Cosmotarians, Paleotarians, & Philip Bobbitt

As I’ve said before on the blog, I’m a huge fan of Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles [SoA] (not so much of his new book Terror and Consent). In SoA Bobbitt comes up with a number of paradigms of the Western state–at the nexus of political, military, economic, legal praxis.

The chronology goes Princely States–>Kingly States–>State-Nations–>Nation-States–>Market State.

On the state-nation:

In the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, kingly states that survived developed into state-nations. Nations are societies (older than civilization), and state-nations are states that provide its people” civil and political rights of popular sovereignty.” Britain was one such state-nation. The French Revolution transformed France from a kingly state to a state-nation. A state-nation was a state that was mobilized as a nation. It was “a national, ethnocultural group.” The state-nation did not take direction from common people – in other words, the nation. “The state-nation, writes Bobbitt, “was not responsible to the nation; rather it was responsible for the nation.” But the state-nation trusts the common people enough to arm them. It was the state-nation that brought about the great military conscriptions – which Napoleon exploited.

Then the nation-state which by the end of the WWII was the Welfare Nation-State.

And now we are headed into the era of The Market State argues Bobbitt. A summary:

Today, under the emerging market state, the state finds its legitimacy in fostering the free enterprise and free markets necessary to increase the aggregate wealth of the citizenry, in continuing to maximize opportunities for individual advancement, in encouraging the growth of public-private partnerships, and in devolving the welfare state.

I’ve been thinking of this notion relative to the various strands of libertarianism that have popped their head up either during the Republican nomination or via the intertubules.

With someone like Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell school of libertarianism (i.e. paleotarianism) you seek a devolution of the nation-state back to state-nation status. Paul thinks the Civil War could have been avoided by the buying up of all the slaves. Wants to return to the gold standard (early nation-state construct), undo the liberal international order built up in the Welfare state domestically and the multilaterals internationally (stop funding the UN, get out of NATO, etc.). Plus devolution to militias. The government would be responsible for the state but not the nation.

With the libertarian(ish)–if they still are at all–or at least anti-welfare state crew on the Right (original neocons, National Review) you have a strange scenario whereby they accept the entire national security appartus and national security state that is a hallmark of the nation-state, as well as the nationhood status based on culture and traditional morality (Pat Buchanan-cons, anti-immigration right, social cons) and yet want to argue that the liberal welfare state/entitlement arm of the nation-state construct is invalid. Which is problematic given that the technology that helped shape the national security state comes from the Welfare State.

On the left, you can have the same basic mistake in the reverse–undo the national security state while keeping/expanding the welfare state. But the two are too closely linked to be so de-coupled.

On the other hand are the cosmotarians (e.g. Kerry Howley, Will Wilkinson & Crew). The cosmotarians really represent I believe a full fledged push into and for The Market State. Undo/vastly limit the national security state, the welfare state, not typically concerned about nation-hood identity or status. They argue for the right of unfettered movement of labor across all boundaries (end of nation-state border conception). But notice it’s not a return to state-nation status. Cosmotarians are not generally big fans of Ron Paul–e.g. Paul’s state-nation position on abortion. Or his build a fence immigration stance. [Though they can agree I guess on decriminalizing drugs :)].

Unfortunately (I think??) for the cosmotarian crowd, The Market State they advocate for automatically comes with The National Surveillance State, Private Military Companies, and Virtual States of Trans-national Terror & Criminality.  I’m imagining somehow the pushback against that reality is going to create forms of government expansion.  Or at least loss of certain kinds of liberties just as other kinds are being born.  In The Market State that is.


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