Networks and Netwars by the Rand Corporation–notes v1

You can download the book here:

Mastery of the Levels:

“There are five levels of theory and practice that matter: the technological, social, narrative, organizational, and doctrinal levels. A netwar actor must get all five right to be fully effective.”  and they go onto write, “When social ties are strong, building mutual trust and identity, a network’s effectiveness is greatly enhanced.”

What is swarming? Rand writes, “Swarming is the key doctrinal approach for which to prepare.” Here is a long def of Swarming:

“Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to strike from all directions at a particular point or points, by means of a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire, close-in as well as from stand-off positions. This notion of “force and/ or fire” may be literal in the case of military or police operations, but metaphorical in the case of NGO activists, who may, for example, be blocking city intersections or emitting volleys of emails and faxes. Swarming will work best—perhaps it will only work—if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. Swarming occurs when the dispersed units of a network of small (and perhaps some large) forces converge on a target from multiple directions. The overall aim is sustainable pulsing—swarm networks must be able to coalesce rapidly and stealthily on a target, then dissever and redisperse, immediately ready to recombine for a new pulse. The capacity for a “stealthy approach” suggests that, in netwar, attacks are more likely to occur in “swarms” than in more traditional “waves.” The Chechen resistance to the Russian army and the Direct Action Network’s operations in the anti–World Trade Organization “Battle of Seattle” both provide excellent examples of swarming behavior.

Swarming may be most effective, and difficult to defend against, where a set of netwar actors do not “mass” their forces, but rather engage in dispersion and “packetization” (for want of a better term). This means, for example, that drug smugglers can break large loads into many small packets for simultaneous surreptitious transport across a border, or that NGO activists, as in the case of the Zapatista movement, have enough diversity in their ranks to respond to any discrete issue that arises—human rights, democracy, the environment, rural development, whatever.”

This blows What is to be Done out of the water. Capital is far head of Leninism and democratic centralism. “The most potent net warriors will not only be highly networked and have a capacity to swarm, they will also be held together by strong social ties, have secure communication technologies, and project a common “story” about why they are together and what they need to do.” 

“More often than ever before, conflicts revolve around ‘knowledge’ and the use of ‘soft power”. What is communist ‘soft power’?

What is “perception management”? Rand defines it as “media-oriented measures that aim to attract or disorient rather than coerce”

“Metamophorically, then, future conflicts may resemble the Oriental game of GO more than the Western game of chess”

Rand Corporation finds Harry Cleaver’s writings to be very useful!

They describe three types of networks:

Chain o-o-o-o

Star network  

And an All Channel Network:

This is what we must build: “Of the three network types, the all-channel has been the most difficult to organize and sustain, partly be cause it may require dense communications. But it is the type that gives the network form its new, high potential for collaborative undertakings and that is gaining new strength from the information revolution. Pictorially, an all-channel netwar actor resembles a geodesic “Bucky ball” (named for Buckminster Fuller); it does not look like a pyramid. The organizational design is flat. Ideally, there is no single, central leadership, command, or headquarters—no precise heart or head that can be targeted. The network as a whole (but not necessarily each node) has little to no hierarchy; there may be multiple leaders. Decisionmaking and operations are decentralized, allowing for local initiative and autonomy. Thus the design may sometimes appear acephalous (headless), and at other times polycephalous (Hydra-headed).”

This is the schizo. This is the subjectivity machine. This is the war machine. Again this is the end of democratic centralism.

Another explanation of what must be built: 

“segmented, polycentric, ideologically integrated network” (SPIN):

By segmentary I mean that it is cellular, composed of many different groups. … By polycentric I mean that it has many different leaders or centers of direction…. By networked I mean that the segments and the leaders are integrated into reticulated systems or networks through various structural, personal, and ideological ties. Networks are usually unbounded and expanding…. This acronym [SPIN] helps us picture this organization as a fluid, dynamic, expanding one, spinning out into mainstream society.12″ 

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