Studying Political Movements for Better 4GW/5GW Thinking

Amicable Collisions is onto something:

Once 4GW appears, an interesting thing happens: the main contest is not on the battlefield but what takes place in the realm of politics, society and culture. Because of this, political activism becomes more important than military action in that arena. As this phenomena continues to evolve, what would, in the past, have been wars fought with armies will be conflicts fought through non-violent political activism, without a battlefield component at all.


After all once we recognize that politics and civil society have become the arena of conflict then the proper area of study moves from military history to the history of political movements to glean insights into how to organize and take action to counter a 4G, 5G, social netwar campaign or to initiate a campaign of our own.


In an earlier post, I wrote the 4GW was not fully fleshed out and that other historical events should be looked at:

What can 4GW theorist learn from organized crime like the Sicilian Mafia (and the godfather movies)?

How about the Right-wing/Neo-Fascists/Survivalist groups in America
which seem to have peaked in the 1980s? Can anything be learned from
how the KKK organized and operated in the 1900’s?

How about PETA?

How about the 100-year suffragettes movement?

Or the Prohibition movement. How the heck was that ever passed in the first place?

What can they learn from the Indian National movement (of which
Ghandi’s peaceful resistance was only one part) or the American Civil
Rights Movement (1900-1970)?

Can we learn from the IRA? Can we learn from the British response to the IRA? [Link]

I have only taken baby steps on this. I have read (and will blog eventually) Saul Alinsky’sRules for Radicals” and have a few others queued up.

Here are the thing I will be looking for:

  • How was the movement founded?
  • What was the relationship of the founder(s) to the movement?
  • What were its goals? Did it reach them?
  • How was it organized at all levels?
  • How did it gain/recruit members?
  • How did it make use of alliances with other organization and movements?
  • Did it employ secrecy and counter-intelligence? If so, how and to what success?
  • How was it funded?
  • How did it send messages and what where those messages?
  • What was its grand strategy?
  • How did it play with the institutional dimension of conflict?
  • How about the other dimensions of conflict: strategic, operational, tactical, physical, moral and mental levels?

Should I look for anything else?

Anyways, there is a related discussion at Dreaming 5GW.


One Response

  1. This relates to something Dr. Kilcullen wrote over at SWJ Blog. He said that in previous eras, in order to understand conflict, people would go to school and get degrees in International Relations, and that worked well because the locus of conflict was between great nation-states. In the current environment, a degree in anthropology would be more useful, since we’re dealing with conflicts centered around social groups, and not states. Dr. Kilcullen didn’t specifically mention the different generations of warfare, but I think that his point echoes Phil’s, as the study of military history devolves into the study of competing political movements, those who spent time studying the political movements that drove those political systems should likewise shift focus towards how different social groups interact.

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