Chain of Command Part 1: A Thought Experiment.

This series is intended to be a thought experiment that will hopefully generate thought and discussion. The goal here is one of intellectual exploration. To open up the design space in the structure, purpose and operation of organisations for reflection.

The focus is on a group of problems regarding command, responsibility, selection, succession, removal, power and authority of a sovereign. Furthermore, a crucial theme will be on the distinction between Form and Reality.

One of the central problems that Moldbug’s Neo-Royalist philosophy will have to grapple with surrounds a problem-trike regarding a sovereign: selection, succession and removal.

Nick Land has a good piece here on this kind of thing, I have done some work here on problems of selection.

The problem here, specifically, will concern the problem not of selection, or succession, but of sovereign responsibility and possible removal, and the tension between Form and Reality.

Form is defined here as formal, legal, bureaucratic procedures governing and regulating human behaviour, specifically sovereign behaviour. (Yes, I hear you Reactionary Future, but I want you to consider the following problem.)

Reality is defined here, expansively, as actual human psychology. Specifically, human emotions such as fear, pride and anger. Furthermore, the reality of human coalition building, factionalism, lust for power, and the fact that humans bend, twist, subvert, abandon and work around rules and procedures for their own benefit.

The following thought experiment will try to present a hyper-formal picture of a “case” involving a corporate or organisation problem. The reader, however, is invited to offer a Real picture. That is, when I say XYZ formally, the reader is invited to offer up possibility ABC in Reality.

Throughout the experiment I will offer up various “branches” these are “possibility fulcrums” that if chosen create a path-dependent model.

For example, since SSF will be a military ship, paths and possibilities concerning a commercial ship will be ruled out.
(Branch:

Is the ship military, commercial, scientific, religious or something else?

How does each type, with their different purposes, make a difference, to the following problem?

I am going to select Military. Readers can consider other types for comparing and contrasting.)
However! It is this RULING OUT, it is what is MISSING, what other possibilities that exist, that I really want readers to consider and discuss.

With that mission statement out of the way, let’s describe the set up.

The Set Up: SS Fredrick.

The basic set-up is the following “science-fiction” scenario:

Space Ship Fredrick (SSF) has been transported, accidentally, via a wormhole to a place in space well away of any human authority, or civilisation. SSF is entirely alone, in deep space.

The reason for this set up, as with all philosophical thought experiments, is the attempt to get at the essence of the problem, to think logically, and to think about possibilities.
The Mission.

The mission, or the new mission, of SSF is to survive and make its way back to human space. That is now its goal: Survival and Return.
The Problem.

After, let’s say, one year, a problem develops with the Captain.

The problem is medical.

The Captain, according to the judgment of the ships’ doctor, is no longer capable of responsibly carrying out his duties as Captain; thus, the safety and survival of the crew is at risk.

(Branch: Why medical? Alternatives could be gross incompetence, criminal malfeasance. How would those make a difference? )

The medical problem, moreover, is not physical, but psychological.

Furthermore, the cause of the problem cannot be detected by any physical equipment.

There is no tumour, or trace of dementia. The claim rests entirely upon the judgement of the doctor; who,on the basis of his observation, testimony of the crew, and his reasoning (or pattern-matching) from medical principles, concludes that the Captain is suffering from “mental instability”. I use scare quotes to emphasise the “fuzziness” of this, and also not to get bogged down in irrelevant details discussing actual psychological problems.

The symptoms of “mental instability” in this case, to give a little description, is recklessness, irritability, paranoia, anger, callousness, cruelty, authoritarian personality and aggression. Furthermore, the “disorder” is progressive, and the symptoms will only become more pronounced with time.

Again, the core focus here is that the doctor’s judgment that the Captain is no longer fit for duty, and not the actual empirical details of actual mental disorders etc.
Let’s name this Problem 1: the doctor judges that the Captain should be relieved, and that the doctor intends to have this judgment enforced.

Problem 2 is that the Captain refuses the doctor’s request to relieve himself voluntarily.

Our problem, the problem we want to consider as “political engineers” is: What Should Happen? What rules, or procedures, should be in place to handle this conflict of 1 and 2?

Call that Problem 3: What Should Happen Formally.

However, we have Problem 4.

Problem 4 is the problem of thinking, designing and deciding the answer to Problem 3, from the standpoint as political engineers who are considering the Real, as opposed to the Form of Problem 3.

This outline of the “problem space” should be enough to wet your appetites.

As I will end, with outline the players.
The Players.

The Captain.

The Doctor.

The XO (Second in Command.)

The Provost Marshal.

The Commander (head of security.)

The Counsellor. (The ship’s mediator, psychologist, human resource person.)

The Chief Engineer.

Commissar General. (Head of supplies and acquisitions.)

The Chaplain. (Religious minister, and councillor).

In the next part, we will consider the procedure.

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One thought on “Chain of Command Part 1: A Thought Experiment.

  1. Pingback: Chain Of Command Part 2: The Procedure. | "The Horror! The Horror!"

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