God and Guns 3


The Burning Block Vol II No. 8

Among classical liberal thinkers, few go as near to the final conclusions of classical liberalism as Paul Emile de Puydt and Gustave de Molinari. Their respective visions are in every way compatible. Largely dismissed today as utopian fantasists by most liberals of the Left as well as the Right, they nevertheless prefigure the radical libertarianism of Rothbard and Hoppe, as well as the neocameralist patchwork of the reactionary thinker, Mencius Moldbug. Though it is de Puydt who coined the term 'panarchy,' the execution of this idea could just as well be applied to de Molinari's notion of private security. 

De Puydt has this to say of the basic concept:

'In each community a new office is opened, a "Bureau of Political Membership". This office would send every responsible citizen a declaration form to fill in, just as for the income tax or dog registration: Question: What form of government would you desire? Quite freely you would answer, monarchy, or democracy, or any other... and once registered, unless you withdrew your declaration, respecting the legal forms and delays, you would thereby become either a royal subject or citizen of the republic. Thereafter you are in no way involved with anyone else's government—no more than a Prussian subject is with Belgian authorities.'


The idea is wrought with less than thorough assumptions about the nature of the citizen's relationship with sovereignty. For instance, there is nothing to suggest that the metacontractual entity or mechanism responsible for generating these said 'bureaus' would not from the outset or at some later point desist from entertaining a vested interest in the social, economic and cultural development of its respective politiea beyond the mere maintenance of centers which could quite quickly serve to undermine the entire enterprise of panarchy as such. For instance, democracies, communist republics, autonomous anarchist zones and monarchies would be unlikely neighbors by choice; certainly when the question of their territoriality comes into play. Each respective polity would, naturally, act out of self interest, which would amount to limiting the power of adjacent politiea.

Nevertheless, the very notions of panarchy and private security speak to the deeper realm of collective desire and raises the question as to whether or not the modern western mind can even think about sovereignty in a way which transcends the mere monopoly of force (in other words, materialist sovereignty) - ultimately a negative sovereignty whose primary function is punishing dissension.

De Puydt and de Molinari's vision can only manifest in a world in which capitalism has exhausted its corporeal dominion over the economy as we know it as Marx predicted. However, in the work of de Puydt and de Molinari, rather than world in which surplus value has been eliminated after a point of ultimate singularity, we have what amounts to a further radicalization of the liberal laissez faire doctrine; the panarchic model of sovereignty is the society in which capitalism is not the mechanism by which commerce carries the market along, but rather, it is a mechanism which has absorbed the function of the state itself, and with it the people. Capitalism, in this model, turns material sovereignty - the monopoly on force - into a subset of market demands; these demands themselves ultimately arising out of a play of nominal human desire - an affirmation of the metapolitical, anarchic character of capitalism. It is ultimately a form of virtual democracy which posits that sovereignty can be extracted from any entity save that of the social contract - sovereignty itself amounting to little more than a large-scale social contract which has transcended contemporary models of territoriality. Its primary flaw is that it hopes to put a choice between man as free agent and sovereignty as pure determination. The act of determination is pointed the direction of the customer and sovereignty remains only as the artificial face of a function which has, from the outset, been sapped of the very virile character by which it would have arisen naturally had no metacontractual bureaucracy been put in place to begin with. This market approach is less a solution to the problem of modern sovereignty and more a dilation of the neoliberal doctrine which has ultimately become synonymous with modernity itself since de Puydt and de Molinari's time. There are few things better for the advancement of neoliberalism than the state's subordination to the market, which is what they've been pushing for with renewed vigor since WWII. The implication in this model is that, ultimately, it is the citizen who is sovereign and that any sovereignty granted to the leader of a given polity (business owner) is only contingent in character, borrowed from the citizen (customer) who ultimately has the ability to make or break the polity if it is successful according to the citizen's respective requirements or expectations for security. It is a 'the customer is always right' approach to sovereignty. It hopes to cure what didn't work with the notion of 'human rights' by turning citizens into perennial patrons. If democracy codifies tribal conflict, panarchism and private security codify citizen revolt and revolution.

Furthermore, as we are dealing with politeia which, by definition, have respective monopolies on particular types of security, there is no reason to think that measures of 'security' will not be implemented in order to weed out those seeking exit or who might be critical of the micro, para-provincial regime. Just as it is with democracy where a sovereign is voted in who can then turn around and ignore the platform that got him voted in, so a private security can act in non-private ways. It is not unlikely that such an institution would act entirely in self interest even in the case that acting in self interest would harm its citizens/customers.

The extra-territorial nature of this vision is, at once, its greatest contribution to the problem of modern sovereignty as well as its ultimate blind spot. It allows room for experimentation and fragmentation where social organization is concerned, yet it ultimately implies the stability of a base contractual entity which binds all of these bureaus and their subordinate sovereignties together which must itself be perfect in its ability to execute such a varied array of cultures whilst allowing room for imperfections to work themselves out entropically from within. 

The very problem panarchism and private security hope to solve is dealt with by merely inserting an extra feature into the society we already have - it doesn't remove anything as it appears to from the outset (in this way it is like democracy in its propensity for self deception). It rests on an excluded middle - a given sentiment that man as an individual can perform a localized version of the function of the state. Faith in the social contract as the final act of sovereignty is the ultimate prejudice which lies behind this vision of organization; a sovereignty which can ultimately act against its own pretenses to order, as two people (though it is often more than two) can destroy the world, the environment and the community around them through a consensual act. A great deal of faith in man as a whole is needed for this vision to operate, and such a faith fails upon close inspection to fulfill the function it claims to be responsible for. The question remains as to what kind of entity can bind the conditions of uncoercive, multifarious sovereignties in an age when everything which masks itself as 'freedom,' in the end, proves itself to be a mere claim about the maximum quantity associated with a state of being which remains essentially ambiguous in its quality. Freedom to self destruct in the most efficient way would be the net result of the social contract. At worst, there is never a guarantee that others will not go down with you.