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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


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4 thoughts on “Beauty from Pain
  1. Always fascinates me when the faith is portrayed as primarily adversarial, bent on alienation, self-absorption and Mel Gibsonian “pain fetishism.” There is a real undercurrent of elitism behind all this, an us vs. them mentality that results in a refusal to meet the heathens with love and humility (the real essence of Christian virtues imho), but instead with spite and condemnation.

    Whether Christ’s advocacy of “dropping out” was meant for every follower or specifically directed toward his disciples, I think is debatable. But I think that an interesting paradox inherent in Christianity is that the doctrine of love, forgiveness, and embracing of all of humanity as redeemable is on thing can lead to severe societal alienation, as this has never been a particularly popular belief even among professed Christians. The Dobsons, Robertsons, and Falwells would be the first to cast stones at Jesus (the prototypical liberal in many respects) were he alive today.

    While characterizing Christianity in terms of warfare seems applicable on certain levels, I think this aspect is overemphasized and at odds with a religion that preaches “love thine enemies” and “blessed are the peacemakers.” It seems rather a stretch.

  2. Owl in Day Light,

    Pain Fetishism is by no means limited to Christianity. It is common among any warrior society. Same reason for Marines reveling in battle or gang members counting scars.

    It is a form of “rearranging the minds” of one’s supporters so they can accept the string of defeats needed for an eventual victory. Christ was good at this. Read Matthew 5 (, and realize you are reading a general’s words to his army.

    I’ve written before on the rational basis Roman persecution of Christianity ( One wonders if modern day hostility is similar a fingertip-feeling…

    In temperment, both the Sadduccees and Pharisees were closer to the men of Fallujah and al Qaeda in Iraq than anyone in American politics.

    he search for the right analogy for Christian struggle goes back at least to Paul. His most famous one is mixed, flowing from a friendly sports match, to a political struggle, to spiritual battle

    “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.”
    (Ephesians 6:12)

  3. I once read through this article and thought it crazy. But Superchick has recently come out with a new album inwich the lyrics validate it more. For example, their song So beautiful

    We are a thousand voices strong
    We are each girl who sings this song
    We are a beauty that is our own
    And we are
    And we are
    So beautiful

    the “beauty” that this song speaks of refers to the concept from their last album Beauty from Pain, in which self-sacrifice for the bigger goal results in christian purity

    We were meant to be more then these shadows of girls
    They cut us down to size
    Afraid we’ll change the world?
    But we’ll fight for your right to be beautiful girls
    If every girl could see her beauty,
    We would be an army

    Huge 4th and 5th Generation concepts can be found in these verses. Even though Superchick might have a secret Christian War agenda, Iam still a huge fan =)

  4. chris,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I haven’t been able to get into Rock what you got [1] as much as their older work, but I will double-check “So beautiful”!

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