Friday, November 07, 2014

Resistance review: The Effectiveness of Sabotage

I just had a short essay published on a 1987 thesis by Captain Howard Douthit III of the US Air Force: “The Use and Effectiveness of Sabotage As a Means of Unconventional Warfare.” The thesis is a great review of the historical use of sabotage and its impressive success, especially in asymmetric conflicts. This helps validate the wisdom of the Deep Green Resistance Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy for achieving environmental and social justice. From the thesis:

The only countermeasure that stopped sabotage was the manpower-prohibitive act of exterminating the saboteurs. Committing the number of forces necessary for effective counter-sabotage also produced too much of a drain on the front line. Indeed, as this fact became known, sabotage efforts increased in a deliberate move to force the enemy to guard against sabotage in the rear area. Thus, this research indicated there were no effective countermeasures to sabotage.


[H]istory supported the thesis that sabotage is an effective means of warfare. Sabotage was used against both strategic and tactical targets. It was proven capable of being used near the front line, in the rear areas, and even in support areas out of the theater.


Sabotage can be used against both tactical and strategic targets.

Any nation, rich or poor, large or small can effect sabotage against an aggressor.

Sabotage is an economical form of warfare, requiring only a mode of transportation (possibly walking), a properly trained individual, and an applicable sabotage device.

Read my entire essay, with links to the DGR strategy and to Captain Douthit's paper, at Time Is Short: The Effectiveness of Sabotage.


Anonymous said...

Sabotage is extremely effective against strategic and tactical assets (shock and awe) but it's much more effective against soft or civilian assets. You knew that and left it out because we care for people, right?

Sabotage against civilian assets is simple as they don't expect or look for it, that's why terrorism works. A bombing at a military base is bad when it kills a couple people. A bombing at a mall is horrific when it kills 20. But the military base was much more difficult than that mall.

Economically you're talking about the loss of trade at the civilian level. At the government level it's about receiving taxes at a later date or based on normal status quo.

Norris said...

Hi anonymous,

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Yes, sabotage against non-military targets is usually easier than against military targets. The DGR strategy focuses on non-military, critical nodes of industrial infrastructure, especially those of energy flows and communication, which have hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of linear miles of unprotected targets.

As I understand it, terrorism tends to focus on symbolic attacks. Bombing a mall or a military base may terrify people, but it won't stop fossil fuels from flowing and being burnt, except perhaps in the most indirect ways. The DGR analysis definitely doesn't see those tactics as moral or effective from a strategic standpoint.

Nor does DGR advocate a war of attrition, trying to decrease trade or cause economic damage as an end goal. DGR wants to physically stop the flow of fossil fuels, making it literally impossible for the rich and powerful to leverage them for the destruction of the planet and oppression of others. This is one of the DGR critiques of ELF and ALF actions to inflict economic harm: except in the case of specific small businesses, it's unlikely that activists can cause enough economic damage to affect an industry's operations. Hence the focus on critical nodes, to maximize the impact of attacks.

Thanks, and please let me know if I failed to understand any of your points!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Been following your blog for a while. Really inspired generally by the work you have been doing.

I have been looking into DGR lately. Heard of them through your blog. The only thing which really stands out to me as a negative is their perspective on transexuality.

Would you comment a little about an insiders perspective on this issue? Do you agree with their perspective?


Norris said...

Hi Steve,

Sure, I'm happy to comment on the issue. I had to do a lot of research a couple summers ago to begin to understand all the nuances, since it was all new to me. I read as much as I could find from trans activists and trans writers, and from radical feminists and their male supporters.

Basically it comes down to a difference of political analysis as to what "gender" is: a socially constructed class system like race ("white" people have different skin color than "black" people which is used as justification for the former to exploit the latter) or as an innate quality inherent to each person, usually tied to sex. Radical feminists make very compelling arguments that the behaviors associated with "men" and with "women" are well aligned with domination and submission respectively, and are culturally indoctrinated to perpetuate and justify a system of exploitation. On the other hand, I have not seen convincing evidence to back up claims that the gender roles males and females are expected to enact are natural or inherent, with some people being wired to prefer the gender role not associated with their sex.

Radical feminists, and DGR, want to abolish gender as a caste system and just let everyone dress and express themselves however they like. If a male wants to wear a dress, great. If a female doesn't want to talk quietly and defer to males in conversations, great. It doesn't make the former a woman, nor the latter a man.

The only practical, on-the-ground effect of DGR's stance was when an untransitioned, self-identified trans woman (ie, a man with a penis who had recently started calling himself a woman) demanded access to women's sleeping space at a gathering, and to the women's discussion area on the internal DGR forum. Some of the women felt uncomfortable having a biological male in female-only space. DGR staff offered to set up a safe sleeping space for the trans woman, and a "women & trans" section of the forum, but the trans woman would settle for nothing less than full access to women's space, so quit DGR and started attacking it with friends as "transphobic."

This is a bizarrely common pattern in online discourse around the issue. From my perspective, women present clear and rational arguments for why they are a distinct class who need safe spaces separate from people socialized as males. These women commonly express sympathy and support for males who reject their gender category, and work to dismantle patriarchy and male violence, responsible for the assaults on and murders of women and trans people.

In return, the most vocal online trans activists attack these women (and male supporters, and even gender-critical trans people) as "transphobic." They don't engage in rational discourse or try to find areas where they can work together while agreeing to disagree on certain points. To me it comes across as immature bullying with a lot of male entitlement mixed in.

That's it in a nutshell. Yes, I agree with DGR's position of allowing women in DGR to organize separately, just as DGR allows for people of color, elders, people with disabilities, and gays/lesbians/bisexuals to do, and just as DGR would allow trans identified people to do if they asked for such a space.

DGR doesn't attempt to impose this on anyone else; other groups and the women in them are free to organize however they choose. If someone or another group disagrees with DGR's stance on women-only space but cares about environmental or other social justice struggles, we can certainly all work side by side while agreeing to disagree on our analysis of gender.

I'm happy to answer more questions if you have them!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for offering your perspective and for keeping things civil.

There are some interesting edge cases to explore here, since biological gender is a continuum. For example, consider an intersex person who is biologically female (XX chromosome), was identified and inculturated as male at birth, and later self identified as female. Should this person be welcome in a "female only space" despite having been raised with male privilege?

Personally, when I am interacting with people with an ambiguous gender, I tend to agree with their self-identification. This seems like the most polite thing to do. It seems like feminists are divided on this issue, but personally I think that sticking to this heuristic will serve me well, but you have given me some food for thought.

p.s. Have you thought at all about permaculture on a larger scale, Mark Sheppard style? This is more where my interests lie. I would be interested in purchasing enough land that the land could enable a small community to be self-sufficient using perennial polycultures (maybe 20 acres for 30 adults with some children).

Norris said...

Hi Steve,

Apologies for the ridiculously belated reply!

On the trans issue: "biological gender" doesn't make sense in the radical feminist framework, since sex it what's biological, with gender socially conditioned. There are some edge cases of intersex people, but they're exceedingly rare, and don't appreciate having their issues coopted by trans activists to push the unrelated trans agenda. As with cases of trans, if cases came up of an intersex person wanting access to female space, I would support the females in that space setting the boundaries they choose.

Mark Shepard is working hard on breeding woody perennial staples; I cheated and moved to Hawai'i where they're already developed and easy to grow. I do want to live on acreage with multiple households, with perennial polycultures supporting us all. And I do have some excitement about experimenting with unusual crops or trying to selectively breed adapted local cultivars of important plants...but I doubt that'll ever be a big focus for me. We already have a wide selection of perennials so the trick is to get people to actually plant them instead of relying on annuals!

I foresee my work as a combination of encouraging strategic direct resistance, and educating people who want to learn about perennial polycultures, with my own homestead as an experimental and demonstration site.