Economics of insurgence

Also, MBAs in terror. Joseph Tainter. Hollow states. Tribalisms, ancient and modern.

See economic inequality, capitalism’s end game, neofeudalism, infosec.

How ISIS Games Twitter:

But what’s often overlooked in press coverage is that ISIS doesn’t just have strong, organic support online. It also employs social-media strategies that inflate and control its message. Extremists of all stripes are increasingly using social media to recruit, radicalize and raise funds, and ISIS is one of the most adept practitioners of this approach.

British army creates team of Facebook warriors

The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages. “It enables us to engage with an audience we otherwise wouldn’t reach,” said an Israeli army spokesman. During last summer’s war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, the IDF and Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, tweeted prolifically, sometimes engaging directly with one another.

  • The underworld is going freelance:

    One of the key concerns in the UK is the structure of organised crime groups and the extent to which they reflect or differ from the socio-geographically based mafia groups found in Italy and elsewhere. The picture of organised crime in the UK leans away from the traditional Mafia model towards conglomerations of career criminals who temporarily join with others to commit crimes until they are completed and then reform with others to commit new crimes…

    …While kinship and ethnicity remain important factors for group cohesion, multiple cross-ethnic linkages also play an important role in group formation and such mixed networks may be more viable, successful, continuous and respected…

    Our research shows that fraud, drug trafficking, counterfeiting and tobacco smuggling are currently the largest organised illicit markets in the UK. Other profitable markets are trafficking for sexual exploitation and organised vehicle crime.

    Alongside traditional markets of organised crime such as drugs and human trafficking, there is growing evidence of its presence in the financial sector, renewable energy, and waste and recycling..

Kevin Bryan says:

I also very much enjoyed Mobilizing the Masses for Genocide by Thorsten Rogall, a job market candidate from IIES. When civilians slaughter other civilians, is it merely a “reflection of ancient ethnic hatred” or is it actively guided by authority? In Rwanda, Rogall finds that almost all of the killing is caused directly or indirectly by the 50,000-strong centralized armed groups who fanned out across villages. In villages that were easier to reach (because the roads were not terribly washed out that year), more armed militiamen were able to arrive, and the more of them that arrived, the more deaths resulted. This in-person provoking appears much more important than the radio propaganda which Yanigazawa-Drott discusses in his recent QJE; one implication is that post-WW2 restrictions on free speech in Europe related to Nazism may be completely misdiagnosing the problem. Three things I especially liked about Rogall’s paper: the choice of identification strategy is guided by a precise policy question which can be answered along the local margin identified (could a foreign force stopping these centralized actors a la Romeo Dallaire have prevented the genocide?), a theoretical model allows much more in-depth interpretation of certain coefficients (for instance, he can show that most villages do not appear to have been made up of active resistors), and he discusses external cases like the Lithuanian killings of Jews during World War II, where a similar mechanism appears to be at play.

  • stochastic terrorism:

    The use of mass communication to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. 2. Remote-control murder by lone wolf.

  • Verwimp, P. (2005). An economic profile of peasant perpetrators of genocide: Micro-level evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 77(2), 297–323. DOI. Online.

  • Bonnier, E., Poulsen, J., Rogall, T., & Stryjan, M. (2015). Preparing for Genocide: Community Work in Rwanda. Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, Stockholm School of Economics. Online.

  • De la Sierra, R. S. (2015). On the Origin of States: Stationary Bandits and Taxation in Eastern Congo.,

  • Lagi, M., Bertrand, K. Z., & Bar-Yam, Y. (2011). The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East. arXiv:1108.2455 [physics]. Online.

  • Kellow, C. L., & Steeves, H. L. (1998). The role of radio in the Rwandan genocide. Journal of Communication, 48(3), 107–128. Online.

  • Rogall, T. (2014). Mobilizing the Masses for Genocide. Online.

Anderson, Ross, and Tyler Moore. 2006. “The Economics of Information Security.” Science 314 (5799): 610–13. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1130992.

Bonnier, Evelina, Jonas Poulsen, Thorsten Rogall, and Miri Stryjan. 2015. “Preparing for Genocide: Community Work in Rwanda.” Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, Stockholm School of Economics. http://aswede.iies.su.se/papers/ASWEDE_C1_Stryjan.pdf.

Chenoweth, Erica, and Margherita Belgioioso. 2019. “The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum.” Nature Human Behaviour, August, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0665-8.

Farrell, Henry, and Bruce Schneier. 2018. “Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3273111. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=3273111.

Henke, Glenn A. 2009. “How Terrorist Groups Survive: A Dynamic Network Analysis Approach to the Resilience of Terrorist Organizations.” ATZL-SWV. ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES. https://apps.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA507988.

Lindelauf, Roy, Peter Borm, and Herbert Hamers. 2011. “Understanding Terrorist Network Topologies and Their Resilience Against Disruption.” In Counterterrorism and Open Source Intelligence, edited by Uffe Kock Wiil, 61–72. Lecture Notes in Social Networks. Vienna: Springer Vienna. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7091-0388-3_5.

Mateo, David, Nikolaj Horsevad, Vahid Hassani, Mohammadreza Chamanbaz, and Roland Bouffanais. 2019. “Optimal Network Topology for Responsive Collective Behavior.” Science Advances 5 (4). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aau0999.

Moore, Barrington. 1993. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Beacon Press.

Rogall, Thorsten. 2014. “Mobilizing the Masses for Genocide.” https://sites.google.com/site/thorstenrogall/.

SANSOM, R. L. 1970. “The economics of insurgency in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.” xviii + 283 pp. http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/19711804015.html.

Zech, Steven T., and Michael Gabbay. 2016. “Social Network Analysis in the Study of Terrorism and Insurgency: From Organization to Politics.” International Studies Review 18 (2): 214–43. https://doi.org/10.1093/isr/viv011.