Friday, January 7, 2022

The War on Sensemaking

Jordan Hall

I’d like to propose that we are already fighting World War III. We are not merely getting perilously close or or waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are in it. We are in fact neck deep in the next “War to End All Wars.”

Allow me to explain.

In 1740, Jacob Dickert began experimenting with a long barreled musket with a groove in the barrel. They called this new innovation a “rifle”. Thus began the last war.

This war unfolded over centuries and phases, but was fundamentally about the deliberate and strategic use of industrializing technology to deliver escalating levels of destructive energy. Power during this era most certainly came from the barrel of a gun and the alliance between technology and industry proceeded from battle to battle to move us progressively higher and higher on the ladder of destruction. Until at Hiroshima we reached the final level and the beginning of the end of the last war.

In 1917, a young Edward Bernays was asked to help the American war effort by applying his uncle Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious to a new German technique called “propaganda”. Thus began the current war.

While we continued to fight the last war in trenches and hedgerows, a new form of war was developing in medias res. This war wasn’t one about destructive force in the energetic sense. This war was fought on an entirely different battlefield — sense and meaning. Guns, germs and steel began to give way to spies, lies, distraction and seduction.

By the 1970’s it was clear to anyone who was watching that the old way of waging war was over. It mattered little how many bombs were dropped on Vietnam. The real war was to be found in the battle for hearts and minds.