Maybe Der Movement should be reading things like this instead of screaming “Kek” and chugging gallons of milk, but what do I know? Obviously, I’m not in tune with “youth culture.”
We develop a model of an underground organization. The model is designed to highlight the tradeoff between the operational capacity and operational security of clandestine groups. The underground in this paper is defined by a collection of individual cells that are united by a network of internal communications. The attributes of this network, we show, have important implications for the vitality of an underground group in the face of regime efforts to identify and target its component cells. We examine the implications of various network designs for group performance in the short run, and the implications the group’s short run performance will have for its operational prospects in the long run. In the final section of the paper, we discuss the conditions under which a conflict between a regime and an underground organization will reach three alternative equilibria. The results of this paper will be useful to those interested in both the design and dismemberment of clandestine organizations.
When reading the paper, please do not be misled by footnote one, which describes the entity under consideration as one that has illegal goals and uses primarily illegal means. Pro-White activism, particularly in America, is in the unique situation in which the primary goals and means are (at present) legal, but nevertheless sharply persecuted by both governmental and non-governmental actors. Thus, the article applies just as much to the legal goals and means that are persecuted by the System as to illegal ones. In addition, it is possible to adapt the information presented for the types of situations similar to that experienced by racial activists, even if these are different from what is described in the paper.
To briefly summarize the main points of the paper and their relevance:
1. There is a tradeoff between organizational capacity (the effectiveness of the group, its ability to actualize objectives) and organizational security (its ability to evade detection and compromise by the enemy). This is of course obvious, but is rarely so starkly presented. The more aggressive, open, action-oriented, integrated, and willing to attack the power centers of the enemy, the more vulnerable the group is to detection and counter-attack. The more secure, the more isolated from the enemy, the more resources invested in operational security, the less growth, capacity, and actualized effectiveness there is of the group. Of course, capacity is in the long run tied to security; a group detected, compromised, and destroyed obviously will have no capacity. However, with respect to the ongoing functioning of the group, the tradeoffs are clear.
The “movement” has historically compromised organizational security in favor of organizational capacity; unfortunately, the latter has failed to yield any victories. Essentially, organizational security has been sacrificed for nothing. At the current time, I would advise the “movement” to focus more on the organizational security end of the spectrum; particularly if capacity is going to be limited regardless, an emphasis on security can assure the continued existence of the group and allow for the possibility of future secure growth, and the ability to expand capacity in a sustainable manner. This will of course require an understanding of operational security that includes “extreme vetting” that goes beyond asking “are you Swedish?”
2. As the size of a cell increases, the ability of leadership to exert effective control over the cell decreases. Codreanu wisely limited Legionary “nests” to thirteen members. If the group sustains growth, the number of cells must also increase concomitantly. This of course requires the necessary effective cell leadership to be available.
3. The greater the ability of the cells to coordinate their activity – for example via effective inter-cell communication – the greater the possible organizational capacity. This comes at a cost of decreased organizational security. Communication can be nonsecure or secure. Nonsecure communication requires fewer resources and allows for more rapid use of organizational capacity; however, organizational security is usually compromised. Secure communication incurs costs of resource investment (that could have been used for growth and/or action), but allows for greater security. The cost/benefit ratio will of course be influenced by how effective the enemy is in detecting, blocking, infiltrating, and otherwise compromising communication.
Given all of the problems the “movement” has had regarding this, the more secure, the better. With respect to the tradeoff between redundant communication that is robust to enemy blocking but is more vulnerable to detection vs. thinner communication connections that are vulnerable to jamming/blocking but are more secure, the latter is in my opinion preferable at the current time. A distributed communication system, allowing more cell autonomy in communication – more decentralized – would have to be “secure and thin” in order to maximize operational security, to prevent compromise of one cell to “taint” and compromise others. Indeed, one major benefit of the cell system is to prevent compromise from spreading (the Hermannson infiltration is an example of such spreading). Thus, a “high level of interconnectivity” can result in increased organizational capacity, but this is usually outweighed by increased vulnerability. Mathematical modeling by the authors, summarized in Table 1 of the paper, outlines the results of a comparative analysis of different scenarios, including that of variation in communication connectivity and security. The benefits of increased security in the face of a competent enemy are clear.
4. The group can have its man focal point (“headquarters”) at the periphery of the enemy or at the enemy’s central point (e.g., a capital or other major city). The former is more secure but more restrained as far as possibilities for action, the latter is the converse. “Eastern” modes of revolutionary cell systems tend to build in the periphery (e.g., rural) and expand toward the center; the “Western” models tend to start at the inner core of the enemy and expand outward. The latter is worse for security and historically has been more effectively compromised by the enemy.
Was Pierce therefore correct to go to the mountaintop, despite my criticism? There are tradeoffs to consider. I still stand by my criticism. The National Alliance was (and is) not an illegal guerilla organization. The top leadership of activist groups are public figures, they are not attempting to avoid detection by the System. So, there is no reason vis-à-vis detection to avoid the central node of the enemy. The major concern is physical security as well as operational security with respect to information gathering since it is expected to be easier for the System to monitor the center than the periphery. All that said, I have previously discussed the advantages of having leadership close to the centers of society and there is nothing in this article that argues against that as long as we are talking about public, overt, legal activity.
5. The group can exhibit growth, with respect to recruiting more members (with a requirement for more cells), or there can be decay, as cells are successfully targeted by the enemy, there is a net loss of members, etc. Both growth and decay can be self-reinforcing, and a present concern is that the failures of the Alt Right have started a self-reinforcing loop of decay.
There are tradeoffs also between investing in growth and investing for the capacity for action. A group with extra resources can focus on growth while maintaining a certain level of operational action, or the opposite – increasing the frequency and level of action while keeping growth constant.
Essentially, the group has three possible outcomes. First, an inability to grow beyond its base, in which case it never becomes a viable threat to the System and may in fact get eliminated; second, self-sustaining growth, in which case it becomes a “political contender” and may “defeat and displace the standing regime;” or third, a case in which neither the group nor the System can win outright, and a stalemate is reached, in which control over different parts of the territory is achieved by each side. One can speculate that this third situation is not stable long term, unless actual political separation of the territory occurs. Currently, Der Movement reflects he first possible outcome, primarily due to poor leadership and horrifically bad strategic decisions.
I would like to point out that the authors’ mathematical modeling shows that improving internal security is one effective strategy for ensuring survivability and growth for the group. Internal security being, of course, one of the “movement’s” greatest weaknesses, as the Far Right is seemingly infiltrated at will by the Left, with virtually no effort required.
Even if the organization finds an optimal balance between capacity and security, victory is not guaranteed. The relative strength of each side is crucial, and an “ebb and flow” of fortunes between the two sides may in fact occur, with a protracted struggle. A “functional win” by the standing regime can be achieved by, as the authors state, forcing the revolutionary organization back to “an equilibrium position that is sufficiently low to neutralize any threat it might pose to regime stability, even if is able to remain in the game.” This equilibrium may be maintained unless some internal or external change occurs to destabilize the equilibrium – that is undoubtedly why Der Movement fantasizes about various “collapse” scenarios that would break them it out of the pathetic cul-de-sac it has been in for decades.
Of related interest, by the same authors, on recruitment:
We examine the role played by popular expectations in the process of political mobilization and the dilemma this poses for nascent revolutionary organizations. In any target population, we argue, there will be a small ‘hard core’ minority of unconditional supporters of each side. The large majority of individuals (though they may have definite sympathies toward one of the two sides) can be influenced to support either side depending upon their predictions of others’ behavior and their related estimates of each side’s prospects. The conditional nature of such support, we argue, poses an early mobilization problem for revolutionary challengers. The revolutionary opposition begins the struggle from a position of weakness. The expected returns to membership are, therefore, quite low and the expected costs of association are correspondingly high. Why would anyone join such a high risk enterprise in the first place? Revolutionary groups attempt to overcome this challenge through the use of symbolic violence. Group violence is used as a surrogate variable by would-be supporters to estimate the size and relative prospects of the armed opposition. This process, if properly managed, can result in a situation in which agent expectations eventually become self-confirming, permitting the group to ‘jump start’ the mobilization process and achieve a self-sustaining level of revolutionary activity.
The “movement” can, at the current time, substitute “successful activity” for “symbolic violence.” If Unite the Right had been successful, that may have been a step forward, but since it was a botched disaster, it had the opposite effect.