January 27, 2018

Why New Statecraft?

One can make a decent living building a better mousetrap, but our society isn’t lacking in better mousetraps. We have more technology than ever before, and this shows no sign of stopping. Where technology falters, the root cause seems to be more social and political than technical.

Some problems are the domain of the state, some aren’t. It’s not the state’s responsibility to fix your life. But if it’s everybody’s life that’s broken in similar ways, then it’s the state’s problem. The state is the locus of power, and power is the levers that drive conditions in society this way or that. So the buck stops with the state, especially on systemic rather than local problems.

So the first order of business is to ensure the proper ordering of the state:

  1. Has the state achieved political order? That is, is someone securely in charge?

  2. Are the people and organization of the state in such a way that it will tend to cause problems to be fixed?

  3. Is the state empowered to do that job with a body of knowledge fit to the task of rule?

These questions are the domain of Statecraft. How to get and hold political power, how to organize political power for efficient rational use, and how to properly use political power for ordered ends.

Some disagree, but most who are paying attention seem to agree that America, and Western society overall, is basically no good at 2 and 3. That is, our statecraft isn’t working. We would also contend that 1 is very weak. That is, our political order is unsound and chaotic.

The premise of this blog is that we therefore need a New Statecraft. We make a few big claims in particular about what this New Statecraft will be:

  1. It will be a scientific discipline, which means very clear core concepts and first principles, empirical consistency with all relevant phenomena, rigorous deduction of all of its major theorems and results, empirical verification of everything, empirical characterization of those results which are infeasible to purely deduce, and a considerable body of practical knowledge, explanations, and technologies within the general framework.

  2. It will be recognizably the fulfilment of prescientific social philosophy, which past philosophers and ideologues and traditional societies were aiming for. It will present itself as such, rather than as a revolutionary break from all previous knowledge. That is, this scientific project seeks to integrate and explain and sharpen past knowledge, rather than replace it or cast it away.

  3. It will reject the excesses of the modern liberal enlightenment which constitute the source of many of our current statecraft problems.

Focus on the latter is distracting. If we do our job right on the first point, the others will follow. Or perhaps they will not; our investigations must leave the possibility open that we have guessed wrong. Still, we will take these as our guiding hypotheses.

Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

Comments? Email comments@newstatecraft.org