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Published August 30, 2012

In 1971, American radical and community organizer Saul Alinsky published a manual for what he sometimes referred to as "mass jiujitsu": Rules for Radicals.  Much of the book is taken up with explaining his ideological motivations and also in exploring the moral ramifications of applying his tactics in political warfare.

To the average Eve player much of the first half of the book may not be of much interest.  However, his chapter on tactics lays out some principles that apply just as well to bloc-level politics and warfare as they do to real world political organizing.  Briefly, they are:

  1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.  This is why the AFK cloaker drives the typical carebear to such distraction: "What's he flying?" "Could he solo my ratting ship?" "Does he have a cyno fit?"
  2. Never go outside the experience of your people.  If you are in a temporary coalition with an alliance that has a radically different culture you may experience real friction over things like expected behavior over shared voice comms.  This can result in pilots logging off instead of fleeting up.
  3. Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.  Part of what makes things like Hulkageddon and Burn Jita effective is that high sec is full of pilots who do not fully understand how illusory the Concord safety net is.
  4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.  Does your opponent believe in e-honor and complain about blobbing?  Take every opportunity to link battles from their killboard where they failed to live up to their own standards.
  5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.  Ridicule undermines a pilot's pride in their corporation or alliance and thus undercuts their motivation to participate.  Logistics may win battles, but winning wars is all about defeating the will to log in.
  6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.  A great example from recent memory: the Gallente Ice Interdiction was a blast for those who (willingly) participated and was executed in a way that achieved its objectives while minimizing barriers to fun for the line-level pilot.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. 
  8. Keep the pressure on.  Each tactic should be seen as something to be repeated, or that leads to yet another tactic so the enemy doesn't get a chance to catch their breath.  The only time it is appropriate to use a "terminal tactic" (how Alinsky labels a tactic that "crests, breaks, and disappears like a wave") is as a killing blow at the end of a campaign.
  9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.  Serious chess-players may know this one as Aaron Nimzowitsch's "The threat is greater than the execution."  It's also a principle used by suspense writers.  The enemy's imagination is capable of causing them to overreact to what they think you will do, whereas when faced with the actual attack, there is less fear-driven decision making.
  10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.  This is why it is more useful to direct your propaganda toward a particular FC, CEO or alliance leader than against an entire coalition or alliance.  When you put out propaganda remember that you are not aiming at the truth but rather at the particular part of the truth that either gets your own pilots to log in, or causes your enemy's pilots to question whether they want to participate.  It doesn't matter that the coalition is bigger than just one man or that that man (or woman) has positive traits as well as negative ones.  Don't confuse the troops with nuance. 

Not comfortable with some of these principles?  Alinsky argues that discussions over whether "the ends justify the means" are a luxury available to those whose cause is in no danger of being defeated.  Whether you choose to use them or not, they are certainly being used against you. Ignorance is no defense.

ReverendMak
History geek, hacker of social systems, and chill guy, Reverend Mak has had alts in the HBC, CFC, and former DRF, among others. A born troublemaker, his favorite real-life subversive moment was his guest spot on an anti-government Iranian broadcast.
Author: Saul Alinsky
Publisher: Vintage
Price: $8.44

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