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psychology of dissent

Yeah that's the trouble Lumpentroll: Fanonian standing-up is well enough documented as psychological liberation, but only when there's enough social movement (or dispersed individual) power to overcome the fear of the powerful while still achieving real effects. Compare James Scott's discussion of "charismatic" moments (in Domination and the Arts of Resistance), and Freire's "cultures of silence". Transforming consciousness from some kind of happy-consciousness just-world-fallacy or therapeutic self-management of distress, to a ruptural consciousness in which the system is an adversary, only feels empowering when there's effective forms of agency to sustain the sense of power; otherwise it's immiserating, even though it's basically true (and this is one of the trajectories of recuperation for anarchists: people feel disempowered, burn-out, then gradually give up the distressing consciousness and tone it down into reformism). I think lumpentroll's comment is directed more at anarchists who want the standing-up without the power to act, but there's also a problem that therapeutic models (Judith Herman's for example) want the psychological effect of breaking the culture of silence without actually rupturing the dominant order or exercising counter-power. This only works if the silencing is radically localised and its structural aspects either don't exist or are denied, e.g. if it's a case of exposing or avenging oneself on an individual abuser. Similarly with the whole therapeutic release thing, taking out the anger on a pillow or whatever... it makes sense if the anger is directed against something that's imaginary or that's completely in the past, but not so much when it's a present structure and someone's re-encountering the source of anger over and over.

Lumpentroll, the general gist of your comments gives me the impression of a melancholic pattern: at some point you stood up and broke the culture of silence, but then you were defeated or lost your movement or accomplices, and the whole rebellious impulse turned inward, against yourself and other anarchists. You don't seem to have much hope that it's actually possible to rebel and succeed, to exercise power, but you haven't made your peace with the system either. Probably you're getting some kind of unconscious satisfaction "trolling" other anarchists and bursting people's idealistic bubbles, because they also used to be your own idealistic bubbles except at the time you felt them as real sources of empowerment (and feel free to swear at me if I'm way off here).

"Nothing "prevents" people from struggling, other than fear, cowardice, apathy, and other pathos rooted in servile minds (like yours)."... straight Stirner/Nietzsche but also not quite true IMO. For one thing, fear, cowardice, apathy and the rest are psychodynamic effects arising from particular conditions; they can't necessarily be overcome through will. They're only overcome through will when there's a correspondingly strong affirmative force juxtaposed to the terrorising ones. And also, in order to struggle, one needs to identify an enemy, find effective ways to attack it which aren't futile or suicidal (unless that's part of what you're looking for), etc. There's a lot of weird stuff can fuck things up... not only an unconscious superego that's still saying you shouldn't revolt (or that you're never revolting hard enough), but questions of whether you're getting enough pleasure or fulfilment to sustain the energy to revolt, and ego self-preservation instincts kicking in involuntarily. Revolt is sustained by flow-state, but there's a lot of things can disrupt a viable flow-state: the mere existence of prisons etc won't, but if the repression effectively interrupts every flow before it gets anywhere, or you're experiencing a lot of brutality with no real successes or pleasures, this will rupture the flow.

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