From A Theory of Power, Jeff Vail’s Critique of Hierarchy & Empire: Swarming, Open-Source Warfare and the Black Block
Swarming is an ancient military tactic—in fact, Alexander the Great pioneered the first effective counter-swarming maneuver over 2,000 years ago. However, it is also one of the most contemporary of military topics: how to defeat asymmetrical swarming tactics in counter-insurgency operations, how to effectively employ swarming in a modern military, etc. In the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, the anarchist “Black Block” pioneered a new form of swarming technique by using text-messaging and cell phones. Swarming has been at the cutting edge of military theory of millennia, but what is it? I hope to answer that question, and explain why it is the most compatible tactic for rhizome and open-source warfare. I will also examine how swarming works, what factors are critical to its success, and how it may be employed in the future by non-hierarchal forces to effectively confront the modern, hierarchal military.