War by Epistemic Means
I. Sociological nihilism
In my paper from Issue #2, Ideological Exile and the Phenomenology of Authority, I gave a critique of sociological functionalism. The argument I gave is that conceiving of society as a "system" relies on a circle of presuppositions that render it impossible to conceive of a purpose to its functioning beyond mere functionality itself. This impossibility translates into an impossibility for the sociological functionalist to concede legitimacy to any authority which violates his model of what constitutes this 'functionality'. This line of thinking abolishes the ethical from the political, the continued functioning (survival) of the system is its only fundamental reason to exist. Sociology as a practice therefore arbitrarily imposes a nihilistic self-conception upon the political, as exemplified by the progressive rejection of metaphysics in favour of instrumentalized social sciences by the American ruling class from the early 20th Century onwards.
As I argued in my previous paper, the ethical significance of the political must transcend the mere functioning of society, functions only have value in terms of what they are functioning for. The development of this nihilistic political self-conception in modernity demonstrates that society can function without a fundamental purpose. However, we can trace the roots of this political nihilism far deeper than the discipline of sociology. We see in the godfathers of modern political philosophy, Machiavelli, Hobbes and Spinoza, a conception of the political as power producing order for its own sake. For all three of these theorists, despite their differences, we are to embrace the production of order by power because we lack the power to do otherwise. To quote Spinoza, "the sovereign power in a State has right over a subject only in proportion to the excess of its power over that of a subject". This actually is Spinoza's critique of the Hobbesian view that the political is a response to the antisociality of the 'state of nature', Spinoza argues instead that the political is a reflection of nature. For Spinoza, power is natural not artificial. Yet both Spinoza and Hobbes agree that political power is the only thing that stands between us and the socially degenerative violence of our fellow man.
Where Spinoza and Hobbes conceived of the purpose of the political from the perspective of society as a whole, Machiavelli's focus was upon the practice of sovereignty itself. For Machiavelli, power was an expression of princely ambition and entirely dependent upon a masterful balancing of ruthlessness and the inspiration of loyalty. This concept of power for power's sake was in sharp contradistiction to the medieval concept of sovereign legitimacy being constrained to the role of custodian over a divinely instantiated legal order. The enlightened absolutism of Hobbes and Spinoza was essentially a means of justifying this naturalistic conception of political power given by Machiavelli in proto-sociological terms. Power's production of civic order may be self-interested, but the proto-sociological accounts given by Enlightenment political philosophy pointed out that this is all not merely for the prince's benefit, as his subjects also benefit immensely from participation in civil society. Power therefore did not simply need to rely upon its own cunning (as Machiavelli taught), or upon divine sanction, as by way of the proto-sociology of Hobbes and Spinoza it could claim legitimacy through appeals to its role in facilitating society's functionality.
This sociologization of sovereignty's legitimacy was not merely the basis of "enlightened" absolutism of course, but formed the basis of political philosophies which more explicitly advocated liberal democracy. If the legitimacy of the production of civil society was fundamentally a reflection of its status as a common good, common(democratic) participation in this productive process was a seemingly more apt means of arbitration. Power's self-interest came to be portrayed as a tyrannical violation of the common good (Rousseau's 'general will'), but how do we know exactly what this 'common good' even is? The poster-boys of Enlightenment political philosophy, Rousseau and Locke, both agreed that the common good was not simply an amalgum of private interests but was instead a common property of society as such. This presents the epistemic problem then of how to interpret the common good, simply holding a vote is not sufficient if the participants aren't voting in the common interest but merely their private interest. Whilst Rousseau saw property as artificial and Locke thought property had a natural basis, both saw the State's defense of property rights as an expression of the common good. Ultimately then, the Enlightenment's solution to the epistemic problem of the common good was that it could be expressed in a fundamental body of law derived from Reason, and thus sovereignty could be legitimated by this body of law's authorization.
The late 19th Century however would herald a profound shift in Western political theory, as it became increasingly alienated from metaphysics. Where the Enlightenment sought to ground its concept of the common good and how the State could best embody it in Reason (and therefore fundamentally, metaphysics), at the turn of the 20th Century politics was increasingly understood in terms of the social sciences (economics, sociology, etc). American Progressivism was particularly self-conscious of this rejection of metaphysics, the political philosophy of the Enlightenment was increasingly seen as the outdated ideology of the bourgeois elite. A pragmatic and scientific project of political engineering was instead proposed in which the goal of political theory was primarily to inform policy rather than law.
This was a radical shift in attitude, for now the common good was subjected to the inquiry of compartmentalized social scientific disciplines as opposed to the (at least attempted) systematic unity provided by the great metaphysicians of the Enlightenment. Our epistemic access to the common good, and therefore sovereign legitimacy, was thus abstracted from speculative anthropological accounts of a rational construction of civil society's origin (the social contract). The common good became increasingly understood in the more explicitly pragmatic terms of economic efficiency, equitable resource distribution and social stability. This was also a radical transformation in practice as policy rather than law was now the primary means of expressing of the common good in the political order, and this would increasingly require executive bureaucratic means of implementation. The role of the State was now explicitly to preside over the social system, and its legitimacy became increasingly derived from its success at implementing policies as adjudicated in the terms of quantifiable metrics conjured by the social sciences.
Jouvenel makes the argument in his magnum opus, On Power, that undergirding this dialectical process in modern political thought was the perpetual expansion of State power. However, this took its most pertinent form in the more contemporary move of replacing law grounded in metaphysics with policy grounded in the social sciences as our fundamental epistemic access to the common good and thus sovereign legitimacy. This move was exemplified in the pragmatist epistemic approach of American progressivism and facilitated a more purely Machiavellian attitude. The diminishment of the role of Reason in the construction of civic order elevated in its place the technique of political power as the central concern of political theory. The bureaucratic self-understanding facilitated by post-metaphysical social science liberated power from metaphysical constraints just as Machiavelli liberated power from the divinely instantiated constraints of the Natural Law. The key difference with Machiavelli however, was that this new approach to the political understood power not from the perspective of an individual tyrant, but as a technically complex set of administrative functions suited to an impersonal bureaucracy.
In the analysis of modern political history given by Jouvenel, this dialectical development of Western political theory through modernity was not simply the natural outcome of abstract reasoning about political ideas. Instead, Jouvenel shows how the expansion of state power functioned as a selection mechanism of sorts upon the process. We see in the undermining of the theologically grounded concept of the purpose of civil society, a liberation of state power to seize the legislative authority. This legislative authority was used to appropriate resources to the state which faciliated the development of greatly increased military capabilities by the European monarchies which embraced this revision of the medieval concept of the political. This expansion of military capacity was used to discipline both internal and external enemies and further imperial and colonial ends. This incentivized further revisions of the political up to the point of totally reconceiving the state in the aforementioned naturalistic proto-sociological terms, in order to justify this a metaphysical rather than theological justification of this new political concept was required.
Ironically, the very sort of enlightened political theory which enabled the monarchies of Europe to appropriate the resources of their aristocracies and usurp the authority of the Church ended up forming the basis for revolutionary liberal political philosophies which justified their constitutional limitation or outright overthrow. Nevertheless, the parliamentary usurpation of legislative authority only further grew state power and expanded the bureaucracy. Napoleonic France grew in military capabilities far beyond the wildest dreams of the Bourbon dynasty, and all of Europe had to unite to defeat it. But Napoleonic France was nothing in comparison to the state expansion enabled by the post-metaphysical technocratic approaches of progressivism and socialism. An attempt was made with Fascism to ground the new technocratic reality of governance as a function of policymaking in the metaphysical, in opposition to classical liberalism's foundationally legal conception of civil society. But ultimately, metaphysics seemed to take the position of a mere post hoc sentimental justification of policy decisions that could be understood through the same realpolitik logic that defined the behaviour of their progressive and socialist counterparts.
Upon reflection however, it seems as though this was also (albeit in a perhaps more sophisticated manner) how metaphysics has functioned in political philosophy since it was bootstrapped to the proto-sociological accounts of civil society at the very dawn of the Enlightenment. This is because the sociologization of sovereign legitimacy fundamentally relativizes the purpose of sovereignty in civil society to merely keeping it functioning. What is the point of civil society? According to Hobbes, surviving the war of all against all that it keeps at bay. What is the war of all against all? For Hobbes is this just the absence of civil society (law). Here we see the circlularity of sociological functionalism, the end of civil society is itself. The legal order no longer therefore reflects a moralizing discipline which unites the individuals who make up the civic order with the divine will, and the transcendent purpose is slowly forgotten as the essential justification of civic order as modernity arises. Instead the practical reason of the subject was axiomatically posited in order to legitimate the making-immanent of the proto-sociological concept of civic purpose, we see this exemplified in the work of Immanuel Kant. But did the impressive logic of Kant's metaphysical innovations convert non-liberals to liberalism, or did he just engage in an elaborate philosophical labor to justify the view that both himself and his contemporaries were already committed to? The latter seems to be the obvious case here.
Stripped of its theological foundation then, metaphysics found itself incapable of substantiating an ethics and politics that could overcome the inherent nihilism of sociological modelling. Reaching back out to the Divine to grant us an ethical foundation and therefore purpose for civil society is the only solution to this as I argued in my aforementioned paper from this journal's previous issue, but is coming to this realization in itself enough? In the most fundamental sense, I believe it is. But this is only the beginning of both political theory and practical action. Identifying a transcendent source of purpose for civic engagement is what gives us our essential political goal, to restore the divine law, but merely realizing this intellectually it is not an engagement with the political in itself. A political ethic gives a fundamental reason as to why we should care about politics, but it is not a means of understanding how politics works. As Clausewitz famously remarked, war is politics by other means, and we are truly at war with the forces of evil who reject the divine law. But knowing what we are fighting for is different than knowing how best to fight for it.
II. Epistemic weapons
The purpose of my explication of sociological nihilism then is not to reject the social sciences, but to limit them to their proper position in Hume's is/ought distinction. The social sciences cannot tell us what society ought to be, this is the key takeaway from my critique of sociological functionalism. The existential question of society I believe is fundamentally a theological question, theology being an inquiring into the absolute purpose of existence. The problem of nihilism has been most fundamentally a question dealt with by existentialists, existentialism being the philosophical inquiry into the meaning of the human condition. There are many Christian existentialists (Kirkegaard and Dostoyevsky being the obvious examples), but also many anti-Christian existentialists (Nietzsche and Sartre being the obvious examples here), along with ambigious figures like Heidegger who are hard to position. This paper however is not intended to be a defense of theology or of existential critique in general, but a defense of bracketing social science (the question of what society is) from social existentialism (what society ought to be). This distinction is not ontological, but epistemological, as obviously the questions of what society ought to be must ultimately be embedded in what society is in political practice. However, before we can engage in this embedment we must first work these things out on their own terms as otherwise we will conflate an existential critique of the social sciences for a technical critique and lose technical precision.
Technical precision is vital to uphold because the social sciences are the epistemic arms of political practice, and as Clausewitz said, politics is war by other means. Gaining an accurate perception of the battlefield's conditions and the strategy of the enemy is not dependent upon existential inquiry into why and for what you are ultimately fighting. Sharpening this perception requires sober rationality, as erroneous social scientific frameworks will ultimately obfuscate how the political order functions and what strategies drive it. The key social scientific questions of political relevance are; how policy is created and implemented, how agency is distributed, what structural incentives are most influential, and what role epistemic paradigms themselves play. Answering these questions erroneously will necessarily lead to bad political strategizing, however noble the existential mission you are trying to serve is. Therefore, you owe it to your mission to bracket it from your social scientific analysis in order to ensure it doesn't bias your epistemic process. The purpose of doing social science is to make the most robust epistemic weapons possible to deploy in service of your cause, it is not to be (and it cannot be, ultimately) used for the purpose of justifying your cause.
Before we split the social sciences up into sub-categories (economics, political science, international relations, etc), we must first recognize that all of these sub-categories are fundamentally talking about the same thing, society as such. In other words, our ontological concept of what 'society' actually is must be common to all social sciences. If your political science and your economics aren't built out of the same social ontology at least one of them must be wrong because they are both talking about the same society. In the later sections of this paper I will touch on concepts pertinent to all the social sciences, with the political as such the central object of focus. This is because all political discourse is grounded in the social sciences, at minimum by implication if not explicitly. We cannot talk about anything political, no matter how mundane the topic of conversation, without presuming the social order to possess certain qualities. Theory (at least in so far as it is relevant to the social sciences) therefore is inseparable from political practice, whether this relation is conscious or unconscious.
So what is 'society' then? Fundamentally, society is an organized field of human interaction. To build an elementary model of society we must therefore identify the minimal conditions of social organization. Most minimally, organization implies a shared problem or set of problemswhich it is responding to in the first place. This response implies a capability for intelligible communication to establish shared focus on the problem(s) at hand and what to do about them. That this communication must induce a practical response implies hierarchy, as someone must be in the position to at least approve (if not outright make) the final decision on what the response will be. The existence of hierarchy also implies trust, as if we don't believe this decision has been sincerely taken in response to the problem(s) at hand then why would we obey it? The threat of violence can only coerce so much compliance, and the organized application of violence (i.e. a military) cannot itself be violently enforced without this organization already being in place, which therefore itself requires trust. To break this down more simply; society is organization, organization implies authority, and authority draws its legitimacy fundamentally from proposing a plan to deal with a problem or set of problems shared by the members of that organization. This is true even in the case of divine notions of sovereignty, as the organization of authority must in this case reflect a recognition that the problem of man's relationship to God is the problem of highest priority.
The only thing that separates this minimal definition of 'society' from politics is whether this process is a product of primitive custom, or it is in some rudimentary sense rational. Politics is the rational organization of society. As there are multiple problems for society to solve, more than one authority is required, in order words there is specialization. And as there is therefore more than one scale at which problems must be solved, there is more than one type of organization required in society, in order words there are institutions. All forms of organization, all institutions, possess in common the problem of security. This is because security is a minimal condition of all organization, as if violence threatens your organization it threatens your capability to solve whatever particular problems specialists and institutions are supposed to be responding to. Security is therefore the most fundamental social problem, whether it is threatened internally or externally. The develoment of law from custom to better administer internal security, and bureaucracy from kinship to better administer external security, gave rise to the political as a rational means of responding to the most fundamental social problem - security. 'The State', defined as the most dominant scale of organization in society, is fundamentally a response to the problem of security in its most general sense. 'Sovereignty' then, is the successful and therefore dominant administration of security within geographical area.
What I have laid out here is a basis for what I believe must be two foundational concepts in political science; the institutional theory of society and the security determinist theory of political structures. These concepts are vital foundations, as taken together they provide an immunization against various forms of erroneous social scientific concepts (both implicit and explicit) which are nevertheless popular in both academia and across political subcultures because they conform with their ideological commitments. These common errors in social scientific analysis must be purged from our thinking if we are to perceive political structures with clarity and consequently develop viable political strategies. I will therefore attack what I see as the 3* most commonly disasterous social scientific errors with these concepts to demonstrate their efficacy; the democratic theory of policy creation, the autocratic theory of government and economic determinism.
*A 4th social scientific error, what I call the "consumer theory of markets", perhaps deserves to be included upon this list. However it is tangential to the direction of this paper, and to properly explicate it would require comprehensiveness to the level of a deep dive into economic theory. Only democratic and methodologically individualist ideological mind viruses could facilitate the delusion that consumers drive the economy rather than the corporate bureaucracies which actually organize production, distribution and marketing, or the investors which allocate capital. The view of the 'economy' as somehow distinct from the state (as in classical/neoclassical economics) or its constitutive ground (as in marxism) are natural consequences of this delusion. Yet, as I deal with this in section V (on Economic Determinism), this paper touches on economics to the degree necessary to support its central argument without requiring of itself a historical analysis of all the major paradigms in economic thought. The critique of deductivism in economic theory given in Aaron Hunter's Econofuturism (Part 1) from Issue 1 of this journal, the institutional economics of Thorstein Veblen and the business cycle theory of Joseph Schumpeter are examples of economic thought which are compatible with an institutional theory of society. A future paper in this journal will take this subject matter on directly by building on the foundation I lay out here to work out in detail a compatible economics.
III. Democratic Theory of Policy Creation
As I discussed in section I, ever since proto-sociological justifications of sovereignty replaced the traditional concept of divine sovereignty, law and policy came to be seen in terms of the 'common good'. Naturally, law and policy became framed as expressions of the 'will of the people' by the ideological justifiers of their maintainence or reform within liberal democracies. But despite these claims, a closer examination at the process by which paradigms of legal interpretation and policy are institutionalized renders this ideological depiction suspect. Is there democratic oversight as regards to what jurisprudential theories are taught at Harvard and Yale? Clearly not, these theoretical paradigms are instead formed by a technical elite which preside over the relevant institutions. Did the so called 'Washington Consensus' become the official policy of the US State Department as a result of mass civic engagement? Did the citizens of the United States collectively decide in the mid-1960s that it wanted to radically reform immigration policy in order to reduce its caucasian population to a minority within a century? In these areas, and in the formation of every reform agenda that matters, we see specific institutions engage with and alter the policies of the United States government. "Consent", or at least the impression of it, is then manufactured by the political media spectacle. And of course, if a bipartisan consensus can be forged by lobbyist groups or "experts" trusted by both major parties, then a performative demonstration of democratic consent isn't even required.
All of these observations should be obvious to the point of banality, but yet even in majority of those who perceive this dynamic there persists the illusion that this reflects a kind of 'corruption' of what is supposed to be a democratic system. Hope is held out for some populist movement which could somehow restore the democratic will as the determining factor in policy, or some constitutional reform agenda is proposed which could somehow defend against the alledged oligarchic subversion of the will of 'we the people', but this is all delusional. As Robert Michels' famously remarked, organization is oligarchy. This notion is a reflection of what I called the institutional theory of society. The implementation of policy is a problem which requires institutionalization to solve, because the state is itself a highly complex institution and so reorganizing it requires operating on a scale beyond the scope of any one man. Therefore, institutions must optimize to the scale demanded by the reorganization of the state they wish to affect. The more complex the state, the more complex the scale of organization required to reorganize it. The masses which supposedly make up the 'demos' do not organize the state, but are organized by the institutions which (re)organize the state.
The creation of policy is a problem which requires specialization to solve, because policy is a technical product. Specialization requires hierarchical organization to train and verify potential specializers within fields of technical knowledge. This embeds policy creation within a series of think-tanks and foundations, but also leaves this network of think-tanks and foundations at the mercy of academic institutions to train their recruits. Policymaking is therefore engaged in within institutions funded by special interest groups within academic paradigms approved by the educational apparatus, therefore policy has a technocratic not democratic basis. The state however is not simply a product of policymaking, as the largest and most vital component of the state, the national security apparatus, administers a large amount of its own policy creation for itself. This enables the national security apparatus to intervene upon the (re)organization of the state by institutions which represent special interests where they conflict with security objectives. In the United States, this is embodied in what Michael J. Glennon called the "Trumanite Network". The existence of such confirms the security-determinist theory of political structures, for if national security was left to the direction of special interest groups, the very survival of the state is put in jeopardy.
The effect of the Israel lobby and neoliberal delusions overpowering security realism in American foreign policy is a good example of the impact of not prioritizing security. Alienating Russia and empowering the rise of China during the first two decades of the 21st Century may go down as the greatest strategic blunder in the history of empires, with the multitrillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in retrospect granting no obvious benefit to the United States as compensation. China has already surpassed the United States in GDP when corrected for purchasing power parity, and is on course to surpass the United States in outright GDP within the next few years. The rise of China was completely enabled and facilitated by the American establishment, while they were wasting their time on Israel's foreign policy goals rather than soberly reflecting upon their own. For the first time in over a century the United States will be economically surpassed by another nation as a result, placing their hard fought hegemony under grave threat. Was outsourcing American labor to China popular? Were strategically incomprehensive wars in the middle east popular? Of course not, these policies reflect ideological stupidity and Chinese and Israeli influence. Even the contemporary process of their partial overturning reflects the will of the security apparatus, the 'will of the people' has nothing to do with it.
Masses cannot generate policy because the sum total of discourse relevant to policy is too large and complex for any individual citizen to grasp. Therefore the overall structure of policymaking is irreducible to 'citizenship', as each field of policymaking requires organized collaboration between specialized "experts". The complexity of the modern bureaucratic state therefore implies institutionality, and we can only understand its operation by reverse engineering its policymaking practices to reveal their institutionality. If once does this, one quickly notices that effectively no non-specialists are included in policymaking practices, and therefore to participate one must obtain the relevant credentials from the relevant institutions. What we see then are layers of institutionality that configure themselves around political parties and the media organisations sympathetic towards them (which are both of course themselves institutionally structured) to form policy orthodoxies. The fact that no one living person knows all the laws and policies of the United States government themselves implies these laws and policies must be the consequences of institutional organization. Functionally then, democracy is simply a means by which institutions organize masses into consenting to their own policymaking practices.
The survival of policymaking institutions within the system then is not dependent upon their popularity, but their ability to secure themselves within a coalition of institutions that form an orthodoxy with formal political, academic and media representation. It is this coalition that manufactures both popularity and a strategy of implementation. It is this structure of political institutionality that forces policymaking institutions to not merely solve the problem which they are created for (specialized policy creation), but to solve the problem of survival (security) within the institutional system by forming alliances that subject individual institutions to a higher orthodoxy. In this way institutionality implies security-determinism, and this why in the United States all policymaking institutions end up coding themselves 'progressive' or 'conservative' with very few exceptions. Obviously policymaking institutions do not engage in direct violence with one another, but they do engage in informational warfare and ostracism with the goal of denying rivals access to resources, undermining their capacity to organize at a competitive scale. No matter how good (or popular) your proposed policy solution to a particular political problem is, if you can't defend your position in the institutional system you will be unable to compete with those who can.
IV. Autocratic Theory of Government
Another tendency we see across the political spectrum is the personalization of political agency. The formal leader or publically presenting figurehead of an institution is typically seen as essentially responsible for the workings of the institution they lead. What this implies is that this leader or figurehead fundamentally controls the institution they are perceived to run, and that therefore institutions are reflections of the personality of their leaders. We speak of the 'Trump Administration' or 'Obama Administration' as though the formal president was arbitrarily responsible for the direction taken by state policy under their watch. An institution of course is an impersonal entity which cannot speak for itself, individual representatives must always speak on its behalf. But this perception of personalized agency falls apart when we recognize the structure of the practices which form institutionality. Institutions exist to solve problems which are too complex to be solved by individuals, the more complex institutionality is developed the more problems social organization can solve. Problem solving practices are therefore developed which can function according to an impersonal rationality that can be reproduced abstractly without direct apprenticeship. One does not need to trace a lineage of personal instruction directly back to Karl Marx to become a Marxist, initiation into Marxist literature is itself enough.
The development of institutionality beyond the arbitrary control of any one individual we call bureaucracy, the contemporary reality of the bureaucratization of the entire world demonstrates that organizing problem solving beyond the grasp of any individual leader outcompetes non-bureaurcratic organization. The advantage of bureaucracies is the centrality of formal documentation (literature) to their practices. The limitations imposed by direct communication are overcome through the abstraction of authority from interpersonal relationships to impersonal textual bodies. Of course, executive authority is still constrained by interpersonal communication but this constraint is still effectively breached through the practice of expert consultancy. Academic institutions verify an expert's initiation into a specific impersonal textual body to provide them with accredited expertise in order to be employed by executive authorities to advise them based upon the knowledge formally contained in the literature. These same bodies of literature are also appealed to in the policymaking institutions which expert advisors will endorse to executive decision makers. In this way, personal authority is embedded within the impersonal authority of the academy.
This embedment of personal authority in the impersonal is compounded by the incapacity of any one person to hold a comprehensive understanding of the entire formal body of literature, specialist expertise is therefore a perennial requirement. These specialists can only be verified within their specialized fields of expertise, specialists therefore conjure their own authority from within their own institutional organization. The various disciplines that make up the impersonal academic superstructure that support the policymaking and advisory infrastructure of government can therefore not be ruled by any personalized authority. The executive command of the state may ignore or shut down disciplines it doesn't like, but if those disciplines provide problem solving value and rival states embrace them they will suffer relative disadvantages as a result. If such disciplines create more problems than they solve, disregarding or sabotaging them may be a wise action by an executive authority, but in any case such an authority cannot rule the disciplines but may only at best select them. Also, this capability for an executive authority to select which disciplines to embrace, ignore or shut down is itself a decision making process which an authority will need to consult experts to carry out, for otherwise the personal authority will not be capable of acting knowing what he is doing.
Compounding this, the highly complex realities of governing in the contemporary world requires the organization of far too many people than personal relationships can facilitate. Procedural rules therefore must be communicated and enforced through impersonal and formal means. There is only so much capacity in any one individual to lead an organization, so the more complex an organization becomes the less control its leader has over its functioning. There is no organization more complex than a government. There is likely no organization in world history less controlled by its formal leader than the United States government. Of course, the US government has undergone radical transformations over the years, but this process makes far more sense if understood not in terms of the personal agency of presidents but the impersonal agency of institutions. Was the decision to invade Iraq an extension of the personality of George W. Bush, or an outcome of decades of organization by the so called 'neoconservatives' and Israeli foreign policy think-tanks? Were the economic reforms of the 1980s an extension of Ronald Reagan's personal understanding, or the outcome of over a decade of organization by the so called 'neoliberals' and Chicago School economists? The institutions which produced Reagan and Bush's advisors clearly exercised far more agency over these processes.
In order to fundamentally alter the functioning of a governing bureaucracy, impersonal means are required. This is because bureaucracies are impersonally organized by definition, all bureaucratic decisions must be formally articulated as extensions of already authoritative documentation. Only institutions which develop impersonal means of reproducing their internal rationality are capable of reforming the internal rationality of the state. This abstract basis of enforced compliance via bureaucratic review is a reproduction of the formal rationality of law itself. The judiciary is the ur-bureaucracy, all other bureaucracies are extensions of it. In order to become compliant with law, bureaucratic methods are required. But more fundamentally, law itself in order to be enforced consistently across a vast judicial network that transcends personal relationships must take on this impersonal formality. When sovereignty was understood as fundamentally divine, the impersonal was personalized in Christianity, and the church provided an authoritative bureaucracy over the law. The popularizing of sovereignty however in creating a sociological rather than theological concept of the law called forth the academy to take the place of the church. The inherent nihilism of sociologizing sovereignty liberated the academy to reformulate its authority beyond the constraints placed upon the church by heresy. The impersonal ground of the law devolved from divine to metaphysical to ideological.
The appeals to metaphysics of "enlightened absolutism" may have superficially appeared to authorize autocratic monarchy, but in reality it was the monarchy replacing its subordination to the church with a subordination to the academy. In searching for a legitimation of its authority within the academy's metaphysical justification, the monarchy rendered itself defenseless to the academy's revision of its role in administering the law. The academy trained the King's bureaucracy, and soon enough the bureaucracy realized it could provide itself with a King more appropriate to its impersonal logic if the personality of the King clashed with it. This is even more true today of presidents and prime ministers. Executive leadership may win battles, but the academy always wins the war, as executive leadership has no means of justifying itself or ruling except by the ideological orthodoxies produced by the academy and its policymaking offshoots. Governance therefore is fundamentally determined by the institutional battlespace in which these orthodoxies are formed and compete.
V. Economic Determinism
There are many across the political spectrum who perceive this institutional battlespace for policymaking orthodoxies, yet commonly (particularly with Marxists) this is reduced to expressing the economic interests of the capitalist elite. It is reasonable to make the inference that the economic interests of drive their investments in specifically economic policymaking, but it does not follow that these interests hegemonically extend to all forms of investment in policymaking. Furthermore, it is not reasonable to reduce policymaking to the interests of the donor class as this conflates productive and selective agency. In the same way that a corporation's production is not managed by investors, policymaking is not managed by investors. In both cases a technical class produced by the academic system manages production, and there is no reason to presume the motives for production are reducible to the motives for donors to select producers with patronage. In fact, the opposite makes more sense, for the investment decisions in policymaking by the donor class must be informed by technical advice. Also, there is no reason to discount their ethnic loyalties or ideological beliefs and suspect that donors are only motivated by their economic class interests.
The selection process in policymaking is also not monopolized by "private" economic actors, the role of intelligence agencies is well documented. The CIA's involvement in the neoconservative takeover of the American Right to counter its isolationism by promoting anti-Soviet warhawking stands as an obvious example. As discussed in section III, the security driven self-organization of the state drives a substantial amount of policymaking. Not only does the security interest drive the production of policy though, it also has the capacity to sabotage, subvert or outright shut down policymaking activities which go against it. The security apparatus therefore has a selective capacity upon policymaking with the power to supervene upon donor selection. Also, there is no larger source of funding for the academic system than the state itself, this enables the political class itself (which controls the allocation of "public" funding) to drive a significant portion of selective pressure upon policymaking. This is the case not only directly but perhaps more significantly indirectly through the promotion of particular academic paradigms in the social sciences and media (propaganda) institutions. The state also holds direct regulatory authority over the education system, partially integrating the educational apparatus into the state apparatus itself.
From an institutional and organizational standpoint there are myriad forces which constrain and supervene upon attempts by the dominant economic class to control policymaking. Due to the aforementioned structure of relationships between institutions relevant to governance forcing them to form orthodoxies, these relationships can seldom remain neutral but must take the form of cooperation or conflict with one another. This structural reality between the institutions that make up governance within states is mirrored in the international system between states, this forces the state to build security apparatuses to defend against both external and internal threats. Must like how smaller states must form alliance coalitions with other states or become clients of larger and more powerful states in order to secure themselves in the international system, policymaking institutions must either ally themselves with institutional orthodoxies or with the most powerful agencies of the state itself (which are all security agencies). Just like in the international system where alliance coalitions are seldom formed without the support of at least one of the more powerful states, it is hard to imagine a policymaking orthodoxy could form without at least the tacit consent of a significant portion of the security apparatus.
Fundamentally, the security apparatus and the political class alike due to their official position within the state have far greater capabilities in conflict scenarios against non-state actors who merely have wealth. A recent example of this is the steps taken by Hungary to shut down the operations of policymaking entities funded by billionaire George Soros, demonstrating that his actions within the United States are permitted and not imposed. History is full of examples of conflict between ruling political classes and economic elites to further demonstrate this, generally speaking Absolutism was an act of structural conflict by the ruling political class against the landed aristocracy which were the dominant economic class of medieval Europe. In requisite fashion, both Nationalism and Socialism (and their fusion) have also generally been acts of structural conflict by ruling political classes appropriating power and wealth for the state from capitalist elites. All of this isn't to totally negate the obvious translation of wealth into political power that does occur, but to negate the notion that this is in any way the fundamental determinative factor in the formation of the political order. The political is not reducible to the economic, quite the opposite. Wealth must always rely upon the political to secure its wealth and therefore it cannot secure its wealth against the political, rendering the economic organizationally secondary to the political's self-organization of security.
The reality is most clearly demonstrated in the phenomenon of total war, when modern bureaucratic states were existentially threatened during the two world wars they completely subordinated all economic interests to the requirements of national security. This demonstrated that the most fundamental problem that must be solved by state organization is survival, thus demonstrating the logic of how our institutional theory of society implies security determinism. The new ideological orthodoxies in policymaking that were developed in the Cold War period further extended this logic, as the CIA and US State Department funded and promoted the New Left (particularly its interpretations of "human rights") and the Washington Consensus (in economic policy) into hegemonic operation, forming the backbone of contemporary "neoliberal globalism". The use of these ideological forms to set the consensus paradigm for global trends in governance demonstrate the dominant role of security focused state organization as a selection mechanism for ideological institutionalization. The Soviet enemy during the Cold War engaged in a far more obvious manner in exactly the same process, the only substantative difference being the more subtle organization of Western policymaking.
Discourses are practices, not mere abstract exercises, they therefore require material fields for their actualization in a process which itself requires institutions to establish and reproduce practices. These institutions therefore must secure their practices in material reality from attack, placing the institutional organization of security itself underneath all other forms of organization as fundamental. Security takes three essential forms; consensus, finance and force. It is not my position that the abstract meaning of the ideas contained within the policymaking agenda of institutions is not important, clearly they play a significant role in motivating security organization either in defense or attack. However, ideas do not succeed in policymaking by how compelling they seem in the abstract but instead by how effectively they are organized and secured institutionally as practices. This is why security-determinism stands in opposition not merely to economic determinism, but ideological determinism (as exemplified by Hegelianism). This explains why bad and unpopular ideas are successful in policymaking all the time, because superior organization can institutionalize bad and unpopular ideas.
VI. Epistemic Warfare
This derivation of security determinism from the political structure implied by institutional theory enables us to describe the mechanism which drives the pathologization of the political as described in section I. Essentially what we see is the parasitical growth of power from authority. Genuine authority emerges from the problem it proposes its self-organization as the solution to, power emerges from leveraging the security requirements generated by inter-institutional relations between these different organizational solutions. As the institutionality of society becomes more complex, inter-institutional relations become an increasingly more complex task to secure. This requires security organization to strengthen its control over access to resources - this is fundamentally what the 'bureaucratization' and 'centralization' of government is.
The more complex the security organization of the state becomes, the more capability it has to obstruct institutions from forming which threaten its power. In order for security organization to secure institutions from inter-institutional conflict (or at least impose formal rules which constrain this conflict), it must secure itself. This self-securing itself requires the selection of institutions both directly and indirectly related to the formation of policymaking orthodoxies which generate the political structure this organization requires. Hence the security-determinism of the political. And, as formalized discursive practices are the means of forming these policymaking orthodoxies, this security-determinism drives the production and selection of the ideas which make up a culture. An obvious example of this is the support of protestant theology by European monarchies hostile to the power of the Catholic Church during the Reformation. Politics is war by other means, and these means are primarily an epistemic-security feedback loop of institutionality. This is more true than ever in the Information Age where the line between epistemic and security functions has blurred to the point of near total dissolution.
Where power originally emerged to secure authority, it has come to undermine it. Power's expansion is largely facilitated by creating greater dependency upon it, and this dependency is often undermined by authorities attempting to provide genuine solutions to social problems. Instead social problems must be framed in such a way that they are leveraged to justify and reinforce the expansion of power. Today an utterly perverse victim-centric discourse is promoted which justifies this reinforcement and expansion with great social cost. There are myriad examples, such as the use of 'Critical Race Theory' to undermine the integrity of the legal process for enemies and scapegoats of the ideological orthodoxy, or the concept of 'hate speech' justifying the bureaucratic and legal imposition of censorship upon heretics to the ideological orthodoxy. The enforcement of consensus against epistemic adversaries to orthodox positions has become blatant in several highly relevant fields of inquiry to policymaking. The most egregious examples being climate science, covid-19 and the biological analysis of race and gender. These examples clearly demonstrate power's capability to overrule genuine authority. These enforcements (securing) of consensus in confirmation of policymaking orthodoxies demonstrates the security-determinism of institutionality's capability to overrule sincere epistemic processes.
The ultimate source of authority in politics is an ethical question which cannot be reduced to social scientific discourse as discussed in section I. However, simply having a better political ethic than the enemy then is not enough, you need a strategy for implementing that political ethic, you need the power to secure authority. You aren't going to develop that strategy without getting your social science right, and as social science is itself an institutional process this challenge is not merely epistemic but institutional. Any critique of the system, no matter how true, cannot significantly challenge it without developing the means to do so in the institutional battlespace. Any counter-institutionality capable of meaningfully challenging the established orthodoxies for power must recognize security-determinism explicitly and avoid the social scientific errors listed above to stand a chance. The democratic theory of policy creation has held back the conservative movement from converting its electoral success into genuine political success for decades. Economic determinism is currently threatening to obfuscate the populist's strategic perception of its true enemy. But the greatest threat of error to the Right's cutting edge is the autocratic theory of government.
Due to the Right's affirmation of hierarchy and hostility to the institutionalized ideological orthodoxies, it has a tendency to focus on persons rather than institutions and inter-institutional relations (structures). There is no more potent example of this than the Trump Administration, where the person who was supposed to be in power proved ineffective due to a lack of institutional organization behind the agenda implied by his rhetoric. The Right's growing embrace of Caesarism threatens to reproduce this ideological delusion in future strategy. Politics is a complex system, a structure of institutional relations, and the necessarily bureaucratic nature of these institutions renders their organization formally impersonal. The ruling policymaking orthodoxies cannot be challenged without the composition of a rival institutional structure to take their place. If the Right cannot theorize and formally develop this structure, even Caesar cannot lead it to victory.