March 8, 2018

Notes Towards Axioms of Church and State

[This post consists of lightly edited notes from internal debates on the topic. It is thus written in a slightly different tone from our usual publication tone.]

There is somehow a very tight relationship between the Church and the Empire, but these terms are wishy-washy, and make it hard to precisely define what it is. Part of the problem is thinking of it in terms of a Church as an organization.

So let’s reconfigure a bit. There is a Worldview, and an Empire. The Empire implements the Worldview. The Worldview legitimizes the Empire.

If people beyond the borders of the Empire come to be convinced of the Worldview, this is one step closer to being within the Empire. Though they may still be under the physical domination of some other power, and the Empire may not want them.

But it becomes clear that the Empire is partially using the Worldview as a mechanism of expansion in this case, because once it’s installed somwhere, it provides leverage to extend physical power in that area. This is “soft power”.

The other way around, you can have the Empire forcefully acquire territories that are not yet brought into the Worldview. Then it may use its physical power to convert that territory to the Worldview, or may simply retain them as a non-integrated vassal and subordinate society. Historically, conversion by the sword can work pretty well, but it takes considerable will and effort.

So we have a single organism with two halves: Physical Power, and some system of Truth. Obviously the Empire is the system of forceful Power, constituted on and legitimized by the Worldview, which everyone takes to be the concrete systematization of Truth.

Now, we have to maintain the Worldview so that it stays true and so that people believe that it’s true. It breaks if you just order the scientists or priests or whatever to say X instead of Y. Setting doctrine with power is like price controls: it breaks the process. If the process is known to be corrupted by politics, it can no longer be trusted to tell the Truth.

But we still have the problem of heretics and foreign worldviews. Intuitively you have to crush heresy and foreign worldviews before they get control of parts of your empire.

We have to be clear about why and when to do this, and carefully distinguish it from interference in the process of Worldview maintenence.

The answer would seem to be that we crush the heretics because they are politically insubordinate, not just because they are wrong.

The heretics are spreading some wrong idea, possibly packaged with some political insubordination.

If there is no political insubordination, then is there a problem? The problem can only be that they are sincerely confused, and surrounding society has inadequate defenses to silly ideas. It seems in this case the best thing is to counter-argue and let natural social processes work.

Intervening by force in the processes of truth-finding corrupts those processes, so it’s a bad idea. It’s like dictating physics to the physicists by force for political purposes; it causes physics to become useless cant.

We need to figure out the actual wall between crushing heretics and setting doctrine by force before we start thinking about how the Church should be organized.

We need to introduce a Truth authority. The role of the Truth authority is to take all the ideas floating around, and provide the Power authority with canonical judgement when needed.

For heretics, the Power authority looks at them and says “These people are causing political trouble. But they are doing so for ideological reasons. I need to know whether they are right or wrong. Thus I will go to Truth authority and ask.”

If the Truth authority says “they are wrong”, then Power says “You people are mistaken, and causing trouble. Cease your nonsense immediately and reconsider your premises, or you will be crushed as rebels.” Or if they are internal “We can’t trust these guys, because they are wrong in a way that causes disloyalty and isn’t getting fixed. They must be kept from power.”

If Truth authority says “they are right”, then Power says “We are addressing those of your claims which are legitimate. But you people are causing political trouble. Cease your nonsense immediately or you will be crushed as rebels”. Or whatever.

A key axiom of the system is that Power authority must actually trust Truth authority. If you have trust, Truth authority doesn’t need any mechanism of compulsion over Power authority. Such a mechanism would break the axiom that Power authority is Power authority. Anyone weilding such a mechanism is inherently the Power authority. If it is wielded from within the “church”, you still have the problem of how to get Power authority to trust Truth authority.

Speaking of Axioms:

  1. Ministry of Power has all real power organized under itself, for the most part. It is in fact the central power or the central power of the empire.

  2. As an assist to the above: Ministry of Power has all legitimate authority, which is a form of power which helps in organizing the others.

  3. Ministry of Truth has the actual truth figured out, for the most part.

  4. Ministry of Truth is actually loyal to Ministry of Power, in that it trusts Power to do the right thing given Truth.

  5. Ministry of Power actually trusts Ministry of Truth, in that it trusts that what Truth says is actually true.

  6. As an assist for 4, symmetric with 3, Ministry of Power must actually do the right thing given the Truth.

Axiom 5 and axiom 2 are closely related. Probably 5 is a special case that needs to hold extra hard. There is also a close relationship between 1 and 2.

We can probably derive all kinds of stuff from these axioms. Some iterations should make this more solid.

Our system of statecraft needs to be pretty tight to actually work. We should therefore be developing it using high-assurance methods like deductive argument with clear concepts, not hueristic argument from example and available ideas. Though of course the latter is useful to guide the logic. Therefore we should strive towards solid theories, axioms, concepts.


Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

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