Imperium in Imperio and Patchwork

Following on from the comments left by nick B Steves over here, I have decided to elaborate on the first point of my question raising regarding the validity of imperium in imperio. The best way I think that this issue can be drawn out effectively is to just go back to the source and analyse exactly what Moldbug was talking about in relation to patchwork, a concept which has unfortunately degraded to simply “he said exit should be in place, so let’s arm everyone and we can all be free – yay!”

The meat of Moldbug’s conception of patchwork is contained in the following four posts: Patchwork: a positive vision, Patchwork 2: profit strategies for our new corporate overlords, Patchwork 3: what we have and what’s so bad about it and Patchwork 4: a reactionary theory of world peace. A detailed read, but one which is very much worthwhile. One thing you should note having read them, if you didn’t the first time around, is that patchwork has one central feature which has been ripped out, or plain ignored, by almost everyone who has read it, and that is the utter total control of the governments that make up the patchwork. In fact, it is repeated, constantly. This itself deserves repeating – this entire concept rest upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives. I will repeat this one more time for all the Anarcho-Capitalists, Libertarians and “we need to constrain guberment” Liberals – this entire concept rests upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives. In fact, I will repeat this again – this entire concept rests upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives.

Given that this whole concept rests upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives it is somewhat surprising that it has become a common myth that patchwork is about individuals weaponising themselves against government to secure their freedom, this is categorically not even close. It is the exact opposite.

So while Moldbug may have written:

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice.”

The devil, as he himself declares, is in the details. So let’s look at the details.

First we have the axioms, which are:

First, security is a monotonic desideratum. There is no such thing as “too secure.” An encryption algorithm cannot be too strong, a fence cannot be too high, a bullet cannot be too lethal.

Second, security and liberty do not conflict. Security always wins. As Robert Peel put it, the absence of crime and disorder is the test of public safety, and in anything like the modern state the risk of private infringement on private liberties far exceeds the official of public infringement. No cop ever stole my bicycle. And this will be far more true in the Patchwork, in which realms actually compete for business on the basis of customer service.

Third, security and complexity are opposites. A secure authority structure is as simple as possible, so that it is as difficult as possible to pervert it to unanticipated ends.”

All very, good, but you may ask what this has to do with my assertion that this entire concept rests upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives, well here is your first clue – can any part of the constituent parts of a company declare themselves binding on the shareholders? As Moldbug later adds:

Note, however, that we are not considering anything like the watered-down “constitutional” (ie, again, ceremonial) monarchies of the democratic period. If the joint-stock realm is like a monarchy, it is like a true, “absolute” or (most pejoratively) “divine-right monarchy.”

The plot thickens. But wait, there is more, writing on the claim that sovereignty can be constrained he adds:

These political three-card monte tricks, in which sovereign authority is in some way divided, “limited” (obviously, no sovereign can limit itself), or otherwise weakened, in all cases for the purported purpose of securing liberty, have no more place in a Patchwork realm than they do at, say, Apple. They are spurious artifacts of the Interregnum. Their effect on both a realm and its residents is purely counterproductive. Begone with them.

Can you see the weaponisation of individuals and the guaranteed distributed exit here? I must be missing something. But let’s keep going, I’m sure it will show up somewhere. Maybe here:

In reality, no sovereign can be subject to law. This is a political perpetual motion machine. Law is not law unless it is judged and enforced. And by whom? For example, if you think a supreme court with judicial review can make government subject to law, you are obviously unfamiliar with the sordid history of American constitutional jurisprudence. All your design has achieved is to make your supreme court sovereign. Indeed if the court had only one justice, a proper title for that justice would be “King.” Sorry, kid, you haven’t violated the conservation of anything.

Then we get right to the point with Moldbug’s declaration of the following:

A Patchwork realm, or any modern corporate sovereign, is no more bound by the laws it imposes on its residents than Linden Labs is bound by the terms-of-use policy it enforces in Second Life. (In fact, it is probably less so bound, because a terms-of-use policy creates at least the vague suggestion of liability. Whereas suing a sovereign is yet another of these political solecisms.)

This is not at all to say that a Patchwork realm does not enforce the rule of law. (Except, of course, under conditions of martial law that involve a general security threat. A state of siege is an option anywhere, any time, for any reason.) To enforce a law is not to be bound by a law. These are two completely different things. I don’t feel I can repeat this too often.

Patchwork realms can be expected to enforce a fair and consistent code of laws not for moral or theological reasons, not because they are compelled to do so by a superior sovereign or some other force real or imaginary, but for the same economic reasons that compel them to provide excellent customer service in general. Real estate on which the rule of law prevails is much, much more valuable than real estate on which it doesn’t, and the value of a realm is the value of its real estate.”

This pretty much continues for four entire posts. The entire mechanism is one based on sovereign entities which have total control. The citizens are utterly toothless, and the concept of exit is merely in place as a side effect of the profit motive and reputation of the sovereigns who are totally in control. This entire concept rests upon patchwork being comprised of governmental entities which are in no way constrained by anyone, or anything, but their own imperatives. Do I need to repeat this again?

Having resolved this little piece confusion, let’s take a closer look at the repeated references to a sovereign which is in no way limited, constrained or placed in a position of conflict with “the people,” weaponised individuals or any other section of the population which resides within the sovereigns territory. The following quote from the first post deserves referring to:

“The invention of this spurious right [right of rebellion] was perhaps the first tiny crack in the philosophical girders of the classical European monarchies. Filmer deftly points out that this is an engineering error, the ancient political solecism of imperium in imperio– which is now, in a typical democratic propaganda maneuver, lauded as that bogus political panacea, “separation of powers”:

Thirdly, [Bellarmine] concludes that, if there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the kingdom. Here I would fain know who shall judge of this lawful cause? If the multitude — for I see nobody else can — then this is a pestilent and dangerous conclusion.

Filmer, writing for an educated audience, does not bother to remind them of the basic premise of Roman law: nemo iudex in causa sua. Meaning: “no man can be a judge in his own case.” And no multitude, either. Pestilent indeed!”

So what is this “solecism of imperium in imperio”? well, it is simply the idea that the sovereign cannot be constrained or held in check by a person, group, or power centre which is beneath himself. The sovereign must always, at all times be utterly…sovereign. Totally. There is no wavering or ambiguity in what Moldbug is talking about at all. The subjects are nothing to the sovereign. If the sovereign says jump, everyone jumps. You have no rights but what the sovereign allows, and all that constrains the sovereign is the sovereign’s imperatives. But this is awful right? I mean, with that much power the sovereign would be a tyrant, and would just do horrible things because he could right? Yeah, sure. Now we have just entered in Whig nonsense 101. The study of power and how power operates has been a non-issue in the western political tradition for over 400 years now due to this absolute idiocy based on thinking which is so far from reality it cannot even be described as faulty. It is this that bad. Of course , this is where the reference to Hobbes comes in, because isn’t this just Hobbesianism? As Hobbes writes on “mixed government”:

Sometimes also in the meerly Civill government, there be more than one Soule: As when the Power of levying mony, (which is the Nutritive faculty,) has depended on a generall Assembly; the Power of conduct and command, (which is the Motive Faculty,) on one man; and the Power of making Lawes, (which is the Rationall faculty,) on the accidentall consent, not onely of those two, but also of a third; This endangereth the Common-wealth, somtimes for want of consent to good Lawes; but most often for want of such Nourishment, as is necessary to Life, and Motion. For although few perceive, that such government, is not government, but division of the Common-wealth into three Factions, and call it mixt Monarchy; yet the truth is, that it is not one independent Common-wealth, but three independent Factions; nor one Representative Person, but three. In the Kingdome of God, there may be three Persons independent, without breach of unity in God that Reigneth; but where men Reigne, that be subject to diversity of opinions, it cannot be so. And therefore if the King bear the person of the People, and the generall Assembly bear also the person of the People, and another assembly bear the person of a Part of the people, they are not one Person, nor one Soveraign, but three Persons, and three Soveraigns.

To what Disease in the Naturall Body of man, I may exactly compare this irregularity of a Common-wealth, I know not. But I have seen a man, that had another man growing out of his side, with an head, armes, breast, and stomach, of his own: If he had had another man growing out of his other side, the comparison might then have been exact.”

Or as he writes on sub power centers within the state:

Another infirmity of a Common-wealth, is the immoderate greatnesse of a Town, when it is able to furnish out of its own Circuit, the number, and expence of a great Army: As also the great number of Corporations; which are as it were many lesser Common-wealths in the bowels of a greater, like wormes in the entrayles of a naturall man.”

And on the “liberty of disputing against sovereign power”:

“To which may be added, the Liberty of Disputing against absolute Power, by pretenders to Politicall Prudence; which though bred for the most part in the Lees of the people; yet animated by False Doctrines, are perpetually medling with the Fundamentall Lawes, to the molestation of the Common-wealth; like the little Wormes, which Physicians call Ascarides.”

Hobbes obviously opposed any constraint or conflict with the sovereign, and the connection to Moldbug has been made repeatedly,given Moldbug writes such things as:

Swallowing the red pill, departing the Matrix and donning our alien-detecting Ray-Bans, we realize at once that no government can limit itself. Limited government is a perpetual-motion machine: a product axiomatically fraudulent by definition. In any human organization, final authority rests with some person or persons, not with any rule, process or procedure.

But, there is significant difference which is not being taken account of. The major reason for this is the De Jouvenel link. Not only is having sub power centers which have the conceit of being in possession of parts of sovereignty, or being able to limit the sovereign, a solecism, it is also a disastrous design error that has led to the current disastrous governance we have.

A sovereign faced with sub powers under it’s sovereignty which claim defence against the sovereignty, and thus claim imperium in imperio means the state is at war with itself, systematically, as noted by De Jouvenel. The solution to such a problem in feudal Europe was the slow but sure raising of the individual by the monarchy as a means to undermine the powers claiming imperium in imperio and the process has been baked into the cake with the collapse of monarchs. Democracy and the Modern Liberal state have no other mechanism than raising the individual against all imperium in imperio no matter what, and this is facilitated by it’s own farcical claims of having mastered imperium in imperio in the form of democracy. That is the ruling raison d’etre of the liberal state. It is in total and utter meltdown.

So whereas Hobbes was a proponent of this mechanism and the creation of mere subjects and sovereign, Moldbug working from the insights of De Jouvenel, but going in the opposite direction to De Jouvenel, is aiming to sate the central power and endow it with a system in which it is not tempted or incentivized to engage in conflict with lesser centers of power beneath it – because they do not claim imperium in imperio and are utterly accepting of the total sovereignty of the sovereign – they are mere delegates. All exit, no voice . Unless the sovereign needs to halt exit – he can do what he likes, but what he does is limited by many factors.

You can disagree with this as much as you want, but just don’t claim that anything advocating imperium in imperio or weaponised distributed exit is influenced from Moldbug and patchwork. That’s just bullshit.