Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The use of destructive, illegal rioting in a political push (some would argue “putsch”) is, by use of common sense and logic, not a good way to get folks on your side.
You can only fool most people for so long when the lies about “peaceful protests” are too obvious. And thank goodness for courageous citizen journalists who record reality and flood video channels with prima facie evidence of burning, looting, injury, and murder that propaganda outlets ignore, erase, or desperately attempt to convince you you are not viewing. Here are a few by now famous examples of those attempts.
So there comes a time, as fear intensifies, when even the apparent promoters and supporters of such tactics must finally come out with at least a nod to the lawlessness, which a few have done of late.
But what is a bigger factor in such “persuasion tactics,” is, in my view, not necessarily the reality on the ground but the subtle psychological operation called “trauma bonding” that keeps many caged in rage, as it were–and keeps them at the mercy of–and addicted to–the perpetrator(s), be it a person or some other kind of group such as a political entity or religious cult.
The Trauma Bonding
Everyone knows that intimidation and fear are effective controllers. But trauma bonding, although it includes both of those mechanisms, goes beyond them, reaching down into the psyche, and it includes so-called both “mean and sweet,” terror and reassurance, cycles. A far better and more insidious way by which to control victims…
Most often this strategy is referenced in the context of abusive relationships or religious cults where the “mean” is the abuse and the “sweet” is the intimacy and safety craved by the victim. See a longer definition below.*
It is a power play by the perpetrator.
Regarding relationships, trauma bonding is described thus:
Patrick Carnes developed the term to describe “the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.” A simpler and more encompassing definition is that traumatic bonding is: “a strong emotional attachment between an abused person and his or her abuser, formed as a result of the cycle of violence.”
In the context of religious cults, terror and political oppression, among other situations, trauma bonding, as described in a feature on Stockholm syndrome, a well known iteration, is as follows:
Stockholm syndrome has been defined as a condition in which hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. Emotional bonds may be formed between captors and captives, during intimate time together, but these are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.
Actions and attitudes similar to those suffering from Stockholm syndrome have also been found in victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, terror, and political and religious oppression.
In short, because humans crave safety, intimacy, and sense of belonging, abusers use human nature to push-pull their victims in a relationship to exploit them, while the victims, operating in the base of the brain, so to speak, where needs are reduced to survival physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and/or spiritually, experience the perpetrator(s) as both abuser and savior.
“Rewards” of staying in the relationship or group are not always, of course, physical intimacy, but the hope that the victim will, among other things, be spared.
They are rarely spared, however.
Political Trauma Bonding
In the case of political oppression there is another dynamic that keeps victims, dubbed by certain leaders as “useful idiots,” entrenched in the demonstrations and riots:
In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders. The term was originally used during the Cold War to describe non-communists regarded as susceptible to communist propaganda and manipulation.
Of course there are also those among the victims who know well what they want to accomplish politically and who also enjoy the excitement of being “down with the cause”. Not to mention the paycheck from supporters.
Additionally, referencing the movement in America today, they may in fact agree with the self-described Marxist leadership, lacking a knowledge of the blood bath that has historically accompanied Marxism where it has been tried and failed.
The current iteration hoped for by the Democrat Socialists among like-minded affiliates here in the United States (and the naive always think the newest brand is going to be the promised Utopia) are using the polar opposite of legal, peaceful protesting we are permitted in the First Amendment of our Constitution in order to redress grievances against the government.
However, by attempting to convince the populace their riots are akin to the legal protests–and co-opting same–the movement leaders hope to be able to gaslight potential followers (mostly young and undereducated) that this summer’s iteration is the same as in our democracy, rather, our representative republic which is more accurate.
Why bring this up now?
As the riots spread across America, become more intense, and begin to infiltrate not only inner cities but also neighborhoods and wildlands, the fear also grows.
So the fearful participate or at least virtue signal by joining the group, wearing the merch, showing the signs, even groveling on the asphalt chanting what they are told to chant in order to say, as it were, “Please! Please! I’m with you! Don’t hurt me!” “I’ll do whatever you say!”
And they “bond” with the perpetrators with more gusto and gumption, perhaps participating in events they would never, back home, because the police are ordered to stand down and the criminals are not held accountable.
Soon, like the Minneapolis city councilors learned (see below), the obvious (to the rest of us) happens. Evil consumes–and minds and hearts are consumed–in its fearful power.
Particularly with the “reward” of implied “promises of safety,” as it were, given IF people vote the right way.
I mean, after all, we are a nation of “peaceful transitions” of power, right?
They will SURELY stop burning and looting and killing…if…if…
Of course acquiescing didn’t work so well in Minneapolis (similar to how it does not work in the “mean sweet cycle” in an abusive relationship), where the city councilors are even today trying to figure out why crime has risen to a shocking degree and why the police can’t adequately cover their territory (since they have been defunded).
The councilors, if they are honest, are likely even more afraid than the average citizen in their scramble to subdue the terror and sense of accountability building just beneath the surface, beginning to rise through all the academese, psychobabble, and word salad conjured up in an attempt to white-wash the truth.
Because, councilors, the emperor is murdered on the street for all to see, his small business destroyed forever, his family forsaken, and the scene is still backlit by flames now spreading north, south, east, and west.
Nothing like the naked truth to expose evil.
Of course, some of the councilors, minds and consciences perhaps even seared, may actually be down with the destruction and not bound up in fear and cowardice.
And then there’s Mayor Ted Wheeler in Portland, a shining example of virtue signaling–or perhaps he, too, is genuinely down with the mayhem–who had to move when the rioters attempted to burn down his condo. Apparently he wasn’t as far up to date with the cause as the rioters expected he should be as the evil metastasized (as evil is wont to do).
And that’s what happens to useful idiots–or fearful, undereducated, and/or confused bystanders.
Why We Resist
If we are indeed in such an existential war of good versus evil, as fearful as things may become, we do not have to surrender, acquiesce, or trauma bond.
But we do have to act, educate ourselves, resist by all legal means possible, and reinvigorate our personal determination to take a stand not for some hot-shot hell-bent cause, but for good.
Even if the rioters, whether ignorantly culled in or fearfully bonded in, cannot be reached at the moment by reason or compassion, looking to the longer term we have these reminders from both moderns and ancients who have overcome the power of trauma bonding through fear, by means of knowledge and faith:
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. –Edmund Burke
Fear is an insidious virus. Given a breeding place in our minds … it will eat away our spirit and block the forward path of our endeavors.-James F. Bell, III
And from my favorite reference:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.-2 Timothy 1:7
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.-Deuteronomy 31:6
*”The Sweet / Mean Cycle is a manipulative tactic used by toxic people to control you. If you fall for the sweet / mean cycle, you will become confused as you diminish yourself, deny your own needs AND work overtime to make the toxic person happy at your own expense” (source).
Image of abuse cycle from Wikimedia.