Other Critiques of Panarchy


Amerika.org recently offered a critique of panarchy which is very similar to my own.

Patchwork and panarchy sound like American consumerism taken to their horrible conclusion: life is a shopping mall, and you choose which store offers you the best value, while being watched over by a security force of nanny bureaucrats who both protect you from the angry underclass criminals and socially engineer your behavior so that you do not pollute or drink too much, making sure you chew each bite thirty-two times and brush your teeth for two minutes after eating your five portions of fruit and veg each day. Your life in this shopping mall possesses none of the implements of thymos such as culture, social rank, moral approval, honor, pride, integrity, and accumulation of wisdom. You are simply another worker, just as in the Leftist system, but now you have the illusion of “freedom” that is achieved by stripping away everything that makes life significant so that you have lots of options when shopping for which government-product you desire.

From yours truly, specifically from the God and Guns series:

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.

I suspect it's not too much of a stretch so suppose that my critique is, perhaps, more bittersweet on account of the fact that, between the two, it comes from someone who once entertained some version of the position in question.