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28 February 2023

Recommended Innovation Articles (and Commentary) 14: ‘From War 2.0 to Quantum War: The Superpositionality of Global Violence’ Der Derian

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Original post can be found here: https://benzweibelson.medium.com/recommended-innovation-articles-and-commentary-14-from-war-2-0-e234ae69e849

Today’s recommended innovation/design article is a rare gem, but also a challenge for many readers. The author blends complexity theory, quantum theory (metaphorically), classical war theory and postmodern philosophy to propose a war paradigm shift to ‘War 2.0.’ This is not an easy read, so if you decide to download the PDF at the link below, buckle in and get ready to study each page and likely look up unfamiliar terms and concepts- they will come from not just quantum theory, but postmodern warfare theory too.

This article is over at Taylor & Francis, so unfortunately there is an academic paywall. Again, I urge readers in the military to contact their local base or post library and get this through the librarians who should easily have access. Same for those in a university or otherwise able to bypass paywalls for academic research. For everyone else, please phone a friend, or if you are connected to someone who can help you out, reach out! Or of course, buy the article! The author is James Der Derian, and I personally love his published work. He is a rare blend of a researcher willing to span multiple paradoxical disciplines, such as quantum theory and postmodern philosophy, centering both on modern international relation theory and conflicts (war, politics, peace). That said, this is a heavy academic lift! Be warned. Article link is here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10357718.2013.822465?journalCode=caji20

This article is challenging because the mixed disciplinary approach requires some basic familiarity on things largely outside of mainstream military education, training and practice. Many will be familiar with the sections where the author breaks down Clausewitz and the last three centuries of modern military war framing. However, quantum is usually outside of our comfort zone, so I suggest readers unfamiliar with basic quantum concepts to either check YouTube for quick explanations on quantum entanglement, quantum encryption, and quantum theory fundamentals so that those areas of this article really resonate.

There are some areas on complexity theory that run completely against how we prefer to style our war framing in a Newtonian or ‘Post-Classical’ style as the author terms it. Readers unfamiliar with emergence in complex systems might consider some videos, podcasts or articles to brush up on those areas. Lastly- the Frankenstein’s monster of the bunch is postmodern philosophy. Try unpacking this at most PME programs and the faculty will out-run the students in racing to get their torches and pitchforks. I am joking, but not entirely. Some postmodern primers online or in short articles would serve a reader well if they do not know about Virillio’s “Information Bomb”, or Baurdillard’s “Why the Gulf War Did not Occur” perspectives. Postmodern war theory is decidedly unpopular in most PME programs due to how it challenges the entire foundation of what is a Newtonian, Westphalian, Clausewitzian, and Jominian inspired, natural science structured war paradigm. We seek to extend the ancient Greek philosophical logics and see them reborn in inductive reasoning with analytic objectivity and optimization rendered in pseudo-scientific formulization. The postmodern approach challenges this at the ontological and epistemological levels; while quantum simply does not work in a Newtonian war paradigm at all.

If you need help or are interested in any primers on any of the quantum, complexity or postmodern areas as applied to modern warfare, let me know in a separate message and I can try to point you in the right directions if I am able. Searching on social media for legit explanations of quantum and postmodern content is easy on YouTube where there are plenty of wonderful and brief summarizations. Meanwhile, enjoy this article. Like I said, it is a rare gem. If you missed the last one in this ongoing series, that link is below:

https://benzweibelson.medium.com/recommended-innovation-articles-and-commentary-13-the-origin-and-meaning-of-miles-law-by-1a834dd31a1f

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