I hate to go back on my word but Vincent Hanna over at the Dark Reformation blog has tempted me into writing this post.
In his post, he writes a number of criticisms of the speculative claim, which a number of us have been exploring, that a monarchical point of governance always exists. On a number of points he is exactly correct, but on a number of other points I believe he misses what is being claimed.
Firstly, Hannah hits the nail on the head when he locates that the core issue with this claim of the preservation of the monarchical structure is the existence of collective decision making. This is easily dealt with by denying that collective decision making in the sense implied by oligarchy or democracy exists. This instantly does away with the mealy mouthed flight to small scale democracy and direct democracy that is the recourse that everyone turns to when they discount large scale democracy. Hannah, for example, provides the case of the Supreme Court, but I would deny that they are sovereign, and to explain this thinking requires a little bit of a detour.
I have been working on a number of papers for the upcoming promised journal (it is really going to happen, it’s very close) and one of the areas which it covers is the concept of anarchistic versus absolutist ontologies which has been worked on in the background by a couple of us. An anarchist ontology frankly includes every single political theory in existence. All of them are based on a form of anthropology that implies anarchism. The difference between them all is the level of awareness and intellectual coherence of the advocates. Anarchists are the most honest in following through the implications of this anarchism, and they seem to be often the ones most likely to be led to some form of sanity, or even partial sanity, by virtue of their extreme adherence to the logic of the position. So, for example, we see the flip of syndicalists to Italian fascism, which is the most sane variant of western political theory for the past 500 years, yet still lacking drastically. Once the most robust thinkers concluded that the workers were not a vehicle for class warfare, they identified the state as the vehicle for their aims, then they followed through the implications of admitting the role of a political organisation. Conservatives, liberals, white nationalist etc. are completely deluded and have no care for following through the implications of their underlying premises. This seems to me to be because they are often working from a vision of what they think should happened which is sociologicaly impoverished, a product of their specific and limited life experience and biases. Or it is because they are caught up in the perpetual political conflict of the cretinous and vile democratic system.
Now, the anarchist ontology is basesless, stupid and completely devoid of sense. It requires that the human agent simply appears. It has direct roots in Biblical exegesis and did not originate with Locke. Hannah in identifying Filmer as having responded to Locke is in error, Filmer was responding to Grotius, Suarez and Bellarmine in particular. The first you may notice was a Dutch protestant and the second and third were Catholics. It seems to be the case that anarchist ontology is a result of political conflict. The anarchist ontology of man not being a product of authority is basically a lie that collapses on the simplest examination, and was promoted for power attainment. Filmer is pretty clear on this as well. He identifies accurately that the Catholic Church was a major culprit in this regard, and it is an unfortunate misdirection that this process has been occluded. This is not to blame the Church specifically, as all segment of governance in Western Europe were guilty of this. Not only the Church, but also the nobility and the parliament/ bourgeois, and also the monarchs themselves were promoting this lie as a means to undermine each other, it is the high-low alliance of De Jouvenel.
A major underlying assumption of this anarchistic ontology is that groups of people can make decisions collectively, but we have to ask is this actually possible. The concrete example of the Supreme Court is an excellent one, does the Supreme Court actually decide in the act of voting? I don’t think they do. The vote is not a decision in any real sense, it is really a show of strength to force through a particular decision made before it. A decision can only be made by a single person within their head. This follows in my opinion for large scale democracy “decision” making as well. The entire mystical premise of the general will or public opinion is a joke, a decision cannot be made by a multitude, only a single person can, and then they impose that decision by mobilizing numbers to impose their will by force, or threat of force, by means of voting. The vote is a threat of force.
There are many other angles from which we can dismiss small scale decision making, but they can wait for another day. For now, having dismissed the premise of small scale collective decision making as mystical nonsense which covers up the reality of human social structures, which are always hierarchical, we can continue with the logic of absolutist ontology and see if the image of society is helpful to analysis. We set it to work in effect. To do this we can draft in some help from the Italian Elitist School of Pareto, Mosca and Michels, and also the German theorist Carl Schmitt.
The elitists claimed that all organisation is oligarchy, but we have just dismissed small scale collective decision making, so what they really mean is all organisation is monarchical in structure. A government is an organisation, so a government is a monarchy. But this leaves us with some confusion. Just who is the sovereign then? Well from the position of decision making, the delegated sovereign decision making role moves depending on the question. But are they the sovereigns? No. They make decisions that are effect make them the pinnacle of governance, but they are not sovereign. They are acting as delegates of the sovereign. To determine the true sovereign here, we again can turn to Schmitt with his state of exception. It is curious that in Polticial Theology Schmitt makes the claim of the sovereign being “He” who decides on the exception but is then unclear if this can be a group or must be an individual. I conclude it must be an individual because a group cannot make a collective decision in the sense implied by this exception. The decision always rests behind the vote, the vote being a factional proxy conflict resolution device.
So, given the above, we can look at a concrete example of a sovereign becoming clear, and of the state of exception being employed in the case of the Nazi party and the usage of article 48 of the Weimar Constitution and the introduction of the Enabling Act 1933. The article was supposedly balanced by the ability of the Reichstag to cancel the emergency decree by vote. This concept rests on the actors acting within the institutions and rules set out by the constitution and being able to make a collective decision. So Hitler enacted Article 48 and passed the Enabling Act by usage of non-formal actors (the SA and SS) to stamp his authority on the voters to vote in accordance with his decision that a state of exception pertained. The voters then didn’t vote in accordance with their faction, but in line with his faction. The voting process showed itself to be the expression of factional dominance, not a decision in the sense assumed by oligarchy and democracy. So in the US system, whoever can force the Supreme Court to act in line with their faction and decide/determine a state of exception pertained is the sovereign. It was always a factional conflict device, and Hitler clearly understood this and acted accordingly. This example shows us that if we look at the formal structures specifically, and don’t include non-formal structures, we fail to see what is happening. We can only do this from an absolutist ontology which holds us to always looking for the sovereign, as it cuts away the misdirection created by a fluffy belief in a sort of psychic mind-meld collective decision making, a belief that is more in place in a science fiction story then political theory.
The idea has been put to me that oligarchy, aristocracy, democracy etc. can then be reformatted, if you really wish to keep these categories, by concluding that the delegated sovereign decision making is contained in differing groups, a wealthy group in oligarchy, a group tied by marriage in aristocracy, anyone in democracy, and so on. This is a significant break from Aristotle and the western tradition.
So, in summary, all organisations are monarchical in structure, not oligarchical. The turnover of these monarchical points can increase in velocity, or decrease in velocity, and they can be formally clear, or not clear. The sovereign is he who can decide on the state of exception and is therefore the final point of call. They always exist because laws cannot cover all contingencies and are merely tools, not actors.
If anyone wishes to comment, please do so on reddit or your own blog post, as the comment system on wordpress is horrible, and I never check it.
Also, check out Adam’s Generative Anthropology blog for far more erudite thinking on this topic.