Redefining the Gap 6, Critical Geopolitics

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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In the early 1990s, the political tilt of Global South discussions led to the emergence of critical geopolitics (Dodds 1994:275). While some have criticized the theory as appearing too soon for a valid “contexualization” of geography (C. Barnett 1995:417) others view critical geopolitics as necessary for explaining the contemporary world (Tuathail and Luke 1994:381).


Critical geopolitics continues the north-south discussion. This may take the form of almost conventional north-south articles, such as between the United States and Cuba (Slater 1994:233) and the spread of dependency theory in Latin America (Slater 1993:420). Critical geopolitics also focuses on environmentalism and people “on the ground” (Brosius 1999: 282). Indeed, it is near to the ground “where problems and issues are far more personalized and less easily generalized” that critical geopolitics provides the best context (Simon 1996:51).

This domain moves beyond traditional state-centered geopolitics (Tuathail 1998:229), in spite of its global level of analysis. Critical geopolitics holds that power is “non-sovereigntist,” “relational,” and “found at work across all scales of social life” (Sparke 465). This is as true for public policies (Moon & Brown 69) as it is for money (Sidaway and Pryke 2000:189), and as true for the public sector as for the private. Such emphasis on the social world echoes Mahan, and his belief on the importance of technology and the economy on the geopolitical world.

Interestingly, critical geopolitics argues that geopolitics itself is a critical field. That is, geopolitics “dominant mode of narration was declarative (‘this is how the world is’) and imperative (‘this is what we must do’)” (Tuathail 2000:166). Recognition of everything, including computer technology (Froehling 1997:293), as a tool of neither liberation or oppression but struggle emphasizes this ends-centered outlook of critical geopolitics. Geopolitics, in other words, is “political from the very outset” (Tuathail 1998:28).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Post-Modern Christianity, Post-Modern War

(tdaxp‘s note: This post was originally entitled Reviews of The Facade by Michael S. Heiser and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, and was written in a state of near exhaustion on by flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo. However, it evolved in an interesting direction and I decided to finish it abruptly in order to get feedback from the blogosphere’s more enthusiastic theorists of the nature of war. I apologize for its incoherence.)

Two academics. Two novels.

the_facade_perelandra

One SecretWar.


I. Introduction

In a recent post, Purpleslog questioned my use of the term Pre-Modern Warfare. He wrote that he prefered the acronym 0GW, for the Zeroth Generation of Modern Warfare.

From a terminological perspective it would not matter one way or another. At worst, a “wrong” term would be like defining inflation as an increase in real prices — it may mislead you in terms of implications, but as long as you use words carefully it should not matter.

However, Purpelslog is clearly onto something. To quote his thought

I am leaning toward the idea of 1GW thru 5GW have always existed (and dropping the Pre-Modern war idea, or re-characterizing it as 0GW). The way to think about them is not historical time periods or types of technologies, but general methods and the part of the OODA they center on.

If this is true, it throws T.X. Hammes classifcation of modern styles of warfare into doubt. Modernism is an innovation — something that has not always been with us, and one day shall go away. Whether or not it is a Bright Shining Lie, it is clear that the modern perspective is fleeting. Thus 0GW, rather than being different from 1GW, 2GW, 3GW (LightningWar), 4GW (NetWar), 5GW (SecretWar), etc in terms of “coming first,” it is merely less advanced in William Lind’s sense of dialectical quality shift. In any far fight a “Pre-Modern” 0GW force will be trounced by a 1GW forces, not because w)gw is timeless nad 1GW is timely, but by their very natures,

It is with this background, of Modern’s fleeting naturr and 5GWs murderous eidelon, that I present a review of two “5th Generation” Christian books.

Michael S. Heiser is as C.S. Lewis was. Both are linguistic academics, Dr, Heiser from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in ancient Semetic languages, Dr. Lewis studying Mideval French in his native England. Both began writing during the birth of great wars, Lewis witnessing the rise of the centralizing Nazis, Facists, and Social Democrats, Heiser under al Qaeda and their kin. And both attempt, through science fiction, to argue that the Modern worldview is fundamentally wrong.

II. The Modern World

Modernism divides up the world, into the “natural” and “supernatural” (among other categories). Because both Perelandra and The Facade involve space aliens, it’s worth while to give Modernist explanations of this phenomenon. And, because modern would see things as useful and harmful, we can create a 2×2 matrix

Useful

Harmful
Natural Alien Visitors who we can learn from Hallucinations that indicate a pscychophysiological ailment
Supernatural Friendly Angels Hostile Demons

A similar breakdown was outlined by my blogfriend Mark Safranski, who wrote

Rational thought has an epistemology rooted in reality (it respects unwelcome data) and methodological consistency. It can be in error but the error is honest ( bad data, mistaken premise)not dishonest. It relies upon logic and proof and rejects the supernatural, unknowable, undefinable source as a legitimate basis for knowledge.

Because Modernism generally regards supernatural explanations as epistemologically unsound, it defaults to the natural explanation. Carl Sagan, in his excellent The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, clearly prefers to psycho-physiological explanation. Zacharia Sitchin and Erich von Danken, in works with significantly less academic honesty, see space aliens.

To the extent that Modern would allow the supernatural at all, it would define it as another plain or dimension, allowing that perhaps the Hindu Myths actually happened elsewhere, but in an elsewhere that no time machine or rocket ship could ever travel to.

Yet what if the universe is unModern?

III. An Unmodern Theology

Both Perelandra nad The Facade present space aliens as actually existing. Both use conventions of their times, Lewis relying on Jules Vernesque description of Mars and Venus, Heiser presenting spindly foetid Greys. Yet neither respects the Modern natural-supernatural boundary. Spaceships in Lewis’ world take us to actions that Modernists would allow only in different planes — temptation in a Garden and wrestling with an angel, for instance. It is equally clear from Perelandra, however, that earthly religion is not merely some misunderstanding of the events but the truest understanding of them.

Heiser accomplishes the same thing. While The Facade‘s plot structure relies on deliberate ambiguity and deception, making it difficult to summarize, the narrative quickly introduces The Watchers. Prominently featured in the ancient Book of Enoch and possibly the same as the Giants in Genesis 6, the Watchers are technological beings with desire for control in this world. “Sons of God,” these creatures are mortal and can deceive as they are deceived. Their conflict is with a Council, headed by God, but involving things as mundane as train schedules and technology transfers.

The unModern nature of these systems is central to understanding them, so I will emphasize it again. From the ancient Greeks on, Modern and proto-Modern thinkers have insisted that what we see is our reality, and that other realities either don’t exist or are accessible only in ways that do not change our reality. (Thus, a Modern thinker will admit the healing powers of prayer, because the benefits of a positive outlook are well known, but would grant that God answers prayers only in ways that are not statistically significant.) Both The Facade and Perelandra reject the idea of parallel realities, insisting on one united reality in which the natural and supernatural as equally “here.”

IV. Post-Modernity

One way to separate the pre-Modern from the Modern might be by judging acceptance of the Law of Cause and Effect. A happens, therefore B happens. We drop a ball, therefore it falls. However, numerous writers and thinkers have rejected this noition. Perhaps the most influential was Imam al-Ghazali, author of The Incoherence of the Philosophers, who argued that there were no natural causes at all, and that everything happens because God wants it to. A similar philosophy was espoused by Jean Cauvin, known here as Christian talib John Calvin. As a Muslim world still suffering under the weight of al-Ghazali’s retrograde philosophy might attest, acceptance of the Law of Cause and Effect is a requiremet for the development of science.

If the thesis then is there is no cause and effect — things just happen because spirits desire them too — and the antithesis is hte law of cause and effect — b happens because a — the syntehsis might be an acceptance of the reality of cause and effects cautioned with unknowability. That is, A happens because B physically forced it to happen, but we will never know that. This is the acceptance of Rules in this World, but in dark places.

Under this criterea, 5GW SecretWar is the first Post-Modern generation of war.

The First Generation of Modern Warfare — think Napoleon Bonaparte — was the first attempt to scientifically control large numbers of win to violently win a political objective. Pre-Modern wars were essentially clan fighting, with “objectives” more rhetorical than operational. Think of the decades-long delay in the Muslim World to the Crusades (which had been assumed to be yet another invasion of disorganized barbarians who fight against each other as often as against civilization), or the Barbarian emphasis of Kings of Peoples (such as the King of the Franks, he who would guarantee wealth and safety to the “Free”), rather than the later emphasis on Kings of Countries (who were tied into fixed lands and thus measurable objectives). This theme would continue until 4GW — Mao Tse-tung’s “People’s War.” At every stage the higher generation of war expanded the political base of the war whiel concentrating the number of high-intensity figthers, allowing better and better leveraging of the weight of political forces.

5GW breaks this pattern.

But that is a post for another time…..

Blog Notes

I have been very lucky to have two friends, Aaron of Groundrocket and Brendan of I Hate Linux, try different ways of tunneling through the Great Firewall. Aaron’s solution was open source, relying (on my end) on only Putty and changing a setting in Firefox. Brendan’s solution was to attempt to use Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop.

Ultimately Aaron got his solution up quicker, but I strongly thank both friends for giving me more web freedom than the Chinese masses enjoy. It has allowed me to comment on my own blog again, which I have done on four threads

Another note is of congratulations to Catholicgauze, who has enjoyed a lot of good luck recently (when he’s not busy debunking and scooping major news outlets). Catholicgauze has been guest blogging at Platial and featured on linkfilter and About.com.

To Aaron, Brendan, and Catholicgauze: thanks! and congrats!