Flutterby™! : the rise and fall

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the rise and fall

2006-08-11 15:43:11.071416+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

This article bemoaning the fact that "home-grown" terrorist cells are sophisticated is just a place to hang some rambling about the decline of the state in human movements.

Trends among geeks lead the world, but sometimes it's hard to map how the social changes that exhibit themselves one way among the technologically inclined will show up in the broader culture. The distributed development model of open source, and the cheap networks which enabled that, has mirrored and been mirrored by the manufacturing trends of cheap shipping. International boundaries are just minor cost factors in the process of bringing goods or software to the world, and thus there's less reason for a company, or even an individual, to claim a specific country. "Russian" businessmen live in Northern California, "Swedish" programmers live in New Zealand, "United States" animators live in Thailand.

So as ideas flow freely around the world, why should those who are happy to use violence to accomplish their ideological goals be any different?

This is some of what John Robb[Wiki] has been saying over at Global Guerillas: Movements have been divorced from nations, that has made some of those movements incredibly powerful, and it's time that we stop thinking that way.

Remember back in high school history when you learned that the marching organized ranks of British soldiers were destroyed by the guerilla tactics of the colonists? We're in a similar phase now, and we need to catch up.

[ related topics: Sociology ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: "Sophistication of terrorist cells" made: 2006-08-11 19:51:39.456818+00 by: m

I have heard far too much about the sophistication of terrorist cells in the making of bombs, and how the net has made it possible for such malefactors to learn the techniques for producing such weapons.

Binary explosives have been around since at least WWI that I know of, and the techniques for producing all sorts of interesting explosives were never further away than one's public or school library. The ignorance of the pundits is more than appalling.

As a budding chemist in the late '50s and '60s, there was always easy access to information on how to synthesize all sorts of interesting substances that made intolerable smells, great booms, and had other somewhat antisocial effects. Not having interests in such things since the passing of adolescence, I do not know, but suspect that the information and especially some of the precursors may be harder to come by today than they were then. Of course, some of the precursors are just things that most people have under their kitchen sinks, in their garden sheds and in their garages.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-11 19:55:25.657337+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, it's not about the trade of information on how to make the devices, that stuff is old hat.

It's about realizing that social structures transcend geography.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-11 20:06:43.0985+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, I should ramble a bit more.

We've had liquids banned from airlines before, back in the days of all of the Cuban hijackings. There will always be a security hole, and it'll probably be something that's been known for years (can anyone here who's been through airport security in the past two years not figure out a foolproof way to get a weapon on to an airplane? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?), what we have to do is recognize the social change that causes killing of bystanders effective, and restructure those societal bonds to make that not work.

Right now it's that nations can be goaded into stupidity by threatening citizens. It used to be that that wasn't as much of a problem because combatants always existed in the context of a country or desire for a country. Now they exist in the space of ideas and morals, and if we don't restructure our own allegiances and structures for self-protection around ideas and morals, rather than geographies and nations, we're vulnerable.

When Kipling wrote "ours is not to wonder why / ours is but to do, or die", he was speaking to a social structure in which young men stood up out of the trenches and were machine gunned down because the nation that they associated with asked it of them. But that wasn't them taking that initiative, it was them responding to orders.

Now the soldiers are wondering why, and they're making their own initiative and their own plans without looking to a hierarchy. We fight that not by stopping them from doing, because we can't, but by changing the answers they come to when questioning.