I occasionally say on Twitter that conservatives should stop giving to the Republican Party and use the money to build autonomous parallel communities. What does that look like? Let's sketch it out.
My regular readers will know that I argue several things at once in regard to the current moment. One is that the state is the enemy. By “the state” I mean that collection of entities that employs scientific managerial techniques towards the goal of human progress in the areas of science, technology, economics, politics, law, and social engineering. I also argue that bringing down the state in all of its forms, if it can be done, will mean the end of modernity, its benefits and, its evils. The human cost of that would be high, in the millions or billions must die category. Also, I have argued that in the process of picking and combatting an enemy, that the enemy will come to define you. This chain of thinking leads me to the conclusion that we need to simply do our own thing, do the right thing. That implies founding, building and living within a parallel community, a parallel polity. What would this look like? I have been giving this a lot of thought as of late and want to try to sketch out a picture for you of what that might look like. Something to discuss. Not a manifesto. Certainly not a plan. But a picture, a vision. Something we can hopefully start to see with our minds eye, our spirits. Something to pray over.
In my recent piece on truth, narrative and propaganda, I made the argument that what we should be trying to create in a parallel polity is “space,” the space to determine our own affairs, our own future, to forge bonds and become a people, a people centered around our shared faith in Christ. People ask me, which denomination? Which faith tradition will take the lead? I have made the argument on Twitter (do follow me @_kruptos) that the divisions within Western Christianity have come about for two reasons. One is the that we were the only game in town at one point. When one’s faith isn’t threatened from the outside, it is easy to magnify differences. Those differences were also easy to articulate because Western Christianity embraced rationalism, the idea that most, if not all, things can be known and stated with clear concepts. So people began articulating and arguing over those articulations. And splitting over them. Being theologically correct was seen as a virtue high up on the hierarchy of values. We have gotten to a point now where pretty much every argument that can be made has been made and much of it has just simply exhausted itself. This is part of why the Western church wanes today. It poured itself out fighting ever narrower battles. Then when the real enemy showed up at the door, it had given away much of its spiritual heritage and strength, and had embraced the same posture of the enemy: rationalism. It had given away its spiritual defenses for the pursuit of theological correctness. This is a long way of saying that there is an enemy within the gates and it is devouring us. As the threat grows, I believe a renewed embrace of our spiritual heritage will once again draw us into greater union, allowing us to leave the childish squabbles of rationalism behind in the process. Subscribe
This idea of “space,” though, is not something the regime will allow easily. The technocratic managerial state wants to control all things. Progress demands it. The exigencies of technical control demand it. When we say parallel polity what we mean is a separate nation governing its own affairs within the territory controlled and managed by the regime. Why this? Why not set off somewhere and colonize some distant unoccupied place? Well, there really isn’t anywhere to go. And besides, this place is our home. So what we are talking about is carving out colonies for ourselves within the empire, right under its nose. No easy feat these days because they know where you are and generally know what you are up to.
What this means, though, is establishing the grounds for the legitimacy of our own self-rule. There are basically two criteria for this. One is internal, the support of the people. The second is external, that we are recognized by other states as our own self-governing entity, or entities—I envision more of a plurality than a single thing. This means being able to defend one’s self from the regime on one’s own terms. Not using the mechanism of regime power to achieve some sort of sufferance within the larger auspices and protection of the regime, its power, its structures and its laws, but a fully autonomous state with its own governing principles and institutions defended by itself on its own terms using its own power to do so. True legitimacy.
That said, you don’t arrive at true state legitimacy on day one. So how do we get from here to there?
We begin with networking and brainstorming. We keep doing what we are doing now online. Talking. Thinking. Planning. Building connections. We gradually begin to move from laboratory to doing. We raise funds. Like many endeavors that originate in the Christian community, some will give generously—so if you are feeling that the Lord is laying claim to your wallet, your bank account, you make sure you answer that call with a “yes.”—and others will give of their time, skills, efforts and prayers. There is something you can begin doing. Begin surrounding this endeavor in prayer because it will meet opposition. Not just from the regime, but from the “powers and principalities.” We need to hold out the goal, the vision, of a space where we can be who we are and manage our affairs in a way that is in keeping with our fundamental faith commitment.
We begin on the fringes, the margins of our society. A ghetto community. Quiet at first. We keep our heads down. We have to do that because in the beginning we will be dependent upon the rules and the order which the regime maintains. What this means is that we will exist on their sufferance. But we will be working to use the rules of the regime against it. All for the goal of creating space. This space has to be real physical space. Land. Territory. Many will think rural country spaces. But they could very well be urban or suburban spaces. The Christian quarter, or some such. But this physical space should also include our technological networks, means of communicating that cannot be easily shut off or taken from us. There are those working on both of these things right now. We are not starting from scratch.
The key in this is to disentangle ourselves from both the punishments and the rewards of the regime. The punishments is an easy sell. Not being cancelled. Free to worship the way we choose. Not having our children groomed into debauchery in the schools. Knowing that we can make public moral choices without having our businesses and livelihood threatened. Not having the threat of lawfare hanging over our heads. Not worrying about vindictive audits from government tax collection agencies.
These punishments we understand, but why would we need to disentangle ourselves from the rewards of the regime? Well, sometimes the bigger pressure is not so much being cancelled, but that we are passed over for opportunities that might go to those who show greater loyalty to the regime ideology. One of the things that makes the regime so pernicious is the scale of its dominance. But that global scale and reach also allows the accumulation of wealth and power at scale as well. Part of the decision to participate in this project is a recognition that we will be operating at a significant scale disadvantage. This means that we will not be able to offer the same rewards, the same carrot that the regime can offer. You will not likely be able to reach the same heights in terms of wealth and prosperity. Your life will likely be harder, a bit of struggle. But we will have other rewards.Subscribe
One of the things that we have to think about in regards to the rewards and punishments of the regime is the issue of legibility. Part of unplugging from the regime is developing the ability to make ourselves illegible to the regime. If the regime cannot easily read us, it cannot govern us and assert it authority over us. But make no bones about it, the technocratic administrative state wants to register us legible while keeping itself illegible to us. Part of establishing our space is the process of making ourselves as invisible to the state as is possible. No easy feat, because one of the driving principles today of the technological system is to render us increasingly legible by the regime. Big data. Surveillance. Artificial intelligence algorithms and the like.
If we are working towards self-sustaining communities free from the rewards and punishments of the regime, what we will be shooting for is a fair degree of autarky. We seek independence, full self-supporting independence in as many ways as we can manage. The more independent we are, the greater space we create for ourselves. The more space that we have, the more we will be able to determine our own affairs. Most importantly, the more independent we are, the greater the latitude we will have in building on our own value system. A true new foundation.
As an independent community, or more likely as a network, a league of independent communities, city states, we want to establish ourselves enough that we can maintain enough integrity that we can begin to talk about things like trade relationships with what is left of the regime as well as trade relationships with other aligned communities. We are not merely a small community organized around a church, but a true parallel polity in the fullest sense of the word.
I see these communities as predominantly Christian, but they don’t necessarily have to be. But each community would have to be organized around some deep connecting bond. My focus, passion and commitment is to the Christian community. From its very inception, it has always been intentional. While you can be born into the Christian community, it is never something that just happens as a result of kin relationships and attachment to a place. The Christian faith has always been a thing of conversion and discipleship. There is a commitment to Christ build around repentance and faith. Discipleship is the intentional process of enculturation around the binding reality of Jesus Christ. This bond is incarnate in the local community. But this bond transcends all the other things which might otherwise divide us.
Even though the community is Christian, it is not merely a church or a para-church organization. This project desires to build a functioning, healthy state which assumes the role of the kingship of God within society. It works in partnership with the church, each with its own role, to foster a flourishing Christian society, built from the ground up with Christ at its center.
Part of this flourishing and re-ordering is a return more traditional sex roles. Men lead and drive society forward. Women bind it together. That said, I do not envision some form of return to 1950’s housewives whose only role in life is to cook, clean, and make babies. I see a return to an economic scale in which the “household” is the basic organizing unit of society. The household is a family enterprise, a farm, a shop, a small business in which the whole family participates. In such a society the role of the woman is more traditionally female, but is also a much richer and fuller range of activities which contribute to the overall wellbeing and success of the household.
The household might include apprentices and those that help with the household chores who come from other families, but are taken on and become the responsibility of the head of the household, such that it is the head of the household who would find a suitable match for a young member of the house, not their parents (see Peter Laslett, “The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age.”). This does not necessarily mean a return to pre-industrial technology, but rather to an intentional re-shaping of our relationship with technology, especially in regards to scale. We as a society may make things using machines in small shops, but we do not necessarily pursue “growth” as end. Stability is the hallmark of a conservative society. Slow changes that are folded into the life of the community in ways that the community can absorb positively into its collective spirit and memory.
This raises the whole issue of technology. In my thinking one of the central moral tasks of any fledgling parallel polity will be to change our relationship with technology. Presently, the technological system has largely subordinated society to technological ways of thinking and doing. We have given over much of our own personal power as human beings to claim the power that machines and machine thinking have given us. The problem is that once you have bitten into fruit of the knowledge of technique, there is no going back. I have made the comparison that our relationship with technology bears a lot of similarity to human sinfulness. Like God said to Cain, “Technology is at the door and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it.” This really is our task, to subordinate technology to the moral, the spiritual and the human.
I am not sure there are any easy answers for this task and if there are a multiplicity of emergent parallel societies, the answers will be slightly different for each. But we simply cannot get rid of technology. Again, it is the “tank problem.” If your neighbor has tanks and is producing them on assembly lines, you have to figure out how to deal with your neighbor’s tanks. You will have to make tanks or find a way to stop them. Both will involve using technology. But how do you use technology in such a way that you do so because you have to and circumstances force you into it, but all things being equal, you would rather not? How do you do this? I think this is something that should be worked out organically.
There are two main pieces to this. One is to disentangle ourselves from “policy,” “system,” and “methodology” as our primary ways of coming up with solutions. Instead, we would place the emphasis upon persons and culture. As much as possible we rely on the skills and abilities of persons. We lean on the memory and the culture of the community to pass off the traditions of our relationship with tools. We do more with apprenticeships and hands on learning rather than formal schooling, even when it comes to academics. We rely on the knowledge within the community. The interesting thing is that there is tremendous value in embedded knowledge. This is one of the reasons why there are those who are trying to mechanize or systematize or apply AI technologies to ever more areas of work. These systems and technologies break the power of people and devalues their worth relative to machines and systems. The first area of restraint would be to resist this process, instead doing those things which encourage the value of human skill and knowledge.
The second aspect to adjusting our relationship with technology is to disentangle the making and use of machines from the idea of human progress. We can use machines. We can even refine them and develop knew ones. But we would recognize that we cannot reach utopia through the implementation of machines and machine thinking. All techniques come with both goods and evils. The fact of the technique and its inner telos is always considered. We are willing to accept some measure of technological stasis because over time we have used certain machines and systems enough that we can accept and integrate the ills that come with the benefits we accrue from using them. There is not a need to constantly iterate “new and improved” machines if the current ones work just fine. The greater amount of time we have with each machine, with each technique, the better able we are integrate its use into the cultural memory and fabric of the community.
Another piece of this, even as I talk about what it might look like, is not to go into this with too much of a plan. I think that what is far more important is that we begin these communities with a set of value commitments to which we subordinate our decisions, especially those of technology and economics. A big part of that is a commitment to human values and human scale. We resist the ambitions to grow and conquer, recognizing that these aspirations often come with a great human price. The small community, the small city-state, organized around a complex of household sized enterprises seems to be the arrangement that encourages the greatest degree of human flourishing.
There would also be a real commitment to place. This would mean curbing or subordinating those forces which undermine one’s relationship to the physical space where one lives. It would involve a turn away from greater mobility and also a conscious unplugging from much of the broader information economy to focus on the world which exists within a day’s walk. The cost for achieving this re-attachment to place is a self-conscious reduction in choice and options in a range of categories from employment, to consumer goods, friends, spouses and even faith and morality. It is letting go of the myriad of choices thrust upon us every day for the comfort and structure of the familiar and the psychic and spiritual peace which comes from this.
This does not mean complete isolation, though. A scattered network of communities emerging on the fringes of society will have to give each other mutual support, especially those that are most aligned in their faith and vision. The patchwork of communities would allow the kinds of laboratories for differing ideas and approaches to emerge as well as different faith traditions to do things in their own style and way perhaps. These communities could be rural, suburban or urban in location meaning that each may not be able to be fully self-supporting. Hence, the idea of mutual aid. But this might also mean raising funds or investment dollars to simply buy land and develop these settlements from scratch. It might mean buying up and taking possession of mineral rights. It might also mean preparing and laying the groundwork for seizing territory if the opportunity presents itself and the conditions are favorable.
In my mind these communities would be Christian (although there might be instances where they are not), but not organized around the church. There would be churches, but also a robust political structure. This could take different forms. Some might go the route of self-rule by the people. I suspect most will move to some form of hierarchy with a monarch, dictator or “warlord.” Or maybe some form of tight knit oligarchy, something along the lines of the kind of structure that developed in a place like Venice. Oligarchical, stable, yet adaptive over time to the changing nature of who the actual elites were at any one time. But it would be rule by persons, leaders, not managers with their systems and policies.
There are a number of things that we need to think about being able to provide:
- Jobs and businesses.
- The development of a stable economy with things like their own currency and trading partners. They would have to begin early thinking of themselves as colonies, as fledgling states within and under the nose of the American Empire.
- Family formation.
- Food production.
- Energy needs.
- Natural resources.
- Worshiping community, faith formation and discipleship.
- Health care and medicine.
I am sure more, lots more things can go on the list, but you get the idea. It is about starting a parallel polity in its fullest sense.
How would you attract the kinds of men and women necessary to make this happen, the kinds of investments necessary to make it happen? You need an inspirational vision of a multi-generational project. It is the ultimate start up. Building the seeds of a new post-western society. Think of the kind of spiritual commitment that went into building the Gothic cathedrals at the dawn of the West and that is the kind of energy we would be hoping to tap into and channel in order to build something small in stature but grand in vision.
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