Stefan Wray on Fri, 7 Aug 1998 16:21:17 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Towards Bottom-Up Information Warfare

Towards Bottom-Up Information Warfare
Theory and Practice: Version 1.0 
by Stefan Wray 
August 5, 1998

1.0 Bottom-Up Information Warfare

Bottom-up Information Warfare (BUIW) theory/praxis is needed because
dominant IW conceptions are not based on our interests, but on the
interests of the corporate-state and its military-intelligence
community. Bottom-up IW theory/praxis should negate dominant
corporate-state/military-intelligence IW theory/praxis and should affirm
our digital resistant experience and related theory/praxis. Resistance
to future war, totally dependent on information and communication
technology (ICT), is a useful area for exploration and elaboration of
bottom-up IW theory/praxis. Many of today’s conflicts verge on future
war and current resistance to them provide sites for developing
bottom-up IW ideas and practice.  

2.0 Negation of Dominant Information Warfare Conceptions

A negation of dominant corporate-state/military-intelligence IW theory
should be based on a close examination of the sources of these dominant
conceptions, the content and main conclusions, the underlying
assumptions and myths, and the context from which IW theory was
produced. Primary sources for dominant IW theory/praxis are U.S.
academicians, scholars, and analysts from places like the RAND
Corporation, the National Defense University, the U.S. Air Force, other
branches of the military, public and private universities, and
‘independent’ think-tanks. Dominant IW theorists argue that, in today’s
information society, nations and corporations are increasingly
vulnerable to information-based attacks aimed at ICT infrastructure.
With the end of the Cold War, the ideology of Information Warfare –
often in conjunction with Drug War ideology – provides the state and the
military with a new rationale for growth and expansion.  

3.0 Affirmation of Resistant Information Warfare Conceptions

An affirmation of bottom-up Information Warfare theory/praxis means
learning who we are, consolidating our own theory/praxis, and recasting
dominant myths and assumptions with ones more suited to our interests.
So far, bottom-up Information Warfare actors are an international mix of
computerized activists, politicized hackers, new media theorists,
digital artists, and others at the juncture of computers, media, radical
politics, and the arts. The theoretical basis for bottom-up Information
Warfare is from a mix of related sources including work on nomadic
warfare (Bey; Deleuze and Guattari), on electronic disturbance and civil
disobedience (Critical Art Ensemble), on tactical media (Next Five
Minutes), and others. Bottom-up IW praxis is not widespread, but one
example of incipient work in this area are the Electronic Civil
Disobedience actions against the Mexican government that use a device
called FloodNet.  

4.0 Resistance to Future War 

The Gulf War has been called the first Information War because of the
heavy reliance on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for
military and propagandistic purposes. Since the Gulf War such reliance
on ICT – on InfoWar technology - has become commonplace for both
military conflicts, such as in former Yugoslavia and in southern Mexico,
as well as for law enforcement efforts, for example, to control drugs
and immigration. For all intents and purposes, future war has arrived
and people who resist war today are finding that new means of
electronic, digital, or virtual resistance are becoming both possible
and necessary. Cyberspacial resistance to future war enables polyspacial
hybrid forms of resistance that combine the older rural-agrarian and
urban-industrial models of warfare, with the newer
cyberspacial-informational forms.  

5.0 Global Zapatista Internet Resistance

A current example of hybrid rural, urban, and cyberspacial resistance is
the case of the global pro-Zapatista movement, which has demonstrated
how the Internet allows non-state actors to build networks of solidarity
and resistance across national borders. Immediately after January 1,
1994, the Zapatistas had a strong Internet presence. Through email
listservs like Chiapas95, Cc: lists, and an array of interconnected web
sites, a global pro-Zapatista movement formed. This year political
communication moved toward political action as, for example, the
Electronic Disturbance Theater started Electronic Civil Disobedience
actions against the Mexican government. Also on several occasions this
year, anti-government and pro-Zapatista messages have been placed on
Mexican government web sites.  

6.0 An Electronic Boston Tea Party

As the Paris Salon is to political communication on the Internet, the
Boston Tea Party is to political action; more so it is a metaphor for
direct action. Although the bias of Internet politics favors the more
passive discursive space of political communication (the salon), things
like Electronic Civil Disobedience campaigns against the Mexican
government (the tea party) are expanding the range of possibilities.
While individuals and small groups have experimented with electronic
resistance there is still room for more experimentation and development
of techniques and devices. A particularly intriquing idea, that has not
been tested, but that has been proposed to Ars Electronica is a proposal
for a SWARM, an advanced, multiple source, ECD action happening on
different levels and in different spaces, somthing like a simultaneous
convergence of numerous electronic Boston Tea Parties.  

7.0 Conclusions

There is a need for an elaboration and an expansion of bottom-up
Information Warfare theory/praxis. For this there needs to be a negation
of dominant top-down conceptions of Information Warfare and an
affirmation of resistant bottom-up conceptions. The sites of resistance
to future war are good locations for further thinking and practice of
bottom-up Information Warfare. The global pro-Zapatista movement is one
site where such experimention with electronic resistance has taken
place. Finally, there needs to be more experimentation and development
of electronic techniques and software devices for more advanced
electronic civil disobedience.   

8.0 Other Work

8/1/98: Paris Salon or Boston Tea Party? Recasting Electronic Democracy
A View From Amsterdam
7/7/98: Rhizomes, Nomads, and Resistant Internet Use 
6/17/98: The Electronic Disturbance Theater and Electronic Civl
5/14/98: SWARM: An ECD Proposal for Ars Electronica Festival 98 
5/5/98: Die Umwandlung des Widerstands der Maschinenstürmer in Einen
Virtuellen Widerstand  
4/7/98: Transforming Luddite Resistance Into Virtual Luddite Resistance 
3/20/98: On Electronic Civil Disobedience 
3/20/98: Digital Zapatismo 
5/31/97: The Drug War and Information Warfare in Mexico
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