This is an essay written in 2007 by Vladimir of the New Pacific Order. It goes over alliance structures of government and the objectives of any good alliance.
Of Theory and Practice
To paraphrase a wiser man, 'the point is not to discuss the world, but to change it'. However, one cannot do this without first having an accurate analysis of the world they seek to change: its causes and effects, its political actors, and so forth. A successful analysis must begin and end with the material world that it finds itself in, and cannot be based in an abstract world of ideals that the author sees only in his mind. This essay will not discuss matters in terms of what they ought to be; only in terms of what they are.
An often quipped phrase is that something is "good in theory, but doesn't work in practice." It is necessary that we dispel this myth before discussing any further. If a theory does not work in practice, or does not accurately explain the practical world around it, then it is not a good theory -- its analysis is flawed. A good theory will always work in practice, and if it does not, then it must be amended. We should advise therefore that the analytical outline given in this essay cannot be seen as the complete, but rather only as a piece of a larger project. With one eye on the reader, the author has been forced to limit himself in terms of length and depth, and so while the claims and logic of the analysis are correct, it will not provide a sufficiently complete picture to explain various individual events. It should therefore be remembered that neglect to include things in this particular essay does not necessarily mean that it is not included in this analysis of the world's historical development.
In investigating something as massive as the world we live in we necessarily have to start at the very beginning, which will go on to demonstrate to us the reasoning and motivation for everything that follows. You will find that as we follow this line through the evolution of the material world a great many things are revealed about it. It is important to remember throughout that all of these things must be considered in the historical material context that they come from, not in abstract idealist terms.
The Terror of Freedom
Before the development of alliances there existed only the state of nature -- a state of absolute freedom for the individual nation. In this state there is no right or wrong, no universal morality, and no law; individual nations are free to do whatever they want and take whatever they desire. However, the state of nature is not one of peace. Individual nations freely attempt to take what they want from others by force, whether the goal is the acquisition of some material good or of an emotional rush. Moreover, there is no protection for any individual nation, as the vitals of any nation are vulnerable to an attack from any other -- even the vitals of the strongest nation in the state of nature are vulnerable to those weaker than him, whether it come from the act of an individual or an ad hoc coalition. The state of nature can thus be seen as a constant war of every nation against every nation. While the individual nation has the absolute freedom to do whatever it wants, by the same token any other nation has the absolute freedom to do whatever it wants to the individual nation. It is a negative-sum game that gives conflict the central role in daily life. Consequently every nation exists in a state of perpetual terror.
It is due to this state of perpetual terror that we see no real industry developed by nations living in the state of nature. Their time is entirely consumed with the matter of survival; a concern which overwhelms the potential of nations to achieve greater things. Conflict and the potential for conflict are the enemies of the individual nation. We can thus see that absolute freedom is antithetical to progress and conducive to a destructive barbarism.
Sovereignty as Salvation
The self-interest of every nation is to remove itself from the state of nature: to give up its absolute freedom with the resulting removal of perpetual terror. It is in doing this that the individual nation will naturally come to sign a social contract and band together with other nations in an alliance, which allows them to concern themselves less with the matter of survival and instead concentrate on achieving their potential in other fields.
An immediate condition of any alliance is that there exists a sovereign institution or institutions. If there is no sovereign institution then the state of nature has not been brought to an end amongst the group's member-nations, but rather it has simply been tempered by a partial intervention. This will invariably prove inadequate to nurture the potential of those nations it purports to protect. As this type of alliance can be seen to have failed at its immediate task, it is not necessary to consider it any further.
The sovereign institution may take on the form of a democratic parliament, an autocratic emperor, a consensus-seeking oligarchy, or anything else that can be conceived of. The sovereign acts directly to resolve the conflicts and contradictions that appear in the alliance between member-nations, resolving problems swiftly to maintain order over conflict and terror, as per the terms of the social contract. If a sovereign institution consistently fails in this task then it has broken the contract signed with its member-nations and its replacement is necessary.
The sovereign thus becomes the centre that the rest of the alliance revolves around. It is a sovereign and only a sovereign that can have the strength and authority to provide stability in the face of the natural conflict that goes on all around it, both inside and outside of the alliance. An alliance stands and falls by the successes and failures of its sovereign. The weaker the sovereign institution, the closer to the state of nature the alliance becomes. For the member-nations of the alliance, the strength of the sovereign is a literal matter of life and death.
The Two Worlds of Freedom
The freedom of potential of a nation relies on the ability of the sovereign to take it out of the state of nature -- to diminish its absolute freedom. How effectively an alliance does this depends on the strength and make-up of the sovereign institution leading it. The more successful the sovereign is in taking the alliance out of the state of nature the less internal conflict we can expect to see, and thus the member-nations will be freer to explore their potential, with both the individual nations and the alliance proving more successful as a result. This is the paradox of freedom: the more the absolute freedom of the state of nature is eroded for a nation, the freer that nation truly is.
Many alliances upon moving to pull themselves out of the state of nature are seized by an irrational fear about giving up their absolute freedom and attempt, in a confused manner, to build it into their sovereign institution. The first way in which this is done is through the separation of powers, which attempts to limit the ability of the sovereign to achieve its goals by splitting up authority between a number of institutions.
However, while the intentions may sounds superficially honourable, it does not take much scratching of the surface to realise that this separation seeks to undermine the very purpose of the sovereign. Rather than resolving the conflicts of interest inherent in the state of nature, it invariably creates an irresolvable conflict between the various powers inside the alliance, each vying to control specific areas, with each contradicting, overriding and undermining the others. The most telling examples of this have been the judicial departments of various alliances, which have been designed specifically to constrain the authority of the other sovereign institutions and invariably end up as tools of conflict amongst them and their member-nations. In this manner the war of all against all that we find in the state of nature has not been resolved, but rather it has simply been moved to the political sphere. Without a unitary sovereign institution with the power to settle disputes and lift individual nations above this natural conflict, we find unstable alliances that are ultimately unable to fulfil even their most immediate tasks.
Attempts to implement an elected sovereign suffer from largely the same problems, only on a much grander scale. Not only do they pit institutions against one other, but they pit every single nation against every single nation, causing them to form in ad hoc coalitions based on petty self-interest and ill-informed short-termism. With the additional constraint of an electorate to pander to, the sovereign finds himself completely unable to properly carry out his tasks of peace and dispute settlement, causing the conflicts to constantly spiral out of control. Under these circumstances an alliance cannot thrive in the true sense unless the elected sovereign institution finds itself in a very specific set of circumstances -- a small, ready-made, stable, knowledgeable, united electorate, capable of encouraging and allowing the elected institution to act much like that of an unelected one.
The freest nations are those that exist completely outside of the state of nature, and so are by extension those that exist under a sovereign institution capable of negating the pitfalls of conflict in favour of a single unitary sovereign body -- a body that can overrule anything inside the alliance and remove all potential for conflict. With this complete, the secure nation is free to pursue its full potential in any (or every) field, without concern for the basic needs of survival.
From Freedom to Civilisation
It is apparent therefore that the in order for an alliance to truly prosper it must lift itself out from the state of nature by way of an absolute sovereign -- one who will forcibly resolve the conflicts of the past age and take the alliance into a new one. The more the conflicts are resolved, the more energy can be devoted to the free pursuit of potential by member-nations within an alliance, and so the more the alliance will grow in its abilities and culture. We can categorise this progress as the forward march of civilisation against the barbarism of absolute freedom.
As civilisation progresses it can be seen in many forms: culture, innovation, banking, diplomacy, active trade, and so forth. These are the things that lift an alliance out form the barbarism it was founded on and into the realms of unlimited possibility, where it is ultimately capable of whatever it wishes. The more advanced an alliance becomes in these fields the more civilised it can be seen as being.
This correlation between civilisation and security can be seen quite directly in the real world, and so it can easily and accurately be plotted in order to demonstrate the progress of civilisation. An alliance that seeks to retain absolute freedom by leaving out any sovereign at all will find that very little conflict is ended (both from internal and external sources), and as such they will find that very little civilisation is developed. If a sovereign institution is put in place, it will become much more secure as it is able to act more effectively against outside conflict; but if this sovereign does not also solve internal conflict then it remains a largely barbaric alliance with civilisation moving only nominally forward. It isn't until the sovereign begins to become capable of resolving these internal conflicts that civilisation begins to increase rapidly, with each blow against internal conflict a victory for civilised development.
While there are undoubtedly other factors at work, the scope of this essay does not allow us to investigate them too deeply. This does not prevent us, however, from recognising the security provided by an absolute sovereign as the salient cause of civilisation.
The realisation of this historical development has profound implications for our understanding of international relations, for it becomes apparent that we live in what is essentially an international state of nature -- an international anarchy. There are some notable differences between the state of nature and international anarchy; however, the similarities play too key a role to ignore.
These similarities rest on the premise that alliances are ultimately self-interested. That is to say, that each alliance will do what is best for its own member-nations, as promised in the social contract that they signed upon joining. From this we can understand international relations not as a clash of ideals or cross-alliance classes, but as a clash of interests between alliances that, for this purpose, can be considered single individuals. From this we can begin to understand the sovereignty of each alliance as the most important part of it, and begin to realise this as an explanation for the active defensive measures alliances take -- from pre-emptively attacking another, to forming treaties and blocs. Paradoxically this may lead to a clash of ideals, as a number of different alliances all come to believe that their survival or prosperity lies down a single road. However, these ideals can never be seen as a first cause, only as a result of the initial desire to protect and advance the sovereignty of the alliance, which is born of the historical material conditions they came from. This is the fundamental truth of international relations.
We have thus outlined the primary cause of alliance formation and progress. It is ultimately the development of the sovereign institution that will dictate how far its member-nations can realise their freedom of potential and advance. While we cannot argue that this is the only factor -- the material history of the alliance, competence of the sovereign and success of the institutions he creates below him must also be called into question among other things -- we can state that it is one of the utmost importance. The presence of an absolute sovereign may not ensure that the alliance reaches the heights of civilisation, but the lack of one will generally ensure that the alliance does not.