25 May 2004 | Draft
Errorism vs Terrorism?
Encroachment, Complicity, Denial and Terraism
- / -
A highly abridged version of this paper appeared in Omnipedia:
thinking for tomorrow. Issue 4, May/June 2004, p. 13.
An Annex to this paper is entitled Varieties
Etymology and symbolism of encroachment
Strategies and stages of encroachment
"Catastrophe" as the outcome of encroachment
From encroachment to "possession"
Encroachment and closure through "Getting to Yes"
Intimate relationship between "errorism" and "terrorism"
Complicity of accomplices
Denial by accomplices
This period is saturated with news about terrorists, their activities and the
threat they constitute to a civilized way of life. This focus has largely obscured
earlier concerns with a variety of other dangers to humanity and to life on
Earth -- about which there is a considerable body of knowledge. Conceptually
we find ourselves positioned in radical opposition to "terrorists" but with
little understanding of what such people might themselves be opposed to. And
yet, during the earlier relative scarcity of terrorists, we had a profound sense
of the rightness of our attitude as exemplars of civilization -- despite the
volume of evidence that all was not right in the world that our civilized attitudes
In religion, What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
How is it that we can be righteous in our sense of being exemplars of a civilization,
faced with a multitude of life threatening challenges, but are able to discount
totally the perspective of those we choose to label as terrorists? And this
despite the fact that most civilized democracies were brought about by the activities
of minorities that were then also labelled terrorists. Given our lack of creativity
in responding to terrorism with the dignity, forbearance, elegance and humanity
we would like to associate with our role as exemplars, perhaps there is a case
for exploring the possibility that, in such polarized circumstances, we could
usefully label ourselves as "errorists".
Errorists might then be understood as people who are convinced of the coherence
and rightness of their attitude to the degree that they are unaware of the blindspot
in their thinking which makes it erroneous in some measure. Errorism is a large-scale
form of groupthink.
Erroneous with respect to what? How is this condition to be understood in
the light of the insight of Chuang Tzu (The Pivot):
"Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or
concentrate only on a partial aspect of being.... each denies what the other
affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this struggle to set
up "No" against "Yes," and "Yes" against "No"?... When the wise man grasps
this pivot, he is in the center of the circle, and there he stands while "Yes"
and "No" pursue each other around the circumference.
What is this larger framework to which the dynamics between errorists and terrorists
point? How does an errorist comprehend that framework when one of the characteristics
of errorism, as a hegemonic mode of thought, is to assume that its values are
If as errorists we are without doubt as to our righteousness, how can we enter
into any dialogue with those with alternative perspectives? No doubt -- No dialogue?
Politicians are categorical that there is no possibility of dialogue with terrorists.
But Kinhide Mushakoji (Global Issues and Interparadigmatic Dialogue,
1988) argues that some Eastern schools of thought avoid this challenge of the
excluded middle by distinguishing four conditions: affirmation, negation, affirmation
and negation, non-affirmation and non-negation. That is, for every affirmation
(position) there is simultaneously a negation and a double affirmation and a
double negation: yes, no; both, and neither.
From the conditions of the planet, now and foreseen, and the manifest failure
of our best collective strategies to offer more than palliatives and promises,
it would seem that conceptually the arguments we have developed in support of
the development of our civilization are fundamentally flawed -- to some degree
at least. This would be the case with both the conventional socio-economic programmes
and the delightful alternatives. It is therefore a relief to be faced with terrorism
rather than have to acknowledge those flaws. But on the other hand it may be
that terrorism offers a distorted mirror of errorism.
Terrorists are of course primarily characterized by the physical violence they
do and the fear that they engender. How could we have anything in common with
such an agenda? But, have we as errorists eschewed violence? Do we engender
fear? Does the mode of thought of errorism engender violence? Johan Galtung
(of TRANSCEND) argues that only amateurs
engage in physical violence, whereas professionals engage in "structural violence"
through manipulating social conditions to their own advantage. Perhaps the most
skilled errorists even engage in "conceptual violence" -- or even "spiritual
How might such subtler and more insidious forms of violence operate? Traces
may be seen in various forms of encroachment through which the "territory" of
others is peaceably occupied by barely perceptible stages -- undermining their
ability to thrive. When this finally evokes a violent response, this can then
be righteously labelled as the unprovoked action of terrorists. The error inherent
in the encroaching action of errorists goes unremarked -- except by terrorists.
The mode of operation of both the errorists and the terrorists -- in "being
the change" -- is to be deplored as unworthy of an advanced civilization. But
how to give form to more appropriate modes?
In this respect, humanity may face a major lesson with the eventual arrival
of extraterrestrials. Will they be errorists in our eyes, requiring that we
respond as terrorists -- as many science fiction scenarios have explored? Will
they be astounded at our failure to subscribe to their fundamental galactic
values of xinth, kloor and sdrar -- which any advanced
civilization naturally seeks to embody? Will they see it as their duty to enable
the people of Earth to experience those values -- in their own best interest
and despite the resistance of human "renegades" to whatever structural changes
are required to our civilization and its antiquated political processes and
On the other hand, such aliens may recognize us as errorists, evoking a response
from them in terrorist mode - exhibiting galactic respect for the dynamics of
More poignantly, is it the case that the mindsets we hold as errorists sustain
a pattern of relationship that effectively engenders "aliens" within our own
civilization? Amongst the challenges whose existence we deny, the young and
the elderly increasingly perceive each other as alien, as do rich and poor,
those of different faith, and those of different intellectual tradition. Each
has its own version of xinth, kloor and sdrar that is meaningless
to the other - and possibly more meaningful than the freedom, peace
and democracy of politicians. This pattern would also seem to be emerging
within our psyches between our different modes of activity -- recognized in
its extreme form as multiple personality disorder !
Does the dilemma in encountering "the other" come down to the challenge of
sins of omission (false alarms) or commission (failed alarms), recognized by
statisticians as Type I and Type II errors respectively?[more
| more]. The
sins of omission of errorists are in opportunistically "crying wolf" with respect
to terrorists in the absence of adequate evidence, whilst their sins of commission
are to fail deliberately to respond effectively to the conditions of concern
to terrorists. For the terrorists, the sins of omission are in their rejection
of dialogue (with "infidels"), whilst those of commission are the fundamental
failure of which their destructive acts are symptomatic. It would be nice to
completely eliminate both error types, but in practice reducing one causes the
other to increase. This is because the appearance of guilt and innocence are
not clear-cut. Innocent people can appear to be guilty and the guilty can appear
to be innocent.
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard
to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men
born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty
by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious
encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
Louis D Brandeis
The processes of encroachment are necessarily subtle -- hence the surprise
at the unexpected levels of violence they may evoke. It is their subtlety that
delays any response and creates a context in which the response may be labelled
inappropriate, unreasonable -- or as terrorism. Due to the subtlety, it takes
time to understand the nature of the encroachment as an experiential pattern
with unwelcome consequences. Other terms that describe aspects of this insidious
process are infiltration, ingratiation and inveiglement -- as a prelude to processes
associated with such terms as arrogation, appropriation, usurpation, invasion,
An annotated review of the variety of forms of encroachment is available elsewhere
of Encroachment, 2004). The following argument is based on that review.
Etymology and symbolism of encroachment
Encroachment derives from Middle English encroachen, meaning to get
or seize illegally, and from Middle French encrochier. It signifies:
to enter by gradual steps or by stealth into the possessions or rights of another,
gaining possession gradually and to advance beyond the usual or proper limits.
It is related to "crochet" and especially to "crook" and
"hook". This is an implement or tool, such as a bishop's crosier or
a shepherd's staff, with a bent or curved part -- metaphorically signifying
someone who is dishonest, namely not straight. As a verb it may be used with
reference to bending or making crooked -- or, in the light of its etymology,
even to hooking (seemingly pointing to an association between the activities
of an "encroacher" and a "hooker"). An obsolete variant
"accroachment", signified to draw to one's self as with a hook, or
to usurp jurisdiction as with royal prerogatives.
"Encroach" appears to share some of its origins with "crouch"
and its relationship to crook. "Crouch" signifies to bend or stoop
or press the entire body close to the ground, notably in servile posturing.
There is an amusing degree of confusion in people's minds (as suggested by web
searches) between "crouching" and "croaching", especially
in the title of the film Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon (pronounced in Chinese as wo hu cang long) and
attributed to a Chinese saying teaching the concealment of strengths from others
and preservation of the element of surprise. The film is set at the end of the
Qing dynasty, before the encroachment of Western influence: the last age of
to the Abyss
What new advancement of the night
On citadels of stars around whose might
Thy slow encroachment runs,
And crouching silence, thunder-potent, sleeps
Clark Ashton Smith
With encroachment there is therefore a strong suggestion of a "straight"
process and a subsequent "capturing" operation with some form of "crook",
whether physical, behavioural or metaphorical. In the purely physical sense
this is evident in the use of the shepherd's crook to grab forcefully the sheep
around the neck to keep it from going in a direction the shepherd doesn't want
the sheep to go. The curved part may also be used to hit the sheep, usually
on the head, to "guide" them. Bishops have long been inspired by the implications
of such uses of the crook in their role as shepherd of a flock of Christians
- especially the contrast between the idyllic pastoral image of the shepherd
on the hillside and the realistic challenge of guiding animals that cannot even
think for themselves -- and a shepherd who does what he has to do in order to
protect them from danger and possibly even from themselves [more].
The crook has therefore become a symbol of guardianship, power and authority.
For the ancient Egyptians, the sceptre was called (heka) when in the
shape of a shepherd's crook. The crook and flail were used in all royal ceremonies
[more]. For Catholics
the end of the crook is sharp and pointed wherewith to prick and goad the slothful,
the middle is straight to signify righteous rule, while the head is bent or
crooked in order to draw in and attract souls to the ways of God [more].
Strategies and stages of encroachment
Encroachment may be understood generically as a phase in a hunting strategy
-- leading up to the kill. Predators in the wild have a range of distinct hunting
strategies: from an alligator's solitary lunging ambush to the drawn-out chase
of a wolf pack hunting caribou (see Motion
camouflage pack hunting). Humans have developed a range of hunting strategies
for food and recreation [more].
In the social sphere, hunting strategies have developed in the guise of: job
hunting and head hunting, spouse hunting, witch hunting, market hunting,
asteroid hunting, hunting
strategies of sexual predators, political
will hunting, bounty hunting, etc. Hunting still requires a strategy that
progressively constrains the target, but the "kill" then involves
some form of acquisition and possession -- which may indeed be perceived as
unacceptable to the target.
A process of encroachment may be seen as a way of avoiding or postponing outright
conflict, as noted by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in the :
I Ching (chapter 6)
Conflict develops when one feels himself
to be in the right and runs into opposition.
If one is not convinced of being in the right,
Opposition leads to craftiness or high-handed encroachment
But not to open conflict.
The process of encroachment is usefully illustrated by the apocryphal experiment
of slowly heating water with a frog in it as compared to that of dropping the
frog into hot water. In the later case it jumps out. In the former case it adjusts
to the slowly rising temperature -- without jumping -- and dies [more].
The slowly adjusting condition of the frog may be compared to the process experienced
by a child undergoing "grooming" by a paedophile. Encroachment is
based on progressively modifying the "rules of engagement" to disguise
the level of threat as it increases from imperceptibility. But given that the
encroached-upon is habituated to the threat as it increases, the degree of threat
is not actually experienced as threatening -- as with the frog exposed to gradually
increasing degrees of heat.
The argument of this paper is that there is a degree of equivalence, or isomorphism,
between the various forms of encroachment identified in the Annex (Varieties
of Encroachment, 2004). To that extent, insights into the stages of
encroachment should, for example, be obtainable from the stages of the "grooming"
process used by paedophiles to befriend children over the internet with the
intention of abusing them -- stages identified by Rachel O'Connell of the by
the Cyberspace Research Unit at the University of Central Lancashire (A
Typology of Child Cybersexplotation and Online Grooming Practices. 2003):.
- Friendship: Flattering a child into talking in a private chatroom
where they will be isolated. The child will often be asked for a non-sexual
picture of themselves.
This stage is recognizable as the first in many preludes to what may subsequently
be perceived as abusive contact. It is evident in commercial relationships,
missionary first contact, political and diplomatic appeals for dialogue, etc.
Rather than friendship, it might be termed as a stage of familiarity.
- Forming a relationship: Asking the child what problems they have
to create the illusion of being their best friend.
This is the stage of minimal formalization in which the unique nature of
the bond, and the associated pattern of behaviour, is acknowledged in some
preliminary way. Again, it is basic to commercial relationships (noting contact
details, etc), diplomacy ("regular talks", memo of understanding,
etc). This might be termed the stage of precedent creation.
- Risk assessment: Asking the child about the location of their computer
and who else has access to it in order to assess the risk of being detected.
At this stage there is a need to assess whether the relationship can be
transformed into one through which the agenda of the encroacher can be effectively
pursued. In the case of a commercial relationship, is it likely that the potential
client can be persuaded to sign? For the diplomat, can some favourable position
- Exclusivity: Building up a sense of mutual love and trust with the
child, suggesting that they can discuss "anything".
In the commercial case, at this stage, the focus is on the special and
unique quality of the relationship with the client ("because you are
a valued special client, we can make an exception", etc). In the case
of diplomacy, emphasis may be placed on the long tradition of a "special
relationship", etc. The concern at this stage is to build dependency
-- to"gain a hold upon".
- Sex talk: Engaging the child in explicit conversations and requesting
sexually explicit pictures from them. At this stage the paedophile will usually
try to arrange a meeting with the child.
This is the stage in which the shift is made to confidentiality. In the
commercial case the possibility of "under the table" payments may
be evoked, for example, and even the possibility of obtaining forbidden (illegal)
goods. In the diplomatic case, this is the stage at which the legalities of
conventions are set aside and "frank" discussions take place with
regard to assistance in contravention of them (arms deals, secret accounts,
etc). Building on the dependency already developed, the aim at this stage
is to give operational form to it so as to advance the encroacher's agenda
in ways that allow the asymmetric relationship to be exploited once it becomes
too late for the encroached-upon to raise "reasonable" objections.
The encroached-upon has been set up for the "kill", in commercial
According to the SIRC Guide
to Flirting, every salesperson knows that there is little point in establishing
a great rapport with potential customers, attracting their interest, gaining
their trust and so on, if they fail to "close" --- "closing"
is sales-speak for actually making the sale, securing the contract, getting
the customer to hand over money or sign on the dotted line. Sales staff are
specifically trained in "closing techniques" to help them achieve
this all-important goal. In the same way, if a person is genuinely attracted
to a flirting partner, and want to see him or her again, no flirting skills
are much use unless they ensure effective "closure". In this case,
the goal in "closing" is to secure not a contract or a sale, but
the chance to meet again.
This isomorphism may be tentatively explored in relation to the "spaces",
with which people identify under different circumstances, upon which the encroachment
Like the frog, the encroached-upon experiences only slight discomfort throughout
the earliest phase (Phase I). This phase melds into a second (Phase II) in which
the encroached-upon experiences constraints upon its options -- a closing down
of options and degrees of freedom. In the following phase (Phase III), the encroached-upon is effectively "painted into a corner"
The concern here is the transition from perception of encroachment to perception
of "invasion", "usurpation" and "occupation" and
the associated, and often tragically violent reactions -- associated notably
"Catastrophe" as the outcome of encroachment
One interesting set of clues is provided by the literary critic Northrop Frye
(The Anatomy of Criticism, 1957) who distinguishes five stages of action,
linking encroachment to catastrophe, in the pattern of a tragedy (as summarized
- Encroachment: Protagonist takes on too much, makes a mistake that
causes his/her "fall." This mistake is often unconscious (an act blindly done,
through over-confidence in one's ability to regulate the world or through
insensitivity to others) but still violates the norms of human conduct.
- Complication: The building up of events aligning opposing forces
that will lead inexorably to the tragic conclusion. "Just as comedy often
sets up an arbitrary law and then organizes the action to break or evade it,
so tragedy presents the reverse theme of narrowing a comparatively free life
into a process of causation."
- Reversal: The point at which it becomes clear that the hero's expectations
are mistaken, that his fate will be the reverse of what he had hoped. At this
moment, the vision of the dramatist and the audience are the same. The classic
example is Oedipus, who seeks the knowledge that proves him guilty of murdering
his father and marrying his mother; when he accomplishes his objective, he
realizes he has destroyed himself in the process.
- Catastrophe: The catastrophe exposes the limits of the hero's power
and dramatizes the waste of his life. Piles of dead bodies remind us that
the forces unleashed are not easily contained; there are also elaborate subplots
(e.g. Gloucester in King Lear) which reinforce the impression of a world inundated
- Recognition: The audience (sometimes the hero as well) recognizes
the larger pattern. If the hero does experience recognition, he assumes the
vision of his life held by the dramatist and the audience. From this new perspective
he can see the irony of his actions, adding to the poignancy of the tragic
A catastrophe can readily be understood as a discontinuity -- in relation to
the continuity associated with the process of encroachment. A catastrophe is
a sudden change, a jump, after the smooth progress typical of encroachment.
The nature of discontinuity in dynamic systems has been been the subject of
formal analysis notably by Rene Thom (Structural Stability and Morphogenesis;
an outline of a general theory of models, 1975) and Jean Petitot (Morphogenèse
du Sens, 1985). Such analysis has been successfully applied not only to
natural systems but also to dynamical models in semiotics and semantics, notably
with respect to grammar. The semantics of a sentence is recognized as holding
some form of dynamics. Therefore, in exploring encroachment, and the shifting
rules of engagement between parties, it may prove appropriate to review the
language through which the process is articulated, and given legitimacy and
coherence, by the encroacher.
At the discontinuities ("jumps") in a dynamic situation, such as
those between the encroacher and the encroached-upon, external inputs (by the
encroacher) produce maximum effects. At other times (in the gradual encroachment
phases), the effort (or cost) of intervention to achieve a given result is likely
to be higher. In catastrophe theory, the condition when external input produces
maximum effect within the system is called metastability. In studying negotiation
challenges, James E Goodby (When
War Won Out: Bosnian Peace Plans Before Dayton, 1996) suggests that
the notion of "ripeness" takes into account the concept of metastability.
Interrogators and "groomers" would agree in the light of their understanding
Given the spatial character of what is encroached-upon, and the evidently spatial
character of the image-schemas proposed in the works on the metaphorical nature
of conceptualization of George Lakoff (Women, Fire and Dangerous Things:
What Categories Reveal about the Mind, 1987) and Mark Johnson (The Body
in the Mind: the Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason, 1987),
there is a strong case for exploring the phenomenological basis of conceptual
metaphors as in the work of Franson D Manjali (1997).
Understanding the relation between the encroacher and the encroached-upon as
a dynamic of forces, the relevance of the language to "grooming",
as an example, may be seen in the following summary by Franson D Manjali (Dynamical
Models in Semiotics/Semantics) of the argument of Leonard Talmy (Force
Dynamics in Language and Cognition, 1988):
For Talmy... the category of "force dynamics" (FD) consists of
exertion of force, resistance to force, overcoming of resistance, blockage,
and removal of blockage, etc. Comprising a range of relations of an agonist
vs. antagonist kind, the FD category serves to explain a host of traditional
categories like causativity, and those which can henceforth be seen as semantically
related to it. Talmy shows that the FD schemas play the role of the source
metaphor for other similar dynamics observable in the psychological, psychosocial,
modal, and discourse domains. More generally, Talmy has argued that the grammatically-specified
notions are amenable to structural schematization involving the relationship
between two entities in space, time or other conceptual domains
Manjali then highlights the generality of this framework:
Common to these approaches are the topologico-dynamic schemas identified
corresponding to the action patterns. (In the karaka theory, however, the
schemas are only implicit). Moreover, all except Talmy's FD schemas are directly
concerned with the case category. The karaka theory, on the other hand, posits
essentially different types of actions which are metaphysically construed,
at least by Bhartrhari, as part of the constant unfolding of the Ultimate
reality (or Brahma) as perceived from the perspective of the speaker. The
karakas, or the actantial case relations originally proposed by Panini in
the 5th century b.c., and followed by the long Indian grammatical tradition
are the following: karta (=agent/subject), karma (object/goal of action),
karana (instrument), adhikarana (the substratum of action), apadana(the source
of action) and sampradana (the destination).
This is then related to Thom's perspective by Manjali:
In the context of Thom's Catastrophe Theory (CT), the list of archetypal
morphologies proposed represents a deductive system where the variations in
the actantial dynamics are associated with their corresponding topological
graphs. CT has essentially to do with the effect of local (quantitative, micro-)
variations on the global (qualitative, macro-) structure. It involves the
topological description of the sudden, abrupt discontinuities induced by the
local perturbations of a system. On the basis of the qualitatively different
configurations of discontinuities that can occur for a maximum of four control
Thom identified seven "elementary catastrophes". These catastrophes
are further shown to yield a set of 16 linguistically-relevant "archetypal
morphologies" or "semantic archetypes" corresponding to topologically
different types of verbs, with increasing actantial complexity. The catastrophes
||refraction of sunlight by raindrops to form a rainbow
||transitions from flight to fight, love to hate, and anxiety
to calm in man and animals; it models conditions for a military force's
possible sudden collapse along a continuum of increasing vulnerability
||predicts certain kinds of behavior patterns in human nervous
||models the effect of firepower on survivability of a military
||analyzing the collapse of bridges and the development of sonar
||models flow of fluids
||model problems in the field of linguistics
||Hyperbolic Umbilic, Elliptic Umbilic
Thom reached a remarkable conclusion in 1965: that for a very wide range of
processes, only seven stable unfoldings, the seven 'elementary catastrophes',
are possible. The unfoldings are called catastrophes because each of them has
regions where a dynamic system can jump suddenly from one state to another,
although the factors controlling the process change continuously. Each of the
seven catastrophes represents a pattern of behaviour determined only by the
number of control factors, not by their nature or by the interior mechanisms
that connect them to the system's behaviour. Therefore the elementary catastrophes
can be models for a wide variety of processes, even those in which we know little
about the quantitative laws involved. This is an extraordinary idea: how is
it possible that two processes can have features in common even when they are
on different physical scales, operate under different quantitative laws and
are affected by different sets of causes ?"
Given that encroachment may be viewed as latent conflict, and that catastrophe
theory has been extensively used to explore decision-making in (potentially)
conflictual situations (web
resources), there is a case for considering how the different catastrophes
above map the behavioural and semantic regions of continuity around the zones
of discontinuity. In particular do these maps of force dynamics indicate
how the rules are being shifted under the forceful pressure of the encroacher?
R J Rummel (A Catastrophe
Theory Model of the Conflict Helix), for example, applies the butterfly
model in elaborating the "conflict helix" as "a general conceptual
model of the process of conflict and peace. It is meant to provide explanation
and understanding of the outbreak, sequence, and termination of conflict and
peace at all social levels, from the interpersonal to the international".
The process of jumps between successive equilibria within a situation, of
social contract - to - conflict - to - social contract - to - conflict, is
a winding upward in mutual learning and adjustments. As long as the major
conditions of a relationship remain fairly constant, this process leads
toward longer lasting and deeper peace, interrupted by shorter and less intense
social conflict. A sharp change in these conditions can set this process back,
or even shear the conflict helix, as shown in Figure
2, and cause the whole process of mutual adjustment and learning to begin
anew. What changes will have this affect will depend on the parties involved.
Between husband and wife, it might be the first child or the mother-in-law
moving in; between business and government, a severe depression or leftist
revolution; between two states, a reversal of the military balance or a radical
change in the government of one.
However it is the argument of this paper that what may appear to be peace may
be conflict-free encroachment setting the stage for unreasonable conflict. Rummel's
description is remarkably
suggestive of the perversity of "mutual adjustment" in the case of
"grooming", given the quality of the "peaceful" conditions
of that process -- and more generally in the adjustments made in the relation
between encroacher and encroached-upon:
Theoretically and empirically, the intensity of conflict between i and j
is dependent upon four primary conditions: the transition in power between
them, the gap between their structure of expectations and balance of powers,
their joint freedom, and their ability to project power across the geographic
distance between them. Specifically, then, the four conditions and their definitions
are the following:
Power transition: the degree to which capabilities are shifting
toward the actor who is dissatisfied with the status quo (the core of the
structure of expectations).
Gap: the incongruity between the structure of expectations and balance
of interest, capabilities, and wills.
Joint freedom: the degree to which i and j both have internal civil
rights, political liberties, and economic freedom; the less such joint freedom,
the more i's expectation of violence if the status quo is disrupted; if
i and j are both liberal democracies, there is no such expectation of violence.
Joint power projection: the capability of i and j to project power
across the geographic distance between them, as defined, for example, by
the inverse "social gravity" function G2ij/PiPj, where P is some measure
of power to transcend distance and G is the geographic distance.
Curiously, Peter J. Carroll (Liber Null and Psychonaut, 1987) uses catastrophe
theory to explore the relation between materialist and occultist views. He argues
that catastrophe theory indicates that something unusual is likely to be expected
under certain conditions, but not exactly when to expect it. It does, however,
indicate how to provoke catastrophes. Caroll applies the theory to situations
like initiation, illumination, and religious conversion, where there is a sudden
change of state. [more]
Again this suggests the relevance of such approaches to the unexpected consequences
These explorations, notably with respect to "illumination", recall
the long-standing Buddhist concern with "gradual" versus "sudden"
enlightenment (see Peter Gregory (Ed).. Sudden
and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought. 1991) [more
| more]. Poetry
is used to articulate the associated doctrinal differences dating from the 7th
century, with the two fundamentally different perspectives presented in verse
form. Well-known to Chinese Buddhists, each of the mutually contradictory verses
continues to reflect the perspective of a distinct school of thought within
that tradition and continues to be the subject of commentary. Philosophically
both perspectives were based on a belief in the intrinsic purity of mind, which,
while pure in its self-nature, is soiled by adventitious passions. One, the
gradualist approach, insists that effort is necessary to rid the mind
of these foreign impurities, expressed through the metaphor of wiping and polishing
a mirror. The contrasting sudden approach to awakening considers only
its essential purity, to the point of refusing to recongize the existence of
any impurity to be removed (cf Paul Demiéville. The Mirror of the Mind.
In: Peter N Gregory, 1991).
When it is recalled what influence such subtle distinctions have had (and continue
to have) on the incidence of religious war, it is appropriate to see them as
the articulation of policy differences. Perhaps the errorism underlying encroachment
could be fruitfully contrasted using poetry with the terrorism of the consequent
catastrophe (see Poetry-making
and Policy-making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast,
From encroachment to "possession"
The past decade has seen the frequently articulated perception of Christian
fundamentalists that Islam is "satanic" -- and the corresponding perception
of Muslims regarding Christians [more
These perceptions have been expressed at the highest levels of leadership in
both cases. It is therefore ironic that another set of clues to the process
of encroachment comes from efforts to clarify the stages of psychic encroachment
leading to demonic possession [more
- Encroachment, where a negative spirit is given an opening to a human
being, either through voluntary means, such as a satanic ritual, or through
involuntary means, such as a curse or the performance of an unholy act. It
is the stage where permission was granted either willingly or unwillingly
for the spirit or spirits to take hold. The Roman Ritual of Christian Exorcism
reads: "I cast thee out, thou unclean spirit, along with the least encroachment
of the wicked enemy and every phantom and diabolical legion. In the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ, depart and vanish from this creature of God...."
- Infestation, when the demons are experienced as first haunt a person's
house, for example.
- Oppression, when the spirits are experienced as beginning trying
to take over -- namely possess -- the person living in the house. This stage
is far greater than that of infestation. There is a mental barrage of temptation
-- terrible dreams, and fear may consume the person who is experiencing the
assault of senses. Constant sleep depravation may be used as well to break
down the targeted individual or individuals. It is this stage where the demonic
is setting the person up for the ultimate goal and desire: possession.
- Death, the final stage, of demonic possession.
The explanatory comments offered in many of the examples of encroachment given
in the Annex to this paper (Varieties
of Encroachment, 2004) stress the gradual process of eroding freedom
of action in some way. It is however the final stage, possibly to be understood
as "post-encroachment", when the encroacher has acquired sufficient
freedom to ensure final "closure" with a final "pounce"
or "kill". In the case of sexual relations, for example, the term
"pounce" is occasionally used to describe this behaviour. The term
"kill" is more common with reference to closure in commercial relations
-- although some metaphor of rape may also be used in that context. It is against
this action that "unreasonably" violent reactions may be made -- as
in the case of terrorism.
The distinction between the gradual stages and the closure stages may indeed
be crudely modelled by the two parts of the shepherd's crook -- the lengthy
preliminaries before the compressed period in which the "bent" and
"crooked" nature of the strategy becomes evident. The preliminaries
may always be described as "reasonable" by the encroacher and -- with
difficulty -- may be interpreted as such by the encroached-upon, impressed perhaps
by the knowledge or authority of the encroacher. It is in the "crooked"
phase that the encroacher more obviously usurps and takes possession -- and
the "game" becomes more fully evident to the encroached-upon. However,
typically, this is by then too late for the encroached-upon, who has already
exhibited a history -- difficult to challenge -- of transferring power and control
to the encroacher. The cuckoo has moved into the nest and expects servicing
It is the final "bending" phase, symbolized in the shepherd's crook,
in which the encroached-upon is "locked into" the pattern completely
controlled by the encroacher -- who, in a perverse distortion of the ecclesiastical
and pharaonic roles, then becomes the "guide" in the process. The
suggestion here is that the precise nature of this bending is helpfully articulated
in catastrophe theory -- in terms of control and behaviour factors. A simple
analogy is provided by the point at which the thread of a screw "takes".
Another source of insight into this process of "bending" -- which
relates to the insights to be derived from movement over the surfaces of the
elemental catastrophes of catastrophe theory -- is that of mathematician Ron
Atkin (Multidimensional Man; can man live in 3-dimensional space?, 1981)
and his development of q-analysis. Of particular interest, for the experience
of the encroached-upon, are the implications of the structuring effect of non-comprehension.
One interesting feature of this -- in terms of catastrophe theory's control
factors and behaviour axes -- is the effect of the experienced forces to which
an individual is subject by exposure to something which is not fully comprehended,
especially when the non-comprehension is not consciously recognized, or is disguised
by satisfaction with a superficial explanation. In a sense the comprehension
of an individual creates the space-time geometry within which he or she functions
(in Atkin's terms), whereas his or her non-comprehension determines the nature
of the forces to which he or she is subject within that geometry (again in Atkin's
| more |
Such considerations suggest the power of q-analysis in clarifying approaches
to human and social development in general -- but to the processes of encroachment
and "possession" in particular. Reducing the dimensionality of the
geometry on which a person (or group) is able to live is an impoverishment associated
with repressive forces. Expanding the dimensionality induces positive, attractive
forces through which a sense of development and enrichment is experienced. Q-analysis
seems to be a valuable new language through which precision can be given to
intuitive experiences and their communication, particularly since it provides
an explicit measure of obstruction to change.
Encroachment and closure through "Getting to Yes"
A less charged set of clues to the process of encroachment is provided by studies
of the negotiation process and its objective of closure on an agreement or deal.
This process has notably been explored by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce
Patton (Getting to Yes: Negotiating
Agreement Without Giving In,
1991), followed by William Ury (Getting Past No: Negotiating your Way from
Confrontation to Cooperation, 1993). These are based on the work of the
Harvard Negotiation Project of the Harvard
Program on Negotiation, a group that deals continually with all levels of
negotiation and conflict resolution from domestic to business to international.
Such studies offer vital insights for diplomatic and commercial negotiations
and provide material for many courses on negotiation..
In the case of ESI
International, for example, the development of negotiation skills for project
managers relate to four stages : Using rapport to establish communication, Exploring
to determine issues, Creating movement to obtain agreement, Closing to ensure
commitment. A course on Advanced
Contract Negotiation Skills and Techniques for Project Managers distinguishes
four stages: Rapport, Exploratory, Negotiation, Closing. Another course distinguishes
six stages: Preparation, Discussions, Regroup, Negotiate for resolution, Reach
consensus, Close [more]
Insights may also be obtained from the stages of the treaty negotiation process.
One interesting example is negotiation with First Nations where the following
stages are distinguished [more]:
Submission of Statement of Intent, Readiness to Negotiate, Negotiation of Framework
Agreement, Negotiation of Agreement-in-Principle, Negotiation of Final Agreement,
Implementation of a treaty.
The general principles of negotiation can clearly be interpreted to apply to
situations in which the hidden agenda of one party is not necessarily to the
advantage of the other -- as is implied by many of these courses. This is typically
the case in asymmetric negotiations as explored by Joel Peters with respect
to the Middle East peace process [more],
and by Kimberly Elliott (Pitfalls
in Asymmetric Negotiations: Will the U.S. be the Next Goliath? 2003)
of the Center for Global Development. Researchers Kathleen L. McGinn and Angela
T. Keros (Improvisation
and the logic of exchange in socially embedded transactions, 2002) argue
that negotiators turn to three dynamic processes -- trust testing, process clarification,
and emotional punctuation -- when they have difficulty moving the interaction
toward a coherent, mutually agreed upon improvisation. The authors examine in
detail the few asymmetric negotiations, which do not involve a shared logic
Such asymmetry is mapped by John Mole (The
Deal Map: Power and Relationship in Negotiation) who argues that two
sets of values, 'power' and 'relationship', determine most of the elements of
negotiation. They especially influence the final stage of bargaining and agreeing.
They form the axes of the Deal Map. This interrelates four negotiation types
(predator, controller, trader, partner), for each of which there is a different
and distinct set of values and behaviours at each stage of negotiation. According
to Mole, the easiest negotiations are with those of the same type. The hardest
are with those of the diagonally opposite type on the map.
Encroachment is a process typically used by a more powerful partner in a situation
where the agenda is less principled than the values governing the encroached-upon.
Obvious examples are an adult convincing a minor to engage in sex, or the efforts
of an experienced pusher to persuade an innocent to try some drug. "Getting
to Yes" then has more sinister implications when the "deal" is
"closed" -- especially when the outcome is tragic, as may be the case
of teenage pregnancy and addiction.
Intimate relationship between "errorism" and
The above argument endeavours to point to the nature of the relationship between
errorism and terrorism:
- In the later phases of encroachment, the errorism may create an experience
of terror in the encroached-upon. This is most easily seen in the case of
child abuse. It is also evident in the action of "peaceful" settlers
in their exertion of control over native peoples, possibly only through structural
violence. Errorism is then associated with terrorism. The apparent innocence
and legitimacy of encroachment is transformed into terrorism, at least as
it may be experienced.
- The terrorism that emerges as a reaction to encroachment becomes associated
with its own form of errorism, through inability to discover any viable strategy
that does not involve physical violence. The apparent appropriateness of the
violent self-defence by "terrorists" is transformed into errorism
as the means obscure the ends.
This transformation has been termed enantiodromia, namely the process
whereby something is transformed into its opposite. Interestingly the term derives
from classical Greek drama -- and is presumably a feature of tragedy, as identified
by Northrop Frye (see above). For Diana Price (Jung
and Enantiodromia, 2003) it is the emergence of the unconscious opposite
when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life. Enantiodromia
is typically experienced in conjunction with symptoms associated with acute
neurosis. This explains why many of the most hardcore submissives and masochists
usually carry great responsibility and power in their everyday life and careers.
Masochism is their counterbalance that prevents enantiodromia and the development
The process of enantiodromia has been explored by William Irwin Thompson (Pacific
Shift, 1985) in relation to Gaian politics. It is well illustrated by the
outcomes of many modern revolutions, whether democratic or otherwise: the optimistic
romanticism of Rousseau which helped provoke the French revolution rather quickly
turns into the dark terrorism of Robespierre; Stalin, the successor to Lenin
in the Russian revolution, behaves much worse than the inhumane Czar he and
Lenin struggled so much to replace; Chairman Mao as brutal a ruler as any ruthless
Chinese emperor that preceded him, etc. [more]
Enantiodromia is the name Heraclitus gave to the law which governs blind contingency.
Jung identified it as the psychological law which says that sooner or later
everything turns into its opposite, saying:
The only person who escapes the grim law of enantiodromia is the man who
knows how to separate himself from the unconscious, not by repressing it -
for then it simply attacks him from the rear - but by putting it clearly before
him as that which he is not. [more
Enantiodromia is well illustrated by the situation of the US forces who framed
themselves as innocent and welcomed "liberators" of Iraq from terror,
only to find themselves as framed thereafter as hated "occupiers"
by the Iraqis -- notably as a result of adopting interrogation techniques, and
arbitrary killings, indistinguishable to many from the terror cultivated in
this way by Saddam Hussein. The photographs reinforced this view -- despite
President Bush's statement (6 May 2004) that "people seeing those pictures
didn't understand the true nature and heart of America".
As a former UK Environment Minister (1997-2003), Michael Meacher (Playing
Bin Laden's Game, 2004) introduces a devastating example of enantiodromia
Despite the revelations of torture, the US-British policy is unchanged: see
this historic struggle through to its conclusion for the sake of democracy
and civilisation; apply overwhelming force against terrorists and extremists;
and show unremitting resolve to root out resistance wherever it is found.
Whether it is Americans in Iraq, Israelis in Palestine or the west against
al-Qaida, the approach is the same: a policy proclaimed in the name of freedom,
tolerance and a decent world order that, ironically, could hardly be better
calculated to produce the opposite.
Complicity of accomplices
The complicity of those involved in the process of encroachment may be distinguished
(a) Encroacher: Clearly there is a need for the encroacher to be covert
in initiating and sustaining the process. It is necessary to appear as having
a normal relationship with the encroached-upon -- free of any perversity that
may later become apparent. The encroacher has in fact to work at cultivating
the fiduciary relationship, building trust. The strategy is essentially one
of creating a bond of complicity to the exclusion of other perspectives. In
the final phases, when the encroacher is gaining "possession", the
task then is to create a situation in which the encroached-upon has more to
lose than to gain by protesting to others about the unique nature of their relationship.
Such arguments may be based upon threats of loss of face, loss of privileges,
condemnation of others, long-term damage to a career and future opportunities,
(b) Encroached-upon: The encroached-upon is faced initially with the
challenge of the attention accorded by the encroacher. This may be assessed
as promising privileges and competitive advantage in relation to others. To
the extent that it is the strategy of the encroacher to encourage and nourish
this belief, the encroached-upon may become a willing accomplice throughout
the preliminary stages -- especially of these continue to nourish a faint hope
of miraculous escape from enmeshing by the encroacher. When the encroacher "pounces"
and moves in "for the kill", the encroached-upon may indeed become
convinced that more is to be gained by acceding to the process than by expostulating,
or by articulating any concern to others. The encoached upon then indeed becomes
Unreasonable responses are triggered by failure of the bond of complicity.
Terrorism may be understood as a response to the actions of others who have
"gone too far".
Denial by accomplices
Protesting questionable intentions: It is clear that the encroacher
is highly motivated to deny vigorously any questionable intentions, whether
in response to expostulation by the encroacher during the process, or to others
commenting upon the process, or following any form of final "possession".
This is particularly important when the encroacher has a duty of care for the
encroached-upon in an institutional setting. As a group this is equally true
if the framework is a national or international community subject to some form
of rule of law. Indeed as a member of that community, the encroached-upon may
be able to persuade the authorities in that community of the merits of avoiding
scandal and its effects on the reputation of the community as a whole. An excellent
historic example is provided by the case (documented by Karen Liebreich, Fallen
Order, 2004) of the Piarist Order, founded in 1622 and banned in 1646,
whose key members indulged in paedophila and were promoted in order to avoid
scandal. The founder, Jose de Calasanz (canonized in 1767 and named in 1947
as celestial protector of schools) framed his approach to such accusations as:
"One should first assure oneself of the truth with all secrecy, which in
such cases should be dissimulated and covered up, so it does not appear true
even if it is". As Liebreich notes: "The contemporary Catholic church's
practice of moving a suspected paedophile away from the original scene of the
crime for fear of ensuing scandal and the backlash clearly has long antecedents."
Normality of denial of atrocity: The denial of Latin American dictators
regarding their violence against citizens and the "disappeared" provides
another example [more].
Denial of racism provides another, as documented by Paul Street (Those
Who Deny the Crimes of the Past Reflections on American Racist Atrocity Denial,
1776-2004). More successfully studied, notably by Noam Chomsky, is
the denial by the US government of its role in Central America and especially
in Nicaragua [more
| more]. He argues that the
media and the intellectual classes in general facilitate denial systematically,
notably with the idea of American exceptionalism, of benevolence occasionally
gone astray, wiping out the parts of history that are unpleasant, celebrating
magnificent achievements often on the basis of false accounts [more].
He relates that to the war against Iraq [more].
George Monbiot argues that the USA is ignoring its own role in stifling global
empire of denial, The Guardian, 1 June 2004). Stanley Cohen's
of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, 2001) is based on
hundreds of theoretical references in sociology and psychology, woven together
with both private and public experience of how "the past comes back to haunt
you". Looking at the perpetrators of atrocities -- from Nazi Germany to apartheid
South Africa via the years of military dictatorship in South America -- he notes
"the unedifying ways in which most people comply with authority". Denial of
responsibility inevitably follows one of four paths: obedience to superiors,
conformity with society, necessity or splitting of the personality. He believes
that denial is the normal state of affairs, and that what he calls "the Oxfam/Amnesty
view", in which the outsider is asked to take action, is the exception.
Exceptionalism: A common form of denial -- exceptionalism -- is to acknowledge
specific incidents where evidence is undeniable, but to argue that these are
completely isolated and exceptional. It is their representation of a systemic
pattern of abuse which is then denied. Curiously such arguments are similar
whether it is a matter of sexual abuse by priests or inhumane treatment by interrogators.
The process of damage limitation is then characterized by definitional game-playing,
category manipulation and conceptual gerrymandering (Category
Manipulation in Global Dialogue, 2000). The interesting question is
how to determine the number of perpetrators that should be considered "small"
and acting "in isolation" in contrast with a small number acting in
consort, as the agents of a larger system -- as with any special task force
(whether a Delta Force, a group of astronauts, or a military intelligence unit).
Justification for suppression of information for "national security"
reasons then bears striking resemblance to the cover-up processes in relationship
to sexual abuse by priests. The institutional "security" response
is considered of higher importance, to protect the collective mission, rather
than to remedy any wrong-doing (or address its systemic implications).
Case of Donald Rumsfeld: These forms of denial were dramatically evident
in the extensive testimony of Donald Rumsfeld to the US Senate (7th May 2004),
in the company of his military subordinates, regarding the widely-publicized
photographs of abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Rumsfeld's defence against accusations
of cover-up was that:
(a) highly proper internal investigations had been undertaken from January
2004, when the abuses were first reported (despite the abuses having been
reported to the US authorities months previously by the International Committee
of the Red Cross-ICRC and subsequently declared to be "tantamount to
(b) it would have been extremely demoralizating and dangerous for US military,
faced with an intense combat situation, to be exposed to the scandalous and
the totally unprecedented conduct of a very small group of their colleagues
(irrespective of the "demoralizing" effects of such abuse on the
victims and their families, or the early precedent of My
Lai with its effects on the conduct of the Vietnam war);
(c) he had only seen the photographs on the previous day and it was only
on viewing those photographs -- it's the pictures, stupid ?! -- that
he had appreciated the significance that had not been adequately carried by
confidential textual reports to which he had not had access (despite the fact
that the photos had been available in January 2004, the nature of the abuse
had been adequately described in such early text reports, and he was US Secretary
(d) the 6 or 7 alleged perpetrators represented an extremely small proportion
of the fine and honourable military forces active in Iraq in promoting American
values for the benefit of the Iraqi people (despite his assertion that in
any one year there were 18,000 ongoing criminal investigations of US military
personnel and the Iraqi people were far from being universally appreciative
of the US military's conduct);
(e) he could not properly have sought access to the photographs and other
evidence, whatever their significance, in order to avoid any accusation of
improper interference in military justice that might prejudice the defence
of the accused (irrespective of the systemic violence possibly underway against
other prisoners, then and subsequently);
(f) the chain of command and information was such that highly significant
information available to US military intelligence did not necessarily, or
immediately, pass up that chain to the highest levels at which military strategy
was defined (despite the unprecedented investment in sophisticated communication
and intepretative systems, and the motivation of intelligence services to
compensate for the "intelligence failure" of the coalition in relation
(g) it was not possible for him to determine, nor proper for him to seek
to determine, amongst 18,000 ongoing investigations against US military personnel,
those that might be of strategic significance in the conduct of operations
in Iraq (despite the fact that any measures against suspects to ensure the
success of such operations could well be undertaken in defiance of the Geneva
Convention, as he had first indicated in policy statements in January 2002
Using valued institutional processes as camouflage: Rumsfeld was thus
able to use the sub-judice argument both to justify non-disclosure of
information to the US Senate and House of Congress and to justify his own lack
of awareness of the significance of the photographs -- whilst simultaneously
claiming that timely investigative and corrective procedures had been undertaken.
Following this logic, had prisoners been systematically killed or gassed in
large numbers in Iraqi prisons, Rumsfeld's focus would have been on not releasing
(or becoming aware of) the information to avoid prejudicing the trial of those
who might have been falsely accused of responsibility in the matter. Furthermore,
in declaring that there were other "more awful" photos and videos
-- of a "sadistic, cruel and inhuman" nature -- yet to be released regarding
the particular incident, he avoided responding to questions as to whether equally
unexpected evidence might later surface regarding other forms of (possibly systemic)
abuse within the military "on his watch". Like paedophile networks,
Rumsfeld's Pentagon has its secret database of "dirty pictures" for
the private perusal of military intelligence. Subsequent to the hearing, release
of the pictures was blocked -- unsurprisingly because, once again, they might
prejudice the trial of those who had taken them.
|"It's the pictures, stupid!?"
"It is the photographs that gives one the vivid realization
of what actually took place...Words don't do it. The words that there
were abuses, that it was cruel, that it was inhumane, all of which is
true, that it was blatant, you read that and it's one thing. You see the
photographs, and you get a sense of it, and you cannot help but be outraged."
Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence, 7 May 2004 [more]
What other challenges and possibilities go officially
unrecognized, and denied,
because they are only described in text ?
Depths of denial: How awful can Rumsfeld's "more awful" be?
Was it the scale -- gas chamber style? Using animals to rape women -- or perhaps
men with AIDS? Live snakes in orifices -- or live rats forced into the stomach?
Submersion in pig-shit -- or its forced consumption? Ripping off limbs -- drawing
and quartering? Impaling? Burning alive? Where did the good Christian soldiers
-- defending Christian American values -- get their inspiration? From the biblical
"Sodom and Gomorrah" -- ironically thought to be sited in Iraq -- and consonant
with the sexual acts between Christian soldiers appearing in the photos? From
Hollywood movies about slimy "aliens"? From the Inquisition? From
experimentation on humans exemplified by Dr
Joseph Mengele of Auschwitz -- and followed in the USA and the UK by biochemical
experiments on soldiers and prisoners? From "snuff" and S&M videos
on the American market? Or from American allies -- such as Abdurrashid Dostum
-- whose massacre at Mazar-el-Sharif was covered up? [more]
Or from a "culture of violence" exemplified by hazing practices cultivated
and tolerated in every American institution -- as argued by Susan Sontag (What
have we done?, 2004)? Or by widely sanctioned, routine mistreatment,
practiced in American prisons [more]
-- exemplified by the curious fact that the man responsible for directing the
re-opening of the Abu Ghraib prison after the US invaded Iraq, and for training
the guards, was Lane McCotter of Utah, who was selected for the job by none
other than Attorney General John Ashcroft (a born-again Christian, like George
Bush) -- after an inmate had died "on his watch" while shackled to
a restraining chair in a Utah prison [more].
Abuse of unchallengable authority: Rumsfeld's declarations, made under
oath, were necessarily to be accepted at face value -- despite a long history
of assertions by him regarding the existence of WMD in Iraq. He is fully supported
by President Bush and by up to 70% of the American population !. Similarly Tony
Blair declared himself to be equally supportive of his Minister of Defence --
with both claiming (on 10 May 2004) that they had not been aware of abuses reported,
on several occasions, to both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office,
by Amnesty International during 2003, and had not needed to be informed [more].
"I instruct you not to report to me anything about which I might wish to
do nothing?" Tony Blair then admitted that he had not read the report of
the ICRC after the public release of the photos. Shakespeare's Pompey once again?
Pompey's reply to Menas on being informed that the throats
of his guests, Caesar and his companions, could now be safely cut:
"Ah this thou shouldst have done,
And not spoke on't! In me 'tis villainy;
In thee 't had been good service. Being done unknown,
I should have found it afterwards well done,
But must condemn it now"
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra
as quoted by Paul Rayment, Former Director of Economic Analysis, UN/ECE,
Financial Times, 15 May 2004
Subsequent to Rumsfeld's testimony, however, Seymour Hersh (The
Gray Zone: How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib, New
Yorker, 24 May 2004) demonstrates the nature of the ultra-secret, "black"
Special Access Program (SAP) which would necessarily have obliged Rumsfeld to
omit any reference at the public hearings to knowledge he had with regard to
procedures put in place to ensure "special access" to those in whom
the USA perceived a need to be interested for reasons of "national security".
According to Hersh's informants, all the so-called "black" programs under Rumsfeld's
authority had one element in common: the Secretary of Defense, or his deputy,
had to conclude that the normal military classification restraints did not provide
enough security. Constrained by such deep secrecy, what price perjury and democracy?
How naive is it necessary to be to assume that those constrained in this way,
within what they themselves define as a "black" (or covert) world,
act in the interests of "national security" as others in the "white"
(or overt) world might hope it to be understood? Or might they -- as the "heart
of darkness" of "democracy" and camouflaged by its values --
be cold-bloodedly prepared to sacrifice any "white" value in the pursuit
of values defined only by themselves? The possibility has of course been extensively
explored by Hollywood movies. What is the probability that those in the "black"
world had more to do with 9/11 than they would wish to be known in advancing
their strategic interests -- a theme explored by conspiracy theorists? Is it
a case of: "The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing
it." (Joseph Mengele, Auschwitz)?
In relation to the current crisis, the "heart of darkness" theme
has been explored by Jack Dalton (America's
Heart of Darkness, Al-Jazeerah, 21 May 2004), citing Nietsche: "Whoever
fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."
Others have used the theme in analyzing the US abuse of prisoners [more
| more] and, as
might be expected, in efforts to demonize those opposed to the USA [more
| more |
more]. The theme
has also been used to characterize the technocratic mindset within the USA from
which new weapons of mass destruction are now emerging [more].
As noted by Paul Rayment in his reference above to Pompey: "Those directly
involved in the violation of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq will presumably
be court-martialed or otherwise dealt with. The really difficult problem is
dealing with the Pompey's of this world." The challenge of who controls
the guardians of democracy has notably been explored by Patrick J. Garrity ("Sed
quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?" The Quadrennial Defense Review Tries to
be All Things for All People, 1997), citing Juvenal's Qui custodiet
custodies? Is pleading ignorance a valid defence? Either leaders should
resign for incompetence in failing to demand that they be kept informed of vital
information; or their senior advisers should be forced to resign for failing
in their duty to ensure their leaders received it.
Displacement of concern: Typical of denial, Rumsfeld's major regret
was not the abuse by those under his command but rather the illegal disclosure
of the photos and of the military's report by General Taguba
about the allegations [more]
-- contrary to the military and judicial rules of confidentiality under Rumsfeld's
command (which had created the organizational culture actively encouraging those
abuses by military intelligence) [more].
In response, the Army Times in the USA has stated: "This was not
just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure
that ran straight to the top." This has been expressed in other terms by
Sidney Blumenthal (The
Bush orthodoxy is in shreds, The Guardian, 27 May 2004): "...everyone
in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiralling upwards
and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow
As indicated by Rosa Ehrenreich Brooks, formerly a senior adviser on human
rights to the US State Department: (see Suzanne Goldenberg. US
forces were taught torture techniques, 2004):
"The attitude that was communicated started from the highest levels and was
sent on down the chain. It created an overall climate in which adversaries
were dehumanised, the distinction between suspect and known perpetrator was
effaced, and the overall message was that international law or domestic niceties
get in the way of doing quote 'what we had to do'...When that is the message
from the top it enables all sorts of bad behaviour."
Outrage against abuse, as noted by Norman Solomon (The
Coming Backlash Against Outrage), is reframed as worse than the abuse
itself as notably exemplified at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee
(11 May 2004) by Republican Senator James Inhofe: "As I watch this outrage -
this outrage everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners -
I have to say ... I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more
outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment"
Religious parallel, "evil" -- and "exorcism"?: Subsequent
to the release of the photos, widespread evidence from a variety of sources,
emerged to indicate the systemic nature of such abuse under military direction
on the behalf of the coalition governments claiming to represent the highest
values of civilization. The parallels with the pattern of denial of sexual abuse
by the priesthood within the Catholic church are striking -- especially given
the evidence of sexual abuse of boys by coalition soldiers.
Such issues are consonant with the extraordinary recognition accorded to "evil"
in modern times by the Bush and Blair administrations inspired by Christian
fundamentalists -- as the "Axis of Good" (rather than as an "Axis
of Shame") [more].
Such perceptions have even be embodied in the attitudes of the highest military
commanders, as with General William Boykin, US deputy undersecretary of defence
for intelligence, who has been widely quoted as declaring that the so-called
war on terrorism was a Christian struggle against Satan [more].
How do such views get embodied in the attitudes of common soldiers and "special
forces" -- perhaps deliberately encouraged to believe in their role as
Christian "crusaders"? Would it not then be imperative within their
logical framework to establish some kind of "International School of Exorcism"
to improve professional resources for processing terrorists possessed by such
Might this not benefit from the insights of the Pope's recent De Exorcismis
et supplicationibus quibusdam? [more]
Should the Western Hemisphere
Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas)
now be seen as a modern equivalent of such a school [more
How should the techniques it prescribes, as described in the classified US Army
Field Manual 30-15: Intelligence Interrogations (Section II: Use of
Force), as referenced in Physical Interrogation Techniques (Richard
Krousher, 1985) and noted by John Sutherland (Guardian, 21 January 2002),
be adapted to this end [more;
more] ? In
the light of the declassification of such manuals in 1996, and the revelation
that they promoted executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion
[more], how might such methods be distinguished
from "torture" -- declared by the US to be contrary to government
policy, as outlined in Intelligence
Interrogations (FM 34-52, 1987), despite the experience of the encroached-upon
to the contrary? Given reports of use by military interrogators of a battery
of 50-odd special "coercive techniques" at Guantanamo Bay, how are
such denials to be reconciled with reports of training in the UK for British
and American "special forces" in techniques of "resistance to
interrogation " (RTI) and "tactical questioning" (TQ) -- subsequently
adapted by those so trained to their own interrogation of Iraqi prisoners? [more]
This could be a brilliant technique for "not-training" competent torturers.
Given their use in military intelligence, could Donald Rumsfeld also successfully
claim ignorance of them in order to avoid any accusation of improper interference
in such "judicial investigation" processes?
Given the perception by Islamic fundamentalists of the "satanic"
nature of the USA, is it any wonder that al-Qaida training camps might well
be perceived as their own form of "schools of exorcism" through which
"evil", as they understand it, is to be excised from society with
any appropriate means?
Nazi parallel: The extremely delicate issue for the coalition forces,
and for the US government in particular, is the manner of their rebuttal of
any comparison with Nazi practices. Despite widespread evidence regarding systematic
mistreatment of prisoners in the USA [more],
for example, or a pattern of officially sanctioned/tolerated/condoned (?) abuse
(and deaths) in British military training camps [more],
or killing of prisoners and civilians (see Kamil Mahdi. Let's
face up to it -- we are torturers too. Guardian, 1 June 2004,
and the confirmation by Gerry Adams. I
have been in torture photos, too. Guardian, 5 June 2004 of the
horrific detailed description of personal experience from 1972 of systematic
abuse at the hands of UK security services). Curious the contrast with the self-perception
of those at West Point ("fortress of virtue, preserve of the nation's values")
and Sandhurst as being the prime defenders of western values [more].
Curious too that Gerry Adams, formerly labelled as a terrorist by the UK (now
president of Sinn Fein and member of the UK parliament for Belfast West), should
have been courted and feted in the USA by conservatives, then and now [more
Much is made of the vital distinction between abuse against detainees as "acts
by isolated individuals" and systemic abuse as "an instrument of official
government policy". If it is demonstrated, following disclosures by Hersh
and others, that it has indeed been government policy to engage in abuse (and
torture, possibly leading to death) against those in detention, the US government
will then be subject to condemnation on its own terms. Pleas of ignorance from
the highest levels of the chain of command would then raise issues of a deliberate
policy -- consistent with the SAP precedents -- to ensure deniable culpability.
Reporting on the testimony of Jean
Améry (At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor of Auschwitz
and Its Realities, 1980), a victim of Nazi torture, Michael Ignatieff (Evil
under interrogation. Financial Times, 15 May 2004) states:
Améry also insisted that torture should be viewed not in individual
terms as the psychosexual aberattion of particular torturers but as a key
to the identity of the society responsibility for it. He argued that torture
was not an incidental feature of the Third Reich but the essence of its view
of human bings....For torture, when committed by a state, expresses the state's
ultimate view that human beings are expendable. This vew is antithetical to
the spirit of any constitutional society whose raison d'être is the
control of violence and coercion in the name of human dignity and freedom.
The additional twist in relation to the Nazi chain of command, as it emerged
at the Nuremberg trials
and the subsequent trial of Adolf
Eichmann, was the question of obedience to orders within the chain of command.
This is a plea already made by operatives associated with the Iraqi prison abuse
photos -- claiming to be under orders from the US military intelligence hierarchy
(seeking to obtain shameful photos through which to blackmail victims into betraying
those in their community). This is confirmed by the report of the ICRC: "In
certain cases, such as in Abu Ghraib military intelligence section, methods
of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to
be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel
to obtain confessions and extract information" [more].
The ICRC claimed that it had repeatedly made known its concerns to coalition
Use of proxies -- "it wasn't us !": A modern twist is already
emerging in that for-profit contractors to the military -- involving many former
members of the armed forces -- have been providing services to the military
in Iraq, notably in locations where abuses are now being documented. If the
contract only specifies "assistance in eliciting information" then
the contracting military force can deny any responsibility for the pattern of
abuse by their contractors associated with obtaining that information. Like
any international nongovernmental organization (NGO), the contracting "nongovernmental"
multinational corporation (whether headquartered in the USA or not) is then
not accountable under international law with regard to the action of its "nongovernmental
operatives" (NGOs?) -- a strategic contribution by the US government to
undermining the embarrassing role of human rights NGOs in reporting abuses by
the USA. Interestingly, through this approach of the US government, international
mercenary organizations are being positioned as the "shadow" of humanitarian
NGOs -- perhaps to be considered consistent with the traditional US position
in relation to militias and the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment
to the US Constitution (Arming
Civil Society Worldwide: Getting democracy to work in the emergent American
When regime change is finally achieved in the USA, will the human rights and
other abuses of the Bush regime (including Guantanamo Bay) be labelled, like
the abuses in Iraqi prisons, as the acts of "a few irresponsible elements"
not representative of "the true nature and heart of America" -- to
use Bush's words? The complicity of the majority will then be denied -- despite
the evidence to the contrary from the opinion polls prior to regime change.
Control of the media: The processes of collective denial have been further
exemplified by the treatment in the USA of the documentary by Michael
Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11), awarded the Palme d'Or at the 2004
Cannes Film festival. Distribution of the film, which explores the relationship
between the Bush family and the royal family of Saudi Arabia, has been blocked
by Disney, allegedly due to pressures on the corporation [more
| more | more].
Moore had previously been responsible for the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling
for Columbine that explored the gun-culture of the USA, and its support
by the National Rifle
Association that is proud to have the "ear of the President".
In this case considerable pressures operate to sustain a pattern of denial,
possibly lasting decades. A prime factor is the shame associated with the process
of "possession" and the impact of any revelations on the person's
career or relationships. This may be compounded by the lack of access to a protest
procedure in which they have confidence. In the case of collectivities such
denial manifests in the widespread pattern of cover-up of "dirty secrets"
characteristic of classification of documents in the interests of "national
security", for example. In both cases financial or other rewards may be
offered to sustain the pattern of silence.
The process of encroachment, and the denial relating to any catastrophic consequences,
is used as a major distraction from the larger picture that errorism fails to
Weapons of Mass Distraction vs Distractive Weapons of Mass Destruction,
2003). In the general case it is the denial of the devastation of the planet
and its peoples that is associated with the dominant mindsets and policies.
This might usefully be termed "terraism" (see War
against Terra, 2002).
In seeking to transcend the polarized, "Us or Them", binary
thinking promoted by errorists and terrorists alike, "terraism"
might be fruitfully reframed in terms of its inherent strategic dilemmas:
- As planetary aggression: In this case terraism might be understood
as that form of "errorism" that does violence to the planet and
its peoples -- through an effectively unconstrained pattern of exploitative
"awful" terrorism against the bio-physical and psycho-social environments
that appears, paradoxically, to be essential to human survival
- As planetary harmony: In this case terraism might be understood as
that mode of action and thinking that engenders harmonious relationships that
are the challenges of sustainable development, despite the "errorism"
to which the initiatives of any developers are subject -- terraism then to
be understood as the honourable, "awe-full" fear for the future
of the planet, of its peoples, and for the harsh judgement of the future (Is
God a Terrorist: Definitional game-playing by the Coalition of the Willing?,
The challenge, recalling the insight of Chuang Tzu (above), is how to embody
both perspectives in a more comprehensive mode of understanding -- free from
demonization -- in which the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective are
George Bush and Osama bin Laden have together done a great job in enabling
the world to see the challenges in another light -- and with a greater sense
of authenticity (see Evoking
Authenticity: through polyhedral global configuration of local paradoxes,
2003) than prevailed before their intervention.
"Errorism" is best understood through the processes of encroachment.
As such it tends to be action taken by the powerful, or who derive their power
from respectability and moral superiority -- perhaps enhanced by charm or spiritual
authority that brooks no criticism. This serves as camouflage for the "twisted"
perspective of the encroacher through which the relatively innocent encroached-upon
is "turned" and their will suborned. It is when the trap of encroachment
is sprung that the encroached-upon may revolt violently and "unreasonably"
against their oppression, possession or occupation. Such violence is claimed
by the encroacher to be completely unprovoked.
There is a degree of equivalence between the different forms of encroachment
identified here. Encroachment may be understood as a strategic mindset that
is most appreciated individually in the courtship process. It is perhaps
least appreciated in individual sexual harassment and abuse -- perhaps best
described as a pathological form of the courtship process. Encroachment does
indeed have acceptable forms in the case of product and service marketing --
although here too many questions are raised regarding their pathological forms
-- as with any process of negotiation (see Getting
to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, 1991). Any courtship
process might indeed be seen as a process of, possibly mutual, encroachment
-- through which the other is progressively "enmeshed" without being
conscious of any "point of no return". The argument of this paper,
given the nature of its conclusion, might be considered an example of "memetic
It is in this context that it is useful to examine the case of territorial
encroachment (especially, as discussed in the Annex
to this paper, in the light of the potential of conceptual
violence and spiritual
violence intrinsic to modern interrogation). To what extent should it be
understood as systemically equivalent, in its pathological forms, to the "terror"
- Sexual harassment especially when territorial encroachment is deployed against
another culture susceptible to destructive and uncaring penetration?
- Child abuse especially when territorial encroachment is deployed against
those of lesser privilege and with more limited resources?
- Interrogation techniques as territorial encroachment applied by both dictators
and the "forces of freedom" of modern civilization?
Beyond these apparently distinct questions is the challenge of the way in which
they may be perversely intertwined at a deeply fundamental level involving twisted
understandings of the role of women (America
as Eve-ill Empire: Evocation of Authenticity Elsewhere, 2003) to the
dismay of feminists (Susan Sontag. What
have we done?, 2004). This is perhaps epitomized by the widely publicized
photograph of a young female operative abusing Iraqi prisoners for sadistic
pleasure (Joanna Bourke. Torture
as Pornography, 2004), and much more subtly in the role of those at
the highest level who may seek deliberately to take advantage of such contexts
(The "Dark Riders"
of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring, 2002).
There is a strong case for recognizing democracy's "heart of darkness"
within which dubious entities slither -- camouflaged by the values of political
and religious rhetoric.
How to reconcile the USA's self-acclaimed role of purveyor of the values of
civilization with its acknowledged role as a source of sex-related spam (made
accessible to every e-mail user around the world) and of pornography (made accessible
in every room of its most distinguished hotels). At this time, there is an extremely
cynical irony to accompanying the release of the photos with the archaic symbolism
of despatching US "virgins" to the UK to promote sexual purity with
the "sacrifice" of abstinence -- a Christian fundamentalist programme
supported by US government funding [more
Given the cultural lead taken in the USA in body piercing, with its paradoxical
relationship to self-torture, there is even further irony at this time in the
name of the group as the Silver
Ring Thing, especially given the continuing use of "chastity rings"
as sexual restraints and sex toys.
To what extent is encroachment on other cultures, notably as practiced through
western hegemony, to be understood as having similarities to the process of
"grooming" -- under the guise of repeated reference to the civilizing
values of "liberation", "democracy", and "justice"?
Might these processess now be a feature of "psychological
operations" and "memetic
warfare"? Or should the challenge of giving authentic expression to
those values indeed be recognized as one of seeing through the language of what
is effectively an "alien" political leadership of human civilization
-- vigorously engaged in memetic manipulation in favour of its understanding
of values, noted above as xinth, kloor and sdrar? (see
with Aliens: the Psychological Dimension of Dialogue, 2000).
Do the eccentric beliefs of some conspiracy theorists regarding takeover of
human civilization by "aliens" (or by "satanic forces" in
the view of some fundamentalists) constitute a distorted recognition of the
insidious, encroaching corruption of human institutions -- exemplified by the
tragic betrayal of a duty of care for their pupils by some religious orders,
under the spiritual patronage of a 17th century protector of paedophiles? As
with those protecting paedophiles in some institutions, will those covering
up torture and abuse in others simply be honoured, promoted -- or transferred
to other duties?
Are the new and looser "standards of proof" elaborated in response
to terrorism to be applied to other forms of encroachment -- to protect the
encroacher as much as the encroached-upon? Of relevance to the concern expressed
about the encroachment by democracy's "heart of darkness", Michael
under interrogation. Financial Times, 15 May 2004) concludes:
Terrorists seek to strip off the mask of law to reveal the nihilist heart
of coercion within, and we have to show ourselves and the populations whose
loyalty we seek that the rule of law is not a mask but the true image of our
The "heart of darkness" of western imperialism has been explored
in the much studied novel by Joseph Conrad (Heart
of Darkness, 1899; also film versions) neatly contrasting early dreams
-- perhaps now to be interpreted as the democratic values to which people are
so vigorously encouraged to aspire -- with the reality of the subsequent experience:
"At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one
that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would
put my finger on it and say, "When I grow up I will go there. . . True, by
this time it was not a blank space any more. It had got filled in since my
boyhood with rivers and lakes and names. It had ceased to be a blank space
of delightful mystery -- a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over.
It had become a place of darkness."
Conrad is noted for the statement: "The Terrorist and the Policemen both come
from the same basket" (The Secret Agent, 1907) -- as remarked by
Sampson in connection with the current crisis (To
Defeat Terrorists their Grievances must also be Addressed, 2001). In
Conrad's novel the concept of darkness is applied to conquered territories whose
inhabitants (often of darker skin) are exploited by colonialists whose encroachment
on other parts of the world is no more noble than other types of violence and
thievery. On the map, places that are blank and devoid of outside interference
are apparently the most desirable. [more]
Finally, as a projection into space of this pioneering encroachment by human
settlers and entrepreneurs into the lands of others, should the mindset of the
famous motto of the Starship Enterprise be more appropriately understood
through sexual euphemism as:
To Boldly Breed Where None have Bred Before?
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