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    CHAOS, LIBERTY AND CYBERWAR

    by Joseph Miranda

    An entirely new front has opened in the struggle between the centralized state and its opponents. This front is cybernetics, with the internet being the main battleground. On the Internet can be found diverse anti-establishment groups, with a coalition of electronic freedom advocates as the main fighters. All this parallels a new militancy within the United States itself, as paramilitary police forces square off against armed militia groups.

    These developments were virtually unanticipated a decade ago as the United States seemed to settle into the malaise of the late 1980s. They can be understood by the application of the new science of chaos theory with its concepts of strange attractors, iteration and catastrophe. But before moving into this analysis, we must first see why the United States has gotten to where it is today.

    THE ORGANIZATIONAL STATE

    The 20th century has seen a rise in the forces of organization in the United States. This is due has been due to a wide range of social, political, economic and military factors, which may be summed up as:
    € An increase in the power of the federal government. State and local governments are increasingly subordinated to‹and rendered irrelevant by‹federal regulations, mandates and intrusions.
    € The establishment of a managerial economy. The economy is centrally controlled through directives, regulations, and taxation. In return for industry's surrender of laissez faire principles, government provides private business with grants, price supports, and bailouts.
    € The growth of security forces. A large peacetime defense establishment has become the norm in America. To this must be added the development of diverse intelligence agencies, and the increase in paramilitary style police forces.
    € The permeation of media, especially television. Television has become the primary propaganda media for corporate America, in which audiences become the primary product, to be sold to advertisers.

    This process took a quantum leap in the years following (ironically enough) 1984 as the United States government and its allies in private industry, the media and the universities attempted to suppress various sectors which were responsible for disrupting organized society. The US has attempted to prohibit illicit drugs; to control firearms; to suppress promiscuous sexual conduct; and to censor rock music, violent television images and offensive speech. More recently, the government has attempted to regulate cyberspace.

    What is the objective? Anthony Burgess, in his book **1985**‹which was Burgess' commentary on George Orwell's classic work **Nineteen Eighty-Four**‹points out that in order for a modern ruling class to retain its power it must convince the citizens that life consists of work followed by television. Work, so that industrial productivity can be maximized and taxes paid to support the state structure; television, because this media serves as the modern day opiate of the masses. A populace safely watching television can be subjected to government/corporate approved messages, and will not be out on the streets committing crimes nor, more importantly, participating in disruptive and radical politics.

    Apparently, much of the American citizenry has accepted this arrangement. It provides them security in the form of employment, state subsidized education, social security, and cheap entertainment. But can this system maintain its stability in the face of chaotic challenges?

    STRANGE ATTRACTORS

    One of the key crises facing the United States is the potential of economic collapse. The US national debt has reached the incredible amount of $5 trillion dollars and growing. The Congressional Kerrey Commission states the social security system will be bankrupt sometime in the years 2013-2029. There has also been the destruction of much of America's financial and industrial base through the decisions of various corporate leaders to relocate industry abroad, and through widescale corruption. The latter is represented by the Savings & Loan crisis, which destroyed millions of peoples' solvency and cost the country an estimated $500 billion. The end result of all these factors is economic decline and with it, increasing popular frustration.

    People realize they can not expect to live lives to the same standard as their parents and that there is no guarantee of a better future. Crime, radicalism, worker malaise, and general cynicism are the result. Youth is especially alienated, as it becomes evident that the social welfare state they are paying for through taxation will not be in place for them in the future.

    At the same time, increasing government regulation of private lives is meeting resistance, a resistance based on the American predilection for individual freedoms. This is especially true of the firearms issues. Legislation requiring firearms owners to register or surrender their weapons has been met with widespread civil disobedience. Whatever the objective merits of gun control, the fact of the matter is that a large sector of the American people believes that it has a right to bear arms, regardless of the cost. Similar for free speech, privacy, and religious exercise issues.

    There are also centrifugal forces demanding local autonomy in the face of centralization. A number of states have passed resolutions demanding that the national government respect 10th Amendment strictures limiting federal powers. Several state governments have contested federal control of territories within their boundaries. Whether or not these are serious challenges to centralized power, or, to the contrary, are merely public relations moves by vote seeking politicians remains to be seen.

    The greatest threat to the centralized structure comes with cybernetics. Computer communications nets allow the creation of self sufficient infrastructures. Using these nets, people can withdraw from mandated government policies and programs. For example, it is possible to create a cybernetic economy in which wealth is measured entirely in terms of electronic-communications services rendered or received.

    There is also the impact on social structure. The form of labor environment which has been standard in the Western world since the industrial revolution has been the managed factory or office space. This space has allowed‹indeed, required‹concentration of personnel in hierarchical, centralized structures for reasons of efficiency and control. But with computers, the switch to a service economy, and the robotization of assembly lines, it now becomes possible to decentralize the workplace. There is no rational reason why work structures which were suitable for the 19th century should be the foundation for 21st society. With people free to set their own working hours and environment they will also be free to explore personal fulfillment to a greater degree.

    But, as history demonstrates, radical changes in the nature of work inevitably leads to political conflict. Obviously, those people who benefit by the centralized and hierarchical structure of today‹i.e., the industrial and bureaucratic managers‹will resist these changes, as they will mean the end of their power. This will inevitably lead to confrontation and conflict.

    All these factors combine to form areas of turbulence which threaten societal organization. And in this, the government faces a dilemma.

    ITERATION OF ERROR

    The government finds itself in a positive feedback loop. As chaos increases, the state attempts to implement more controls on society. But these controls only exacerbate the situation without solving any of the problems. The end result is a vicious circle.

    For example, the reasons for the rise in crime in many urban areas have to do with a complex series of events. These include the radical changes in the nature of the economy as industry converts to different technologies, thereby destroying the traditional social basis of communities; the flight of capital from the cities as industrialists seek to avoid oppressive taxes and regulations; the rise of a large, disaffected youth sector; clashes between diverse ethnic groups, etc. To these may be added counter-productive social welfare programs and corrupt police departments.

    The government's response has been in in recent years to declare "war" on crime. Constitutional safeguards on searches and seizures have been dropped, arrests increased, and the prison population multiplied in an attempt to restore order. More recently, the government has established "boot camps" for minor offenders. In these detention camps, inmates are subjected to military style regimentation and discipline. The idea, apparently, is that work makes one free of criminal impulses. (The logic behind the boot camps is somewhat deficient. Giving military style training to potential insurgents might in the long term prove counterproductive, at least to the state.)

    Despite the "war" on crime, individual citizens feel less secure than ever. The reason these hardline measures have failed is that they do not address the actual causes of the social collapse, which are to be found in the decline of the American economy and its technological components. Problems become exacerbated as national energies and resources are dumped into dead end programs. Increasing the numbers of arrests, for example, does nothing to balance the federal budget. Of course, one of the reasons the underlying problems are not being addressed is that this would mean attacking the very power structure in the United States itself, i.e., the political, corporate and law enforcement leaders who were responsible for inept and corrupt policies in the first place.

    As more sectors of the community are criminalized by widening government prohibitions they withdraw from lawful social life, thereby increasing the turbulence. The end result is a government which has floundered from one crisis to another without making any progress in any of its internal "wars." What the policies of the past decade have done is simply create the stage for Catastrophe.

    CATASTROPHIC INSURGENCY

    At what point would the phase line occur at which there was no going back? The televised beating of Rodney King was sufficient to trigger long standing resentments among Los Angeles' underclass, leading to several days of rioting in 1992. Incidents like the Rodney King affair become amplified because to many people they are representative of the government's assault on the individual. Similarly, the federal assault on the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in in early 1993 was the stimulus for the formation of the nationwide militia movement. Is there the potential for turning future incidents into real rebellion?

    When viewed from classic insurgency theory, the US government has made many errors which could be exploited by rebel cadres. Briefly, the government has no realistic objectives (firearm and drug prohibitions have invariably failed); it does not mobilize popular support (instead, it relies on ponderous bureaucracies and a few elite law enforcement agencies); it does not act within the law (as massive government violations of the Bill of Rights attest); and it has failed to deal with real political-social problems.

    Ultimately, a government must have popular support, for without this support it will be denied recruits, intelligence information, and compliance with its laws. This was a lesson that had to be learned the hard way by many countries in the third world which faced insurgencies in the Cold War era. The majority of recruits for an insurgency come from people who have been victimized by indiscriminate government terrorism, or who have had friends/relatives victimized. As government alienates more people, voluntary support for the state disintegrates. The millions of Americans who have had their rights violated through statist excesses are ripe targets for insurgent recruiting. But how is guerrilla warfare conducted in a modern technological society? Classic insurgency theory (of the Leninist-Maoist school) was based on insurgents out-organizing the government by creating political and military infrastructures. These infrastructures would then conduct coordinated propaganda and guerrilla operations which were beyond the training of government forces to cope with. But these types of insurgencies have been largely defeated in recent years. In the 1970s, the Marxists urban guerrillas which challenged governments in Europe and the Americas were destroyed by security forces. In the 1980s, most of the Marxist insurgencies in Latin America were countered by effective government counterinsurgency strategies. Government security forces, learning from past mistakes, proved able to out-organize and out-fight the insurgents. But is the rigidly organized insurgency the wave of future warfare?

    CHAOTIC WARFARE

    The recent United Nations experience in Somalia demonstrates that overwhelming military power does not translate into victory against a loosely organized resistance movement. The main advantage of the Somali guerrillas was the very chaos of the situation. The important thing to grasp is that unlike Maoist-style insurgencies, there was no Somali "insurgent infrastructure" for UN forces to attack and neutralize. It became impossible for UN forces to strike against any Somali center of gravity. The mere fact that the Somalis resisted was enough. In this, they were motivated by a traditional warrior ethos, as well as some severe UN mistakes. Gradual attrition of morale through minor actions and endless casualties eventually forced UN forces back into fortified enclaves, and led to their withdrawal. The Soviets experienced a similar situation in their decade long war in Afghanistan. It became impossible for the Soviet military to subdue an entire nation in arms.

    There are also some serious questions about the efficacy of American internal security forces. A good example is the BATF/FBI raid on the Branch Davidian group. While the use of paramilitary police tactical forces has been widespread in the United States, the Waco, Texas raid revealed flaws in the concept. As soon as the federal agents met armed resistance from the Davidians, the entire BATF attack fell apart. The raid degenerated into a siege which would have had farcical connotations were it not for the fact that the final assault resulted in the deaths of around 100 men, women and children. What the Waco action indicates is that despite the military uniforms and assault rifles, most law enforcement organizations are simply not capable of conducting efficient combat operations. The police lack the discipline, leadership and organization to function as military units. Indeed, the fact that the Branch Davidians were able to hold out against a federal siege for several weeks indicates what a larger and better organized resistance movement could accomplish. There is also the question as to whether or not law enforcement agencies and the military will obey orders to fire on the people. Many members of the police and armed forces obviously do not support government policies [see the sidebar on the Coup of 2012.]. There have been occasional incidents where local law enforcement officials have refused to cooperate with federal policies, most notably when several western state sheriffs brought the federal government to court over what they believed to be unconstitutional provisions of the Brady gun control bill. Obviously, if dissenting police or military were to defect to insurgents this would be critical, if not decisive, for a revolution.

    The recent experience of the successful anti-Soviet revolutions in Eastern Europe indicates that the main front for contemporary civil conflict is the cities. The cities contain the majority of populace, the media, the government centers, and the rising tide of technological change. Mass demonstrations and confrontations in urban areas would probably be the main battlefield. Again, as the experience of Eastern Europe shows, such confrontations can bring down governments with a minimum of bloodshed. There are also the traditional means of civil disobedience. What would happen if millions of Americans simply refused to comply with various governmental directives controlling their lives?

    CYBERNETIC INSURGENCY

    Insurgent guerrilla warfare would not have to take the classic tactics of armed raids and ambushes. Cyberspace is an innately chaotic realm, devoted more to individuals and flashes of genius than bureaucratic organization. Cyberspace also has the potential for being a revolutionary battleground. Consider the difficulties in the past of clandestine insurgent organizations‹communications, secrecy, intelligence, and propaganda dissemination.

    The classic insurgent organization has been based on a network of underground cells. The cells had to remain small to prevent detection by government security forces, and to prevent the betrayal of the entire organization through the interrogation of individual members. But with the rise of the Internet, much larger groups can meet but still preserve secrecy through the use of bulletin boards, false electronic mail addresses, and encryption programs. No one needs know anyone else's true identity.

    Through the Internet, it becomes possible for Cyber-insurgents to reach virtually the entire populace. Private encryption programs are a means for secure insurgent communications. By plugging into the ever present telephone jacks, Cyber-insurgents can direct operations with a minimum of physical contact. Geographic problems are overcome as front groups can be formed regardless of distances.

    Cyber-insurgents can spread propaganda across the nation and world. The older limitations of gaining control of the media disappear. Everyone with a monitor becomes an audience. One potential target becomes enemy security forces. Cyber-insurgents can penetrate to the heart of the enemy and encourage defection.

    Computer based networks would be alternative information systems. They could circumvent and supersede officially sanctioned news, education and data sources. Since information is power in the cyber age, this would give such alternative infrastructures an incredible edge. Cyberspace is also an intelligence battleground. Cyber-insurgents can penetrate enemy systems. They can then obtain data, sabotage enemy programs, create trojan horses, spread viruses, place virtual timebombs, and create false files to confuse the foe. Intelligence information can be passed quickly from double agents to the insurgent organization. The possibilities are endless for both sides.

    Experience shows that insurgents must selectively target their attacks. For example, a computer virus which erases the general public's bank accounts would quickly alienate the people. On the other hand, a virus which, say, deleted the files of dissidents from secret police computers might quickly win over the support of many for the insurgents.

    Video technology and interactive compact discs provide a potential for propaganda. Propaganda messages could be video recorded then disseminated throughout society. This could also be used for training. For example, guerrilla warfare courses could be videotaped, reproduced on cheap cassettes, and then spread throughout the country. Given the ease of reproduction (all it takes is two videocassette machines hooked up), videotapes could rapidly supersede the underground printing press as a means of revolution. Censorship will suddenly become irrelevant, and with it, much of the government's ability to control events. Of course, new video technology can also be applied to the Internet with insurgent cadres providing live training for units worldwide.

    Related to cyberspace are other developments which expand the range of the human consciousness. The so-called "smart drugs" (the nootropics, such as Piracetam) have become popular recently. They are supposed to act as intelligence boosters and memory enhancers. If so, then this is a direct threat to governmental control. Repression ultimately relies on people voluntarily accepting government limits on what one thinks. When people break these bounds, repression collapses.

    Virtual reality technology allows people to reach beyond the limits imposed by society. This is especially true in the field of cyber-sex, the simulation of sexual experiences. As Orwell points out in **Nineteen Eighty-Four**, sexual freedom is a threat to the state because sex creates its own world which is beyond the government's control. If individuals can completely control their sexuality then the entire foundation for "traditional" sexual values‹and with it, traditional means of societal control‹will be threatened, if not destroyed.

    The rise of "punk" rock in the 1960s, with its various descendants, cousins, and unrelated offspring‹speed metal, industrial, thrash, deathrock, etc.‹involves a similar process of placing increased amounts of information into a smaller amount of space, and creating a separate reality. Hence, the not too illogical leap of punk to cyberpunk. Related to this has been the growth of raves (all night dance parties to synthetic music, with the experience enhanced by various drugs) and burning man festivals (neo-pagan rites held out of doors). What raves and the burning man have in common is the fact that people actively (and interactively) participate in events rather than passively watch their televisions. Of course, it is this very interactivity that has made these events such a threat to the cycle of work and television on which the order of the contemporary America state has rested.

    The war for cyberspace may prove decisive if for no other reason then that the forces of repression will be faced with a dilemma. If they "crack down" on high-technology fields then they will destroy the American edge in these areas. This in turn will undermine America's economic and military position internationally.

    For example, the United States government has called for legislation to implement the "clipper chip" (i.e., key escrow encryption). The clipper chip, developed by the National Security Agency, would be placed into every computer manufactured in America. It would give the government the capability to unscramble messages encoded via encryption programs, allowing government agents to monitor electronically transmitted messages. Needless to say, this has brought a storm of protest from computer manufacturers and cyberspace advocacy groups. The clipper chip is only one of a number of attempts by the government to regulate the burgeoning chaos of cyberspace.

    The Secret Service launched Operation Sun Devil back in 1990. This involved numerous raids against alleged computer "hackers." One aspect of Sun Devil was the illegal raid on Steve Jackson games on March 1st 1990. In this raid, conducted under a sealed warrant, Secret Service agents walked off with much of Jackson's computers. Steve Jackson brought the government to court and in 1993 a federal judge ruled the raid illegal. The Secret Service was reprimanded for its irresponsible behavior and the government ordered to pay damages. The raid raises serious Constitutional issues. If government agents can confiscate a publishing company's computers then they can effectively abridge their exercise of free speech and press.

    Operation Sun Devil led to the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to safeguard computer users' rights. The pattern is straight out of insurgency handbooks‹illegal government actions leading to popular resistance. Past attempts by the former East European communist governments to control internal communications technology contributed in part to their downfall as they could not compete with the Western world or their own people. The revolution in technology means a revolution in politics. Those who control it will win.

    THE FUTURE

    The government is faced with a dilemma. The more the US Constitution is undermined by repressive policies, the less legitimate the government becomes in the yes of the people, the more its political power decays. Conversely, any revolutionary movement could then claim it was fighting for the true American values of individual liberties and rights.

    It is the central moral principle of Western civilization that individuals make their own moral choices. This is clearly stated in the United States Declaration of independence. But the government has usurped this principle by its massive interference in individual liberties. This, more than anything else, is behind the American crisis of the late 20th century.

    The one thing that can be said about politics is their volatility. A decade ago the Soviet Union seemed to be at the highpoint of its power. Yet the Soviet empire came crashing down in a few short years. The quantum leaps in technology are now generating revolutionary social conditions in America. Whether or not there is a "revolution" in politics will depend upon the intelligence of the government‹and the American people.

    END MAIN NARRATIVE

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    SIDEBAR 1: "THE COUP OF 2012"

    An article which has caused no small amount of controversy within the U.S. government is "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012." This was written by Lieutenant Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., US Air Force, and appeared in the Winter 1992-93 issue of **Parameters**, a publication of the U.S. Army War College. The article describes a future history in which the American military takes control of the United States in the year 2012. Colonel Dunlap's history is like this...

    Starting in the early 1990s, the US began to declare social problems "national security threats." This gave the government legal justification for employing the military to rebuild the highways, provide health care, dispose of hazardous wastes, etc. The biggest military role was in law enforcement, with the armed forces conducting police operations in the crime-ridden urban areas, now termed "National Security Zones." The military also got involved in running several foreign countries whose civil infrastructures had collapsed. Dunlap's crisis came with the Second Gulf War. Participation in countless law enforcement, humanitarian and other civilian missions had undermined training. The end result was a disaster as the Iranian 10th Armored Corps overran American units near Daharan. Unable to perform its combat missions, the military turned inwards and marched into the White House with the backing of much of the civilian sector.

    Colonel Dunlap's article is not so much an attack on the military as it a critique of policies already in place in the United States. With the end of the Cold War and the downsizing of the military, many members of the Defense Department are looking for new missions. Recently, a number of professional military journals have run articles advocating the armed forces be used to perform civil functions. And, in point of fact, the government has recently employed the armed forces in law enforcement operations within the United States.

    Dunlap identifies much of the problem starting with the government employing extra-Constitutional measures. Obviously, he is referring to conditions in contemporary America. What is remarkable is the number of public officials who have routinely violated the Bill of Rights.

    Colonel Dunlap writes that it is the duty of members of the armed forces to speak up when they see threats to the Constitution developing. He is not the only one voicing concern. In testimony before the U.S. Congress during 1987, Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci stated that employment of U.S. Armed forces for internal security missions would pose a serious threat to democratic, civilian government. The possibility of a "coup" remains to be seen.

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    SIDEBAR 2: THE WAR AT HOME

    A phenomenon of recent years is the United States government labeling non-military social conditions as "national security threats" in order to mobilize resources and energies. "Wars" have been launched against crime, poverty, pornography, drugs, and the energy shortage. A "war" on firearms seems to have been forestalled by the rise of the militia movement.

    But these "wars" make no rational sense. Social and economic problems are not enemy armed forces. Consequently they can not be "defeated" by a militaristic approach. This has been evidenced by the failure of the government to provide a modicum of public security despite massive law enforcement efforts in pursuit of the "war" on crime. Similar wars to enforce drug prohibition, end poverty, and create an energy independent America have all failed. The real advantage to these "wars" is that since they are by nature unwinnable they give an excuse for the government to maintain a permanent quasi-state of emergency in which inroads on Constitutional rights are accepted as necessary as part of the national effort. For example, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, one of the foundations for the "war on drugs," restricts the 1st Amendment right to petition government by discouraging calls for legalization of drugs. The Act also overturns certain 2nd Amendment guarantees of firearms ownership, and mandates drug testing, a direct violation of 4th and 5th amendment rights to be secure in one's persons and against self incrimination.

    These new "wars" raise some legal implications. If the United States is actually at "war" with its own people, then all members of law enforcement conceivably are subject to the various Geneva and Hague conventions on the laws of land warfare. This would mean that police officers who have confiscated property illegally or killed innocent citizens in the course of law enforcement operations would be considered war criminals. And, by generally accepted practice, the political and law enforcement leaders who have generated the policies in the first place could also be held accountable in an international court for illegal actions by their subordinates.

    Proclaiming a state of "war" is more an act of desperation than an intelligent national strategy. It de facto means that the government has run out of democratic options. The effects on the government's own legitimacy should be considered when the state declares its own people "the enemy." A government that is at war with its own people can not maintain its support for long. This can be seen in the rapid growth of anti-government media.

    The militarization of domestic policy leads to a militarized popular response. Resentment over unconstitutional government actions leads to resistance, and insurgency becomes a realistic alternative in the face of government assaults. Hence, the rise of the militia movement and the inevitability of the bombing of the Murrah federal building.

    END

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