Whether one is being interviewed by a potential employer, or interrogated by a state sanctioned “authority,” just as the words interview and interrogation should be viewed as synonymous and are thus interchangeable (and should always be thought of in this manner), so too are the application of techniques to resist the divulgence of information interchangeable between the two venues. Thinking of an interview as desirous (from the perspective that one is usually thrilled to be called to an interview after submitting a resumé or job application), and thus harmless, while attaching malevolence only to the term interrogation, may lead one to a false sense of security when one’s interrogator uses kindness to extract information or one’s interviewer suddenly changes tactics and utilizes a more forceful tone or body position mid-stream to the interview.
The technique part of resistance techniques, infers I think, some level of skill. “No,” most certainly can be aligned with the concept of resistance, but how far will that get one, when one’s desires are not only to resist, but also to resist while avoiding or minimizing pain and/or discomfort to ourselves, or those we care about. In Wendy McElroy’s “Non-Cooperation as a One-on-One Strategy,” a key factor to all subsequent determinations revolves around the concept of compelled compliance (force), and what level of deprivation an individual is willing to endure relative to one’s responsibility to others. If simply saying “No” to one’s adversary were enough to deter him from further interfering in one’s life, then a higher level of resistance skill would be moot. Conversely, if one believes he may find himself subjected to a more hostile environment at some point in the future than that where a mere “No” will suffice, then it may be beneficial to investigate further methods of veiled resistance.
Avoidance is by far the most clandestine and effective form of resistance. If an agency is unaware of one’s presence, how can it offer any aggression from which to resist? Even within the military’s own S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training (upon which this article is premised), it is stated over and over again that avoidance is one’s best alternative. Resistance and escape become irrelevant if one is never captured. The problem with avoidance however, is that at some point, the avoidance will most likely lead to a compromise of principles beyond a level that can be tolerated. A military example might be the capture of a team member by an un-overwhelming force. Avoidance would dictate continuing on without the captured member, but how would this effect the remainder of one’s life? Conversely, how would being captured affect the remainder of one’s own life? A more societal example might be witnessing the attack of a female co-worker by two assailants in the company parking lot. One might surely be killed or severely injured by the assailants if interference is offered, but could that person live with their action (or more appropriately – inaction) if they had done nothing for fear of their own life and the co-worker was raped or murdered?
It is often one’s own principles that negate the path of avoidance due to the tremendous distress caused to freedom loving people when their freedoms are compromised. Resistance, and in particular concealed resistance, offers not only a way of slowing an interrogation, but also perhaps, a way of slowing the impetus of the state’s tyranny. Just as an error in resistance during an interview may lead to greater discomfort, so too may an error in an act of non-compliance, of non-cooperation, lead once again back to the position of compelled compliance.
It’s important to note that from its inception, the resistance portion of SERE school was developed, monitored and enhanced by various psychologists. Of a deeper context than need be explored here, there are many ties linking SERE training and the developers of its curriculum to torture procedures implemented at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. As such however, one can, without a great leap of faith, recognize the logic that the key to combating a mental attack is sound mental preparation. From one developer’s own notes comes the idea that one must have “conviction of purpose.” Fortunately, this should not be a problem for most Libertarians and Anarchists.
Although one’s conviction of purpose can be enhanced through continued study, education and understanding, make no mistake about the premise of engaging those compelling compliance while in a hostile environment. Engaging debate over one’s principles can be appropriate in a non-hostile environment from both an opportunity to practice perspective, as well as an opportunity to perhaps sway another’s perception of reality. In a hostile environment however, the captive or coerced individual will not be in control of any external factors, and this will have a seriously debilitating effect on his persuasiveness. The only factor that remains under one’s control in a hostile environment, is one’s internal processes, and this is where fortification must occur.
In the military, time is a critical component of an interrogation (due to communication requirements with Headquarters and contingency for compromise planning), however, excluding the statist badge wearer’s shift, time for the statist may not be critical, which unfortunately works to the “hostages” disadvantage. Fortunately, whether one is simply speaking with a local bureaucrat, or has been detained along side the road for additional revenue, or is actually being detained by a more hostile state representative, speaking slowly will be invaluable. Do not answer any question immediately (assuming you’re even inclined to answer at all). Remember, it has been made a law that you cannot lie to the police (despite the fact that they can and in fact are encouraged and trained to lie to you), so if you are going to answer their question at all, you do not want to lie.
Pride and ego are not just detriments to one’s successful conclusion with a state affiliate, it is also the name given to one of many specific interrogation techniques. When one’s thoughts come quickly, it is challenging to speak slowly, but it will not be transparent to an interrogator if this begins later in the interrogation. In fact, it will be a giant red flag that he is now on the right path. Pausing before answering any question, even, and especially your name, gives one time to think. It establishes a precedent, the “norm,” and it will also ruin an interrogators ability to establish a cadence. As the interview wears on, this precedent will be needed as the subject becomes more and more tired.
Note: A cadence during an interrogation is when the interrogator asks a successive number of easy, irrelevant questions (while maybe even slapping their hand in time upon the table), and then throws in a question that actually matters. Waiting to answer and talking slowly will thwart this technique.
As mentioned previously, the external environment will not be in one’s control, however, the consequence of this can be used as a stalling technique and should be utilized consistently from the beginning so as not to alert the interrogator to a sensitive area when one’s first complaint is lodged three hours into the session. If an answer to a question is harmless, then wait, ask for clarity if it won’t appear readily antagonistic, and then answer the question…slowly. If an answer to a question is to be avoided and time is needed to think, stall by complaining. For example: I’m too hot/too cold; I’m hungry/thirsty; I can’t remember because I’m too tired/sleepy; when can I call (whomever); your scaring me; am I going to jail?; I need to pee/Can I use the restroom?; why are you keeping me here?; when can I go?; etc. Look to the external environment for clues to these types of delaying questions. Lastly, when answering a question, if you are able and have the skill for it, ramble on about nothing for as long as possible…tell a story (literally).
Resistance to authority begins in the mind. One’s convictions are key to surviving…anything. Every confrontation one encounters elicits some amount of misgiving, some amount of fear, and this fear can be paralyzing. Moving into one’s mind, where the conviction runs deep, will help one to persevere. Beyond avoidance, most of the SERE school resistance techniques are of primary value during hostile encounters, but many of these techniques can be practiced in day-to-day encounters with local, less hostile statists. Perhaps, with a little luck and enough people practicing delaying tactics against statist agencies, the end result might just be a further mucking-up of an already inefficient statist organization. If nothing else, the encounter will at least frustrate the errant statist, while serving as excellent resistance training and providing some small satisfaction for the initiator of such tactics.