War Entrepreneurs

Libertarian theories of international relations (IR) are limited in their codification and explanation, tending to be afterthoughts in wider social and economic treatises that premise the development of a libertarian society. The central figure of the state or sovereign in most IR theories goes against the grain of libertarianism’s insight that economic action moves beyond the boundaries of states through markets and non-state institutions. However, this view leads to myopia as the importance of IR and particularly of warfare in the construction and delineation of societies, as well as the character of state and non-state institutions, means a whole field of action that libertarianism must engage with if it is to posit a praxis.

Continue reading

Violent Machinations: Capital & Revolution

“The eternal absolute is the immobile point of reference around which temporal figurations circulate, their presupposition; however, precisely as such, it is posited by these temporal figurations, since it does not preexist them: it emerges in the gap between the first and the second”[1]. Zizek, in conceptualising the relation between the virtual and its actualisation, shows how the requirement of the ideological (symbolic) presupposes the proposition of the (un)attainable ideal. The progressivisation of history in its various guises follows this procedure, positing the objet petit a as the ultimate desire while also then sublimating this desire into a desire for the desire itself. From the virtual desire of utopia (“the utopic attempt to remove struggle is simply the attempt to instantiate a devalued mechanism of meaning”[2]) there emerges the actualisation of a fundamentalism to instantiate the ideological desire. The struggle is no longer neutered, instead becoming the primary locus of violent action against prevailing power.

Continue reading

Pragmatic Libertarianism, Autonomous War Machines and International Relations: Part IV

Pragmatic Libertarianism and Pessimistic Agorism

“Transitions from one system of social organization to another, in the real world, are piecemeal and partial, with a considerable variety of subjective visions and motives among those involved. So Murray Rothbard’s vision of a stable majority of an entire society converted to the nonaggression principle, operating according to essentially the same libertarian law code, and with some set of model libertarian institutions, is probably as close to the literal meaning of ‘utopia’—nowhere—as we could imagine”[1].

Continue reading

Pragmatic Libertarianism, Autonomous War Machines and International Relations: Part III

Decentralisation and Transversality

In taking a structural-materialist analysis that takes context as a primary variable for the formation of international orders (second anarchies), a libertarian ideology or commercial sovereignty must exist within the prevailing context of international relations, both shaping and being shaped by it. As previously noted, the autonomous forces of commerce and/or war are partial actants in their own right, with any ethical foundation only being achieved through the combination of forces to produce a stable order. Any order is only relative, and is only contingent, reliant on the maintenance of forces that may degrade and parts of assemblages that may dislocate. As Deleuze & Guattari noted with the war machine, the state apparatus’s co-optation of it creates instability, as the forces of war, that violence entrepreneurism, reshape and disperse the capabilities to control it. In contrast to Deudney, the developments of order from disorder do not developmentally scale upward to the ultimate second anarchy, a world federation or integrated international governance structure that finds itself with no established enemy, no periphery to which violence is externalised. Indeed, the actualisation of such a proposition would inevitably create instability, as the very forces of war contained within such a vast structure would turn inward, degrading it and causing it to decentralise and dissipate into its constituent elements. The development of order is thus cyclical and temporary.

Continue reading

Pragmatic Libertarianism, Autonomous War Machines and International Relations: Part II

The War Machine

War is an ever-present feature of the international/geopolitical landscape, and as van de Haar noted, is not something that a classical liberal IR would attempt to entirely eliminate as it evolves from the complex interaction of human passions and ideological clashes. Looking at a libertarian IR theory as one premised around the sublimation of war to the peaceful systems of market exchange and limited government, war itself cannot be reasonably opposed lest it fall into a utopianism that is counterproductive to the extensions of libertarian aims in the sphere of governance. In recognising this, the perspective of a libertarian IR or commercial sovereignty is in variable tension with warfare as its own autonomous force. The capacity for commercial sovereignty can only grow in the contingencies of more powerful structures, whether that be patchwork systems of governance as in feudal Europe, the Westphalian system of anarchic state competition or the liberal system of international relations (Pax Americana).

Continue reading

Pragmatic Libertarianism, Autonomous War Machines and International Relations: Part I

Defining Libertarianism and a Libertarian IR Theory

In determining the contours of a libertarian theory of international relations and how it engages with sovereign states and the liberal system of international governance, the axioms of libertarianism should first be outlined and understood. “The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else”[1]. According to this central axiom, the non-aggression principle, is the primary determinant of libertarian ethics and as a result a significant constraint on the extent to which any system of governance can control or dictate the actions of the individual.

Continue reading

The New Normal

A common refrain for developing post-coronavirus discourses is the idea of the “new normal”. This has become a mantra of both anti-authoritarian sceptics and conspiracy theorists who see the expansion and grounding of state power during the pandemic as indicative of an authoritarian turn as the surveillance state becomes ubiquitous. However, it has also become an epithet amongst the forces many in the former group see as constructing this post-COVID dystopia, particularly the WEF and their Great Reset project.

Continue reading

Postcapitalism as Indeterminate Multiplicity

Postcapitalism presents a juxtaposition of dynamics, presenting both an evolutionary and revolutionary system of transition to the next stage of economic development. Paul Mason sees postcapitalism in the interstices of information technology and production techniques within globalised supply lines and just-in-time systems. In the same way that capitalism is a “complex, adaptive system”[1] that integrates and externalises differential technologies and production/consumption techniques and cultures, postcapitalism will exploit these externalities and reroute dynamics, developing an alternate complex adaptive system focused around axioms of abundant information and collaborative production.

Continue reading

Splintered War Machines

Statification, in Foucauldian terms, is the production of regimes and modes of governance conferred directly through coercive and narrativistic means. The state, rather than being a monolithic structure produced through a proscribed centre, is a series of “incessant transactions”[1] that modify and destroy alternative social relations and agential structures, developing into a centripetal force that coalesces around a state-form ideological structure. The state is the representation of these transactions, the underlying unit of account that links them together, developing a semi-coherent narrative. In concrete terms, the state expanded as a primary social form through primitive accumulation and the organisation of warfare.

Continue reading

Electric Liminality

“Under the Hum, pylons were transformed. We looked up and saw sacred geometry. We looked up and saw holy angles”[1]. The electric flow of the landscape permeates everything as a contiguous energy, scything through land from substation to generating station along the grid. “Electric leys” express an interconnection with older energies and animistic beliefs – “the belief that natural materials/landscapes – water, wood, soil stone etc, were animated and imbued with the spirits of ancestral forebears”[2]. Emerson conceived these relations as an autonomous function of nature, both within and beyond human understanding as through the over-soul. “Of this pure nature every man is at some time sensible. Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtile. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us”[3]. It is interpretable as an immaterial energy, imbued with emotional and theological spectres that take it beyond a simple dialogue of conceptualisation. Animistic energies are classifiable only by the linguistic markers and meanings put upon them. Whether thought of through its components or in the wider abstraction of “nature”, it goes beyond the dialogic into the intuitive, conceived through feeling at its basest levels as the “independency of those limitations”[4] are met.

Continue reading