“That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.”
– H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthuhlu
“A swamp suggests mysterious and uncanny places, half lights, and weird creatures in noiseless activities, bent upon the fulfillment of their varied destinies. Here indeed is life in its fullest intensity, without the disturbing human element.”
– J. C. Bradley, Cornell University entomologist
Now this is living.
I am far outside of town, hidden somewhere along the Florida trail and dangling gleefully above freshly flooded soil. The rain here is warm, and what once was a forest now returns to swampland. Deer are not far away, and by dusk the air will be so thick with mosquitos they can drain your eyes of jelly. That’s not even mentioning the wild hogs, the two-headed birds, or even the strange lights that float across unsolid ground. Hairy, dangerous turf. But I’ve got plenty of spray, a damn fine tarp, bugnet, and an eighteen case worth of utility beer ready to be drunk. Drank. I’ll be drunk.
Swamplands always touch me in a certain way. They are not built for humans. Much like the high desert they are dangerous, uncharted, openly hostile to all manner of control. You do not walk into a marsh spanning miles and miles and expect it to do what you want.
Mosquitos for instance. They never go away. Where I’m from the first settlers had to wear full body gowns just to keep them at bay, smoke pots in front of every house to ward the beasts off. Cows actually used to choke on the clouds and die.
Swat all you want, kill one hundred. They couldn’t be intimidated.
Floridians learned to adapt, live on the terms of the mosquito. Most transplants and newcomers to the state refuse to do that. Instead they pretend these wild, untamed places no longer exist, remaining locked inside the world of Mickey Mouse and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The American media is having a similar issue, trying to ignore the fact that the United States has entered ceasefire discussions with the Taliban.
“A meeting between a senior U.S. diplomat and Taliban representatives in Doha last week to discuss a possible ceasefire ended with ‘very positive signals’ and a decision to hold more meetings, people with knowledge of the talks said on Sunday.
The meeting between a delegation led by Alice Wells, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Taliban representatives…
The move comes as the Afghan government and the United States have stepped up efforts to end the 17 year-war in Afghanistan following the unprecedented three-day truce during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday.”
Remember how Americans used to joke about their one-time-best-buds? Ignorant savages out in tents, no match for the supreme power of the greatest military on Earth? AK’s against drones, satellites against caves. It was the cultural trope the United States has built so many genocidal campaigns on: the idea that we, the smart and technically savvy, could easily wipe out the primitive forces unyielding to our might.
Remember just one month ago? How wrapped up this whole thing looked?
“As part of an announcement on a new South Asia Strategy last August, Trump said the U.S. would focus on a conditions-based approach rather than timeline-based. Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. had begun to see signs of success, touting results on the battlefield where the Taliban’s momentum was slowing and pointing to the progress of Afghan-led elections this fall.”
Odd thing to negotiate now with a plan that supposedly works. But we can tell that’s bullshit. In that same article last month it was noted that:
“Pompeo declined to characterize in what way the U.S. was already engaged with the Taliban but the administration has said in the past the U.S. will not have direct talks despite the Taliban’s request.“
And yet this month?
“The meeting in Doha, where the Taliban maintains a political office, followed two earlier meetings between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives in recent months, the sources said.
…The talks had been held without the presence of Afghan government officials at the insistence of the Taliban.”
When you lie that blatantly, when a gonzo reporter currently eyeballing what appears to be some kind of prehistoric bird from a camping hammock in the middle of absolutely nowhere can catch this shit, you have to wonder just how bad are things really are.
The war is far from unsettled. Even the most unhinged, flag-waving, slack-jawed optimist admits the Taliban controls or contests 45 percent of Afghanistan’s districts and has successfully maintained free movement across the entire fucking country. At a cost of over $1 trillion the Taliban “now controls . . . more territory than at any point since the U.S.-led invasion.” It is in no danger of being defeated, none whatsoever, and the sheer fact the most expensive technological playthings can’t stop them should give would-be revolutionaries pause.
They have done the unthinkable. They have become the mosquito.
What’s the secret? How has the Taliban survived three armies, airstrikes, special forces teams, invasions, drone bombings, and heat-seeking missiles? How could people with not many more supplies than I currently have in this marsh have brought the United-fucking-States to the goddamn bargaining table? How have they done what every boot-worshiping liberal, every piss-stained pacifist, every party-worshiping dolt dead set on unions and dead organizing….how could they have achieved the military victory everybody said was impossible?
It can’t be their loathsome ideology. There’s tactics here, physical maneuvers. Something beyond ideology we should pay attention to.
So what is it?
Look Ma! Actual Military Tactics Instead of Religious Fantasies!
Your average right-leaning whacko will assure you the Taliban is winning because we weren’t mean enough, that somehow if we just killed or mutilated enough corpses victory would be ours.
That kind of thinking failed us in Vietnam, and even failed the US as far back as the Seminole Wars.
Others attribute it simply to the terrain, as if the people living there had nothing to do with it. It also conveniently makes it appear the United States hasn’t so much been DEFEATED as simply been unable to unleash its full potential. If that sounds like an opinion slowly poured out of the halls of power into the mouthes of ignorant parrots, that’s because it is.
The Taliban victory is much deeper than any mere “advantage,” and it is THAT fact the United States does not want being widely known.
Afghanistan is a classic case of asymmetric warfare.
The key to success in Afghanistan involves insurgents hiding among the population and launching attacks on soft targets (Afghan state institutions; international NGOs) as well as hard targets (less frequently) such as US/NATO militaries. When the US/NATO seek to retaliate, they find themselves handicapped because it is hard for them to identify and separate the insurgents from the population where they find support and shelter. Combat is almost secondary to the insurgent. The goal is to draw the government forces into an over-reaction to “activate” latent insurgents:
“Ordinary civilians may turn into insurgents under the right circumstances. The transition decision rule for the civilian agents is that if a civilian is more angry than afraid, and if the civilian’s anger passes a threshold propensity to use violence, then this civilian becomes a latent insurgent. This is a civilian who is angry enough, and is not so afraid of the government, that they will attack a government target (a soldier) if given the opportunity.”
When the US military fights back and creates civilian casualties, or even simply puts the civilian population under more domination in the name of tighter security, the population is pushed to increase its support for the insurgents.
“The circumstance of low effectiveness and low accuracy might be seen as the nightmare scenario for most governments. In this case, soldiers are not effective at capturing insurgents, and they also cause widespread injury when they counterattack.”
This incredible feedback loop is damn near impossible to stop once it starts. “Even under best case assumptions,” writes The Department of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School “we show that the government cannot totally eradicate the insurgency by force. The best it can do is contain it at a certain fixed level.”
It’s easy to see why:
“One of the greatest small unit commanders and unconventional warfare experts in modern times, Richard Marcinko, described three things needed to win in combat: speed, surprise, and violence of action. When transferred to the strategic and operational levels, the insurgency possesses these attributes. The greatest advantages of the insurgency are:
Mobility: The refusal to stay in a static location negates technologically advanced weapons systems.
Initiative: The insurgency is able to choose the time and place of most of the battles they fight.
Surprise: Because the insurgents have the ability to choose the time and place of the fight, they can select moments when the opposition is weakest.
Camouflage: The insurgent does not wear a uniform. As the father of modern insurgency, Michael Collins, said: ‘Our uniform will be that of the man on the street and the peasant in the field.’ This makes distinguishing between friend and foe difficult for the opposition.
Unpredictability: A force that is unpredictable on a battlefield is dangerous. Field commanders train to fight conventional wars, in which both sides attempt to take and hold territory, the insurgent seeks destabilization of the opposition’s government, not land. Tactics designed to defeat a conventional army are useless against an enemy that doesn’t seek to hold territory.
Factional divides: In a conventional military setting, a force should function like a well-oiled machine and have clear command and control. Insurgencies typically operate with loose alliances between factions who follow a particular commander. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they don’t. Just when the opposition gains a feel for the tactics and strategy of an insurgent commander, a new one arises. This leads to unpredictable actions being taken by the various factions, which increases their overall effectiveness.”
This is wild shit, something everyone from Egoists to Maoists should be discussing in earnest. That last one is particularly intriguing: just imagine the idea that the bitter infighting on the Left could somehow be a tactical advantage. It’s almost too good to pass up.
But before we get out into the possibilities we should return to the Terror of the Gods.
You’re Goddamn Right This Shit Will Kill You
Out here there are no hospitals. There can often be spotty cellular reception. If I get bit by one of the many venomous snakes in the area I am truly fucked. I will not make it back out to the car.
Death waits behind every corner.
Driving between Walmarts we’ve forgotten the Terror of the Gods, the idea that there are forces or things lurking out there in the murky water that can easily drag us down to drown.
That’s after, of course, they tear our arms off.
The victory of the Taliban is somewhat of a double-edged sword. Let’s look at the negative implications, the swamp lizard’s lurking in the shadows.
For one, I think we can use the success of the Taliban as a gigantic warning sign for any lefty dreams of some grand Red Republic. As I’ve covered elsewhere the United States is home to a large section of the population that has absolutely zero interest in living under whatever flavor of the week feels its closest to revolution.
So let’s say the DSA somehow manages to win all three branches of government. Hell, I’ll take it a step further: let’s say, by some cosmic miracle directly ordained by a strange and unknowable god, some Leninist revolt captures State power. Let’s say they even get a nice little New Red Army.
A few hours from where I am now, out on the St. John’s, wild folks with yellow eyes live in absolute defiance of the law. They are well armed, they live off the land, they are extremely violent, and will not hesitate to kill at the slightest drop of a hat. Fish and Wildlife officers give them a wide berth.
The United States has given up on them. They have already won their war. Those people are not going to come out of the woods and, let me assure you, they already hate most of you reading these words.
The resulting violence kicked off by them, or any of the fascist militias slowly capturing territory, is never going to end. It can be contained, but the newly minted Soviet of whatever is going to be bled dry by bombings, IED’s, snipers, intense urban combat. This is not WW2. These people will be motivated by blind hatred and ideology. There will be no grand fascist council to issue a stand down order or to negotiate with.
Any national army will find itself unable to compete against this kind of warfare. What’s the DSA going to do? The Leninists? Call Russia in to help you put down the rebellion, like in Syria? Maybe call China?
Sweet JESUS! Can you imagine how THAT would whip people up? Foreign troops rounding up citizens, performing house inspections? Shooting at them? Every prepper from the Atlantic to the Pacific would hole up and start killing anything that looked vaguely unfamiliar. The great American fantasy of repelling some “foreign” invader would be fulfilled, and the insurgents would line up to die en masse for near-orgasmic gratification.
Some areas might never come under control, effectively reducing the United States into a nuclear-armed Somalia. Or Ukraine. Or Venezuela. Once this shit pops off it does not stop and life is irrevocably altered.
Which is why perhaps we should step ahead of the curve.
Entropy is Your Friend! Surf the Tides of Instability!
Midday. Intense heat, though under the tarp I’m nice and cool. I feel like lying out in the sun with my mouth open, hoping a bird might come by and pick my teeth.
Things are different out here, much more alive. Invisible powers all the more clear. You can walk in certain places and feel your hair stand on end, natural vortexes and portals picked up by your skin. Shadows move that aren’t there. Spirits are as common, as tangible, as the mosquito hordes you’ll be running from. You learn much more is possible than might appear back in town.
The hint of death rises in the air. True. But there’s also this feeling…this sense that you stand just as much a chance of killing something as it might you. Cottonmouth’s at your feet can be obliterated with a shotgun, you wind up dreaming about cutting alligator throats and drinking the blood. Florida bestows her blessings on the most persistent and clever predators, and given the proper tools even we can find a home in her most inhospitable regions.
It’s about sheer, unfaltering zeal. The atavistic desire to be alive and remaining moving at all costs. Here, in the marshes, there is no creature immune to this. Even the most iconic.
Back in town with the traffic laws, and the strict lines between drinking and driving, authority and power seems…inescapable. Undefeatable. We look at the Golden Corral’s, the time clocks, the legions of tanks and drones and satellites and think that somehow we’ve come to a dead-end. That rebellion, armed and violent and In The Way of the Old Ones, is a long gone ancient cult.
That not dead which can eternal lie. We forget we too can become the vessel for the Terror of the Gods.
The times we live in our ruled by entropy. Everything is falling apart. Mars and Saturn rule the day and structures wash away. Humid air rots wood and if my skull falls in this mud it will be reduced to nothing.
This is not the time of national armies. Describing a “nightmare” for any government on planet Earth the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation doesn’t describe some vanguard or organized army but “fighting an urban counterinsurgency campaign, where insurgents have many places to hide, and where non-insurgent civilians are densely packed.”
We live in an era where the governments of the world are practically pissing themselves at the idea of an elemental chaos armed with guns roaming the streets; we could become that chaos. Many people have. Once a force seeks to dissolve, to discredit, to simply destroy the host organism and feed on the rotting corpse…there’s no stopping it. We can actually win a military conflict, provided we’re dedicated and smart enough. Our differing groups and sects can unite without ever having met. That tactic is working right now in Europe and South America as I write these words.
This new world might mean the death of the “revolution” as envisioned by Maoists, Leninists, and other card-carrying party members. This is not 1917. Nations are an old idea that is quickly becoming outdated. Fight against chaos and you’ll be torn to pieces like a cheap-ass trailer in Ft. Pierce during a category 5 hurricane.
But in an Egoist sense, a claimed zone of territory made lawless and effectively ungovernable, too chaotic for any one force to hold the upper hand…much promise in that. Disrupt. Discredit. Militias and communes defining themselves town by town, street by street, aligning and breaking apart as they see fit. No one person to corrupt, arrest, or even kill. Put that on a generational track. Such zones could become infection points, cancerous bulbs on the body politic spreading “no-go” zones and destabilization. Bring Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya home. Read shit like this and start putting it to use where you live. Carve out new lives, new dreams, from the rotting carcass of a continent-spanning “society” and never look back. As long as insurrectionists remain popular and willing to continue the fight until the last breath(as the Seminoles did) they’re guaranteed a chunk of territory.
But are we prepared for that?
Is the Left willing to sacrifice the United States for a free but chaotic territory across a few states? Could we study sniper tactics, small arms maintenance, and urban/rural survivalism right alongside economic and gender theory? Are we willing to selfishly demand our right to live as we see fit? Are we willing to struggle, fight, and even commit violence…for a decade? Two? How bad do we really want this?
Do we really, really want to win…and are we prepared to pivot towards what that might mean?
Difficult questions, ones I don’t have the answer for. We have nowhere near the training, or the infrastructure, or even the popular support we’d need anyway.
But we could. And that’s why we need to start thinking about it.
Because if we don’t someone else will. We have to come to terms with what combat, what military strategy really is in this day and age. Even if you refuse…you best be prepared. If the Taliban is any indication, your brand new Red Army is going to come home needing a lot of prosthetics and alot of therapy.
And they might never win.
All I know is, out here among the sawgrass, life is chaotic, beautiful, and supremely deadly. The civilized world with its rules, employers, prisons, and slums can’t penetrate the multi-pronged resistance of the bogs, swamps, and marshes.
Yes. The mosquito swarm. A million bites from a million different mouths, a cloud you can never fully remove from the land underneath them.
Much wisdom in that.
(Source: Retrieved on 9/15/18 from https://godsandradicals.org/2018/08/09/actually-yes-the-left-can-defeat-the-united-states-militarily/.)