Re: 'Tie-Fighter' training?

Warren Sproule (Warren.Sproule@SOCIOL.UTAS.EDU.AU)
Thu, 2 Feb 1995 14:25:01 +0200

I've been following the general 'conterinsurgency' thread with great
interest (time and other commitments permitting!). By way of further
information about Lane Schilmoeller's last posting (1/31) on the subjects
of distance/abstraction = ease of killing in war, and the effect of video
games in the promotion of a "militarist mindset":

On war toys as an integral element of 'armament culture' see works by Robin
Luckham (1984), Robyn Morgan (1989: 142, 175) and S. H. Myerly (1992:
109-110). See also Paul Virilio's (1989) history of the parallel
developments of war and cinema in the 20th century, Arthur Kroker's
depiction of contemporary war as 'like Nintendo where real time, real
information, and real telemetry did not matter in the least' (1992: 37),
and Benjamin Woolley's treatment of the linkage between military research
and video games, iconically exemplified by a leading manufacturer whose
name derives from 'the Japanese expression used in the game Go which means
"I am going to attack you", Atari' (1993: 17). There's likewise a large
critcal literature on the armed services' involvement in the development of
cybernetics, game theory, the postwar direction of atomic physics, robotics
and computerisation. For an overview of these connections try Manuel de
Landa's _War in the Age of Intelligent Machines_. On the Viet Nam conflict
as a significant instance of these types of linkage, Chomsky (1971: 72-73)
cites Westmoreland's assessment of the Vietnam war as a 'technological
success', Pike's boast that formerly successful Viet Minh tactics had been
'relegated by science to the military history textbook', and US Deputy
Director of R & D for SE Asian Matters in 1969, Leonard Sullivan, on Viet
Nam as a harbinger of future warfare, the

'beginning of instrumentation of the entire battlefield.
Eventually, we will be able to tell when anybody shoots, what he is
shooting at, and where he was shooting from. You begin to get a "Year 2000"
vision of an electronic map with little lights that flash for different
kinds of activity. This is what we require for this 'porous' war, where the
friendly and the enemy are all mixed together'

Not an answer to Lane's key query - ie, does involvement with computers and
computer games promote militarism and war activity? - so much as a modest
suggestion as to where one might look if one suspected such a linkage...


PS: Scott Holmes and I are currently conducting a back-channel debate
around issues like this; kind of a spin-off from the earlier 'flame wars'
thread. If any other Anthro-L'ers would care to join in, you'd be most