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Leviathans and their Enemy - Part 1
Part 1 - "Leviathan and its Enemies" by Samuel T Francis
Sam Francis detailed the who, what, when, where, and why of our modern neoliberal Managerial State in his posthumously published work Leviathan and its Enemies; but there exists another beast which rules in our modern material age, a twin to Leviathan — a beast within.
This article will be published in three parts.
First, I will provide you, dear reader, with a summary of Sam Francis’s great work — a theory of deep research and penetrating thought that every westerner should understand.
Second, I will identify a second great beast, which is perhaps the root cause of the first, understand what gives it its power, just as Francis helped us understand what gave Leviathan its power.
Third, I will define the who, what, how, and why of opposition to these twin beasts.
Leviathan and its Enemies, by Samuel T. Francis
Leviathan is perhaps the most important and overlooked book on political theory written in the last several decades. It ought to be considered by the Right what the Communist Manifesto is to the Left: a political theory of everything, and a roadmap.
Samuel T. Francis was a right-wing columnist and author who died in 2005. Leviathan was published in 2016 after the draft was posthumously discovered, “only after considerable reflection and consultation with others, including Sam’s family.” Sam intended it to be a “reformulation” and “updating” of James Burnham’s theory of the managerial revolution.
Leviathan is long — nearly 800 pages — and it sometimes reads like an instruction manual, or a college textbook; and so it is inaccessible to most. In fact, the people who need to hear its message the most — those who Francis calls “mid-American radicals” (the “Enemies” referred to in the title) — are the ones least likely to receive it, due to its encyclopedic nature.
Fear not, gentle reader, for I have condensed the wisdom for you:
In Summary: the industrial revolution, great depression, world wars, and New Deal, together marked a 50-year revolution in the United States of America from an Old Order based on property ownership, rule of law, and local politics, to a New Order based on the preferences of a technocratic elite, concentrated in an Imperial Executive Agency of the Federal Government. This transition, this Managerial Revolution, fundamentally changed the nature of politics, economics, culture, and life in the west, forever.
Francis provides painstaking detail on how and why these things all came to pass, and what it means for us today…
The Bourgeois Old Order
When one reads the word “Bourgeois” one thinks of greedy capitalists, when really they should be thought of more as small business owners, ranchers and farmers, family enterprises — kulaks, perhaps. They held power in the Old Order, pre-20th century.
Think of Bourgeois like the Duttons of Yellowstone: Family owned and operated enterprise. Tangible property ownership. Strong but local political control. Traditional values, rooted in family & community. Hunted by Modernity. On the other side of the coin, are plantation owners, who kept their proletariat in sheds. The Old Order was not perfect for everyone, no.
It is almost impossible for modern generations to conceive of this Order as the natural and predominant structure of society, and yet this is how society was organized for hundreds or even thousands of years. Remnants of this Order still exist (family-owned entrepreneurial firms) but they exist inside a larger structure (the new order of Managerial Elites). Political power has been Federalized, Bourgeois influence neutered, entrepreneurial firms are nearing extinction.
Marx predicted a communist revolution. Francis explains how that revolution unfolded in the 1900s: dematerialization of property, mass organizations, specialized labor, and a class of managers dedicated to redistribution of private and state resources. The Managerial Revolution.
The Managerial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, and World Wars 1 and 2 together marked a 50-year death of the Bourgeois Order, and birth of the Managerial State. The New Managerial State was necessary to meet the challenges of the times — population growth, urbanization, and industrialization bred problems which the Old Order was incapable of solving (slums, poverty, crime, pollution, etc). The nature of War even changed from battle lines to assembly lines, from guns to bombs, from face-to-face combat to tanks and submarines. These wars required taxation, allocation of resources en masse, industrial production, and coordination all on a scale never before seen in history. Industry and War together birthed a class of professional managers out of necessity.
These managers have never let go of their new-found power. In fact, they’ve been working tirelessly ever since to sink their fangs into the old structure and suck power into themselves, like vampires.
Problems arise (eg poverty), Managers in federal government offer solutions (eg welfare), and the solutions themselves create new problems (eg welfare traps), which leads Managers to offer new solutions, ad infinitum. There is never a shortage of problems or solutions, and so, conveniently for the Managers, the need for Managers only ever expands. We live in an age of endless societal experimentation, except there is not any control group, and the Experimenter works with full impunity and endless hunger for more experimentation. The result is what you feel now — a sense that everything is spinning out of control, and a vision of a federal power and corruption growing at unchecked speeds. But this is the very nature of the beast.
The Managerial State is comprised of 1) Mass Corporations 2) Mass Government and 3) Mass Organizations of Culture (Universities) and Communication (Media). Each head of the Leviathan serves a unique purpose, but their goals and incentives are the same. Let’s be very clear about something now: Mass Organizations and a Managerial Class had rarely ever existed in history. Global Corporations were uncommon and subject to Bourgeois controls. By 1950, they were the new normal. It was a radical shift in societal structure, over only two generations. The People voted for the class of professional managers, and willingly worked for them.
Mass State and Mass Corporations depend on the legitimacy provided by Mass Media’s function of cultural homogenization: spreading a cosmopolitan ideology that regards the social and cultural traditions of the bourgeois order backward, artificial, and repressive.
Mass Organizations always seek and find reasons to become more Massive. Black holes of social and political power. This benefits the Manager, as social capital (status and rank) eclipsed physical capital as political currency.
“The Law” itself changed in this revolution. America stopped using laws as a code of conduct and custom, and instead started using them as devices to satisfy the preferences of managerial elite. Traditional formulas (rule of law, just & uniform relationships among citizens) undermined the power of the new elite, which is why they showed no regard for them, and in fact degraded them. “Law is concerned with rights. Administration is concerned with results.”
Bourgeois ceded local control to national Bureaucrats, who not only replaced a reliance on The Law with reliance on Procedure and Administration; they also used every problem (amplified by Mass Media) to justify the expansion of their influence, per their Ideology. Political Ideology offers explanations of reality and justification for elite grip on power while claiming to be philosophic and scientific. The ideologies of Hard managerial regimes (Nazism, Leninism) failed. The ideology of Soft managerial regimes prevails today. This Soft Managerial Ideology is known as Liberalism. Its goal is the global amelioration of oppression and inequity thru hedonism and cosmopolitanism, with the fusion of State and Economy, and by way of Imperial Presidents. The Managerial State evolved to exploit gender, race, and class, highlighting its Ideology as salvation to end oppression; and it consolidated power into the executive branch through successive Presidential administrations.
The Managerial State grew even internationally under the pretense of “National Interests”, a Global Economy, and “Democratization” of the Third World. Control of narcotics, crime, terrorism; the protection of the environment; the regulation of “the global economy”; control of nuclear arms; use of multinational sanctions against states that reject the global regime and its mandates; are all pretenses for the expansion of Liberal Ideology, a “New World Order” of President Bush’s rhetoric. This Global outlook enables global elite to maintain power in Mass Democracy by allying with new immigrant underclasses. While independent nation-states may persist as formal entities, the merging of their managerial elites into a global integrated unit means that Western nation-states will cease to exist as meaningful objects and the majority of their historic population groups will increasingly endure the traumatizing and potentially radicalizing experiences of social destruction, national fragmentation, and violent ethnic conflict.
Thus did the Managerial State grow into a Leviathan, insatiable for power as it is incapable of retreat.
The Right reclaimed political power in the 1980s, but on the terms of the New Order. Goldwater’s emphatic defeat marked the end of political Resistance, and the Right ceded that the Managerial State is here to stay. Neoconservatism is but a branch of Liberalism. Modern Right-wing political parties virtue-signal their desire to return to Bourgeois Order, but they never make progress towards it, because they cannot. The Leviathan does not return what it takes. But that does not make Resistance futile …
The Resistance: The Middle American Radical
Francis identified “Middle American Radicals” as Leviathan’s enemies. Those who: still hold some Bourgeois values (physical property, local community autonomy); were excluded from the New Order’s tent; felt threatened by Globalism and property tax policy. This American rightfully sees trade deals, immigration, and Federalization-of-everything as threats to their interests. They are the political exiles.
While there is no real prospect for the end of the soft regime until manipulative functions are impaired by economic depression, war, or forcible insurrection, it is inherently fragile. Its need for social destruction creates forces that it cannot effectively control. If the material functions performed by the regime were to fail, post-bourgeois alienation could evolve a revolutionary consciousness and organize into a political movement that the regime is incapable of containing, disciplining, or manipulating, which could lead to the destruction of the soft regime. “Indeed, the entire structure and composition of the soft managerial elite compel it to pursue strategies of dominance that encourage the fragmentation and eventual destruction or extinction of the society it rules.” In this respect, the soft elite appears to be virtually unique in human history
Francis did appear optimistic about the MAR prospects and political hopes, which rested on taking reigns of the Leviathan for the benefit of the Mid-American Radical class by political movements such as McCarthyism or Trumpism — economic populism, cultural conservatism, political Caesarism.
While there was reason for optimism for the movement’s political expression, it never achieved self-consciousness as an “us” against “them” during Francis’s lifetime, and even in the 13 years after his death, mass immigration and ballot harvesting have threatened the probability that MARs can cement themselves even as sub-elites. The resistance activists had little or no interest—or skill—in building nationwide coalitions. Feminist critic Sally Robinson observed that historic American “rugged individualism” was a barrier to unified political action by Mid American Radicals:
The ideal of masculinity prized most by the Middle American Radicals makes it difficult for them to mobilize into a group united against individuality and for racial solidarity.
Leviathan presents a bold line running parallel with Ted Kaczynski’s Industrial Society and its Future: the very nature of human civilization changed in the early 20th century with automation, urbanization, and atomization of human economic and cultural experience. Like atoms form into cells, and cells form into organs, and organisms form into tribes, life-on-earth took the next logical step in its hierarchical evolution when cities and states re-organized into a larger structure — a global techno-industrial economy — with the dawn of Industry.
And, yes, this has been a disaster for the human race.
How so? We have cheap and easy access to internet. We have central heating and air. We get fuel efficient cars and… great restaurants! Medical care is better than ever (just don’t look at the price tag).
You, dear reader, are smarter than that. You know that Leviathan — this Global Techno-Industrial Civilization, this Managerial State — is in fact the gravest threat imaginable.
But can you put your finger on why?
Next … Part 2 - The Twin Leviathan …