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Commentary :: Organizing
Random Resistance - Taking Decentralization to Its Limits
29 Aug 2004
What Are You Waiting For?

Random Resistance - Taking Decentralization to Its Limits

For some time now I've been advocating decentralized (or disorganized) resistance.  The decentralized resistance meme has spread and is now evolving on its own.  Some criticism has been directed against this new meme, namely by those who mistakenly believe it is intended to replace organized resistance.  I am not sure where this misinterpretation arises from.  Decentralized resistance has always been intended as an additional dimension in the space of resistance tactics and not as a replacement for organized resistance.  In fact, it often works best when conducted parallel to organized resistance.

Now that decentralized resistance is an accepted component of the resistance arsenal, it's time to add another meme which derives from the original decentralized resistance meme.  These new meme can be thought of as a specialization of the degenerate expression of decentralized resistance - specifically where a resistance cell consists of one single person.  In a sense, it is the oppressor's worst nightmare: a formula for generating "lone wolves."  Like decentralized resistance, this new form of resistance is intended to supplement existing forms of resistance.  It is not intended as a replacement for organized resistance or decentralized resistance.

There are some interesting inverse relationships which few are aware of within the field of espionage.  One centralized organization is easier to monitor than a decentralized network.  As centralization gives way to decentralization, the actions of an entity become less easy to predict and to monitor.  Oppressors must spend more resources monitoring networks than they spend monitoring organizations.  In the case of an organization, a single well placed infiltrator can obtain a complete picture of the operations of an organization.  With a network one must monitor each node to fully understand the operations and intent of a network.  Thus, monitoring an organization is as easy as monitoring a single individual.  If the number of individuals in a centralized organization is large, the overall resource cost per individual with regard to monitoring is very small.  If the "organizations" consists of a single individual, the overall resource cost per individual with regard to monitoring is high (one on one, at a minimum).  For networks, it is the number of nodes in the networks which determines the total cost of monitoring.  The larger the number of individuals in each node, the more efficient it is on a per member basis to monitor the network.  Thus, for networked organizations, maximizing the cost to the oppressor with regard to monitoring would require reducing the node size (cell size) to one individual.

The situation for the oppressor, however, becomes much more complex when single individuals act on their own and do not network together.  Consider the following: lone individuals are often transparent.  It is usually the case that the oppressor will not know whether a lone individual is a resister.  Therefore, until an individual is identified as a resister, he or she will go unmonitored.  Of course, monitoring all individuals in society would assist in determining who is and who is not a resister, but such steps would increase resistance as more and more individuals would feel the weight of oppression and react against it.  In any case, unlinked individuals acting as lone resisters will require a substantially larger number of monitors per lone resister, on the average, as many will be allocated simply to try to determine who the unknown lone resisters are.

The lone resister, if she or he does not plan his or her actions will be unpredictable.  This unpredictability further stresses the oppressor's ability to monitor and respond to acts of resistance.  Those opposing the resister should take advantage of this asymmetry and actively attempt to increase the number of lone resisters acting independently.

There have always been "lone wolves."  They have arisen naturally.  Often they have been disaffected individuals frustrated with the world as it is.  As such they have lashed out, more often than not, irrationally against the oppressor, often causing more harm than good.  However, if we sought to spur rational individuals to take rational actions of resistance with the goal of increasing the complexity of dealing with resistance and to train or encourage these individuals to act RANDOMLY and on their own, we very well may see productive acts of resistance flow forth.  The key is to encourage normal people to stand up and make a stand, in whatever small way, such as to increase the sense that there is a challenge to authority and to encourage, by their example, imitation of their acts by other rational individuals.

Just as the individuals we would recruit (more often than not anonymously) would be motivated by reason and rational resistance, we should expect their actions to be rational and useful to resistance as opposed to the non productive and violent acts brought forth by naturally arising random resistance.  This difference is significant.  While naturally arising individual random resistance (e.g. the Unibomber) is often an irrational reaction to an oppressive society by an individual who has passed the threshold of patience, rational and intentional individual random resistance would be carried out by individuals who have not passed the same threshold and are in complete control of their faculties.  As such, we can expect them to act out productively (i.e. to forward the goals of resistance rather than to lash out irrationally).

What Might Rational Individual Random Resistance Look Like?

Since the goal is to decrease the power of the state and since acts of violence increase the power of the state, rational individual random resistance should be non violent unless in self defense.  There would be two aspects to rational individual random resistance: (1) the spontaneous selection of a moment to resist and (2) the act of resistance.  While these may seem to follow in a logical order, I believe that in practice the realization that an opportunity to resist has arisen will cause such an individual to spontaneously take advantage of it.  For example, if a rational individual random resister is on a train and a law enforcement officer insists on violating his Fourth Amendment rights, demanding to search his bag, the resister may see this as an opportune moment to engage in random resistance.  I am not suggesting that he merely refuse the search, but that he take dramatic action to draw attention to his resistance to the search.  The action would be the choice of the resister.  Other opportunities might include sudden street theatre upon sighting an absurd show of state control, such as oppressive security measures, video cameras in public places and so on.  The idea is to get more and more people to make a scene, hopefully in an amusing manner, and treat an increasing percentage of the population more and more random acts of anti-authoritarianism (e.g. mocking of authority, undermining of authority, demonstration of disrespect for authority).  The goal is to waste the resources of the oppressor by increasing the number of incidents that must be responded to and to increase the probability of others acting out by making acting out a commonly observable phenomenon.

What Are You Waiting For?

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29 Aug 2004
Re: Random Resistance - Taking Decentralization to Its Limits
04 Sep 2004
This reminds me of the time I spontaneously thought up the idea of spreading a worldwide decentralized resistance movement. True story. Anyway, it dawned on me: resist what? I couldn't really think what. Was it government, my parents, my past? The I realised: Why am I writing this in RED pen? And then I realized, I got started on this train of thought by reading the Kabbala. Nasty bit of stuff really. It rots your brain.
Anyway, I decided not to lead a leaderless worldwide decentralized movement of resistance, and decided to be self-centered instead. The funny thing is that the crypto alphabet I invented for the leaflets still sits in my mind, unused, and some lame ass from Cambridge has done the same exact thing, written a similar manifesto on the wall of Abercrombie and Fitch in Harvard Square, and devised a far less elegant crypto alphabet. It is almost like the time when I originally wrote "No Diggety."