By Insula Qui
Those who have paid attention to my work know of a concept called autostatism. For the sake of brevity, I will not be providing an introduction here, but those who need one can read the excellent article I published on Zeroth Position.
To retain autostatist reciprocity there is a need for a stable structure of power. Albeit they are not conventional states, autostates are still competing and potentially hostile entities. Privatized nukes should be enough for immediate threats, but long-term stability requires more tactful and nuanced solutions, an implicit threat of nuclear annihilation is not a sufficient answer to any potential problem. I will be here providing an excellent solution to this problem and an even better refutation to that solution.
The imperium has been a part of human civilization, no matter if we want to deny it or not. A person with the supreme power of command has always arisen to defeat conflicting factions and has always enstated his reign over the resulting imperium. This has been the seeming law of nature from ancient Rome and China to modern-day America. This provides the most intriguing solution to the potential problem of conflict between the autostates. If every autostate was subject to one supreme command that only aimed to uphold reciprocity, we would find ourselves in a perfect imperium. This would be akin to the patchwork of the holy roman empire.
This would effectively eliminate all potential problems with conflict while retaining local sovereignty over local issues, enstating an imperial order seems like an excellent way to preserve the autostates. But there are some very obvious objections to this. The imperium itself is not one entity and there will always be conflicts of interest. The person with the supreme command has no reason not to exercise that command for selfish purposes. It is impossible to ensure that a central empire is socially responsible. The knowledge problem essentially defeats any unnecessary centralization.
But simple objections have simple answers. Even though there are obvious conflicts of interest within the imperium, they will exist without the imperium. It makes very little difference whether the conflict is over centralized or decentralized force. A central decree by the ultimate owner of the imperium is akin to a decentralized nuclear threat, just far less destructive and violent.
And although the emperor has no necessary reason to not exploit his people, it is an extremely unprofitable strategy. Autostates still retain a degree of sovereignty insofar as they have the capacity to replace the emperor whenever the emperor becomes insufferable. The emperor only has resources insofar as the autostates allow him to, when deprived of consent by the autostates, the emperor is denied any means by which to exercise coercion. Tyrants face the same opposition from individual autostates that individual autostates face from their people. Thus, we can call this imperium an autoempire as it is not formed through conquest.
Furthermore, the autoempire will have to be socially responsible due to its nature as an autoempire. The autostates are pressured to retain the capacity to do away with bad emperors. If they did not, individual people would dissolve the autostates by the means provided within the foundational documents of the autostate. This provides bottom-up pressure that functionally ensures social responsibility.
And the knowledge problem is similarly irrelevant as the only knowledge the autoempire needs to have is who is in conflict with whom and act as the ultimate arbiter over disputes between multiple autostates. The autoempire will serve the role for the autostates that the autostates do for the people. This deliberate assignment of power to many people for unique purposes functions according to the division of labour and not according to unnecessary centralization. The autoempire is seemingly the best approach to ease conflicts between autostates and can seemingly provide a proper response to any criticisms of autostatism.
However, the autoempire is not immune to complex problems. This means that by asking the right questions, we are able to get to the heart of the problem with the autoempire. The first one of them is that an autoempire is not yet the ultimate form of centralization, if there is an autoempire, that empire must then be under an autoworldgovernment. There will always need to be a step above until all degrees of centralization are united under an ultimate arbiter. This is self-evidently ridiculous and not desirable for any person.
And the very same reasons for why an autoworldgovernment is undesirable apply to the autoempire. With any increasing degree of centralization, the people themselves lose their power to make decisions over the way that they are governed. The autostate is manageable precisely because it is a small form of organization with the full consent of those involved. If the autostate then gave a portion of its own power to a central agency, the link between the people and governance is permanently broken.
So even though the autoempire is responsible to the autostate, the autoempire will not be responsible for the individuals who ultimately make up an autostate. The use of an empire to solve the problems of conflict is made even worse because that empire is not solving the conflicts of individuals. This is yet another reason for why autostates can function, the only law that they can manage is that which applies between individuals. The autoempire, however, would then have to settle conflicts between sovereignties which distorts the incentives from restitution to power politics.
Furthermore, the other uses of autostates are to synthesize interests and institutionalize norms. The autostate is supposed to reduce social conflicts and establish institutional norms for the resolution therein. It seems as if the autoempire would also need to establish itself as the arbiter of norms and synthesizer of interests. If it did not do so, it would not need to retain ultimate power and could simply take the form of a treaty.
And this arrives at the same problem that legal judgement does, norms in governance and the interests of different autostates will devolve into power politics when another degree of abstraction is introduced. The autostate is the highest sustainable degree of central governance as each solitary person is interested in their own interest and the interest of their kin. The autostates, however, do not have such individual pressures and can quickly devolve into corporate actors when an empire serves to facilitate such behaviour.
And as a final death blow to the autoempire; there is no such person as a voluntary emperor as no person alive has the sheer capacity to maintain an empire based on their own qualities alone. There have been people who have managed to form empires and they can theoretically still emerge, but this is not guaranteed. A Napoleon is only born once every few centuries. Most emperors are simply chosen by good fortune and have no capacity to maintain an empire.
The solution to the problem of conflict should now be obvious to a keen reader, I never denied the necessity of a way to prevent imminent nuclear destruction. The solution is simply establishing a reciprocal treaty between the various autostates to prevent possible conflicts so as to uphold the reciprocity. This would not be a further abstracted metastructure as it is only a matter of policy in individual autostates.
Such a treaty would only serve as a contract to establish the means by which to solve various conflicts between autostates without resorting to warfare. This does not mean the establishment of a functional imperium insofar as the imperium has superior legal sanction comparatively to the individual autostates, rather this simply allows for predictable answers to potential conflicts. And since each autostate is incentivized to reduce conflict for the sake of their polity, they will aim to maximize the ways by which they can do so. If an autostate can have a policy of unnecessary warfare when people have the capacity to dissolve the organization, then that is only a testament to the extraordinary personal powers of those in charge of the autostate.
The same solution does not apply between individuals as the problem of interpersonal violence is not mainly predicated on a conflict of interests provided that there is a low degree of ambiguity in property ownership. Individuals use violence when they assume that the risk and moral price therein is worth the potential reward. Criminals are simply those people who are willing to take such a risk and disregard morality. Most individuals resolve conflicts peacefully. Unless autostates become states and thus criminals, there is no threat to reciprocity.
The real problem with an autostatist order is in which way can it defend against the established state, or in a hypothetical scenario, against a new nexus of violence. And regretfully, the only answer to this question is either a complete abandonment of liberty or completely embracing a privatized arms race. Reciprocal relations are impossible whenever states are involved.