Book Notes – “The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People” by Jonathan Schell

I bought this book about 2 years ago, but I just recently got around to reading it after some recent related posts.

So I read through the book with those posts in mind, along with looking for 5GW ideas and xGW ideas in general.

My notes:

  • The book of course doesn’t use terminology like 4GW and 5GW, but it is in the ballpark.
  • The book does outline its own conflict taxonomy: Total War (think 2GW and 3GW), People’s War (think 4GW) and Non-violent Action and Activism (think 5GWish).
  • He does not quite get all the way to a 5GW theory though.
  • 5GW-ish Examples used: Ghandi, MLK, non-violent movements in eastern Europe and Russia that (helped) bring down the USSR.
  • The People’s War Section (aka 4GW) covers Mao and China, and Vietnam.
  • “It was the genius of the inventors of people’s war to challenge this deceptively self-evident proposition [Pslog: That an enemy is defeated when they are ready to do are will] by discovering, in the very midst of battle, the power of politics. What if, the inventor’s of people’s war asked, the people on the losing side declines to do the will of the conqueror and, taking a further step, organized itself politically to conduct its own business? In people’s war, political organization did not stand on its own; it was interwoven with the military struggle into Mao’s seamless fabric.”
  • The general purpose strategies for states in relations among each other are: Universal Empire (aggressive), seeking to maintain a balance of power (defensive), collective security by a group a sates pooling together.
  • Quoting a 5GW statements of John Adams on the American Revolution: “The revolution was in the minds of the people, and in the union of the colonies, both of which were accomplished before hostilities commenced”
  • He is a lefty, and found those parts of the book off-putting.
  • I quite liked the historical parts on China, Ghandi and MLK.

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