Thursday, February 21, 2008
William Lind recently attacked the concept of fifth-generation warfare (the only well-accepted generation of modern warfare he did not first describe) as follows:
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.
John Robb, Mark Safranski, and I have criticized Lind's article, noting his straw-man attack on 5GW theory.
Lind has earned sympathy from Shlok Vaidya, however, who has previously described 5GW as "an incoherent amalgam of a variety of perspectives." However, as Shlok's definition ("the emergent pattern formed by a distributed multitude of empowered individuals acting in concert by acting in their own self interest, without any collaboration") argues that 5GW is not competitive-cooperative, his concept of 5GW is not war at all.
1) Lind says 5GW isn't SEI centric. I say it is. Not sure how I'm the sympathetic one.
2) We're limited by a lack of 5GW datapoints. Given that constraint, my definition, which is grounded in what we have seen thus far. As more datapoints emerge, the def can further develop.
Posted by: Shlok | Thursday, February 21, 2008
Apologies for implying more sympathies than exist!
1) My point was that Lind does not believe 5GW exists as a form of war, and your definition excludes it from existing as a form of war.
2) There's two ways to approach understanding of 5GW: as a theory (in which one extrapolates trends, makes a conjecture, and accepts the possibility of refutation) or also a categorization scheme (in which one lumps similar cases together). The first approach is scientific, the second trivially easy. My approach is the first.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, February 21, 2008
Or, you could argue that the development/discussion of a theory, devoid of real world evidence, is akin to calculating/discussing the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.
Posted by: John Robb | Friday, February 22, 2008
"Or, you could argue that the development/discussion of a theory, devoid of real world evidence, is akin to calculating/discussing the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin."
Indeed, but besides the point.
Theories, by their nature, are conjectures based on partial evidence that predicts the nature of future evidence. When the future evidence comes in, the theory is either tentatively supported, or else refuted.
While I am unaware of conjectures you have made that can be refuted, for example, everyone agrees that you did not just wait for all the evidence to come in, and then describe what is apparent from that brute data.
Shlok's categorization is particularly strange because he simultaneously denies that any form of war known as 5GW exists, while pleading ignorance as to what the data says. His definition of 5GW is without use in the study of war, because it's not a definition that includes any form of war.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, February 22, 2008
Even bolder theories of 5GW might emphasize what-it-is-not over what-it-is. The idea here is that any given phenomenon or characteristic of the universe is more fully defined by what it is not and only marginally distinguished by what it actually is. So it's easier and more thorough (and thereby riskier) to theorize what something is not. The more one enumerates what something is not, the more easily one's theory can be refuted, and thus the stronger that theory is the longer it remains unfalsified.
(Thanks be here to Taleb and his Black Swan for turning me on to Popper.)
Posted by: Moon | Monday, February 25, 2008
Great Post, I’ll be definitely coming back to your site. Keep the nice work up.
Posted by: dissertation writing help | Thursday, December 24, 2009
It is pretty hard task but your post and experience serve and teach me how to handle and make it more simple and manageable.
Thanks for the tips… Best regards.
Posted by: dissertation | Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I appreacite your ideas and would like to read some mroe good stuff keep it up! This is very nice one and gives in-depth information.
Posted by: logo design | Thursday, February 04, 2010
I am so impressed w/evernote so far. really pro stuff. thx folks
Posted by: ethical issues in nursing | Thursday, April 29, 2010
Posted by: Dopyt | Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Great review, thanks to share this article and it will help the small business owner.
Posted by: cheap cigarettes online | Monday, May 17, 2010
Let me see if I understand this post correctly - we are defining people who have a gun and use it to kill people as an act of war? I don't see any sense in this - surely it's people with mental instability - I suppose one could argue that's the same with all war.
Posted by: London Self-Esteem Course | Tuesday, June 01, 2010
you can be an unbeatable force - but you have to be prepared for it in every way.
Posted by: generic viagra | Thursday, July 07, 2011