Resiliency: Weapon of the Rebel – Trauma: Weapon of the Oppressor

While the police is insuring those resisting the destruction of nature in danibleibt, we must know that the possible after effect of such, are a very cheap weapon of oppression: Trauma.
It effects us individually and as a network. If trauma has become the currency of modern day repression, then resiliency is the weapon of the rebels.

I’d like to share a text written by the Jane Addams collective, „a small anarchist collective made up of social workers, psychologists and others who believe that in order to have a true and sustainable culture of resistance we must be able to maintain our mental health. We believe that this work is an essential part of community self defense.

(reminder: the use of violence is the core functionality of the police. Organized violence is what made it an institution. If you believe to not be affected by, that is because of your privileges.)

This text is quoted from their zine called „Mutual Aid and Trauma Resilience“. You can read the full zine (alone or with your affinity group) here:

Resiliency: Weapon of the Rebel

Whether the rebel employs pacifist or more active resistance tools, she can expect to encounter trauma either directly or indirectly. Creating traumatic experiences is a favorite and indispensable weapon of any power structure, and the more unjust the power structure the greater its reliance on trauma for social control.

In fact, without trauma there would be little to stop power structures from being dismantled by rebels. Trauma is both a relatively cheap and effective tool for maintaining tyrannical systems, whether they are familial or national. It is not the trauma per se that is effective (often times it is not)—it is the corollaries (fear, shame and debilitating post-trauma injuries) of trauma that make it the go-to of tyrants everywhere, from the halls of governments to our dinner tables.

Individuals, groups, organizations, and whole communities can be neutralized by the effects of traumatizing events orchestrated by oppositional forces. This is the logic of both the terrorist and the police interrogator. Reading manuals of Al Qaeda, FBI, Yakuza or US Field Army handbooks, one is not only struck by how blatantly trauma is weaponized, but also by how similar its uses are between these groups.

For example, as a tool, the wheel developed in many different regions independently because it was cheap and highly effective. So is the systemic use of trauma by tyrannical forces. Rebels who do not seek out and develop counter-measures to trauma will always be defenseless against these powerful and cheap weapons of oppression.

The induction of post-traumatic disabilities in rebel communities is particularly insidious and debilitating to the limited structural capacity of most resistance movements. “A dead soldier removes one musket from the battle line, while a wounded soldier has the potential to remove two, three or four,” Napoleon said, explaining the military value
25of using debilitating (though often not fatal) grapeshot pellets in cannons. Injuries require the opposing force to devote resources and energy to the injured.

The same is true of mental injuries inflicted on us. The maimed (mentally or physically) can serve as daily and immediate reminders of the power of our oppressors and the dangers of rebellion. This is all pretty bleak, but there is a way to build resiliency to render trauma ineffective or less effective in stopping a resistance.

Resiliency can do far more than dampen the effects of trauma—it can actually make it counterproductive for our oppressors. In a sense, resiliency of one group protects even those individuals or groups that have not developed resiliency by making the weapon of trauma less effective. If tyrants see that trauma is no longer effective, they will stop using it so liberally on others.

If the use of trauma against resilient targets is actually counterproductive and strengthens the rebel or oppressed forces, this seriously changes the cost benefit analysis of the use of trauma by others. This would reduce the prevalence of the use of this weapon dramatically.

To develop, utilize and share resiliency in individuals, groups, and communities, we must first understand what it is/isn’t and how it works. The two most common definitions of resiliency: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. It is obvious rebels and resistance movements should expect to have difficulties inflicted upon them by their antagonists, and what should be just as obvious is that we should seek to rebound as quickly as possible and limit the contagion and ongoing effects.

The more resilient a movement is, the more attractive it will be to those outside of it that feel threatened by the current power structures. It will also cause some division inside the power structure, as it has to weigh the benefits or effectiveness of inflicting trauma versus the backlash (resilience). If the effectiveness of trauma is demonstrably shown to be less effective, the power structure’s own control over its own participants comes into play, which can seriously weaken power structures.

Building mental resiliency has often been likened to self-defense, but it is more than just that. Well-developed resiliency in a movement/community can be useful for recruiting those who are feeling anxious or scared in their current situation (which may or may not having anything to do with the power structure you are fighting against). For example, in Rojava, the Kurdish revolutionary forces in Northern Syria received a lot of recruits from people fleeing forced marriages and domestic abuse, members of oppressed minority groups, etc. In addition to recruitment, resiliency can actually destabilize the opposing forces. Most actors in power structures (officers, soldiers, bureaucrats, etc.) may not actually benefit from the oppression but side with the oppressors because of anxiety or fear of the outcomes of not being part of the structure.

Resilient rebels and movements can weaken the ties of those not directly reaping the benefits of the oppression, requiring even more resources for the enemy to recruit and retain their own participants. Resiliency is not a shield for eliminating traumatic events but a way to make it costly for our enemies to use trauma for diminishing returns. It does this by disarming the effects of shame, fear, guilt, hopelessness, social disruption, and isolation—the most powerful lasting effects of trauma for eliminating political action.

A combination of psychological and community-based resiliency can eliminate these long-term effects of induced trauma. Trauma begets more trauma—for example, one may initially need powerful artillery shells to induce paralyzation, confusion, and fear in an individual. However, should the individual lack resiliency, the same reactions can be subsequently reproduced with something as simple as the sound of a car backfire. The reverse is true with resiliency—each trauma requires greater effort to achieve the same effect.

If trauma has become the currency of modern day repression, then resiliency is the weapon of the rebels.


The full zine, providing more knowledge about Trauma and resilience. It can help one as an individual same as a group to become more resilience against the violence of traumatic events caused by the police or any other oppressor.

Read more from #danibleibt:

some more information and thoughts about Trauma and resilience might follow during the next days. I’ll publish it here:

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