The Burden of Freedom

“The astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves?”

Hannah Arendt on Terror

To be effective, some power must be held in reserve; power, like money or talent, mustn’t be used up. The victim also cannot be capable of forcing a particular reaction from the oppressor. An abused child might, for example, tell his father to go fuck himself and the father might just laugh it off or pat the kid on the shoulder. But later when the same child ties his shoes improperly, he might get a beating. If a prison inmate can spit in the face a guard and provoke a beating, then the guard loses his power. The point is, the beating must be unpredictable and arbitrary. The powerful force must be a self-determined system; it decides when and how to exert power.