The History and Future of Warfare

I’ve been thinking about Lexington Green’s post asking for help putting together a presentation on the history of warfare. Here’s the framework I’ve thrown together. My focus was on incorporating the market and information (both get lost in most traditional readings of the history of warfare). Feedback’s appreciated.

Of course, this needs fleshing out, but the call was for an outline, so here goes:

The history of warfare looks something like this cycle that repeats itself within the governance market – between an insurgent governance platform and the dominant platform of the time. Victory is gauged by market-share of each platform.

  1. Tribe vs. Tribe
  2. Tribe vs. State
  3. State vs State
    1. Marked by the invention of the nuke.
  4. Network vs State
    1. Where we are now. Networks are essentially information empowered tribes.
  5. Network vs. Network
    1. When the nation-state collapses into its component resilient communities and combats the networks that won.
    2. Insurgencies and private military corporations act as governance platforms.
  6. Small-Scale Networks vs Network
    1. Advanced information flows decreases mass requirements and increases decentralization.
    2. Trend continues until post-human age.
  7. Small-Scale Network vs Small-Scale Network
  8. Individual vs. Small-Scale Network
  9. Individual vs. Individual
  10. Post-human vs. Individual
    1. When the difference between man and machine is negligible.
  11. ? vs Post-Human

*Acceleration really takes off when the network barrier is broken.
*Technology is a type of information.

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  • Larry Dunbar
    Oct 8, 2009

    “1.Where we are now. Networks are essentially information empowered tribes.”

    I don’t agree, tribes have always been information empowered. The difference now is the generational dog-pile that the information age has given us. Of course you know what the top dog gets to do?

  • Shlok Vaidya
    Oct 8, 2009

    Fair point Larry. We are but the sum of all.

  • What is different now, is that the top dog does not have a monopoly on that information. So the top dog can try to re-write history in it’s favor, but because everyone has access to the same tools as the top dog, it is kind of a lost cause. What’s worse is if the top dog tries to censor history.
    ‘Anonymous’ has a different idea, as do the legions of folks with camera enabled smart phones, laptops, and an opinion or agenda. Not to mention the mass of new media, all fighting for market share in the world of ‘story telling’ and information gathering.
    I also like comparing today’s ideas, to yesteryear’s ideas, and borrowing some brilliance. Boyd opened up his Destruction and Creation paper with this statement:

    “Studies of human behavior reveal that the actions we undertake as individuals are closely related to survival, more importantly, survival on our own terms. Naturally, such a notion implies that we should be able to act relatively free or independent of any debilitating external influences—otherwise that very survival might be in jeopardy. In viewing the instinct for survival in this manner we imply that a basic aim or goal, as individuals, is to improve our capacity for independent action. The degree to which we cooperate, or compete, with others is driven by the need to satisfy this basic goal. If we believe that it is not possible to satisfy it alone, without help from others, history shows us that we will agree to constraints upon our independent action—in order to collectively pool skills and talents in the form of nations, corporations, labor unions, mafias, etc.—so that obstacles standing in the way of the basic goal can either be removed or overcome. On the other hand, if the group cannot or does not attempt to overcome obstacles deemed important to many (or possibly any) of its individual members, the group must risk losing these alienated members. Under these circumstances, the alienated members may dissolve their relationship and remain independent, form a group of their own, or join another collective body in order to improve their capacity for independent action.”

    I believe we can build a lot of theory off of this concept. That we are all trying ‘to improve our capacity for independent action’, and with the information age fueling momentum, we will very well see that quest for independent action being achieved, or at least getting pretty damn close. We will see it in warfare, we will see it in business, in communities, in nations, etc. etc. Hell, we are already seeing it take it’s various forms now.
    Anyhoo, back to the timeline… Interesting stuff Mr. Vaidya, and I will ponder my industry’s place on that diagram you have put together. Cheers.

  • Matt,

    Thanks. Let me know what you come up with.

    Stay safe out there,


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