Few on the right seem to get that things are changing. Gone are the days of Buckley, the Gipper, and other “traditional” conservatives groups like YAF lionize and endlessly speak about. The debates of the future will not be the relatively pleasant ones that Reagan and Buckley engaged in, but rather knock-down, drag-out brawls with the socialists that want to completely remake society in the image of the failed socialist experiments of the orient. It would be nice, of course, if those more civilized, calmer days could return and we should remember the accomplishments of that generation of conservative leaders. But times have changed and our tactics and role models must change with them.
Why? Because the game has changed. It used to be that both sides held at least a few principles in common. Neither side openly attacked the foundations of the republic, smeared all white people or men as evil, or used its power to suppress free speech. The hippies were bad, of course, but cut from a different cloth than Antifa and both they and the Weathermen, who were far more like the Antifa thugs of the modern day, had been more or less relegated to the outer bounds of society by Reagan’s presidency.
Now, however, all that has changed. We’re in a fight not for tax policy, increases in the military budget, or other minor policy changes, but rather an existential battle for the republic itself. What’s more, the fight is not like the battles of yesterday in terms of how it will be waged. It will be fought not by a few spokespeople and standout politicians, but by all of us. The personal is now the political and all of us must play our part in influencing the narrative in a way that will lead to positive outcomes for our movement. And that massive shift is where 4D Warfare: A Doctrine for a New Generation of Politics by Jack Posobiec comes in; it is a book about the modern political war and how to wage it.
That, on its face, makes 4D Warfare a must-read book for any aspiring cultural warrior or potential conservative fighter. In it, Posobiec promises to teach you how to fight and win the information war. But does he? That’s what I’ll cover in this review.
Summary of 4D Warfare by Jack Posobiec
Posobiec begins his book by saying, “Welcome to warfare in the information age, where politics and societal and cultural struggles are played out in a new arena that is called the Information Environment… What 4D Warfare provides is an understanding, analysis, and instructional manual for 4D warriors to go forth and wage political warfare across all fronts of the Information Environment, including both digital and physical spaces…In 4DW, the narrative is all. At its core, 4DW is the battle to control the narrative.“
In that excellent introduction, he perfectly encapsulates the shift. We’re no longer bickering over a shared set of facts and principles, as “conservatives” of the past, such as Buckley, did when debating liberals. Rather, we’re in a war over not just principles and ideas, but facts themselves with far-left radicals that have a completely different view of the world.
And what does that new fight, 4D warfare, look like? Posobiec describes it in terms of Trump’s 2016 victory:
“There is no better example of successful 4D warfare than the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States in 2016. One individual stood up to the combined forces of two political parties, the mainstream media, and the global establishment, and won against the odds. He never could have accomplished this without his deep inherent understanding of 4D warfare.“
What Trump understood is how to craft a narrative and rally support around it. He crushed those many, powerful enemies because he spent his time not as a “court-jester conservative” like Marco Rubio or Mitt Romeny, acceding to the left’s vision of the world at every possible opportunity and backing down whenever the going got tough, but rather by standing up for himself and advancing an entirely different view of the world. He didn’t just stand for policies, but for an entire outlook, one that completely contradicts what the left believes.
The sort of organization that embodies the opposite strategy, the strategy of the past, is, according to Posobiec, Fox News:
“Although they are often considered to be the conservative cable news network, Fox News is controlled opposition. “Controlled opposition” is when a deliberate attempt is made to create an opposing effort to an existing friendly power base or to obtain control of the opposition to one’s own efforts.”
Fox has some fighters, namely Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, that understand the shift and, like Trump, fight the information battle as it should be fought. But, sadly, the vast majority of Fox’s staff isn’t made up of fighters like Trump, but controlled opposition like Romney, McCain, and those at the National Review who would “stand athwart history, yelling Stop!” rather than attempting to reverse the course of history and bring back the world they believe in.
That’s a problem because the other side has no such compunctions. In fact, they surpass even Trump and the new right in their willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Hence why they’re launching a cultural revolution and attempting to transform the nation. In Posobiec’s words:
“A soft cultural revolution is happening in the United States. The end state goal of these revolutionaries is socialism. In many ways, their tactics and concepts are similar to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao. Chairman Mao destroyed Chinese culture. He tore down statues, tortured individuals, and killed anyone who stood in his way. Everyone who challenged—or even threatened to challenge—the rule of the supreme communist dictator was destroyed.”
And they’ll use whatever dishonest tactics it takes to achieve that cultural revolution. They’ll lie, calling people “conservative” and having them parrot leftist talking points on CNN talking head shows, they’ll create fake public opinion polls that shift public opinion rather than report on it, and, as we saw in 2020, they’ll do whatever it takes to put their people in positions of power. And, notably, all of their tactics relate back to the 4D warfare-premised information battle identified by Posobiec.
Behaving dishonestly is never the right or acceptable way of acting. But, barring that, the worst aspect of the modern left, conservatives must do whatever it takes to win the culture war by winning the information war. Posobiec ends 4D Warfare by identifying how we can do that:
- Perception is reality.
- Optics, Optics, Optics!
- Stay on the offense.
- Make the next move. Never rest.
- Keep your enemy guessing.
- Brand your enemy before they brand you.
- Make your enemy live up to their own standards.
- Lower your enemy’s social status.
- Never use violence except to save your life or the lives of others.
- Always stand on the side of peace.
- Never fight where your enemy chooses. Know your terrain!
- Never let your enemy see you coming, but always let them know you are.
Simple points, but all ones that get to the root of the battle as he sees it: shifting the narrative by behaving well, fighting in specific ways, and keeping the fight up at all times. Win the war over optics, attack them relentlessly, and use their most effective tactics against them, as Trump did. That’s the way to win, according to 4D Warfare.
My Take on 4D Warfare by Jack Posobiec
4D Warfare is an important book, but one not as good or useful as it could have been.
The best part of 4D Warfare is that Posobiec obviously gets the problem posed by the radicals on the far left and understands how to effectively fight it.
They are after a cultural revolution, a complete remaking of society in brutal fashion, and Posbiec calls them on it in brilliant fashion, exposing them time and time again.
Even better, he understands how to fight them and articulately expresses that strategy. We must use their tactics against them, fighting battles now how we wish them to be fought but as they must be fought. That means battling over narrative, constantly pushing our view, attacking the left as it attacks us, and never surrendering an inch.
However, the book is weaker than it should have been given those incredible strengths. It’s short, light on useful, specific tactics to use, and Posobiec often gets somewhat off point.
The most important weakness is the second of those. Short books can be brilliant, Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness being a prime example. And authors often get slightly off point, especially when trying to cover a broad narrative. As Manchester points out in The Last Lion, even Winston Churchill did so in some of his histories.
But, when a book is short, it can’t meander too much. It must stick to what is necessary and useful so that each one of its limited pages is of the maximum value to the reader.
Posobiec’s could be, but aren’t, because he far too frequently leaves out a highly specific discussion of tactics and includes information only somewhat relevant to his main point.
That’s not a critical problem, but it is a major one. Posobiec’s broad points are excellently conceived and articulated, but are lacking in the detail necessary to create new battalions of culture warriors.
Conclusion: Should You Read 4D Warfare?
So, the question remains, should you read 4D Warfare?
Potentially. If you need an introduction to the modern culture war and want to gain a general grasp of how to fight it, then there are few better books than 4D Warfare.
However, if you’re a seasoned veteran in the political battles of the modern-day, spend your time elsewhere. You’ll be better informed if you do so.
By: Gen Z Conservative