Revolt in a normal human society is made easier by the fact that everyone knows who is in charge and the institutions they control. In a despotism, the name of the despot and his supporters is known. The institutions they control and their relative power is also well known. The same is true of a republic when it degrades into oligarchy. Picking sides comes naturally. In the synopticon, this is not so clear, because everyone is an agent of the system, a potential threat to anyone resisting the system.
That is the first thing a political dissident living within the modern liberal democracy must accept about their condition. Since everyone operates within a lattice work of interconnected data collection nodes, the sides are not clear. The people at the top, ostensibly running the system, rarely act directly. They often appear to be carried along by the system itself. Groups that form up to reform some aspect of the system are easily coopted by the system to defend the system from change.
This is the hardest thing to grasp about any human relations. Half the population will also seek to assign blame to an individual or group of individuals. They simply lack the capacity to understand how events, ideas, and the system in which they operate can come together within a society. They insist the problem is someone holding office or a group of people running an institution or party. While not entirely wrong, it is an antiquated view of the world that make resistance self-defeating.
The simplest way of thinking of this is the modern prison. The guards rely on cameras, listening devices and other detection systems. They also rely on snitches in the prison population to tip them off to trouble. Ideally, the prison system wants every prisoner distrusting every other prisoner. If they are unable and unwilling to cooperate, then they are just a collection of rebellious individuals. No matter how clever one may be, the rest are there to undermine the effort due to misplaced self-interest.
In a society in which everyone watches everyone, knowingly or otherwise, and inanimate objects like ATM’s and mobile phones can be turned into snitches for the system, the people are isolated individuals suspended in the system. The unaware are happily holding up their mobile devices, snitching for the system at every event, while the aware are doing the same, thinking they are fighting the man. This is why the most powerful people think they are the resistance, fighting populism.
This is the first rule of revolution within the synopticon. The war is not against people, but against the system itself. The people involved may be bad actors, but even the people who appear to be good actors, can be bad actors, because they fail to grasp that they are part of the system. This is something the cleverer inmates figure out about the prison system. In order to have any sense of freedom, they continually throw sand in the gears of the system and encourages others to do the same.
As a practical matter, this first means disconnecting as much as possible from the information grid. This is not easy, as it so much of it is convenient. That mobile device feels necessary, because it is convenient. Using Apple Pay or a credit card for all purchases is easy. It is also easy for the authorities to track you down if you show up at the wrong political event or hang around the wrong people. The people at the Capitol on January 6 are learning this lesson the hard way.
This is the first step for any political actor. Politics and the normal aspects of life must be separate spheres, physically and mentally. This means political events are mobile device free. Communication is through the densest channel possible. Reading texts is simple for the system. Reading e-mail is hard. Reading lips through CCTV cameras is impossible, despite what the movies claim. Never write when you can speak, never speak when you can nod. That is the way of dissent in the synopticon.
There is another lesson from the criminal world that applies here. The reformer in the synopticon is always policing his area for nodes of the system. In the criminal sphere, this means listening devices and snitches. The smart actor is always testing the people and environment for security risks. For reformers, this means imposing rules on others about their interaction with the system. It means developing codes of conduct to enforce discipline about communications and interaction with the system.
As a practical matter, this means political resistance starts with community. Entrance into the community requires increasing levels of commitment. At the periphery are people who always being evaluated to see if they can be an asset to the political community and perhaps one day join it. As they demonstrate their worth and commitment, they are required to make greater sacrifices for the whole in order to go deeper into the heart of the community.
In other words, organizing in the synopticon must operate within the blind spots of the system, which in the digital age means the analog space. While the system can detect and predict community formation, it needs the inputs through the compound eye of the system to form the data set. The invisible rules of a community operating face to face are outside the vision of the system. The most dangerous thing to the synopticon is small groups of people meeting in person to form bonds.
Finally, the reformer in the synopticon must embrace the Gerasimov Doctrine. This is the Russian approach to modern war and politics. The days of nations facing off across a field in a well-define set-piece battle are long gone. War and politics have converged in the information age. Those color revolutions sponsored by American intelligence are good examples of modern war. The appearance of “little green men” in Crimea during the American overthrow of the Ukrainian government is another.
Domestically, this means something like systemic sabotage. The more bad data fed into the system, the less valuable the information it creates. The less valuable the information to the people relying on it, the less likely they are to trust it. In the information age, war is an information war. Jamming the system with bogus data is one front on that war. Similarly, causing unnecessary responses from the system wastes resources that could be used elsewhere.
This is why leafletting, for example, is a powerful weapon. It is cheap for the one side, but expensive for the system. Police departments running around looking for the person behind a leafletting campaign is a drain on the system. It also erodes the trust between the people reliant on the system and the system itself. The same would be true of sit-ins and candlelight vigils outside the green zone in Washington. It would turn one weapon of the color revolution against the people wielding it.
Another example of how a multifront war against the compound eye of the synopticon is the short squeeze ushered in by retail investors. The people reliant on the system assumed the other side was operating from predictable motives. When it turned out to be otherwise, they had no rational response. Suddenly, the financial class has a new front in their war on the middle-class. Do this a dozen times and the system is a giant swatting at flies.
This is the essence of the Gerasimov Doctrine. War in the information age is multidimensional and, irregular and ad-hoc. It is not about locating the enemy and engaging him in battle. The enemy is all around in the form of the system. This is particularly true for the reformer. Revolt in the synopticon is about hacking that system so it becomes unpredictable and unreliable. This means jamming it with bad data, depriving it of useful data and overloading it at its weak points.
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