Last week I started reading The Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbitt following Clay Spinuzzi's and David Ronfeldt's look at it. It's been slow going thus far because the book includes too many historical facts below the meta level of conceptual frameworks, well reasoned arguments and theoretical speculations which I thrive on. It's too soon to report on my conclusions, but I can share my process of questioning what I'm reading now.
I'm expecting this book to add dimensions to the Ronfeldt's TIMN framework that I've explored often here. Bobbitt looks through a lens of constitutional law at changes in governance and strategy over the centuries. Constitutional frameworks answer questions of legitimacy. He sees wars becoming epochal when those questions of legitimacy remain unresolved at the end of an armed conflict. This is a new lens for me to look through.
If you've followed my writing here, you know I often look through a lens of enterprise viability. I'm usually concerned with value propositions, business models, disruptive innovations and collaborative employment experiences. I'm often comparing approaches with taxonomies that suggest phases of development and transitions to realize upgrades in those approaches. I view governments, wars and top-level strategy changes as providing value to citizen-customers and commercial enterprises. I share the symmetric view of power with actor-network theory which sees both the governing and governed as valuing each other, using each other and exerting power over each other.
My familiar lenses call into question much of what The Shield of Achilles proposes. Here's some of those questions I'm keeping in mind as I read this book:
- What-if the "market-state" emerged with the advent of transatlantic steamships and telegraph lines over a century ago, not the end of the "Cold War"?
- What if the "long war" from the start of WWI to the end of the Cold War occurred concurrently with the Market State throughout the 20th century?
- What if the unresolved legitimacy issues between fascism, communism and liberal parliamentarism were brought on by the concurrent and competing legitimacy of the market-state?
- What if the market-state is currently facing it's own legitimacy issues made possible by the concurrent and competing legitimacy of an emergent "networked state"?
- What if the market-state's legitimacy issues include its unsustainable levels of debt, resource depletion, labor exploitation and ostentatious consumption?
- What if the market-state is currently fighting out its own ideological stances between free market economics, government interventionist and protected commons economics brought on by the global recession?
- What if the elusive resolution the market-state ideologies will come about by the introduction of a "networked state", rather than winning battles between these contested economic ideologies?
These questions will enable me to scrutinize Bobbitt's reasoning behind his claim that a market state is next in line. These questions will also use the books argumentation to confront the assumptions I'm making behind these seven what-if questions. Both angles increase the value I will extract from reading The Shield of Achilles.