Tag Archives: xgw

Organizing my Thoughts over the Last Year on Education Reform

Recently I’ve become fascinated by education reform, and in the past year (And especially the last month) I’ve written on different aspects of the subject. I did this in two general periods, a pre-systematic period (actually beginning with the very first post I made, “US Public Schools — Still Terrible” from early December 2004) and continuing thru “How Science Works” (from mid-december 2011). In the comments to that post, Mark Safranski of ZenPundit made this comment on Christmas Eve:

The corporations involved in marketing to public education entities, including testing companies, are not run by scientists and are not doing “science’. That’s not their objective.

There are companies that make (and/or administer) very high quality tests in psychometric terms in which you can have confidence that the results are valid and reliable. And then there are companies that offer testing products that…well….do not meet this standard but have the attraction of being markedly cheaper to purchase and can be administered by anyone off of the street or have students self-administer via computer.

If these much lower quality tests are used as a rough “snapshot” of academic performance as a guide to adjust instruction or direct remediation resources, that’s somewhat useful if re-testing is part of the process. To make any life-altering decisions about students or teachers on the basis of the results of one of these substandard tests is unethical and invalid.

And then at the bottom there are testing products at the level of which the State of Illinois was recently forced to term “catastrophic vendor failure” on forms submitted to the Federal Department of Education. Psychometric quality was not part of test selection criteria under tGov. Blagojevich’s ISBE.

*Who* gets to decides what test is used is a key decision; as is *how* the test results will be used, but low quality tests used for purposes for which they are not designed will discredit the process

which forced me to take the structure of education reform more seriously. ON Christmas Day I wrote “Major Political Actors,” which began my process of seriously thinking about why education reform is so hard. Generally, my thoughts have clusered in several major categories: xGW Theory, Dimensions of Force, Central Actors, Labor Relations, and of course the pre-systematic stuff I wrote in the preceeding seven years.

In the Context of xGW Theory

In the Context of Dimensions of Force

In the Context of Central Actors

In the Context of Labor Relations

In the Context of Education

Pre-Systematic Articles

How Science Works in the Context of 5GW

Larry’s post, “How Science Works,” is definitely a blog post to read with a “shot of tequila” — very thoughtful, but full of unexpected connections

The Carter Doctrine keeps everything “foreign” out of the Middle East, except the implicit image of the Nation State to Observe.

The coolest thing, of course, is that this is all reaction of a line of mine…

I don’t believe that we are educating Americans appropriately. Large portions of critical industries are in the hands of foreigners because of the failures of US education. These failures are deep and systematic — all stakeholders share blame — but must be addressed.

… from a comment on my post, also titled “How Science works.” And even cooler, this recalls my work from 2005, on looking at 5GW in the context of the OODA Loop

Thanks Larry!

Education in the Context of War

People form States in order to protect their rights. The most important of these rights is the right to life. The most important reason people form governments is to protect the lives of the people. In some way, a Government forms to rule the State. A good Government is one in which the State uses its resources to protect the lives of the people, and the other rights of the people.

States have many tools available to protect human life and other rights. One of these tools is war. There are many types of war, some of such are genocidal and have a lot of unfocused violence, others of which are very careful and have so little violence that the object of the war may never realize that there was a war! When people think of wars in this way, they separate wars into gradients, with one extreme called the 0 Gradient of War or “0GW,” implying a holocaust, and the other extreme called the 5th Gradient of War or “5GW,” implying very subtle maneuvers.

Wars change different types of things, depending on their gradient. The sort of “war” we think about when we think of Napoleon Bonaparte, or Kaiser Wilhelm, or Emperor Hirohito, focus on military reality. These types of war are relatively low on the gradients of warfare, but fall short of genocide. These types of war fall between the first and third gradient of warfare. The sort of “war” we think about when we think of Algeria, or Vietnam, or Afghanistan focus on political reality. Instead of defeating armies in the field, insurgents in the 4th Gradient of Warfare or “4GW” try to collapse the political legitimacy of their enemy. Very subtle wars, or 5GWs, focus on altering the economic reality of the object. Both 5GW, by changing economics and 0Gw, by killing entire societies, also focus on changing the cultural geographic reality of the objects.

People use States to wage Wars to protect life and human rights. A short-term and inefficient way of not losing wars is to win wars. But even winning wars has costs. It is better to never have to fight wars in the first place. The short-term way not to fight wars is to be able to intimidate other States into peace. Of all the gradients of war, 5GW is the one most focused on the long-term. As 5GW is the type of war that is focused on changing economics and societies, it follows that we should wage a 5GW to create a long-term future in which other countries do not want to go to war, either.

Different thinkers call the time and place where war becomes unthinkable by different terms. Tom Barnett calls it the “Core,” and other researchers call it the Cartel of States or even globalization.” Marxists use terms like “State Monopoly Capitalism” and “Ultra-Imperialism,” and the global bourgeoisie.” Whatever you call it, extending extending this core of peace around the world has functioned as the grand strategic objective of the United States since at least 1942. While not all wars are fight wisely, to the extent there appears to be a consistent objective to United States warfare, it appears to be “shrinking the gap” that is outside our global system.

While the United States focuses on building peace around the world, it should not loose sight of single disasters that could delay things by a century or more. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is probably the single most dangerous thing that could happen to the world. Even though it is short-term thinking to focus primarily on deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it would be foolish not to do nothing to prevent it. Other tricky spots of the world also exist.

Unfortunately, our broken education system means that our critical infrastructure is run by Chinese (and Indians, and Russians, and other foreign nationals). A globally integrated work force of course is a natural part of the peace, and is a good thing. But it is a bad thing that our educational system is so awful that foreign governments might try to take advantage of the fact that we have no choice but to have their nationals supervising our infrastructure in a time of crisis.

Education reform is important. Both teachers and publishers seek to profiteer from the need for education reform at the expense of our nation.

Our country deserves better than that.

Afghanistan in 2050: The Long Type of Time

The American victory in Afghanistan would be short lived, owing to the efforts of the progressives. The stable, secure, and democratic Afghanistan inaugurated by President Obama was soon undermined by activists to his left. The Karzai government was unable to acquire the weapon systems that it needed to defend itself, and was soon swept away in all but name. To this day, the Afghanistan War is a lesson of the hollowness of military victory when the enemy has already infiltrated the nation’s capital.
The Story of the United States, 1776-2026, Beck Academic Books.

American imperialism ran aground in Afghanistan, like it ran aground in Vietnam two generations before. Attempts by the globo-capitalists in the Obama Administration to subjugate the Afghan people quickly backfired, as popular movements swept across the countryside. Of course, given Afghanistan’s unique history, many of these movements garbed themselves in the robe of the religion that is native to the region. The enormous might of the military-industrial complex was once again unable to overcome the will of the people– both American and Afghani — for peace.
The American People: Triumphs and Tragedies, the Yearly Kos Press.

The Shanghai Economic Friendship Association was first formed as the Shanghai Five in 1996, as a way for China build friendships with our neighbors. The group was renamed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization after Uzbekistan joined, though Uzbekistan would not be the last new member! Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan also soon wished to join, and the Shanghai Economic Friendship Association was born. The SEFA is now an “economic, monetary, and political union,” in which all members work together to harmonize their economics while avoiding conflict or misunderstandings. Peace-keepers from SEFA have proven critical for the prevention of conflict in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and other countries.
Asia: A Political Geography, Peking University Press.

“…we stayed a long, long time
to see you
to meet you
to see you
at last.”
- Sufjan Stevens, In the Devil’s Territory

There are several types of time. There is a short time, where events will begin after some action. In a short time, a man might buy a lottery ticket, and discovery that he is now rich. There is a medium time, where events will begin after a series of actions. A might cut up our credit cards, as a solution to his lottery addiction that will last a medium-amount of time, until he changes his mind and applies for new cards. There is a long time, in which a man’s medium time patterns keep repeating until something fundamentally changes. And there is a long, long time, after which it feels like the world has ended.

It is human nature to want all good things to being in a short time, and for bad things not till happen until a long, long time. In general, a more intelligent man will think more about what is good for a long time than a medium time, and a less intelligent man will think about what is good for a short time than a medium time.

The four types of time are relevant to understanding security. A battle can be won in a short time. Military solutions are short time solutions. Elections can be won in a medium time. Political solutions are medium time solutions. Wealth is built over a long time. Economic processes are long time processes. And the terrain changes of a long, long time. (There is human terrain and physical terrain, the former being more important than the latter.)

The four types of time can be understood through the xGW framework. In the xGW framework, violence is understood through one of six gradients. A 0GW conflict is a genocide, a war of people against people. A 1GW conflict is the the creation of a trained and armed class of fights. A 2GW conflict introduces capital as a substitute of labor, whether in the form of arrows or cannons. In a 3GW conflict the goal is no longer to destroy the enemy, but merely to disrupt his operations through formless fast transients. 4GW narrowly targets violence so that for most of the struggle the conflict is a political campaign aimed at splintering the opposition. 5GW focuses death even more closely, perhaps only on one individual, and may never be noticed at all.

The six gradients of conflict map onto the four types of time. 1GW, 2GW, and 3GW, falling within the traditional understanding of war, are clearly tactics made for winning in the short time. 4GW, falling within the traditional understanding of politics, is obviously a tactic meant for winning in the medium time. 5GW, as a method for silently creating social realities to force an enemy into doing as you wish, is naturally an economics-based approach. The gradients of war then circle around, as 0GW, a brute-force method of changing the human terrain, is a way of speeding of a change that normally would take a long-long time into a short-term solution.

This roundtable asks what Afghanistan will be like in 2050, forty years after these posts are written. Forty years is the difference between 1945 (when Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrendered to the Allies) and 1985 (three years before Emperor Hirohito would stop going to the Yasukuni Shrine, where some Japanese war-criminals are interred). Forty years is the difference between 1959 (two years after Deng Xiaoping was named being named General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party ) and 1989 (when Deng Xiaoping ordered the crack-down against pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square). Forty years is the difference between 1944, Menachem Begin’s declaration of revolt against Britain, and 1984, the year after Begin left office as the Prime Minister of Israel.

In other words, forty years is no long, long time at all.

Neither is forty years a short time, though. A problem that lasts forty years is too long to be solved by the military. And neither is it a medium time. A problem that lasts forty years is too long to be solved even by the politicians.

Forty years is definitely a long type of time. Forty years is ruled not by armies or politics or geography, but by economics. Therefore, in order to understand Afghanistan in 2050, we can dispose of wars and politics. Battles will be won and lost, deals will be made and broken. Unless there is unusually brilliant or unusually atrocious individuals in power, the results of these things even out over time. Likewise, we cannot expect any meaningful change to the terrain in only 40 years. The Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains will still be there, and the people will still be Muslim.

The physical and human terrain of Afghanistan mean that the largest industries in Afghanistan will be natural resource extraction. This will be true for a long time, whether the optimistic projections of specific surveys come true or not. The physical and human terrain of Afghanistan’s neighbors mean that the largest market for Afghanistan’s extractive industries in China. This will also be true for a long time. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are too small, Iran is an extractive supporter itself, and India is separated from Pakistan by inhospitable terrain — the Hindu Kush mountains and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

We will wait a long time to see Afghanistan in 2050. Fortunately, we already know the important outline of Afghanistan in 2050: in will be a natural resource exporting satellite of China. To the extent that U.S. strategy accounts for this fact, there will be less mayhem. To the extent it does not, there will be more. But absent unusually good or unusually atrocious leadership, this outcome is inevitable.

The Long Type of Time is part of the Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable. Be sure to also read The Exit Strategy Fantasy and Looking Back from 2050.

Definitions and Understandings

Major props to Joseph Fouche of the Committee on Public Safety, for a series of great visualizations of the Generations of Modern War, xGW, and other buzzword-heavy systems that are popular around here.

The most humorous:

spec5

The most thought-provoking:

gw10

Joseph’s excellent visualizations made me think of the definition of “Core” or “Functioning Core,” which Tom Barnett adopted from Immanuel Wallerstein to describe those countries at the heart of the global capitalist system.

Tom’s previously given three different definitions for the term, and in the glossary to his new book, Great Powers, offers a fourth.

Readers of my blog know that my definition is different yet, as seen (among other places) in this visualization:

iran_and_the_central_seam

Is there a definition of functioning core around that would allow us to make predictions about whether specific states where inside or outside? Tom once gave an operationalized description, but I think that one is closer to describing states that happen to be rich than states that are interconnected.

Defenses against 4GW: What xGW Theory Says

Fabius Maximus has an interesting post on militias, the irregular forces that can be important to winning wars. Fabius’ post is well written, but I think his adherence to GMW (the Generations of Modern War perspective put out by William Lind and others) limits his analysis. From his conclusion:

Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW « Fabius Maximus
Conclusions

The rise of mercenaries and militias both foreshadow, in their own ways, the dominance of 4GW. Both are dramatic evolutions in military affairs, and also represent a shift of power from the center to the periphery of our society. Both potentially valuable to America. Both potentially dangerous to America. How we adapt to these developments determine not just how militia (and mercenaries) serve America, but what American becomes in the future.

xGW is a more useful theory than GMW, and explains the generations (better called “gradients“) of war in terms of the dispersal of kinetic violence through society. Each gradient disperses kinetic violence through the society more than the gradient before it, so that 4GW is more dispersed than 3GW, and so on. This allows each “higher” Gradient of War to be won with fewer armed troops than the one below it.

Therefore, defenses against 4GW may be

  • An “asymmetrical” response, in which a large number of 3GW blitzkrieger-forces battle a smaller number of 4GW-style enemies
  • A “symmetrical” response, in which 4GW-style militias battle 4GW-style enemies
  • An “asymmetrical” response, in which a smaller number of 5GW manipulators battle a larger number of 4GW-style enemies

There is no best way, without considering what costs the society defending itself against 4GW is willing to bare. An asymmetrical 3GW response has the benefit of requiring less training and less trust, though at the cost of more manpower. The asymmetrical 5Gw response reverses these costs and benefits. And the 4GW response is the focus of Fabius’ post.