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Making Sense Of It All

By Neil Quarmby, CEO of Intelligence Rising

Before we get started, take a look at the below article extract:

Armed ‘Patriots’ patrol Coeur d’Alene By BILL BULEY Staff Writer | June 2, 2020 1:15 AM“Men with semi-automatic weapons, handguns say they are here to protect city amid reports of militants heading this way. Reports and rumors that groups bent on rioting and violence in Coeur d’Alene brought out men and women with guns on Monday determined to stop them if they arrive. Dan Carson was patrolling Sherman Avenue with an AR-12 semi-automatic 12-gauge across his chest, an AR-15 strapped to his back, two 9mm handguns holstered and a .38 special, too.“I heard there are some people on the way who shouldn’t be here,” he said early Monday evening.Those people, he said, were Antifa and Proud Boys, militant far-left and far-right groups.”

Brothers Austin Machado, carrying an AK-47, and Arick Machado, packing a 6.5 x 55mm Swedish rifle, stand in front of the Moose Lounge about 10 p.m. Monday.

Such reporting leads to cognitive dissonance. Has the Western, democratic world gone nuts? How can you start to make any sense of this?

In intelligence, we focus on logical reasoning as the necessary art to assisting informed decisions. But with the perplexing arguments, misleading information, and mob mentality of the recent flurry of left-wing extremism, some analysts question whether this is even possible. So, for those analysts struggling to make sense of the false, mixed and erroneous messages of the current global wave of’s some thoughts from lived experience in intelligence analysis of extremist waves of protests arising from the demise of communism (and central Marxist beliefs) in the 1970s-80s.

First, don’t fuss over the inconsistencies. The failure of the economic socialist models led to a shift in Marxist thinking to target social inequities as the basis of revolution in the latter part of the 20th century. The fact that no such models have ever worked, seems to engender an even more strident need to replicate failure; especially through academic theorising. As Voltaire noted: “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” In a way, this is the essence behind why radical elements driving protest movements circulate misleading messages of catastrophe, guilt, blame, and intolerance.

Of note for analysts supporting risk profiling, in counter-propaganda, arguing points of fact can be counter-productive as the core messages, by nature of the argument, continue to be recirculated; hence giving the false message more air. Also, the fuss over facts reinforces a sense of division. Analysts should be considering more subtle approaches to exposing the truth to the well-meaning but uninformed heart of any mob. Ultimately, it takes time for truth to overtake hate. When a person has publicly represented a false point of view, it is much harder for them to shift their opinion when presented with the facts, than someone who has a similar view but has not publicly represented that view. Studies of meeting habits show the egos of those who have publicly expressed a point of view often have a passive-aggressive or overtly aggressive response to the messenger when confronted with facts that disprove their stated position. Hence, mob-mentality cannot be shifted purely by exposing false messages.

It is also worth noting that most radical elements may often know they are ‘peddling porkies’. The messaging isn’t important, it’s the outcomes. The argument of indoctrination is one of faith and philosophy, rather than facts, practicality and reason. Leftist radicals state their aim is to remove division, symbols, authority and institutions that supposedly harm a victim group but historically they replace authority with even more harmful, divisive systems led by a few. While redistributing wealth remains a core Marxist goal, under Neo-Marxism it is contextual to addressing perceived social, environmental, racial or sexual divisions. Right radicals state they wish to reinforce the freedoms of the whole and the symbols, institutions and authority that unify the ‘whole’ but historically introduce harsher and stronger controls wielded by a few. The type of bomb, the type of message, the issue, the victim group, are only choices in the means to the end to either radical grouping. At the start of reunification in Germany, with Leftists burning one town and Rightists burning another, the theoretical differences in radical leaders was irrelevant to the shops looted and police injured.

However, there are some major changes now apparent in the latest waves of politically motivated violence.

First, and most simply, there has been some shift in labels. Gone are the left-extremist spiritual labels or labels of ‘intent’ like: Ananda Marga, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Baader-Meinhof Group and the Red Army Faction, Shining Path, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Black Panthers. Now the radicals embed in movements that reflect populist themes, with labels that virtually all support, and labels that carry widespread public sentiment. Who doesn’t support: anti-Fascism, Black Lives Matter, and the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

The benefit of capturing the leadership of such public sentiment means there is usually a ready-made component of existing public institutions and public services willing to get drawn into neo-Marxist idealism. While Right Wing extremists have tended to stick with the labels that link their group to a nationalist or patriot ideal, they tend to justify their actions as a response to Left Wing extremism and will normally piggy-back onto the populist themes of the Left. Hence, there is usually a conservative public backlash to divisions created in otherwise important social causes; with often a Right extremist counter-effort as well (as visible in the news account noted above). This is an interesting and complex cycle as Left Wing extremists often seek to encourage a Right Wing backlash; as the Right Wing response can then be used as evidence of the tyranny the Leftists ‘seek’ to replace.

Regardless, the idea here is to move support for neo-marxism and neo-fascism from the fringe to the centre. Being bound to populist causes means that anyone who argues against the intent of the group, are deemed to be ‘anti’ the important ‘cause’. This creates a difficulty for analysts where the ‘cause’ appears to be common sense but may clash with the group’s actual intent. Sustaining the environment is important to all but efforts to shift wealth to benefit a few for no environmental gain, undermine public confidence in the extreme environmentalist message. The concept of ‘Safe Schools’ is something of critical value to all, but some movements internationally have been used to indoctrinate neo-Marxist gender reforms. A further problem for analysts is that the cause may be one they support personally, making objective analysis and source selection difficult.

Second, there has been a shift to highly dispersed groups. Loose leadership, networked knowledge and vague funding streams confuse traditional counterintelligence analysis which needs a formed group (threat) to apply capability + intent analysis. How do you conduct a threat assessment on a publicly supported movement when it has hidden elements that pursue a terror agenda? This issue for counterintelligence magnifies when the national security system is diverted for many years onto Middle Eastern terrorism only to then be surprised in later years by the extent of invasive division engineered by hate groups domestically.

Third, there are major components of the media, government and corporate sector already galvanised around these issues which automatically connects extremists to willing and multiple voices, over multiple media avenues, reaching far greater audiences.

Fourth, the information age has handed digital weaponry to extremist groups that not only enable the rapid circulation of false messaging but enable them to silence any other voices. (With current silencing efforts loosely grouped as ‘Cancel Culture’). The ability of these digital weapons to damage the reputations and operations of public and private sector organisations also makes direct confrontation with extremist groups problematic for many public figures. Even overt, policy analysis of hate speech can, in itself, be reflected as hate speech, damaging reputation.

Thus, the key to analysis is the strengths and weaknesses of response options. Too hard or too soft responses reinforce the broader public’s loss of confidence in authority – which suit both sets of extremists. Without a public backlash, protest groups normally end up self-imploding and turning on their own, as the divisive discourse generates its own internal divisions. This includes the natural response from the general movement for constructive change growing tired of divisive elements in their midst. The extremist inspired take-over of the central business district of Seattle USA and a similar attempt in Portland USA are two recent examples.

The traditional, most successful method of response was to remove the air available for hate messaging and fill it with reality. The Information Age precludes such options. There are too many avenues for uninformed hate speech. The speed of google news and other online services as expedient replicants of messaging has meant a shift in mainstream journalism to commentary on what is being talked about, rather than important news; often shaped and funded by special interests… given the decline in traditional general advertising revenue. The poor state of the modern media is far more easily manipulated by radical elements and foreign powers with a similar interest in reducing confidence. (There should be no surprise in the number of false social media handles tied to state intelligence organisations or state intelligence services funding some movements…it is what intelligence services have traditionally done!) Media demands for immediate political response to these replicant news feeds means the focus of analysts supporting decision making is on these replicating messaging systems. What is being talked about, becomes the news, not what is happening.

So, are there real harms of real importance being obscured through these divisive campaigns? This is certainly clear in the current COVID crisis with huge numbers of our aged dying globally, businesses and livelihoods ruined, domestic violence at an all-time high, but all less important somehow to the issues being raised in protest. Certainly, the sense of collective harm and the unity of response present in the COVID crisis would not sit well with radical elements that pursue the removal of authoritative institutions such as law enforcement. Hence, one could consider whether some of the current extremist protest effort internationally is aimed at undermining any success in unity gained in combatting the COVID threat… …So why statues? Statues are symbols important in any hate agenda in history. The destruction of historical records has always been a key battleground between extremists; one group wanting them removed as symbols of authority to be replaced, and the others using them as symbols of unity well beyond the actual significance of the statue. There is usually no logical reasoning in the hate agenda for the choice in statue. Which ones get pulled down or saved, does not matter.

As global economies seek to recover from COVID responses, there will now be an extended period of limited tax payer dollars able to be diverted by the radical voice. In such circumstances, messages will need to be shrill to get attention. Given the diminished ‘pot’ but the greater ‘air-time’ available, there is unfortunately likely to be more waves of radical rhetoric along the same hate lines, just different issues.

The question is, when will public immunity to the shrill voices kick in ... hopefully in line with COVID immunity??

To assist, analysts should build their knowledge of neo-Marxism, neo-Liberalism, and neo-Realism as useful views of international relations theory. With the constructionist views of the liberals and realists, juxtaposed against the deconstructionist views of the Marxists. Such background knowledge tends to clarify – if only a little – what appears to be utter insanity. In addition, while intelligence officers are right to always doubt the veracity of media outlets, the labels of moderate or centrist media coverage no longer seem to apply to any single outlet. Most have drifted from the centre meaning much of the open-source information is less and less useful for cogent understanding. And finally, were necessary, ‘follow the money trail’. Often the funders of movements that end up seeking to shift money to interest issues/groups are those most likely to benefit from that shift. An interesting read from a whistle-blower from the activist environmental movements is Michael Shellenberger’s book ‘Apocalypse Never: why environmental alarmism hurts us all’. This book sheds light on the interests that are financing demands for shifts in funding and the ease in capturing academia and western bureaucracy to support such shifts.

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