This year, an open source insurgency formed in the US and it took control of the White House. I didn't write much about it this fall because it hit too close to home. I knew what would happen.
What is an open source insurgency? An open source insurgency is how a very large and very diverse group of people empowered by modern technology and without any formal organization, can defeat a very powerful opponent.
I first started writing about open source insurgencies during the war in Iraq over a decade ago. During that war, over 100 insurgent groups with different motivations for fighting (tribal interests, pro-Baathist, pro-nationalist, pro-Saddam, and lots of jihadi flavors) used the dynamics of open source warfare to fight a global superpower to a standstill. We saw it again a few years later in the political world, when during the Arab Spring an open source fueled protest toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Open source insurgencies and protests can arise spontaneously and they are very hard to stop once they get going since they are impervious to most forms of repressive counter-attack and political subversion. For example, the open source movement propelling Trump forward made him impervious to attacks on his character. It also eliminated any need for "ground game" or standard political organization and obviated any need for information disclosure and detailed policy papers.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't defeat an open source insurgency. You can, but it requires a different approach. For example, here's a simple idea for how to defeat Trump's insurgency back in July:
IF Trump is running an open source insurgency, you don't go after the man to defeat him. Attacking him directly won't work. He's impervious to attack. One reason is that a good 60% of America has been lied to so much by the establishment, they don't believe anything they say anymore. The way you beat him is to cleave off part of his movement. In this case, given the dynamics of the movement and this election, the best group to bring back are working class families in the midwest swing states. To bring them back you need to do something real. Not promises (seen as lies). You need to actually do it. In this case, the best approach is to put the President, the Congress, and most big US companies together in a room and over the course of two weeks and nail down a deal to bring back 1 million real jobs to MI, OH, and PA. -- with real timelines for implementation, good incomes and real benefits. If they do that, this election is over.
If you have been reading me for a decade (or more), you might notice that this thinking is similar to what I wrote as an op-ed in the New York Times in 2005, as a way to win the war in Iraq.
Two years later, this approach became the strategy that let the US extricate itself from Iraq. Regardless, Trump is in the White House and the success of open source insurgency guarantees we will see more of them in the future...
Perhaps sooner rather than later.
My worry is that the next one we see won't operate within the confines of a political campaign. This uptick in insults directed at minorities blamed on Trump, may be the tinder for setting off this next insurgency. Social media amplifies every incident, spreading the anger it evokes like contagion across the country. Just watch. This suggests that the next open source protest we are likely to see will form to force Donald Trump from the Presidency before the next election -- a Tahrir square moment in cities all across the US. A massive and diverse open source protest that has one simple goal: the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office.
Unfortunately, an open source insurgency that forces a sitting President from office without the benefit of an election could result in the same outcome as Egypt (or worse Syria).