Western Pyramid vs. Islamic Rhizome

Which strategic archetype has the edge?

The monolith or the plant. Western pyramid or Islamic rhizome. Two models of political and social organization in conflict all over the world. A pair of strategic archetypes for armed combat between political Islam and the West. Which will outlast the other?

The American military-intelligence complex operates using a strict, top-down pyramid structure. Hierarchy, order and discipline are essential to the system. Employees are assimilated into highly regimented bureaucracies. People are divided by rank, file and position. Orders are given and obeyed. Meticulous records are kept of all interactions. Everything operates according to a set of rigorous rules and an unyielding chain of command.

Islam as a political ideology is more rhizomatic, with energy flowing out horizontally and from the ground up. Deals are done face to face. Relationships are personal. Orders move outwards laterally. For example, in Syria and Iraq, jihadists from all over the world are congregating around the banner of ISIS, each with their own ideas and distinct agendas, while maintaining a common goal: seeing ISIS spread.

In the wild hubris of future wars and conflicts, one has to wonder if the rhizomatic way of doing things may not have an edge over the Western rationalist approach. There is no monolith that time won’t tear down, while plant life always finds a way to keep growing. Given enough time, grass will grow through stone, breaking it apart in the process. In the longue durée of human history, could the rhizome be the tortoise and the pyramid — the hare?

This is the geopolitical question of our time.