Meta-Order

In my previous essay I outline the conceptions of an idealised natural order of political and socio-economic authority[1] consisting of overlapping platoons of varying organisational modes and jurisdictional structures. While an idealised type, this concept of a natural order is not a fully prescriptive universality, that prescribes particular hierarchical forms of governance upon the multiplicity of governmental forms. Rather, it is a recognition of the non-egalitarian nature of social life, and thus pushes against utopian ideals that take on a universal quality. It is a meta concept with varying degrees of applicability that presents the potential for new governmental forms to emerge, moving beyond both neoliberalism and egalitarianism which are themselves overarching abstractions that aim at the assimilation of heterogeneity and variety.

Following from this, I want to connect these initial ideas to newer conceptions that have informed my recent reading and research: my research on cypherpolitical organisation and its relation to tribalism[2]; my ideas of variable, flexible governing structures[3]; and my concept of politico-economic nomads[4]. I also want to relate these ideas to the concepts of neocameralism and its varying theoretical junctures.

The main idea of neocameralism is its understanding of sovereignty as connected innately to its control of property, with the aim of sovereignty thus being the stable management of this property, attracting capital and people to its governmental institutions by maintaining their protection. In this sense, government is equivalent to a value-maximising corporation[5] which must maximise the values of order, security and stable management to maintain residents and continue providing for shareholders. These multiplicitous sovereign corporations exist within a patchwork of fragmented governance structures, each having niches and variables which make them attractive for global flows. “Sovereignty is a flat, peer-to-peer relationship by definition”[6], with each corporation having sovereign right over their patch. This concept is interesting as a way of identifying macro-relations of governance that are neither egalitarian nor democratic, moving away from the orthodoxy of modernity and the supposed end of history. These ‘sovcorps’ suggest a mode of government that is streamlined, flexible and polyvalent, incorporating different ideologies and political machinations. As I mentioned in my previous essay, such examples of natural order (which contain hierarchical internal structures and decentralised, multiplicitous external relations) have existed across a number of different spaces, from the clans of Scotland and Ireland to the trade networks of interlinked European city-states. There are also modern equivalents as with the idea of Bitnations, a decentralised governmental system worked through the relations of the blockchain, where sovcorps could act as spatial actors within the deterritorialised infrastructure of Bitnations[7].

Thus neocameralism presents an interesting, variable theory of government that allows for experimentation and fragmentation, limiting the effect of centralisation and making government reliant upon flows of exit and entry so as to attract residents and investment. A government in this system thus cannot claim a full legitimacy via coercion or even via a Gramscian superstructure, as such systems require the capacity to have a fuller control over these flows. The multi-level, variable governance of neocameralist city-states contain neither the necessary centralisation nor the coercive capacity of payment to maintain such structures of coercion-consent.

However, while the theory neocameralism is a good baseline for understanding governance, I want to take it further and complexify its innate understandings and constitutive structures. One of the main ways of doing this is going beyond shareholder governance toward a wider concept of corporate governance that incorporates stakeholders as actors that can claim particular distributive consequences, whether that be in stocks/shares or in particular governance decisions. To an extent, residents are the main stakeholders within the neocameral system. However, residents themselves are subjective, with different levels of involvement in their polities, from being disengaged and paying a simple fee for living in a particular territory, to those involved in a wider variety of intersubjective relations that make claims on particular elements of a sovereign corporation. This idea isn’t within itself  democratic, but rather recognises the innate polycentricity of governmental structures when it comes to provisioning and distribution. Within medieval cities, governance was effected by rebellious aristocrats, social guilds and the adhoc organisation of peasants and other lower classes. Governance thus was never de-conflictual, or simply solved by the full imposition of hierarchy. Rather, complex contractual (characterisable as instrumental governance) and symbolic (characterisable as ritualistic/identity-providing[8]) relations develop and overlap. Neocameralism allows for many aspects of law to be provided through competitive court systems and various understandings of law (akin to Anglo-Saxon and pre-modern Irish law systems), with each of these courts subsumed to the wider sovcorp. However, competitive means of law may allow for relations of such complexity that they can overtake a particular sovcorp’s authority, gaining relative autonomy and limiting sovereign power, and allowing for more complex forms of exodus which allow individuals (from any class or hierarchical strata) to have one foot in one system and another in another. This makes governance even more fragmentary and polycentric, becoming multi-level and deterritorial in the process. The concept of an agorist-neocameralism[9], where complex relations of contractual hierarchy suggest that this process would lead to extreme levels of creative destruction, always bringing into question sovereign power and instead favouring the idea of a politico-economic nomadism, beset with bricoler structures which limit the extent of sovereign management. With longer-term contractual relations, the problem of stakeholders claims also increases as these relations can lead to more symbolic forms of governance (due to long-termism favouring an increase in power and mutuality amongst all involved actors), where identity and ritualism take over from rational management in the information processes and distribution of power, and where contracts are renegotiated and refitted to include these evolving identitarian concepts.

This isn’t a critique of neocameralism, but rather an add-on for the sake of understanding modern societal complexity. In the tripartite system of modern capitalist government there is a combination of capital flow velocity (the offshore economy), a variety of stakeholder claims (the national private economy), and a general lumpenproletariat who are effectively precariatised monads (the anti-economy)[10]. These variable forms mean that any system of governance moving beyond modernity must contend with these forms and the actors they produce. A meta-order of neocameral patchwork would involve not just decentralised city-states, but a variety of corporate forms, some involving short-term contractual relations which favour shareholders and others involving stakeholders in longer-term contractual relations. Within the stakeholder concept, there can exist groups and individuals who make claims on the existing sovcorp, and there can exist those who aim at consistent exodus and forms of creative societal destruction, acting as socio-economic nomads.

An interesting example of these overlapping varieties of authority and relational boundaries are the coastal cities of China, in particular Guangdong and Fujian, where the development of special economic zones and other decentralist measures (which allow for stronger provincial and local control over taxation and regulatory affairs) has created a form of networked spatio-temporal governance that cuts across the global scalarity of modern trade, integrating regional and local scales/governance into a matrix of relations of entry and exit and creating a postmodern form of fisco-productive infrastructure[11]. Here relations between cadre entrepreneurs (Chinese officials operating within TVEs and other decentralised governmental structures) and SMEs from other areas of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan operate in a networked Greater China of production and investment relations. Thus we see some proto-neocameral forms developing where governance is geared toward investment and the development of flexible relations of business practice, where formal relations are replaced by guanxi relations of adhoc involvement, with the capability for exit always present. The Chinese state as a centralising functionary can begin to be bypassed as local governors and organisations develop second budgets (removing taxes and investment intakes off official governmental budgets) that removes power from the central state and places it within these complex networks. “The form of interaction tends to be group and not firm-based: local state-party officials, semi-public TVE, and incoming firms from Hong Kong and Taiwan all play important roles. However, this is not a horizontal market connection because it does not involve links between legally equal individuals; it involves power asymmetries between actors and institutions. Nor do these networks resemble hierarchical command-economy linkages because exchanges are not mediated through authority relations between superiors and subordinates: rather, they involve informal material and administrative exchanges from which actors can exit when desired”[12]. Continuing these decentralist processes, and further expanding the means of exodus to workers as well, allows for a full expansion of this spatio-temporal network to include a multitude of actors, from business leaders and local governors who comprise the neocameral leadership to stakeholders in the form of workers working within regulatory regimes (they being important in deciding the spatial and temporal flows and forms of production), as well as the economic nomads that are present in the Shanzhai economies of these coastal cities (presenting a potentially agorist flavour to these overlapping relations of economic governance). While extremely imperfect (as with Chinese state centralisation and the continual regulation of flows by said state), these cities begin to present a complex neocameralism of entrepreneurial governance, networked relations and the development of decentralisation and relations/processes of entry and exit which reject both the innate centralisation of modern states and the egalitarian nature of postmodern theorisation.

In the neocameral world, where relations of exodus are potentially consistent, and where the flows of capital and information are fully released, this nomadism is heightened, allowing particular individuals and organisations to use these flows for a variety of means, whether creating their own sovcorps, encouraging further deterritorialisation (as with Bitnations and other de-spatial forms of politico-economic governance). This complexified neocameralism allows for variable actors to escape the stratified monadism of modernity, opening up an extremely complex, adhoc world of reflexive socio-political existence.

[1] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/a-natural-order/

[2] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/violence-is-what-it-is/

[3] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/a-post-post-politics/

[4] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/nomads-and-the-esoteric/

[5] http://www.xenosystems.net/eight-point-neo-cam/

[6] http://www.xenosystems.net/neocameralism-1/

[7] https://antinomiaimediata.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/bit-nations-and-sovereign-services/

[8] Blatter, J. Debordering the World of States: Toward a Multi-Level System in Europe and a Multi-Polity System in North America? Insights from Border Regions

[9] https://antinomiaimediata.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/neocameralism-for-agorists/

[10] Cameron, A. & Palan, R. The Imagined Economy: Mapping Transformations in the Contemporary State

[11] Sum, N.G. Rethinking Globalisation: Re-articulating the Spatial Scale and Temporal Horizons of Trans-Border Spaces

[12] Sum, N.G. Rethinking Globalisation: Re-articulating the Spatial Scale and Temporal Horizons of Trans-Border Spaces

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