The Encrypted State
Delusion and Displacement in the Peruvian Andes
David Nugent

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Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: The Routine and the Remarkable in State Formation
chapter abstract

The Introduction provides an overview of current theories of state formation and shows how the book contributes to those debates. It does so by developing a conceptual framework that incorporates crisis into theories of order. It treats crisis as something other than a temporary aberration from the normal operation of the state. Instead, it focuses on the ritual, bureaucratic and documentary practices undertaken in the name of the state that produce the illusion of the ordinary and the mundane. Chapter One also discusses why it is so important to maintain the illusion of the everyday and why it is so difficult to see behind the mask of the state. Central to the analysis are the mechanisms by which the delusional nature of state activity is rendered rational and routine. Equally important are the processes that undermine the effectiveness of these mechanisms.

1 Sacropolitics
chapter abstract

This chapter introduces concepts that are crucial to the analysis of The Encrypted State. The most important of these is "sacropolitics," the politics of public mass sacrifice. This term identifies a form of sovereignty that is distinct from biopolitics, necropolitics and the state of exception. Sacropolitics differs from biopolitics in the sense that it is not about the management of life. It differs from necropolitics in that it is not about the subjugation of life to death. Sacropolitics is neither about managing nor taking life but rather animating it. It is about bringing to life dead, dying or moribund populations and social formations. Sacropolitical efforts call upon the entire population to engage in public performances of mass sacrifice. These performances are intended to contribute to the creation of new life worlds that can redeem poor countries from the profane state into which they have fallen.

2 The Descent into Madness
chapter abstract

This chapter offers an in-depth exploration of the crisis of rule that unfolded in the Chachapoyas region circa 1950. At this time officials came to believe that they were incapable of carrying out even the most basic of government functions. Furthermore, officials came to believe that their efforts to govern the region were being thwarted by APRA, the party they themselves had forced underground. In accounting for the failure of their own efforts to govern, officials attributed to APRA a subterranean party apparatus with all the powers of state that their own regime lacked. Indeed, the political authorities came to view their administration as a pale imitation of a sophisticated, complex state structure located somewhere deeply underground. They could not actually see the subterranean party state to which they attributed such power and influence. As a result, they were left to imagine the contours of their invisible enemy.

3 The Consolidation of Casta Rule
chapter abstract

This chapter explores the consolidation of a new form of political organization in the Chachapoyas region in the early decades of the twentieth century. Circa 1920 changes in the national social structure brought a new national leader to power—Augusto Leguía. Drawing upon huge sums of money borrowed from US banks, Leguía provided unprecedented support to his elite clients in the Chachapoyas. In so doing, he changed the balance of power between longstanding elite factions and allowed one faction to prevail over the rest. By the time Leguía fell from power in 1930 his clients in the Chachapoyas region—the Pizarro-Rubio—had done something that had not formerly been possible. They had eliminated the region's opposing elite factions. In so doing, they permanently transformed the region's class structure. Leguía and his administration had sacropoliticial ambitions and plans.

4 Being (and Seeing) Like a State
chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes the efforts of the Pizarro-Rubio casta to implement the central government's sacropolitically-motivated plans to modernize the Chachapoyas region during the 1920s. The period is an interesting one for scholars of state formation because the developments of the 1920s provide a direct challenge to institutional understandings of the state. According to these views, state formation depends on the ability of central powers to eliminate violence-wielding competitors, who interfere with the monopoly on force the state seeks to establish. The ability of the central government to impose its will in Chachapoyas, however, was contingent not upon the elimination of violence-wielding actors but on their preservation. The fact that the Pizarro-Rubio had succeeded in eliminating all competing elite factions meant that the clients of the ruling casta were able to work together to ensure that government projects proceeded un a timely and efficient manner.

5 Divided Elite and Disordered State
chapter abstract

This chapter investigates the changes in the regional social structure that made it impossible for government officials to mobilize the workforce they needed to carry out modernization projects. Key in this regard was the breakdown of the castas. When the Pizarro-Rubio fell from power in 1930, there were no remaining elite coalitions that could take their place. Instead, the castas fragmented into a series of separate families, each having to fend for itself. This resulted in an unprecedented degree of infighting within the apparatus of government. For positions in government were the only way that elite families could maintain an elite station in life. From this point onward the apparatus of government became a terrain of conflict. This in turn undermined any and all efforts to modernize the Chachapoyas region. Those responsible for mobilizing the workforce became involved in bitter struggles with one another.

6 The Sacropolitics of Military Conscription
chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes the increasingly futile efforts of government officials to conscript the regional population into the armed forces—a mundane activity they had undertaken with ease during the reign of the castas. The chapter shows the delusional nature of government plans, and how delusion was (mis)-represented as rationality and routine. The chapter also explores the authorities' growing confusion about their inability to conscript, and their sense that what had formerly seemed ordinary was anything but that. Chapter Seven also examines the explanations that government officials generated to explain their inability to carry out activities that had formerly been routine—in which their attribute their difficulties to a series of phantom figures that are said to haunt government efforts to rule.

7 The Sacropolitics of Labor Conscription
chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes the authorities' mounting difficulties in conscripting the population for public works—a second "routine" activity they had previously undertaken with great success. The chapter shows the delusional nature of government plans, and how delusion was represented as rationality and routine. The chapter also explores officials' confusion about their inability to carry out the ordinary, everyday task of conscription, and their sense that what had formerly seemed ordinary was anything but that. Chapter Eight also examines the explanations that government officials generated to explain their inability to carry out activities that had formerly been routine—in which their attribute their difficulties to a series of phantom figures that are said to haunt government efforts to rule.

8 Glimpses of Danger and Subversion
chapter abstract

This chapter explores official efforts to understand why state activities that had formerly been ordinary and routine (conscription) become increasingly difficult to carry out. It focuses on the police investigation of clandestine Aprista activities, and what this discovery suggests to the authorities about the existence of an extensive underground network of subversion. The chapter also traces the emergence in official circles of an explanation that resolves official anxieties, even as it displaces responsibility for problems that were of the government's own making onto phantom forces that were regarded as hyper-real. The less the authorities were able to carry out everyday activities, the more extraordinary were the powers of subversion they attributed to these phantom forces. The most important of these forces was APRA.

Conclusion: Behind the Mask of the State
chapter abstract

The Conclusion draws out the implications of the analysis for theories of sovereignty and state formation. The focus is on state ritual, bureaucratic and documentary practices that produce the illusion of ordinary, mundane rule, the mechanisms by which the delusional nature of state activity is rendered unremarkable, and the processes that undermine the effectiveness of these mechanisms. Central to the analysis is the notion of sacropolitics, a form of sovereignty that is based not on the management of life (biopolitics) or on the subjugation of life to death (necropolitics) but rather on the animation of life. Sacropolitics seeks to bring to life dead, dying or moribund social formations. It calls upon the entire population to engage in public performances of mass sacrifice, which are intended to help create new life worlds that can redeem poor countries from the profane state into which they have fallen.