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Entrepreneurial Statecraft Gets the Goods
You don’t reshape society by starting a cultural movement. Instead, you need to implement direct action materialism.
Wolf Tivy, the editor-in-chief of Palladium Magazine, has published a new article on how to solve the governance problems facing the world today: “Entrepreneurial Statecraft Gets the Goods.”
People are under the mistaken assumption that the trick to fixing our hard governance problems is inspiring people through cultural programming. After all, our society is not as optimistic or visionary as it was a century ago.
But as Wolf writes, this line of thought is an inversion of how civilization is actually built. Societies do not produce great individual leaders, inventors, and founders because they are optimistic and visionary. Rather, it is society that becomes vital and healthy as a result of those leaders performing great deeds no one even knew were possible: “Only direct action gets the goods.”
Direct action is done by “disciplines of craft,” which is to say groups oriented toward accomplishing certain tasks like getting a man on the moon, not general-purpose propaganda or “spreading awareness” toward those ends. People who undertake these missions need to have that iron in them to enforce organizational discipline and keep their eyes on the goal, measuring their success in real outcomes.
This brings us to entrepreneurial statecraft. Anyone who understands the nature of the problems facing America right now knows that working through established institutions or indirect cultural projects will only impediment any effort to fix them. What this means for any would-be ambitious reformer is that you should be building up organizations of your own to tackle governance problems. Be worthy.
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When no direct action is taken to revitalize a system in long-term decline, you end up with something looking a lot like the United Kingdom. Last week, returning Palladium writer Samuel McIlhagga wrote a postmortem for the country titled “Britain Is Dead,” striking a nerve online.
The United Kingdom began the industrial era with a head start and a powerful empire, but lost almost all of it in the twentieth century. Since the end of the Second World War, it has stagnated to the point where it is now a background country in world affairs. Its presence in institutions like the UN Security Council are only based on its legacy rather than any real economic, cultural, or military preeminence.
How did this happen? If the British elites of the twentieth century ceded the empire, their twenty-first century successors have ignored the basic competencies of any effective regime. The upper classes emphasize a culture of amateurism rather than any technical or classical training, and systemically overestimate the state’s industrial, military, and political capabilities. Without any strategic, visionary plan for what kind of country Britain should be, the country has fallen into stagnation:
Reporting from the Financial Times has claimed that at current levels, the UK will be poorer than Poland in a decade, and will have a lower median real income than Slovenia by 2024. Many provincial areas already have lower GDPs than Eastern Europe.
This is not just the opinion of McIlhagga’s and the Financial Times. The writer spoke with many former civil servants of the British state and reported what they had to say, and they mostly confirmed his thesis. As one former official reported, “The British state is not very effective…the parties don’t have the first clue about how to deal with what’s coming.”
The hole that Britain has dug itself into is a deep one. Change cannot come from within the logic of its current political order—only without it.
Today at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time there is a meetup of Palladium editors, writers, and readers in New York City. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a last-minute invite.
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
Britain is Dead by Samuel McIlhagga. Despite its early industrial dominance, Britain’s elites never managed to adapt to the new landscape of power. After more than a century of structural breakdown, its very future as a unified state is in doubt.
Entrepreneurial Statecraft Gets the Goods by Wolf Tivy. You don’t reshape society by starting a cultural movement. Instead, you need to implement direct action materialism.
Who Is the Art World For? By David Gelland. Art today often aims to shock rather than inspire. How did that change happen?
The Smallest Living Things, A Short Film. The health of the smallest living things is necessary for the survival of all life on Earth. This short film, directed by Charles Abelmann, tells the story of one self-made farmer’s quest to care for microbiomes—and call out the abuse of antibiotic overuse in livestock and people.
“A Pride in the Craft” with Bill Bensley and Avetis Muradyan. Bill Bensley looks back on decades of perfecting his maximalist design philosophy in Asia. He discusses his approach to cultural interpretation, ecological synthesis, and the pursuit of artistic excellence.
That’s all for now.