People Who Pretend ToBe Your Friend: Collaborators And Traitors
By Robert J. Burrowes
04 July, 2013
Some people have accused Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden of being
traitors. But this obscures a deeper and more important question.
If the government of the United States is engaged in endless acts of
lawless violence, as the documentary evidence clearly demonstrates, (See
Fred Branfman, 'World's Most Evil and Lawless Institution? The Executive
Branch of the U.S. Government':
then it is not Manning and Snowden who are the traitors for providing
evidence of this violence and the surveillance necessary to carry it out.
The real traitors are all of those other employees of intelligence
agencies who say nothing while they collaborate with the endless and often
secret perpetration of violence by the U.S. government and its allied
governments in our name.
Why does this matter? It matters because it tells us that thousands of
individuals are willing to collaborate, without the intervention of
analytical thought, compassionate feeling or conscience, with the use of
violence. And that bodes ill for our society.
Collaborators and traitors take many forms: they are prevalent in warfare
but common in 'ordinary' society as well, and labels such as 'scab
labourer' are used to describe them. Most frequently, they are those
relatives and friends who 'stab you in the back'. Why do so many people
collaborate with perpetrators of violence? See 'Why Violence?'
http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence An understanding of their psychological
profile will tell us this.
First, collaborators are terrified and they are particularly terrified of
those individuals (usually one or both parents or other significant
adults) who perpetrated violence against them when they were a child
although this terror and, remarkably, the identity of their perpetrator(s)
remain unconscious to them. Second, because they are terrified, they are
unable to defend themselves against the original perpetrator(s) but also,
as a result, they are unable to defend themselves against other
perpetrators who attack them later in life.
This lack of capacity to defend themself leads to a third feeling – a deep
sense of powerlessness. Thus, terrified, defenceless and powerless, some
victims will try to placate the perpetrator. Victims who resort to
placation, the fourth attribute of collaborators, will invariably fear
those individuals who resist the perpetrator's violence, will usually
perceive resistance to violence as 'morally wrong' and perhaps even
perceive any resistance to violence (including explicitly nonviolent
resistance) as 'violent', because their own fear of resisting perpetrators
is now so deeply embedded in their unconscious that any form of resistance
is considered futile and likely to provoke further perpetrator violence.
And this 'violates' their powerless 'strategy' of placation.
The strategy of placation is also attractive to collaborators because they
have a warped sense of empathy and sympathy, the fifth attribute. They
will have empathy and sympathy for the perpetrators of violence, rather
than the perpetrator's victims, as an outcome of how they were emotionally
damaged as a child.
Having unconsciously 'chosen' collaboration and betrayal as a means of
'defending' themselves against personal victimisation, the collaborator
will now acquire a deep sense of self-hatred (precisely because they
cannot defend themselves and now betray others) which, in turn, will
negate any remaining sense of personal self-worth.
However, it is too terrifying and painful for the collaborator/traitor to
be conscious of any of these feelings, so they will usually exhibit an
eighth attribute if challenged: self-righteous justification for their
collaboration/betrayal often expressed in either ideological/religious
terms or as sympathy for the perpetrator.
One version of this occurs when collaborators justify their collaboration
with perpetrators of violence in terms of a supposed 'obligation to obey',
although they might not use this precise language: many collaborators will
characterise their obedience as 'loyalty', 'support' or 'helpfulness' in
order to mask from themselves the fear that drives their submissive
behaviour. For collaborators, the importance of obedience also far
outweighs any sense of personal moral choice, if the idea of personal
moral choice makes any sense to them at all. If you are scared to resist
violence, then you must make a virtue out of submission and obedience.
Penultimately, collaborators/traitors invariably exhibit a ninth
attribute: they unconsciously project their fear and self-hatred, as
outcomes of their own victimhood, as fear of and hatred for the
Finally, as a result of all of the above, the collaborator will exhibit a
tenth attribute: the delusion that they are 'in control'; that is, they
are no longer (and never were) the victim of violence themselves.
Tragically, of course, this delusion is a trap: an individual is never
safe in the role of collaborator. The perpetrator might turn on them at
Collaborators and traitors learn their 'craft' during childhood. Most
usually it will originate when a parent terrorises the child (by
threatening and/or inflicting violence) into collaborating with this
parent against the other parent and/or the child's siblings. Sometimes it
originates when a teacher terrorises the child into collaborating with the
teacher against the child’s fellow students, perhaps to find out who was
responsible for some minor 'wrongdoing'.
Once the child has betrayed its siblings or classmates, it will usually
need the 'protection' of the violent parent or teacher as a 'defence'
against any retaliation by its siblings or classmates. Hence, it will
become 'locked' into the role of collaborator/traitor out of fear of the
perpetrator's violence against it as well as fear of the violent
retaliation of siblings or classmates. This, of course, suits the
The collaborator will perform this role throughout their life as they now
unconsciously recognise and identify with those who are most violent,
including state authorities that inflict 'legitimised' violence on those
individuals perceived as 'enemies' or 'criminals'.
If you wish to publicly identify yourself as someone who will not
collaborate with violence, you are welcome to sign online 'The People's
Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'
Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending
human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to
understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist
since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?'
http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com
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