Presto Nije Prazan Ikonografija Hetimasije

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    The Throne is 


    Empty: A Calculus of Power* 

    Dirk Baecker** 

    Abstract: Giorgio Agamben's (The Kingdom and the Glory, Stanford, CA, 2011) rediscoveryof the theological notion of oikonomia as the frame to think about government andadministration is sociologically suggestive. Yet we seem to have to drop the idea of the'empty throne,' or hetoimasia tou thronou, as interpreted by Agamben. This paper argues thatwe do not need metaphysics to set up the important distinction between rule (auctoritas) andgovernment (potestas), as it got its canonical formulation by Adolphe Thiers. Instead weregard this metaphysics together with its theological backing by the distinction between God'sabsolute power (potentia absoluta) and this very power bound by His previous decisions

    (power ordinata) as the both anticipatory and ideological formulations of a social calculus ofpower, which in fact does not need kings nor gods but just the other (sozius) to come intooperation.

    Key words: fear, glory, power, oikonomia, social calculus


    Giorgio Agamben's (2011) rediscovery of the theological notion of oikonomia as the frame

    for thinking about government and administration is sociologically suggestive in every aspect

    but one. The three main ideas in Agamben's reconstruction of the theological genealogy ofany political economy are that (a) the world is created by God as a perfectly ordered one,

    which (b) provides for anarchy in worldly matters to let people choose in freedom a behavior

    in compliance with creation, such that (c) any government has to provide for the means to

    attain and execute a power that treasures arbitrariness to celebrate compliance. Angels in

    heaven and officials on earth make sure that human beings never lose sight of an order

    harnessing its own degrees of freedom.

    These three ideas are convincing even if we drop the further idea of the 'empty throne,' or

    hetoimasia tou thronou, as interpreted by Agamben (2011, chap. 8). Agamben needs the ideaof the empty throne to develop a certain metaphysics of sovereign rule, which is all the more

    glorious the more inactive and indeed evasive it is, such that any government actually

    administrating worldly matters both gains interpretative leeway in any concrete situation and

    may at any time be questioned about the legitimation it claims. This paper argues that we do

    not need metaphysics to set up the important distinction between rule (auctoritas) and

    *  Manuscript of a talk and discussion, "Herrschaft im System: Zur Kontrolle von Macht", with Heinz Budeat Schaubühne Berlin, Berlin, March 19, 2012.

    **  Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen,,

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    government ( potestas), as canonically formulated by Adolphe Thiers (in a newspaper article

    tellingly titled "Du gouvernement par les chambres", Le National, February 4, 1830): "Le roin'administre pas, ne gouverne pas, il règne" (see also Agamben 2011, chap. 4). Instead we

    regard this metaphysics together with its theological backing by the distinction between God's

    absolute power ( potentia absoluta) and this very power bound by His previous decisions

    ( power ordinata) as the both anticipatory and ideological formulation of a social calculus of

    power that in fact does not need kings or gods but only the other (sozius) to come into


    As the metaphysics and theology of power maintain, if only to doubt, a substance or

    essence of sovereignty as its mostly and for the better hidden ground, sociology instead opts

    for a combination of material, social, and temporal problems to be solved by the means of

    power. To substitute for the metaphysics and theology of power, whose social function we do

    not disbelieve, we here opt for a social theory of power that looks for conflicts to be fostered

    and solved by the political sovereign (see also Rasch 2004) and adds the economy as the

    balance spring of the political.

    Thus, this paper aims to frame and regain Agamben's rediscovery of oikonomia firstly as a

    core idea of political economy and then as a notion still fruitful in developing a complex

    systems understanding of a calculus of power.


    In fact a 4th century mosaic in San Paolo fuori le mure in Rome rendered without the angels

    and without the five ministrants (cheerleaders?) instructed by two other angels as the cover of

    Agamben's book in its Italian and American editions already shows that the throne is not


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     Hetoimasia tou thronou, Preparation of the Throne

    Apart from the two angels responsible for preparing the throne, the Cross and the instruments

    of Christ's passion behind the throne, there is also a Gospel book lying on the cushion of the

    throne, apparently open. As 'hetoimasia' literally means the 'being prepared for, and by' of the

    throne and not its 'emptiness' the throne is indeed still devoid of the king but already marked

    if not occupied by Scripture, which tells the king where his power, if any, may come from

    and what he will be obliged to respect (and all other instances of an 'empty throne' quoted by

    Agamben in his chapter 8.23 are equally instances of a throne already marked by various

    signs and symbols of the 'glory' of rule). The preparation of the throne is tantamount to the

    doubling of the body of the king into one which is mortal and another which belongs to some

    immortal kingdom (Kantorowicz 1957), which later will witness its transformation from

    Augustinus' civitas dei into the civitas terrena first of princes, then of parliaments (Thiers'

    chambres), and eventually of bureaucracies, thus over and again distinguishing the person ofthe king from his function.

    Our question here is whether and how analysis of the emergence and framing of political

    power changes if we switch from the somehow misleading picture of the empty throne to

    acknowledgment of Scripture already seated upon it. To be sure, we would want to maintain

    Agamben's description of the necessary inaction (anapauesthai) of both God and king to

    mark the character of their power consisting, as it were, not in commanding subordinates but

    in letting them develop their own well-framed power. We would even like to retain a certain

    notion of emptiness as conceived of by other political theories, as well, possibly marking the

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    distinction of men's action within the world from God's creation of  the world, on one hand,

    and the king attending to this distinction, on the other. Ernesto Laclau (1994), for example,understands 'empty signifiers' as signifying the necessary ambivalence of any system of

    power, which consists in not positively determining the actions of subordinates but in giving

    them specific backing to deal with decisions they will have to take for themselves. An empty

    signifier marks the undecidability of issues only we human beings may thus decide (von

    Foerster 2003; see also Derrida 1988). Similarly, Niklas Luhmann (1997, chap. 2. XI)

    conceives of power as of any other symbolically generalized medium as featuring a 'zero

    method' to symbolize within the use of the medium the limits of this use. Emptiness thus

    means negation, and negation means reflecting the boundaries of a concept, opening the

    possibility to either accept or reject it depending on the overall assessment of a situation.

    Thus, as the king, viz. his mortal body, is conspicuously absent, there is no lack of

    operations already in place. This is what the Scripture tells the people watching. A system of

    power is already in place and demands a kind of attention not to be disturbed by having to

    look at the mortal body, its gestures and facial expressions, its talk and its trumps, its force

    and its weaknesses. Any political theory begins at the moment when there is an understanding

    and notion not just of the figure of the king but also of the grounds of the system he depends

    on as well as maintains and occasionally even initiates. The so-called empty throne splits the

    attribution of power into an acknowledgment of the figure of the king, on one hand, and ofthe grounding of the system, on the other. The glorification (doxology, doxa logia, 'glory

    saying') of the king and his kingdom is both the celebration of any convergence of the figure

    and its grounds and a constant threat to withdraw the respect for the figure when seen to be no

    longer in congruence with the grounds.

    The same goes for the glorification of inaction, which Agamben (2011, chap. 8) eloquently

    rediscovers for much of theological and philosophical thinking (Aristotle, Philo, Paulus,

    Spinoza). Inaction is the other side of a distinction that knows action as well, even though this

    side of the distinction is allocated to slaves, the management of households, trade, and theoccasional war. The glorification of inaction is only the mark of many actions undertaken to

    maintain the perfect states of cosmos, polis, and oikos. Even noble men act when the perfect

    world is threatened by corruption. Political and economic thinking, however, sets in if the

    question is no longer one of action or inaction but of blocking action or obtaining action

    (White 1992).

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    We propose to see Scripture seated on the so-called empty throne not in terms of the content

    of the Gospel, fascinating though it is, but in terms of the medium, which here once again is

    the more effective message (McLuhan 1964). Scripture spreads the Gospel but also presents

    its audience with a form of writing that greatly extending the time horizons any society had

    previously to be able to deal with. In fact it is not just the extension of these time horizons

    toward a remembered past and a future to be envisioned but the present control of memories

    and expectations relating to past and future that was differentiated and elaborated as no oral

    communication dealing only with the present flow of words, framed by the faint memory of

    forefathers and the unrelenting expectation of the eternal recurrence of the same, had everbeen able to imagine (Ong 1982).

    If God had not already been invented, He would now have to be invented in order to be

    able to imagine what kind of communication framed the decisions of men who, due to

    receipts, bonds, and bills they carried with them, began to calculate what to do in what kind

    of present and future relying on what kind of past. God's rule is indeed the rule of time, as the

    Church, to be sure, was quick to discover. The message of Scripture, embedded in its

    medium, is the possible fine-tuning of memories and expectations, backed by ideas of original

    sin, the last judgment, and eternal salvation. This fine-tuning of memories and expectationswith respect to present action to be undertaken or forgone is the reason why Max Weber was

    able to relate world religion and economic behavior by asking what rewards (Prämien) were

    spelled out for what kind of behavior (Weber 1988). Without the step from oral to written

    communication, however, this kind of mutual reframing of economics in terms of religion,

    and of religion in terms of economics, would not have been possible.

    If the message of Scripture is that of the rule of time, and if any king for whom the throne

    is prepared is not considered the ruler but the governor, that is not the sovereign but its

    administration, the question is then how the anarchical aspect of oikonomia emphasized by

    Agamben (2011) relates to the emergence, maintenance, and control of power. Evidently, the

    sphere of the economy is not itself the sovereign or ruler. The economy is the sphere to be

    administrated by means of a power stemming from the feedback of a calculus of past and

    future into any present decision. The distinction is subtle but it is necessary to be able to see

    how politics interferes in economics, and vice versa.

    The track we are trying to follow is an idea perhaps first written down by Xenophon

    (1970) in his Socratic discourse about the oikonomikos, the good manager of a household.

    The oikonomikos, not to be confused with the homo oeconomicus, thinks and calculates in

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    terms of a political economy, which is not to be reduced to a calculus of gains and costs, but

    encompasses the question of how any sozius is willing to engage in not exactly common butat least mutual concerns. Xenophon's discourse, highly esteemed by Roman readers (Burford

    1996), is about a noble who manages to excel in splendid 'inaction' (but this is an

    exaggeration; actually he actively represents his household in all political and economic

    aspects on the market and in public) only because he is successful in ensuring that his young

    wife takes care of the household. The wife in turn treats children, servants, slaves, and

    livestock in a similar manner. Any of these people can well be imagined to take his or her

    moment of conspicuous inaction just to show and check that everything is done well. There is

    no idleness in such a household, but only consummatory action in the interest of perfection.

    The key to the political economy inherent in this discourse is both given and withhold in

    book XXI, section 12, when Isomachos, the noble man and oikonomikos (good  household

    manager, to be distinguished from the oikonomos, the plain household manager), explains to

    Socrates how in fact he manages his noble affairs by ensuring that everyone involved is a

    'willing subject': "For it seems to me that this good – to rule over willing subjects – is not

    altogether a human thing but, rather, divine; it is clearly given only to those who have been

    genuinely initiated into the mysteries of moderation; but tyrannical rule over unwilling

    subjects, it seems to me, they give to those whom they believe worthy of living like Tantalus

    in Hades, who is said to spend unending time in fear of a second death." These 'mysteries ofmoderation', of sophrosyne, have been the key to any political economy ever since. The gist,

    if not explicit, of the whole discourse is that these mysteries are the mysteries of the

    emergence of a willingness to abstain from unworried consumption now in order to be

    rewarded by fully funded consumption tomorrow. This is of course the most trivial insight

    into any economic calculus, yet it becomes nontrivial considering how such'moderation' is

    achieved among a host of people with highly divergent moods, whims, and expectations. This

    is where politics interferes with economics and vice versa.

    Max Weber possibly rediscovered these mysteries of moderation when, in his usual,somewhat pedantic yet often rewarding way, he set out to define what 'economic action'

    (Wirtschaften, a verb, not a noun, covering not only 'economizing' but also, as the situation

    may require, 'lavishing') is all about. Apparently this definition occurred only late in the

    development of the different manuscripts that his widow Marianne Weber collected under the

    title 'Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft' (Schluchter 1989; see Baecker 2007). It reads as follows:

    "'Wirtschaften' soll eine friedliche Ausübung von Verfügungsgewalt heißen …" (Weber 1990,

    p. 31). The American translation unfortunately defuses the most fascinating aspect of the

    definition: "'Economic action' (Wirtschaften) is any peaceful exercise of an actor's control

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    over resources which is in its main impulse oriented towards economic ends" (Weber 1978, p.

    63). Weber himself will have been astounded at his own definition and will have noted thetelling contradiction between ' friedliche Ausübung' (peaceful exercise) and

    'Verfügungsgewalt' (power of control, but in its German wording referring to 'violence' as

    well), on the other. His astonishment is documented first by the three following, densely

    written pages in which Weber relates the power of control to physical violence ('Pragma der

    Gewalt') and tries to demonstrate that Ausübung' is not identical with physically violent

    action and by his apparent attempt to revise the whole series of manuscripts to provide a

    complete reconsideration of the relationship between his sociology of politics and sociology

    of economics (see again Schluchter 1989).

    Max Weber did not have the time to rewrite 'Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft', let alone his

    'Outline of Socio-Economics' of which it was to be a chapter (which is also saying that

    'Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft' in by no means a principal distinction in Weber's sociology; it is

    a minor one completing a series like 'Wirtschaft und Natur,' 'Wirtschaft und Technik,'

    Wirtschaft und Wirtschaftswissenschaft,' and so on; nor is 'Gesellschaft' a properly Weberian

    term; he always preferred to talk of 'Vergesellschaftung' in the sense of historically indexed

    and thus contingent processes of sociation). At the time of his death he had turned his

    attention to the paradox that political economy could possibly organize the whole field of

    economy and politics within their social context. Of course he would not have liked bringinghis own approach closer to Karl Marx's talk of the contradictions of 'capitalism,' nor would he

    have had the theoretical means to deal with paradox as an empirical fact bringing forth a

    whole field of action. In the long run, he would possibly rather have been tempted to avoid

    paradox as an epistemological fault. But as it was, he presented his definition, and that is why

    we now have a definition that provided a basic insight into the field of political economy.

    Weber's insight is the acknowledgment that some violence inherent in the most peaceful

    economic action and that it is only with respect to 'society' interfering that this violence is

    domesticated to a degree that allows 'willing subjects' to work peacefully to provide for theirown future and to accept forms of custom, civilization, organization, and rationality, all terms

    for both indicating and distinguishing, that is reflecting on and changing certain social

    arrangements for first deferring and then obtaining satisfaction. Domestication must be both

    accomplished in concrete situations and backed by social arrangements addressing two

    contingencies dealt with interdependently. 'Society' is the name of a calculus relating political

    will and economic action. It is a combinatorial calculus of people, matters, and time

    dimensions, which recursively draws on contexts to secure actions, and on actions to check

    for contexts.

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    Oikonomia combines the anarchy of secular matters with the rule of a divine order. How are

    we to translate this conundrum into a sociological theory of a political economy, let alone into

    a complex systems notion of a social calculus of power? Of course, Adam Smith's idea of the

    Invisible Hand springs to mind, and Smith was certainly still plainly aware of the theological

    tradition to which he was alluding. We would indeed have to develop ideas on the

    information and risk architecture of different markets to spell out how the political economy

    translates into the networks of complex systems actually producing the order and exchange ofeconomic action (White 1981 and 2002; Luhmann 1988; Baecker 1988). But an explicit

    notion of the political inherent in such an economics of markets would still be lacking.

    We need to take seriously the fact of power informing and organizing the whole field of

    political economy. And we need to combine it with the message of time vicariously presented

    by Scripture seated on the throne. And, last not least, we need to do all this without repeating

    the mistake of the Hobbesian tradition and criticized by Talcott Parsons (1977: 209/10) of

    identifying political power with economic calculus. It is one thing to coerce somebody with

    the threat of negative sanctions or the withdrawal of positive sanctions, and it is something

    quite different to let somebody experience the benefit of sacrifice. What we and every

    political economy are interested in is precisely the combination of power and calculus to let

    people experience not just domination but their range of choice, as well.

    Power, as Niklas Luhmann understood after more than twenty years of research (Luhmann

    1979 and 1997, pp. 355-7; see also Crozier/Friedberg 1980; and Baecker 2009a), is not only

    exercised by threatening the other with violence they then seek to avoid by obeying; it is also

    literally creating the discovery of arbitrariness (Willlkür) if not outright free will. Positively

    and negatively, by threatening to withdraw benefits and privileges or by threatening to refrain

    from further communication or even by actually using physical violence, the very momentsomebody claims power over somebody else reveals both the possibility of choice and thus of

    arbitrariness (Willkür). The person giving an order must have chosen to do so and in so

    deciding in fact risks not being able to follow through, showing that he lacks the means. And

    the person receiving an order discovers that he still chooses to accept or refuse it, depending

    on further prospects, on support from others for either acceptation or rejection, or on technical


    The exercise of power allows people to discover the possibility of free will, not the other

    way around. It is not that freedom first prevails to be restricted by someone exercising power

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    over others willing to obey. Some actors discover that they have power over others, which

    shows both that they have a choice.If we return to the representative situation Xenophon and Max Weber describe, a noble

    man instructing his wife, a supervisor instructing his subordinate, a producer instructing his

    suppliers, or partners instructing their partners in various deals, we understand the mutual

    implication of politics and economics. The very possibility of choosing otherwise, in modern

    terms contingency, lets people calculate how to rely on each other in both accepting a rule and

    making provision for an uncertain future. Due to the arbitrariness from which they suffer or in

    which they delight, they are on the constant lookout for alternatives, searching their field of

    action for consolidation or evasion. As not only Xenophon and Max Weber but all

    considerate economics has always been keen to explicate, economic action is above all about

    providing for an uncertain future (see only Menger 1968; Robbins 1972; Paulsen 1953;

    Luhmann 1970) not just about material or immaterial scarcity.

    Scarcity is only the occasion for looking to both future and present and being wary of

    present temptations or fearful about an uncertain future. The most important decisions to be

    taken by economic actors are about what present and future goods and services are to be

    considered scarce and thus the object of economic action (Weber 1981; Luhmann 1988;

    Baecker 2006). There is no 'nature' to determine this in advance. Economic decisions are as

    selective and thus dependent on 'culture' and 'society' as any other decisions (Douglas 1982).They constitute negotiations on what goods and services are to be considered scarce and/or

    abundant, depending on the settlement of technical questions of production, economizing, and

    consumption; on how social labor is to be divided (note that it is not division sociale du

    travail but division du travail social in Durkheim 1998); and on how past, present, and future

    are to be allocated in order to deal with the decisions considered appropriate.

    The venerable principle of reward for renouncement comes in fact as its own double. One

    has to be rewarded to renounce, which is the political element of the affair, and one has to be

    rewarded with goods and services deferred to some later time, which is its economic element.There are also two sides to power and the power of control, as they are unhappily

    exercised over people and resources, but then turn into the capacity to actually fulfill desires

    and compensate for displeasure.

    Thus, political economy is to be regarded in this context as ruled by an uncertain future

    shared by everyone involved, such that government and administration may stem from the

    actual distribution and allocation of pleasure and displeasure, deferment and satisfaction,

    order and obedience. The uncertainty of the future is translated into the observation of the

    arbitrariness (Willkür

    ), i.e. risk and danger, of any decision actually to be taken. This

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    arbitrariness both alarms and assures all involved, because any decision may turn out to have

    been the wrong one, but only decisions are able to deal with this. Add the fear of the futureand the glory of a regime turning out to have taken the appropriate decisions, and we obtain

    the following power calculus of political economy, using the notation of the calculus of

    indications proposed by George Spencer-Brown (1972):

    Power = Arbitrariness Glory Fear

    We mark 'arbitrariness' first, because without it there are no decisions to be watched but only

    ideologies of traditional rule, of inherent necessities (Sachzwänge), or of allegedly rational

    unambiguity. But the next indication from which 'arbitrariness' is to be distinguished must be

    'glory', because without it nobody would be willing to become a willing subject in the first

    place. This is why it is so important that the game is already running when additional

    household members, employees, or partners enter it. The game must contain hints of either

    actual or potential glory to convince everybody else to both accept its arbitrariness and

    explore and exploit it further. But, of course, without 'fear' there would be no reason to look

    for this kind of glory, and this is why it is decisive that arbitrariness both fuels fear, because

    any decision could prove wrong, and assuages it, because at least done is doing something

    about it.

    Fear and glory are not psychological, but sociological phenomena, to be sure. They are

    accompanied by physical sensations and emotions (how else could they make themselves

    felt?) but they are aroused socially and they are meant to manage and moderate the situations

    in which they are aroused with respect to the people, the facts, and the memories and

    expectations bearing on those situations. Emotions, as Charles Darwin (2005; see alsoBaecker 2004) has emphasized, stem from social environments, mark them as further

    situational facts, and thus help to deal with them. Thus, fear and glory are multivariate

    phenomena. They may variously be aroused by people threatening or being glorified, by

    shortages experienced or being overcome, and by time horizons of past, present, and future

    being packed or eased. This is why arbitrariness dominates the scene in the first place.

    Without it, the many possible combinations of people, provisions, and time horizons to be

    feared and glorified could never be explored to suit a specific situation at hand. Any subtleties

    in the exercise of power are due to this combinatorial calculus (Machiavelli 1961).

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    Yet, it is equally important to emphasize that fear and glory are socially aroused feelings,

    which as such, or what Talcott Parsons (1977, p. 218-9) calls “affects,” are able to address,fuel, and organize social solidarity, which would be difficult to achieve through an intellect

    that is more disjunctive than collective. Here again, arbitrariness is helpful if not

    indispensable because it ensures that such solidarity has nothing but itself to draw upon, thus

    making it an even more forceful, if volatile force.


    Max Weber's (1978) distinction between traditional, legally rational (or was it rationallylegal?), and charismatic authority ( Herrschaft ) comes in handy since it orders and exchanges

    rule and anarchy in markedly different ways without giving up control by glory and fear.

    Traditional authority freezes any anarchy into states legitimated by heritage, insists on fear

    being the same as that experienced by ancestors and future progeny, and takes glory in the

    fact that no alternative to its rule ever imposed itself. A legally rational authority knows

    anarchy on the level of contingencies its bureaucracies produce and deal with internally

    (hierarchy of offices) and externally (variety of circumstances), produces fear of any state of

    disorder that goes beyond the contingencies dealt with by its bureaucracies, and glorifies the

    ability of its governments to positively change both its legal apparatus and its visions of

    purpose and means in accordance to changing situations. And charismatic authority answers

    the perceived anarchy of a situation by bundling all arbitrariness in just one person (and that

    person’s clique, usually), summing up all fear as indicating a situation that only a single

    person can deal with adequately, rewarding that person with glorification, which can at any

    time turn into the vilification of a rogue (Girard 1986).

    The arbitrariness of the power exercised is never absent, because traditional authority is

    marked by symbols that somehow always overstate its case, legally rational authority

    explicitly urging itself to change its procedures, and charismatic authority evidentlyattributing it to both apex and followers. All three authorities follow a principle Charles Sabel

    (1993) has called 'studied trust' in that arbitrariness, fear, and glory are always measured

    against necessary sacrifice, foreseeable reward, and actual consummatory practice, which all

    mean embedding political will in economic action, and vice versa.

    More generally, however, we may look at how collective decisions of any kind come

    about and thus try to figure out how our social calculus of power is to be embedded in the

    complex systems architecture typical of our network society. Again we refer to a helpful idea

    formulated by Niklas Luhmann (2000, pp. 84-5) who defined a collective decision as a

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    decision binding the decision maker, as well, who may or may not identical with the powers

    that be. This idea is of course cutting short a rich and dangerous tradition of assumingcollectivities to be already out there embodied in some 'collective mind' or 'consciousness',

    some 'deep structure' of language, religion, or culture, amounting to a calculus of how they

    come about at all. The decisive moment is the application of self-constraint, so revealingly

    emphasized by Jon Elster (2000) as well, which is calculated by both the individual

    performing it and observers watching them with respect to the political power of generating

    and binding the necessary will and with respect to the costs and benefits of the accompanying

    economic action.

    A collectivity (or 'control project,' Deleuze 1995; Castells 1996; Hardt/Negri 2000;

    Boltanski/Chiapello 2005) comes about as soon as forms of binding one's own potential for

    action are judged by others to be attractive in terms of mustering political will and organizing

    economic action. Both political will and economic action count on the arbitrariness of these

    decisions and the contingencies they face and produce, yet count equally on reliable fear to be

    cultivated and on splendid glory to reward all sacrifices made and to shorten the deprivation

    heroically accepted. The collectivity, always being about to disband due to members not

    being or seeming ready to continue binding themselves, assumes a rationality of satisficing

    behavior (Simon 1957) even in cases when only optimization, or behavior framed as

    optimization, satisfies everybody involved. And it accepts all states that do not so severelyviolate its conditions for glorification that any fear of losing its order dissipates and people

    opt instead for revolt. The social calculus of these conditions has aptly been called a 'moral

    economy' by Edward P. Thompson (1971).

    For any complex systems studies able to receive the ideas of political economy and bring

    them to bear in a cognitive science study of contemporary society, we propose to take

    seriously such an emergence of collectivities (or 'control projects') implementing, and

    implemented in, a power calculus of arbitrariness, glory, and fear. It may be appropriate to

    describe and explain what kinds of hierarchies are observed within complex heterarchies(Stark 2009) or what kinds of diversities are able to maintain themselves with respect to plain

    complexity (Page 2011).

    As it turns out, leadership concerns political will and economic action bound by the

    circumstances with which both have to deal (Baecker 2009b). This is trivial. Less trivial is the

    insight that leadership will always have to actively communicate the arbitrariness of its

    decisions and the glory and the fear addressing its own conditions of precarious success. Most

    of the time, it will not communicate this openly but latently, implicitly, subcutaneously. If it

    ceased doing this, it would lose its most important resource, which is not just its own free

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     – 13 –

    will, but that of all of its followers as well. We should not be surprised if the complex

    networks so much talked about these days (Strogatz 2001) turn out not only to be infested bya power calculus combining glory and fear but also dependent in all aspects of their

    architecture on such a power calculus. As the network is its own calculus of its own

    uncertainty (White 1992), there seems to be no better way to actually never lose sight of both

    the inside and the outside of the form of these networks.

    The throne is not empty. Even before the king takes his seat, the throne is occupied by a

    network that knows as many internal switches as switches for other networks. The throne is

    marked by Scripture lying open on it. Its pages may be perused and turned at any time. Its

    words, parables, and gospel will certainly be interpreted and reinterpreted, producing

    commentaries on commentaries to become a medium of a reading and writing that constantly

    updates itself. The form of writing (Luhmann 1992) prevails over any present that consumes

    itself. The throne in fact is a relay working as a switch to organize the exploration of the

    conditions of its rule and the line of succession or break by revolution to adapt itself to new

    conditions. Looking at the relay, all followers discover that they are not powerless, but that

    they will have to submit to very similar conditions if they wield their power to let the

    kingdom switch.

    The throne is not empty; it contains everything we need to know in the search for a social

    calculus of power, which is basically an ecological one. The distinction between rulers andfollowers first and between different levels of government and governance thereafter emerges

    from a single type of operation consisting in evoking arbitrariness (Willkür) between ego and

    alter ego. This means that hierarchy does not precede execution of its possibilities; the

    discovery and need of arbitrariness in action and decision comes first to be followed by its

    framing, domestication, and cultivation in various forms of hierarchies, heterarchies, and

    networks. Which is to say that we are dealing with another form of self-similar and scalable

    distinction containing its own calculus.

     Acknowledgment: English language editing by Rhodes Barrett.

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