Saturday, July 14, 2007
The guerilla in defeat
Over on Lucky White Girl, the blog proprietor waxes nostalgic about the modern anti-globalization movement, which has proven capable of mustering 10,000 guerillas to take on the Borg-like forces of globalized mercantilism (I call it mercantilism rather than capitalism because government-enforced "capitalism" which takes the wealth of nations and gives it to a privileged few via government-enforced oligopolies is nothing of the sort). She exults over its decentralized nature, its lack of central leaders that can be taken out to destroy the movement, their resilience in the face of overwhelming opposition from the forces of globalized mercantilism. The thing is, by comparing her movement to a guerilla movement, she is admitting that it has been defeated.
Look, nobody fights a guerilla war if they don't have to. The only people who fight guerilla wars are the losers. If you can take on an opposing army in a straight-up battle, that's what you do. In Vietnam, the NVA resorted to guerilla tactics not because said tactics were effective. They resorted to guerilla tactics because every time they fought a straight-up battle against the U.S. Army, they got their butt kicked.
"But the U.S. lost in Vietnam!" I hear you say. No. The U.S. left Vietnam. The U.S. left Vietnam because there was no compelling national interest for the U.S. to be in Vietnam. North Vietnam never posed a security threat to the United States, and lacking such a security threat, there simply was insufficient rationale to forever station half a million troops on the other side of the world at enormous expense. Reality is that no guerilla army has ever defeated a professional army using guerilla tactics, and never will. All that guerillas can do is provide pinpricks in the side of a professional army, pinpricks which are painful but not life-threatening by any means. Over time, such pin-pricks can motivate the professional army to go elsewhere, much as the pin-pricks of a thousand flying mosquitos can send a troop of Boy Scouts to the shelter of a screened-in cabin, but the notion of a guerilla defeating a standing army is ridiculous. The Viet Mihn which defeated the French Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu were not a guerilla army. They did not use guerilla tactics against the French. They were a regular army, equipped with artillery and anti-aircraft cannon, using regular military tactics against an opposing army.
The very fact that you use guerilla tactics is an admission of weakness, because if you had the strength, you would mount a full-scale assault using conventional tactics. But in this particular war, the mercantilists have all the weapons. They control a vast right-wing propaganda machine that has propagandized millions of brownshirts to enforce political conformity amongst wide swathes of the population. The anti-globalism activists reach hundreds of thousands with their tactics. The VRWC reaches millions every single night, every day of the week. And furthermore, the mercantilists can't be pinpricked into leaving the way that the Americans were pinpricked into leaving Vietnam. They were born here. They live here. They have much self-interest in perpetuating their rule over the United States, a rule which is very profitable. They're not going anywhere.
Does this mean the situation is hopeless? Probably not. It is starting to dawn upon the more brilliant of the mercantilists that pure mercantilistic oppression of the masses is probably not in their best interests. A kinder, gentler rule works better in the long run because it keeps the sheep contented and on the farm where they can be more easily fleeced than if they jumped the fences due to harsh conditions. The pinpricks of the anti-mercantilism activists, while not particularly hurting these people, have the potential to grow into something larger if the masses are oppressed harder, and heading off a potential adversary at the pass before he has mobilized his full forces is always a wise thing to do. So while this movement will never win, the very fact that it exists brings some unpleasant facts to the fore that our ruling class had unwisely forgotten. But, as with Vietnam, in the end the decision will be made by our ruling class, not by "we the people", who do not rule this nation and have not ruled this nation since the day it was born (unless by "we the people" you mean a wealthy elite, or, as George W. Bush puts it, "my constituency, the haves and the have-mores"). Our noise is important in leading them towards making a wise choice, but in the end, we will no more defeat the mercantilists using guerilla tactics than the North Vietnamese Army defeated the U.S. Army using guerilla tactics. At best, we're a nuisance. Which, in the end, may be good enough.
-- Badtux the Movement Penguin
Labels: politics, protests, war on brown people
Posted by: BadTux / 7/14/2007 12:00:00 AM
this is an interesting movement. i mostly eat local foods. it restricts some of my choices, but expands others. there are those to have laid down their 100 mile limits. even a restaurant in san francisco that advertises as such. OK, fine with me. mainly, my motivation is one where i simply prefer the end results of local food. my neighbor has goats, they give milk, more milk than my neighbor can either use or sell. we worked out a system where he gives me milk, i give him back fresh made yoghurt, keeping my fair share of course. other neighbors with fruit bushes or trees will bring me sacks of their good stuff, knowing that pies, jams, and other great stuff will not be far behind. if i raise two pigs out by the barn i eat one of them them all the next winter. i don't do the cow thing, but a few of my neighbors do. the reason for that is because my reservation has a co-operative cattle operation and the resulting grass-fed, free grazing beef is something you folks that buy stuff wrapped in plastic will never know.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 14/7/07 9:31 AM
but you're right about guerillas. nobody who has other choices fights that way. victory for a guerilla is achieved by reaching a point where you become more trouble than you are worth.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 14/7/07 9:33 AM
Guerillas don't fight to win. The object of guerilla war is not to lose. The object is to stay alive until the occupying force tires of the drain of money and manpower, and leaves. Guerillas do not "win" in a tactical sense, but claim victory when the occupiers leave the country.
# posted by dr sardonicus : 14/7/07 6:51 PM
Interesting argument, but how do you explain the guerilla movement in Algeria that eventually kicked the French out? From what I gather, France essentially considered Algeria to be a part of itself, not just some other colony; there was an entire population of white people of French descent who'd been living there for generations. The Algerian resistance couldn't defeat the French occupiers by conventional military means, but somehow they managed to drive the French out nonetheless.
# posted by : 15/7/07 9:43 AM
- Name: BadTux
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