The View From Olympus: The Lone Shooter and Fourth Generation War

The recent school shooting in Florida raises an interesting question:  are “lone shooters” an aspect of Fourth Generation war?  Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes.  I say “unfortunately” because that suggests we are likely to see more of them as 4GW grows, mutates, and spreads.  At the same time, 4GW theory may help us see the threat more clearly and devise better responses to it.

Writing about the lone shooter problem in the November/December 2015 issue of The American Conservative, I argued for a solution based on this country’s long militia tradition.

We need a militia that ideally includes all male American citizens.  In a world where the state no longer has a monopoly on war, we must return to a pre-state world were every able male is a warrior.  The Latin word “populus” originally meant “army”.

Unlike our colonial militias, however, these new militiamen would have neither weapons nor organizations.  Rather, they would take a pledge that whenever they encounter a “lone shooter”, they will stop him using whatever they have at hand:  throwing rocks or chairs, tackling him, beating him unconscious, running over him with their car.  If they happen to be armed, fine; if not, they attack anyway.

Drawing from Col. John Boyd’s work, Fourth Generation war theory stresses the importance of the moral level.  If all men attack any lone shooter, the shooter loses at the moral level of war.  The fact that some of those attacking him will probably be killed or wounded adds to their moral power.  The narrative shifts from weeping and lighting candles for those killed to celebrating their heroism. The shooter recedes in importance to an evil shadow.  That shift alone may dissuade some potential shooters because part of what they are seeking is importance.

Fourth Generation war theory also offers some insight into the operational level of the lone shooter threat.  As Martin van Creveld has said, war exists because men like to fight and women like fighters.  Young men in particular like to fight, and until recently they could easily find venues for fighting, or at least preparing to fight, by joining state militaries.

But those venues are now disappearing as states feminize their armed services.  The presence of women throughout an armed service, women who are empowered over the men because if they charge a man with “sexual harassment” he is presumed guilty until proven innocent, destroy the masculine culture young men who want to fight are seeking.  How can they validate their manhood if they must obey orders from women, gays, and the “transgendered”?  And most of the women in the military are not there to fight.  As many as twenty years ago a survey done by the U.S. Army found two-thirds of its women and one-third of its men disagreed with the statement, “The Army’s main purpose is to fight.”  An Army of pussycats, indeed!

If young men cannot find what they are seeking by joining the military, they will find other ways to fight.  Some will join gangs.  Many will immerse themselves in violent video games, with dire psychological and social consequences (see David Grossman’s work on this subject).  And some will become lone shooters.

An operational-level response is easy to envision:  create an all-male military service that is the first to fight.  Let it welcome young men who want to fight, validate their masculinity, build their daily lives around training to fight and, when the need arises, cheer them on as they fight, kill, and die.  The obvious choice for such as service is our traditional “first to fight”, the United States Marine Corps.

The only obstacle is political.  The cultural Marxists, especially their feminist wing, will howl to the devil because women are excluded.  Their goal is to make every nook and cranny of our society comfortable for women, which is to say uncomfortable and alienating for men.  What are those alienated men, if they are young and want to fight, to do?  A growing number will find 4GW ways to fight, including acting as lone shooters.


Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

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