The Fourth War

(The following email exchange was found on a blood-stained laptop computer somewhere in Washington DC's corridors of power.)

Bob,

The following email was intercepted today at 1700 Hours, Eastern Standard Time on October 21, 2012 CE. The first part was encrypted, but this is what has been deciphered so far. Damn freeware encryption programs are getting more in-depth. -Dan

---

Today, I watched the report on the television with little interest. A cell of some demented terrorist group or another had been captured, and the media was showing their fear-inducing, socio-porn coverage. The White House had just released the sort of statement I would expect two weeks before a key election. The news showed Scott Windell, the White House Press Secretary, telling people about the group's plan to release poison gas into a shopping mall, and how the American people would have to remain vigilant against terrorism.

Or some such bullshit.

As usual, there was plenty of things the White House was not telling public. The cell, of course, had been planning to gas innocents in a shopping mall. What Mister Windell and the media conveniently glossed over was the fact the group did not have poison gas, the means of acquiring such a horrible substance, or even contacts that could. They did not even take into account how to distribute the gas into the vents.

The real kicker was they were even dumb enough to post their plans on an electronic forum where anyone could see it. Of course, if "anyone" could see it, so could the Feds. So a few sting operations later, the group's members were arrested. The public at large would not have heard (nor cared) about the case if the White House had not publicly acknowledged it.

The timing, of course, was impeccable. The President needed a way to boost approval ratings a few weeks before the election. This election would be a painful one. It was a reminder at how similar the parties were becoming. For instance, for the last four years, the Democrats had the House and Congress. Did they roll back the Bush Jr. government expansions they had once protested?

Nope. They expanded upon them, with Republican help. With the Republican Party leaning on its Religious Right backers, neither of the two main courses looked particularly appetizing.

The side dishes were a whole different story. The Libertarians were playing to the traditional Republican base of rural, religious gun-owners rather than my own yuppie-class. The Greens were playing to the "dark green" base, with rhetoric about how industrialism and environmentalism were utterly incompatible. The best way to describe it was stuff that would make the Unabomber blush. Never mind alternative fuel sources and air filters for factories.

The whole damn dinner made me want to vomit. Now, there was ways to help change the menu. One way was to try to smash the table. Of course, most people don't like eating off the floor, so that doesn't work. The other way might be to shout at the chef, causing a large racket. Of course, the chef might not like that, and might shout back.

Both methods I mentioned are analogies for two types of mindless activism for mindless individuals. The table-smashers are terrorists, often acting rashly and with no other plan than to kill and destroy. They do nothing but cause governments and individuals alike to shun them. The folks who throw insults at the chef, however, are the types of protesters who start riots. While the terrorist seeks to murder, the rash activist simply follows the crowd. The rash activists were historically drawn from the liberal college-age demographic.

Often times, such movements can be ultimately detrimental to their goals. The disadvantage of large groups is the mob mentality. An anti-war rally can ironically become a violent mob and soon attract riot cops and tear gas grenades. The media then show the riot on the daily news, subconsciously giving the impression of the protesters (and all who share their views) as a bunch of filthy, rowdy hippies.

A historical example of that case was the anti-war movement before the Second and Third Gulf Wars. The media filled the nightly news with pictures of screaming anti-war protestors smashing windows and burning storefronts. Of course, the news station would often then cut to an image of a political pundit denouncing the anti-warriors as "appeasers" and then make some comparisons between Nazis and some generic Third World despot.

Hitler comparisons are a favorite tool of rhetoric since the neocons, but that's a story for another day.

Getting back to my original analogy of the dinner, there is another option. This is one that is often lost among the vile terrorists and rowdy rioters. If there is mindless activism, can there be any "intellectual activism?" Of course.

How might intellectual activism work? The terrorist uses force. The rioter uses anger. So, what does an intellectual activist use? That's right, you guessed it, their intellect. As science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said, "Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent." Of course, how can an intellectual change things in an age when intelligence can be seen as a liability?

The answer is obvious, but isn't. If overt, rash means do not work, then subtle, gradual means could work. It was subtle means, after all, that allowed the neocons to secure most of Nascar America as their electoral base.

Unlike the brute force options, subtle means take time, planning, and foresight to coordinate. Thus, a smaller portion of the population are the only ones who can successfully organize it. There's a lot more to intellectual activism than the more ruthless and inefficient options.

Any moron with explosives can suicide-bomb a government building into a smoking crater. It takes intellect and logistical skills, however, to organize a petition and raise voter awareness of an issue. At the end of the day, the petition can raise voter awareness and cause a change in policy. The suicide-bomber simply kills a bunch of people and isolates their cause from the mainstream.

It is said that warfare has undergone four generations. The first was the rank-and-file tactics of the ancient and medieval world. The second was the firepower and mobility of Napoleon and the World Wars. The third was the combined arms and indirect conflict of the Cold War. The fourth is a variation of indirect conflict: information warfare.

The fourth generation, however, is not nations against nations. It is decentralized, autonomous groups waging a campaign of some sort. There are several types of fourth generation conflict. The terrorist uses the destructive means of the first two generations of warfare. The guerrilla, often confused with the terrorist, prefers indirect contact. More often than not, the guerilla wants to replace governments, while the terrorist simply wants to destroy them. The standard activist often prefers the tired-and-true tactics of demagoguery and populism.

The intellectual activist, however, must use what they have to maximum effect. Some have elevated different types of fourth generation conflict to new heights, such as the Prophet's Guard did for terrorism or Mao Zedung did for guerrilla warfare. An example of a successful mindless activist would be the French Revolutionaries and countless communist revolts, who were more of a mob than a republic. A few examples of intellectual activists arise. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi used a combination of charisma, populism, and nonviolent resistance as opposed to terrorism.

Another key one would be the American Revolutionaries, who used a combination of conventional combat and political savvy to win local support, gather foreign backers, and overthrow British colonial rule. However, this was a last resort after attempts to change things through legitimate means had failed repeatedly.

A key concept behind all of these movements is ideology. A convincing ideology means a good motivation. Our ideology, however, is unpopular with the masses. We believe in science as a key to progress, freedom to belief (or non-belief), and a fair and representative system for all. In short, we are Modernists. With the recent media circuses about each new terrorist group, our philosophical foes extend their powers in the name of "security." Our other foes plot to murder us for either our "infidel religion" or "unnatural science."

The foes we face are many. We face a neocon-built government and their allies scanning for subversion. We face ecoterrorist groups who despise the science and technology that makes their lives possible. We face religious fanatics of both the Christian and Islamic varieties that hate us for not conforming to demented edicts. We face even the covert and insidious social fads with nihilism, such as base-rock.

All of our foes believe themselves to be working for "good." In reality, however, they fight hatred with more hatred. This conflict will be like no other. We shall use electronics, economics, and ideology itself as subtle weapons.

There's a lot more to electronic warfare than just writing viruses and crashing computers. I learned this lesson from my martial arts instructor: Always attack where your foes are weakest. Regardless of what happens, we must not follow the path of senseless violence.

This does not mean we are completely handicapped for "shady" means, however. Due to some contacts of mine, I was able to secure a set of old lock-picks. I shall hesitate to say they shall see use. Our Network is still in its infancy, but we shall gain momentum. This will not be a short conflict.

This is a war unlike any other. Some of our foes would kill us. Some would imprison us. Some don't care. We have our mission, and our goal. Make no mistakes. This is a culture war, but still a war. It is a purely asymmetric war, as we are a decentralized group fighting both bureaucracies and other decentralized groups. Let it be known that the first Fourth Generation War has begun.

---

Dan,

Sorry it took so long to reply, Bob. I was following a cell of Gaia's Knights in NYC. As you are probably aware, they're planning an assassinating a certain scientist (Individual #432 in case files). It seems the Gaians are already moving against the Modernist Network. Mark my words, Dan. The Network's got some powerful enemies. There's got to be more to them than an online group.

I've got a team ready to arrest the Gaians. If they're going after a group that hasn't even done anything to them yet, who's to say what their next target is? All I need is authorization to bring them downtown. -Bob

---

Bob,

Authorization denied. Don't let your feelings get in the way of your job. You will be removed from the Gaian case at once if you try something like that again. -Dan

---

Dan,

The fucking Gaians killed him, Bob. Turns out, Individual #432 was a Modernist sympathizer. The Gaians have to be getting their intel from somewhere. And I'm starting to think-

(The email exchange ends abruptly.)