Saturday, July 09, 2005

Low intensity insurgency

Networked tribes, infrastructure disruption, and so-called 'open source warfare.' The latter term is that writer's fancy brand name for a style and method I saw emerge in Paris in the very late 1970s: les autonomes (autonomous groups). But, heh! This is the 21st century! As some Americans are wont to say: Get with the program.
Still, a little history telling would do me good. So here goes.
Driven by frustration, anger, and theory, the Parisian autonomes were small, temporary associations of people. Mostly male, they were leaderless. [Shades of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues: don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters]. The leaderless shared a common life-style and had common aims: smash the state, etc. They were more than willing to collectively and physically confront authority. Naturally, they had a taste for propaganda by deed. Any of that sound currently familiar?
The more extreme end of the autonomes movement, Action Directe, started out with machine gunning and dynamiting properties, and soon added proletarian expropriations (aka bank robberies) to their repertoire. They ended up assassinating people. Nearly 20 years later, some members of Action Directe are still doing time.
Meanwhile, the idea of autonomous, leaderless, non-hierarchical, non-organizational groups was evidently one whose time had come... the wacko end of US racist and fascist groups soon also adopted a similar profile.
Likewise, al-Qaeda. It's not an organization, it's an idea. With a worldview around which autonomous groups arise, innovate, plan, and act locally without central direction.
What about Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ)? For TAZ, see first link above. But also see works of Hakim Bey, where they were first developed, although to very different ends. Or, maybe it was William Burroughs with his Interzone in Naked Lunch. Who knows? Who cares? The times they are a-changin'. Anyway, the first link is worth a look, if you are interested in that sort of stuff.
Speaking of which, here is a paper, in English, about the French experience and how their state security apparatus countered terrorism. (pdf file)
Oh, and here is a very recent story in the Washington Post about how the French have been helping the Yanks in covert operations. Overt, covert...
But let's not forget state terrorism.
There's a lot of it about.
Timely reminder: 10th July is 20th anniversary of the French attack against the eco-friendly Rainbow Warrior. New Zealand police report about Rainbow Warrior, and the role of Major Alain Mafart, aged 35 and Captain Dominique Prieur, aged 36.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the French example. The difference today media disintegration and open communications. It makes the difference. Open source development in software didn't take hold until the Internet accelerated it. As a mechanism of development it has enabled the creation of software products that rival the largest and most powerful software company in the world.