A thought experiment.
First, some assumptions. A reevaluation of the social contract is required. Hobbes’s version, upon which all modern political theory is based, sounds right: We form governments to protect our physical security; we exchange some of our rights, whether in perpetuity (to the Leviathan) or conditionally (Locke’s version), in order to secure to ourselves and our posterity etc. But Hobbes’s theory is fatally flawed: The famous State of Nature, the “war of all against all” which we form governments to escape, assumes that all men are equal. Hobbes doesn’t say that every man is the same — that’s a position so absurd I doubt anyone has seriously held it — but he does say that a rough equality prevails in nature, such that men are functionally equal — the dumb-but-strong guy can’t lord it over the small-but-clever guy, or vice versa, indefinitely, because one will always find a way to kill the other.
That’s just false. Hobbes knew it, too, which is why, when pressed to describe a people that might actually be in the State of Nature, the best he could come up with was the North American Indians surrounding Plymouth Colony…. which he, and every other educated man in England, knew were hardly rugged individualists. His conclusion was right — States exist to provide collective physical security — but his premises were wrong. We can’t make the same mistake.
What, then, is the modern definition of “security”?
Let’s take Communist China as our “enemy.” Let’s further stipulate that even if we pared down our defenses to the bare minimum — hardened ICBM launch sites; some missile boats with “dead man switches” that fire automatically if they’re out of contact for a few hours — a Red Dawn-style conventional invasion would be too costly provided the US stays together as a coherent political entity.* Still, these days “diplomacy by other means” covers a lot more territory than military action. Defending against cyber threats, currency manipulation, etc. will require a lot more State than the libertarian fantasy would have it — cybersecurity alone has lots of layers that require some active direction from the top.
So: What should the State be doing?
Start with first principles: It’s obvious that Hobbes was wrong, and that people aren’t roughly equal, in the State of Nature or anywhere else. See “ICBMs, necessity of,” above. In Hobbes’s day, you could almost forgive a philosopher for thinking that everyone is roughly equal, because in Hobbes’s day armies still had cavalry staffed by guys with titles like “Sir This” and “Earl That” and “the Duke of The Other Thing.” Prince Rupert is pretty much your best case scenario there, and he was beaten by a bunch of commoners with muskets, any one of whom could take down the best equipped, most highly trained, bluest-blooded knight just by crooking his finger. That’s what Hobbes had in mind when he postulated functional equality in the State of Nature.
Modern life. though, is what your Robert Putnam types call “cognitively stratified.” Our hypothetical war vs. the ChiComs is almost entirely a brainpower war — our geeks vs. theirs. Prince Rupert with a musket has a 50/50 shot against Joe Schmoe with a musket, but neither of them stands a chance against a stealth drone. So: a modern State that is serious about its security must do, at minimum, the following:
- Acknowledge that IQ is real; that it is heritable; and that “society” has next to nothing to do with it
- Actively channel living people with high IQs into defense fields
- Encourage high IQ people to breed.
All of that is, of course — sigh — “Social Darwinism,” and we’re all terrible horrible no good very bad people for even reading that phrase. You’ll also notice that we’re a lot closer to the Leviathan than we’d like, particularly those of us who fancy “freedom” and “individual rights” (whatever those phrases could possibly mean in a world where Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is obviously being groomed to be President of the United States). But such is life, at least under the Social Contract, which is the only legitimating philosophy that even slightly, kinda sorta, hypothetically limits the State’s power. Swim, fish!… or die.
You’ll also notice that the Constitution is null and void under this dispensation. De jure, I mean, and not just de facto — as one cannot be a part-time missile engineer, or an amateur research chemist, the State will need to compel lifetime service from the most talented fraction of its population. Whether that’s consistent with the “republican form of government” we’re promised under Article IV, Section 4 can’t be left to the ruminations of Hawaiian Judges, especially since that same sentence also requires the Feds to protect us from foreign invasion, and we know how Hawaiian Judges tend to rule on that. Either Article IV will need to be amended in such a way that it absolutely cannot be penumbra’d or emanationed into saying its exact opposite, or we’ll need to scrap the whole thing. The entire history of US jurisprudence from Marbury v. Madison — in which Mr. Chief Justice Marshall found the notion of “judicial review” buried somewhere in all the stuff the Founders didn’t say but surely must’ve meant to, even though lots of them are still around to ask — suggests the latter as the only prudent course.
Part II later.