Civilization is complicated. There are layers upon layers of institutions, systems and capital between humanity and nature. Humans adapt to their new environments and are selected upon by them. The very nature of civilization, government and economics are obscured from them. They develop pathologies, ideologies that summon unrealities. Yet in every society reality must manifest itself eventually. Humans traits appear on bell curves and no society can weed out crime, violence and murder completely. Society rises on a tide of K selected greatness and falls on the riches of R selected mediocrity.
One of these unrealities is 4th generation warfare, is a Whig concept. This does not mean it does not describe a real effect. But that it is an effect only possible in a Puritan-esque holier than thou competition. The future may serve to show future non-puritan versions of 4th generation warfare. But a Reactionary state in isolation should not be susceptible to 4th generation warfare. In fact it should be the mark of a good state that 4th generation should not work. The reactionary should have a completely different conception of war.
There is a dark morality in war. The Hestia Society chose the motto “The Only Morality is Civilization.” This is a solid basis for many forms of analysis of the state. However we look at warfare we see a darker turn. Maybe its the progressive upbringing, but there is something uncivilized about the bleak and brutal nature of war. Yet as captured by “The Only Morality is Civilization” Gnon cares not for morality. His wrath will wash away meek and the moral if their Holiness comes before their life. In the history of man warfare started with xenocide, then slavery and rape, then conquest and colonization. In our modern times we have more civilized forms of empire, the economic kind. The open question is: will civilization once again require us to kill indiscriminately? Are there more civilized ways to exist, or does Gnon laugh at our futile morals?
I propose we turn away from black and white thinking. After all we are talking about survival here. Again I turn to Moldbug.
“Here is the Carlylean roadmap for the Misesian goal. Spontaneous order, also known as freedom, is the highest level of a political pyramid of needs. These needs are: peace,security, law, and freedom. To advance order, always work for the next step – without skipping steps. In a state of war, advance toward peace; in a state of insecurity, advance toward security; in a state of security, advance toward law; in a state of law, advance toward freedom.” –Moldbug
When we look at war there will always be different kinds of war. While war is always subject to the order stage of civilization there are suborders of war. There are wars of laws, wars of security and wars of order. We should treat them in kind never allowing our morality to defeat us, but never using more brutality than necessary. There should be no option left off the table, but we should not kill a fly with a nuke or fire bomb a rioters family.
4th generation warfare is best understood an application of egalitarianism to warfare. Not all war is equal and not all people will treat war the same nor play by the same rules or any. 4th generation warfare is best understood by an actor trying to subvert order in a civilization by attacking its legitimacy ( both kinetically and morally ). This is only a viable strategy when legitimacy is based on consent of the governed and the sovereign is bared from establishing order. 4th generation warfare isn’t war at all in many cases, it is simply disorder within a nation.
While consent is of the governed is always desirable, again I must stress it should not be the Schelling point about which society is organized nor the crutch which a sovereign leans on. In a reactionary society, which like all societies is theocratic, the theocracy should maintain the legitimacy of the sovereign in any conflict ( unless the sovereign steps out of his own Overton Window or Schelling point). In the modern society we lose because our theocracy doesn’t like to support the military (its just too red state for them), unless of course it aligns with their immediate needs. The Theocracy holds the American military to the standards of security and legality when modern conflicts are fundamentally about order. By improperly classifying the conflict the antagonistic theocracy forces American soldiers to play by one set of rules while the enemy combatants do not. America could crush Afghanistan into submission, it simply lacks the will and patience. Whether is should or not is another question. Also on the table whether it is profitable or not is also on the table. In a supportive theocracy we can maintain the will to continue a conflict for centuries. The conflict may not always be contiguous but it will be sustained. In antagonistic theocracy the winner may give up just as they are about to win.
On a geopolitical level I can’t say what wars are necessary or not. History is not so clean, and I’m not a historian. However I can say one should not start a war one is not willing to win, and once one starts a war one should be ready to do what it takes to win. That has greater implications. When one starts a war one should try their best to know what kind of war they are fighting. If winning means xenocide, then you should be damn sure that you are both ready for xenocide and that the cause warrants xenocide. The cause of course is always civilization. Civilization being a complex matter there will always be some proximate cause associated with some institution, memeplex or geopolitical conflict. Legitimacy of conflict usually means propaganda must reflect the type of conflict. De-humanize the enemy in a xenocidal conflict, fear monger in a security conflict, demonstrate legal righteousness in a conflict of law, and finally spin a moral narrative in an Ideological conflict. If one claims you are in an ideological war, yet must resort to total war tactics it doesn’t play well.
Let us attempt to classify types of war (conflict) and their proper responses.
Level of Conflict
Example of Proximate Cause
Example of Proper Response
|Order||Riot, Separatists, Civil War, Incompatible Civilizations||Xenocide, Genocide, Colonization, A whiff of grapeshot|
|Security||Belligerent State, Irreconcilable Differences, Semi-State Actor||Total War, Preemptive Strike, Regime Change|
|Legalistic||Border Dispute, Trade Dispute||Just War, Regime Change|
|Liberty/Ideological Factors/Memetic||???||4th Generation Warfare, Economic Warfare, NGO, Subversion|
Properly classifying a conflict may be difficult but allow me the opportunity to clarify what I mean by various terms. Incompatible civilizations are ones who’s sense of order, ie norms, are so different that they cannot possibly cohabitate or even share a border. Again history is a murky business but it seems to be the case that aboriginal societies and western settlers generally did not share enough norms to cohabitate.
Belligerent States are ones which seemingly act irrationally. The type where one could not predict when or if they would attack. Another example of a security conflict would be a state allowing and supporting a semi-state actor ( read terrorists ) to attack another state. If reasonable means of conflict resolution were exhausted the conflict might require cross border kinetic action at the least subdue the terrorists or at worst to cripple the other state.
I leave question marks at the liberty/ideological/memetic level because most examples in history have been revolutionary governments using subversive methods against reactionary ones. I do not know of any reactionary government doing the reverse. Secondly it is a murky area. Liberty doesn’t properly translate well to the inter-state level ( a state being a country not Alaska).
“Freedom – spontaneous order – is the ultimate form of order. Anarchy is the ultimate form of disorder.”-Moldbug
“To achieve spontaneous order: first, achieve ordinary, down-to-earth, nonspontaneous order. Then, wait a while. Then, start to relax.”-Moldbug
This clarifies a bit what freedom means for states. Freedom for states is just a set of norms which they can rely on. If France doesn’t have to build a wall between it and Germany then it is relying on the norm that post war Germany is not about to go to war for no good reason. France as long as it doesn’t intend on giving Germany a good reason to go to war doesn’t have to build a wall. Freedom then on a state level is a stable order, I prefer emergent to spontaneous, an emergent one. To clarify violating a norm may also violate security, international law or order. However there are some norm violations which do not violate any of these things.
Why did I classify ideologies, and memetics with freedom? Within the list of things one may do, there are of course things that are going to piss off your neighbors. These types of cold conflict generally lead to what we know as 4th generation warfare. These wars are wars of both internal and external norms. They are attempts to change the first level, order, without exciting direct conflict on the other levels. On a civilization level 4th generation warfare is about order ( though it can and usually does involve violations of law or security ), however at an inter-state level it is a conflict of ideologies, memetic, freedom, norms etc. 4th generation warfare can devolve into higher intensity conflict but it is a war within what is allowed to do as a sovereign. If the actor is not a sovereign they are merely bandits or terrorists, who should be dealt with accordingly, this is not war but disorder.
To give an example of what one should or shouldn’t do, one doesn’t or shouldn’t fire bomb in a border dispute. A border dispute is a dispute of the legality of a certain border. It is a dispute between sovereigns. The population may sympathize with their sovereign but they probably aren’t as invested in the results as in a war of security. The war is essentially a fight to hold onto the land an nothing more. The population is claimed by both governments and the damage to the property in question should be minimal (though that should never be an excuse to not use an effective tactic within the territory). The focus of the kinetic energy should be destroying sovereign military might in the region and holding the ground. Given that wars are often fluid, a border dispute might, and likely will escalate into a security dispute. At this point total war becomes necessary and justified. An escalation would be an attack on the sovereign far outside the disputed land, or a larger kinetic attempt to attack the sovereigns means of sovereignty.
Do not take this analysis as an attempt to limit sovereignty or methods of war. It is simply a attempt to classify types of conflict. It is not so much that if the sovereign decides to nuke the other party in a border dispute that they are wrong (they may be), what I am saying is that nuking the other party in a border dispute is a waste. What is it a waste of? Legitimacy of course (oh and a nuke)! Within the international community it is often easier to get what you want if you act sane. A meta-narrative of your actions should approximate a sane and wise actor. You might come into to conflict with others over petty geopolitical disputes, but your actions should reflect an understanding of the situation at hand. Acting in a principled and predictable manner generally makes your neighbors give a sigh of relief. Even if you are in conflict with them it is more comfortable to know what might start a war than to wonder (again surprise attacks are not off the table). Legitimacy does in the long term help a regime. It is easier to convince people that your authority is noble if you are not the only one saying so. Having a friendly neighbor which you have treated with respect ( read is one of your pawns, or which you are a pawn of ) helps your population know they are not living in 1984. After all two independent institutions couldn’t possibly be controlled by the same theocracy right? This is not to say that all places in times one can, or should establish legitimacy through sane action but that in the long run it is a beneficial strategy.
What I have left unsaid throughout this post are two key issues which are important to the discussion of war. The first is profitability and the second is the hegemonic sovereignty. I hope to touch on those topics at another time as they are essential to understanding the nature of war.