the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker’s Blog

Blacklight Manual BM-9876 “Counter Guerrilla Intellectual Operations”

"Guerrilla Board" by Golpeavisa/Deviant Art

Often when participating in heated online discussions we see commentators engaging in is what I like to call “guerrilla intellectualism”. This intellectualism is to true intellectualism what guerrilla warfare is to true conventional warfare — a sort of bastard little brother. However, while there is nothing dishonourable in guerrilla warfare, since it is necessitated by a lack of strength and not a lack of morality, the opposite is true with guerrilla intellectualism. While warfare is a clash of arms, the balance of which is irrelevant to morality or the idea behind it, in debate it is a direct clash of ideas. Therefore guerrilla intellectualism is a strategy grasped at by those who are lacking the intellect and/or morality to face off against an opposing idea on equal footing, just as guerrilla warfare is grasped at by forces who lack the force of arms to directly confront a more powerful enemy.

So as in guerrilla warfare, the guerrilla intellectual (not to be confused with the intellectual guerrilla) must flee when confronted with a direct assault (ie a direct question), he must avoid exposure and encirclement by superior numbers (ie a paraphrasing or outlining of his argument in order to give it clarity and reveal its failings), he must extricate himself from the battlefield when casualties mount (ie abandon the debate when proven wrong), choosing instead to return and make pinprick attacks in other engagements or launch totally new attacks in areas of his choosing, to give the impression of overall victory and frustrate the more powerful enemy who will begin to wonder why his superior arms and numbers (ie facts, stats, and historical evidence) cannot defeat the guerrilla intellectual.

Like the guerrilla soldier, the guerrilla intellectual cannot hope to defeat his more powerful enemy’s superior intellect (weapons and numbers) and morality (idea). His only hope is to demoralise the stronger enemy (ie break down his focus on his true idea) and entice him into committing his troops to small battles on the guerrilla intellectual’s territory where devoid of his true strengths his troops will be whittled away piecemeal.

Guerrilla intellectuals enter into this form of debate in several ways, but there are two most common paths. The first is born of necessity; I call this the Prabhakaran Model. Here the keyboard warrior initially believes his idea is strong enough to defeat an opposing idea in open battle; a battle that he has chosen by attacking an idea he disagrees with or by having his own idea attacked by an opponent. After several defeats at the hands of his superior opponent, he realises the weakness of his idea and is forced to resort to guerrilla intellectualism to avoid total defeat. Another path is what I call the Viet Cong Model. In this the keyboard warrior realises right from the outset that his idea stands no chance in direct combat, but he still decides to attack his opponent’s idea, choosing guerrilla intellectualism deliberately. While the Prabakharan Model user often honestly believes that his ideas are powerful, and that it’s simply his own inarticulateness that prevents him from being victorious in conventional debate, the user of the VC Model is quite aware that it is his idea that is flawed. He will only increase the intensity of his attacks if he sees that the true intellectual is prone to fall into ambushes and other traps.

To avoid being embroiled in a protracted debate where he will be always fighting on ground of the guerrilla intellectual’s choosing, the true intellectual must play to his own strengths and not those of his opponent. He must remember that his strength is in (1) the moral superiority of his idea (the strategic overview), (2) his intellect (the overwhelming firepower at his disposal), and (3) his ability to disengage and quickly re-engage elsewhere without diminishing either of the first two strengths (ie his strategic mobility which is superior to the guerrilla’s tactical mobility).

With the Prabakharan Model of guerrilla intellectual, the true intellectual must take the initiative as early as possible. Usually there has already been a number of conventional clashes that have resulted in his opponent being defeated and opting for the guerrilla path. At this point, if the true intellectual merely consolidates his gains, further clashes can be put off in the short-term, but it will result in him abandoning the countryside to the guerrilla while he himself remains in the city. The guerrilla intellectual will feel free to propagate his ideas in other discussions and debates unopposed. Eventually the guerrilla will feel confident enough to renew the attack. Therefore the true intellectual must instead pursue the guerrilla intellectual into the jungle. He must place ‘airheads’ (like the Chindits did in Burma, and the French and Americans did in Indochina and South Vietnam respectively) in areas crucial to the guerrilla intellectual; sensitive topics of discussion that the latter must defend or face humiliation. From these airheads the true intellectual sends out patrols to destabilise the guerrilla’s ongoing debates with short hard punches. This is in fact counter-guerrilla intellectualism, and is using the guerrilla intellectual’s own tactics against him. By doing so, the true intellectual frustrates the guerrilla and forces him to attack conventionally again, destroying himself against these heavily fortified airheads. However, for this to work, the true intellectual must ensure he is well prepared and that strengths 1 and 2 are intact and readily available, and that strength 3 is at his disposal. If not, he could face defeat in the heart of the guerrilla’s territory.

In the case of the VC Model of guerrilla intellectual, the true intellectual will find himself facing an opponent very wary of actually giving battle. The guerrilla intellectual will appear briefly and occasionally, sniping and tossing the occasional grenade into the intellectual’s ongoing debates with other commentators. When the intellectual reacts to these pinpricks, the guerrilla quickly disengages to reappear later somewhere else. Here the true intellectual must decide if these pinpricks are worth an escalation or not. If the latter, he must definitively defeat each attack, however small, until the guerrilla intellectual ceases his attacks, or in turn escalates them. If the former, the true intellectual must fight off each attack and then seize the initiative via the ‘airhead’ strategy as he does with the Prabakharan Model.

In both models, the guerrilla intellectual will, like the guerrilla fighter, occasionally attempt assassination of his opponent; and while in the case of the actual guerrilla it is usually via suicide bomber, online it is through ad hominem attacks. These should be pointed out as being against the rules but otherwise ignored. To reply in kind is to lose the hearts and minds battle which mus be won if the true intellectual is to garner the support of other commentators.

Once you understand this, the defeat of the intellectual guerrilla is as inevitable as the defeat of the guerrilla soldier 😉

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March 9, 2011 - Posted by | Life, Uncategorized, War | , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Lol, is this how you approach all online conversations? Now i sufficiently scared of you. But i must admit this is probably the best, or at least the most appealing, blog entry i’ve read in ages.

    I’ve gotten bored with all these internet debates. These days i tend to make my point and give the other guys some time to figure it out. if he/she doesn’t figure it out, I call him/her an idiot while reiterating my point and walk away.

    Comment by The way of the Dodo | March 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. Interesting analysis.

    Comment by Jack Point | March 9, 2011 | Reply

  3. Ha-ha. Love the view from this angle.

    Comment by shammi | March 9, 2011 | Reply

  4. So true! So true! And I have wasted lo these many years in such affray, which waste could have been avoided and my labours directed to more profitable enterprises, had you but written, and I read, this sage analysis in the past.

    As we say in India, hai hai. Sir, I am in awe, and I am referencing your blog.

    Comment by Zaf | May 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. Great observation and a useful model. Very true. It could have been even better if a sub model was created for those gurrillas who often do name calling rather than debating, or is that also an indication of another low-intensity tactic like what the US soldiers did when they used loudspeakers to call Iraq fighters who were in dessert trenches as “importent”, and when the imotions ran high due the the insult, those fighters came out of the trenches and got killed by the waiting US soldiers?

    Comment by Manjula | December 1, 2011 | Reply


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