Polycracy As An A-System Of Rule? Displacements And Replacements Of The Political In An Unbounded Dictatorship

Abstract

The concept of polycracy is beset by a number of paradoxes: it designates a form of political rule in the absence of such rule. In such circumstances, a
multiplicity of social formations, economic and financial agencies and operational functions install themselves anomically at local level and extend independently of and beyond policy and legislation. In doing so, they split and supplant frameworks of the state and of political and societal institutions. This article sets out to trace the lineages of the concept of polycracy and its instantiations in a system of rule that involves a process of political de-structuring. More specifically, the question explored here is what takes place in the destroyed political space and what takes its place in the unbounded state of the Nazi dictatorship.

Keywords: polycracy; National Socialist totalitarianism; Nazi regime; party–state relationship; occupying regime; Weimar Republic; quantitatively total state

Introduction
Even with historical hindsight, the phenomenon termed “totalitarianism” presents a number of conundrums. To start off with, it resists definition. To describe it as a “system of rule” risks contradiction (see Kershaw 1999, 222), because “a-systematicity” is its most pertinent characteristic. As a particular type of modern dictatorship, it has invited comparisons, yet such comparisons remain limited and general (considering e.g. the limited comparability of the National Socialist regime in Germany and the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union—see Kershaw 1999). The process of political disintegration described by it is bound to leave the concept under-theorised (see Kershaw 1991, 98) and possibly even to impress itself on the theorist as incomprehensible (see Arendt [1951] 1994, viii), both conceptually and politically. In this article, we propose to put one of the elements specifying “totalitarianism” to the test: Can “polycracy” provide a specifying criterion for the definition of “totalitarianism”? If so, how would it have to be conceptualised in order to be able to account for the simultaneous diffraction and concentration of structures and agencies that reconfigure governance for conditions of geopolitical expansion, invasion, annexation and occupation; total mobilisation for war; and population relocations, forced labour and genocide?

The term “polycracy”, as Walther Hofer points out, is of recent coinage. It designates social and political processes unlike those described by any of the classical theories of political organisation (Hofer 1986, 249; see also Arendt [1951] 1994, 461; also Schmitt 2000, 66) or system or type of rule.

Writing in the aftermath of war and genocide in the late 1940s, Hannah Arendt ventures this description: “We always suspected, but we now know that the [National Socialist] regime was never ‘monolithic’ but ‘consciously constructed around overlapping, duplicating, and parallel functions’ …” (Arendt [1951] 1994, xxxii–xxxiii; also 404 fn. 8).

What she pinpoints here had, in fact, been articulated by Carl Schmitt even before the Second World War in his prescient analyses of the Nazi dictatorship (1933) and by Ernst Fraenkel and Franz Neumann during the course of the War and in its immediate aftermath. The multi-levelled dynamic functioning of the Nazi regime became the subject of further investigation in the 1960s and 70s, first by Klaus Hildebrand, Karl Bracher and Peter Hüttenberger and later by Ian Kershaw. Even as they differed in the details of their analysis, all of these historians and political theorists either explicitly or implicitly returned to Johannes Popitz’s concept of “polycracy”, coined in the late 1920s to take account of the decline of the German state during the late Weimar period.

“Polycracy”—A conceptual–political history
Popitz held on to a substantive universal idea of the state against its devolution and dissolution into concrete orders and functions. In his positions in the Finance Ministry in the latter half of the 1920s, he was intent on clearing up Weimar’s “administrative confusions” (see Kennedy 2004, 147; also Schmitt 2000, 62 fn. 4) and on restoring the authority of a centralised state.

Carl Schmitt’s conversations with Johannes Popitz (the friendship with whom Schmitt only reluctantly admitted to) trace the decline of the state in the Weimar Republic with its proliferation of special interests, political parties and particularist movements. Popitz views this process as the replacement of “the state as the source of order and the locus of authoritative decisions … by the notion of ‘free competition’ and ‘the self-organisation of society’” (see Kennedy 2004, 33). This defines Popitz’s notion of polycracy. “Pressures from within the private sector and the party politics of the Reichstag had created,” he argued in 1927, “a ‘polycratic’ system that displaced parliamentary democratic will formation” (Kennedy 2004, 147). What these “diverse forms of economic organisations and public/private partnerships” had in common was the “fact that they retained a degree of independence from the state” while assuming responsibility for “important public functions” (Kennedy 2004, 142 fn. 3). Read more

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US Leaders Can Now Be Prosecuted For Illegal War

Noah Weisbord — Associate professor of law at Queen’s University

War is gathering around the world, and autocratic leaders are undermining the legal checks on their discretion to launch attacks abroad. With the rule of law under threat, the International Criminal Court recently defined and activated for prosecution a new crime called the “crime of aggression.” The crime of aggression — leadership responsibility for planning, preparing, initiating or waging illegal war — has begun to permeate international, regional and national legal systems around the world. But in an age of drones, cyberattacks, insurgents and autocrats, is it too little, too late?

Noah Weisbord — an associate professor of law at Queen’s University and the author of The Crime of Aggression: The Quest for Justice in an Age of Drones, Cyberattacks, Insurgents, and Autocrats — served on the International Criminal Court’s working group that drafted the crime of aggression.

In the exclusive Truthout interview that follows, Weisbord discusses the legacy of the Nuremberg trials and the ways in which Donald Trump may have already violated international law by engaging in crimes of aggression.

C.J. Polychroniou: The Nuremberg trials, held between 1945 and 1949, represent a milestone in the development of international law. Yet, while many serious war crimes have been committed since the end of World War II, we have not seen war crimes tribunals taking place under similar ideal circumstances as those held in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg. In that context, what has been the legacy of the Nuremberg trials?

Noah Weisbord: The Nuremberg legacy is really about subjecting individual leaders to the rule of law in international affairs. Individual criminal responsibility is a grave threat to authoritarian leaders, which is why they do all they can to weaken and delegitimize the International Criminal Court [ICC].

Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson was handpicked from the United States Supreme Court to work with English, French and Soviet counterparts to design the Nuremberg Tribunal and serve as its lead prosecutor. Jackson intended Nuremberg to serve as a model for a permanent international criminal court with worldwide jurisdiction, including over U.S. leaders. But the Cold War set in. The U.S. and the Soviet Union couldn’t agree on the design of an international criminal court, nor a prosecutable definition of Nuremberg’s “supreme crime,” the crime against peace — i.e., planning, preparing, initiating or waging a war of aggression — which is called the crime of aggression today.

The superpowers vied to design international laws that would serve as weapons against each other, stymying each other’s military advantages. During the Cold War, Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz, a key character in my new book, kept the dream alive. Ferencz advocated for an international criminal court and a prosecutable crime of aggression. Ferencz was wrongly overlooked as naïve and idealistic during this period.

But the end of the Cold War saw the rebirth of the Nuremberg idea, which began to spread worldwide: in the Yugoslav Tribunal; Rwanda Tribunal; Special Court for Sierra Leone; Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Special Tribunal for Lebanon; Special Panels of the Dili District Court; War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia; the Canadian, German, Belgian and French criminal courts; and grassroots “gacaca” justice in Rwanda. Read more

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The Making Of The Statute Of The European System Of Central Banks

July, 2019: The complete book – updated version – will be online soon. See: http://rozenbergquarterly.com/the-making-of-the-statute-of-the-european-system-of-central-banks/

Do you find it difficult to understand why the European Central Bank is restricted in its assistance to EU countries which have difficulty borrowing from financial markets? And do you find it interesting to learn what the tools are of the ECB, compared to the Federal Reserve System, and why the monetary part of the Economic and Monetary Union is so much more successful than its economic leg? These questions are answered in the book The Making of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks, which first appeared as a dissertation in 2004. It describes the economic, political and legal discussions behind every article of the statute of the ESCB, which rules its behaviour and which restrict the options for politicians to intervene in the policy of the ECB. After you have read this, you will find it much easier to understand and predict the behaviour of important actors, like the decision-making body of the ECB and politicians, and the tensions between them.

Checks and balances
The phrase ‘checks and balances’ is most known for its use as a description of the American system of government. The essential feature is that the departments (branches) of government are not just separate from each other (i.e. having their own functional jurisdiction and the absence of personal unions), but also exert limited control over each other, to the extent necessary for preventing departments (branches) from assuming authority in areas for which other branches are responsible. This philosophy was based on the experience that especially the legislature if left to itself could expand its powers in the field of the executive and in extreme cases even taking on judicial powers.

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The Making Of The Statute Of The European System Of Central Banks ~ Contents & Readers’ Guide

Contents

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
INTRODUCTION
Chapter 1: Introductory Chapter
Zur Thematik – Organization of the book – Methodology and sources – Descriptions of the main documents, committees and historical setting

Chapter 2: Integration Theory, Federalism and Checks and Balances
Integration and transfer of power – Federalism – Checks and balances

PART I
Cluster I (Checks and Balances between the ESCB and the Public Authorities)

Chapter 3: Introduction to Cluster I
Basic Community structure – Independence – Accountability

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JOTE ~ The Journal Of Trial And Error

The Journal of Trial and Error aims to close the gap between what is researched and what is published. In scientific practice, trial and error is a fundamental process of learning and discovery. Therefore, we want to make public the lessons of the struggles in research. We are convinced about the productive role of errors, and so we aim to publish answers to the question “what went wrong?”, as well as problematising this question by reflecting on what failure means in science. You can read our manifesto to learn further about our goals, and the benefits of publishing errors.

From the Manifesto

We state that  …
Trial and Error is the elementary process in Science by which knowledge is acquired. We differentiate between two types of scientific Trial and Error processes:
Methodological errors in a practical sense, driving improvement in the understanding and application of techniques. These errors are here understood in a broad sense, those that go beyond the learning of the individual researcher and have an impact at the scale of the scientific community.-
Conceptual flaws, arising from hypothesis being confronted with conflicting observations. When the initial hypotheses are inappropriate in the face of empirical evidence, scientists improve or reject theoretical frameworks by developing alternative theses aimed at increasing empirical adequacy. Not only hits (positive results), but also misses (negative results) are key to scientific progress.

We identify three core problems in today’s Science. Namely,  …

… a public image of Science based on breakthrough discoveries, fascinating images, and clear results. This reputation comes at a cost. Both scientists themselves, as well as philosophers, sociologists and historians of science have increasingly been highlighting the importance of science in the making. A more faithful picture of Science, the one of practices and fine-tuning methodologies, seems to be at odds with the unrealistic public image of big-discovery Science.
… a gap between what is published and what is researched. We know positive publication bias pressures scientists to conceal methodological mistakes and discard research containing negative findings, threatening proper interpretation. In the face of failed research —outcomes of Science that do not meet the initial aim of the individual researchers— scientists have two options at hand: not publishing or framing the results as productive by, for example, adding ad-hoc hypotheses in a potentially inadequate manner. This point is a consequence of the expectations of big-discovery Science and the publish-or-perish politics of this Science.
… a replication crisis. Since scientists validate their results in terms of replicability, the present-day situation of unreplicable experiments is a serious problem. Debate on this replication crisis has focused on the misuse of statistics by scientists, on methodological carelessness, or theoretical inappropriateness. Only a few venues are attentive to the potential harm.

[…] The complete Manifesto: https://www.jtrialerror.com/the-manifesto-for-trial-and-error-in-science/

URL Journalhttps://www.jtrialerror.com/

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Patrice Lumumba’s Independence Day Speech, June 30, 1960

Patrice Lumumba – Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Men and women of the Congo,

Victorious fighters for independence, today victorious, I greet you in the name of the Congolese government. All of you, my friends, who have fought tirelessly at our sides, I ask you to make this June 30, 1960, an illustrious date that you will keep indelibly engraved in your hearts, a date of significance of which you will teach to your children, so that they will make known to their sons and to their grandchildren the glorious history of our fight for liberty.

For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today with Belgium, a friendly country with whom we deal as equal to equal, no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that is was by fighting that it has been won [applause], a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood.

We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.

This was our fate for 80 years of a colonial regime; our wounds are too fresh and too painful still for us to drive them from our memory. We have known harassing work, exacted in exchange for salaries which did not permit us to eat enough to drive away hunger, or to clothe ourselves, or to house ourselves decently, or to raise our children as creatures dear to us.

Read more: https://sfbayview.com/patrice-lumumba

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Dutch Prize Papers

HCA 32 / 1845.1: A box with ship’s documents, court papers, ship’s journals, cash books and a wallet with a small French prayer book, seized in the 17th century during the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars. Source: Sailing Letters Journal IV, Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2011, 12; picture: Erik van der Doe

The Prize Papers are documents seized by British navy and privateers from enemy ships in the period 1652-1815. These papers are kept in the archive of the High Court of Admiralty in The National Archives in Kew (London). Approximately a quarter of the Prize Papers originates from Dutch ships. Apart from ship’s journals, lists of cargo, accounts, plantation lists and interrogations of crew members, this collection also contains approximately 38,000 business and private letters. The letters originate from all social strata of society and most of them never reached their intended destination.

Research

The huge variety of the Prize Papers makes it suitable for different types of research. It means that the Prize Papers can be used for a wide range of research topics, for example, for developments in language and dialect, trade, material culture, social relationships and knowledge transfer from the 17th to the 19th centuries. A large international research project by the universities of Oxford and Birmingham led by Jelle van Lottum focused on the migration of sailors and the distribution of human capital, based on records of interrogations of crew members. This research was financed by the Economic and Social Research Council (2011-2016).

The Sailing Letters’ project carried out by the National Library of the Netherlands in 2004, introduced the Prize Papers to a broad group of Dutch researchers. Five Sailing Letters Journals were published between 2008 and 2013 to make this rich and versatile resource even more widely known.

Preservation and digitisation

The award at the end of 2015 of a substantial subsidy to Huygens ING by Metamorfoze, the national programme for the preservation of paper heritage, made it possible to preserve and digitise 144.000 pages of selected documents.

Go to: https://www.huygens.knaw.nl/dutch-prize-papers/

or: https://prizepapers.huygens.knaw.nl/

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Sinclair Lewis ~ It Can’t Happen Here

First edition 1935

It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.

Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press.

Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.

Chapter  I

THE handsome dining room of the Hotel Wessex, with its gilded plaster shields and the mural depicting the Green Mountains, had been reserved for the Ladies’ Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club.

Here in Vermont the affair was not so picturesque as it might have been on the Western prairies. Oh, it had its points: there was a skit in which Medary Cole (grist mill & feed store) and Louis Rotenstern (custom tailoring—pressing & cleaning) announced that they were those historic Vermonters, Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, and with their jokes about imaginary plural wives they got in ever so many funny digs at the ladies present. But the occasion was essentially serious. All of America was serious now, after the seven years of depression since 1929. It was just long enough after the Great War of 1914-18 for the young people who had been born in 1917 to be ready to go to college… or to another war, almost any old war that might be handy.

The features of this night among the Rotarians were nothing funny, at least not obviously funny, for they were the patriotic addresses of Brigadier General Herbert Y. Edgeways, U.S.A. (ret.), who dealt angrily with the topic “Peace through Defense—Millions for Arms but Not One Cent for Tribute,” and of Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch— she who was no more renowned for her gallant anti-suffrage campaigning way back in 1919 than she was for having, during the Great War, kept the American soldiers entirely out of French cafés by the clever trick of sending them ten thousand sets of dominoes.

Nor could any social-minded patriot sneeze at her recent somewhat unappreciated effort to maintain the purity of the American Home by barring from the motion-picture industry all persons, actors or directors or cameramen, who had: (a) ever been divorced; (b) been born in any foreign country—except Great Britain, since Mrs. Gimmitch thought very highly of Queen Mary, or (c) declined to take an oath to revere the Flag, the Constitution, the Bible, and all other peculiarly American institutions.

The Annual Ladies’ Dinner was a most respectable gathering—the flower of Fort Beulah. Most of the ladies and more than half of the gentlemen wore evening clothes, and it was rumored that before the feast the inner circle had had cocktails, privily served in Room 289 of the hotel. The tables, arranged on three sides of a hollow square, were bright with candles, cut-glass dishes of candy and slightly tough almonds, figurines of Mickey Mouse, brass Rotary wheels, and small silk American flags stuck in gilded hard-boiled eggs. On the wall was a banner lettered “Service Before Self,” and the menu—the celery, cream of tomato soup, broiled haddock, chicken croquettes, peas, and tutti-frutti ice-cream—was up to the highest standards of the Hotel Wessex.

They were all listening, agape. General Edgeways was completing his manly yet mystical rhapsody on nationalism:
“… for these U-nited States, a-lone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone! Our only gen-uine relationship to Europe is in our arduous task of having to try and educate the crass and ignorant masses that Europe has wished onto us up to something like a semblance of American culture and good manners. But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves ‘governments,’ and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields.

“For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest—not for jealousy— not for war—but for peace! Pray God it may never be necessary, but if foreign nations don’t sharply heed our warning, there will, as when the proverbial dragon’s teeth were sowed, spring up an armed and fearless warrior upon every square foot of these United States, so arduously cultivated and defended by our pioneer fathers, whose sword-girded images we must be… or we shall perish!”

The applause was cyclonic. “Professor” Emil Staubmeyer, the superintendent of schools, popped up to scream, “Three cheers for the General—hip, hip, hooray!”

Full text: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301001h.html

Note:

Title: It Can’t Happen Here
Author: Sinclair Lewis

* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0301001h.html Language: English Date first posted: Jul 2003 Most recent update: Jul 2017
This eBook was produced by Don Lainson and Roy Glashan.

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