So till now, History has largely been written in military conquest. Society has taken whatever form seemed optimal to support the military technology of every time. There is a major stream of thought that points to weapons tech as the determining factor in much of history. I have a kind of ongoing personal argument with this view where I keep saying ‘But… but… but…’ and trying to escape its vice-like reductionist logic.
But what if ‘Force’ projected at a distance is only one end of a whole spectrum of human trade in ideas and objects? What if till now, it was the end of the spectrum that always got there first, and talked the loudest, and so we have a habit of accepting its dominance, but what if things have changed?
Before we can talk about the non-force parts of the spectrum of human interaction, let’s address how non-force technologies affect war and killing. In World War II, if there was one important person or workshop you needed to ‘take out,’ there was simply no better way than to try to bomb it from an airplane. The only way to be ‘sure’ was to drop a lot of bombs from a lot of airplanes, and hope for the best. By contrast, today, you google their location, and contact your connection or broker for whatever you want done, give the directions, and an individual, shop, factory, or base can be bombed, or seized, or creatively messed-with in any number of ways.
This is not to say the airplanes and missiles with bombs are not still important, but they do try to do the same thing, place any size bomb or supply package (as case may be) precisely on the target, precisely on schedule. And messages travel more quickly than airplanes or tanks do.
How does the power of information Confront the power of Force? How might it? Well suppose troops overseas are conducting house-to-house search, beat, and intimidate raids. Suppose the local resistance has no weapons at all, but several skilled Hackers. Here come the Green-Boots kicking down the door. But the woman in the house is speed-dialing a number on a cel phone. By the time the soldiers troop in, all their Mothers are on the line, in a conference call. The woman who called appeals for her life, and says “Your son is kicking down my door, and threatening me and my children. Will you please, for the love of GOD tell them to stop?” Suppose they are seeing video of the carnage their boys and girls are creating. Suppose they are on speaker phone. That is HARD CORE Intel, and HARD CORE Psy Ops, the sort of thing that once was only available to major governments. Today, virtually anybody can find out that sort of info, if they are motivated.
But all that is fireworks to impress those who only think in terms of force and killing, or commanding. The future of human interaction has more persuasion and soft-motivation going on. A Pack is something you command and control. A Herd is something that sort of gloms together and goes where it will. Till now, the Herd of humanity was controlled by a Pack (like dogs) that ran around and simulated threats, but none of them really got Control. For Control, they need a Continuous Edge around the Herd, a buffer area free of stragglers. They don’t have that. The herd is spread out now. The simulated attacks meant to direct them this way and that presume there is an ‘out there’ somewhere for the attack to come from. But there is no Out There anymore. There is only In Here. And there is no Edge, just the imperceptible rarification as you roll away from Town.
Today we can communicate instantaneously at a distance, without much regard for national borders. We can communicate in broadband, with several video feeds, several audio feeds, ongoing comment, etc. Imagine how scary that is to anyone whose job it is to keep people Under Control, even for the most noble of reasons. Those in Control are Controlled by the Need to Control. What could be a bigger threat to Control than regular people stepping out of the nationalist Straitjacket? What does a Kindergarten teacher do when she can’t restore order in the class? First she slams something heavy down on her desk, and bellows like a stuck gorilla. Then if that is not enough, she makes an Example of Someone, however that translates in her world. That is what all other Authorities do when they are losing Control, whether Prison Guards or Mafiosi. All Authority is the Same, and exercised the Same way, but people who are demonstrably Less Smart, and More Amoral than those they presume to order around. Maybe as we all get Connected, we will respect not so much crude Power, as Reliable (true) Information. How will Governments cope with that? Their whole impulse is to treasure any info that’s actually ‘True’ and create a hierarchy of who gets access to how much, and who gets fed a load of Crap. The whole Structure exists for this. Everyone’s Job is to assess who is worthy of how much truth, and then make damn sure they work for it. How long will anyone Respect that in the Information Age?
This is like the Renaissance, only more so, and what took decades is taking MONTHS now.