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  • Over the last several weeks we've seen a rapid diminishment in the fictive kinship that unites us as Americans.  In fact, many of us don't just disagree with other Americans.  We see them as existential threats.  

    Here are the existential threat narratives:  

    "crypto-fascist science deniers demanding a return to the racism and misogyny of the 1950's, while stripping away the rights of immigrants, on the way to sending brown people, LGBTs, and muslims to concentration camps" 

    "crypto-Stalinist thought police demanding compliance with fake science and virtue-signaling identity performance from all, on the way to Gulag World with straight white males at the bottom. Ideally killing millions along the way"

    These threat narratives appear to be contributing the growing belief we are headed towards a civil war as this shows:

    "Thirty-one percent (31%) of Likely U.S. Voters say it's likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years"

    "Democrats (37%) are more fearful than Republicans (32%)"

    PS:  I'm writing this month's on how repeated and intentional disruptions are driving us towards collapse.  Here's a teaser.

  • Here's a good example of global guerrilla tinkering and decentralized defense.

    Fire Kites

    Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza strip have developed a simple and effective weapon for disrupting Israel.   It's a fire kite.  Here are the details ( ):

    • A homemade kite, built out of transparent plastic (making it hard to spot).  This is the delivery vehicle.

    • The warhead is a long tail and fringe soaked in flammable liquid.  The tip of the tail is a burning rag or burning coal.  

    • The kites drift into Israel (courtesy of prevailing winds along the entire border with Gaza), fall to the ground, and start fires.

    So far, the kites appear to be working, largely because they are:

    • so easy and cheap to build (under $3 in commonly available materials),
    • so easy to launch (get the kite aloft from anywhere along the border and let it go), and
    • able to do significant damage when they do land (millions in fire damage already reported).

    To defend against these attacks:

    • Israel turned to reservists who are drone hobbyists (this allowed them to stand up a drone defense system nearly overnight),
    • The drone pilots either tangle themselves up with the kite (with both falling to ground) or they grab what's left of the kite's string and drag it to the ground.  So far, they've downed far more than 500 fire kites this way.
    • Israel has promised to compensate the drone owners for any broken drones.  

    The Real Threat to Israel

    However, as interesting as these fire kites are, there is a twist.  It's likely that these  fire kites are good news for Israel.   Here's why:

    • The fire kites provide Israel with a figleaf.   A visible justification for continuing aggressive military action against the Palestinians in Gaza (the kites, although expensive in property damage, are largely non-lethal and they provide dramatic visuals).  This justification provides some protection against an emerging threat to Israel.



    • Israel has always been vulnerable to a boycott.  An investment, business, and systemic boycott that disconnects Israel from the world.  So far, Israel has been good at working behind the scenes to prevent this.  However, that's not likely good enough anymore.  The world has changed.  



    • The rapid rise of the  and surging changes everything.  These networks have both the capability and the disposition to disconnect Israel from the world, nearly overnight, if they are triggered by perceptions of immoral behavior directed against the people of Gaza.  State directed violence, without a meaningful threat to justify it (a threat that these kites seem to provide), could be enough to trigger these networks into action.

    PS:  The Fire Kites are also a good opportunity to run through the logic of making big jumps in innovation (ala "making snowmobiles" as John Boyd would say).   I'm writing up my notes on this and will .   

    PPS:  Things are spinning out of control very fast now in the US.   that held us together as a nation has collapsed.   Nothing but dark skies ahead.  

  • Here's a question you should be asking yourself:

    What does 21st Century authoritarianism look like?

    Given what we've seen so far, it isn't likely that we're going to see a return to the 20th Century model, with its absolute dictators, industrial scale bureaucracies, paramilitaries, ideologies, ubiquitous/vicious secret police, relentless propaganda, etc... 

    That model died when globalization and the Internet hollowed out the nation-state.

    The new model of authoritarianism.  The model that is sweeping the world is very different. 

    It's networked. 

    These networks aren't formal constructs.  They don't rely on rigid ideologies or hierarchies.   They don't even use the left/right spectrum.

    Instead, they are open, amorphous, and participatory.   Networks that are in constant motion...  nominally led by political showmen with little real power. 

    These networks don't rely on government bureaucracies to coerce people.   They coerce bureaucracies. 

    Moreover, they are more effective than bureaucracies in the elements of power that matter.

    They are capable of spying on more people than the East German secret police and they can stifle free speech without recourse to a gulag.  

    They don't have any need for state produced propaganda or the media to control the narrative.  They can produce a blinding blizzard of spin that can overwhelm official narratives.

    In short, 21st Century authoritarianism is very different.   It's not what the experts and the media pundits are warning against and that's why it will sneak up on us.  

    Sincerely,

    John Robb

    PS:  I'm digging into what makes these networks so effective in (as always, thanks so much for your support, it makes the work I do possible).

     

  • tracking the arrival of what I'm calling the Long Night -- a world run by oppressive social networks that ruthlessly narrow public speech and behavior.   

    Covered topics:  Twitter's bubble maximizer.  Enforcing limits to free speech in NYC.  Doxing protesters in Russia.  

  • Think of it as data asylum

  • I did with and Ian Scotto for SOFRep Radio earlier this week (the first 45 m or so prominently features my staccato/machine/Boydian gun style of thinking/speaking).

    We talked about many of the topics in greater detail with The Global Guerrillas Report.  Topics such as China's tyrannical social credit system, open source political parties (they have already rolled the Republican party and they are about to do it to the Dems), how moral warfare works online (shaming and naming, etc.), and modern Tribalization.

    PS: I'll be writing about the potential for civil conflict in the US and how that impacts our thinking on resilience in a future .

  • How does the -- the combo of the #resistance, #metoo and #neveragain -- turn lists of violators into something people can easily digest and act upon? 

    An online system that can work at scale?

    I just saw something published on Twitter that moves this closer to reality. 

    It takes quotes that Brexit supporters have made on Twitter and attaches it to their pictures.  Here's the result:







    These "tombstones" are a pretty effective way to publish shame.  In this case, speech violations, although it could be a pic of a gun owner or #me too violation.  Here's how this could work at scale:

    • Tombstone is published.  A blockchain?  
    • Tombstone is verified/rated by the network.
    • Facial recognition (or the network) is used to ID the perpetrators.  Or, people are IDed on the fly via smart phone or CCTV.

    What happens when a person is IDed in a fully realized system like this?  They are shunned - unemployed, disconnected, ostracized, etc.   

    Fast, dynamic, and at scale.  

  • Last month's used a combination of:

    • David Ronfeldt's (tribes, institutions, markets, and networks) framework 
    • Complex systems theory, and 
    • Boyd's OODA 

    to figure out how we can adapt to the challenges we face without the radical simplification of societal collapse.  

    After I wrote the report, I sent it out to my friend David for feedback.  He really liked one of my footnotes.  In that footnote, I used TIMN to do some fun analysis of the struggle between Fascism, Communism, and Democracy in the 20th Century.  

    The analysis looked at each organizational form (the three that were active in the 20th Century were tribalism, institutions, and markets) as contributors to a societal decision making process (simplified by Boyd's OODA).  

    • In the 20th Century, tribes and tribalism made contributions to orientation via nationalism.  The narratives that create fictive kinship.  It defines us and them .  It orients decision making by answering the questions: who benefits?  who with?  by what means? by which limits? 



    • In the 20th Century, the institutional bureaucracy was responsible for conducting total war.  Bureaucracies contribute to observation (gathering information in a structured way, from the census to the secret police), the structured evaluation of options (cost benefit analysis, plans, ideological dictate, etc.) and action (implementation at scale).  



    • Markets provide decentralized information discovery (observation) and the means to derive a consensus (price, etc.) on which alternative is superior.   Markets also provide a means of assembling and allocating the resources required for implementation (action) and motivating participation (orientation).  



    Through this lens, the 20th struggle between can be boiled down into a struggle between three different types of decision making systems:

    • Fascism.  Markets (commercial only) and bureaucracy are slaved to tribalism.  



    • Communism.  Tribalism slaved to bureaucracy.  No markets.



    • Democracy.  A fluid mix of tribalism, bureaucracy, and markets (commercial and political).

    Who won? The system that allowed that used all three decision making systems, the US (UK,etc).  The US (and the brand of democratic capitalism it promoted) was a Swiss army knife of social decision making.  It used what works.  This flexibility provided it with more resilience than its competitors and the ability to exploit the opportunities made possible by complexity (from nuclear weapons to computers).  

    Another interesting observation is that institutions (bureaucratic decision making) don't generate orientation.  They are reliant on tribalism for orientation.  As we saw under Communism and Fascism, bureaucracies are equally at home implementing genocide as they are at providing social safety nets to the poor/elderly.  

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