Social Defence Strategy: The Role of Technology

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Martin, Brian (1999) Social Defence Strategy: The Role of Technology , Journal of Peace Research 36(5): 535–552.

Social defence - namely, nonviolent community resistance to aggression as an alternative to military defence - requires the development of strategy, as does military defence. The role of technology in social defence strategy has never received much attention. Of the various perspectives on technology, perhaps the most useful for the purposes of social defence is that artefacts, by embodying social relationships, influence but do not determine their uses. In practical terms, it is fruitful to survey different types of technology to see which ones are most supportive of strategic goals. Studies of social defence have dealt with operational and social dimensions of strategy and, to a lesser extent, the logistical dimension. In contrast, the technological dimension of social defence strategy has been almost entirely neglected. Technology can play a crucial role in social defence in direct defence against attack and, more importantly, in supporting operational, logistical and social dimensions of strategy. For example, decentralized media are valuable for social defence operations, and systems for self-reliance in food and energy are valuable for social defence logistics. To illustrate technology assessment for social defence, a hypothetical example of Czechoslovakian social defence planning, drawing on experience from the 1968 invasion, is outlined.