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Scallywags

From QI XL G03.

During WW2 the British home guard division had a branch called the Scallywags who were armed and trained citizens to fight a guerrilla war in case the Germans invaded. They were given supplies and training to assassinate any politician that collaborated with the Nazis. It ended up seeing an unexpected collaboration between state and leftist and radical elements in society. The Scallywags were trained in what we would today call terror tactics and they had a cellular structure so that they didn’t know who the other scallywags were. They had enough supplies to last for two weeks.

This brings up a few points. That the British government trusted its own citizens not to use these ammunitions for private ends is remarkable. Similarly that these people gave up the ammunition after the war is also interesting. This relates to possible alternative policy positions for states under threat of invasion, Iraq comes to mind. The insurgency as a government policy in wartime. It is a very risky strategy but it is plausible, it could also be an argument for democratic governance in allowing resistance to foreign occupation. It strikes me that this is only possible in a strong state with internal hierarchy and strict arms control enforcement or at least monitoring. There is always the risk of these groups going rogue. That the UK did it in war time is telling because the UK was desperate and they thought it would work. Insurgency in a weak state is more risky.

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