republican security thinking for the republic
Deeper minds than mine are taking on the imperialism question around the b’sphere–Freddie provides not only a deft human touch to the question but also all the links you’ll need on the subject.
This is not a criticism of the writers involved (Millman, Poulos, Larison)–rather it’s my lack of processing capacity on this one–but as I discussed in my Great Powers reviews, the notion of these discussions taking place minus a corresponding technological-economic discussion I find too abstract. Again all players make some heavy duty philosophical points, worth reading. So I would like to add these thoughts more as another point of view into the mix than one that takes sides or trump the others.
e.g. A (the core?) question in this debate is whether a republic can survive the expansion of itself domestically and/or internationally.
This question brings to mind my other favorite foreign policy text Bounding Power by Daniel Deudney. [The conversation comes somewhat full circle as I had written a review of that book that James P. was going to edit for Culture11 before its demise]. A very positive review of the work by John Ikenberry here.
Deudney refers to himself as a liberal (i.e. non-Marxist) historical materialist. That puts him in a very similar trajectory to a Barnett, though Deudney puts more emphasis on government and its philosophical platforms/commitments. In Deudney’s understanding there are two fundamental questions (“problematiques”): the question of violence/security and the question of scope (not necessarily size) of government.
He then creates a grid based on these two questions. States/entities that can not control violence become anarchic. A number of states pass this threshold moving onto the second question: how will the government be formed that will prevent said violence.
Deudney says basically one of two options to this second question: hierarchical (i.e. authoritarian, imperial) and republican (small ‘r’).
DD then correlates eras of technological history across the grid which creates levels/layers of this twofold phenomena. [I’m not doing him justice, it’s a totally brilliant work].
e.g. Continental sized government that ends internal anarchic violence but is hierarchical and not republican think Napoleonic Europe versus the republican form of England. [Though to be fair, England has its own hierarchical governance abroad and arguably the US since WWII has as well].
The emergent levels refer to the reach/scope of power than can be exercised. Bounding Power as a title refers to his dual sense of the move of history and his political aim: Power is bounding across the planet on one hand. On the other, we seek to bound power as in bind it (the republican option at any level of scope). The ability of the power to be bounding is of course in large (though not total) part a technological question.
The levels of republics are basically city-state (Greek polis), nation-state (England), continental (US and EU?), and then maybe global? Each is a specific governmental response to/with the arising of chanigng material-technological conditions (particularly again scope of violence and reach).
In fairness to the anti-Federalist position something is always lost at each bounding leap. Even more republican form at one unit-level (in Deudney’s terminology) to republicanism at another (larger scale) unit level–e.g. from national to continental in the case of the anti-Federalists. On the other hand something too is gained I think (generally a great reduction in violence)–point Federalists.
e.g. The ancient city-states often had to be quite militaristic and promote a martial civic value set (e.g. Sparta) because they were so vulnerable to outside attack. This is lost on classical fetishists like Victor Davis Hanson who promote the martial virtues without any understanding of why they existed in the first place. I mean I think it’s a good thing that I wasn’t taken from my mother at 6 (that is if I wasn’t deemed unfit and thrown down a well during infancy), had to hunt wolves in the snow, have a ludicrous set of six pack abs, and speak with a Scottish accent (ok, maybe the latter two would be alright).
Deudney in other words is not a determinist–he is a liberal not a “scientific” materialist. The determination part comes from the technological realities. Republics are inherently vulnerable to imperial projection upon them. Breaking up the US into smaller parts would likely in Deudney’s understanding lead to anarchic violence cross-state to state (see Season 2 of Jericho for this possibility). You can have internal peace–either through hierarchy or through a republic–and yet exist in an anarchic global or international system.
The US Continental Republic (I think) brought a general realm of safety at a continental level (ending potential anarchic violence between states in a confederated/multi-country on one continent system). Wilson’s later “making the world safe for democracy” is rather then understood as “making the world safe for the democracies [read: republics] already existing”. That is attempting to decrease the anarchy of the international system so that the republics are not threatened to the point that they must become more like empires-hierarchical systems in order to defend themselves, thereby losing the republic from within.
As an important sidenote: Deudney brilliantly argues that the foreign policy schools of Realism and Liberal Internationalism are both bastardized step-children of this prior republican US security theory. Realism tends only to focus on the anarchic international state to state system. While Liberal Internationalism confuses greater connection economically, technologically for the greater (and sometimes inevitable) push of freedom. Lib. Int’lism thereby elides the distinction between hierarchic and republican forms of government in the globalized world. Neoconservatism we could say attempts to remedy that Liberal Internationalist gap, but does so at the cost of A)economic literacy (the helpful part of Lib. Int’lism) B)the consequences regionally (the helpful part of Realism) and C)Deudney’s analysis which shows that the world has largely always been and will forever continue to be non-republican in format. Not to mention D)mistaking democratic process for being a republic.
Libertarianism he says has largely gone out of the foreign policy debate because it has forgotten the first right/freedom is freedom from violence (survival in Maslowian terms). By focusing on higher needs further up the chain (e.g. esteem, actualization) it has become a political philosophy that is largely internal to a country like the US where on a large scale those earlier needs have been met. [As a sidenote: this debate is beginning to bring libertarians back into this discussion which is a very good thing in my mind].
So to get back to the imperial question as being discussed by the others it strikes me that when the question of can a republic survive is discussed minus this kind of materialist analysis (at least as a part of the conversation) it floats off into a form of political idealism. But I might be showing my colors of being too materialist here as well.
In some ways I argue the technological reach has moved out beyond the governmental depth of response, creating a vertical miss match in terms of governance side and the materiality side with the latter out ahead of the former.
There seems to me only a few (reasonably) possible ways of dealing with that reality.**
1) The Barnettian approach which would create a larger political alliance across the globe to match the economic connections. Domestic hierarchies or anarchies (i.e. failed states) are then integrated into that system through various means (including but not limited to intervention/nation-building efforts).
Deudney mentions the potential of a global republic since we now have global reach technology, but then doesn’t really follow up with it, so I’m unclear if that is his long term view or not (my lone criticism of the book). If something like that is the case, then this Barenttian view might work as an interim solution.
2) Even if there could be a return to a local republican-civic humanism communitarianism (paleo, crunchy con, liberal or otherwise) it too would require the worldwide technological-economic platform. See John Robb and his work on Resilient Communities for this theory laid out.
If not something like 1 or 2 then likely:
3)Increased anarchy across the international system. In Deudney’s terms we live not in a global village but a global debris mat and in this case the mat would become further destroyed. What is left in that metaphor is the attempt to cobble together any flotsam and jetsam from the sea of omni-violence (his term) to make something of a raft. The state is not a ship he says. We need Raftcraft not Statecraft (i.e. shipcraft).
In this situtation the US tries to keep together whatever it can, mostly ad hoc alliances, and in the worse case scenario in which another attack(s) occurs then the slide towards authoritarianism grows stronger.
My sense is mostly we have to ask here what is really possible and (from Deudney) how to maintain as best as possible republicanism. The omni-violence abroad does impinge upon domestic republicanism (what I take to a point from Noah’s post)–not being prepared to deal with it has lead to over-reaction in the form of Torture, broad surveillance, etc. The furthering of imperial agendas abroad does weaken the republican foundations at home (Daniel’s point). But the two don’t necessarily grow in size simultaneously (James’ point). Plus of course never to forget the real human cost (Freddie’s point).
And again, my point is that this conversation has to seriously take into account technology and economics in a globalized age.
**[An unreasonable (imo) way to (dis)solve this dilemma would be ludditism: to bring the material levels back down (vertically) to the same level as the earlier governmental reach].