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October 27, 2005

Power and Control in a 4GW World

Mark Safranski has an interesting and pessimistic look at the ability of the State to defend itself in a 4GW world. Myke Cole, whom Mark quotes, sees the dissolution of the State in the face of a threat it cannot overcome. Mark sees the possibility of death squads as a State defense. I see a more optimistic scenario.

It seems to me that there is another option as well, and that it is not necessarily a bad one.

In the US, and in some other Western States, the government is not some god-installed authority against whom there is no power and over whom there is no control. Instead, the government is the agent of the people, and exists to serve the people's will. Indeed, the institutions of government are nothing more than a delegation of agency by the people to the State to do full-time what any given person can only do part-time, and not nearly as effectively.

The military is little more than the delegation of the power of self-defense against foreign foes to the State - the militia power, if you will. The police forces are nothing more than the citizens' delegation of authority to the State to enforce the law (which all citizens are duty-bound to do). And so forth.

The practical result of this is that, at least in the US, the State can fail utterly at some task without leading to dissolution — even at the task of defense against enemies, foreign or domestic. Let us say, for example, that the police make a total mess of fighting against a domestic 4GW threat. While it's possible the government could turn to death squads, it is unlikely (again, at least in the US). What is far more likely is that the armed citizens would organize themselves into a group and go solve the problem. There is a name for this: a Committee of Vigilance. Perhaps better known as vigilantes. While not the best solution — such groups tend to get out of hand — it is certainly better than giving up to death or at least chaos.

If you think that this will not happen in today's world, you should read up on the Minutemen.

Posted by jeff at October 27, 2005 10:20 AM

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What exactly is 4GW?

Posted by: Morenuancedthanyou [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 7:03 PM

I answered in a separate post; it was too long for a comment.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 9:42 PM