05-09-2016 | Leverage Points
The metropolis is a terrain of constant low-intensity conflict, in which the taking of Basra, Mogadishu, or Nablus mark points of culmination. For a long time, the city was a place for the military to avoid, or if anything, to beseige; but the metropolis is perfectly compatible with war. Armed conflict is only a moment in its constant reconfiguration. The battles conducted by the great powers resemble a kind of never-ending police campaign in the black holes of the metropolis. No longer undertaken in view of victory or peace, or even the re-establishment of order, such "interventions" continue a security operation that is always already in progress. War is no longer a distinct event in time, but instead diffracts into a series of micro-operations, both military and police, to ensure security.
The police and army are evolving in parallel and in lock-step. A criminologist requests that the national riot police reorganize itself into small, professionalized, mobile units. The military academy, cradle of disciplinary methods, is rethinking its own hierarchical organization. For his infantry battalion a NATO officer employs a "participatory method that involves everyone in the analysis, preparation, execution and evaluation of an action. The plan is considered and reconsidered for days, right through the training phase and according to the latest intelligence ... there is nothing like group planning for building team cohesion and morale."
The armed forces don't simply adapt themselves to the metropolis, they produce it. Thus, since the battle of Nablus, Israeli soldiers have become interior designers. Forced by Palestinian guerrillas to abandon the streets, which had become too dangerous, they learned to advance vertically and horizontally into the heart of the urban achitecture, poking holes in walls and ceilings in order to move through them. An officer in the IDF, and a graduate in philosophy, explains "the enemy interprets space in a traditional, classical manner and I do not want to obey this interpretation and fall into his traps. I want to surprise him! This is the essence of war. This is why we opted for the methodology of moving through walls, like a worm that eats its way forward."
Urban space is more than just the theater of confrontation, it is also the means. This echoes the advice of Blanqui who recommended (in this case for the party of insurrection) that the future insurgents of Paris take over the houses in the barricaded streets to protect their positions, that they should bore holes in the walls to allow passage between them, break down the ground floor stairwells and poke holes in the ceilings to defend themselves against potential attackers, rip out the doors and use them to barricade the windows, and turn each floor into a gun turret.
The metropolis also produces the means of its own destruction. An American security expert explains the defeat of Iraq as a result of the guerrillas ability to take advantage of new ways of communicating. The US invasion didn't so much import democracy to Iraq as it did cybernetic networks. They brought with them one of the weapons of their own defeat. The proliferation of mobile phones and internet access points gave the guerrillas newfound ways to self-organize, and allowed them to become much more elusive targets.
Every network has its weak points, the notes that must be undone in order to interrupt circulation, to unwind the web. The last great European electrical blackout proved it: a single incident with a high-voltage wire, and a good part of the continent was plunged into darkness. In order for something to rise up in the midst of the metropolis and open up other possibilities, the first act must be to disrupt its perpetual momentum. That is what the Thai rebels understood when they knocked out electrical stations. This is what the French anti-CPE protestors understood in 2006 when they shut down the universities with a view toward shutting down the entire economy. This is what the American longshoremen understood when they stuck in October 2002 in support of three hundred jobs, blocking the main ports on the West Coast for ten days. The American economy is so dependent on goods coming from Asia that the cost of the blockade was over a billion dollars per day. With then thousand people, the largest economic power in the world can be brought to its knees. According to certain "experts," if the action had lasted another month, it would have "produced recession in the United States and an economic nightmare in Southeast Asia."
The Invisible Committee, The Coming Resurrection p. 58-61