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Reading true-crime stories (yes, one of my secret vices), I’m repeatedly struck by the way victims are often complicit in the horrors committed against them.

I’m not talking about the woman who takes a strange man home from a bar or the family that fails to lock its doors when a burglar is on the loose (though them, too). I’m talking about victims who feel personal loyalty to “friends,” relations, leaders, and professionals who are doing them obvious harm.

I’m talking about patients who stand by a quack doctor even though she’s obviously killing them to get their money and possessions. (She killed many more).

Or the followers of a preacher who’s degrading and controlling them for his own sick benefit. Jeffs. Jones. Creffield. The horror stories go back at least to the middle ages and more likely to the dawn of human time.

I’m talking about people who repeatedly believe obvious, manipulative sociopathic liars. (The link is to a Joseph Wambaugh book that details one of the creepiest examples of manipulation and self-deception I’ve ever read about. But obviously it’s just one example of thousands.)

Or those who are being abused by a family family member and not only won’t leave, but stick up for and serve the abuser, even to the point where said brute finally and fatally discards them.

Or those who, under the influence of abusers and manipulators, become horrific criminals themselves, committing acts they never would have dreamed of before being captured in the orbit of a Manson or a Bernardo.


I know that some of this behavior is “understood” by psychologists — if being understood means it’s been studied and analyzed. Stockholm syndrome. Brainwashing techniques. Prey on the vulnerable. Isolate them. Control everything about their environment. Feed them very little and that mostly crap. Tell them they’re bad (sinful, sick, stupid, weak, fat, ugly) and that you and you alone can save them from themselves. Pressure them gradually into committing acts that violate their morality … and you’ve got them.

I know there are sometimes good reasons people don’t just up and leave; e.g. abused family members are most likely to be murdered once they try, or even seriously threaten, to get out. I don’t think most seemingly willing victims deserve as much blame as we sometimes heap on them — at least not until/unless they become perpetrators themselves.

But can anybody who hasn’t been through it actually understand it? And, I wonder, can even most of those who have endured and survived understand it? Don’t their own psychological vulnerabilities (and the sheer human tendency to go on making excuses for our own behavior) usually prevent surviving victims from fully seeing their part in the disaster? How many victims of crazy preachers turn right around and look for some other wild, dominating church? How many men and women keep falling into the same sick relationships?

A mild version of this willing victimhood happened in my own family, as I’ve mentioned before. Two people being swindled refused even to look at documentation of the swindle solely because they had always trusted the crook, had less trust for the accusers, and did not want to change their minds. I long ago made peace with the fact that this crazy willing victimhood did happen. But understand it? Never. Decades later, it still seems surreal and incomprehensible.


Which brings us to politics. I’m far from the first person to note that living under bad government (yes, okay, that ultimately means all government, though some are still one hell of a lot worse than others) is like living with an abuser. And that’s true right down to all the excuses people make for the abusers. All the support people give to those who harm them. All the irrational belief that the abuser knows all, can achieve all, should be respected and followed. Especially all the false hopes that if we just change our behavior (that is, our v*te, our activism, our contributions), everything will eventually get better. “We,” meaning most supposedly adult v*ters display all the symptoms of willing victims– even as matters get worse and worse.

Some people blame those who still have hopes for “the system.” And absolutely, each of us is 100% responsible for his or her own actions. But we did not create the governmental abuser.

We were isolated from childhood — in government schools, in a culture that constantly told us we were in the freest and best nation on earth and that we owed absolute loyalty to the government that provided us with that freedom. We were controlled. We ate only the food and used only the substances our abuser approved (or faced punishment for doing otherwise). We’re constantly told our leaders know best and that in fact we’re so stupid (or so dangerous) that we’re not even entitled to know the information on which said leaders are basing their decisions. “Our” leaders send millions of our fellow citizens off to obey any dictates of its whims, even if those dictates violate their own good judgment and moral code.

I could go on. The whole system is designed for submission and abuse. That’s obvious to anybody who finally dares step outside of it and get a clear look. But stepping outside the abusive system alone does not end the abuser. And staying inside the system for protection or out of hope does not make people evil or give them primary responsibility for the abuse. Yes, we are all responsible for our own actions. Yes, it’s good that millions are finally recognizing how rotten the system is and are trying, in one way or another, to flee it or bring it down.

But the abuse exists aside from any hopeful little individual v*tes we cast or campaign signs we hammer into our lawns or false hopes we hold in our hearts.


Which brings us to Donald Trump. The man who, with the help of millions of hopeful little v*ters, is kicking the establishment in its self-satisfied backside.

That the establishment is being kicked is great, of course. It’s a wonderful, flamboyant show, better than pro wrestling.

But …

What scares me is that there are people out there — freedomistas who really ought to know better — who think because Trump is kicking bad-guy ass that somehow makes him a good guy, even a guy good enough to deserve support from libertarians and other freemarketeers.

I give you the hair-raisingly sickening (though also astonishingly thin) arguments of Walter Block. Like Joel, from whom I stole the link, I can scarcely bring myself to read through Block’s absurdities. It’s impossible, prima facie, that a politician who wants to build a wall on the border, force private companies to betray their customers for the benefit of government snoops, and use every cronyist government benefit he can (eminent domain, anyone?) deserves freedomista support. And that’s without even delving into his ever-shifting policies on guns and other issues. Not to mention that Trump’s an autocratic egomaniac who has no idea what he’s doing (that description fits nearly every presidential politician, even if most hide it better).

Should Trump become president (which I doubt, but you never know), I’d be tempted to say, “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.” But that’s not quite true. Trump is the kind of boss people get when they’re desperate for saviors. When they uncritically fall for any preacher-profit-rebel-leader who promises salvation. The kind who, because of the acclaim stroking his ego, feels entitled to rule by charisma and diktat alone. He’s one who rises out of chaos, presides over chaos, creates further chaos, then demands Order, Order, Order to resolve the chaos. Trump’s nothing really new and unusual. Trump’s just the type of “leader” who takes advantage of moments like this.


When you live long enough or read enough history, you realize that once in a while the peasants demand “change” and are treated to a hearty show of it. But the abusive establishment always reasserts itself. And in part that’s able to happen because the “savior” people look to turns out worse than the merely corrupt, tired, boring, predictable establishment he claimed to oppose.

The establishment returns and — until some critical mass is achieved at some later date — and when the establishment returns, it cracks down. Oh, it may hand out a few benefits, but in the long-run, it toughens it’s control. The peasants got uppity, you see. “We” challenged their rule. “We” tried to assert ourselves, however wrongheadedly. “We” must be put in our place. “We” must be shown the error of our ways.

No matter who triumphs in November: Meet the new furiously florid face of the abuser; ultimately much worse than the old face.

Of course, all this ultimately leads to more people seeing that face for what it really is. Not the visage of kindly Uncle Sam, not the philosophical face of some wise and mythical government of the free. But the eye-bulging mien of every maniacal preacher, the red face of every reeling drunken father wielding a belt, the falsely smiling face of every conniving con artist milking her victims for all she can before killing them.

It’s healthy to recognize the reality, of course. But trying to leave the abuser presents a whole new level of danger.

And for the one or two of you who don’t already know it, v*ting for Donald Trump isn’t even making a sincere attempt to leave the abuser. It’s just v*ting for a different kind of abuse.


  1. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair March 19, 2016 4:24 am

    The one thing Trump has going for him, though I don’t know this for sure, is that he isn’t (yet) owned by the bankers who own nearly everyone else in DC (and every other country in the world with a central bank, meaning everywhere but a few soon-to-be-conquered Arab nations).

    He’ll be read the bankers’ riot act, and will agree to comply or will be drummed out of the GOP convention much as Ron Paul was. Or, if he’s too popular for that, they’ll kill him.

    Not that I’d WANT him for president. Horrible policy proposals. Fortunately, most of his ideas would never get congressional support.

    But then, I don’t want ANY president. One person leading 330 million is absurd. One person “representing” 600,000 is absurd.

  2. RickB
    RickB March 19, 2016 4:28 am

    The logical fallacy in Block’s article that most startled me was the appeal to Rockwell and Rothbard. If they are (were) political junkies then it’s OK for all “libertarians.”

    Politics is the opiate of the masses. Or one of them.

    I gave up voting decades ago. I find prayer much more effective.

    “May God bless and keep the Czar…far away from us!”

  3. s
    s March 19, 2016 5:40 am

    The logical fallacy by Block is simpler: Rockwell is a political junky, but he doesn’t vote. He advises others not to vote.

    Unlike Block, Rockwell is “puncturing their balloons, and translating their propaganda into plain language.”

  4. s
    s March 19, 2016 6:01 am

    Yes, Trump is a horrible candidate, absolutely terrible and terrifying, except when compared to all the others.

    I won’t be joining Walter Block, but I respect him. The author of Defending the Undefendable mounts powerful, freedom-based arguments in defense of prostitution, pimps, male chauvinist pigs, drug dealers, drug addicts, curmudgeons, strip miners, slum lords, advertisers, and three types of Outlaws. Ahem.

    I don’t find Block’s arguments sickening or thin. They don’t persuade me, but if I disagree I’ll offer a reason, as in the comment above, and not my emotional response.

    Yes, Trump as POTUS could be a disaster. But the real fault is in the presidency, not the man. Do you think the witch or the moron (choose one) will be better for freedom?

    How will the witch be on gun control? Immigration? Bombing women, children, wedding parties, and the people who come to their aid? Will she of the private email server defend Apple against the security state? How’s her record on using every cronyist government benefit she can? Does she really hide her autocratic egomania?

    There’s one issue where Trump will be far better: war. He’s talked about the waste and pointlessness and dangers often. He says he’ll talk to Putin and won’t take sides in the Israel versus everyone else in the mideast mess. As a businessman, negotiator, and master persuader, he knows that war is a very bad policy.

    I would hope even angry freedomistas could agree that Trump is the least violent of the proffered candidates, the least likely to take us to nuclear annihilation.

    Block has a point, and it is one that no freedomista can escape: we have a choice.

    I don’t like these choices, but that happens regularly even in the freest life. I won’t vote, and if anyone asks I’ll explain why that is my choice. Block is advocating for a different choice, an unpopular one, and I respect him for that.

  5. noah bodie
    noah bodie March 19, 2016 6:52 am

    Well Claire in your article on Mr. Noch “Our Job”, taken from “Isaiah’s Job”(which I thought you did a fantastic job) both you and he talked about that “Remnant”. I’m not a voter mainly because I feel that the, “I can’t be blamed for something I have nothing to do with” is still the better way. All of these political rules, laws, and policies, designed to make abuse, and ultimately slavery look like the the abusers are doing this “for our own good”, the truth of the matter is the abusers know full well that the masses have a propensity to just go with the flow even when they complain. Ingles and Marx even knew that they’re targets were the”masses”. Nothing has changed since the fall from the garden of Eden. Trick and then abuse the masses and maybe the rest will follow. One thing I have learned, from empirical knowledge is all to often the abused don’t always realize they’re being abused or manipulated until they get away from the abuse or manipulations.

  6. E Garrett Perry
    E Garrett Perry March 19, 2016 6:53 am

    I go back to Prague.

    The Czech government has its share of issues and abuses, no mistake. Life sucks if you’re Roma, though it sucks less than in most of the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. The corruption is positively Olympic-grade, although the universality makes corruption easily accessible at the street level.

    But weed and machineguns are both legal (de facto and de jure, respectively), CCW is shall-issue and nationwide, shooting sports are the 3rd most popular sport in the country, and the place is so small and the .gov budget so small that genuine, dangerous US-style shenanigans are difficult and rare. Falling afoul of Czech cops in any serious way takes either a lot of work or an actual Crime- absent these things and the occasional bribe-fishing traffic stop, you get left the hell ALONE by the Czech state. The Hitlerites and Communists are still within their living memory, and their approach to the power of the State is an outgrowth of that: the State is kept small, inefficient, half-broke, and its functionaries always a little afraid of losing

  7. E Garrett Perry
    E Garrett Perry March 19, 2016 7:05 am

    …their cushy .gov jobs if the Government collapses and new elections have to be held (again.) If you ask Czechs about guns, they’ll tell you that “that one is for targets, and -that- one is for deer, and -that- one is for burgalers, but THIS one is for in case the Russians come back.” And while they have had their own Trumpish personality in Tomas Pardoubek, he lasted only a single term and his more totalitarian, bullying instincts were kept mostly in chech by the byzantine nature of the Czech state. After a bunch of riot cops rolled up a music festival in 2005, Mr. Pardoubek spent the remainder of his term incapable of accomplishing much (because the entire Civil Service went into Svejk Mode and tangled his administration in so much red tape and passive-aggressive obstructionism that it could barely move) before losing his re-election bid just as I was arriving in late summer of 2006. The CZ spent the next seven months without a national Government. At all. Parlimentary gridlock prevented the formation of a Government or the passage of a budget, so the “feds” kept a skeleton crew of Military, Customs/Border Patrol, and the Organised Crime/Terrorism sections of the National Police…and sent everyone else home. None of the barflies, tradesmen, hooligans, hookers, hawkers or pickpockets noticed or cared.

    I go back to Czech Republic.

  8. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal March 19, 2016 8:41 am

    I’m watching someone I know working to expose one of those predatory “preachers” on facebook right now. And, I notice that several other people I know personally are “friends” of his. It is fascinating to watch, as the “preacher” tries to undermine the reputation (and make others question the sanity) of the person who is exposing him without letting his mask slip- but still getting glimpses of what really lies behind it.

  9. LarryA
    LarryA March 19, 2016 12:34 pm

    Jefferson nailed it: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

    The Republicans had the election in the bag, and have blown it. Politicians in both parties and the media are so wrapped in the process (talk about your classic victimology) that they simply don’t understand what’s happening.

    We’re deep into the election cycle. There ought to be yard signs and bumper stickers and people wearing “Vote-for” buttons everywhere. But even the few grassroots folks I know who started out active have gone quiet as the real candidates got run into the ditch.

    IMHO Trump has a small number of followers who think his s**t don’t stink. Most people who are going to pull the lever for him are doing so with their middle finger. They’re so pissed off at the politicians they’re saying, “F**K you, we’ll v*te for the clown.”

    Unfortunately the game is rigged against that, so I think the Only Candidate Worse Than Trump will be the next POTUS.

    Speaking of rigs, it will be interesting to see what happens to all the young, naïve Bernie supporters when they figure out he’s won the primaries without getting the delegates to receive the nomination.

  10. Pat
    Pat March 19, 2016 12:54 pm

    Re: Sanders: don’t count him out yet. If the Only Candidate Worse Than Trump happens to go down the legal drain, Sanders will be in good position. I’m sure that’s why he’s hanging on so desperately.

  11. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 19, 2016 3:32 pm

    I don’t know, Pat. I’m sort of hoping that Clinton gets cuffed and stuffed just as the cameras converge on her for the acceptance speech after the last of the dead folks in Chicago get done voting… And maybe she’ll just choke to death.

    LarryA – the “game is rigged” so many different ways now that anything could happen… it will depend on who’s “rig” is the most effective, and I don’t think anyone knows just now what that might be.

    Personally, I get a kick out of watching all the politicians fight and play dirty tricks on each other. None of them really ever cared much what mere voters thought, but this year it seems most of them go out of their way to infuriate as many as possible. Crazy stuff, politics.

  12. Fred
    Fred March 19, 2016 5:30 pm

    Is it getting hot in here? Ain’t evil something? Control is what its workers seek because through control harm can be caused while claiming to help. “Honey, I only beat you for your own good. You have to learn to respect me and do as I say. I love you, OK?”

  13. A.G.
    A.G. March 20, 2016 5:00 pm

    That article is worth all the time and thought you put into it. Another “book worthy” one.

    I became aware of the term and phenomenon known as codependency only a few years ago, but immediately saw how it perfectly describes and applies to Supporters Of Leviathan (SOL). Dropping the term into political conversations seems to make people engage in that rarest of all human behaviors: THINK.

  14. Historian
    Historian March 21, 2016 6:59 am

    The question is: will any of the candidates do anything to reduce or eliminate the Fourth Branch of government, the unelected bureaucracy strangling what is left of the Republic? ……………

  15. bogbeagle
    bogbeagle March 21, 2016 7:29 am

    This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when first he appears, he is a protector. – Plato circa 400 B.C.

  16. lineman
    lineman March 21, 2016 9:57 am

    This article is spot on but if we aren’t doing anything to make our situation better instead of just not making it worse then we are all in the same boat as those who Claire talks about here…Listen I understand the not voting thing because I haven’t for quite some time now but if your just doing that then you’re still being ruled by what you didn’t vote for…We have to get it through our heads to being forming up with others that love Liberty as we do so we can form Freedom Community’s…Until we do that our decision to not vote is not going to effect our Liberty in anyway…

  17. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein March 22, 2016 9:48 am

    Yeah, enabling is a big deal. Co-dependency is even more intricate. It’s a fascinating phenomenon…the enabler doesn’t just enable, but needs to do it in the same manner, and often for similar reasons, as the person being enabled.

    Personally I think nothing changes until people start looking inward instead of outward. Hey, at least then there’s something to control!

    “Your complicity in all of this will eat you from the inside out, to the exact degree it’s deserved. When that complicity becomes too unbearable for too many people, then it will end. Until then, it will only get worse.”

  18. Claire
    Claire March 22, 2016 3:07 pm

    Yet more evidence of how “libertarian” Trump actually is:

    Close the borders to all entry. Waterboard “those people” to get information. Try to get the laws changed to allow WORSE than waterboarding.

    This guy just says whatever comes off the top of his head. I wouldn’t put it past him to say he doesn’t want war, then start WWIII if some foreigner mussed his comb-over.

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