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Sunday, December 10, 2017

On the State of the Resistance, 2017-12-09, 19:04:30

By Carl Baker

It's been a year or so now that we've been engaged in this project that I still see as "the Resistance.” An attempt to protect ourselves and our allies from what we see as a federal-level government who's malevolence is tempered only by incompetence (hat tip to Martin O'Malley). And I thought I might offer some thoughts about where we are and how things are going.

Now, I'm a plenty peaceable guy by nature. I avoided the ROTC route through college because I'm not a big fan of violence. Most combat sports hold no particular interest for me, and I'm not even up to first-person shooter video games. Which I love but find myself unable to play. But we are currently engaged in a project with undeniable connections with warfare. And my day job is likewise connected to the execution of combat operations. So I'm finding the analogy with combat irresistible. So if you'll indulge me, I'll run with the analogy for a bit.

In this piece, I frame the folks we're  grappling with as "enemies". And in some sense they are. But they are also fellow citizens who simply (for various reasons) see the world completely differently to how we do. And they're just trying to do the same thing that we are - get their good ideas implemented. In our view, of course, their ideas are bad. But most of the people probably don't actually intend harm. I hope.

When we first began this project, there was near-universal concern (including from me) that we had no central coordinating body. No one was in charge. There was (and is) no way to ensure that each action by our opponents was met by exactly one, well planned, accurately targeted counter action. There was (and is) no way to ensure that each opportunity our opponents create will be exploited by a single, well planned, accurately targeted action.

When they do a thing we might respond with no action. Or we might execute two actions. One well planned and poorly executed and another poorly planned and well executed. Or maybe two independent and uncoordinated actions will spring forth, each successful for different reasons, creating two advantages for us. We don't have the tools in place to coordinate the efforts and ensure that we don't duplicate efforts or miss opportunities.

I'm overstating the case a bit here. Because we do communicate with each other. And we know each other. And when we plan a thing, we know who to talk to. And when we blunder into friendly forces who we didn't expect would be joining us in a particular engagement, we know that they are allies. And we can usually improvise a way to avoid causing problems for one another. There's a bit of a strained analogy here with a military concept called "full-spectrum operations". Which can be seen as simply deploying all of your classes of capability against your opponent to achieve maximum effect. And I think that we are doing this despite (or possibly because of) our lack of central control. We seem to be in a situation where there is no plan, no one is in charge, and no one knows what's going to happen next.  And I'm going to argue that that's a good thing.

Picture the situation from the perspective of our opponents. Who have no idea what kind of resistance to expect. Every time they venture onto the battlefield, they're met by a different opponent with a different set of strengths, weaknesses and tactics. Maybe they're met by several opponents. And there's no central point of coordination to mislead, isolate or otherwise neutralize. They put forward an idea, and it's resisted by folks they've been friends with for years. Angry people they've never met whose existence is threatened yell at them on the Internet. They get floods of phone calls and emails from folks who have been complaining at them for years complaining yet again. And their friends and family ask them at church "Dude, what's up with this thing?"  People protest, write letters to the editor, have friendly meetings with them and their staff, run against them in elections, contribute to their opponents’ campaigns, canvass for their opponents, send flowers, take them to court, and engage in all manner of resistance.  No action is safe. Including no action.

One of our core tenets - a fundamental element of our project - is that diversity is strength. Our society is better and stronger when the full spectrum of people participate. Everyone is helping. Everyone brings their best talents to the part of the project that they're most passionate about. To the part where they are best able to contribute.  So each independent line of effort could possibly benefit from better coordination with partner efforts. But they also benefit from the talent and passion of the workers being free to do their jobs as they see fit. Everyone is passionately bringing their "A" game to the part of the project they care most about.

And that's exactly how this project looks to me. We don't have a plan, no one is in charge, and no one knows what's going to happen next.  Including our opponents. Who have no idea what will happen when they try to do something. This is fantastic for us.  This decentralized control, which seems to be a weakness is actually a strength.   We have our best people doing their best work opposing them. We are all essential and no one is irreplaceable. Everyone is contributing according to their talent and inclination.  This has been going on for a year. And people are still showing up at meetings. They're excited to do things.
Things aren't perfect.  We've had some missteps.  Some people have been excluded who shouldn't have been.  Some people have had to take a break.  When that's happened, others have joined in. Many of whom will be here for the duration.  And when the opportunity arises, some of those who had to step aside will return. Democracy is messy. And we're going to goof up from time to time. But we have to try. And we are.

So I think that the current state of the resistance is that we are in fine shape. We don't have a plan, no one is in charge, and no one knows what's going to happen next. And that's exactly how it should be.

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