As the violence in France reached its tenth consecutive night, the torched car index reached 1,300, and the geography outside government control radically increased, it has become clear that a classic riot over a lack of economic opportunity and justice has morphed into something else entirely. For the regular readers of this notebook, this wasn't entirely a surprise. We have been tracking the rapid spread of open source conflict and systems disruption. We also fully expected its eventual emergence in the West. The only surprise was the grand nature by which it announced its arrival.Most observers will claim that this situation is due merely to racial/ethnic intolerance and bad economic policy. I think it runs deeper. Here's some brainstorming on why this occurred:
Open source conflict emerged spontaneously in France due to its particularly potent combination of criminal networks and Islamic otherness. The bonding of the two -- the economic self-interest and techniques of criminal networks with the moral cohesion and antagonism of Islamic otherness -- provided all the necessary preconditions for this outbreak (read more about Guerrilla Entrepreneurs). The spark that took this from a riot to open source war, was the attempt by the French Interior Minister (Sarkozy) to eliminate the parallel criminal economy that provides the main means of economic advancement and status in many of these immigrant communities. This economy is particularly important given the rise of the brutally flat globalized economy, where each individual is in direct competition with everyone else in the world (it therefore engenders primary loyalties). A crackdown meant economic annihilation. France is clearly unable to offer any meaningful alternative economic opportunity, and these boy/men know it.
The response to this encroachment on economic autonomy has been a campaign of relatively bloodless systems disruption. This limited violence carries a simple but limited message: "get out of our way." It does so without crossing the line into full scale war (an earmark of westernized global guerrillas?). Over time, this may become a familiar pattern of evolution: as the state loses its ability to monopolize the provision of economic opportunity, it will soon lose its monopoly on violence.
Other briefs that have relevance to this:May 2004: The New Blitzkrieg
July 2005: Emergent Communities dedicated to War
March 2005: Transnational Gangs