Purchase Endgame
Read more

Excerpt from Endgame

Volatility (p. 243)

From chapter "Why Civilization is Killing the World, Part II"

Abusers are volatile. They may be pleasant one moment, and violent the next. I go back and forth on whether I believe their volatility is real.

Argument in favor: Abusers are fragile. They’re frightened. Because they have no identities of their own (which also means that they could never identify with their bodies nor with the landbases that give them life) they have no capacity to react fluidly to whatever circumstances arise. They must then control their surroundings. So long as those surroundings remain perfectly under control abusers can maintain at least an exterior calm. But threaten that control (or their perceived entitlement to control and exploit) and the fury that forever seethes beneath their surface bursts full-blown into the world.

Argument against: I strongly suspect, based on my own experience of abusers, that their volatility is at least quite often fabricated for manipulative purposes, making the volatility of abusers akin to the planned “outbursts” of CIA interrogators when victims refuse to fall into the trap of abusing themselves, refusing, for example, to stand for days at a time. In other words, the volatility may not be real at all, but part of a calculated strategy to keep victims off guard, to get them to police themselves.

But there’s another argument for the fundamental falsity of an abuser’s volatility, which refers instead to the first half of the statement: it is possible that an abuser’s pleasantness is never real pleasantness, instead being a mere temporary (and probably tactical) lessening of the relentless tightening of attempted control. Instead of an abuser being like a jug of gasoline—noxious enough, but often not immediately fatal until and unless some spark sets it off, meaning ultimate responsibility for your own immolation rests on you for being silly enough to ever let flint strike steel—perhaps it’s more accurate to say that to enter or to be forced to enter into a relationship with an abuser is more like being bound tightly by ropes tied by someone trained in the Japanese art of hojojutsu, about which one expert wrote: “Knots were developed that could hold almost anybody in any position. The knots were so designed that if a person tried to wiggle free the rope around the neck would tighten, restricting the airflow and choking the victim.”

This, for me, is the experience of being in relationship with an abuser: if you do not struggle but only lie motionless, the abuser merely confines you, but every slightest movement in any direction on your part—and I want to emphasize every movement in any direction—tightens the abuser’s hold over you.

Given all this, how real is the “pleasantness” of an abuser? Only very stupid or very desperate abusers—and this is as true on the larger social scale as it is on the familial—are always oppressive. Unrelenting oppression is not nearly so effective at control as is intermittent oppression mixed with rewards. If the oppressor were only oppressive, victims would realize they have nothing left to lose. Those who believe they have something left to lose are ever-so-much-more manipulable. Those who realize they have nothing left to lose have nothing left to fear, and they can be extremely dangerous to their victimizers.