Leaderless Resistance
December 7, 2004 12:57 AM   Subscribe

Leaderless resistance today. An essay by Simson Garfinkel -- on network analysis and headless chickens. This seems a little odd to me, what we call al-qaeda could fit in with a leaderless resistance model.
posted by gsb (12 comments total)
Instead of using traditional anti-terrorism or anti-crime strategies, a strategy of treating the violence as a public health problem may be more successful.

former U.S. surgeon general c. everett koop identified violence as a public health issue in 1991.
posted by three blind mice at 2:27 AM on December 7, 2004

That sounds like the Surgeon General from Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty.
posted by PenDevil at 4:33 AM on December 7, 2004

There's a footnote in the article where the author acknowledges that "one of the reasons for the success of the September 11th hijackers may have been their adoption of some aspects of Leaderless Resistance".
However, I've often seen the al-Qaeda structure described as a franchise system, where individuals can set up shop independently, while being able to use the brand name and other corporate benefits.
posted by elgilito at 4:36 AM on December 7, 2004

I apologize for this being completely juvenile and OT: I read that headline and thought what the hell are Simon and Garfunkel doing writing an essay on network analysis and headless chickens?!

Carry on.
posted by snwod at 5:37 AM on December 7, 2004

I really need my coffee before reading MeFi in the morning.
My first thought was "Since when are Simon & Garfunkel publishing essays???"
posted by spock at 5:40 AM on December 7, 2004

Simpson is the sort of grad student that makes other grad stuents feel incredibly pessimistic--that guy's wicked smart and right about many things. Even when I disagree, I am impressed with his lucid analysis.

This piece makes an important point that widespread surveillance of your potential threats may not work if you use network analysis.

However, there still are people out there that want to do Bad Things. He portrays them as "fence sitters" who could be swayed by public opinion. This seems to me to lay the groundwork for

1) More surveillance of people based on ideology, rather than actions. If it is known that I sympathize with [eco-extremism / Islamicists / etc] then I am on some fence, and am therefore a potential doer of Bad Things. Society is better off if I am watched so should I ever hop down off the fence, I can me stopped, or at least have the damage I do mitigated.

2) More PR battles and propaganda campaigns. I think that every activist group has a responsibility to announce its extremist "allies" when they go to far. While Garfinkel agrees that "A public relations campaign emphasizing collateral damage of these events might have a strong deterrent effect," why stop there? If bad PR for a cause has a deterrent effect, then we should take advantage of it. If we can use FUD to further marginalize any group, let's get people really and truly frightened that anyone who agrees with the activists has no respect for [life/liberty/etc]. Yes, Virginia, they hate our freedoms.

A final query for the gaggle this morning--are leaderless resistance movements the mosquitos that draining the swamp can eliminate?
posted by allan at 5:57 AM on December 7, 2004

Also see Global Guerrillas on networked organizations and infrastructure disruption. Can't believe Bey's TAZ and open source philosophy is being used by military analysts.
posted by infowar at 6:49 AM on December 7, 2004

i also had the simon & garfunkel thing. sorry, carry on...
posted by rikabel at 7:07 AM on December 7, 2004

Garfinkel is awesome. I'll definitely be reading this essay at some point in the possibly-immediate future, once I have a couple hours to spare. Thanks for the links.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2004

Simpson is the sort of grad student that makes other grad stuents feel incredibly pessimistic

Given that he got his masters in 88 he is not really a typical grad student...
posted by srboisvert at 1:15 PM on December 7, 2004

Noam Chomsky's been talking about this subject since immediately after 9/11. Also, there was a mefi thread on the three part BBC show entitled The Power of Nightmares. The program mentioned repeatedly that al queada wasn't really an organization at all, that it had no structure.
posted by Clay201 at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2004

I heard that talk a while back, it was very interesting. Thanks for the transcript.

On the Power of Nightmares, that's one of the reasons why I wrote "what we call al-qaeda" in teensy tiny letters -- I was thinking of linking to one of threads over here, on that subject, but I thought that would be bad form.
posted by gsb at 11:12 PM on December 7, 2004

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