SCIOPS 01.12: Weaponized Narrative
It’s a scary world out there. The terrorist attacks in Portland and London have everybody wondering if they’ll be the next to be stabbed. Here in Cascadia, thousands of antifascist protestors faced off with a few hundred thugs at an alt-right rally held just nine days after the fatal stabbings on public transit. The attacker – rather, the homegrown American terrorist – shouted
“Death to the enemies of America” during his court appearance this week .
After the massive, peaceful anti-Trump protests all year, and the brawl in Berkeley between alt-right and antifa, the simmering civil war in the States has got lethal. I’ve been wondering who would be the first to shed blood in this ideological conflict, and it looks like the nazis have thrown down the gauntlet. Will America be able to hold its contradictions gracefully, or are we about to dissolve into failed-state chaos? To know what we’re up against, we need to look at recent changes in the theory and practice of war.
The cogsec blog Truthhawk has this to say on the subject of narrative war:
We will see a trend towards simplicity in theory and narrative. Keep an eye out for it. Persuasiveness, virulence, and repetition will be how this comes about. Here are some recent examples:
- Any media stories opposing or criticizing Trump are “fake news”
- Trump won on the backs of racist rednecks
- Trump won due to Russian interference, and scores of “useful idiots” caught in the web
- America is in a state of “carnage”, but we’re going to Make it Great Again
The more simple, and the more able to explain everything, the more suited the narrative is to fill the vacuum. Don’t expect this to get any better.
We’re in conditions of memetic warfare, and they don’t favor complex or nuanced thought.
The most viral wins
This sums up the nature of World War III: not a battle of bullets, but of soundbites. The militaries of Russia, China, and the USA are all aware of this. They’re refining their strategies for disruption not only of supply lines and communications, but of the ability to make sense of events. They’re constantly trying to get inside each other’s decision loops, disconnecting what the Enemy sees from how it acts. And they’re playing with fire – like the first days of gunpowder, a lot of innocents are going to get hurt in the learning process.
- Narrative warfare is either the oldest or the newest weapon in the world’s arsenal. A lot of really well-paid people are thinking very hard about it right now, and you can bet they’ll use it on you first chance they get. In fact, the propaganda machines of the Washington Post, Russia Today, and Breitbart are all clambering through your feeds right now, seeking entry to your brain. They want to give you an easy, repetitive narrative to cling to when you’re confused and overwhelmed with information. When in doubt, remember the
- Litany of Gendlin
- “What is true is already so…”
I read a terrifying amount of these studies and thinkpieces this week. Really, it hurt my brain. The scale of this stuff is dizzying and the people behind it don’t want it to be easy to spot. Here is a sampling of the more useful analyses:
Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace – Defense One [USA-biased]
Narrative, Cyberspace and the 21st Century Art of War – Fifth Domain Cyber [Focuses on Russian, Chinese and ISIS narratives]
How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations – The Intercept [Reveals classified information about UK and USA intelligence tactics. Source of above image]
The New ‘Story Wars’ – Foreign Policy [written during 2016 election, analyzing the cultural divide in America]
Different players have different attitudes towards weaponized narrative, but one thing all agree on: to win, you have to write the story. I’ve talked about this here before – the need to tell a story of utopia . But at the lowest level, our day-to-day actions also tell a story. They tell us who we are, and what we value. What do we chant to ourselves to get through the day? What powers do our habits feed?
Truthhawk has another great article on this subject:
If you read only one link from this letter, make it that one. It’s the most practical cogsec advice I’ve seen outside of this forum. What we do with our days defines who we will become, and informs our subconscious view of the world. What story are you telling? What world are you preparing for? Good signaling creates coherence. Bad signaling creates noise.
The story of the New Crusades is running rampant. So is the Civil War II narrative. What would it take to spread a story of peace and co-operation? What viral message leads to a healed biosphere, a space-faring civilization, a cure for death?
Thanks for reading.
is a cogsec newsletter. If you liked this issue, forward it to a friend. If you’re not signed up, you can sign up at
. Reflections and criticism can be levelled by responding to this email.