Equality in On Power

Having recently had reason to return to Jouvenel’s On Power in some detail a number of points drew more of my attention than they did before. One of the more significant ones is just how much of a classical liberal Jouvenel was and how his own specific conception of liberty functioned as a sought of blinder to the role of Power in its creation. For Jouvenel liberty can be split into two overall categories. One is a “real” liberty premised on the individual’s capability of defending with his own strength the liberty he enjoys. This is a liberty which he sees in the pirate traders of the early modern period and the nobles bringing low the kings. In contrast to this noble liberty is that of liberty granted by another, the liberty of the subject before the king. In this formulation of Jouvenel’s we can see his model beneath the surface. The liberty of the first kind is that of the intermediaries of society, or the middle if you will, while the liberty of the second kind is that of Power, the high and the low.

The conception of liberty which Jouvenel is drawn to is that of the first kind. He frequently speaks glowingly of the Greek and Roman republics, but combined with this is an obvious uneasiness. Jouvenel is under no illusion that the liberty of these nobles is itself premised on their being elements of society who must be devoid of such liberty to sustain this state of affairs. For the Greeks and Romans these were slaves and the plebeians. This mass that is cut off from this liberty represents a problem as it is from this mass that Power obtains its recruits and resources. To undermine such a threat Jouvenel saw that two broad options were available for the noble who obtained control of the state. The first option was to simply retain this liberty and not extend it because it is dangerous to grant the rights and liberties of the nobles to the lower classes, such an option obviously left open the door to Power which would need to be controlled by other means. The second option, and one he claims the English nobility took, was to generalize it and admit all to this liberty.

The extension of liberty to all is not in Jouvenel’s eyes a good thing, and on this he is surprisingly provided with significant support by Rousseau who he interprets in a very atypical way. One finds that with all Enlightenment thinkers it is possible to go back and read them directly and so get a reading which is directly contradictory to modern interpretations and with Rousseau, if Jouvenel is correct, this is no different. For Rousseau, the idea of extending liberty to those not fit for it was ridiculous. There is also the case of his reference to the necessity of small polities to ensure good governance due to the ability to immediately observe results, and his rejection of rule of law being a solved problem.[i]

A result of this admission to law of all, including those not suited to it, is a result which is very rarely raised as a problem with equality, but one which is as central to it as it gets. Declaring all equal and treating them as such results in a situation in which those who are strong in society as given an extraordinary advantage. It’s like placing Mike Tyson in his prime in a cage with a grandmother and declaring that as they are both humans it would be a fair fight. So it is with the absurd nature of modern law that the employee contracts on an equal basis with a company, or that a financial service provider contracts on an equal basis with an investor. The libertarian can argue until they are blue in the face that somehow this is ethically fair and claim survival of the fittest, but such idiocies, and they are only fit to be dismissed as idiocies, only open more problems which Power is required to resolve.[ii] It also reveals in full glory the underlying utopianism of a supposedly realistic political prescription.

In addition to the casting of the weak in society to the vicissitudes of a society in which they are declared equal, those in positions of power and authority obtain a near total removal of responsibility. As in the case of the company that is supposedly an equal of the employee, the leader of the company is now no longer a lord in a real sense, with the lives of the employees in his hands, but is now a mere contracting equal. This is an aspect of Jouvenel’s criticism which receives tragically short treatment in the book, but it is one which is quite explosive. The capitalist order which is so celebrated really represents a total blanket disconnection of power and responsibility under the guise of equality. Those who should have their own code of ethics aligned with the greater order reject this order and claim to be operating in a private sphere as equals. The usual response is hysterical screams that impeding on the profit motive will result in us all starving or something, but this is pure bullshit and you can usually trace this sort of discourse to  some form of funding from business (usually via foundations as per the creation of libertarianism with Hayek and Mises) or/ and some political conflict based polemics such as the crass anti-communism (hello again Hayek and Mises) of the liberal order which set up a false dichotomy between communism and capitalism that still shuffles about like a brainless zombie.

Obviously as is the nature of our brainless liberal order it did not take long for the blanket excusing of this private sphere from any sort of ethical constraints and the militant dogmatic assertions that it is some mystical black box beyond human understanding for it to be utilized in the expansion of Power. Foundations, NGOs, Woke Coporations, the media and the like represent arms of government which we must not admit are government.


[i] “But until you have solved it, be sure that, instead of enthroning laws, as you imagine, you are really enthroning man” p373

[ii] On the creation of industrial law “Anyone studying the case law and legislation relating to industrial accidents will think himself in a madhouse as he contemplates the legal fictions to which recourse has had to be had to justify the responsibility of the employer, a responsibility which should, on the contrary, have flowed naturally from the positive recognition of the duties inherent in an economic overlordship carrying with it all the obligations of protection and help.” see notes on page 410


Enlightenment Now

Reason: What comprises the Enlightenment?

 Steven Pinker: My point of view identifies four things: reason, science, humanism, and progress. Reason being the ideal that we analyze our predicament using reason as opposed to dogma, authority, charisma, intuition, mysticism. Science being the ideal that we seek to understand the world by formulating hypotheses and testing them against reality. Humanism, that we hold out the well-being of men, women, children, and other sentient creatures as the highest good, as opposed to the glory of the tribe or the race or the nation, and as opposed to religious doctrine. And progress, that if we apply sympathy and reason to making people better off, we can gradually succeed.

Why did the Enlightenment happen when it did?

Because it only happened once, we don’t really know and we can’t test hypotheses. But some plausible explanations are that it grew out of the scientific revolution of the 17th century, which showed that our intuitions and the traditional view of reality could be profoundly mistaken, and that by applying reason, we can overturn our understanding of the world.

Maybe the more proximate technological kickstarter was the growth of printing technology. That was the only technology that showed a huge increase in productivity prior to the Industrial Revolution. Everything else had to wait for the 19th century.

Pinker, despite having no idea where the Enlightenment came from, why it happened, nor what the motivations were for the main actors seems to not care at all. He positively revels in his ignorance. But as this is ignorance which supports the current disbursement of power in the western world his brand of ignorant cheerleading is successful. He is a feted professor at Harvard, his books are bestsellers, he is cited by the good and the powerful as a thinker who can prove that our current political order is not only the best, but it is frankly miraculous.

But what of the actual Enlightenment? What did the people involved in it think? What did they actually propose? Was it anything like the definition provided by Pinker? Short answer? No. Hell, is anything Pinker saying corresponding with his definition of Enlightenment? Even from the short passage above it clearly isn’t. I mean, having told us that we should be using reason and not “dogma, authority, charisma, intuition, mysticism” he then informs us that there is no way to know how the Enlightenment happened (which we must trust him on I guess, he is the famous Harvard Professor after all), he then puts forward the “plausible explanation of a scientific revolution” which given it can’t be proven must fail the reason test as being based to some degree at least on intuition. It definitely fails the science test given he states that it must be testable, which it isn’t as he admits. This gets even better when we get to the humanism requirement. What exactly is the basis for his pronouncement here? Is there scientific evidence of this? Can he establish this based on reason? Kant failed and so did all after him as embarrassingly nailed by Nietzsche. Should we even go into the Christian roots of this belief? Is there any point? As for progress, I think he has been listening to Imagine on a loop for too long.

Pinker not only has no idea what happened in the period he is celebrating, he is actively discounting that anyone will be able to demonstrate what happened.

The links between Wahhabism and Americanism

Today I want to draw parallels between Wahabbi Islam and America. This connection between Wahhabis and the West is something I have mentioned before in the journal some time back, but recently I have been reading some histories of the Saudi state as well as copious works on the development of the concept of sovereignty, so it is something which I have come back to.

Contrary to the position of many right wingers the phenomena of Islam as we see it in the modern world is not old. The Saudi state itself is not old either despite the usual nonsense that gets trotted out about it being medieval. In fact, the Saudi state is astonishingly modern. Or rather, the three Saudi states that have existed so far were astonishingly modern, suspiciously so.

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah was the result of the alliance of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (from whose name Wahhabism comes) and Muhammad bid Saud. Wahhab did not actually first ally with the Sauds, he first allied with another ruler, Uthman ibn Mu’ammar, ruler of Uyayna, but was expelled due to threats from another ruler. The point I am trying to draw attention to is that Wahhab and his thought had a number of patrons and so the question turns to why these patrons were so eager to ally with Wahhab. The answer lies in what Wahhab was offering.

Wahhab’s doctrine of monotheism was extremely amenable to a centralisation of political order. This is something which all historical accounts I have read so far have stressed. His thought was premised on very simple premises which will be familiar to my readers. There is the relation between God and the individual with all other intermediaries denounced. There is also adherence to the ruler held as an all encompassing duty. Wahhabism also had its own quirks, such as the Zakat which became a mandatory centralized tax, as well as the call to Jihad which facilitated the creation of a specialized fighting force. In general, the pattern of Wahhabism and Protestantism is sufficiently close for us to be suspicious of where Wahhab’s ideas came from. His innovations, and Wahhabism like Protestantism in spite of their conceits to recreating an earlier purer existence of belief were innovations, came after Protestantism. Wahhab was a product of 17th century central Asia and it is not inconceivable that he had exposure to western thought. It may also be the case that he happened upon similar conclusions as a result of political structures and technological developments in the region. Maybe both. I am not sure, I have been unable to locate much on this angle as not much has been recorded of his early life.

The failure of this first state due to military defeat by the Ottomans led to a second short lived state in the 18th Century, which again was defeated and then we finally have the new state we see today in the 20th Century. A state created with the assistance and protection of the British Empire. The fate of the Ikwhani demonstrates this well. First developed as a means by which the House of Saud could have its own dependable fighting force, the leaders of the Ikwhani seem to have gotten ambitious and demanded significant governing roles along the lines of the old triabal structure of authority. They wanted to be semi-autonomous emirs. This would not do in the Saudi state and the House of Saud was able to bring in the British air force to end this issue. The Saudis used outsiders (British) as a means to end an internal threat to their independence (the Ikwhani) which they had previously created as a means to remove their dependence of the tribal leaders. At each step it is a management of intermediaries using Jouvenelian techniques.

This brings us to the USA and the issue of sovereignty. As those of you who have read Moldbug will know the history of the USA is a mess of lies and error, like the Constitution for example. The US Constitution is a silly document that has been turned into a sacred text meaning the the earlier Articles of Confederation have been consigned to the memory hole. This is unsurprising because it is generally accepted that the Articles of Confederation was not a constitution but was in fact an international treaty between sovereign states. Just like the EU is an international organisation between sovereign states. The wording of the articles makes this clear throughout.

By the time we get the US Constitution the reference to state sovereignty…vanishes…and in its place we have in big, big lettering WE THE PEOPLE. So what happened in the intervening eight years between the documents in question? And where did these “people” come from? Well according to Edmund Burke in Inventing the People James Maddison…invented a people, the American people. This is no doubt familiar to my readers. A centralizing center of power in the act of centralizing then atomizes everything beneath it to undermine the centers of power in its way, in this case the existence of state centers of power. Political expediency led to theoretical fabrication in a way which was arguably more egregious and squalid than the House of Sauds alignment with Wahhabism. In both cases the creation of a new identity around an individualizing and equalizing thought system is aligned with a centralizing power. In Wahhabism it is God in relation to man, with America it is the people, an agglomeration of individuals, as a sovereign body.

Given the path that American centralizing took in inventing a mass of individuals, it would be interesting to see how the recreation of this dynamic in Europe has gone, courtesy of Steve Sailor:

Norway’s foreign minister, Halvard M. Lange, compared Europe at that moment to the early American colonies: separate blocs that, in time, would cast off their autonomy and identities to form a unified nation. Much as Virginians and Pennsylvanians had become Americans, Germans and Frenchmen would become Europeans — if they could be persuaded.


“The keen feeling of national identity must be considered a real barrier to European integration,” Mr. Lange wrote in an essay that became a foundational European Union text.


So they are inventing a new people by importing masses of foreigners, promoting multiculturalism, and denigrating European indigenous culture to undermine the nation states to create a centralized structure? Quelle surprise. This means that all of these progressive ideologies are being grasped by centralizing power for reasons of power, and are not liable to be intrinsically true, doesn’t it?

The development of money

I have been somewhat quiet on the blogging front for some time now as I have been trying to get the basics of a book set down. Recently, this project has drawn me into an area which hasn’t received the due attention it deserves, but which promises to be a field of inquiry where the Jouvenelian model of social organization and conflict can provide a great deal of insight. The issue to which I refer is that of money.

Jouvenel himself didn’t deal greatly with the issue of money in his book, but he did correctly point out at a number of points that the act of currency debasement was a tool used by monarchs as a means to undermine intermediary power centers. The devaluations of the monarchs succeed in rendering the dues made payable in coin  by peasants to the barons and lord progressively less valuable. This currency debasement was also an excellent means for the monarch to raise funds though reminting. The problem is that Jouvenel was a liberal and was utterly infested with liberal predjudices in this regard. He refers to this currency debasement as a form of counterfeit which is par for the course for a liberal. The problem with liberals, classical liberals, is that they retain a series of assumptions which are exceptionally partisan. They are not offering a balanced view of events but instead they hold and then promote an extreme form of anarchistic primitivist ontology which we have covered before.

The result of Jouvenel’s political position is that this issue of currency debasement was not followed fully, a problem which occurs repeatedly with his work. To obtain a more rounded view of the matter and to try and approach it without liberal influence, the best thing we can do is to approach historical accounts of this currency issue as neutrally as possible. We cannot consider either debasement good or bad, merely note what it does and why it was done.

An excellent source for beginning this is presented by the work of Pete Spufford and his Money and its use in Medieval Europe, which despite having claim to the most boring title in history is actually a fascinating work. His depth and breadth of research is awe inspiring (he spent the better part of two decades writing it.) The story which comes through supports Jouvenel’s claims, but only in so far as the results, and not the ethical claims. One of the reasons for this is that it is clear Spufford approaches currency without liberal, and there is no nicer way to put this, nonsense.

For the Kings to be engaging in counterfeit as put forward by Jouvenel and as implied by all liberal opponents of inflation, we have to consider money to be of a certain kind. We have to consider money to be a receipt at best for an underlying asset, with the divergence from this record being an act of fraud. This goes hand in hand with the general approach to money as demonstrated by the claim that it is a natural and emergent phenomena which is intrinsic to humans. In the liberal model money has to be a commodity which is independent of power and is quite natural. The reader will be well aware of this whole scheme and if he is not he can go listen to the screams of the closest libertarian.

Historical record shows that money is not natural, it did not emerge spontaneously, it is not a commodity or a receipt for a commodity (it can be partially), and it is not a development independent of power. Money does have continuation with earlier forms of social organization from which it developed from, but these forms of organization were also themselves a constituent part of power relationships. The sacrificial redistribution economies of pre-monetary societies are the sources of money, and not barter, and they were not spontaneous sharing exercises.

The issue of debasement then becomes from this historically accurate angle, one which is not an act of counterfeit by the monarch but instead a perfectly acceptable decision regarding the effects of money on society. A policy of “sound” money is not a neutral natural state of affair but instead a highly political and partisan position based on the demands of a specific class of society. Once you position as if this “sound” money position is neutral then you have to start accounting for the development of money as being natural, as the premise that it isn’t becomes a serious problem. So this is what we see when the barons wrest control of the monetary policy on the basis that it is not the right of the monarch to decide on debasement, as money is of society. Complete fraud.

This is not to say that the monarch were acting correctly, and were not in conflict and using money as a means to attack the barons. They were. But the act of setting up a counter web of ideological lies as a means to shore up the position of those who benefited from the restriction of currency is not something we need to accept. Currency is not a commodity, it doesn’t need to be backed by anything and can be expanded and reduced in volume as necessary, something which is obvious from observing modern monetary developments. Granted the linkage between a commodity and money was maintained for a great time, but this seems clearly to have been nothing more than the need to have an additional guarantee for money whilst the power of the state was not sufficient to control it. Something which has not been the case for sometime.

All of this though, results in the need to approach money from a completely new Jouvenalian angle in a way far more sophisticated than Jouvenel, and if we do this then we can fruitfully follow a number of works of historical exploration of the origin of money in Greek society, which is something I am currently working on for the book. The preliminary conclusions I can draw seem to hint at Power and money being invariably intertwined and best seen as a form of social organization in contrast to the primitivism of liberal accounts.

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:


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:

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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:

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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.