On War #251: War or Not War?

By William S. Lind

Between February 8 and February 14, four American schools suffered attacks by lone gunmen. The most recent, at Northern Illinois University on February 14, saw five killed (plus the gunman) and 16 wounded. Similar attacks have occurred elsewhere, including shopping malls.

Is this war? I don’t think so. Some proponents of “Fifth Generation war,” which they define as actions by “superempowered individuals,” may disagree. But these incidents lack an ingredient I think necessary to war’s definition, namely purpose. In Fourth Generation War, the purpose of warlike acts reaches beyond the state and politics, but actions, including massacres of civilians, are still purposeful. They serve an agenda that reaches beyond individual emotions, an agenda others can and do share and fight for. In contrast, the mental and emotional states that motivate lone gunmen are knowable to them alone.

The whole “Fifth Generation” thesis is faulty, in any case. However small the units that fight wars may become, down to the “superempowered individual,” that shrinkage alone is not enough to mark a new generation.

Generational changes are dialectically qualitative changes, and those are rare. Normally, a dialectically qualitative change only occurs after time has brought many dialectically quantitative changes, such as a downward progression in the size of units that can fight. In effect, quantitative changes have to pool behind a generational dam until they form so vast a reservoir that their combined pressure breaks through in a torrent. I expect it will take at least a century for the Fourth Generation to play itself out. A Fifth Generation will not be in sight, except as a mirage, in our lifetimes.

This is not to say that the lone gunman phenomenon, and its increasing frequency, are wholly unrelated to Fourth Generation war. They have some common origins, I think.

At the core of 4GW lies a crisis of legitimacy of the state. A development that contributes to the state’s crisis of legitimacy is the disintegration of community (Gemeinschaft). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the powerful, highly intrusive state, community has increasingly been displaced by society (Gesellschaft), where most relationships between people are merely functional.

That progression has now gone so far that never before in human history have so many people lived isolated lives. I sometimes visualize a conversation between a Modern man and a Medieval man, where the proud Modern says, “You poor man! It must have been terrible living without air conditioning, automobiles, washing machines and hot showers.” The Medieval man replies, “You poor man! It must have been terrible living so alone.”

Isolation and the alienation, anomie and rage that proceed from it fuel both lone gunmen and a broad sense of detachment from the state. Why give loyalty to the state if the society if governs offers nothing but alienation? In turn, alternatives to the state, such as gangs, offer alternatives to isolation as well.

The commonality does not stop here. Increasingly, people who are cut off from other real people fill the void with virtual people. They spend their lives immersed in television, video games, the internet and so on. As Dave Grossman has demonstrated, those technologies can do an excellent job of turning loners into killers, both by overcoming their inhibitions to killing and by giving them refined shooter skills. The same technologies spread alternate loyalties, such as Al Qaeda, Deep Green environmentalism, (which has spawned numerous acts of terror, both here and in Britain) and a variety of other virtual worlds.

In sum, the decline of the state and the disintegration of community march on together. So, through the video screen, do the rise of alternate loyalties and the generation of lone gunmen. Both are part of the end of the Modern Age, facilitated and accelerated by technologies that are Modernity’s penultimate achievements. As Ortega warned, civilized men are being replaced by technologically competent barbarians. Barbarians “act out” their emotions by killing, and they give their allegiance to chieftans, not states. Lone gunmen are not carrying on war, but the phenomena that create them also feed the Fourth Generation. The calamitous Twenty-First Century will give us more of both.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
717 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
Direct line: 202-543-8796

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Filed in Uncategorized | 29 responses so far

29 Responses to “On War #251: War or Not War?”

  1. deichmanson 19 Feb 2008 at 9:35 pm 1

    Bill, Where do you get the SEI definition of 5GW? We’re all scratching our heads at Dreaming 5GW….

  2. mycophagiston 19 Feb 2008 at 10:27 pm 2

    Interesting.

    Mr. Lind has discovered the raison d’être for Marxism, and is utterly unaware of the fact that the above (with tiny changes) could be published in a Marxist review.

    Marx called this Phenomenon, “alientation.” Mr. Lind will be very disappointed to learn that he has adapted this, the most basic reason that Marx believed justified Communism.

    Don’t tell him… :)

    Dave

  3. moondton 19 Feb 2008 at 11:00 pm 3

    *The lady doth protest too much, methinks.*

    I’ve followed several of the 5GW threadmen recently. One of them (5GW student proponents) offered The Usual Suspect’s Keyser Soze as the canonical 5G Warrior. Another offered The Count of Monte Cristo’s Edmond Dantes. In the same way that these prototypes “pulled the greatest trick”, convincing the world they did not exist, I might fancy Lind as true to this 5G Warrior model. In the same way that it takes a 4G Warrior to truly appreciate 3GW, it takes a 5G Warrior to truly appreciate 4GW. The greatest trick 5GW Lind ever pulled was convincing the world he was only a 4GW. 4GW Scholar Lind is 5GW. Q.E.D.

    Alienation leads to isolation, not vice versa. Of course, I may be a Postmodern Man. (No rage here.)

  4. rogelio007on 20 Feb 2008 at 12:35 am 4

    “Between February 8 and February 14, four American schools suffered attacks by lone gunmen. ”

    Perhaps reason to loosen gun control laws so everyone can carry. How many self-pitying video-game-nerd-turned-killers would be brave enough to go on a shooting spree if they knew everyone else was packing?

  5. mycophagiston 20 Feb 2008 at 12:58 am 5

    moondt Wrote:

    “Alienation leads to isolation, not vice versa. Of course, I may be a Postmodern Man. (No rage here.)”

    In the Marxian, or should I say, Lindian sense, alienation means, alienated from the environment – The environment meaning the people, the way we labor, the relations of labor, the way we live, nature etc… :)

    As for Fifth Generation War, Mr. Lind only mentions it to point out that it doesn’t exist and won’t exist for quite a while, if ever. Such is my impression of the essay.

    Dave

  6. judasnooseon 20 Feb 2008 at 3:12 am 6

    Rogelio007 asked: “How many self-pitying video-game-nerd-turned-killers would be brave enough to go on a shooting spree if they knew everyone else was packing?”

    Unfortunately, I fear that many alienated individuals would still be brave enough to commit suicide by firing into a crowd, knowing that after the third or fourth shot, a target would draw and fire back with lethal effect.

    People who are sad enough to shoot up a mall or a school are frequently sad enough to shoot themselves after killing a few random victims. The notion that death would come swiftly would tend to remove their fear.

    Now, if we could guarantee that they would be captured alive and forced to endure decade after decade of miserable life, many self-pitying nerds would stay home and slash their wrists.

  7. judasnooseon 20 Feb 2008 at 3:20 am 7

    1)Lind’s imagined dialogue between Modern and Medieval man reminds me of C.S.Lewis’ character Merlin commenting on modern life in That Hideous Strength.

    2)Lind writes: “…these incidents lack an ingredient I think necessary to war’s definition, namely purpose.” It would be interesting to get his opinion on the Ecole Polytechnique mass murder in Canada, 1989. The killer,Lepine, claimed to be fighting feminism. Likewise, James Kopp shot abortionists and the Unabomber bombed for Deep Green ideology.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_Polytechnique_massacre
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Charles_Kopp

    3) The video game connection has been examined by Grossman, but the effects of media violence on real-life violence are not simple and straightforward. Much research is still needed.

  8. anonemisson 20 Feb 2008 at 2:52 pm 8

    “a dialectically qualitative change only occurs after time has brought many dialectically quantitative changes”

    Hegelian philosophy! Wow. This is of course the transformation of quantity into quality. Take a boat, make it a little bit bigger, it’s still a boat; repeat this process ten times and you’ll end up with a ship!

    My prediction for 5th generation war: After the collapse of the current world order and the passing of the period of chaos following it, the world will see large-scale un-mechanized armies with modern weapons and communication (guns & radios but no tanks & planes); just imagine a million Mexican soldiers marching and riding into Texas!

    To mycophagist: Marx used “alienation” in the economic sense: alienation of the product from the producer. So-called “Marxists” of the 60’s and 70’s used “alienation” in the social sense.

    To moondt: Have you seen the film “Murder in the first”? Isolation can surely lead to alienation; they are what Hegelians like to call dialectic phenomena; they are like a double helix interwoven and interconnected.

  9. dckinderon 20 Feb 2008 at 3:07 pm 9

    The traditional Chinese novel, Monkey or Journey to the West is applicable here.

    Monkey is the 16th century story of the Stone Monkey King, who, at first, obtains vast magical powers and then causes a rampage in Heaven. ( As the story continues, the Monkey, who has been subdued and then punished, becomes – along with two other magical creatures – the guardian to a Buddhist monk who has a Wizard of Oz – type journey in search of sacred scriptures. ).

    Perhaps, therefore, somewhere in the Chinese – Buddhist psyche lies the solution to this problem, which they have sensed for at least 500 years.

  10. rogelio007on 20 Feb 2008 at 4:07 pm 10

    “after the third or fourth shot, a target would draw and fire back with lethal effect.”

    That would still be a more desirable situation than what we have now. Better if they only get off 3 or 4 shots rather than 75 or 100 shots. Although I agree with you that it would be much better to capture them alive.

  11. Arherringon 20 Feb 2008 at 4:07 pm 11

    “Some proponents of “Fifth Generation war,” which they define as actions by “superempowered individuals,” may disagree. ”

    As a proponent of 5GW I argue exactly the opposite of this notion. [1]

    SEIs are practitioners and 5GW is a doctrine. They are not the same thing and the two concepts do not require the other to exist.

    Friedman makes a clear distinction between super-empowered individuals and Super-Empowered Angry Men. I find it much more likely that a Super-Empowered Angry Man would be much more likely to follow a doctrine of more immediate gratification such as terrorism than 5GW, a doctrine that embodies long timelines and planning horizons based on systemic manipulation across many domains.

    [1] http://www.dreaming5gw.com/2007/08/superempowered_individuals_and.php

  12. goldenhordeon 20 Feb 2008 at 8:38 pm 12

    “At the core of 4GW lies a crisis of legitimacy of the state. A development that contributes to the state’s crisis of legitimacy is the disintegration of community (Gemeinschaft). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the powerful, highly intrusive state, community has increasingly been displaced by society (Gesellschaft), where most relationships between people are merely functional.”

    I’ve been reading”The Underground history of American Education” online, and it illustrates Lind’s paragraph above; with how the American educational system underwent a change in emphasis from educating/developing the intellect to socializing efficient cogs in the state machine.

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

    The irony is that the American economic elite watched Prussia, defeat Denmark, Austria, France, and unite Germany. Then decided to implement Prussia’s “dumbing down/caste system” schools at a time when Prussia was beginning to emphasize developing the intellect in its officers and war as an art and an exercise in creativity.

  13. mycophagiston 20 Feb 2008 at 10:13 pm 13

    anonemiss wrote:

    To mycophagist: Marx used “alienation” in the economic sense: alienation of the product from the producer. So-called “Marxists” of the 60’s and 70’s used “alienation” in the social sense.
    ******

    Well yes, he “wound up doing so.”

    But Marx and Engels ultimately justified communism to end alienation that was caused, not just by Capitalism, (which in his opinion raised it to an unbearable level) but that the division of humanity into classes with seperate interests was the ultimate cause – Thus the “classless” society which he envisioned as the solution. They justified this by the work of Anthopologists in hunting gathering and primitive agricultural societies.

    In other words, what they wanted (but have never gotten) was a return to the mental outlook of Hunting/Gathering people, but with modern technology.

    Getting away from the politics of Communism, (not exactly an easy task) Marx and Engels saw themselves as social scieintists seeking a cure for a disease (that they also saw themselves as revolutionaries is besides the point). They traced this disease to the birth of classes.

    What struck me about this essay was Linds use of the Marxist dialectic; coming from someone who is always warning us about “Cultural Marxism,” (which in my opininion is basically a figment of his imagination).

    Thus my reaction… :)

    Dave

  14. judasnooseon 21 Feb 2008 at 5:14 am 14

    Mycophagist wrote:”What struck me about this essay was Linds use of the Marxist dialectic; coming from someone who is always warning us about “Cultural Marxism,” (which in my opininion is basically a figment of his imagination).”

    I would argue that Lind is at a disadvantage because he is a specialist in warfare (with its short-term dangers) commenting on cultural problems (which are long-term dangers). I am no historian, but I say Cultural Marxism is real and dangerous.

    One can make an involved, scholarly case that Cultural Marxism is historical and linked to Freud, Marx, Boas, etc. That worthy project requires more space than this comment box contains. Possibly Lind could nominate some tenured professor of history to publish a website strictly on the history of Cultural Marxism, freeing up Lind for military theory.

  15. maximilliangcon 21 Feb 2008 at 6:05 pm 15

    ” Of course, I may be a Postmodern Man. (No rage here.)”
    ——–

    “paranioa’s rising door”
    “barbed wire, politicans feuneral pire”

    “Blind man greed, bullets falling children bleed,
    Nothng he’s got, he really needs.”

    Lyrics from “21st Century scitzoid man”
    From, “Court of the Crimson King”
    Greg lake King Crimson,
    Circa 1967.

  16. mycophagiston 21 Feb 2008 at 11:57 pm 16

    judasnoose Wrote:
    “I am no historian, but I say Cultural Marxism is real and dangerous.”
    ********

    Well, I am apparently this boards only Marxist. I have read some of Mr. Linds remarks about “Cultural Marxism” and have no idea what he is talking about. I assume somehow it involves “Multi-culturalism,” or perhaps “Affrimitive Action?”

    I really don’t know. Both of the above are promoted by Liberals and Conservative for their own reasons – Neither is “Marxist.”

    Sorry, for putting you on the spot – As you say, hardly enough space to get a good debate going…

    Dave

  17. anonemisson 22 Feb 2008 at 9:28 am 17

    To mycophagist
    “What struck me about this essay was Linds use of the Marxist dialectic”

    Surely you mean Hegelian dialectic! Objecting to dialectic analysis would be (to me at least) like objecting to the laws of motion because you dislike Englishmen…Marx used them but so did many other scientists (the majority unknowingly). Modern mathematical theory (chaos theory) has confirmed the basic laws of dialectic analysis (unity, quantity into quality, transformation) 99% of those working in mathematics have no idea about Hegel and his results and truly think they have found something new: the vanity of ignorance!

    ” have read some of Mr. Linds remarks about “Cultural Marxism” and have no idea what he is talking about. I assume somehow it involves “Multi-culturalism,” or perhaps “Affrimitive Action?””

    I thought he was referring to the Frankfurt School: “mass culture as suppression & absorption of negation, as integration into status quo…etc”

  18. judasnooseon 22 Feb 2008 at 9:59 am 18

    While I am not a Marxist, I do suspect Christ has a special affection for the poor and a special severity for the rich.
    I consider debate of Cultural Marxism to be a high priority and will see about getting some kind of BBS or forum at blog or elsewhere. Feel free to comment at
    judasnoose.wordpress.com
    Meanwhile, I recommend Lind’s writings at:
    http://www.academia.org/lectures/lind1.html
    http://www.blueagle.com/editorials/Lind_982.htm
    http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/9193.html

  19. ski66on 22 Feb 2008 at 11:10 am 19

    Lind is talking about the Frankfurt School and its effects on culture over the last 75 years. He’s done quite a bit of writing and research on the movement with his work at the Free Congress Foundation.

  20. projectwhitehorseon 22 Feb 2008 at 3:06 pm 20

    Golden horde – excellent post! I checked the link provided and have ordered the book. Quick read of sections on Generals Bradock and Washington and Admiral Farragut make your point well in terms of Mr. Lind’s #251.

    SEIs, 5GW, and communism aside, for me this piece was about the continuation of growth of a crisis fostering environment. Understanding 4GW in light of impact on this side of the pond – as compared to just “insurgency” over there someplace – would seem to be critical to “surviving on our own terms” in said environment.

    First, while I see the issue as more state loss of ability to command control, (and therefore, to effectively mitigate crises) than actual legitimacy, given the trend, understanding that crisis fostering environments exist and are proliferating is critical. Second, to counter the evolution and the precipitating events for the crises, some different learning for leadership, first responders, educators, and citizens is required – if you will Alvin Toffler’s “learn-unlearn-relearn.” Your reference to Prussia – from Lind’s 4GW canon – C.E. White’s “The Enlightened Soldier” remains germane.

    How do we develop resiliency? Blaming TV and computer games takes us only so far. People win wars not technology…right?

  21. drawbackson 22 Feb 2008 at 6:40 pm 21

    I’ll vote for the first presidential/senatorial/congregational candidate who stands up and says: “We must not allow a gemeinschaft gap!”

  22. seerovon 22 Feb 2008 at 10:48 pm 22

    Its important to understand that cultural Marxism is not economic Marxism. Cultural Marxism was an ideology designed to unravel, deligitimize, and corrupt the West in order to bring forth economic Marxism. At the end of WWI, the leading Marxists got together and pondered why the masses of “workers” didn’t turn on their leaders and start a revolution. It was determined that the “workers” were too attached to their cultures, nations, ethnic-groups, and religions. The leading Marxists realized that in order to bring forth economic Marxism, that these characteristics had to be done away with. So social Marxism was created to destroy the relationship Western people had with these characteristics.

    That is why today our schools teach our children to hate their history and heritage. This is why the family has to be destroyed. This is why people like Lenin, Chev Guevara, Trotsky, and Nelson Mandela are held up as hero’s, while Washington, Jefferson, Ford, Lindberg, Edison, and Columbus are made out to evil. This is also why our children are encouraged to have sex at an early age. This is why non-Western cultures are portrayed as being “noble” compared to the evil West. THis is why Christianity must be taken out of the public square. The family must be destroyed, shame has to be correlated with the nation, the culture must made out to be corrupt, and the history must be demonized or changed.

    Just like the military, after they’re done tearing the person down, they can build them back up as the new Cultural Marxist man/womyn/multi-gender. After there’s no need for the family, the state can take over. The individual must loose all identity and be remade to fit the needs of the state.

    Here’s the best part, the capitalist elite like the results of this too. I’ll be back later to tell you why, but try to think about what I’ve posted so far and relate this to what you see in society today. Then, watch this 22 minute film about the origins of political correctness:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8630135369495797236&q=bill+lind&total=17&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

  23. mycophagiston 23 Feb 2008 at 1:11 am 23

    seerov wrote

    “At the end of WWI, the leading Marxists got together and pondered why the masses of “workers” didn’t turn on their leaders and start a revolution. It was determined that the “workers” were too attached to their cultures…”
    **********

    As an ex member of the Communist Party who quit many, many years ago, I am completely unaware of these secret discussion and plans.

    But then again, I think that the media is BOTH Conservative and sensationalist. And, I’ve always admired Washington, Jefferson AND Mandella… :)

    On the other hand, what’s to “admire” about Edison and Ford? What exactly did they do for humanity? Mind you, I’m not commenting on the inventiveness of someone like Edison, who contributed to humanity simply by his creativity; of course contributing to humanity was not his goal.

    Your point is utterly lost on me – Might as well blame “Cultural” Marxists for Rap Music. You prove that, and I’ll agree with you… :)

    Dave

  24. jaylemeuxon 23 Feb 2008 at 2:51 am 24

    “The leading Marxists realized that in order to bring forth economic Marxism, that these characteristics had to be done away with…That is why today our schools teach our children to hate their history and heritage….”

    Ok, I haven’t done any reading about the origins of social Marxism, so I’ll take your word that it happened. However comma, I cannot understand how you could objectively arrive at the idea that our schools teach children to “hate” their heritage. My school started every day, K-12, with the pledge of allegiance.

    The famous Americans you mentioned were never made out to be “evil,” but ignoring the fact that the U.S. was founded by deliberately wiping out preexisting nations, or that many founding fathers had slaves, or that people all over the world are worked to death to feed our insatiable appetite for consumer goods is not going to get us anywhere.

    To bastardize a quote by John Poole, a nation that admits no mistakes is either perfect or is not learning anything.

  25. seerovon 23 Feb 2008 at 12:26 pm 25

    “The famous Americans you mentioned were never made out to be “evil,” but ignoring the fact that the U.S. was founded by deliberately wiping out preexisting nations, or that many founding fathers had slaves, or that people all over the world are worked to death to feed our insatiable appetite for consumer goods is not going to get us anywhere. ”

    We’re taught to emphasize the crimes that Europeans committed against others. This is never contrasted to the many crimes committed by others. Europe has been invaded by Mongols, Huns, Turks, Moors, and Arabs as well as being occupied, slaughtered, enslaved, and subjected. The Arab slave trade was 10 times more destructive to the African people compared to the Europeans one. The Indians constantly waged war against each other including the mass killing of women and children. The Aztecs exterminated 84,000 people over 4 days in order to make to make the rain fall.

    But for some reason, if you ask American college students about this, they have no idea what your talking about? Somehow Western countries are looked at as the epitome of intolerance while at the same time ignoring the fact that the concept of human rights is pretty much a Western invention. Looking at the lives of ethnic minorities in Saudi Arabia, Japan, Israel, and Zimbabwe and contrasting this with minorities in the West is no comparison. Compare the immigration policies of Mexico and America if you have time.

    While George Washington’s accomplishments are overshadowed by his slave ownership, no school child is taught about MLK’s dissertation plagarizism, his connection with communism, or his using church funds to buy alcohol and white prostitutes. A left wing judge had to pass an edict that sealed MLK’s FBI file until 2027. Mrs King had personally said that his file “would destroy his legacy.” But no school child know about Kings shortcomings. I’m in no way suggesting that we cover up slavery or the Indian wars, I’m just saying there’s a reason for their emphasis.

    “Your point is utterly lost on me – Might as well blame “Cultural” Marxists for Rap Music. You prove that, and I’ll agree”

    This point is new to you, so I can understand you being “lost.” The first time I learn something new I tend to be lost too. Rap music wasn’t invented by CM’s, but the glorification of degenerate ghetto culture is the result of a culture infected by CM.

    Most Western School children think Mandela was jailed for being “against apartheid.” In fact, Mandela was jailed for being caught with bomb making materials. There’s a reason Amnesty International never condemned his imprisoning. There’s a reason we’re not taught this. Please watch the video I attached for more information.

  26. mycophagiston 23 Feb 2008 at 2:24 pm 26

    Is the discovery that slavery was wrong, that we treated the Indians shamefully a product of Marxism?

    If such a discovery occurs, does it take “Cultural Marxists” to spread it?

    Is resistance to the reality of actual events a rightious moral attitude; and those who call a spade a spade acting to undermine our country?

    No doubt we can post links about those who use the above to condemn everything in the United States – Is “proof” that such people exist, proof of the influence of Cultural Marxists?

    I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. I don’t want to offend anyone, and I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Linds “practical attitude” to US foreign policy. But there is a very Good reason why Mr. Lind is regarded as a Communist by those who take Any criticism of the US as an attack on our fundamental existance. If I posted this article on such a blog, and left out the authors name – what would people conclude?

    If Cultural Marxism is a powerful force tearing our country apart – Then Mr. Lind is a leader of the attack. :)

    Dave

  27. Cheton 23 Feb 2008 at 2:38 pm 27

    Thanks very much for your comments – this thread is now closed.

  28. Cheton 26 Feb 2008 at 1:23 am 28

    To whoever sent in a comment shortly after commenting was closed –

    I’ve just learned how to actually close commenting (my wife, who created this blog, showed me how …) Yours accidentally got deleted. If you can remember what you wrote, I’d be happy to repost it if you’ll send it to info at d-n-i dot net.

  29. RC#3 Perspective on School Attacks aton 02 Mar 2008 at 9:11 pm 29

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