State Decay: The Twitter Debate

The responses to ‘State Decay‘ on Twitter were brilliant and lively and asking all the questions that I hope to answer in future posts, which has both put a fire under me and necessitated an expansion of some points raised here specifically.

This post can be considered as the first of two preambles that will set up a follow-up post  for those who want to trace some of the discussions raised in the gulf between ‘State Decay’ and what is to follow. (You can read the second preamble here).

“What enterprise wants to shrink?” None. At least if we’re speaking of empires (whether business or colonial). In most cases, shrinking is not a consideration from the inside, demonstrated by the dissensus between Brexit and the Scottish independence referendum.

Europe did not want to shrink, but the UK (at least on paper) said it wanted autonomy more than consolidation. The UK, too, does not want to shrink, but its united parts are not content with the deal they’ve been lumped with either.

Brexit, ironically, seems to have halted all these potentials. It seems that no one on any side wants to add to the already knotted constitutional changes required by the Brexit vote, but once it has finished, I can only hope we see further restructuring elsewhere.

All of which is to say that the Idea of Europe is decomposing as is the Idea of the United Kingdom. Much more can flourish on their corpse, for better and for worse. (See ‘State Decay: Collapse’)

What underlies all this (in the UK at least) is a populist sentiment that is, at its heart, anti-English. The central eye-opener for this was my own bias that I learned to quickly correct after living in Wales for five years.

On a number of occasions I would mistakenly refer to where I was standing as England, or generalise it as the United Kingdom or Great Britain. There was always — every single time — a Welshman on hand to say: “No, mate. This is Wales.” Rightly so.

There was a feeling, corroborated by experiences like those that I was perpetuating, that Wales, in being drawn into the United Kingdom (unceremoniously, as well, if you consider the deep history of the two countries’ relationship), was gradually being erased. The erasure of Welsh culture occasioned by unification has been a central consideration of its government for years. It’s bottom-weighted make-up, with Cardiff in the south drawing all investment and support, only exacerbates this within the country itself.

Wales is not the part of the UK I want to consider in my next proper post, however, but it could certainly be the subject of a future one. It has much in common with where I want to talk about.

I can only see this sentiment, and the resentment towards England and its government as a whole, going one way: towards further devolution and eventual independence. Will that cause England as a state to collapse? I don’t think so. If anything, it’ll give it a far more accurate account of itself than it currently has.

(To be clear, I did not vote for Brexit in the referendum, although I was greatly intrigued by the Left’s pro-Brexit arguments that quickly fell by the wayside. The Left were correct, I think, that a vote for Brexit under this government would only ever be a complete disaster — and so far it has been — but I do think another Brexit could have been possible, orchestrated by the right people with the right policies. That was never on the table, unfortunately, but deserves to be a major consideration for us all once the process has been completed.)

Brexit is undeniably a narcissistic omnishambles of an ‘exit’ if ever there was one. Why that is the case is something that continues to unfold in an ever-complicated manner and increasingly feels like a moment in history we will not get a proper handle on until it’s over and someone manages to trawl through a million internal memos telling us the real story.

On the flip side, however, you have the exits pursued by Scotland and Catalan. Whilst these exits were unsuccessful, the reasons why they were unsuccessful are far more interesting to consider than whatever is going on with Brexit currently. (Which says a lot about Brexit).

The worst outcome that I see from the current state of things is that the Left, as they are wont to do after most fuckups, choose to abandon exit as a strategy that still has countless untapped potentials.

(A valid point raised but, even without the comments below, there are other considerations including the impact of Facebook’s failed project in India and recent reports of large swathes of young people in the West increasingly choosing to exit the platform.)

The point missed here is one that Land highlights himself on Xenosystems, as well as signalling that this is a conversation that will inevitably come up later down the road.

Picking a corporate giant like McDonald’s as an example (or Google or Facebook, et al.) is an easy thing to do when considering neocameralist sovereignty but there are other business models available.

The Sad Left‘:

It’s probably unrealistic right now to think the non-demented Left is going to be able to cut the hysterical weeping long enough to realize: You’re going to have to put your social ideals into Neocameral format if you want to play in the 21st century.

They really could do that. Sovereign stock distribution could be wholly egalitarian. If Neo-Maoism seeks a sensible sized patch, they should clearly be given one. (That would be a Neo-Maoist garbage disposal program, as far as everyone else is concerned.) At the highest level, NRx is first-order politics neutral. Do whatever you want, within precisely formalized bounds.

There’s no audience for this point yet. Eventually there will be.

“But … but .. the whole point of the Left is that we don’t think government is a business!” — Then call it a ‘co-op’ or some equivalent bullshit. Jesus, use some imagination.

However, later, in ‘Counter Fund‘:

A more intriguing quibble is that the “co-op grocery store” model runs directly contrary to basic NeoCam principles, since it deliberately offers a role in governance to customers. This could be the basis for an important conversation down the road.

I’ll leave the final word here to @F8Xd0eDFDdqT117 for this brilliant spin-off thread:

EDIT: Originally a post in its own right, in hindsight far too much time was given to this later criticism, I’m a bit embarrassed about all this now, but deleting it seems counter-intuitive so I’ve decided to move it down here.

I feel reluctant to engage in what will predictably be long and complex meshes of notifications when I have a blog to work with, but that evidently doesn’t mean responding to every bad take with a post. I’ll try to reel it in!

This was a particularly bad conversation and the timeline is where it should have stayed.

Nevertheless, additional comments of note:

The threads continued to proliferate from this point on but they were, for the most part, deeply cursed.

Cyborg_nomade’s comment on the original post is also worth preserving:

patchwork seems to work the same way that network effects do: it seems impossible, until it happens. then it seems inevitable in retrospect.

for example, if a single seastead comes into being, the pressure it will put on USG is very likely to rip it apart at the seams, which in turn will pressure europe to do the same. it’s a cascade.

Original Post:

Never one to ignore my critics and let bad takes proliferate unaccounted for, here’s one more addendum to ‘State Decay’ addressing a new thread on it.

(NB: I expected a lot more of this to be honest. You’re all very generous.)

Nonetheless, thanks for reading.

Saying that I’m pointing to a lot of secessionist movements and predicting a coming revolution is a bit much. Certainly, none of this may happen, and none of the previous secessionist movements to occur over the last few decades have been successful. Even Brexit, for all its headway, has seemed on the brink of collapse since it was voted for.

Again, you’re assuming blind faith but the aim here is to consider some thinking that is predominantly coming from the Right and what it might mean for the Left if, as it gains some traction in certain corners of the globe, the Left ends up being taken along for the ride. Fantastical to some, it seems worthwhile to me as a UK citizen amidst never-ending Brexit chaos.

It’s certainly speculative, maybe even wildly so. You’re mistaken if you think I’m not aware of that.

Orbiting Land, perhaps, but worshipping? He is obviously a consideration but this post (and those to come) intend to consider far more. You’re really assuming a lot here.

This post is made from notes and some preliminary investigations. I wouldn’t feel the need to investigate if I was so riddled with blind faith.

If anything, and especially from the thread that span off from this thread in particular, it seems you have more blind faith in my “blind faith” than I do in patchwork.

I also wouldn’t go so far as to credit “But is it fascist tho?” as a “real” criticism. It’s a symptom of paranoia and concern — sometimes warranted, sometimes not — and it’s seldom deployed with much rigour to actually make sense when you consider the implications of an idea, especially one like patchwork, the potentials of which, despite those who’ve so far developed it, are so far away from that.

In this case, it seems like a misdirected criticism, attempting to give a name to a bad feeling but without any actual consideration as for why it’s “fascist”.

Despite what you say, I think you’ve taken this more seriously than anyone else. Even me.


  1. edmund’s point is the key one:
    “Exit theory (at least in the Landian variant) emphasizes the role of techno-capital in routing around/fracturing existing state-forms”
    one of Nick’s many sci-fi ideas is that techno-capital can thrive outside of (in the absence/disintegration of) modern states.

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