Posts Tagged ‘War’

Quote note (#247)

John McAfee (“running for president on a cybersecurity platform”) has a way with words:

“The number one problem in the world today,” he said, “is America’s decline in its cybersecurity.” According to McAfee, we’re in a cyber war with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians, and our technology is twenty years behind. […] “I think this is the greatest danger that America has ever faced,” he said gravely. “In a cyber war, the first thing we’re going to lose is our power. A month and a half ago, two fifteen-year-old boys hacked into the Ukrainian power grid. Do you think the Russians and Chinese cannot do the same thing with us? And without power, what happens? We have no power, we have no food.” McAfee’s voice rose in the middle of sentences, brimming with energy. “Half of us would survive a nuclear threat,” he said forcefully. “But no one would survive a cyber attack. No one. And if we do, we’re going to be in tatters on the street eating rats.” […] … “We are on the brink of devastation,” he warned me many times during our two days together. “It doesn’t even have to be me, but our country is lost if we do not have a cybersecurity expert as president.”

May 11, 2016admin 39 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Apocalypse
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War is God

Via Landry, an introduction to the “new generation of unrestricted warfare”.

Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui argued that war was no longer about “using armed forces to compel the enemy to submit to one’s will” in the classic Clausewitzian sense. Rather, they asserted that war had evolved to “using all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interests.” The barrier between soldiers and civilians would fundamentally be erased, because the battle would be everywhere. The number of new battlefields would be “virtually infinite,” and could include environmental warfare, financial warfare, trade warfare, cultural warfare, and legal warfare, to name just a few. They wrote of assassinating financial speculators to safeguard a nation’s financial security, setting up slush funds to influence opponents’ legislatures and governments, and buying controlling shares of stocks to convert an adversary’s major television and newspapers outlets into tools of media warfare. According to the editor’s note, Qiao argued in a subsequent interview that “the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.” That vision clearly transcends any traditional notions of war.

How ‘traditional’ are we talking? “War is the Father of all things, and of all things King” (πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς) Heraclitus asserts at the dawn of philosophy. There seems little indication of ‘restriction’ there.

Whatever the positive semantic associations accumulated by the word ‘war’, its most rigorous meaning is negative. War is conflict without significant constraint. As a game, it corresponds to the condition of unbounded defection, or trustlessness without limit. This is the Hobbesian understanding implicit in the phrase “war of all against all” (bellum omnium contra omnes), in which “the state of nature” is conceived – again negatively – through a notional subtraction of limitation. Treachery, in its game-theoretic sense, is not a minor theme within war, but a horizon to which war tends – the annihilation of all agreement. Reciprocally-excited mutual betrayal in departure from an implicit ‘common humanity’ is its teleological essence. This is a conclusion explicitly rejected by Carl von Clausewitz is his treatise On War, even as he acknowledges the cybernetic inclination to amplification (or “tendency to a limit”) which drives it in the direction of an absolute. “War is the continuation of politics by other means,” he insists, because it is framed by negotiation (book-ended by a declaration of war, and a peace treaty). According to this conception, it is an interlude of disagreement, which nevertheless remains irreducibly communicative, and fundamentally structured by the decisions of sovereign political agencies. Even as it approaches its pole of ultimate extremity, it never escapes its teleological dependency, as a means (or instrument) of rational statecraft.

The reduction of war to instrumentality is not immune to criticism. Philosophical radicalization, alone, suffices to release war from its determination as ‘the game of princes’. The Clausewitzean formula is notoriously inverted by Michel Foucault into the maxim “politics is war by other means”. If political sovereignty is ultimately conditioned by the capability to prevail upon the battlefield, the norms of war can have no higher tribunal than military accomplishment. No real authority can transcend survival, or survive a sufficiently radical defeat. There is thus a final incoherence to any convinced appeal to the ‘laws of war’. The realistic conception of ‘limited war’ subsumes that of ‘war lawfully pursued’ (with the latter categorized as an elective limitation). Qiao’s words bear emphatic repetition: “the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.” The power to forbid is — first of all — power, which war (alone) distributes.

Between peace and war there is no true symmetry. Peace presupposes pacification, and that is a military outcome. There is no authority — moral or political — that cannot first assert itself under cosmic conditions that are primordially indifferent to normativity. Whatever cannot defend its existence has its case dumped in the trash.

Cormac McCarthy’s Judge Holden provides us with a contemporary restatement of the ancient wisdom:

Suppose two men at cards with nothing to wager save their lives. Who has not heard such a tale? A turn of the card. The whole universe for such a player has labored clanking to his moment which will tell if he is to die at that man’s hand or that man at his. What more certain validation of a man’s worth could there be? This enhancement of the game to its ultimate state admits no argument concerning the notion of fate. The selection of one man over another is a preference absolute and irrevocable and it is a dull man indeed who could reckon so profound a decision without agency or significance either one. In such games as have for their stake the annihilation of the defeated the decisions are quite clear. This man holding this particular arrangement of cards in his hand is thereby removed from existence. This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.

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May 9, 2016admin 51 Comments »
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Extinction Genetics

Like everything great it appears superficially as a paradox, but there’s now a practical model for it:

The paradox Burt had to solve is how something very bad for mosquitoes could also be spread by them. One answer, he saw, was a selfish gene that is harmless if one copy is present but causes sterility if two copies are. (Like humans, mosquitoes have two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent.) Starting with a male mosquito with one copy, the selfish gene will ensure that it ends up in every one of his sperm, rather than just half. That way any offspring with a wild mosquito will also be carriers, as will all their offspring’s offspring. As a result, the gene will rocket through the population. […] Eventually, it becomes likely that any mating pair of mosquitoes will both be carriers — and their offspring, with two copies, will be infertile. Quickly, the population will crash, reeling from the genetic poison.

So the provocation of malaria has resulted in a remarkable piece of abstract anti-biological ordnance being put together. (Abstract, because the principles are applicable to any sexually reproducing species. The concrete details of the mosquito-killing version are fascinating, and outlined in the article.)

Hypothetically, the optimum strategic environment in which to unleash this thing is high-intensity global warfare between bio-conservatives and their enemies. Given the length of the human generational cycle, it would be a slow weapon — but one that compelled its target population to submit to techno-genetic plasticization as the only alternative to extinction. Naturally, all vestiges of decency would have had to be stripped from the conflict for such abominable genius to be imaginable (which is why it’s a Frightday night scenario here at XS, where we’re appalled, of course). In any case, the essential asymmetry of this thing in the direction of extreme neo-eugenics is unmistakable, once noticed.

Technology is neutral goes the orthogonalist refrain. Really, it isn’t.

ADDED: A gene drive introduction (video). (Via.)

May 6, 2016admin 8 Comments »
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The Islamic Vortex (Note-10)

According to the geo-economic logic of the dying status quo, the Islamic Vortex supported oil prices by injecting menace into the supply chain. Peaks of turbulence were associated with oil shocks. ‘Middle East peace initiatives’ (or more drastic interventions) were so deeply entwined with oil supply security imperatives as to be scarcely distinguishable.

Not anymore:

Many energy analysts became convinced that Doha would prove the decisive moment when Riyadh … would agree to a formula allowing Iran some [production] increase before a freeze. … But then something happened. According to people familiar with the sequence of events, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and key oil strategist, Mohammed bin Salman, called the Saudi delegation in Doha at 3:00 a.m. on April 17th and instructed them to spurn a deal that provided leeway of any sort for Iran. When the Iranians — who chose not to attend the meeting — signaled that they had no intention of freezing their output to satisfy their rivals, the Saudis rejected the draft agreement it had helped negotiate and the assembly ended in disarray. […] … Most analysts have since suggested that the Saudi royals simply considered punishing Iran more important than raising oil prices. No matter the cost to them, in other words, they could not bring themselves to help Iran pursue its geopolitical objectives, including giving yet more support to Shiite forces in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. Already feeling pressured by Tehran and ever less confident of Washington’s support, they were ready to use any means available to weaken the Iranians, whatever the danger to themselves.

With ‘Peak oil demand‘ in prospect, and a brutal zero-sum struggle beginning for shares in a market tending to secular shrinkage, the deepening Sunni-Shia has become an engine of systematic oil price suppression. According to plausible Saudi calculations, the Iranian enemy will simply use oil revenues to pursue their geopolitical objectives more competently than the Saudis can themselves. A higher oil price, therefore, is comparatively advantageous to the Shia bloc (at least in the eyes of the Saudis, whose perceptions in this regard uniquely matter, due to their status as sole swing-producer). Any rise in revenues is overwhelmed by the quantity of additional military challenge it brings with it. This holds true whatever the level of social stress a low price inflicts on the Sunni side.

It’s quite a box the Saudis find themselves in. There’s no way out of it that doesn’t require winning a religious war.

April 30, 2016admin 12 Comments »
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Quote note (#241)

Robert Kaplan has received some thoroughly-deserved derision recently, but this argument is at least thought-provoking:

… globalization and the communications revolution have reinforced, rather than negated, geopolitics. The world map is now smaller and more claustrophobic, so that territory is more ferociously contested, and every regional conflict interacts with every other as never before. A war in Syria is inextricable from a terrorist outrage in Europe, even as Russia’s intervention in Syria affects Europe’s and America’s policy toward Ukraine. This happens at a moment when, as I’ve said, multinational empires are gone, as are most totalitarian regimes in contrived states where official borders do not conform with ethnic and sectarian ones. The upshot is a maelstrom of national and subnational groups in violent competition. And so, geopolitics — the battle for space and power — now occurs within states as well as between them. Cultural and religious differences are particularly exacerbated: as group differences melt down in the crucible of globalization, they have to be reforged in a blunter and more ideological form. It isn’t the clash of civilizations so much as the clash of artificially reconstructed civilizations that is taking place. Witness the Islamic State, which does not represent Islam per se, but Islam combusting with the tyrannical conformity and mass hysteria of the Internet and social media. The postmodern reinvention of identities only hardens geopolitical divides.

His core thesis seems quite obviously correct: “We are entering an age of what I call comparative anarchy, that is, a much higher level of anarchy compared to that of the Cold War and post–Cold War periods.”

April 25, 2016admin 19 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Chaos
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Savagery Management

The Left-Salafist alliance:

… the cause of Salafist Islam has come to dominate the field of armed struggle since 2001 and to be the most attractive option for people inclined to practice insurgency. Salafist Islam also melds well with the lessons in insurgency and terrorism previously taught by Marxist theoreticians such as Carlos Marighella, especially when one factors in the ideas and strategy of modern Islamist theorists such as Sayyid Qutb and Abu Bakr al Naji, author of The Management of Savagery. These concepts have also been quite attractive for many on the radical left in the West, who may go so far as to be motivated by the melding of a theory of armed revolution with an intact religious tradition, thereby even converting to Islam. It may also mean that support for jihad, particularly in Europe, may go well beyond Muslim enclaves.

This process of amalgamation between the camps of the enemy is of the very greatest advantage to the Outer Right. The model of domestic progressive ‘evolution’ is switched to one of stark foreign aggression. It thus terminates all prospect of political compromise, and integrates a single military security problem.

If the Right is incapable of recognizing what it is, it can at least consolidate against what it has to stop. It is in the ashes of this conflict that the toxic dream of political universality will have died.

The shattering of the Overton Window and the elimination of the Grayzone is the same thing.

April 16, 2016admin 5 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy
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The NRx Moment

This isn’t it.

The Trump phenomenon is really something, a crisis of democracy and a shattering of the Overton Window very much included, but it is not an intrinsically right-wing thing, and it is radically populist in nature. A reactionary exploitation of demotism is not a neoreactionary episode. The Alt-Right is properly credited with capturing the spirit of this development. It is not us.

NRx is situated absolutely outside mass politics. Its moment dawns only when the Age of the Masses is done.

It will be done. The emergence of sovereign (primary) property, liberated from the criterion of democratic legitimation, is its sign. Government, on this basis, is Neocameral. The deep historical trends supporting it include:

(1) Apolitical property. No such reality, or conception, has yet been historically actualized. For as long as property is determined as a social relation, it cannot be. Absolute property is cryptographic. It is held not by social consent, and thus political agreement, but by keys. Fnargl is a provocative thought-experiment, but PKE private keys are a non-negotiable fact. They define the property relation with a rigor the entire preceding history of philosophy and political economy has been unable to attain. Everything that follows from the cryptographic transition — Bitcoin most notably — contributes to the establishment of a property system beyond democratic accountability (and thus insensitive to Voice). Neocameral administration implements a cryptographic state, strictly equivalent to a fully-commercialized government.

(2) Autonomous capital. The definition of the corporation as a legal person lays the foundation, within modernity, for the abstracted commercial agency soon to be actualized in ‘Digital Autonomous Corporations’ (or DACs). The scale of the economic transition thus implied is difficult to over-estimate. Mass consumption, as the basic revenue source for capitalist enterprise, is superceded in principle. The impending convulsion is immense. Self-propelling industrial development becomes its own market, freed from dependency upon arbitrary popular (or popularizable) consumption desires. Demand management, as the staple of macroeconomic governance, is over. (No one is yet remotely ready for this.)

(3) Robotic security. Definitive relegation of the mass military completes the trifecta. The armed mass as a model for the revolutionary citizenry declines into senselessness, replaced by drones. Asabiyyah ceases entirely to matter, however much it remains a focus for romantic attachment. Industrialization closes the loop, and protects itself.

The great game, for human agencies (of whatever social scale) becomes one of productive cooperation with formations of sovereign property, with the menace of mass political violence swept off the table. The Alt-Right is no kind of preparation for this. Its adventure is quite different, which is not to say it is uninteresting, or — in the near-term — entirely inconsequential, but it is exhausted by its demotism. It belongs to the age that is dying, not to the one that is being born.

Socio-political modernity has been an argument over property distributions, and the Alt-Right has now demonstrated that the (self-conscious) Left has no monopoly over it. As senescence deepens, the dialectic rips the whole rotten structure to pieces. NRx — when it understands itself — isn’t arguing.

April 5, 2016admin 44 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction
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Chaos Patch (#107)

(Open thread + links)

RF on Dugin (1, 2) and the secure state (1, 2). Ugly Americans. Stubborn infertility. Beware Hobbes. Talking nihilism (+). Reactionary books. The weekly round.

A Curtis Yarvin AMA. Agonies of inclusion. Little red snowflakes. More (and more) despicable idiocy.

Jihad in Brussels (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Predictive hit and miss. Guerrilla war. The ‘gray zone’ isn’t working. More to come (!, !!). Tintin, shitlord. Spandrell’s take. Meanwhile, elsewhere. Death of the spider people. The French model. Orban speaks. Japan dips a toe in stupid. The CIA is on it. Islam is a nightmare for everyone else (also). Corrupted language. Ambiguity at the State Department. Ruin spiral in South Africa. Chaos in Brazil. Water worries in SE Asia. A (brief) geopolitical round-up.

NIRP desperation. Mighty Amazon. A drone milestone.

Everyone loses. Derbyshire on Williamson. The delicate generation (relevant). The left eats itself (part n).

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). End of the GOP. Flashlights and networks. “‘It was like cross burning,’ Tucker told me.” Libertarians for Trump. Confusion at AIPAC. “Is he so wrong?” Paglia’s latest. Know your White Trash. A note on Weimar elections.

Freedom of speech under pressure. Mind-control meet-up. PC has an export problem. Vice slides. Chilled on warming. Jacobin Mag.

Apocalypse Corner. America is cooked. “I admit: I’ve been early on this …” Trans-FOOM.

Minimal tolerance. American racial composition. Race and crime (related). Expert consensus on the heritability of IQ.

Horizontal genetics. The neural code. CRISPR at work. Synthetic life update. Arachno-vibration.

Quantum AI arms race. Neuromorphic computational infrastructure. Face capture. Brain emulation comes first. It’s complexicated. The Tay problem. The case for cryonics.

Who can say that AI, in a not too distant future, will not replace democracies with more intelligent and dynamic constitutions?”

Commerce and culture. Petrific souls. Human and angelic atheism. Dangers of currency debasement.

March 27, 2016admin 43 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#102)

(Open thread + links)

Atomic fission. Occult government. The chaos option. Escalate to ideas. A tale from the Hood. Comment policy. The dissident right mapped (not hugely persuasively). New blog. The weekly round.

The Islamic Vortex update (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Saudi collapse chatter (plus). Stuxnet update. Charlie Foxtrot foreign policy (1, 2, 3, 4). Venezuela in ruins (1, 2, 3). Full communism in the UK and US. Chinese takes on the Norks, its own rich kids, and digital money. Germany leaves the reservation. Scary Poland (notable 1, 2), plus Jim’s take.

Commodities as cash. Beyond zirp lies calamity (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The neglected supply side. Business success for SJWs (1, 2).

Polarization yawns (relevant). Against inheritance (note). Lost millennials (and competitiveness). The ‘social justice’ defense.

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3). The Bush slayer (relevant), level complete. Crashing the party (1, 2, 3, 4). Spanked Pope. Dreher floods the zone (1, 2, 3, 4). Trump speaks. Trump’s veep?

Meanwhile, on the other side of chaos (1, 2, 3, 4).

ScaliaGate (1, 2, 3, 4).

Twitter funny business watch (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The search for alternatives. Twitter versus Facebook. Social media versus party politics. The digital ghetto. Biased social science. Derbyshire disinvited.

Costs of dishonesty. Racial profiling. The tightrope of discretion. Discriminate harder. German crime stats. Complexities of religious reproduction. An IQ/income bibliography. Amygdala conflict. A biorealist look at democracy.

Hominin taxic diversity (plus).

Apple against the FBI. What’s next for AI (see also, and)? ET is out there (or in here). Time-travel ‘update‘.

A difficult number. Predation and speciation. Modafinil works. Toxoplasma alert drop. A time-lapsed sun and carnivorous glowworms.

Apocalypse Corner (1, 2, 3). “As the economic, social and ethnic contradictions are only growing in the modern world our most cunning weapon against the system is to snuff out all hope people may still have. Considering the state the world is in today it doesn’t take much to shake people’s confidence in the system. But instead of being worried, anxious or desperate about the coming turmoil, we must fearlessly welcome it, we must celebrate it, we must embrace it, we must always make it absolutely clear that the collapse of the western societies into a raging ethnic tribal war only serves our cause and that it is the necessary prerequisite for the national revolution. Therefore our primary task is to convince everyone that chaos awaits, we must do everything within our power so that a sense of doom and gloom begins to haunt the society. We must persuade people to believe in the collapse, so that this collapse then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as well.” (As with much Chaos Patch material, that merits an XS smile, but not a full endorsement.)

A cognitive bias run-down. Umberto Eco (RIP) on fascism.

February 21, 2016admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Chaos
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Sentences (#42)

Jim on a striking lesson from the history of ideology:

If all men are created equal then it logically follows that all white males must die …

(From there, it escalates.)

February 13, 2016admin 10 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Religion
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