look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane; it’s air man, bitch, and I’m bringing the pain.

Grill has been purchased – upon finding the actual George Foremanites would only deliver to my card address (which isn’t, obviously, where I live) I went for another vendor, who were also £5 cheaper (there was another I found that was £15 cheaper, but they had unfortunately sold out. Fair enough). So the infernal device should be winging its way towards me at the moment.

Maoist Strategy presentation went swimmingly; Robbie Scott (whose presentation I had gingerly found fault with to break the post-presentation Expectant Silence last week) ended this week’s encore silence with “’s good”. I like him. Found that I had rather too much to say, despite not really putting in all that much work. This is becoming a habit with presentations, not that it’s a particularly bad one. My delivery was awful, but my content at least sound (as it should have been; I went all the way up to Selly Oak to get some of those books, dammit!) As a result of the slow-fading residual fascination that comes from intensive learning on any specialist topic, I’m watching the Che movie(s), which is so far really rather good, though so far I’ve only seen the Cuba half, and I think I know how the Bolivia one ends.

The weather is suddenly painfully chilly, more noticeably cold than it was in eight inches of snow. Three layers and a brisk cycle ride still isn’t enough to stop me arriving in lectures shivering, cheeks rosy and glasses misty, hands numb and white after pulling them from gloves. In reaction to this… my nose is now streaming constantly. Oh, biology.

My washing up habits as a filthy, squalid student have developed into “wash everything I use either during or after the meal, since it really is easier than letting it pile up” (see, mum, I’ve learned at long last!) Unfortunately, the other 80% of the flat doesn’t seem have cottoned on to the same, or done any washing up for straight weeks at a time, meaning that basically the entire kitchen sits soiled on the counter. I’m fine with cleaning up my own mess after I’ve finished with my meal; I really don’t like having to clean up theirs before I can start. Flat inspections happen this week, so one of the occasional complete cleanups has sorted out the kitchen for now, but I doubt it’ll last long.

Week’s expenditures:
£32.50 grill
£1.20 chips
£5 Psychonauts
£6.50 memory stick
£3.20 laundry
£19.39 shopping

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4 thoughts on “look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane; it’s air man, bitch, and I’m bringing the pain.

  1. meteorakuli says:

    Oh hai do you have any of that Maoist strategy thing in typed out notes form? That you could email me? :3 Also Korean war stuff? I don’t have anything useful for you in return, but I could make you a paper samurai hat sometime…

    • brosencrantz says:

      I’ll paste it here; be advised it’s just guidance for me reading out and meant to be adlibbed.

      The Chinese Civil War, fought from 1927-1949 was the largest guerrilla war in history and one of the most successful. The Chinese Communist Party struggled militarily and politically against the Japanese army of occupation and the nationalist Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-Shek and emerged as the dominant power over mainland China, which it remains to this day.

      As a “people’s war” of revolution and liberation against both a foreign imperial enemy and nationalist government, it has been an inspiration to revolutionaries the world over. As an example of the successes that can achieved by guerrillas against occupiers, governments and regular armies, it is matchless.

      Mao Tse-Tung, leader of the Communists and responsible for much of the Communist conduct of the war, proposed a set of principles, methods and overall strategy for guerrilla revolution and insurgency that is known generally as “Maoist strategy”. This is not simply military strategy, but one of revolutionary regime change. Mao emphasised guerrilla warfare as part of a revolutionary front; requiring an aim of political change and popular liberation. This is based on the principle that guerrilla warfare can defeat and overcome a more powerful enemy, if and only if it is backed by the will of the people and if it is acting as an agent of political change rather than simply as a military entity.
      The other key principle of Maoist strategy is that revolutionary guerrilla war is a protracted struggle; the change in the political and military balance is by its nature usually prolonged and attritional, which favours the guerrilla. The Chinese civil war lasted 22 years. time is the most important factor – if time passes with guerrillas at large, the ability of the government to defeat them is called into question, the slow process of indoctrination and winning hearts and minds can be furthered by the guerrillas.

      Following these principles, there are three essential stages of revolutionary guerrilla war.

      First phase is one of retreating from where the enemy is strong, establishing popular support, establishing base areas to work from. At this point territory is meaningless to the revolutionaries; the thing that matters most is the support of the people. Guerrillas can trade space for time, and it is best to spread an enemy thin across a larger area. For protracted people’s warfare Mao envisioned it was essential to gain and maintain the support of the population. In practice, this meant indoctrinating the people, establishing support with tools such as land reform and allowing countermeasures taken to pass; support was developed both actively, by political agitation and improving the lot of peasants, and passively by KMT crackdowns in its anti-Communist measures
      The people must be relied upon for shelter, support, resources and recruits. Unlike Soviet revolutionaries, who drew their support from the urban working classes, Mao concentrated heavily on the peasants – this was because China was an almost entirely agricultural society. May also have been influenced by that the Communists had been expelled from the cities by the Kuomintang…

      In this first phase the guerrilla force is substantially weaker than the opponent and rather than seeking to destroy them must build its own strength. This is not to say that small-scale attacks and harassment should not continue, but that they are not the focus of the revolution. Combat is one aspect of Maoist people’s war, the most important of which is the political will to defeat the occupier among the people.
      Direct conflict should always be avoided; guerrillas should harass, damage their enemy if possible but never be in a position where they can be attacked.

      The second stage is the period of equilibrium, where the enemy realises it cannot destroy the guerrillas through direct action and attempts to contain them, but the guerrillas are unable to destroy the occupier. This is a period of developing guerrilla strength, harassment and low-level conflict.

    • brosencrantz says:

      A set of maxims for this conflict proposed by Mao are: “The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”
      Mao recommended “the five-minute attack” – a brief strike in which guerrillas mass for local superiority against a weak target, inflict as much damage and take as much materiel as possible in the shortest space of time, and then fall back to their support areas where they cannot be caught.

      Several metaphors apply to these tactics: a flea, who bites and leaps away before his slow-moving target can react; a fish who swims indistinguishable from the sea of the population.

      As with the first stage, even with their greater strength guerrillas must not engage in direct battle unless the odds absolutely favour them; this was not a precept of Mao’s from the beginning, but a practice adopted after defeats in direct battle against Japan and the KMT. The aim is not to destroy an enemy’s military power, it is to win over the confidence of the population. At the same time the revolutionaries are constantly building their strength, support and armies for the final phase.
      During the Japanese invasion the Communists generally went underground and retreated to the country, where the KMT attempted to directly defeat the Japanese in battle and were usually roundly beaten.

      The conflict must continue until the guerrilla cause has been strengthened enough – and their enemy weakened enough – that can achieve their aims through direct action. The period of equilibrium is a time for the development and consolidation of popular support and what Mao calls orthodox armies – conventional forces that can defeat their opposition in direct battle.

      The third stage is the “revolutionary offensive” – it is important to realise that guerrilla activities on their own cannot force a revolution and direct action is eventually needed. At this time, the revolutionary has support from the people, military assets to defeat the government. It’s important to note that the change in the balance of power is as much from politically and militarily weakening the government as it is from strengthening the guerrillas. The revolutionaries methodically take smaller targets first and gradually work their way up the largest cities according to the means available to them. Eventually, after armed struggle in direct battle, the regime falls and the Maoists have won. This turned out to be the case in 1949.

      These are not clear-cut stages; doesn’t move instantly from one to the next. Mao makes it clear that setbacks may occur; phase 3 may return to phase 2; yet these stages should be pursued in order to gain final victory.

      Maoist strategy in the context of irregular warfare is a one which has had considerable influence, both on ideological and on rebels in a similar situation. The communists, starting from essentially nothing to dominate one of the largest countries in the world His methods have been used by those who do not share his political ideology. The influence of Maoist “people’s war” is evident in the practices of revolutionaries and guerrilla groups to this day.

    • brosencrantz says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have anything useful about the Korean war.

      The handout I printed to give to the seminar group (you should know all this already, but possibly still useful):

      Chinese Civil War: 1927-1949; Soviet-backed Chinese Communist Party (CPC) under Mao Tse-tung against Western-backed Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) under Chiang Kai-Shek. Results in Kuomintang withdrawing to Taiwan and CPC rule over mainland China. Not quite as simple as Communists vs Nationalists, due to the involvement of many local Chinese warlords and minor factions, but they were the two key players.

      Second Sino-Japanese War: 1937-1945 (low-level conflict from 1931 onwards); Japanese invasion of China and eventual defeat. KMT and CPC ostensibly united against Japan during this war under the Second National Front; in reality low-intensity civil war continued until Japan’s defeat, after which conflict returned to full-scale war.

      Three stages of war in Maoist strategy:
      The phase of retreat.
      The period of equilibrium.
      The revolutionary offensive.

      Some Maoist movements and guerrillas fighting along Maoist principles through the world (far from a comprehensive list):
      Communist Party of Thailand (1942-1990)
      Viet Cong (1954-76)
      National Liberation Front (Algeria, 1954-)
      Naxalite movement (India, 1967-)
      Communist Party of the Philippines (1969-)
      The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Sri Lanka, 1976-2009)
      Communist Party of Peru (1980-)
      Maoist Communist Party of India (2004-)

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