March 5, 2018

Scope of the Project. Version 1

Let’s explore the scope of the New Statecraft Project. What questions do we need to answer in what areas?

At top level, our intuition is to go with the following scope:

  1. State. That is, the organization and operation of the state.
  2. Culture. The social technology of how people organize and think and get along in general.
  3. Industry. The social technologies of how industrial production is organized, and how this relates to the other parts.
  4. Knowledge Production. How the knowledge of science and society are produced and distributed.

As mentioned previously, the answers to these questions fit together with the following properties:

  1. The basis of the paradigm is the true scientific method and scientific type of knowledge.

  2. The paradigm will be a coherent Social Order a sort of Pattern Language of civilization.

  3. The new Social Order will be a set of interlinked Social Technologies, explained and justified on a scientific basis.

Let’s expand on these, and say why we need them:

State

All matters pertaining to the structure and operation of the state.

This includes:

Theory of state: Fundamental ontology of the state. “Constitution”. The relation between “church” and state, if any. Powers and duties of the various offices. How members of offices are chosen. Enforcement mechanisms of the powers and duties and arrangements. How successors are trained. How the state relates to subordinate powers like cities. Theory of the state. Grand plans. Policies. Etc.

Statecraft: How to actually run the state. How statesmen analyze situations and choose solutions. How statesmen cooperate. How statesmen are trained. Theory of power. Theories of empire. Theories of history. Ideology. Etc

We believe this to be necessary because the state is the concentration of powers that make the whole society go this way and that. Since we are interested in which way society goes, and since we trace the problems with which way it’s going to the structure of the state, we must therefore interest ourselves in the structure of the state.

Why isn’t knowledge of the state sufficient? The state needs to know which way to steer society. Structure of the state only makes it possible to steer, but doesn’t give guidance. A strong state with bad economics and bad culture will be no good until it figures those things out. Those things getting figured out may have feedback effects back into the structure of state, so should at least be broadly figured out first.

Culture

Besides state, we need to cover all the little social technologies of how people relate to each other and the state. The state and culture are symbiotic and co-“evolved”, so to speak.

Culture, in particular: Marriage and family structure. Primogeniture or other inheritance schemes. Clannishness and marriage restrictions. Segregation vs integration. Religion as implemented at the parish level. How to build high social trust. Higher level views and theories of cultures as organic things, and how to influence them for the better. Cultural ideology; which things the society thinks are important. More specific plans for what needs to be fixed in Western culture. Etc.

This is necessary, in the parts which are urgent, because the state won’t necessarily naturally know how to solve them. And in the parts which interact with the nature of the state because the state needs to quickly achieve mature strength, and there may be path dependencies that make it valuable to know where you’re going.

This is not sufficient, because there’s still the matter of industrial organization, which bears all the same relations to state as culture (mutual structural dependence, synergy, path dependence).

Industry

The structure of industrial production is critical. The 20th century proved that a) generally, the bigger industrial base wins in war and b) how industry is organized yields dramatic changes in performance.

Questions here: General organization of industry as free market, centrally planned, private property, worker-owned collectives, corporations, unions and guilds or not, etc. Relationship of corporation to state. Relationship of formal aristocracy, if any, to top companies. Regulatory strategy (from laisez-faire to bureau-state to etc). Economic isolation vs free trade vs pretectionism vs mercantilism. Crown corporations. State investments. Sovereign wealth funds. Monetary theory and policy. More generally, how to think about the whole affair of political economy, and generally who gets to make decisions about what.

Again, lots of interaction between capital and state. For example, whether the state claims formal control over top companies affects how the state structures its big projects and bureaucracies.

An account of industrial politics is necessary to get the structure of the state right, and to know what direction to steer. Fine details need to be answered in how they should be decided, but not in the details of every particular case.

State+culture+industry is nearly sufficient, but one would also want to interface with military and other purely power systems like intelligence and police. Additionally, we have not covered how to maintain and produce this knowledge, which is presumably necessary.

Knowledge Production

The systems of knowledge production is how your society comes to knowledge of the relevant facts, theories, skills, and technologies. We’re interested in particular in the production of knowledge in:

  • Cultural, economic, and state organization.

  • Industrial techne, hard “Science”.

  • Institutional epistemology, that is, knowledge of how to produce knowledge.

Particular questions: Do we need universities? How to do good research? Are these processes integrated in everything else, or separate? How does this stuff relate to “church” and state? How do we learn this stuff?

We need this because even if we had knowledge of other things, that knowledge will decay and be lost if it can’t be regenerated or at least maintained. Additionally, we need to generate the knowledge in the first place. Additionally, as society runs into new circumstances and advances, it faces new problems and needs to be able to reason about those problems.

We don’t have an argument for sufficiency except that these areas seem to cover most of the major areas of social technology. Military and other systems of power are a notable exception. We can’t claim this is sufficient yet.

Objections

  • The “pattern language” view doesn’t adequately account for the fact that society is an organic whole that contains knowledge in itself. In particular, it implies that we have to figure out the whole thing. We don’t. We only have to figure out the direction-giving parts, how they relate to the existing stuff, and general stuff on direction of change to implement.

  • The description of what knowledge we need in the matter of state is jumbled and unjustified.

  • This all assumes a model of the whole thing being installed at once in once big political transition. That’s unjustified as of yet, and may or may not happen like that.

  • The culture and industry sections have insufficient focus on the parts which are necessary to understand ahead of time, and which are parameters controlled by the state. Ideally we end up with a minimalist conception of statecraft that sheds light on many questions, but here we’re presenting a more maximalist “an answer to every question” kind of thing.

  • The knowledge production section is incoherent.


Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

Comments? Email comments@newstatecraft.org