Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anonymous versus Scientology

Mr. William Lind has created the foundation on the subject of Fourth Generation Warfare. In that warfare, a centralized force, more powerful but less able to apply that power, is faced by a decentralized disorganized force. While the more powerful force could prevail if the two were to meet openly, they never meet in that way. Instead the smaller force strikes at random and melts away into anonymity.

The primary conflict is to cause the more powerful force to lose their morale, to lose the public relations war, to lose the will to continue the fight. The smaller force expends few resources for a large impact. The larger force expends many resources for a smaller impact. This played out in Vietnam. This is playing out in Iraq. Some call it guerilla warfare. Some call it terrorism.

And it may be playing out in an unexpected front in the United States in the war between the Anonymous of the Internet versus the Church of Scientology. Attempts to get the opinion of Mr. Lind on this subject have not been successful, but that does not mean independent analysis is not possible. Although this conflict is not lethal like the Iraq conflict, it does have many of the characteristics of fourth generation warfare.

Scientology is a large and powerful organization with a reputation for fiercely attacking critics. The organization is quite centralized with massive resources.

Anonymous is a group if independent individuals communicating anonymously through various message boards including 4chan, 711chan,, and IRC chats, as well as Encyclopedia Dramatica. None of these boards lead the effort, there are no leaders to the war anonymous is waging. They serve instead as a way to relay information to interested parties.

In a standard confrontation with Scientology, scientologists have the advantage of numbers and organization. A single protestor can be met by many scientologists, investigations run, and harassments through lawsuits can cripple the financial resources of the person attacking scientology. If Chanology (the code word for this war among Anonymous) is analogous to Fourth Generation Warfare, then the tactics of Anonymous turn those advantages on their heads. Scientologists do not know who the protestors are, and the protestors turn out in (masked) numbers to overwhelm the Scientologists who normally react to individual protestors.

Whereas a large portion of Forth Generation Warfare takes place on the realm of psy-ops, winning the hearts and minds of the people while demoralizing the opposition, again Anonymous has the advantage. Anonymous knows how to use the internet to its advantage, which is a very inexpensive tool. Documents are lifted (possibly by illegal means) and posted to wikileaks, while videos by anonymous are posted on Youtube.

Like a regular government in a 4GW, Scientology is slow to react to each new attack, and is always preparing for the last attack. Individual Scientologist are not able to create their own responses without permission, much like individual commanders of military units have to get proper permission to deviate from the plans of the military central command. Individual members of Anonymous are under no such constraint and are free to come up with creative attacks of their own, much like how individual terrorists are under no constraints about where and when to attack government forces.

Scientology has main bases, the various locations of the churces as well as various headquarters. Anonymous does not have those, although the nearest analogous structures would be the redundant lines of communication. The attacks are direct protests as well as politic, economic, and social. The attacks by anonymous are directly against the culture of Scientology, while the attacks by Scientology are against individual protestors.

The war between Anonymous and Scientology is in every way except for bodycount a classic example of Fourth Generation Warfare.

Comments are open. Due to a software bug Blogger is not automatically showing the link. Since I already have one comment I am reluctant to delete this entry and repost it. Seriously, you can comment. I'm trying to find out what is wrong with Blogger's software.


Wayne from Jeremiah Films said...

From your description you seem to have been watching these events unfold ... I've linked to your post from Bad People Video: Church of Scientology blocks disabled from walking home after she could not use bus stop. post.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and clearly articulated premise.

Like every other anon, I do what I can to further the aims of this (metaphorical) war against the cult of scientology. No-one tells me what to do...all >9000 anon makes their own individual decision about how they want to contribute.

The diversity of anon is astounding...united only in a common desire to destroy the criminal organization of the cult in its current form, by any legal means possible.

Frankly, its the most creative campaign I've EVER been involved in, and I'm a vet of more than a few activist campaigns.