The Morality and Ethics of Blogging

I am in two conversations, one by private email and another on a blog I rarely link to, that made me think about morality and ethics in blogging. In one case a friendly acquaintance asked for my help in determining the real identity of an anonymous blogger. In another, a fellow blogger claims to have achievements which he refuses to identity in a way that would make them verifiable. His responses are always very vague or very defensive.

In neither case is safety an issue

Complicating this, I have twice on tdaxp referenced people I will not name — one because he asked me not to, another because I would not even ask the gentlemen it might affect. If I would criticize the gentleman with unverifiable accomplishments, would that make me a hypocrite? Now, the criticisms of my OODA loop are right or wrong regardless of the first gentleman’s position, and my enjoyment of the second gentleman’s company is a personal opinion that has no relevance to the accuracy of my analytical beliefs.

I’ve been called an atheist, a Nazi, a supporter of executing homosexualists, a supporter of raping heterosexual men, and other things online, so I don’t care if I’m criticized. I don’t care if I’m called a liar, and my “trustworthiness” isn’t even an issue for my analysis posts — I could be a murderous bank robber, and that wouldn’t make my 5GW thoughts more right or wrong.

Further complicating this is that the anonymous blogger is part of a network that has itself unmasked other anonymous bloggers. A blogospheric netwarrior, if you will. Must individual participation in such acts be found first, or is guilt-by-association (“participation in a corrupt organization”) enough?

Feeling a little–irregular?

I wish my college had offered a concentration in “Irregular Warfare”:

Students who specialize in the Irregular Warfare Track add a multidisciplinary set of electives to their curriculum in order to advance their understanding of unique combat environments and methodologies that are more uncertain, surprisingly paradoxical, typically non-linear, and often asymmetrical.

The irregular warfare specialty track has rapidly become the most popular choice among cadets who choose to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Military Art and Science. Furthermore, other academic departments have authorized their students to take irregular warfare courses as approved electives. Consequently, both MS360, Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and MS460, Counterinsurgency Operations, have become extremely popular choices among cadets.

Posted by Phil

Beauty from Pain

Anthem,” by Superchick, Beauty from Pain, 29 March 2005,

4th Generation Warfare, also called 4GW or NetWar, relies on networks of super-empowered individuals who share a common ideology.

To its victims, one of the most disturbing parts of 4GW is how relentlessly honest the 4GWarriors are. Mao, Ho, and others explained exactly what they wanted and exactly how they would win. This is because a 4GWarrior wants to subvert every supporter of his enemy — the 4GWarrior wants converts.

The reason of the 4GWarrior’s enemy at the start of a campaign is typically “he can’t be serious.” Mao couldn’t seriously be advocating a socialist revolution of landless farmers – that made no sense! Ho couldn’t seriously be advocating nationalist Communism — that made no sense! bin Laden couldn’t seriously be advocating a return to the early Middle Ages — he must really just be upset about police tactics in the West Bank or something.

The 4GWarriors are serious. Their serious, plainly-spoken message, demands, and tactics are ignored in a wider world used to sarcasm, ridicule, and conformity. NetWar is an “irony free zone,” where the NetWarrior’s statements may appear ludicrous to his enemy. The enemy laughs at his peril.

Christianity started as a 4GW, and over the past centuries it has recovered its status as a NetFaith. Super-empowering individuals at all levels of society, the Christian movement speaks its message, its demands, and its tactics over and over again.

An extremely clear example of this is from the first track Christian rock band Superchick‘s latest album.

The album’s non-ironic name: Beauty from Pain
The album’s non-ironic first track: Anthem

Beauty from Pain: A Megaphone and a Message


Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
This is your anthem
Get your hands up


Self-descriptive. A 4th Generation attack can last many lifetimes, or even many centuries. The warrior should never experience strategic despair, because as long as Christianity can keep moving it can still win.

This song is an anthem for that conflict.


We are fire inside


“Fire,” like “flame,” is a common metaphor for creative destruction. Spreading fire is acting recklessly, and as Mao Zedong wrote to his guerrillas, “Just as recklessly and everything will be all right.” Mao’s message was that when one is weak and attacking, one must act as recklessly as able because the Establishment’s greatest strengths are order and predictability.

(Often in a war both sides will be “insurgents” against an established political order, like the United States v. al Qaeda struggle in the Middle East. In such cases both will be “spreading a flame.”)


We are lipstick and cleats


Shades of Christian 5GW, but such is a post for another time…


We are not going home and We are playing for keeps


What do the Christian 4GWarriors want?

The world.

In Christian Theology the universe composes part of the Mystical Body of Christ, so worship has a natural political component.

(The idea of “church” and “state” were ideas pushed by the Roman-Greek-Jewish establishment of first century Palestine — an establishment that the Christians were trying to subvert. To a Christian who sees all existence as part of the Mystical Body, state and church are separate organs connected to the same neurological, blood, and other pathways.)


We are girls with skinned knees


This is the first reference to pain in the album Beauty from Pain. Throughout the album physical pain is used as a symbol for the mental pain of isolation and loneliness. As Mother Teresa said


We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.


Christianity, like an 4GW movement, grows through isolation and mental pain. 4G movements provides meaning to its followers, with every individual super-empowered to fight as they think best to help achieve the greater goal. This fetishism of pain prevents Christians from bolting to other ideologies the next time it strikes. The individual is “reprogrammed” — his mind is rearranged — to embrace that pain as part of a larger mission.

In other words, Christianity redefines alienation as a meaningful activity, preventing discussion of true “alienation” as NewSpeak’s redefinition of “free as “without cost” prevented discussion of liberty in George Orwell’s 1984.


We are concrete and grace
We are not what you think


More 5GW.


Can’t keep us in our place


Similar to Jesus’s feelings on families. See his words in Matthew

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

and Luke

They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

While Christianity might be called “conservative,” it is a radical. It is a belief that is “playing for keeps.” A fighting faith.

Christianity sees to subvert the family structure, but the ideology is not afraid to smash it when necessary.


Here’s to the girls on their boards with bruises and scars
Here’s to the girls whose fingers bleed from playing guitar


More fetishism of pain. Helps to immunize followers from true alienation.


Here’s to anyone who never quit when things got hard
You’ll never let them say you’ll never get that far


This is interesting — self-inflicted mental isolation as a key to victory. The 4GWarrior must disconnect himself from some inputs — from some parts of reality — in order to fight better.


You’ll never get that far

Never get that far


Triumphalism. This is an “anthem,” after all!


We are a fire inside
We are an army asleep
We are a people awaking to follow their dreams


Talking about “People’s War,” Mao couldn’t have said it better.

The “dreams” in this case is the Christian future worth creating — the happy ending of Dominion.


We don’t have time for your games


Jesus said his followers didn’t even have time for burials

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

A 4GW super-empowers its followers, but it super-employs them as well. Every warrior is critical, and so each is worked to his maximum ability.


We have our own goals to score
There are trophies to win


Paul would have understood the sports analogies

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

And the idea of The Prize

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”


Instead of being one of yours


More imposition of alienation, giving more meaning to the ideology by taking away meaning from human relationships.


Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up
This is your anthem


5th Generation Thumbnail Sketches

Every 5th Generation War will be different, perhaps so different that they don’t seem to even belong in the same category. But if we accept some general features then we can explore some of the possibilities that follow from them. In an earlier post, Dan offers some significant thoughts:
If traditional war centered on an enemy’s physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength. A 5th Generation War might be fought with one side not knowing who it is fighting. Or even, a brilliantly executed 5GW might involve one side being completely ignorant that there ever was a war. It’s like the old question of what was the perfect robbery: we will never know, because in a perfect robbery the bank would not know that it was robbed.
The two elements that Dan highlights above are very important. 5GW isn’t just about using ideas to undermine the will of a people or government to fight, but about undermining a country’s ability to defend itself intellectually, one could say that it is an existential campaign that calls into question the very legitimacy of that country’s existence. A campaign that a country may not even be conscious of. So how would this be accomplished?
Mark at Zenpundit points out:
A strong possibility exists that given successive generations of warfare tend to drive “deeper” into enemy territory, that 5GW will mean systemic liquidation of enemy networks and their sympathizers, essentially a total war on a society or subsection of a society. There is no where ” deeper” for 5GW to go but here.
How deep is deep?  In 5GW the enemy might be a state or a foreign non-state actor or something homegrown. Whatever its source it would require that there be citizens willing to intentionally seek the defeat of their own country, or citizens who could be persuaded to adopt behaviors and ideas that would lead to defeat whether it was intentional or not. But the enemy in this case would realize that they can’t win a conventional war or even a 4th Generation War, so they devise deeper tactics. In 4GW the enemy attempts to use the target country’s media as a vehicle to sap the people’s and political leaders’ will to fight. In 5GW the enemy actually becomes the media and the political leadership. In 4GW a terrorist organization might attack a school or a courthouse in order to show that the government can’t defend itself; in 5GW the enemy would become the teachers and judges. It doesn’t get much deeper than that. And so a country might never know as Dan states above, that it is even at war or who the enemy is, or that they have lost the war.
So is there a role for the military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies? The 5GW operatives in democratic societies will remain “invisible” to the state unless they are inciting violence, plotting or engaging in illegal activity. And things become much more complicated if  they actually become the judges, intelligence officers, diplomats, policy makers etc. I don’t really think there is a major  role for the state in this kind of intellectual war, but rather think that ideas have to be fought with ideas, and that the people who want to defend their country from this kind of attack need to develop their own 5th generation tactics independent of the state.
Now, we are just brainstorming here, trying to sketch out some of the details of a potential 5th Generation of War. Thinking about this is like trying to see something at night. You catch a glimpse of something in your peripheral vision, then look directly at it and it disappears. Then you look away and can again see it in your peripheral vision. This can make you wonder whether there is really something there to see.
 A lot of questions still need answers. Does a 5th generation campaign need to be violent in order to be war? If war is politics by other means, then is 5GW war by other means? How do we distinguish, in a free society, between the legitimate promotion of ideas and policies and a 5th Generation War on our “intellectual strength”?
Posted by Phil