Is 4th Generation Warfare in our future?
…Enter Fourth Generation War. All over the world, state militaries find themselves fighting not other mirror-image state armed forces but the ghosts of premodern war. Once again, many different kinds of entities are fighting wars: clans, tribes, races, religions, businesses we call drug cartels, and so on. They use many different means, not just armies; invasion by immigration is perhaps the most dangerous. And almost always, the state armed forces, despite vast combat power superiority, lose.
At the crux of Fourth Generation War is a crisis of the legitimacy of the state. This crisis varies greatly in intensity from one state to another, but almost everywhere we see people in growing numbers transfer their primary loyalty away from the state to non-state entities: race, religion, ideology, or political causes such as animal rights, etc. Many of those people, who would never fight for their state, are willing, even eager, to fight for their new primary loyalty. The consequence is that the state loses the monopoly on war it claimed at Westphalia. As van Creveld says, the key change in the Fourth Generation is not how war is fought (although that does change), but who fights and what they fight for.
That is much of what we have seen going on in our streets over the past few months. Fourth Generation War has come to a theater near you. A variety of Fourth Generation “causes” have intersected with what I call a “supply-side war.” We have millions of kids who have been cooped up for two or three months. They have no work or school. They want an excuse to go out and fight, because that is what bored young people like to do. Especially young men; young women will demonstrate but when fighting starts they usually disappear.
These youths need a cause to plead in answer to adults’ demand for “social distancing.” It doesn’t matter what the cause is; saving the pangolins could work as well as “Black Lives Matter.” Supply-side war provides the raw material in youthful fighters, while Fourth Generation War gives them something to fight for, a new primary loyalty to replace duty to country. And the state proves itself impotent against its own progeny. We have seen this same supply-side war dynamic in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and most of West Africa. Now we are seeing it in Chicago and Portland.
Conservatives know that the fall of the state is catastrophic. Life becomes, as our old friend Thomas Hobbes said, nasty, brutish, and short. A friend of mine has used Hobbes’ name as a pseudonym to pen a novel about this situation erupting in America, entitled Victoria: A Novel of Fourth Generation War (2014).
Security forces may put down individual disorders (and they should), but the only way to defeat Fourth Generation War is to restore the legitimacy of the state, to the point where it again becomes the primary loyalty of most of its citizens. What is the prospect for that in the United States of America in the year 2020? As President Trump would say, “Not good.”
We face a bifurcated culture. The elite that controls the state has for decades waged war on the common culture in the name of the ideology of cultural Marxism, also known as “wokeness.” While many Americans who cling to our historic Western, Christian culture also remain loyal to the state, their position is unsustainable because the Deep State is dominated by cultural Marxists.
Conservatives’ loyalty to America is to an America that has largely disappeared among elites. At some point, they too will transfer their primary loyalty to something other than the America we know now. Probably they will transfer it to many things, not just one, adding to the disintegrative forces working on the state.
Restoring the legitimacy of the state requires a federal government that actually cares about America “beyond the beltway,” and neither political party offers that. Washington has become a classic royal court toward the end of a dynasty. Court politics is everything; the rest of the country is only a stupid cow to be milked and beaten…
Thanks – great read. Everyone else will care about it when city hall gets burned to the ground. Perhaps we can discuss then.