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  • 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.  

  • have seized control of the political process from the traditional political parties and their media gatekeepers. 

     recently , after the Parkland shootings.  

    It wants to change everyone 's behavior and it is building the means to do it.  

    As we've seen with #metoo and the doxing of #altright, this network is strongest when it personalizes its attacks.  It does this by using the network to discover, document, and then punish the behavior of specific individuals for violations of this consensus morality.   So, even if something isn't illegal or within your rights as an individual, you will still get publicly slammed.

    With this in mind, how will the moral network  personalize attacks against people who own guns legally?  

    • They won't do it by discussing it on the TV talk show circuit or pushing new legislation.  The members of this network have already lost faith in that process.

    • the capacity of an individual to commit acts of violence.  

    This effort gets teeth, and the capacity to impact millions of people simultaneously, through a list.  A list of gun owners. 

    All without legislation or government regulations.  

    PS:  For more on topics like this, check out the    

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