Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth


A short, raw bit of conjecture regarding 5GW.

My last post regarding 5GW entailed the necessity of mastering popular media for a successful 5GW initiative. In effect, the 5GW theory utilizes the non-kinetic approach of information manipulation and mastery as opposed to the "barbaric" kinetic or offensive approach engaged by it's 4GW predecessors. Certainly the "insurgent" or "terrorist" tactic entails affecting media as was very apparent during the media blowback following the Tet offensive or, currently, as the "surge," despite it's partial implementation, is popularly regarded in terms of ineffectiveness or even abject failure. But utilizing media and mastering media are two completely different strategic elements.

The 9/11 attacks have led to a litany of instances in which Al Qaeda used and continues to exploit the mainstream to further it's message and philosophically reinforce it's will. The mainstream, hungry for ratings, can't wait to obtain and broadcast any evocation of Al Qaeda whether it be a crackling audio tape of Osama bin Laden or a hazy videotape of Ayman al Zawahiri. In this respect Al Qaeda very effectively utilizes the media even as it fails to master it. Despite the media's willingness or hunger for Al Qaeda dispatches it doesn't push the agenda, rather exploits and sensationalizes it for exposure and the financial profit that follows.

Mastering the media means subverting and collecting it's will, tossing it into your virtual ideological corner and then exacting your cause through it in an effort that ends in the general populace, or mainstream, conforming to and accepting your cause as "reality." A hypothetical example of media mastery:

The Global Warming "Fact" as presented by an ex-Vice President... I'll let that hang a bit as I have more to say regarding this in the near future...

In consideration of the above, mastering the mainstream seems to require a realistic pretense or a powerful event (or promise thereof) to shatter the usual homogenous banality that is "news." One simply isn't going to march into the New York Times offices, wave around a half frozen tuna in a threatening fashion and then commandeer the editors office so that they print X to meet the ends of initiative Y. So how does one first snag and then command the attention of a media that caters to what is, perhaps, of the most attention deficient populace on the planet?

What of the cultural or national shock of the sudden and unexpected? Certainly giving the cultural framework that entails a nation a good solid shake will toss the useless glitterati that is Paris Hilton aside and invite a national conscience to actually focus? What of the unexpected left hook that sends all of our pre-concieved notions flailing to the mat and ready for the ten (or even twenty) count? What of the Black Swan? Or, to simply define, the aforementioned left hook that nobody sees coming that rings our bell, sends our government into political turmoil and penetrates the perversely sheep like blind covenant that entwines the American people and popular culture and actually focuses national attention on a common cause. And then, and here's some villany for you, builds and manifests itself upon this new collective.

Ah, the Black Swan, that which shakes nations, because a national conscience typically relies on the past and the present for a comfortable pillow of reference and definition of what can or could or will be and refuses to see that uncertainty is as much a certainty as anything we claim to "predict" or "know."

So if mastering mainstream information and the how and why regarding it's construct is paramount (in my vision) to enacting a 5GW initiative (which is much less an act of overt war and much more an act of mass philosophical and psychological subversion) then the catalyst could be found in either playing off an existing or causing and building upon a Black Swan. Shock the system and then build upon it's new and popular collective.

6 comments:

Arherring said...

Nice Post,

However, I'm not sure it would be necessary for a 5GW organization to control the media. Sure, it would be helpful and probably more efficient, but it would also increase the visibility of the organization and increase the possibility of some sort of backlash.
On the other hand, I think it likely more effective to create the 'black swan' (real or imagined) and let the media do the job they are already so good at.

arherring said...

Bah, that should have started out more like "Mastering manipulation of the popular media as opposed to controlling the media, is certainly preferable for a 5GW organization."

That's what I get for trying to post before my morning caffine.

Further upon that theme, I'm in the middle of reading Taleb's The Black Swan and so far I'm seeing a great deal of utility for 5GW thinkers. As far as manipulation of the media is concerned my initial 'fingertip feel' is that presentation of non-scalable residents of extremistan as their scalable counterparts in mediocristan (and vice-versa) is the best way to draw the media to the meme you want them to propogate.

Global Warming (although now it seems some parts of the globe are actually becoming cooler and that meme has morphed into "Global Climate Change") is a very good example.

subadei said...

Hahaha!!!

Sorry. But this is the second account I've met in which a reader of Soob is reading (as I am) Taleb's "Black Swan." Adrian being the first. Given that none of the three of us indicated to the other that any should read Taleb this might well be a an illustrative instance of great minds thinking alike.

Indeed my next post would have and will (still) introduce an introduction of my reading of Taleb's work. While I've long understood the basics regarding Black Swan the Taleb work was the match to the fuse that realized this post. And, no doubt, Taleb would likely tear his graying beard out upon reading it.

That aside, I drive only the most high end of limousines...

Thanks for realizing and validating the the division between mastery and control regarding the media. My comment would have entailed a descriptive lecture dividing the two! Command and control can be two distinct principles.

PurpleSlog said...

"he catalyst could be found in either playing off an existing or causing and building upon a Black Swan. Shock the system and then build upon it's new and popular collective.".

That sound like a good approach to me.

Maybe the 5GW should just be prepared to act and use a true Black Swawn event.

Causing the Black Swan might leave a trail back to the 5GWers.

Discovery is defeat to the 5GW.

One more book for the to-buy-=to-read pile!

Curtis Gale Weeks said...

Very interesting post which raises more questions than it answers.

I see that I'm going to need to buy and read Taleb's book. The lengthy reviews at Amazon include ideas that I swear I've also addressed, albeit with different terminology and contexts, on D5GW; so I expect some general commonality, although given my penchant for asking questions I think I'm likely to find errors in Taleb's reasoning. Fundamentally though, I would question how Taleb can present the idea of "Black Swans" as if such systemic unexpectedness should be expected; is that the exception to his rule?

On 5GW, media, and Black Swans: the consideration has links with other concepts, such as whether iconoclasm of some sort, complete or partial, must precede the creation of new icons or idols.

Also, I wonder if you've considered the possibility that 5GWers might want to prevent Black Swans, in order to maintain mediocristan? I.e., rather than attempt to create a new consuming idolatry or reality -- which may be one approach to conducting 5GW -- 5GWers might instead work with what already exists if doing so would be far more cost-effective? Then again, given multiple targets within the larger system, would a 5GW org want to do both, obliterate the 'realities' of some groups while shoring up and utilizing the mediocristan which is another group's 'reality'? I really do have somewhere I'm going with these questions, but since this is a comment rather than a post, I will save it for later.

Finally, now, as a person who has not read Taleb's book, I will ask this:  whether Taleb includes anywhere in his book the idea that large numbers of people who live/believe within their mediocristan -- who assume predictability -- might actually skew the future toward an order, even if a) the future order cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy, and/or b) that future order may not be anything those people would predict.

subadei said...

"Fundamentally though, I would question how Taleb can present the idea of "Black Swans" as if such systemic unexpectedness should be expected; is that the exception to his rule?"

Taleb's core "rule," as it were, is that we cannot expect or predict. Bear in mind that Taleb doesn't look at Black Swan in the same fashion, say, John Robb does.

"On 5GW, media, and Black Swans: the consideration has links with other concepts, such as whether iconoclasm of some sort, complete or partial, must precede the creation of new icons or idols."

Hmm. Is Al Gore an iconoclast?

"
Finally, now, as a person who has not read Taleb's book, I will ask this: whether Taleb includes anywhere in his book the idea that large numbers of people who live/believe within their mediocristan -- who assume predictability -- might actually skew the future toward an order, even if a) the future order cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy, and/or b) that future order may not be anything those people would predict."

Arherring could probably better answer this as he's finished the book and I have not. I suspect, however, that the answer is both yes, because the smallest actions/decisions of people (the whole butterfly in India creates a hurricane in the Atlantic meme) define the future.

Let me know when you've read the book!