Reflections on Revolution in Lebanon, Part 4.
A finished, but still incomplete, Moldbugian analysis of power…
*To read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, click here, here, and here.
The great danger for the coming middle of our century lies in this, that we are prolonging the life of that which we could overthrow. It is a generation of semi-solutions and transitions. But as long as this is possible, the Revolution is not at an end. The Caesarism of the future will not persuade, it will conquer by force of arms.
Dear friends, rejoice!
Finally, there is hope beyond the horizon! Saad "The Serpent of Solidere" Hariri has been vanquished. Weighed down and exhausted by the mighty efforts of bureaucracy, the beast has given up.
The Great Hero we've all been waiting for has arrived to take his place. His mission, guiding us to the Promised Land, is bold and ambitious! Truly, he has the gods on his side. Anything is possible.
Who is this Hero? Who do we owe to vanquishing the spawn of Satan? I have heard in the papers that his name is...Najib Mikati.
Sarcasm aside, dear reader. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Saad Hariri was a Sunni Muslim billionaire. Najib Mikati is a Sunni Muslim billionaire.
Saad Hariri was a three-term former Prime Minister. Najib Mikati is now a three-term current Prime Minister.
Mikati styles himself a technocrat. Hariri pretends to style himself a technocrat (unconvincingly).
Mikati knows how to hide his billions. Hariri tries to hide his billions.
But look at the lira! Look at the fuel imports! Things are looking up. Truly this man is on the side of the angels.
The Rule of One:
If you've been around the fringes of rightwing—or even libertarian—thought for the past few years, none of these arguments will seem new to you. People far more intelligent than I have argued the supremacy of Autocracy over both Oligarchy and Democracy for centuries. See here, here, and here.
None of these ideas are new. But still, I will endeavor to give you a somewhat brief exploration of the topic. Why is Autocracy better than its two alternatives?
Because Autocracy is a monopoly on politics.
I feel the push back stirring within you. Monopolies are evil! Inefficient. Exploitative. Corrupt! Why would I advocate such a thing?
Because, dear reader, go back to Part 1 of this series. Our tiny strip of the Mediterranean is in no way a monopoly. Look plainly at what's in front of you. This is an oligarchy. An oligarchy of sectarian elites. There is arguably more than one state already in the same country! Aoun-istan (cough cough, Batroun), Nasrallah-stan (Dahiyeh), and Hariri-stan (Saida).
Is there so great a difference between what we have now and the medievals? Why do we call each of those territories a fiefdom then?
You are already living under a decentralized political system. The fact you have to drive two hours to stamp a passport in Beirut does not negate the reality that you live under a Lord, who is eager to give you patronage and cut the red tape in exchange for loyalty.
The monopoly fallacy here is to believe that the market for power follows the same rules as the market for goods and services. It does not.
The market for power follows a simple metric. The ability to make X person, do Y action. There is no tool under the sun off the table. Physical force, violence, coercion, persuasion, bribery, deception, inspiration.
None of these are inherently illegitimate, except maybe on moral precepts. And morality is clearly another tool at the disposal of power to get X to perform Y (stop killing grandma, bigot. Wear a mask!).
Power, always and everywhere, is a zero-sum game of clear winners and clear losers. Obviously, we are not dealing with a free market here.
The logic of power inherently gravitates it's leaders to use each of these tools to varying degrees. Which is why every government on earth follows this pattern. And why every ordered power structure will by necessity of self-preservation resort to the same tactics, be it democratic, fascist, or libertarian.
Given this case, what is the cause of so much dysfunction? Why does nothing work in Lebanon? I posit the reason to be: political partisanship—e.g. group politics.
To quote a famous partisan,
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.
The logic of partisanship, just as with war—because war is always politics by other means and vice versa—gravitates toward the defeat and disarmament of all other partisans.
At every level of bureaucracy, there is war. The formal government itself is not even a monopoly, as post-civil war, each political position in the government and civil service is distributed by religious sect. Each government employee is an agent (or a soldier) appointed there for the express purpose of serving the needs of his Patron on the battlefield of bureaucracy.
However dear reader, again return to Part 1, the informal government is functioning quite well.
From Part 1:
The Party of God (Hezbollah) is the most obvious example of one of these political NGO’s.
The Party of God has charity organizations. They have construction firms. They have day care and social welfare centers. None of these are a formal part of the government. But they are organizations that provide much-needed services in exchange for party loyalty and votes. And so, they are the real government of Lebanon, or what I call the Parallel State.
The uncomfortable truth, dear reader, is that the secret desire of every NGO — whether they are a Civil or Political group — is to either write the public policy and laws, or better yet become a formal government department. These organizations remain informal because that is the only way they remain effective. But once they are a part of the government then they are secure in their existence and have direct access to power.
What a pleasure it must be, to live under the political monopoly of Gebran Bassil. I hear from many sources Batroun is still popping like it's 2019!
Life, comparatively speaking, ain't so bad in Aoun-istan and Nasrallah-stan. After all, dear reader, every lord is the king of his own manor.
The Superior Mode:
And so, dear reader, if we must have a Lord on this earthly plain, why have more than one?
But wait, why would this be any better? Why wouldn't a single Autocrat be just as partisan?
Because, dear reader, to be Supreme Ruler is not to be the master of the Left or Right, or the commander of Christians or Muslims. To be Power is to be the one ring to rule them all.
"L'État, c'est moi." — Louis XIV de France.
Wherever Louis walked, stood France. Whoever spoke to Louis spoke to France. He was France, the state given flesh and a singular mind, which could never be divided against itself. A King is still king, regardless of his subject’s class, religion, or sex. They are all subjects. Were the Christians prevented from practicing their faith under the Sultan of Rum, or the later Ottoman Empire, before the rise of Turkish Nationalism? Why did millions of Christians in Lebanon, Armenia, and Eastern Europe pledge loyalty to the Islamic Caliph/Sultan every year? Because the only concern for power is loyalty. All else is tertiary.
As long as Michel Aoun remains a partisan, he can never be a king. And no one respects a partisan.
This, dear reader, must be our goal. To find the man above petty politics and thrust the state onto him, for the good of all people under its wings.
To quote a based German man,
"The Caesarism of the future will not persuade, it will conquer by force of arms.
Only when all this has become self-evident — when we feel majorities to be a pretext, and despise them; when someone arises who is able to look down upon the mass, on party in every sense of the word, and on all programs and ideologies — only then will the Revolution have been overcome. Even in Fascism there exists the Gracchan fact of two fronts — on the left the lower-class town population and on the right the nation graded up from peasantry to ruling classes — but the fact is kept under by the Napoleonic vigour of one individual. This polarity is not, and cannot be, liquidated, and it will emerge again, the moment when this iron hand leaves the helm, in the bitter struggles of his Diadochi…
The Caesarism of the future fights solely for power, for empire, and against every description of party.
German man also states,
The perfection of Caesarism is dictatorship — not the dictatorship of a party, but that of one man against all parties, and, most of all, above his own. Every revolutionary movement reaches its victory with a vanguard of praetorians — who are henceforth of no more use, but merely dangerous. The real master is known by the manner in which he dismisses them, ruthlessly and without thanks, intent only on his goal, to reach which he must first pick his men — and this he knows how to do. The French Revolution ran contrary to this in the beginning: no one had the power, everyone wanted it; everyone commanded, no one obeyed."
Just imagine, dear reader. You are in no way, shape, or form a part of the state or a political party.
Your entire life is free from politics. You have no power. You don't have to be informed. You are in no position to exert influence on government policy. What does your life look like?
It begins to look like anything you want it to be... In this state of total freedom, there are only two exceptions: don't break the law of the country you reside in and don't produce antigovernment propaganda (which should probably be a law in itself). To produce antigovernment propaganda is to challenge the ruling monopoly on politics, and to place yourself as a partisan, in a struggle with a competing faction. You are creating an enemy group, and thus everyone and everything becomes political once more.
The state will cease to care about you only if you have literally no potential to influence the state. The state won't care what you think. It will barely care what you write or say. The state can sleep easy in its existence, without the threat of its overthrow.
Are you not tired of your oppression, dear reader? Do you, especially those of the middle class, wish to continue pursuing an economically productive, socially stable culture and existence? Let us return to Part 3 for why this is out of your reach.
The middle class in Lebanon, politically speaking, is one of the most disloyal elements of the system. There is a reason why most Socialists, Libertarians, and Liberals—across all countries—are historically middle class. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and engineers have always been a politically disconnected bunch. Because they have economic options outside the oligarchical Patron-Client structure.
First, because the middle class, broadly speaking, do not act as an organized collective. They have no reason to, given their economic options. Politically, they are out for themselves and make unreliable Clients at best. They give terrible fellatio, politically speaking.
Second, the nature of their training and economic potential mean that, within a few years of graduating university, half of them will leave the country anyway. There is no need for the Oligarchs to service them. And so, the political structure of Lebanon represents the most common historical structure of class conflict, the High-Low vs. Middle.
Being the most economically productive group (excluding teachers), the middle class has no Patron to protect them. And so the natural incentive of this structure is to squeeze them harder from both sides. Make business impossible. Write more regulations. Demand some protection money, mafia-style. Give a Client-bureaucrat $100 to grease the wheels and get that paperwork finished.
They get fucked, essentially.
This is why it remains impossible. The High-Low vs. Middle is essentially the political equivalent of encirclement. To be surrounded and pressured in a two-front war over power. The middle class cannot win power because, as a broad non-sectarian category, it has no specific patron to rely upon for protection. There is no Oligarch in Lebanon that benefits from the satisfaction of middle class desires. A Patron will always preference a class who swears fealty over a class who's sole product is money.
Enter, the political game changer, the Universal Patron, Caesar.
The High-Low vs Middle is elevated one step up. The King-Working Class vs the Lords. And since the King is only ever one man, he needs a wide, well-funded base of political support to tackle the aristocracy. The history of Europe after the Black Death till the emergence of democracy in the 19th century is the story of power and privileges being transferred toward the monarchy and away from the aristocracy.
Even after all that's been said, I understand why many are hesitant to this. I clearly lay out a case for the centralization of power. Of a strongman removing the privileges of a local aristocracy. Let me remind you of why we are here. Oligarchy is the most stable form of government. The most difficult to remove. If it is not removed then it will continue by process of inertia down the road to collapse.
The power structure and economy are not separate. The power structure and the society are not separate. If you wish to open up the economy, or reestablish healthy social relations between competing sects, then your goal is to change the power structure. The rest, as they say, can take care of itself.
The Next Caesar:
Now then, if you've followed me this far and are at least somewhat convinced on the case for autocracy, this is where we really go off the deep end.
After all the philosophizing is done, there are only two questions that matter. How do we get our Caesar? And what is our Caesar to do?
None of what I'm about to tell you is going to happen. It's just one crackpot vision among the countless other crackpot visions on the Internet. And for the sake of personal safety, I must disclaim that the following outline is a theoretical exploration. A strategy, you might say, for taking over a terrain in Minecraft, or Roma conquering neighboring Capua in Rome Total War II. Obviously this blog is in no way responsible for the behavior of its readers.
Strategy For the Circulation of Power in an Eastern Mediterranean (Minecraft) State:
1) The Change
A model for legitimate democratic regime change has already been tested in both the most famous countries of the Arab Spring—Egypt and Tunisia. In the case of Tunisia, their post-revolution President suspended the Constitution, dissolved Parliament, and began to rule by executive order. Excellent!
We should basically just copy the Egyptian example. And arrest all the American and European NGO's just to be safe.
Once a sufficient number of signatures have been collected, the democratic pretext has been set, giving the military legitimacy to act against the Oligarchy and makes the population complicit in this action, removing the incentive for them to resist.
2) The Take Over
In the most straightforward sense, the greatest danger to this course of action is the collapse of the army.
This is critical and has happened, not once, but nearly three times in Lebanese history. Nearly so in 1958 and twice during the civil war, in 1976 and 1984.
Avoiding this scenario requires, a very high ranking officer at its head, a very small tight-knit unit, and the participants of numerous sects in said unit.
Once this core unit is in place, it coordinates with more sympathetic units to surround the homes of X oligarchs . Mass media must be seized and broadcast to inform the population of how they should behave and interpret the situation. All counter-signaling is an operational threat at this stage in the process.
3) The Compromise
Peaceful negotiation begin with the X oligarchs. A general amnesty is declared. No one in the military or civil service is punished for being a client. The oligarchs can leave with their billions. Some property is confiscated but never the family home or bank account. The X oligarch himself must be exiled. A la Putin style.
Immediate shut down and replacement of institutions. Selling of government monopolies. Public law and order declared. Migrants and refugees be relocated.
Remove the peg. Deflation through stability and money shredding. Let the dollars circulate. Banks forced to consolidate, merge, or declare bankruptcy.
5) The Foreign Peace
The Party of Gxd is sticky. The State can accept no rival to its monopoly on force. Go over their heads. Secret peace deal with Israel, removing the Party of Gxd's principal right to exist. Get Russian and Chinese support to pressure Iran and Syria. Grant Russia a 51% stake to our oil rights and revenue. Throw in the offer of a Russian naval base in Saida, the Russians love them warm-water bases. Give China a 51% stake in the Port of Beirut for their Belt & Road initiative. This is all fundamentally necessary for a smaller power to attract the support of a larger power, in order to protect their interests from regional hegemons.
6) The Dream
A military family establishes a hereditary monarchy, coming from a single sect but who is chiefly responsible for all sects, respecting freedom of religion and private property in his dominion (a la Hapsburg Austria).
The End, dear reader…for now.