11 December 2014

The rebel must calculate or perish

You are a rebel.  This would mean, in most circumstances, that the enemy or the forces that create and defend conditions that agitate you are stronger than you.  You can’t obtain change by hitting your head against a brick wall, obviously.  But not all walls that are brick-made last forever.  Neither are they unbreakable.  There are soft spots.  And there are ways around them.

In any case, rebels are constantly called upon to calculate.  They have to assess strengths and weaknesses.  They have to keep in mind that the dynamics change and indeed can get altered rapidly under certain circumstances.  So they have to re-calculate. 

The rebel must first of all identify the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.    Once identified, they have to assess.  ‘How strong and how weak?’ they have to ask.    Similarly, they have to have a good sense of their own strengths and weaknesses.  And they have to assume that the enemy will not be twiddling thumbs.  The enemy will also identify strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the equation. 

If the enemy identifies a weakness, that weakness will be attacked.  If the enemy identifies a strength, the enemy will seek to neutralize it.  The same goes for the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.  No one, having identified a flaw in the armor, will let it remain a flaw if it can be helped.  The enemy is a thinker, one has to assume. 

So, as we mentioned at the beginning, if the odds are not in your favor, all the more reason to make sure that the identification and calculation are as precise as possible.  You’ve heard of David and Goliath, perhaps.  You know that great empires have fallen. Impregnable fortresses have been overrun.  In almost every instance where the weak overcome the strong, there has been a lot of thinking and planning.  In short, you don’t leave it to chance.  You don’t count on the enemy making a mistake. Indeed, it is best to assume that the enemy will not err. 

Think of 9/11 and the popular theory of how it all happened.  That was the United States of America, the world’s most powerful country, equipped with enough bombs to destroy our planet, proud owners of the most sophisticated security systems (we were told), always ready to attack and ever ready to defend its borders.  Well, 9/11 showed the entire world that there are no such things as perfect security systems.  There are always holes.  Those who have the ingenuity, will and the requisite skills will break through. 

Holes, though, will not remain unplugged.  Just as you, when you have identified a weakness of your own, act swiftly to cover it, so too will the enemy correct flaws that have been identified.  This is a battle.  You see an opening and you make for it.  You reach it and you try to make it bigger.  The enemy will try to close it before you can get there.  If that’s not possible the next option is to stop it from getting worse.  All this requires resources.  Typically, resources have to be brought from elsewhere.  Typically, this leaves some other part of the battlefield vulnerable.  When this happens, the rebel must be ready to exploit other weaknesses that are created in the course of battle. 

None of this is possible if you leave it up to chance.  The rebel has to calculate.  The rebel has to assess.  The rebel has to be conscious that things change.  The rebel has to understand that changing dynamics require constant re-thinking, constant adjustment. 

Think of guerrilla fighters.  They are almost always outnumbered by ‘the enemy’.  On the other hand, there are situations that can be created when for a few minutes they have the advantage of numbers.  Then they attack.  Or, they can take the leader out.  That is a big blow.  They can confuse.  A confused army is half beaten. 

There are always ways around the thickest walls.  The rebel must have full knowledge of strengths and weaknesses.  The rebel has to be alert.  The rebel has to know when to wait and when to rush the enemy, when to draw the enemy out, when to besiege him. 

The rebel must calculate.  All the time.     

This is the eleventh in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

Other articles in this series