The Infoduel: A Novel of Decentralized Conflict

By Jave Harron

Prologue: The Shrugging Off

(Notes: The following post was found on several encrypted online forums. The exact identity of the cannot be traced easily, aside from his handle 'Atlas.' This declaration was found to have been copied by others in several places as well. Relevant commentary also appears at the bottom of the page.)

Bhuta, I keep finding this load of BS on our message boards. The Ayn Rand Brigade seems to like spamming this. They didn't even edit it before they copied it. Atlas is a pretentious idiot. What are your thoughts on this?

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This is a declaration of asymmetric war. It has been known for a long time that our institutions have failed us. It has been known for longer that our common social philosophies have also failed us. A handful of people recognized this, and sought to create an alternative based on reason, science, evolution, capitalism, individualism, and the creation of new alternatives. We once were proud to consider ourselves proud to be a part of that handful. Our rationality is what allows us to thrive where irrational ideologies fail. That was the basic principle behind the Modernist Network.

Given the light of recent events, however, our doctrine of minimal use of force is no longer sufficient. Governments expand their powers, while self-appointed "revolutionaries" pretend they'd change things if they were in power. Megacorporations rely on them for more handouts, rather than innovate. Terrorist groups become more desperate, demonizing entire cultures while the "superpowers" return the favor. Organized crime becomes indistinguishable from politics and terrorism while remaining something in between the two. Private military contractors wage covert wars in Third World countries as alternatives to politically costly wars. And let's not forget how political religions are getting. The fall of Holy Cross Ministries simply created a vacuum that allowed plenty of other shady preachers to fill that niche.

If we seek to win the Infowar, we will need to use what we have in ways we have not before. The corporations and governments, and even the terrorists and crooks, all rely on technology like they never have. They all try to monopolize it, while we tried to distribute it in the name of "self-sufficiency." This self-defeating strategy puts our technology in the hands of idiots that shouldn't even been using sharp objects, let alone auto-fabbers or adaptive encryption.

We should be the masters of what we create, completely and utterly. If the sheep and lemmings grow dependant on it, it's their own fault. The bureaucrats have always depended on the geeks for tech support, after all. Big Government and Big Business have always depended on us to produce the bleeding edge of technology.

They'll get the bleeding edge, alright. They'll get it when we get the cutting edge and slit their throats with it. We should take our technology, and then make the politicians and suits serve us instead. After all, they depend on us and our systems to survive, so why shouldn't we have the rights to change this? They fear and distrust technology, and pop culture is full of demonization of science. Who hasn't seen mad scientists, after all? The bureau-craps depend excessively on what they fear and misunderstand. Televangelists need video-cameras and legions of followers turning on the TV, after all. The terrorists love posing for shoddily taped videos for news networks to broadcast. The politicians use the media machine to blow this out of proportion. Even the criminals keep in touch with cell phones and pagers. They all try to order us about like tech-support coolies. If the people can't treat the people that run their world well, why should those people and their idiotic followers run the world? We should give the leeches and moochers what's long overdue.

For too long, the Network has cared too much about the welfare of the sheep. We have bound our hands and prevented the use of a time-honored tactic: Excessive force. More issues in history have been resolved with excessive force and violence than by any other means. The Network pretended to have the moral high ground when they used violence before. But they have never cared to logically escalate force against foes that deserve it.

The terrorists and despotic governments are long overdue for a taste of their own medicine, after all. However, escalation of violence is merely one rational tool that the Network has denied itself the use of. After all, we must know that defensive force, when initiated against those who would initiate its use, marks the transition from might to right. The Networkers claim that "neutrals must not be involved," yet this war for ideas effects everyone living on the planet. After all, sometimes you must break a few eggs to make an omelet.

In ancient Greek mythology, the titan Atlas held up the world. If Atlas shrugged, the world would end. We are the invisible titans that hold up the world. Now, it is time for us to shrug off the world that has trivialized us. Ayn Rand's genius novel was named for this idea. The Network is holding us back. They claim they want to create a better world, but are afraid to take the steps to make it happen. We're going to tear down the world, and if the sheep can't take it, screw them. The soulless politicians and corporate bosses, with the terrorists and more blatant crooks, all deserve that they're getting. They screw up the systems we built and operate for them. Their days of looking down on us are going to be over soon. When they fall, they will take the weak with them. The Network will be swept away in the deluge, and we will remain. We are the titans and true creators. They are all contemptible idiots and parasites. The Ayn Rand Brigade will drop the rotten System, and crush the insects that fall out. Let the Shrugging Off begin.

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Ah Q, I think they give Ayn Rand a bad name. Her philosophy got a few major things right, but her writing sucks. That, and she considered herself the only rational person, and would lash out at friends for slights real or imaginary. But, since they're making fun of us, a lot of other Networkers have started making fun of them. It's so easy, since the ARB's essentially trolling anyway.

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Well, Bhuta, what are your favs?

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Ah Q, My top three are "WETF 2.0," "Revenge of the Nerds," and "ARBies." WETF refers to that old RPG. "Revenge of the Nerds" I particularly like. "ARBies" is short, catchy, and refers to a place I would not eat at even if I was starving. -Bhuta

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Quite a selection. "Revenge of Nerds" is my favorite. Now, how about the reactions from the founding members? -Ah Q

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Atlas and his top cronies have essentially declared I-war against the group that invented it. Their philosophy will mainly appeal to the more impatient members, which they will hopefully find few of in the Network. Even with our structure, infiltration still is possible. And not the fun sort that involves sneaking into old buildings. A lot of the older members are working to limit the damage and possible infiltration. Since the ARBies are taking action against us, we need to expand our own operations in new places.

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They recommended India, China, Russia, Australia, Israel, and Brazil, correct? The ARBies wanted places we're not as strong in (yet), so we've got to beat them to the punch. I guess my company will have its hands full, soon.

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Being a frontline PMC member must be a hell of a job. Especially with the attacks on the Caspian oil rigs.

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Oh, I survive. It's a great job for relieving stress. Lots of down time. But for now, we should get to work. The ARBies aren't going to stop themselves. -Ah Q

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I wouldn't be too sure about that. The ARBies are just a bunch of power-hungry nerds. They'll turn on each other some day. They want to use what's wrong with the status quo instead of making the world better. But, the Network can use this as an opportunity.

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Yes. The Chinese character for "crisis" is also the character for "opportunity." Thanks to the ARBies, we now have a great distraction from any other foes. But if it's an I-war they want, it's an I-war they'll get.

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Yes, but they're similar to us in structure. It's going to be one hell of an I-war. The ARBies consider governments, terrorist groups, PMCs, organized crime, and corporations to all be pawns in some covert world war.

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Then so should we. It's about time we rebuild the world a bit. If we can stop whatever the ARBies are planning in the proces, than even better.

(The exchange ends here, but was forwarded to a number of other encrypted Network email addresses.)