Monday, May 31, 2010

The Stockholm Syndrome and liberty

The Third Palmetto Republic, a secessionist site based in South Carolina, takes a close look at why even liberty activists will talk about nullification, but flinch at the idea of secession. Because this so clearly explains why many liberty activists are caught in a trap, I am quoting at length.

In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims… The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term “Stockholm Syndrome” was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where the captor has stripped nearly all forms of independence and gained control of the victim’s life, as well as basic needs for survival. Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence. In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a ‘mother’ figure protecting the ‘child’ from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons. The victim then begins a struggle for survival, both relying on and identifying with the captor. Possibly, hostages’ motivation to live outweighs their impulse to hate the person who created their dilemma.

The "mother figure," also known in this country as the "nanny state."

The genius of the federal government, the U.S. Empire, is that they have used indirect and deceiving means for such oppression. They don’t come to your house and hold you at gunpoint to strip you of your independence or gain control of your life, because this would be too obvious, and people would resist it. Instead, they pass federal laws and mandates and regulations and taxes that are all meant to protect you from the threatening outside world, but serve to limit your freedom, steal your property, and control your actions. To add insult to injury, and to complete the circle of enslavement, they literally serve as a mother figure and control the education of your children and have done so for generations, each iteration creating more and more hostages. The same government that supposedly fought to end slavery has instead enslaved us all. (Emphasis added).

The situation is not as bleak as it may sound though, events are taking place that are bringing people back to the ideas of self government and liberty:

A stark example of this is unfolding before our eyes in Arizona, where Governor Jan Brewer is honoring her constituents’ wish to stem the invasion from Mexico. For a long time the federal government has compelled Arizona and other states not only to tolerate this invasion, but to subsidize it, a sickening policy that Arizonans overwhelmingly want to abolish. If the federal government steps in and quashes the people’s will on an issue of this emotional magnitude, it will have gone a long way toward losing the people’s respect and obedience.

The same calculus applies to gun rights in Montana and the drug war in California, both instances where the state government has chosen to pursue a course that deviates from unpopular federal policy. At a critical point, the state may gather enough spine to “interpose” its judgment and formally refuse to observe a federal law. Another term for this is “nullification,” which is a smaller version of secession (i.e., the refusal to observe all federal authority).

If a state indeed nullifies an unpopular federal law, it will have crossed the Rubicon and dared the federal government to enforce its will against that of the people. If the federal government does so, it will lose legitimacy and alienate the people even further; if it does not, it will lose face and encourage people to seek even more of the self-governance being denied them.

In other words, if we show backbone, we put the feds into a lose-lose situation.

This is the nature of the intellectual battle we must wage. Our philosophical enemies who believe in imperialism and government control are strong and their government is growing faster than ever, and our freedom loving allies are weak and have been conditioned into loyalty to their masters. As inspiring as the Tea Party movement has been, uniting people of all political backgrounds against big government, no amount of rallies or demonstrations will improve the lives of Americans so long as we continue to worship the red, white, and blue. We must encourage the nullification efforts being discussed today and we must advocate for the ultimate nullification: secession. The soft tyranny of the United States government has created a country of “free” hostages but we can and will restore liberty if we can somehow break the Stockholm Syndrome of our countrymen.


Old Rebel said...

While some good slogans have emerged from the TPM, it's hard to get too excited about the prospect of liberty from a movement that worships the military, the flag, and demands declarations of submission to the central government in the form of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Harold Thomas said...

Old Rebel:

The problem is that there are at least three Tea Party Movements; and those are only part of a larger spectrum that include Campaigns for Liberty (Ron Paul's people), 9-12 Projects (Glenn Beck's people), gun rights groups, and many others. Obviously, many of these groups are as you describe them.

I have spoken to a Tea Party with careful references to secession, which were received skeptically at first, but by the end of my speech, the audience became more open. Comments afterward indicated that many were actually very open to secession (and this is in Ohio, mind you!)

My experience is that secession can be discussed within the broader liberty movement, but it requires a great deal of finesse.