Friday, July 8th, 2016

I have not yet watched Occupied (on Netflix), the Norwegian 10-part mini-series about a Russian occupation of their small and peaceful country:

Many of the good people of Norway are faced with a dilemma. The growing sense of oppression becomes harder for many Norwegians to ignore but the only forces actually pushing back are hardly nice Norwegians–not nice at all. And they challenge both the values or interests of many in the Norwegian public.

As I was watching the series I happened to be reading the book Violent Politics, by William R. Polk. Polk’s book is a history of insurgencies “from the American Revolution to Iraq.” Polk’s argument is that all insurgencies follow a similar path. They start with an invasion or some other challenge to the identity of a cohesive group, whether nation, culture or tribe. At first only a tiny number of individuals fight back. They are small in number and typically poorly armed but they are dedicated and zealous. They are not nice people by a conventional definition, and they often start with terrorist acts.

As they start to take action, a number of contradictory things are set in motion. More and more people are attracted to the cause but there is typically a high degree of resistance to their methods even among the people they are attempting to win over. Polk describes General Washington’s disgust at the kind of person fighting for American independence in loosely organized militias, and he was ever attempting to squash them in favor of a decent regular army, one that would be willing to fight fair, under European rules of engagement. In Polk’s view that would have been a disaster – in fact Polk argues that were it left to Washington the war would have been lost since a conventional American army would have been no match for the British. It took the nasty guys to create the change, and to force the population to make a choice.

Polk describes a kind of dialectic, with the initial brutality of the insurgents creating contradictory responses among the populace. When the insurgency is done “right” – that is, when conditions are favorable and when the insurgents manage the dialectic effectively – the result can be a twisting road to victory.

The Norwegian insurgency follows Polk’s classic pattern perfectly – a textbook case of how to do it right.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    It seems to be a very PC show. The opening of episode one states “Norway stops all oil and gas production due to the effects of climate change”, and then the first scene is a white guy kissing a black woman goodbye, who prompts him to not forget the recycling on his way out. No thanks. Delete!

  2. Allen says:

    Does the show explain how they plan to pay for everything?

    Why would Russia want the oil turned back on?

  3. Jeff R. says:

    The Irish Republican Army probably fits that bill, too. I get the impression they were some pretty rough characters that did not enjoy broad popular support, at least initially.

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