so, since I’ve been to embroiled in other stuff for far too long to actually finish the longer posts I have in mind, I’ll sketch a little thingummy here. this is mostly chaotic patching up, be warned.
first, priors: read these:
The Odysseus Problem
A Republic, If You Can Keep It
Quibbles with Moldbug
also, my previous discussions here, here and here.
in Land’s writing, I find these to be the essential pieces on Neocameralism. from top to bottom you get an ever increasing abstraction of the problem at hand. Under this techno-commercial view, a Neocameral state is a decentralized shareholder-managed republic.
to view this – and how the whole “absolutist monarchy” thing is more old-fashioned Throne-and-Altar reaction than libertarian-oriented NRx – you have first to think the original and fundamental role of a parliament: to control the king’s/executive’s budget. under neocameralism, this is formalized as the board of trustees, elected by the shareholders. shareholders have their votes in proportion to shares, which give them specific rights to dividends and/or profits, plus this minimal voice in the choice of management. this board of trustees/parliament overviews management’s/king’s accounting, by determining how much money gets invested in the sovcorp. much exit, minimal voice.
the CEO – which is a sort of elective, rather than dynastic, king – is appointed by this board of trustees. could it be otherwise? possibly. but choosing the best administrator usually means not following bloodlines or whatever. in appointing the CEO, as well, the board of trustees evinces it’s character of ultimate controller, or proprietor, of the sovcorp. the CEO can decide management policies, hire personnel, distribute its budget as she pleases. but ultimately, she has to turn a profit and pay dividends. otherwise shareholders flee, or simply remove her from office.
what’s been sketched so far are the legislative and executive powers in a republic. I believe Land’s main point in enphasizing so easgerly that neocameralism is more compatible with republican than monarchical tradition, is to show how the corporative structure present in most corporations are precisely isomorphical to those of a well-regulated republic. which is to say, an efficient feedback circuit.
nonetheless, for the feedback circuit to close, there’s yet a third power: judiciary. this is probably the most complicated, since it touches precisely in the central critique of NRx: justice, even as a power, depends on mind-control/morality. there’s much more to be said about this intellectual side of justice-systems, but let’s leave it for another occasion. my concern here is: how is justice, as a power, to be formalized under a neocameralist republic?
the answer seems to lie in common-law systems. private law, in short. the sovcorp provides the service of sovereign property, i. e., effective defense against external threat. in being so, it’s justice system can be privatized to competing judiciary agencies. the whole ancap thing: security agencies, police companies and private courts, with operations agreed by contract with their clients. the sovcorp duty to these companies – as well as to all others – is to make sure they don’t resort to violence amongst each other.
so, there is a sovereign justice system as well: a final court of appeal in the for of the sovcorp’s management (within whichever specific department it decides to charge with such duties). which was the king’s/executive’s role in most constitutional systems. (if I’m not mistaken, that’s even what Montesquieu proposes.)
justice, as a power, then, is placed in the hands of the market and this market will control the decisions of shareholders, to the extent that it’s their willingness to stay within the sovcorp’s territory and pay it’s fees that will turn a profit.
thus the circuit closes: shareholders elect board of trustees that control management -> management enact policies that increase or decrease the value of the sovereign property, according to the response of an internal market, thus controlling it -> this internal market, in it’s decision to remain or exit the territorial bounds of the sovcorp (and thus pay fees and make profit possible), controls the shareholders decisions. this is the ideal feedback circuit within a (non-democratic) republican system – and it’s the ideal feedback circuit within a neocameral sovcorp. it is this feedback circuit that ensures dynamic stability, in a systematic learning/discovery process (that can be automatized – but that’s already another post).
we can try and push this sketch model, to test it and possibly break it, and then improve it. nothing that can’t utterly fail can teach anything, after all.
10 thoughts on “neocameralist scrap note #1”
So are you talking about a national sovereign corporation that presides over an anarcho capitalist governance marketplace? Or a patch that controls a marketplace?
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the difference is very slight, don’t you think? but I’d lean towards the former
In capitalist economies, there isn’t much concern about what the best way of setting up a business enterprise is. There are all sorts of business enterprises. What matters is that there is competition among the business enterprises to provide goods and services in a way that covers costs and offers an attractive price to the customer. Competition serves as a selection mechanism that sifts cost-effective ways of providing goods and services from cost-ineffective ways by selecting for profitable business enterprises.
Historic theories of republican government focus so much on making sure that the republican mechanism doesn’t break because the republic is still conceived as a monopoly on government service provision. The notion that republics would compete for government service provision, that republics should succeed or fail along this dimension, that improving government service provision by making it actually cost-effective is more important than the persistence of republican institutions–all of this is simply inconceivable within historic republican theory.
To the extent that ancap and neocameralism simply take over republican theory as is, they ignore what is actually important: creating a market for government service provision. (I’m as guilty of this as anyone.) I think neocameral thought needs to focus more on how to foster the emergence of such a market and less on how the providers participating in such a market are internally structured.
Competition is the vital element, as Ron says.
In capitalism, competition happens at many different levels: businesses competing against each other, and against substitutes for their products or services, managers competing for control of businesses, different forms of company competing against each other. The lesson of the 20th-century mixed economy is that you can attempt to suppress that competition at many points, and it will come out elsewhere and continue to function effectively.
Governance is, at least over an area, something of a natural monopoly. Of course, it’s not the only natural monopoly, and capitalism has found ways of functioning over natural monopolies. Sometimes that involves a measured amount of politics (see, for instance, the governance structure of a stock exchange, which generally predates government regulation).