Armoured suburbs

by | Jul 12, 2007


Regular readers of GlobalDashboard know that we’re big fans of fourth generation warfare theorists William Lind and John Robb. Both writers have warned persistently that 4GW isn’t just something that happens “over there”, in Anbar or Helmand. It’s “over here”, too, whether “here” is low-intensity war in Mexico (see the Economist on Mexico’s drugs conflict a couple of weeks ago), or proliferating use of 4GW tactics by home-grown insurgents in the UK.

Lind, reviewing John Robb’s new book, summarises the latter’s conclusions approvingly:

Robb correctly finds the antidote to 4GW not in Soviet-style state structures such as the Department of Homeland Security but in de-centralization. What Robb calls “dynamic decentralized resilience” means that, in concrete terms, security is again to be found close to home. Local police departments, local sources of energy such as roof top solar arrays – I would add local farms that use sustainable agricultural practices – are the key to dealing with system perturbations. To the extent we depend on large, globalist, centralized networks we are insecure.

John Robb, though, thinks that as the use of 4GW tactics “over here” proliferates, things will develop much further:

Members of the middle class will (take) matters into their own hands by forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security — as they do now with education – and shore up delivery of critical services. These “armored suburbs” will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boost their own state-of-the-art emergency response systems.

And in case you thought the idea of decentralised local energy and food independence was only for survivalists in Michigan: we have news for you.

Author

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.


More from Global Dashboard

Justice for All and the Economic Crisis

Justice for All and the Economic Crisis

As COVID-19 plunges the world into its most serious economic crisis for a century, a surge in demand for justice is inevitable. Businesses face bankruptcy – and whole industries may be insolvent. Similar pain is being felt in the public and non-profit sectors....

Who Speaks for the Global South Recipients of Aid?

Who Speaks for the Global South Recipients of Aid?

The murder of George Floyd and the resurfacing of the Black Lives Matter movement has led to heightened discussions on race in the international development sector. Aid practitioners in the North have not only condemned the systemic racism that they (suddenly) now see...