5GW is Closed Source (and Global Guerillas Theory is Incoherent)

One of the most irrititing components of John Robb’s pseudotheory of “Global Guerrillas” (GG) is his fast-and-loose attention to terminology. Curtis recently pointed out that while once Robb lumped his imaginary GG’s into 4th Generation (or “net-“) War, now he wants it to be part of 5GW (or “secret-“) War. He later qualifies himself by saying terminology just doesn’t matter, and that appears to be the case: in an incoherent pseudotheory like Global Guerrillas, words don’t matter, because there is no inner meaning to express in words.

Consider, for example, Robb’s discussion of “open source warfare” and 5GW.

Earlier on his blog, Robb discussed open source in something similar to its common meaning: publicly available information

# Release early and often. Try new forms of attacks against different types of targets early and often. Don’t wait for a perfect plan.
# Given a large enough pool of co-developers, any difficult problem will be seen as obvious by someone, and solved. Eventually some participant of the bazaar will find a way to disrupt a particularly difficult target. All you need to do is copy the process they used.

but now he defines open source warfare as:

An ability to decentralize beyond the limits of a single group (way beyond cell structures) using new development and coordination methodologies. This new structure doesn’t only radically expand the number of potential participants, it shrinks the group size well below any normal measures of viability. This organizational structure creates a dynamic whereby new entrants can appear anywhere. In London, Madrid, Berlin, and New York.

I addresssd a software development analogy to 5GW more than a year ago, on one of the first blog posts on 5GW:

Prototyping allows for loose, Darwinian networks of projects competing with each other with user-input. For 4GW, this is fantastic. But just as being “fast” is more important than being completely “right” in maneuver war, being secret is more important than being completely “right” in 5GW.

5GW is not open source. 5GW is closed source.

Note how “Open Source Warfare” has gone from a focus on replication of recent, proven, evolving strategies to mere decentralization. (If you disagree, ask what new technique for decentralization could not be found in a list of “new development and coordination methodologies”). The need for this redistribution is obvious, because 5GW relies on secrecy and preventing observations.

5GW is a speculative generation of war and implies new styles of networks. There are important online sources for 5GW on the web, including Coming Anarchy, Dreaming 5th Generation War, Purpleslog, Thomas Barnett, Zen Pundit, and of course tdaxp.

But not from John Robb‘s mythical Global Guerrillas. At least, not yet.

Update: Curtis Gale Weeks talks sense, at D5GW and TPMB. The best part:

I don’t know what Barnett sees, but perhaps ‘stronger’ for these specific non-state actors is relative to the forces of stability. In GG and similar theories, there appears to be an assumption that approx. 99.9% of the world population (or more!) will just sit back and let the forces of chaos reign, that even the kind of devastation possible by a superempowered individual will outweigh any kind of potential response to such devastation. Chaos is assumed to emerge, but order is not.

Barnett’s far too easy on John Robb. GG, in order for it to actually become a reality, has been twisted into a self-sustaining prophesy powered by selective but obstinate ignorance — i.e., by ignoring large realities. If you believe real demons exist, and moreover that they are entirely unstoppable because no real angels exist, you’ll buy into the prophecy being given by Robb.

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