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Our fragile future . . .Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We are in a war for our future

But this a war of information and we have the tools to win it

This is a reality that we must all face in our 21st century world. Unfortunately this is not a war that we could easily recognize. There is a long tradition of people wasting money preparing for the last war and not the next war that will happen. We have already lost some major battles and are only now beginning to understand the nature of this conflict. There are theaters of operation but they are only loosely linked to countries. The battles are fought in our minds and in our societies but loss still brings suffering and disaster.

I’m not sure yet what we will call this war because it is a war for our future and the battles are fought over truth, logic, and fact. The winners will get to define reality and whether our future is open and inclusive or whether we will return to the past and work to destroy our planet.

This is a war of information and knowledge.

The weapons in this war are words, emotions, anger, bigotry, hatred, and threats of tyranny. Knowledge of this war has already, itself, been weaponized and turned into propaganda. The enemy uses lies constantly and continuously to destroy our societies and shape them for easy exploitation by the forces who have already learned to take that advantage.

The new conflicts

Wars have enemies with a minimum of two but often more. These are grouped into sides and have common goals to achieve or reaction to block change that is thought to be threatening. The assumption is that we are good and the other is bad, but who are we and who is the other? And what does bad or good mean? The fact that this is not simple to determine is a major reason that our species has been steadily reducing violent conflict.

War results when diplomacy ends. After achieving historically unparalleled war in the first half of the twentieth century, large scale physical wars were stopped. Wars of independence continued and included civil wars fought over ethnic oppression but these became increasingly proxy wars between the large ideological positions. While these had started and remained superficially as conflicts over economic systems, open markets and profits for those that could succeed (capitalism) versus central planning for egalitarianism based on work (communism) both systems were materialist and industrialist based. The real conflict was between power via wealth from markets versus power and wealth via political authoritarian control.

As is often the case historically, large scale conflicts trigger changes that make victory only temporarily better than defeat.

For many reasons the combination of power and wealth from markets became dominant ending one historical phase. The great ideological focus of the conflict made it very difficult to see that both systems were, in the end, very similar and both beginning to fail due to inherent tendencies to corruption and political collapse. Market economics was by nature more efficient but only with opportunity for infinite growth and continuous exploitation.

By the turn of the 21st century scientific analysis of climate change was able to understand the extent of the damage done by the very growth that had enriched the nation states of the West and funded the great conflict. Infinite growth and unlimited planetary exploitation that is essential for the surviving from of market-capitalism needed to end and the changes resulting from it needed to reversed. The future required sustainable economics and correction of the distortions in asset ownership that were inherent in market capitalism. The winner in the great 20th century conflict now faced defeat.

While neoliberal market economics continued to grow and produce wealth this was almost totally channeled to a the tiny group of corporate controlling owners. The continued acceleration of technology allowed ever more efficient production of goods producing economic improvements raising the living standards of great planetary majority who had been left out of the earlier wealth but severely capping their growth.

In the most advanced post industrial countries reliance on capitalist systems exclusively began to remove wealth from the middle class created by earlier capitalist growth creating political anger and instability. This was exacerbated by the necessary movement of jobs to cheaper regions to continue to expand production. The evolution of hybrid socialist and market economics succeeded in balancing out many of the growing problems but internet technologies tremendously expanding information processing and communication created demands that could not be met with the older semi-representative political systems.

Unlike the Cold War this is not a war of ideologies.

This war is more fundamental and brutal as it is a war against planetary inclusion and diversity. As are many civil wars this is a war of race and ethnicity but with that hidden under a veneer of economic and political lies. They want to fight this as if it were a war of ideology because they recognize that the majority will not accept racism and bigotry as acceptable. It is a war started by a minority that is driven by hatred and fear and who does not understand the changes that we need to survive. They have come to live in lies and are fighting to force those lies on everyone. This is a war against the forces of denial.

Know your enemy

While there are already a growing number of deaths in this war and part of the forces of denial brandish old style military weapons and another element are turning our police into militarized terrorists, but, with luck, we can prevent a descent into violence and physical destruction. But the suffering of thousands and perhaps millions is very real. The brutal attacks on immigrants in the US and the loss of control over Trump’s gestapo dedicated to destruction of families and communities throughout North America, must be stopped.

The rise and acceptance of white supremacist attacks in the US and Europe must end. In that sense this is, again, a racist civil war and a war of religious extremists. The attacks against Islamic communities by Christian terrorists are a clear indication of what is coming. The silent acceptance of these attacks can not be allowed to continue. All such attacks must be called for what they are.

Everyone is on the front line and must stand against the manipulation of the ignorant

Everyone must stand against racism, misogyny and bigotry. Religion is not an excuse and is not a justification for denial of anyone’s rights to life, freedom, and respect. The forces of denial are demanding the right to deny the rights of whomever they wish. No, that will not happen.

We cannot assume anyone is the enemy or anyone is an ally. This is a battle of analysis and filters to determine the source of a future attack against all of us. This is very much a war of noise against information. What is noise and what is information? Clearly processing information and controlling that information is the road to victory. We have been losing steadily for the last two years, the first active years of this war.

The information weapons in this war infect populations with lies and the extent to which those lies are believed brings increasing damage and ultimately destruction of the societies infected. We must learn to identify bad information and to not be distracted by noise. Trump and authoritarian opportunists like him are noise. They have no role except confusion.

The tools we need

This is a war of intelligence. We have been developing this for the last two hundred years and intensively since WWII. It came as a shock to me when I realized this and then realized that I had been trained to understand and fight this type of war. Anyone with operational intelligence training knows that war is about information and understanding the true value of the information you obtain.

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information analysis by Helloquence on Unsplash

Since the shocking and opening battles of 2016 in Great Britain and the US people have been inundated with fake news and the struggle for determining the truth when facts are a battle ground. We have been confounded with the loss of our personal information and how it can be used to manipulate us. That is because that we have never had a situation where a war was being fought with the information that we use everyday. Past wars were fought with armies and propaganda and ideologies that could be identified. Now we are dealing with lies designed to force actions that are self destructive. There is little or no ideology.

The training and attitudes we need are classic intelligence operations information analysis

The training we need is to always identify the value of any information presented to us via any channel. What is the source of the information? How reliable is that source? Can you answer those questions? If not you do not accept the information, no matter how good it sounds, until those questions can be successfully answered.

But that is only half of the process. Does the information seem likely? What sources also support this information? If no other sources support this information it should not be acted upon. If it is new information, unique, and accurate and seems possible, then more research needs to be done to find confirming information. If the only confirming information comes from RT or Sputnik News, or Fox News we have questionable information. We need to verify all information.

This takes work as we are all now intelligence specialists who’s survival depends on how well we evaluate the information we receive. Since we cannot be experts on all areas of knowledge we must rely on reliable sources and consensus on the validity of information we decide to trust. Verification is not a matter of really liking what is being said. We must be objective. If that had been done by more people the US would not have Donald Trump as president and Great Britain would not have voted to leave the EU. Because of this the continued existence of both nations is at risk. It is that simple. But doing this requires work.

Some current examples being used to attack our society:

  1. Immigrants have not taken jobs. Automation has taken those jobs and will take many more in the years ahead. Look at a range of professional sources to determine this.
  2. We cannot return to an industrial society that made our parents middle class in the 1950s and 60s. Automation and the broader spread of liberalism around the planet brought higher efficiencies. The problems were the failure to share resources. We cannot blame the people in “poor countries” for taking our jobs. They are now buying our products.
  3. Global climate change has been studied and is held to be accurate and the result of human population growth and industrialization. We must correct this or we will be over run with immigration from rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms that have already begun to escalate.
  4. Conspiracies are very difficult to maintain with more than a few people involved. How long do secrets last in your family? Ignore conspiracy theories. These are lies created to manipulate you.
  5. The most successful nations, in terms of asset distribution and human happiness, are balanced between markets with private ownership and strong public controls. Currently those are broadly social democracies but automation, climate change, the virtualization of human society will force massive changes on everyone. The future is not the past.

Despite the constant assumption that these are heavily politicized issues they are, in fact, easy to prove or disprove using information analysis and verification techniques.

We need to start fighting for truth and define truth as factual and able to be confirmed. If the truth by these techniques is uncomfortable, we need to begin changing our minds. If I know you work to confirm the validity of information that you use and your information is more correct than information I have I will seriously consider your position. This is the route back to trust. Shouters and bullshitters are of no value and should be ignored. Trump and those like him need to be removed for our survival

The future

Technology is very much the answer but it can also be used to destroy us. We need to learn how to make this work. There are great changes happening and a large minority that realize that their existing racial, ethnic, or economic privileges cannot be maintained. They are reacting angrily and, often, violently. That is neither acceptable or logical. We no longer have the option of allowing those privileges to stand.

We have the technical ability to gather massive amounts of information to understand what people have, need, and want. We have the technical ability to created systems that listen to every voice understand that voice. We have emerging blockchain technology that can manage independent contracts that support agreements that are verifiable and valid. These can record the origins and processing information for goods and services. Perhaps this can be used for important information so we can see its source and any changes made to it in transit. The new form of journalism would then travel with its pedigree and references included and no corruptible human agent need be relied upon.

This future is very real but we must survive and transition to this. No one should be allowed to deny us our future.

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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