Conservatives Discover the SysAdmin

Roberts as Establishment Conservative,” by Ken Blanchard, South Dakota Politics, 23 July 2005,

Dr. Thomas PM Barnett has noted that victory requires two “teams” — a Leviathan to “win the war” and a System Administrator to “win the peace.” The Leviathan penetrates, isolates, and subdues the opposition, while the SysAdmin reorients and reharmonizes the society to bring stability and peace.

If you place the two forces on a chart, with the vertical axis “up and down part” being force, and the horizontal axis “across part” being time, the Leviathan / SysAdmin split would look like

Leviathan pacts force into a much shorter length of time.
The Leviathan’s force is more Intense, while the SysAdmin’s force is more lasting

If a movement doesn’t have both a Leviathan and SysAdmin, it can’t win the war. The US Military is the greatest Leviathan in the world, but because of its weak SysAdmin ability Iraq is a struggle.

The Leviathan / SysAdmin split is useful for things other than war. I have blogged before how Jesus and Paul gave Christianity a Leviathan and a System Administrator strong enough to convert the Roman Empire. Now comes clear evidence that contemporary American Conservatives (“neoconservatives and theoconservatives“) are are building a SysAdmin like they built a Leviathan decades ago


From the conservative side a defense of the Robert’s nomination has emerged that is somewhat novel, and surely worth thinking about. This from David Brooks in the New York Times (hat tip to RealClear Politics):


Roberts nomination, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . . . I love thee because John G. Roberts is the face of today’s governing conservatism. Conservatives who came of age in the 1960’s did so in an intensely ideological time when it was arduous to be on the right. People from that generation are more likely to have a dissident mentality, to want to storm the ramparts of the liberal establishment, to wade in to vanquish their foes in the war of ideas.

But John Roberts didn’t enter Harvard until the fall of 1973. He missed all that sturm und drang, so he lacks, his former colleagues say, the outsider/dissident mentality. By the time he came of age, it was easier for a conservative to be comfortable in mainstream institutions, without feeling embattled or spoiling for a fight.


The argument here is that it takes one kind of conservative to take power (consider Newt Gingrich) and another to effectively govern. Roberts, Brooks thinks, is of the latter sort. And such men are necessary if the conservative position in politics is to be sustaine


Need more convincing?


And then there is William Kristol’s piece from the Weekly Standard:


IT TAKES AN INSURRECTION TO change a country. It takes an establishment to govern one. Conservatives want both to change and to govern America. Thus we need our dissatisfied, troublemaking, occasionally splenetic, sometimes raffish anti-establishmentarians. After all, without brave resistance and bold insurrection on the part of conservatives, liberal orthodoxy and institutions would still dominate American life.

But insurrection isn’t enough. At some point, the radicals need assistance, support, and reinforcement from establishment conservatives–individuals ill-suited to insurrection but well-suited to rising through the institutions and moving them gradually but meaningfully in a conservative direction. Thus, we need our sober, calm, and respectable establishmentarians. Conservatives also need to be able to put together majorities–in public opinion, in Congress, and on the courts. The conservative tent therefore has to be a big one. As a Supreme Court justice, John Roberts will be an important (and, we trust, happy) camper in that tent.



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