Dreaming 5GW: Invisible War
Posted May 03, 2009 17 comments
"Whoever finds me will kill me." --Gen. 4:14
5GW and marketing have a great deal in common. The one similarity I'd like to emphasize here: effective techniques are constantly mutating so fast that written theory is basically an autopsy. By the time we can recognize a pattern or strategy, it will be useless to actual 5GW operatives. It's hard to overstate the speed of the turnover here -- basically, what worked in 2011 will not work in 2011.
My Personal Dream of 5GW
The core tenet of Invisible Warfare is this: circumstances dictate. This is not a cop-out, but a rigorous challenge to expand your personal power, because most of the time, what circumstances dictate will involve skills you don't currently have.
That core tenet contains the first imperative: situation awareness. Circumstances can change in a second and you need to maintain focus and awareness. This more complicated than merely "paying attention" -- our human brains have built-in biases and design flaws that are hard to counteract, even after we've become aware of them. What you see is seldom what you're looking at.
"Thanks to telegraphs and modern communications, commanders are flooded with a tsunami of almost meaningless facts."
--Naval manual from 1949
It's impossible to achieve situation awareness when we're constantly distracted, and unable to isolate the important details from the meaningless noise. There are several aspects of warfare and power projection, all taken for granted as nescessary, that I believe are counter-productive although not useless: secrecy, violence, and intelligence.
Secrecy only matters when secrecy matters. In my own experience, it seldom does. Bear in mind that real secrecy is extremely difficult to maintain -- an intensive demand on time and resources.
Violence is only nescessary when violence is nescessary. Again, it can usually be averted or avoided, and more importantly every non-violent resolution you can create will increase your network and your strategic power. Rather than destroying your enemies, make them tools, if not allies.
Intelligence-gathering should be critical, and I'm not advocating that you run around blindfolded. I am cautioning against the downward spiral of paranoia, the disinformation hall of mirrors, and most of all, the delusion that your assumptions and information are correct. Awareness of the present moment trumps any and all models, patterns and beliefs that exist in your monkey head.
The Death Spiral of Containment and Control.
Here's one more common mistake, which is both counter-productive and useless: the strategy of containment and control. Government power is achieved through their population base: citizens generate the income, obey the laws and serve in the military, voluntarily or otherwise. Because of the extreme strategic importance of maintaining this power base, governments spend an absurd amount of resources on the containment and control of their civilians.
Fortunately for those of us on the recieving end, containment and control are both impossible goals. We're raised to imagine a grid of defined nation-states with precise borders, but in reality the entire system is riddled with tunnels, shortcuts, criminal networks, secret alliances, holes and cracks and just plain blindspots nobody's noticed yet. Perhaps you will.
Centuries after the myth of entropy first took hold, people are still catching up to the common-sense work of Ilya Prigogine, who demonstrated that "closed systems" exist nowhere in nature. By interacting freely with our environments, we free ourselves from the heat-death of entropy, but modeling our communities after a closed system is a literal death sentence. Endless books have been written about the advantages of collaboration, freedom of speech, open source development and globalization. Actually applying that logic is difficult, opposed by the powerful vested interests of those who have become wealthy and powerful protecting the sheep.
The containment and control system is dangerously stupid, and free humans have an imperative to disable that system wherever possible.
The definition of warfare is being reconsidered, but the discussion among generals and academics is secondary to the more hands-on approach of global terrorists, field commanders, organized crime, religious cults, tech companies, and upstart corporations.
There is an evolving martial art of systems disruption that is radically skewing the power balance between individual humans and the existing control and containment system. Put bluntly, with open knowledge and legal tools, you personally can fuck shit up on a catastropic scale.
Global civilization is inevitable, and terms are being negotiated as you read this. Most of the humans on Earth are not part of these negotiations -- only a vanishingly small minority of powerful, connected and wealthy people. This is inevitable, too: why would the powerful negotiate with anyone else?
As officers Dunlap claim in their recent essay America's Greatest Weapon:
"There is really no escape...Today's captains carefully cultivate information sources among the locals as the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual teaches them to do. Schooled in the manual, such captains deliver offers the insurgents can’t refuse: be captured or be killed.
These are exactly the kinds of dilemmas the U.S. military loves to impose upon our enemies."
Systems disruption changes the containment and control game by offering a third choice: stalemate. This is somewhere between a Masada self-sacrifice and Mutually Assured Destruction. The social contract needs to be radically re-negotiated to accomodate citizens who are capable of crippling society itself.
Containment and control is no longer an option because of this precise problem of empowerment. You only need to protect citizens who are incapable of defending themselves -- the entire complex of "homeland security" and border control relies on ignorant, disempowered citizens -- helpless normal folks. This is not written for them.
Without the excuse of protection, government control and intervention become a naked power play. The choice is presented to you as "be captured or be killed." Submission equals life, resistance equals death -- the Military of a "free country" parroting science fiction monsters like the Borg. Systems disruption offers a third choice, but at great cost. Frankly, it's pretty stupid, but nescessary, because it brings us to a higher synthesis...
Invisible Warfare as Militarized Nomad TAZ Dowsing
In the interest of the proliferation of dangerous ideas, I'd like to propose a fourth alternative: organized groups of friends forming mobile TAZ units -- camouflaged as a circus, a business, or a music group if need be...but better yet, disguised as nothing at all and functionally invisible. Military manuals refer to this core discipline as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) and these TAZ units would be able to scatter into individual parts, disappear from view and recombine elsewhere.
This obviously involves a high degree of planning, training and reliable tools and technology. All of which translates into "hard work."
Barring a well-placed shot to the back, the classic rhyme is true: "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day." However, it's important to know which way to run. When you are attacked by either domestic law enforcement or foreign counter-insurgency, their approach will be the same: using a spearhead unit to chase you towards a larger ambush unit. In other words, the first agents you see are the weakest line of defense, and your exits are probably covered.
That's just a single, specific example of the counter-intuitive logic of...well, reality. All power plays and confidence tricks are designed to distort your situation awareness, and you need to discipline your mind to remain calm. If a stance mentality leads to failure, can constant mobility (and invisibility) prevent that -- or does "no stance" just become a stance of it's own?
I'm advocating mobility through national borders, as well. Randomly swinging through small asian nations and undermining the containment and control machine with an unpredictable broadside will do a great favor to the natives. In the aftermath you will create large avenues of escape, and resources previously devoted to domestic repression and genocide will be turned towards a paranoid quest to defend against a threat that will never return.
9. Lurk! Withdraw! Upon them! this is the Law of the Battle of Conquest: thus shall my worship be about my secret house.
Filed in: 5GW Project
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