Wednesday, December 05, 2007



Any system, when overridden with numerous flaws, will almost always meet resistance. This is true for technology, this is most certainly true for politics and governance. The ability of a government to stem these insurgencies is almost always commensurate to what kind of resistance the government is meeting. Over the course of history, there have been three forms of resistance in general, and for the most part, each of them have been a product of their times.

When one talks about a people's army, it's inevitable to conjure thoughts of the CPP-NPA if you happen to be Filipino, if only for the "PA" part of "NPA". That being said, a people's army is easily characterized by its organization, similar to a conventional army, albeit obviously often lower in numbers, and government fiat. The people's army was historically formed as a reaction to a civil dispute, such as against a tyrannical king (p.68) or sovereign, and as such, had its own hierarchy mimicking that of a conventional army. At this point, a people's army is almost cut off at the knees the moment its leaders are subdued, as was the case of the steady decline of the New People's Army since the self-imposed exile of Jose Maria Sison.

The people's army is characteristic of a reaction to a ruling paradigm, be it a civil despot, or a colonizer, and is effective insofar as its support base is concerned. Unlike guerilla warfare or network struggles, however, the success of a people's army is almost exclusively a number's game, whereas guerilla warfare has the element of surprise in its favor, and network struggles focus on coordination about as much as its numbers. The worry for the people's army is once "victory" is achieved. In being a centralized power, they are looked upon as the de facto substitute for the status quo, and this is where whatever flaws of the people's army come to the fore, oftentimes proving themselves no better than the status quo they replaced (p.72).

Guerilla warfare is similar to a people's army in that it is generally confined to one particular country, but unlike a people's army, despite a possibly large organization in total, guerilla warfare's advantage is in its numerous factions, thus all but negating the potential of an organization's collapse if its "leaders" were subdued. This is because guerilla warfare as a form of resistance is characterized by its being splintered and relatively disorganized. Almost operating as individuals, guerillas, though they may all be part of a particular organization, are certainly operating towards a goal with no attempt to fully supersede the status quo, knowing they are incapable of doing this. This is why their resistance is more disruptive or even destructive, than reconstructive, as is the case with a people's army.

A network struggle is, in contrast, one that takes place on the biopolitical terrain: it directly produces new subjectivities and new forms of life (p. 83). In place of the emphasis on numbers or the element of surprise, networks rely on "creativity, communication, and self-organized cooperation" (p. 83). This results in an overarching system of resistance that is more organized than a people's army, yet more persistent than guerilla warfare. In being an evolution of the two earlier forms of resistance we see a form of resistance greater than the sum of its parts: in its ability to coordinate and communicate, the network manages to strengthen and perpetuate itself.

Time can only tell if this form of resistance, that which seems to be the resistance in the era of the multitude, will succeed where its predecessors have failed.

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