[iDC] operational theory

Jon Ippolito jippolito at umit.maine.edu
Sat Jun 10 11:09:05 EDT 2006

Hi all,

I have to agree with the recent thread on this list about the Internet as a potential distraction from the real world--it often is (World of Warcraft and VictoriasSecret.com come to mind). 

So maybe we should stop trying to rewrite the news with Indymedia or depose presidents with cell phones. Maybe once we recognize that an undue fascination with nuts and bolts is easily debased to support entrenched interests, we should insist on and
maintain a critical distance between our research and our shiny gadgets. Maybe the collective brainpower now wasted on building networks could be trained on analyzing the broader trends affecting society in our cultural moment. Maybe we should be
penning new critical paradigms that can foment genuine political change--a sort of "operational theory" that we can take out into the streets with us.

Oh, sorry, that's been done:

"There is a considerable overlap among the theoretical texts considered essential by military academies and architectural schools. Indeed, the reading lists of contemporary military institutions include works from around 1968 (with a special
emphasis on the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Guy Debord), as well as more contemporary writings on urbanism, psychology, cybernetics, post-colonial and post-Structuralist theory. If, as some writers claim, the space for criticality
has withered away in late 20th-century capitalist culture, it seems now to have found a place to flourish in the military....

"Naveh, a retired Brigadier-General, directs the Operational Theory Research Institute, which trains staff officers from the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] and other militaries in 'operational theory' -- defined in military jargon as somewhere between
strategy and tactics. He summed up the mission of his institute, which was founded in 1996: 'We are like the Jesuit Order. We attempt to teach and train soldiers to think. [
] We read Christopher Alexander, can you imagine?; we read John Forester,
and other architects. We are reading Gregory Bateson; we are reading Clifford Geertz....several of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaux became instrumental for us [
] allowing us to explain contemporary situations in a way that we could not have


Welcome to the new Jesuit Order.


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