Proxies must be located that are hostile to the institutions and entities which are in the way of the securing of sovereignty. These institutions are not “balancing” power, or keeping a check on power, or any other nonsensical claim from our enemies. These institutions are competing centers of power which needs to be overcome. They are vicious predators intent on engaging in continual aggression on society dressed up in the language of protecting liberty. These words are mere cloaks for power lust. With each day we see this more clearly. The horrible shrieking from the likes of CNN, the State Department and the education system become more unhinged and more incoherent in all respects bar that of pursuit of power. The liberal inhabiting this unsecure system will say anything at any time to further his team. The institutions instantiating this cultural mess must be opened to attack from proxies.

The next stage of the strategy is to then fund, organise and direct these proxies. Without guidance and without institutions these proxies are nothing more than transient expressions of discontent. Again, our enemies provide the means to do this with their public/private distinction, so we can hang them with the rope they provide. These proxies can be raised using funds from non-formal means, and in fact, they must. This is how power has been acting within the modern structure since its inception. The difference between us and unsecure power advocates is that once we take sufficient power we know that this entry point must be closed behind us. We won’t try to maintain this structure.

These proxies will not be the ones to overturn these institutions – this is anarchistic delusion- instead they will (i) provide a plausible excuse for the presidency to act (ii) provide an informal disincentive for any institution to dissent (iii) provide propaganda and demoralisation to discourage “popular” discontent from leftist proxies. These proxies must be allowed to consider themselves as being the actors as this is what the current system has ingrained as a legitimate state of affairs – it will keep them active. We know that no movement is truly spontaneous, and that they are always a function of institutions and patrons, so we can be comfortable pulling the wires with money and infrastructure. Switch off the gas and the fire stops burning (as long as we are awake to ensuring other patrons don’t try to take over.)

This program of identifying proxies and providing the infrastructure appears to be occurring in a piecemeal and ineffective way with the so called alt-light which is being funded by Robert Mercer. A more concentrated program can, and must be, organised. This program cannot escape being highly centralised and highly organised. Distributed actors as conceived in anarchist ontology are actually inefficient, uncoordinated and ineffective; a really effective version is one which is of this shape but acting in line with a guiding centralised principle laid out by a center. Again, liberal/ anarchist ontology is our enemy, and if we fall for any of this crap, we lose. It must be purged from our minds. Don’t be a cuckold.

A series of varying proxies will allow for a wide range of action to be performed which will be of assistance to the presidency. For example, a series of organisations predicated on voter representation can be used to direct “spontaneous” protests against Republican representatives failing to act in accordance with the president (and voters) wishes. Voting as “rebels” will then be provided with a punishment including vibrant protests near the property of the representative’s residence, place of work, and any other areas they frequent. Legal institutions designed to provide legal counsel and advocacy for citizens affected by the actions of immigration and diversity policies can also be extensively funded with pressure applied by the presidency against the legal system to act correctly as it was in the civil rights era. Again, the enemies weapons cut both ways, so cut away.

Another class of proxy can include social solidarity entities designed again to assistant those affected by immigration on a social level which will no doubt be attacked with the label of racism, which is good, because with the other proxies in place, this conflict can be brought to a greater level in which the collective strategy can be put into play. Racism is not a magic word, it is backed with a significant institutional infrastructure centred on foundations, education, and NGOs which have been operating without competition – it is time this changed. These institutions can provide infrastructure, avenues of communication and sources of strength. They can only exist, however, with the added coverage provided by legal institutes, protesting groups and most vitally, the presidency. Do not get confused that ground up change is a real thing, but let the ground level people believe this.

A final class of proxy will be media and education centers. These cannot be the current official centers, but will have to be a comprehensive set of alternative institutions which must be brought to heel with the usage of finance. Control the pay, control the men. A series of qualification could be developed and business could be “encouraged” to only hire those with the relevant qualifications. There are many examples of this having occurred. This is an added benefit in that you provide economic opportunities for those who are of your group. Media is a useful point of both long distance and collective information provision for organised action, as well as a means of moral boosting and moral destruction of friends and enemy respectively.

There are many possible proxies and tactics which I have not considered or even thought of at all, and I leave that to further thinkers to develop according to the local situation and strategic need, but overall I believe that this cannot occurring in a piecemeal fashion, but must be done in accordance with an overall strategy. The overall strategy will need to be:

  • Develop proxies to nullify the enemy’s means of action. (electoral action, “private” protest action, legal action.) So if the enemy tries to electorally undermine you, set protests on them. If they try to set protests on you, set more on their protestors. If they try to bring legal action, set your protestors on them to discourage them and set your legal teams on them to investigate and bring actions against them.
  • Project your power into the enemies centers of power and begin to out muscle them. The enemy protests you, out protest them, attack their finance with legal action, expose their funding, engage legal investigation to freeze assets if you can, implement laws against foundations that will be applied selectively. Gum up the works.
  • Begin to implement a broad process of institutional changes with the proxies acting as cover to tie up your enemies. The battle should have already been won, with this part being the attainment of the spoils. This is the visible battle which should have already been won at stage one and two, but no doubt this will go down in the history books as “the struggle” in the same way the Civil Rights era was already over by the time it became public. The institutional actors were all in place and the changes were already lined up.

Once this is over, shut the door. Lock it. Throw away the key.

The Franciscan roots of modernity

I am still working my way through Siedentop’s book, and one thing which strikes me is that his account of the creation of the Franciscan Order and their continual theological development provides a really compelling narrative for the incubation of modern liberal thought systems. Siedentop makes the claim of a direct descent, and it something that Milbank has also made in this paper. Both authors note the pattern but go very vague on the significance. Siedentop is more aware of what is going on, but he still doesn’t get it. He still thinks the process was miraculous. Milbank merely notes the intellectual connection and can’t really go further. Both authors effectively place ideas above structure and seem to possess a standard modelling of events. This standard model goes something like picturing intellectual traditions as being akin to a bunch of Greeks debating in the agora with a panel of wise men determining which argument is most rational. This sort of folk political model allows people to consider modern liberalism as a crescendo of increasing rational development reaching its peak with whatever silliness it produces now.

We can see perfectly in the following passage exactly what Siedentop’s problem is:

pic 1

The reader may notice that Siedentop considers the actions of the kings as being incidental. The radical notion which he can’t entertain is that this conflict between the high and their immediate underlings (which he repeatedly notes) is the driver of this trend. Not economics trends, not the Black Death, not mystical forces, but the actual political system. The chapter which this passage is taken from is about William of Ockham and his influence on modernity, but Siedentop pauses for barely a moment on the fact that Ockham produced most of his work whilst under the patronage of the HRE emperor:

pic 2

Why would the emperor provide refuge to him? Because he was in conflict with the Pope. So Ockham was provided with space and resources to write anti-Papal theology because he was attacking the Pope and advocating for greater secular powers. No rational discourse here.

The narrative provided by Siedentop then provides an interesting question regarding the lost link between the Enlightenment thinkers of modernity and the Franciscan tradition. If we refuse to accept that traditions exist as disembodied entities but are the product of institutions then the Franciscan Order appears to be the institution holding the most extreme individualising theology (Ockham was a Franciscan) but in modernity all of this thought system just appears out of nowhere in the history books and we call it the Enlightenment. It is only with recent translations of Ockham and other works that this connection is being really explored. It gets odder when you note that people also see that lots of Christian thought contains “modern” themes such as consent of the governed.

The alternative thesis to Whig bullcrap is that there is a clear continuation, that the process did not just appear with the Enlightenment, that the Franciscan Order has been an (extra) subversive Catholic institution and that (as T.A.Jackson notes) the “secular” institutions of the nation state just continued the discussion on a secularised basis and acted as if they had placed it on non-theological grounds because it was now the state’s weapon. This is something that MacIntyre has all but claimed with his history of ethics being a secularisation of medieval voluntarism (that is Ockham and company.)

This narrative provides us with a very clear idea of what happened in the western world. The Catholic Church remained in a position of unsecure power for centuries. It kept itself in a paradoxical situation and seems to have move towards centralisation, which was then copied by monarchs. This conflict remained chronic and kept bouncing back and fourth with each side engaging in promotion of individualising theology for the purposes of undermining each other (and the feudal barons.) This came to a head with the 30 Year War and the Reformation and has continued spiraling out of control. There have been many twists and turns but this has fundamentally been the driver of European culture.

This utterly destroys liberal/ whig history.

Inventing the Individual

Inventing the Individual by Larry Siedentop is yet another piece of historical revisionism which lends a significant amount of support to the absolutist interpretation of the role of political conflict and political structure in the development of culture.

The history presented by Siedentop is one which will be familiar to regular readers, but which adds a great number of twists to the story which instead of causing problems for the theory, lend it added ammunition. One of the more interesting twists provided by Siedentop is the thesis he provides that the driver for the creation of the individual was initially the papacy in an obvious political/ structural conflict with what the Church had termed “secular” authorities. This is interesting in light of William Cavanaugh’s thesis in The myth of Religious Violence which hews far more closely to standard history in placing the origin of the secular/religious split in the state building activities of the “secular” authorities leading up to the 30 Years War. The creation of the secular is laid squarely at the Church’s door with Siedentop, and it is something I was not fully aware of.

I had been intending to research in this general direction by following the logic of de Jouvenel in tracing the origins of the concept of a pre-social individual in scholastic thought, which is something that Cavanaugh had nonetheless noted. One of the main areas which interested me was the fact that many scholars have been puzzled by the apparent echoes of liberalism in the works of the likes of Nicholas of Cusa. The thesis I was following was that all advocacy of equality is the result of acute political conflict and that is clear with Nicholas, first against the papacy, and then for the papacy! but Siedentop has already covered all this ground and points to other academics who have gone through it in detail.

The general narrative provided by Sidentop can grossly be summarized as follows: the papacy began a number of reforms to increase its power, centralise and strengthen its position as an entity in itself. The process required the creation of institutions (universities, legal schools, bureaucracies) which encoded individualistic tendencies such as an interpretation of natural law which placed the human as prior to society. While Sidentop notes the dynamic of high-low versus the middle repeatedly, he does not make the express connection between political conflict and this cultural development because he is cheerleading this process as some great awakening and wonderful development. This process of centralisation, however, was a sword which could be wielded against the Church institutions, and it is something which the monarchs did. Siedentop notes that many of the monarchs purposefully aped the papal structure and reforms, and then engaged in high-low conflict citing the individual as a justification.

We can sidestep a lot of fuzziness in Siedentop’s account by approaching this individualizing process in a neutral manner. We can neither take it as bad, nor good, a priori and instead merely note that there is a clear mechanism in place here, and it is one laid out for us by de Jouvenel. The mechanism is that political conflict drove centers of power to secure their position by seeking to apply an equalizing process on power centers beneath them. This is simply what this individualisation is once stripped of the moral glow of being a freeing of souls, a discovery of natural rights, or a progressive freeing of people from chains of local relationships. The Papacy in seeking to secure its position, and its sphere of control, developed this religious/secular divided which the secular state builders shoved down their throat. This divide was created by asserting the natural rights of the human prior to customary and positive law (categories which we should be suspicious of.) This all also accords greatly with Filmer’s account of the origin of the high-low conflict in Catholic actions. Remember that in Patriarcha Filmer’s attacks against the social contract account of political organisation is directed at the Catholic Cardinal Bellarmine, and that he complains it was the papacy trying to raise the people above the kings.

Sticking with the de Jouvenelian model allows to cut out a lot of the noise from accounts like Siedentop’s and Cavanaugh’s and see where we can move past them. Individualism is the result of political conflict and can only occur under the umbrella of institutions encoding this pattern of behaviour and providing the necessary logistics to make it viable. It is not some magic process, it is not a mystical awe inspiring ascent into utopia, it is instead a very clear repeating pattern that occurs in the wake of centralision in an unsecure system which requires the centralising agent (the papacy, the monarchs) to make appeals to the individuals under subsidiary and recalcitrant centers of power (lords, feudal fiefdoms, kings, papacy) the position of the agents varies depending on time and place, and the race is always on to be the one in the position of the high, which gives the process a unidirectional nature. The individual cannot be free qua other individuals in an anarchistic manner at all, and it is a fever dream to suppose they can. If you think you have located a situation in which individuals are free simpliciter then it is going to be because you have either A) defined away governance in an act of self-deception (see the liberal nation state  overseeing “freedom”) B) simply stated events in a passive voice so you can ignored the subject of the sentence or  C) are simply delusional.

Feyerabend on empiricism

Classical empiricism, which really is an update of sola scriptura, is as political as it gets. The central contention of both sola scriptura and empiricism (where it becomes more concealed) is that we do not need to rely on other’s interpretations of so called “data” and that any person can access the “facts” as is. In effect, empiricism is a denial of authority, a denial of the necessity of a cultural background, and an assertion of man being able to come to knowledge as an individual without assistance of any kind. The depth of how incoherent empiricism is, is so great that it is hard to see without some assistance, plus it seems to be one of those things where like a crime that is enormous there is no mechanism in place to correct it, hence it goes unpunished.

Here is Edward Feser referencing Feyerabend on empiricism, and I will ask the reader to note that this explicitly references authority, tradition, as well as culture and the health of the observer:

“For the Aristotelian, Feyerabend says, “experience [is] the sum total of what is observed under normal circumstances (bright daylight; senses in good order; undisturbed and alert observer) and what is then described in some ordinary idiom that is understood by all” (p. 35).  It also involves interpreting what is currently perceived in light of “tradition” or “preconceived opinion” (p. 37).  Hence ordinary, everyday statements like “The gunman was wearing a ski mask” or “This apple is stale” — which presuppose that we already know, from past experience, what a gunman typically looks like, what stale apples taste like, etc. — would for the Aristotelian provide examples of the sorts of things we know immediately via experience.”

Empiricism, meanwhile, takes the observers as just given. He just appears, or just is, and this parallels with the manner in which the state of nature man at the center of liberalism just exists. The reason for this is that these people, these liberal “thinkers”, really just engaged in political conflict. They were building just so stories to justify what they wanted to happen in their political milieus.

Now we could go round in circles like poor old Feser and countless others before him in refuting in detail every silly claim of empiricists (see here for example,) or we can get to the root of the problem. We are all pretty busy, so we should take option two. The root of the problem is that empiricism is as I have mentioned a politicization of epistemology as a means of political attack by unsecure power systems. The system, being the system, is total. Anything favoring the system gets selected by the system and promoted by the system. If it didn’t then it wouldn’t be a stable system at all. Feyerbend has the devil by the tail here as Feser notes:

“His [Feyerabend’s] aim is to provide an illustration of how the purported “success” of the empiricist interpretation of science — which might seem to confirm that interpretation, despite its conceptual problems — involves selective and inconsistent application of empiricist scruples, question-begging assumptions, ad hoc hypotheses, and so forth.  And once again he sees parallels with sola scriptura.  In both instances, Feyerabend thinks, partisans of the doctrines in question claim “success” by focusing their attention on cases they think confirm the “rule of faith” while dismissing problematic cases as relatively insignificant puzzles raised by heretics and other oddballs.  Though question-begging, this procedure seems reasonable to them because they are surrounded by a “community… which is already committed to a certain doctrine” (p. 38) and which thereby reinforces their perception that the doctrine is the one that is accepted by all reasonable people.  These communities inculcate a “party line” (p. 39) which determines how one perceives the weight of various objections, the significance of the relevant pieces of evidence, etc.  Hence the doctrines in question — classical empiricism and sola scriptura — “although logically vacuous, [are] by no means psychologically vacuous” (p. 38).

And further:

“Sola scriptura and early modern empiricism were both self-consciously revolutionary doctrines, intended decisively to rein in what their proponents thought to be epistemological excesses.  Hence they were formulated precisely so as to lay down an unambiguous line the crossing of which is strictly forbidden, thereby to take down in one fell swoop enormous bodies of doctrine (Catholic theology in the one case, Scholastic and rationalist metaphysics in the other).”

You will note that at all points here the target is Catholicism as well Aristotleanism underpinning Catholicism at the time. Why would this be? Well it only comes into view clearly from the absolutist political analysis of unsecure systems in conflict. What occurred was a significant battle between state power centers and the Catholic Church power centers and this epistemology was center stage. So when Feyerabend talks of empiricism’s doctrines as being “although logically vacuous, [are] by no means psychologically vacuous”” he is understating the situation. We can add that they are indeed (internally) logically vacuous but are by no means psychologically vacuous nor (and this is key) vacuous in their logic to power.”

At this point that only real recourse from empiricists is to appeal to the success of empiricism, but the simple counter to this is to ask what does this success mean? Feyerabend asks the same question in the essay Feser is referencing and he makes the following claim regarding what he calls the classical empiricism of Newton:

“For just as in the case of Protestantism the success of the chosen theories is entirely man-made. It is due to the fact that the psychological result of a complex process of indoctrination was turned into a basis. In the case of Protestantism the basis supported faith. Here it supports a scientific theory which is constantly being expanded by the addition of ad hoc hypotheses (that is what the ‘success’ of the theory really amounts too.) In both cases we are dealing with nothing but a party line.

Let us reconsider what we have discovered so far. We have discovered that the rejection of authority, of tradition, of the results of speculation that is such a characteristic outer feature of both Protestantism and of the empiricism of Bacon does not lead to a more critical attitude. It leads to the enthroning of new authorities which demand slavish attention: scripture on the one side, experience on the other. We have seen how the vacuity of the rules makes them excellent allies in the defence of partisan ideas. If we follow the demand for an authoritative foundation such ideas are first made plausible, they are then based upon their own most plausible parts and are justified thereby. In the case of Protestantism the plausible parts are the intuitions resulting from a strict and merciless education. In the case of empiricism the plausible parts are those elements of a theory which can be readily illustrated by experiment.”

Feyerabend, being Feyerabend then turns around and declares this complete shambolic system is then actually quite good because it means that effectively it opens the doors to anarchism:

“Any idea can now be presented in a manner that makes it acceptable and capable of winning followers.

[…]

The fact that we are dealing with party lines is therefore not really a drawback. Quite the contrary: party lines play a most important role in many civilised institutions, such as the democratic process

[…]

Party lines are not the problem. Problems arise only when an attempt is made to turn subjective conviction that makes a particular party line stand out into an infallible objective judge who withstands criticism and demands that his dictum be obeyed. Classical empiricism which adopts this procedure has not yet completely overcome its even more restricted ancestry.

That Feyerband could make this conclusion is premised on being unable to account for exactly what has outlined in the preceding parts of the chapter. This being that both empiricism and Protestantism share the same structure, with both being anti-authority (a specific authority.) That this is so can be seen in the following passage:

“It is rather interesting to examine the similarities between the theories of Protestantism and Baconian empiricism. These similarities are expressed not only in the structure of the respective doctrines, but even in the phrases which are used to direct attention to the respective bases (scripture; experience): reverence is demanded of both of them, success and a clear view of an all-embracing entity (God; nature) is promised in both cases, and in almost the same exalted terms. A detailed description of such phenomena is a challenging task for the historian of ideas.”

What we can add to this history of ideas is the illumination provided by the role of power in promoting these specific party lines. This means that there is no possibility of epistemological/ methodological anarchism because both Protestantism and empiricism in this guise are explainable in terms of political structure. Feyerabend fails to account for the fact that party lines require institutions within which the parties exist. In Newton’s time this would be the Royal Society, in our time they are the progressive foundations. What we see in both instances is not an encouragement of many ideas but as Feyerabend points out, a rabid stomping out of dissident ideas which considering the motto of the society is quite impressive. Feyerabend is again instructive on this “fascinating, tortuous, schizophrenic combination of a conservative ideology and a progressive practice” in which a revision of any part is allowed regardless of experience, but that the stable foundation is experience which itself needs of no “support or interpretation” a state of affairs which is impossible as it does not allow us to “identify” experience in the same way a call to sola scriptura doesn’t allow us to identify the scripture. The whole things stands or falls logically on experience, which is to say it falls.

The obvious response to all of the above is to assert the correlation between empiricism and technological development, but the Jouvenelian mechanism which places empiricism within the purview of unsecure power would indicate that this correlation is significiantly more complicated than on first appearances. It would seem to indicate as has been put to me elsewhere that there are two processes at play at once. One is a destructive process of no intellectual value and is fact absurd, the other is a surreptitious integrative process which is of extreme value; the second process developing in the shadow of the first parasitic process which claims the success of the second. Empiricism then becomes a camouflage covering the real developments, and not a cause.

Religious/ Secular, Civil Society/ Formal Government.

If we accept the Jouvenelian model of high-low versus the middle as an expression of unsecure power, and if we accept that William Cavanaugh and others are correct in identifying the Reformation as a cultural phenomena driven by elites in conflict (Church versus the monarchical state,) then it raises an interesting way of interpreting current events, especially regarding Trump.

To briefly recap, the claim of neoabsolutism is that unsecure power creates conflicts which then produce cultural changes. The division of power between State and Church lead to an all-out conflict played out over centuries, with both sides trying to out high/low the other. From this conflict we get the division of secular and religious which on their own terms make little sense. From the angle of power conflict, however, they make total sense. The state institutions won and proceeded to render the realm of the Church as toothless and harmless as possible. A category of religion as a matter of individual conscious which cannot be compelled (by the Church) was instigated, and total adherence to the state institutions was promoted. It was a matter of power.

Well, given the above, and the fact that we still exist in a divided unsecure system in a state of total conflict, we can ask what the current instantiation of this comprises of. I mean the conflict between Church and State still rumbles on but is not really a hot one any more in the west, maybe it is still in other areas of the world. What we would need to see is two sets of institutions in a state of conflict. Are there any slowly gestating cultural developments which indicate the framework of the current conflict lines? The answer is yes, and is provided by Moldbug in the form of the Cathedral. The name “Cathedral” has been a source of some complaints, and I would agree to a great deal of the criticisms as the name allows for all sorts of lazy assumptions. One of the key ones is that the solution for banishing progressives is to label them as religious and then demand their removal from state machinery. This is an example of assuming that culture drives politics, and is not a post hoc justification for the acts of Power. This is completely wrong. If we leave the name aside for a second, what we can instead do is look at the general contours and then note how it echoes the religion/secular split and the underlying Church/State conflict.

In the current incarnation, it is the state apparatus which has become the party under siege thereby taking on the role of the Church. The new institutions underlying the attack and giving rise to the new cultural trends are non-state institutions. The ruling elite began a migration in earnest in the 20th century from the state institutions to the NGOs, Foundations and other civil society institutions because they offer much greater power. These institutions allows for direct, uncontrolled governance under the umbrella of being civil society. They are merely entities allowing the free acts of private citizens. Government agencies are subject to all manner of checks and balances, foundations for example, are not. They do whatever they want, from promoting gay marriage, to encouraging the movement of women to the workforce to reduce birth rates. These institutions have given rise to a slow cultural drive to etch out a segment of society which has been given the label “civil society” within which (formal) government intervention is deemed inappropriate, oppressive and downright creepy. These institutions have become transnational affairs with space called “civil society” in all countries being increased, strengthened and made into a bastion of power for these institutions. Recall that previously the state building elites did exactly the same with the creation of a secular category of life from which religion (the Church) was expelled.

For a time, these institutions have existed as complementary to the state and as a means to correct the necessary failings of the liberal categories which imply that there are areas of none governance in society. But now a conflict has broken out between them; we see it as nationalists versus globalists. A more accurate split would be to describe it as civil society versus formal governance, or rather, the civil society institutions versus government institutions. While for a great amount of time the formal institutions have been staffed by people willing to act as facilitators of the transfer of power to civil service institutions (to NGOs, foundations, corporations which have been retconned as civil society created “private” entities,) this has changed in a number of places and this transfer of power is being rejected. Eastern Europe in particular has been an area of innovation in curtailing civil society, which is not surprising in some respects as it was a place in which civil society institutions (Ford foundation and the Soros foundation, privatization etc.) ran wild and caused havoc, again under the banner of spontaneous developments. The US is now the epicentre of this conflict in the form of Trump who is currently engaged in constant squabbles with these institutions.

I contend that this all indicates that either there is a great reaction and the entire concept of a civil society space of spontaneous order is rejected entirely and the institutions governing this area fraudulently are dealt with accordingly, or this process will continue in its current absurd direction, and we end up with a new deranged form of governance.

If the secular/ religious split is anything to go by, it will probably take the form of creating a category with the name politics that consists of extremely limited power. It will probably end up as some kind of opt in governance which is not really government. Like choice between having a different company supply day to day documentation. Do you want a UK passport, or a German passport? You choose, it’s your internal right by conscious decision that cannot be forced on you and it makes no difference – there are no borders bigot. On the other hand, you must submit to being a member of civil society as an individual and if you don’t great punishment will be visited upon you. You will be added to a list, your human rights score will be reduced, you will be no platformed, you will be unemployable, you will be made example of, you will go to prison. Note the legal system will be more tied up with these new institutions than with the formal governance structure on the basis of it being apolitical and part of civil society and not governance. The legal system will complete its journey from being a delegation of the monarch to being a “independent” and “impartial” judiciary.

Is this going to be a stable state of affairs? either way it portends a world governance under the absurd category of civil society in the international community.

The Anti-Civilisationism of Liberalism

The second volume of the American Affairs Journal has come out and it is even better than the first volume. Whereas the first volume seemed promising, the second volume is simply excellent. Of special interest is the paper titled The Corporate Contradictions of Neoliberalism by David Ciepley. This paper is especially interesting if read in conjunction with a further more substantial paper by Ciepley titled Beyond Public and Private: Toward a Political Theory of the Corporation. It is well within the framework of absolutism.

The papers in question, whilst still holding to the undefendable concept of the sovereignty of the people, take aim at the neoliberal conception of the corporation as being the creation of shareholders. Ciepley makes the point which is evident to anyone reading the liberal oeuvre carefully that liberals are really agrarian primitivists totally at odds with advanced industrial civilization. What is remarkable about them though is that despite holding agrarian primitivism in all areas, they then are able to turn around and claim credit for developments which they opposed based on classical liberalism. Just think of all those libertarians and classical liberals lauding Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, to name only a few examples, as the exemplars of classical liberalism and (this is where it gets hilarious) capitalism. Ciepley makes it evidently clear that the corporation is not liberal, is opposed to liberalism, and has been subject to disastrous liberalisation which has rendered them deranged institutions that have begun simply cannibalizing society.

The papers make it clear that the corporation is in effect a delegate of the sovereign. Furthermore, logically it is obvious that a company cannot be the result of shareholders as shareholders are made by the board, not the other way around. Neoliberals including Milton Freedman turned this on its head by claiming the shareholders are the owners and the board are their employees. This is nonsense of the highest order. Worse, what he was doing was bringing Lockean state of nature idiocy into the world of the corporation. This article from Forbes is much more scathing of the concept than Ciepley, and rightly so. Friedman violates the very concept of the corporation as an entity and makes it a sort of pooling of individual partners in the form of state of nature shareholders. Pure gibberish from (and I can’t believe this now) one of the most influential economists of the 20th century- he simply did not know how a company works. As Ciepley takes pain to note, this violates the concept of the corporation from every conceivable angle. Not only does it negate capital shielding that allows the corporation to own the property and not be subject to shareholders withdrawing funds (and property) in the way a partner may in a partnership, but it also negates the limited liability of the corporate structure. If the property of the company was indeed the shareholders’, then there is no limited liability. Worse than this, by removing the corporation as the legal owner of the property (the very function of its status as a company) it requires an individual contractualism in which the corporation becomes a kind of metaphysical fraud hiding the true nature of the situation as a giant contractual web of individuals. This is reminiscent of Hayek’s/ Mise’s methodological individualism. The corporation in this bizarre Lockean retconning is effectively a giant partnership of individuals (the corporate layer is fraud) like a giant Leviathon, or Lockean state, in a kind of social contract thingy. Ciepley amusingly considers this seriously and is dismissive on the basis that this would require all individual shareholders to engage in individual contracts with all that deal with the corporation (employees, customers, debtors, lenders,) and other shareholders, an absurd state of affairs…is anyone getting déjà vu from liberal political theory and the complaints of Filmer here?

The results of this absurdity are noted by Ciepley in the collapse of the American corporation from being a capitalist entity in the sense of accumulating capital and investing in expansion and development of new products, to one which doesn’t. Corporate boards were encouraged to become shareholders to align the principal-agent problem based on the error- astonishing error- of shareholders being the owner of the company’s property. The pay of CEOs then went from being wages and no shares in 1984, to being 66% share options in 2001.  The results are simply astounding. In 1950 60% of Corporation profits in the US were retained for expansion and R&D. In 2003 this was just 3% (in China it is apparently 50%.) The Liberals in effect created a nominalist dream world in which the corporation was just metaphysics to the concrete liberal individual who had to be tied into the role of being subject to consequences by being made a shareholder; an absurdity. Liberal capitalism is a contradiction in terms, the essence of liberalism is anarcho anti-civilisationalism. The idea of society as a network of contractual individuals is literally opposed to the legal construct of the corporation which gains its legal personhood from the sovereign.

Liberalism, liberal “capitalists” and classical liberals fundamentally theoretically oppose the concept of an agglomeration of capital having a separate existence in law from the individuals that comprise it. They are parasitic primitivists and it is only through an absolutist lense that this can be seen in stark clarity. As Ciepley quotes Smith (anti-corporation) as making clear:

“The directors of such companies … being the managers rather of other people’s money … it cannot well be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own…. Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company. (Smith
[1776] 1976, II, 264–65)”

 

High-low versus the middle.

Basically, society is comprised of three parts when it is in a state of unsecure power. It is still so in a state of secure power, but the management of this state of affairs is at least tolerable under the second circumstance. The value of holding this understanding is that it enlightens us on events, as well as a whole plethora of theories.

Under current theories of society, such things as capitalism, communism, anarchism and liberalism are seriously considered thought systems. None of them are actually serious though, they are all deeply flawed. The key to all of them is that they only consider two parts of society and embrace the concealment of the third. They all accept the existence of the low in society, and the middle in society; they all studiously refuse the existence of the high in society.

Looking at capitalism first, we can skip the various definitions and go straight to the underlying premise linking all of them, this being that wealth accumulation by independent individuals acting in a non-coordinated manner overall is a thing. This gives rise to all sorts of varying theories, and to counter theories, which complain of the victimisation of those not benefiting proportionately from the resultant relationships. So in effect we have the middle (the capitalists) and we have the low (the exploited.) Except this is wrong from every conceivable angle. Businesses, for example, are incorporated within law, they operate within infrastructure laid down by government, they operate in financial systems created by governance and are in effect merely extensions of governance. It requires a great deal of creativity, and frankly willful ignorance, to maintain a framework in which governance is claimed to be superfluous. You literally have to declare recorded history inadmissible.

Communism likewise is premised on assumptions taken from political economy which works on this refusal to countenance anything other than the existence of a middle and a low in society. The middle are always framed as the dominating group. Communism and Marxism then frame society as in a perpetual conflict between these groups.

Anarchism meanwhile takes these categories and work along the same lines. You have some left anarchists who take the side of the low, and you have “conservative” anarchists who provide the anarchist framework in a defence of the middle. You get all sorts of weird combinations such as Ayn Rand and Rothbard from this. It is all still working on this middle and low (though Rothbard seems to have caught on a little that this is all wrong.)

Liberalism meanwhile is a pure form of refusing to admit of a high. It just forms the default non-thinking form of this system. Its advocates don’t consider any intellectual ramifications of liberal premises, as they are too busy being apologist for power and staying within the popular and successful mishmash of syrupy nonsense that benefits power.

All of these thought system then share the same underlying premise – there is the middle in society, which oppresses/ justifiably exists above the oppressed/ the unworthy. Right versus Left. Except this picture is missing a serious ingredient. The left is composed of two factions, not one. The left is the high within society aligned with the low in society to destroy the middle in society.

This system, this recognition, changes the status of capitalism, anarchism, communism and liberalism from being justifiable means of viewing events, into unsecure power apologetics that serve no purpose other than to confuse. All of these thought systems are perfectly designed to camouflage the role of power in society. That this did not occur on purpose seems obvious. That this occurred quite naturally as a result of the logic of the power system appears clear to me.

The recognition of the existence, which is a constant, of this high in society gives us a brand new framework for viewing society. Where everyone else sees a two way conflict between the right (middle) and the left (low) we can see that the conflict is a three way tussle in which the left is centralising power; a centralising power which doesn’t advertise its actions but covers it with claims of emancipation and freedom.

A political manifesto for the UK neoabsolutist restorationist state

One of the problems with elaborating a new political theory is that while it is in the realm of abstract thought the concrete ramifications are not always clear. Using the example of the UK and the blueprint provided by the Letter to France published by Social Matter (and promptly ignored by them) I will explain what neoabsolutism demands:

  • All power must be transferred to the new British state run by the military under the supervision of a suitable leader. All political parties are outlawed, martial law is in place and all media outlets are placed under direct military control. Enough with this shit. It’s finished.

 

  • All UK border are sealed. All foreign nationals are to be deported or interned. All British citizends abroad are either repatriated or expatriated. These measures will not be reversed until the UK is once again a nation, not a province of Globomerica.

 

  • Real borders are not just about migration. Political sovereignty is also compromised by financial, commercial, and intellectual dependency. Since the UK today is a cancer patient and only strict isolation can save her, all these links must be severed. Some future strong and healthy UK may restore them.

 

  • All British securities held outside of the UK are cancelled. All external trade is settled in gold at a single entry point. No manufactured goods are imported. All Internet links are cut. Only the New State routes packets outside UK, only to Washington, and for only three purposes: offering British products for sale; purchasing strategic minerals; and negotiating real planetary issues such as ocean rights, atmospheric contamination, migratory bird protection and asteroid defense.

 

  • Thanks to the criminal acts of the communist regime, which aimed to entrench itself in permanent power by importing a new people, possession of a UK passport issued by the democratic state is not proof of British citizenship. Anyone holding a British passport, but without four great-grandparents born in Britain, must reapply for citizenship in the New British State.

 

  • Applications are evaluated by the police. Anyone both assimilated and civilized, without regard to race, is accepted. Everyone else is deported, or interned if Globomerica will not accept them. Internment is not a punishment and will not become one, but the UK is a sovereign nation and no one colonizes her.

 

  • All civil servants of the democratic state are deemed communist until proven patriotic, and retired with full benefits. Initially, the new government is staffed entirely by former military officers. Where hiring is necessary, any experience in the official or para-official sector, security forces excepted, is an unconditional disqualification. When in doubt, the process of denazification used in Germany in 1945 is a good guide.

 

  • The UK is a Catholic nation, the Church of England has been a horrendous disaster, and cannot be restored without the help of the Church. Unfortunately, this institution too has been overrun by communists. The Society of St. Pius X is the legal successor of the British Catholic Church. All clerics affiliated with the Novus Ordo Church are assumed communist until proven otherwise, and purged as functionaries.

 

  • The Church has full authority over all educational institutions from kindergarten to university; she gains ownership of all existing media and publishing firms. Freedom of speech is not infringed; communists can remain communists and keep trying to peddle their poisonous product, to adults at least. But no point of strength won under communism can survive its fall. A state without a form of intellectual framework such as Catholicism is impossible. Protestantism is beyond the pale and is indelibly tainted. This only leaves Catholicism.

 

  • All philanthropic institutions, NGOs, foundations, etc, are transferred to the State for liquidation. Moreover, the ultimate power source of these pernicious institutions, the 20th-century financial oligarchy, cannot be allowed to survive.

 

  • Many wealthy British men came by their money honestly, even under the corrupt rule of traitors. Many did not. Without inquiring into the affairs of the past, personal wealth of the rich must be declared and capped at the maximum needed to ensure a luxurious lifespan. Assets above the cap, deserved or not, are exchanged for titles of nobility. Thieves and traitors are relieved to escape with this small sacrifice; honest, patriotic businessmen understand the need for it.

 

  • All universities and seats of learning are placed in the hand of the military. All funding for anything except engineering, medical degrees and other associated practical courses are ended. All student loans and debt accrued until now are declared null and void. Philosophy department, various grievance studies and economics departments are shut for good. They will never be reopened.

 

  • All state secrets, except military blueprints, are unsealed. Using these documents, and any living sources still available, the New State will sponsor an intelligence-quality history of the UK in the 20th century, a reference document fully independent, patriotic and Catholic without apology, and contaminated by neither fascist nor communist bias.

 

  • The UK must be restored culturally, architecturally, and industrially. Any buildings built in the UK, of a Modernist, communist, Islamic or other non-British character, are to be demolished and/or replaced in a British historical style.

 

  • To a degree consistent with the actual supply of labor, industrial production of food and clothing is banned. Since the New State has retired the whole government, many Britishmen will need work. The only conceivable source of labor demand is artisanal production on pre-industrial patterns; honor and fulfilment can only be found in tasks equal to the worker’s human potential. Anyone can be a mason or a carpenter; no one should have to be a 19th-century industrial robot.

 

  • The New British State is a temporary regime designed to cure Britain, not to govern her forever. Its last task is designing its own permanent replacement, almost certainly a hereditary absolute monarchy in the great British tradition. Of course, there’s not one British man in a thousand today who would understand or support this plan. Yet half of Britain, at least, sees the same problem.

 

  • Simply nothing short of the total redistribution of wealth and power in line with the creation of a sovereign nation devoid of divisions of power and false and pernicious categories of public and private is worth discussing. Sovereignty demands nullification of all property and its continual redistribution as and when required to maintain sovereignty.