Enemy forces always try to convince the targeted citizenry that “resistance is futile” and that “you will be absorbed.” While the primary tool of the foreign invader is deception, the best weapon for the freedom fighter is truth, and part of that truth is to maintain hope for all lovers of liberty, as well as teaching the civilian support section the skills they need to know in order to help the guerrilla forces. While understanding the history and the principles of guerrilla warfare is all well and good, it is ultimately ineffective if there is not also a knowledge of the technical details to actually make it happen.
Echoing other books on guerrilla warfare, the author states that “[w]ithout the support of the civilian population, guerrilla warfare will fail in the long run.” It already presupposes that the civilian population who live within enemy occupied areas are at least somewhat sympathetic to the serious effort by the guerrillas to at least harass the foreign occupiers. Interestingly, Major Bern says:
“In our army, the majority of the participants in guerrilla warfare will consist of scattered portions of the army or of auxiliary services. It is imperative to bring them together as well as recruit needed specialists from the civilian population.”
This is a noticeable departure from the Communist perspective, which typically maintains that most of the guerrillas are supposed to be composed of the civilian population; in fact, it could be argued that this perspective is inherently populist, as an attempt to reinvigorate the Greco-Roman concept of the citizen-soldier.
All of the pictures and diagrams littered throughout this text are incredibly helpful. Nearly everything you can imagine, from laying ambushes to derailing trains, is nicely illustrated. I found how the cordoning of urban streets during general uprisings (which occurs during the later stages of an insurgency) particularly intriguing, since it would fit the mental imagery that the Patriot Community has of what “martial law” would look like to them.
What I found immediately relevant to our current situation is what the good major said regarding leadership:
“An individual who leads by ‘bluff’ is not suitable. He may be able to maintain his position in a conventional unit for some time due to the chain of command and discipline, but never in a guerrilla unit.”
Initially, it would seem to me that Major Bern claims that machismo has no place in guerrilla warfare. Of course, it could also be said that this might be a slight allusion to what Gary Hunt has said regarding his thoughts on leadership:
“We have a group of leaders in the Patriot Community, many [of] whom have proclaimed their position by methods of public relations which are founded on [the] promulgation of sensationalism…[i]t should be understood that when seeking our ‘leaders,’ we should look to those who ask questions, listen to answers, and seek to understand others rather than attempt to impose their will on others. The outspoken advocates are suited for private associations which are gathered for specific purposes, but are absolutely unsuitable for the form of government our Founders granted to their posterity.”
Perhaps the best option for the present is for dissidents to accurately understand and apply the concept of leaderless resistance for their various operations, which should increase the probability of success through evading infiltration and disruption by the secret police.
Variability in the civilian support section was uniquely impressive to me. Operational duties ranged from concealing guns & ammo to distribution of samizdat literature, moving wanted persons through underground railroads, delivering messages via courier, neutralizing informants, and surviving police encounters. It really demonstrated to me that civilian resistance to the Standing Army, coupled with guerrilla warfare, can be quite devastating to the enemy rebel government, if applied correctly and consistently.
Major H. von Dach Bern’s Total Resistance: Swiss Army Guide to Guerrilla Warfare and Underground Operations is an essential book for all political dissidents to deeply contemplate on, for it clearly illustrates what is needed in order to tackle the Establishment‘s systematic tyranny head on. As a more technical manual on how to actually conduct a serious guerrilla effort, it does presuppose that the reader is already familiar with the philosophy of resistance. Although the details regarding some of the technologies are a bit dated, I see no reason why the same train of thought can’t be adopted to the “information age” of the Internet.