If sovereignty is conserved is taken as a true proposition, then it follows from this that what happens under the sovereign organisation is a matter of the discretion of the sovereign. This is not just in the case of proactive legal pronouncements or norms passed down informally, but also by what is not made comment on.
If the sovereign (which always exists regardless of claims to the contrary) ceases to actively govern, then this act is regardless an active decision. In all instances the sovereign’s decision is decisive. By not acting, the sovereign is permitting.
This raises an important question in relation to the split between state and civil society that is central to liberalism, because if sovereignty is conserved, then this is everywhere a fraud and delusion. This strikes at the very heart of all variants of liberalism – conservatism, classical liberalism, progressivism, libertarianism, and all the rest.
Take for example the Supreme Court of the United States. As noted by Moldbug, the Supreme Court is De Facto the sovereign organisation of the United States. All exceptions are taken there and judged upon. That it is a perverse and reactive sovereign is of little consequence, as other branches of the government (claiming to be private) merely raise issues to legal ones to be brought to the sovereign. If this organisation decrees a law regarding an issue, then it is excising its power, and if it does not decree a law, it is again excising its power. In either case, on all issues, the sovereign organisation of the Supreme Court is an absolute ruler, as all sovereigns must be by definition.
This realisation is not new, and was articulated exceptionally well by the philosopher Ugo Spirito, who asserted:
“”As the ultimate repository of collective sovereignty, it is the historic state that fashions the moral and intellectual environment in which each of us achieves reality as a self conscious individual. It is the state – whatever its institutional permutations-that supplies the formal and informal educations that shapes individual consciousness. All the agencies that are seen as contributing to the process-the family, religion, the schools- all exist as a consequence of the sufferance and guidance of the sovereign state. In the modern world, what is permitted and what is proscribed is defined in law, and supplemented by custom and usage- all of which, in the final analysis is controlled, directly or indirectly, by the sovereign state.”
My only criticism with Spirito’s statement is that “what is permitted and what is proscribed is defined in law, and supplemented by custom and usage” is back to front. It is surely the case that custom and usage is primary, and law is supplementary. But putting this difference aside, Spirito is surely correct.
At this point, it is clear that the free market is no such thing, civil society as an independent entity is no such thing, free press is no such thing, freedom of speech is no such thing – it is all granted either directly, or indirectly through non-action by the sovereign – who is conserved. Denying this leads to an inability to see that all of society in effect acts in accordance with the will of the sovereign organisation which bounds it by default. All liberal claims to the contrary are delusional; exceptionally usefully delusional, as it absolutely cuts off the ability to see the wood for the trees. At all times there is a sovereign, and they are the ultimate determiners of the bounds of those contained within the state. As again, Moldbug notes writing on economics issues:
“In actual reality, we are trying to answer the question: how should America be governed? We are therefore reasoning from the perspective of the State. Since sovereignty is conserved, the State is always and everywhere absolute and omnipotent. Therefore, the hedonic satisfaction of its citizens, who are in fact its slaves, is not and cannot be a goal. It may be a means to an end, of course. As when we administer heroin through the barracks water supply to reward Camp #127 for exceeding its uranium production targets three months in a row.
Well, see. I told you reality was scary. I don’t actually believe absolute government, which is always and everywhere the reality, implies totalitarian government. USG is an absolute government as well. I am not a big USG fan. But I don’t seem to find myself in the uranium mines.
In general, the classic 20C phenomena of totalitarianism appears not in absolute governments that are secure and invulnerable, but in extremely weak ones that in consequence have to take extraordinary measures to repress their enemies. This (among other things) is the difference between Louis XIV and Stalin. USG’s great virtue is that its monopoly of power is far more secure than Louis XIV’s, so it doesn’t have to give a damn what I post on my stupid blog.”