Whom Do You Trust? What Do You Count On?

"I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe--I don't know, some spirit, some principle--that you will never overcome." "Do you believe in God, Winston?" "No." Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?" "I don't know. The spirit of Man." And do you consider yourself a man?" "Yes" "If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone You are outside history, you are non-existent." (Orwell: 232)

Winston Smith fails to resist torture. This failure is utter and complete. Fear grips the reader, as he hopes against all odds, that Winston Smith will be able to resist. But there is no redemption for either the reader or Winston Smith. He is, Orwell tells us in a peculiar Nietzschean language, the "last man." Like the pink coral paperweight shattered at the time of his arrest, the pink flesh of a human being seems to be deeply vulnerable no matter how well encased it is in ideas. There is no protection in ideas. Ideas, like glass, are hard to see, and it seems can be destroyed by violence.

Upon consideration, however, a different reading is possible. We are apt to forget how fiercely and how successfully Winston Smith resisted Oceania. We forget this because in the end Smith betrayed everything. But considering what few opportunities he had to develop his character, how methodically state and society had been structured against him, it is amazing that Smith fought as fiercely as he did. This should remind us how little opportunity a man may need to resist and how many years he may survive even in a society that is a virtual prison. Yet, this reading poses a further question: what are the characteristic sources of value by which one may resist? What are these principles? On this point Orwell is less than clear.

In fact, Orwell gives a better account of betrayal than he does of resistance. Orwell is right in identifying how torture is shaped by what might be called "ordinary betrayals", betrayals at an atomic level of ordinary life. It is these kinds of betrayals, not so much the grand betrayals ("betraying Julia") that make being a survivor of torture so difficult and complicated. Once these atoms of trust are shattered, they are not only hard to reassemble, they are hard to fill with something else. Torture in the end produces only shattered bodies, and that is all it does.

Unfortunately, Orwell obscures his accurate insight into the nature of ordinary betrayals with what I might call "great betrayals", i.e. trials in which one betrays a true cause. Nineteen Eighty Four is a great novel of the Cold War, and often Orwell conflates the historical reality of his times, torture as he saw it in Stalin's show trials for example, for an account of the essence of torture as such. In this respect, the novel is misleading: while ordinary betrayals are inevitable, indeed terrifyingly so, grand betrayals are not. Many prisoners never betray their great causes though they too suffer from ordinary betrayals. Modern torture centers provide us with an exemplary range of models of how individuals shape and change themselves in the face of their extreme misfortune and helplessness, models which are read and imitated widely today by political prisoners everywhere. Indeed, if anything, the range of possible forms of resistance to torture are far greater than anything Orwell imagined.

Orwell does endow Winston Smith with some standard techniques used today. If these techniques fail for Winston Smith, this has less to do with torture technology and more to do with the fact that Smith lives in a particular kind of state which progressively undermines characteristic sources of value outside the torture chamber. Here again, Orwell conflates the historical reality of his times, torture as he saw it in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, with an account of the reality of torture as such. He reads back into the past his present, and out of that he constructs an unchanging vision of what torture "really" is. Orwell here suffers from a narrowness of vision, and this narrowness bears the marks of the Cold War period in which the novel was written.

In what follows, I consider first the nature of betrayal. I compare the strengths and weaknesses of Orwell's account to that of Jean Amery who was tortured by the SS. Amery offers us a rather special narrative, a narrative of torture that is not one of resistance but one which recognizes the complexity of betrayal. I then classify modes of resistance to torture, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each. Here I will draw on many different accounts: Don Foster's interviews with South African political prisoners; Cuevos accounts of Republican women incarcerated during the Spanish Civil War; various accounts of Iranian guerrillas in prison; a manual for dissidents in the former Soviet Union; Milovan Djilas' account of his torture in 1933 ; Henri Alleg's torture by French Paratroopers in 1959; Jacobo Timmerman's torture at the hands of the Argentine Junta in the 1970s, Palden Gyatso's torture in Tibetan prisons in the 1990s and last but not least, Niccolo Machiavelli's prison poetry from his tortures in 1511. Having clarified what kinds of resistance are possible, I return to Winston Smith's resistance in the novel. I ask how well these forms of resistance would have fared in Oceania. Here I consider critically Orwell's account of modern torture, identifying its strengths as well as its limitations.

I. Modes of Betrayal

Winston Smith betrayed others. This was also the case of Jean Amery. Like Winston Smith, Amery's betrayal was utter and complete. And like Smith, Amery asks not "how did I resist", but "How did I betray? What inside me failed to resist?" His narrative is one well worth exploring because it shows the pitfalls of Orwell's narrative of betrayal.

Betrayal is not a mode of resistance, it is sheer and utter surrender. Suspended on a hook, Amery writes, "I had to give up rather quickly. And now there was a crackling and splintering in my shoulders that my body has not forgotten until this hour." (Amery: 32) In torture, he writes, "the transformation of the person into flesh becomes complete. Frail in the face of violence, yelling out in pain, awaiting no help, capable of no resistance, the tortured person is only a body, and nothing else besides that." (Amery: 33) When asked, Amery replied truthfully. He was lucky he did not know very much himself, but this, he recognizes was not due to his virtuousness:

To come right out with it: I had nothing but luck, because especially in regard to the extorting of information, our group was rather well organized. What they wanted to hear from me in Breendonk, I simply did not know myself. If instead of aliases I had been able to name the real names, perhaps, or probably, a calamity would have occurred, and I would be standing here now as the weakling most likely am, and as the traitor I potentially already was. Yet it was not at all that I opposed them with the heroically maintained silence that befits a real man in such a situation and about which one may read (almost always, incidentally , in reports by people who were not there themselves). I talked. I accused myself of invented absurd political crimes and even now I don't know at all how they could have occurred to me, dangling bundle that I was. Apparently, I had the hope that, after such incriminating disclosures, a well-aimed blow to the head would put an end to my misery and quickly bring on my death, or at least unconsciousness. (Amery 36)

Winston Smith could not have said it better.

Amery has no secrets to give regarding resistance. He has seen too many variations, cases where the pain was hardly enough to justify the confession and cases of heroic martyrdom. "Where does the strength, where does the weakness come from? I don't know. ONE does not know. No one has yet been able to draw distinct borders between the "moral" power of resistance to physical pain and the "bodily' resistance (which likewise must be placed in quotation marks)." (Amery: 37) Choosing between moral and physical factors seems to yield unpalatable choices. If we reduce it to the purely physical capacity of an organism, then every form of cowardice and whiny reaction is pardoned. If we emphasize the moral factors, exhorting others to endure more pain, then we hold physically weak people to the same standards as the biologically superior. "Thus, we had better let the question rest, just as at that time I myself did not further analyze my power to resist, when, battered and with my hands still shackled, I lay in the cell and ruminated." (Amery: 38)

What obsesses Amery are not the grand betrayals; even if he had known the names of his colleagues, even if he had given them up, this is not the aspect of torture he fastens himself too. Rather, it is what I want to call, the ordinary betrayals, and on this score, I think Amery is onto something important, something that Orwell conflates with great betrayals. Ordinary betrayals are not like the great betrayals (the religion I worshipped, the cause I fought for, the person I loved, let us call these the "Julian events"). Ordinary betrayals are not often remarked upon. Yet they can cut deeper than we think.

Ordinary life has a rhythm that is embodied in the way our bodies reach or hear sounds, thing that are second nature to us. This embodied agency confers intelligibility to the experiences we have. Ordinarily we don't notice this embodied universe in which we live; we do notice it when the structures and rhythms are interrupted, that is, in the course of ordinary betrayals. When ordinary betrayals occur, when habits that are second nature cease to make sense of our world, we experience our finitude. I do not mean that we discover that our body is causally finite. It is true enough that I cannot walk through the wall before me, but that is not very interesting. It is rather that I cannot act or reach as I used to without wondering simultaneously who I am, what I am doing, where I am because each time I do so, my hand falls on thin air. We live in a world of concerned relatedness to objects around us and their first and primary relationship to us is not as neutral objects, but as thing that are part of our projects and goals, what we might call, our form of life. When these involvements are gone and when the things no longer lie at hand, we experience our finiteness in a far more profound sense than a simple causal one. The world becomes simply less intelligible.

What does this have to do with torture? Often when we reflect upon torture, analysis focuses on the grand betrayals. Did he confess the names of his conspirators? Did she commit treason against the state? But Amery focuses on ordinary betrayals that happen in the course of violence, when one reaches for something and finds that it is not at hand or that it has changed. For some people, this experience, where ordinary people behave in ways they never did, where ordinary places become nightmares, where ordinary things are used to do horrible things, when all this is going on, one is inclined to say it is a kind of madness. But that would only signal the fact that we have given up trying to make sense of our experiences. And in general, in the study of violence, we get no closer to understanding violence by saying how horrible it is. Rather, we get closer by comparing it to the ordinary, showing its similarities and differences. And that is indeed the power of the final section of 1984, the way it is both ordinary and extraordinary.

Let me list some of the ordinary betrayals that happen in the course of torture, all of which Winston Smith also experiences. First, in many cases, you are being tortured by your friends and neighbors, people with whom you have interacted daily for many years. Second, you are betrayed by ordinary professionals, by the doctor for example who attends to torture session and takes your pulse or the nurse who sticks the IV in after your torture session. Third, there is the role played by ordinary objects, not just dental drills and hypodermic needles, but the field telephone used to shock you or the music played while you were tortured. Fourth, there is the questioning itself, the bureaucratic solicitations for information, which are delivered in a calm reassured voice. Fifth, there are the bureaucratic professionals who attend the session, the secretary outside the colonel's office or the stenographer who writes out your profession of guilt. Sixth, there are the exercises that you are compelled to do or the machines to which you are strapped. Seventh, there are the forms of self-expression that are implicated, such as writing out your confession. And finally, there is the betrayal of the body itself, as you lose control over your bodily processes. "You are rotting away," he said; "you are falling to pieces. What are you? A bag of filth. Now turn around and look into that mirror. Do you see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity."(Orwell: 234)

Torture then gathers to itself accomplices, and these accomplices are not just other human beings, but ordinary things for which bodies reach and are familiar. They are the large kitchen rice paddles used to beat one in Sri Lanka (Lawrence, 1999: 6) , the kindergarten chairs to which Palestinians are tied for the Shabeh torture in Israel (Ginbar, 1998: 16; Allen, 1999:5-6) . They also include the things forensic pathologists working at grave sites refer to as the "Associated Objects", the clothing, crosses, toys and shoes that somehow found their way into the grave. Again it is often said that torture destroys communities, families, and identities, but less frequently that torture also destroys many other forms of relatedness, things like cooking, dancing, writing, or simply moving. These too constitute ordinary betrayals that follow from modern torture. For this reason, Amery concludes:

Whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world. The shame of destruction cannot be erased. Trust in the world, which already collapsed in part at the first blow, but in the end, under torture, fully, will not be regained. That one's fellow man was experienced as the antiman remains in the tortured person as accumulated horror. It blocks the view into a world in which the principle of hope rules.(Amery: 40)

It is important to recognize that Amery believes that ordinary betrayals characterize not only the life of those who committed great betrayals, but even those who, for whatever reasons, did not betray their colleagues and friends and therefore resisted successfully. Amery himself committed suicide in 1978.

II. Modes of Being

Amery's account is not very typical of modern torture narratives. While there are many modern narratives, they are often stories of resistance. One must use such stories cautiously. Writers present their sources of resistance in passing and with surprising indifference. They mix and match strategies; what works one day for you may not work the next. The stories they tell cannot tell us whether the strategies worked. There is simply no easy way to determine this. Even survival may in fact be as much due to accident as it is to deliberate planning on the part of the victim or the torturer. Still what makes these stories valuable is that they tell us about ways of being in prison, and they are philosophically interesting because they show some of the characteristic problems as well as characteristic sources of value for people.

There are five particular modes of being in prison: modes of alertness, modes of governance, modes of compassion, modes of forgetfulness, and modes of laughter. I shall consider these in turn, contrasting them to each other and teasing out what is being invoked as a source of value for the self in its confrontation with misfortune. In the following section, I shall consider which modes are invoked in Nineteen Eighty Four.

1. Modes of Alertness. When we think of torture, we think of the classic Orwellian confrontation of the victim and the torturer. Ordinary people think of this misfortune in terms of strategy: the question is how to hold out against or outwit the torturer? or how to avoid betraying one's comrades? In countries where torture settled into a particular kind of routine, political dissidents did not merely criticize the government: they also produced self-help literature for the incarcerated. A good example of this sort is "A Manual of Psychiatry for Dissidents" produced for dissidents handed over by the KGB for psychiatric terror (Fireside: 92-117; See also Abrahamian 106-7) Manuals like this set out to describe the entire organizational process of torture. They identify the process of arrest and preliminary interrogation. They offer typologies of the kinds of people, including torturers, one is likely to meet. They identify the terminology, concepts and jargon that characterize the torture system. They describe the actual tortures themselves and how to manage the pain. They recommend tactics for how to answer questions and thus minimize one's torture or frustrate the torturer. These kinds of strategies are to be studied, memorized and implemented when tortured. In short, manuals set out to prepare the victim for the worst, dispel the fear of the unknown through enhancing their awareness of the system, and thereby empowering them.

In modes of awareness, a lost and anxious imagination, not pain or torture, is the greatest enemy of the incarcerated. Awareness of what is to come, a calm and deliberate mind, these are what the manuals seek to cultivate. Above all, the victim can only remain alive by overcoming the greatest fear of all, the fear of death. This is why Milovan Djilas' torture memoir remains the most articulate expression of this mode of resistance. Djilas spells it out rather clearly. If one lives in the service of an idea, says Djilas, then one "need not fear, and has no reason to fear, prison, torture, or even death. He will survive. He will live on in the lives of his comrades, in the life of the idea. Nevertheless, he will also be more confident and able to bear torture all the more easily if he is familiar with certain "weak points" innate to the act itself and those who practice it." (Djilas: 7) Djilas advances several reasons for why one should not fear death: If one does not fear death, one cannot fear torture if only for the simple reason that torture fails if it produces death. At any rate, there is no point to the fear: because death is not in one's control, because they'll kill you if they want to anyway so you can't change that; and that the body creates a limit to too much pain anyways so you'll faint long before it matters.

For Djilas, it is the people who cling to fast to life that are at serious risk, for their love of life betrays them to the torturer. They calculate "when" they will betray, not "if". As he puts it "Almost always, one does not become a traitor under torture but before torture...most people prepare themselves to give in under torture before arrest, while they are still free." (Djilas 4-5) It may appear that torture breaks individuals, in fact individuals who crack rehearse their betrayal long in advance precisely because of their attachment to life. The traitor tries to "avoid any presentiment of pain, to keep from thinking of the horrible torture that faces him." He deliberately avoids precisely the kind of awareness and alertness the resistance manuals try to cultivate. In this, he is just like the agent provocateur who is revealed by his indifference to theory or his feigned interest in it. Both the provocateur and the potential traitor "share a boundless frantic love of life and all its pleasure; both are alike in their need for security and warmth." (Djilas: 6)

If these prudential reasons do not suffice, Djilas offers two other techniques designed "to stifle the imagination from the start, to trick it, and to master it." The first is preoccupation with activities that keep one alert but focused. He urges playing chess, chatting with one's comrades, occupying oneself mentally in one's cell. Even when one is shackled, one should concentrate on insignificant concrete things--spots on the ceiling, for example, with a constant steady stare until one's surrounding sand all other details utterly vanish. "That's hard and painful to make happen, but it brings calm and strength and may be resorted to again and again." One is reminded here of many other such examples: the Soviet spy who played chess on the plaid blanket of his cell bed using small pieces of lint or the Soviet dissident who invented an entire field of mathematics while in prison.

The other technique Djilas urges is to transform one's living attachments in one's imagination. "Whoever wishes to do battle, to sacrifice himself for an idea, to become an idea so as to become the master of his life, must beware of life. He dare not waver between life and the idea--except when that hesitation serves to promote the idea. For life is itself a mistake and a betrayal." (Djilas: 6) Attachments to one's beloved for example offer powerful reasons to choose life over one's ideas. How then to transform such attachments? In April 1933, Djilas was whipped on the falanga and tossed into a cell "like a sack of junk". Pain burned through his entire body. His thoughts turn to his beloved. Notice then how Djilas transforms his imaginings in a different direction

This scene in the Police Department took place on the top floor. Below us and around us Belgrade slept peacefully, and in it, somewhere, lay a beloved girl. Yet somehow the city did not seem to exist as though it had evaporated into amorphous space. And the girl--she was transformed into a compassionate presence before whose gaze I was able to stand proud, having offered her one more reason - the very highest, insuperable reason -- for deserving her love. I had become the master of the outer world of reality if only because, insofar as it existed at all, it was for me no longer a thing unto itself, a thing alienable. (Djilas: 4)

Djilas' consolation then lies in the fact that he will be remembered and cherished by his beloved for he had sacrificed himself for the idea. Djilas will be loved all the more by his beloved for having died in the service of an idea.

2. Modes of Governance. Despite the urge to reduce torture to the confrontation of victim and torturer, torture does not happen in a vacuum. It is one incident in a long journey through many rooms involving many people. This is why even strategic accounts of resistance are embedded in broader republican narratives of self-governance. Governance here means the careful regulation of one's body movements and mind in the service of social solidarity. Self-government turns out to furnish its own foundation for resistance. The republican women of Franco's prisons tell their resistance stories by telling of all the things they did together. Their lives are characterized by hunger strikes, reading groups, plays, singing together, caring for the sick, and slowing down the forced labor lines. Generations of Iranian prisoners tell similar stories, stories of hunger strikes, lectures for self-improvement, gossip, reading groups, caring for the sick, remembering lost comrades through memorials. Above all, there is the government of the cell which can be a source of tremendous preoccupation and solidarity. Such self-government includes everything from the menial tasks of daily survival (e.g. cleaning) to electing cell officials.

Once again, the point of such activities is to reduce inappropriate memories of home or wild imaginings of things to come. Of course, not every prisoner can be so fortunate as to belong to a cell community. The South African prisoners certainly were not. Many spent a very long time in solitary confinement. But even in the absence of ordinary human contact, we should not underestimate the role played by other things that become part of one's community or the ingenious ways in which human beings reach out to other beings. In the absence of humans, prisoners expand their universe to include all biological beings. People in solitary tell of the endless amusements provided by ants and mice as fraternal friends and constant companions. Nor should we underestimate the crafty ways prisoners use their oppressors to substitute for them. They make mistakes and generate complaints in order to get guards to argue with them and touch them, thereby receiving the human element they hungered for. Finally, there is civic memory, the community of the honored dead who stand beside the prisoner. Henri Alleg opens his own account of torture by pointing to the civic sources of his self:

On reading this account, one must think of all those who have "disappeared" and of those who, sure of their cause, await death without fear; of those who have known tortured and who have not feared them; of those who, faced with hatred and torture, reaffirm their belief in future peace and friendship between the French and Algerian peoples. This could be an account of any one of them (Alleg: 43)

Civic memory then stands for civic community. Whether one thinks of the past as Alleg does, or towards a future community, memory furnishes social solidarity when reality does not. In this respect, modes of governance and modes of awareness are deeply interlinked; if one finds one in a narrative, one eventually finds the other.

3. Modes of Compassion. It may seem that those who depend on modes of governance, who are empowered by participating in such communal processes, are making themselves ever more vulnerable. I now want to turn to a third mode of being in prison that is perhaps even more vulnerable, namely, modes of compassion. If the mode of awareness draws a bright, closed circle around the self, closing it off from the world, the mode of compassion expands that circle to include the entire world, not just one's friends but also one's enemies. It is best illustrated by the work of the Tibetan monk, Palden Gyatso who was tortured in various Chinese prisons for some 40 years. When he was asked what he feared most in all the years he was tortured, he replied that what he feared most was that he would lose compassion for his torturers. I want to return to this, but first I want to highlight how this modality of being in prison is similar to the previous two.

Modes of compassion emphasize alertness and awareness. Gyatso is well aware of the "tricks" of interrogators and he has mastered many different strategies including omission, deception, and silence. He is skilled at hiding things. (Gyatso: 76, 116, 119, 144, 180, 182) He is fully focused on the Dalai Lama (Gyatso: 231), and he has, like Djilas, no fear of death (Gyatso: 135). But as a monk he venerates life. Indeed, Gyatso is remarkable in his willingness to think compassionately of all living creatures and reach out to them. He affirms all these fragile relationships. He takes on pupils teaching them to read, only to see them tortured. He makes friends only to have them commit suicide or have them publicly denounce him. He reveals to his captors who his family is and where they can be found. He speaks with prisoners and enjoys their company only to see them executed.

All this makes Gyatso profoundly vulnerable. He experiences anger, the delicious feeling of revenge, and the agonies of his friends as though they were his own. He mourns the loss of freedom. Though he was forced to walk in shackles for years, there was no such thing as happiness on the rack for him. "The loss of freedom" he writes "is so tangible." And it leads to great unhappiness:

Many prisoners committed suicide. Some thought they were cowards. others that it was an act of courage. I dare not pass judgment. No one can understand the extreme despair that drives someone to take their own life. As a Buddhist monk I was brought up to regard human life as the most precious thing in the world, and I found strength in the desire to show my tormentors they had not beaten me, that I still had the courage to live. (Gyatso: 117)

He himself becomes suicidal more than once (Gyatso: 135-137). Above all, he suffers through the many denunciations of his friends. "The fear of being criticized was a constant source of mental torment.(Gyatso: 135) Yet his compassion extends even under such conditions. "I never got used to the pain that the denunciations of a friend could cause. But we had to learn how to forget the endless forced betrayals." (Gyatso: 152)

Gyatso's compassion extends to his torturers. He describes the arrival of the Red Guard during the cultural revolution and the destruction of the prison administrators.

At first I thought that these officials were getting a taste of their own medicine. This feeling of revenge ran contrary to my religious upbringing, but it is a powerful human impulse. Although prison officers and guards were at the very bottom of a long chain of command, it was their brute force that cause us pain. It was only natural for them to be the prime object of our anger. The Red Guards were spitting on them, accusing them of obstructing the Revolution by refusing to expose the enemies of the Party.(Gyatso: 126)

But Gyatso's strategy is different. He expands himself to include the torturers as part of humanity. In the modes of alertness and governance, the torturer stands apart as an enemy. When humanity is invoked, it is invoked either as part of the strategy of the torturer or the victim to gain a hold on each other. That is not the case here with Gyatso. The center of Gyatso's approach is that even in the absence of hope, one opens oneself up fully to the world, and it is this openness, that allows one to remain whole in the end. Although in a place of death, Gyatso dreams of escape not through death but by affirming life.

One may well wonder whether anyone other than a monk could live a mode of compassion so fully. But we would do well to recognize that Gyatso was not a well-trained monk. He was a very young man when he was arrested and h admits did he understand his faith very well, though he had taken the vows. For most of his life he neither lived in monasteries nor was he allowed to practice his faith. He lived after all during the Cultural Revolution where any such activity, even the washing of the face, could be interpreted as a ritual ablution and lead to denunciation and possible death. The mode of compassion was in other words something he achieved in prison, not something he brought to it.

4. Modes of Forgetfulness. Now there is an entirely different way to approach torture, one that rejects all reflection. We might approach it first by considering the limits of modes of awareness, modes of governance, and modes of compassion. Modes of awareness seem to prompt higher kinds of thought. Yet, the more one thinks, the more one can worry and remember. South African prisoners in solitary tell of how repetitive thoughts tormented them, how they entered into intense dialogues with themselves, and made vows about what they would or would not do in life again. And of course the more one depends on other humans as a source of comfort, the more one values life. One becomes vulnerable to its loss, and one can become obsessed with it.

Modes of forgetfulness remind us that a great deal of emotional energy is spent and to no purpose. The alternative is to champion not memory, but forgetfulness. Contrary to what one might think, it is forgetfulness that is essential to all life rather than memory. For if we did not forget, we could be tormented by our past. Nietzsche puts it this way:

To close the doors and windows of consciousness for a time; to remain undisturbed by the noise and struggle of our underworld of utility organs working with and against one another; a little quietness, a little tabula rasa of the consciousness, to make room for new things, above all for the nobler functions and functionaries, for regulation, foresight, premeditation (for our organism is an oligarchy)--that is the purpose of active forgetfulness, which is like a doorkeeper, a preserve of psychic order, repose and etiquette: so that it will be immediately obvious how there could be no happiness, no cheerfulness, no hop, no pride, no present without forgetfulness. The man in whom this apparatus of repression is damaged and cease to function properly may be compared (and more than merely compared) with a dyspeptic--he cannot "have done" with anything.(Nietzsche: 57-58)

How then to induce active forgetfulness is the main concern of this kind of resistance, and Jacobo Timmerman's work is its most exemplary expression.

"Memory," writes Timmerman, "is the chief enemy of the solitary tortured man" (Timmerman: 36) The tortured man needs no manuals, he needs not remember the great civic martyrs, he does not need to manage his self democratically, he does not even need to remain alert. "Once it's been determined that a human beings is to be tortured, nothing can prevent that torture from taking place. And it's best to allow yourself to be led meekly toward pain and through pain, rather than to struggle resolutely as if you were a normal human being. The vegetable attitude can save life." The same applies to solitary confinement: no chess or friendship with mice. As Timmerman says of his time in segregation, "More than once I was brusquely awakened by someone shouting: "Think. Don't sleep, think". But I refused to think." Why is thought so dangerous? To think meant becoming "conscious of what was happening to me, imagining what might be happening to my wife and children; to think meant trying to work out how to relieve this situation, how to wedge an opening in my relationship with jailers. In that solitary universe of the tortured, any attempt to relate to reality was an immense painful effort leading to nothing." (Timmerman: 35) Thought leads to memory, and with memory comes hope, and with that anxiety and anguish and the need for compassion and tenderness. Hope fulfilled is a great benefit, but then Pandora did not find hope in a box of evils by chance. Hope unfulfilled is surely a great evil, perhaps the greatest evil of all. Is that why hope follows all other evils into the world? As with all Greek gifts, hope is a double edged gift.

And one that Timmerman will not accept. If the stoic and the republican can embrace hope and rise above life, Timmerman sinks into the muck of organic existence and finds safety there. His goal is to preserve biological energy:

In the year and a half I spent under house arrest, I devoted much thought to my attitude during torture sessions and during the period of solitary confinement. I realized that, instinctively, I developed an attitude of absolute passivity. Some fought against being carried to the torture tables; others begged not to be tortured; others insulted their torturers. I represented sheer passivity. Because my eyes were blindfolded, I was led by the hand. And I went. The silence was part of the terror. Yet I did not utter a word. I was told to undress. And I did so, passively. I was told when I sat on a bed, to lie down. And, passively, I did so. This passivity, I believe, preserve a great deal of energy and left me with all my strength to withstand the torture. I felt I was becoming a vegetable, casting aside all logical emotions and sensations--fear, hatred, vengeance -- for any emotion or sensation meant wasting useless energy.

Timmerman's basic advice then is something like this: Let the body dominate everything, even the mind, and you will survive. For torture is an attack on the body, and the body needs all the energy it can to heal itself. Thought will not heal it and neither will emotion or memory. Like all advice of this sort, passivity does not come easily to the prisoner. On the contrary, active forgetfulness is a technique that has to be mastered. "I managed to develop certain passivity-inducing devices for withstanding torture and anti-memory devices for those long hours in the solitary cell."(Timmerman: 36) During interrogation, he barely speaks. He stands apart during his torture. "What does a man feel? the only thing that comes to mind is that they are ripping apart my flesh....And what else? Nothing that I can think of. No other sensation? Not at that moment. But did they beat you? Yes, but it didn't hurt." (Timmerman: 33) Timmerman approaches all conversation with weariness, resignation or perhaps a presentiment of imminent death-- in any case, like a plant, he bends with the blows and says nothing. These are not techniques unknown to other survivors. An Iranian manual advises that one should eat less, so one faints sooner. (Abrahamian: 107) Even Djilas tells us that "our bodies have limits of endurance . When the infliction of pain reaches the latter limits, the body and spirit protect themselves by lapsing into unconsciousness. In those moments of unconsciousness even torments become sweet, turning to the most subtle, the most spiritual joys imaginable. This is the beginning of the victory over torturers and tortures alike."(Djilas: 9)

For solitary, the most basic technique involves repetitive physical activity: exercises, folding and refolding the bedding, marking time by cracks of light, removing dust from one's hair, cleaning the room, shining the floor. "I behaved," writes Timmerman, as if my mind were occupied with infinite diverse tasks. Concrete , specific tasks, chores."(Timmerman: 35) The basic mental techniques also involve repetition and very little novelty or ingenuity: following the movement of a fly around the room. Somewhat more challenging mental technique was to engage in "professional activity, disconnected from the events around me or that I imagined going on around me. Deliberately, I evaded conjecture on my own destiny, that of my family and the nation. I devoted myself simply to being consciously a solitary man entrusted with a specific task." (Timmerman: 37) The kinds of professional development Timmerman chose were very formal. For example, in his mind, Timmerman devises a bookstore, asking which books to put where, what to carry, in short, the infinite movement of books without a point.

Timmerman concedes though that techniques of forgetfulness are not foolproof. They can be undermined by "some lingering physical pain following an interrogation, hunger, the need for a human voice, for contact, for a memory." What he was not able to avoid were two powerful emotions: the desire for suicide and the feeling of madness. But suicide turns out to be manageable, even usable when one realizes what a definitively hopeless gesture it is. One can plans one's suicide perhaps with "unforseen originality" (Timmerman: 89) since the "possibility of suicide no longer exists." Then there is the temptation of madness, which cannot be dealt with so rationally, so here passivity is the way forward. "You must await madness, and think that perhaps it will come. You must try to yield to it, and possibly it will engulf you. Await it and yield to it--that is the grim part. For if it fails to arrive, your impotence is conclusive, and your humiliation greater than a kick on the behind from some voiceless, faceless stranger who leads you blindfolded from your cell." You await madness but under no circumstances do you expect it, for that would be vanity and a false belief in one's omnipotence. All you can do is grow like a plant. "You keep on going, and here I am." (Timmerman: 92)

5. Modes of Laughter. I cannot overlook a further strain of resistance, namely, ways of acting that constantly put incarceration into comic relief. It is perhaps true as Foucault says that revolutionaries do not have to be grim and so serious, but it is rare to meet laughing revolutionaries in prison. Yet laughter does happen there, as the movie "Life is Beautiful" reminds us. As do the tales of the republican prisoners from Spain. Consider this moving tale of the trial of Generalissimo Franco. One needs to imagine a room in which women in hushed voices have to quell their laughter as they think of awful wicked ways to make Franco suffer.

In spite of the horrible conditions--and naturally the food and hygiene were terrible--we young women didn't lose our good humor. We were always happy, always singing and planning some joke to distract the older women, and sometimes the younger ones too, from thinking about their homes, their children, their husbands. We would do all sorts of pranks to diver t the women who spent so many days under the death penalty. I remember vividly one such prank. Almost every night, we staged a mock trial where we judged Franco. We cast lots for the part of Franco because naturally no one wanted to play the role. The unlucky woman would sit on a sleeping mat that served the defendant's chair and the popular tribunal was formed around her. The entire room had the right to speak and render opinions. It was like an army of devils rising up. No one can begin to imagine what tortures the prisoners dreamed up to make Franco die little by little to make...well, what can I say? It was horrifying. (Cuevas: 54-55)

There are other such examples. "One thing that made me laugh, yes laugh, was that one of the officials kicking us lost his shoe and a prisoner grabbed it and passed it to another who in turn threw it down to the patio. He got really mad. I laughed so hard I almost fell in his hands." (Cuevas: 55) Abrahamian describes similar scenes in Iranian prisoners, where prison routine is thrown into chaos by a comic and serene personality. The main occasions were the forced public confessions, often televised.

These tense shows could easily be subverted into carnivals--at least, by those willing to risk death. E.A. recounts that a teenage boy was invited to the podium by Ladjevardi to explain why he was in prison. He explained that he had first joined the Tudeh but had left it once he discovered that the party supported the Islamic Republic. He had looked around for a party to his liking, but, finding none, had formed his own organization with a total membership of one--himself. At that point, much of the audience was smirking, for it was clear that he was in Evin simply because he did not like the regime." (Abrahamian :145-6).

This was Winston Smith's dilemma, but unlike the boy, he found no humor in it.

To understand the role of the comic in torture, we need to remember that in this context, the comic is a kind of magic. The comic, like magic, "brings about a sudden and rationally inexplicable shift in the sense of reality." (Berger: 117) It is this shift between world, sudden juxtapositions, that even if it does not offer catharsis, it serves to console. Machiavelli is certainly the greatest expositor of this kind of modality in prison.

Machiavelli writes two prison sonnets and these sonnets represent the irrepressible humor with which Machiavelli accepted his misfortunes, even torture. (Machiavelli: II;1013) This did not mean that he did not suffer. That he composed poems at all of course is astounding since the torture on the strappado involves being hoisted with one's arms tied behind one and dropped from a great height. An excruciating pain falls on the shoulders that must bear the weight of the fall.

Machiavelli's first poem tells of his night in the cell after he was tortured. It is a humorous rejection of the consolations of religion. He lies in the cell with chains on his feet. He is aching from six falls on the strappado. Next door they are torturing into the night; the victim complains that they have raised the strappado too high in violation of the law, but to no avail. The place smells. It is infested. It is, as all prisons are, very noisy. As Timmerman says, "the police need to shout; shouting helps them" (Timmerman: 83) Machiavelli's prison is a scene of confusion, chaos and corruption, and he tries hard to piece it together into a dainty hospice. But he says, at dawn he hears the priests chanting "we are praying for you". This he complains is truly unbearable, the most torment a man can bear, so he address the Medici, have pity on me, free me from these bonds so I don't suffer such horrible torture.

Machiavelli's second poem carries on the attack on Stoic view, this time, through a wicked adaptation of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. As with Boethius in prison, Machiavelli calls out to the muses to console him and intercede for him with the Medici. A nameless muse appears, flustered and angry. She decides to torture him, slaps him across the face, and silences him. Even worse, she does not recognize him at all, saying, "who are you?" and decides that he must be the madman Dazzo, not Citizen Niccolo. Machiavelli says I wanted to offer her my arguments, but the muse, clearly Philosophy, will not listen. Instead of the muse interceding with the Medici, Machiavelli now begs the Medici to intercede with her and tell her that this is Niccolo Machiavelli. In the end it is civic identity, not philosophical identity that is the most precious item of all to Machiavelli.

There is a serious philosophical point to these poems. Machiavelli's poems are a humorous attack on people who resist using modes of awareness. People like Djilas think that one can be happy on the rack. Yet in the racket and noise of prison, only madmen would think of their prisons as dainty hospices as Don Quixote did. What is more, incarceration and torture lead to a distressing loss of self. To contemplate the great idea, one needs to have some assurance of who one is, but this is precisely what prison and torture interrupt. It is silly to think that one can lead a complex inner life under torture. Indeed, someone who is truly committed to the proposition that happiness is simply a good state of mind is talking about falling into something like a coma or a sleep or a trance. He should probably imitate the life of Jacobo Timmerman in prison, live the life of the madman Dazzo, not the life of Djilas. But if one really wants to affirm life in prison, one should laugh and laugh and laugh and live the life of Machiavelli.

Both modes of forgetfulness and modes of laughter flirt with madness, and this is of course their weakness. Laughter can become hysteria, and forgetfulness can become delusion and fantasy. In the film "Brazil," as the torture victim escapes into fantasy, the torturers say regretfully "we have lost him." What Timmerman says though then serves as a caution. Hysteria and delusion are indeed dangers, but they may not come, and besides there's no point in worrying about it. One just proceeds.

III. The Ordinary Future Past

One may object to all this that I have analyzed resistance outside of the context of Oceania. In Oceania, the Party seems to undercut the possibility of resistance to torture by shaping a particular kind of state and society and by developing excruciatingly painful torture technology. One brings to torture the totality of one's life experiences, and Smith had so few opportunities to develop his character that he was handicapped. Perhaps, but this credits Smith too little. Smith does practice modes of alertness (by outwitting the Party for so long), governance (by joining the "resistance"), and compassion. But in the end the Party had anticipated these. In Oceania, modes of alertness, governance, laughter and compassion are not available -- though interestingly modes of forgetfulness do persist for it is possible that the cells of Oceania are full of Smiths who escape into forgetfulness and fantasy as the hero in the movie "Brazil."

Nevertheless, the question remains and deserves to be answered: Is Oceania the future? Will there be torture technologies against which resistance is futile, technologies which reprogram individuals? "Orwell is purposely vague about the machine which first tortures Smith. Nothing like it existed in 1948, but for Orwell it was a solid and predictable piece of the future; since pain could achieve the conversation of recalcitrant individuals, the dismantling and recreation of personalities, then a device for producing adequate volumes of pain for this purpose would have to be invented." (Peters, 164).

There are two facets to this observation, technological and political. Let me deal first with the technological objection. How inventive are torturers? Will they invent the perfect torture machine? The answer to that is no. Orwell is right to say that modern torture is scientific and modern, but it is important not to conflate this with attributing some kind of technological genius to torturers. Sociological studies of torture technology show that torturers are not innovators but adapters of previously existing technology invented for other reasons. (Rejali, 1994: 135-136; Rejali, 1999; Wright, 1996). They simply have better things to do that to tinker. Djilas is absolutely on target when he states:

Torturers are seldom possessed of a particularly inventive imagination in devising their terrors. Most frequently, they find it easiest to follow long trodden paths and make use of those tried and true methods handed down from the past. They rely on ready-made instruments- whips, truncheons, sandbags, needles, castor oil, electric currents, and the like. It is common, of course, especially where torture is not standard procedure, for the police to use, particularly in hanger and haste, whatever instruments may be at hand--pencils (for jabbing between fingers), drawers (for crushing hands), chairs (for jamming bodies against the walls), and most frequently to be sure, the most direct, handiest instrument of all, their fists.(Djilas: 7)

And the results are often the same. As the Soviet dissidents write:

But do not despair! Scores of your comrades have been undergoing compulsory treatment for long years without any serious injury to their health. Despite the whole arsenal of psycho-pharmacological methods and shock therapy, contemporary science has--fortunately--not yet reached the point where it can work irreversible changes in the human individual or destroy a man's personality." (Fireside: 116) Orwell is also a great adapter of torture techniques, and his torture techniques are in fact adaptations of previously existing technologies as well. The torture with rats was already used by the Cheka in the 1920s (Peters: 162). As for the electric table, contrary to Peters' assertion (Peters: 162-3), machines that modulated electricity for torture were already in use for at least 30 years prior to Orwell's novel. Electric torture had been used in Argentina, Civil War Spain, Royalist Iran, and Vichy France. Specialized machines were in use in Argentina and Italy. Oceania is not the future. It is the past.

Orwell's torture scenes are gripping not so much for their technology but for the psychological techniques that O'Brien employs. These techniques are what Foucault might call examples of "pastoral power." The torturer presents himself as mediating between the prisoner and the benefits of the world, and wields this power. (Timmerman: 39-141). He claims that he wields this power in the interests of the subject, and the pain will stop when the subject cures himself (Rejali, 1994:75-77). He employs psychological techniques designed to elicit the confession that he wants to hear. As Phil Zimbardo argues, these techniques are very insidious and very effective. For example, in Japan, where confession to crime is valued even more highly than it is here, 86 % of all criminal cases end with a full confession by the accused (McCormick: 187). While these techniques are effective, these are techniques that work best without torture. "Thus psychology has generally replaced the physical abuses of the third degree, not only because the courts have made invalid physically coerced confessions, but largely because the third degree is not as effective."(Zimbardo: 499) As an FBI agent stated: "When you break a man by torture, he will always hate you. If you break him by your intelligence, he will always fear and respect you." (Zimbardo: 499) Peters, after reviewing the state of torture technology, concurs: "Rather more psychological sophistication is evident than medical or technological, except in the use of pharmacological methods of torture. The mysterious machines of Nineteen Eighty-Four seem, for the most part, not yet to be in use."(Peters: 172).

So much then for the technological objection. Let me turn now to the political question. Orwell presents a particular model of the kind of state and society that tortures. Let me sum it up. Torture is sanguinary violence conducted by party officials on behalf of state interests. It is violently sanguinary, it leaves scars and marks all over the body from broken bones to chewed faces. It is done as part of a pro-active police strategy to reduce the internal enemy: political crime and terrorism. The goal is not to confess to a crime, for that is already taken for granted, but to come up with a complete file on a persons political contacts and to gather to the state an every widening net of dependent and insular individuals. Torture then happens mainly to political criminals, not to ordinary criminals who actually live it up in prison (Orwell: 196). Most importantly torture is scientific and modern. It is characterized by the modes of rationality that characterize other professions (medicine, engineering, administration, psychology) that arise in our modern universe. It comes from within our societies, not from without. It is a form of routinized and ordinary cruelty. Torture is a cancer, it is not a virus that comes from without but something arises due to some pathology within the democratic body politic. If one were to ask why torture is characterized by ordinary betrayals, the answer is simply that it should be no surprise that a practice that draws on so many practices constitutive of modern life should also have so many disruptive effects on the substrata of the lives on which it is practiced.

There is much to recommend this model of torture. Orwell clearly was right in rejecting the older views of torture as an atavistic survival. He correctly identified the fact that, in the twentieth century, torture has once again assumed its traditional place within the state apparatus, and that we were witnessing the second great revival of torture since the end of the roman empire (the first being the creation of inquisitional torture in the 12th century till its abolition in the 18th century). He correctly identified the ways in which modern forms of rationality could become complicit in the practice of torture. This is why modern torture is characterized by ordinary as well as great betrayals.

As a historical description of what torture has been like in the latter twentieth century, there is much to recommend this model. But it is a model of torture that has become increasingly antiquated even as we gain a purchase on it. There are four trends that ensure the irrelevance of this model. Oceania, once again, is the past.

First, the state is changing. In a world which emphasizes the movements of peoples and goods, otherwise known as globalization, states are changing the ways they exercise their monopoly on violence. Rather than emphasizing enclosed military bureaucratic administration of space, states are turning increasingly to policing, that is, a form of coercion that allows one to discriminate between different people (legal and illegal immigrants) and goods (commodities and contraband) while they are in motion. This kind of policing state governs not through enclosed societies, but through the reinvention of policing (Andreas, 1997; Andreas, 1998; Andreas and Friman, 1999).

And this is my second point: policing itself is changing. For a variety of reasons policing is becoming privatized (Shearing, 1992; Shearing, 1996) . In South Africa for example, the number of private police to public police is now 5:1, but trends like this are happening in all sorts of societies to greater or lesser degrees. This rapid decentralization of policing is pushed in part by the commodification of policing, that is the sale of security products and services for multinational conglomerates and the creation of a "Robocop" universe. As Michael Kaye, president of burgeoning Westec, a subsidiary of Japan's Secon Ltd.) explains: "We're not a security guard company. We sell a concept of security." (Davis: 250) But commodification is not the only factor that pushes this change as Martha Huggins has shown in the case of Brazil: privatization can also follow from bureaucratic politics and professionalization of police. (Huggins, 161-187; See also Chevigny, 1996).

Increasingly what is emerging is a specialization of functions and the LA police may be a shape of things to come. The LA police focuses on the movements of illegal goods and people, the kinds of issues that are central to the new crimefare state. Private, decentralized policing focus on the control of local space: the restricted use of public space, the creation of unwelcome street environments, the panoptic malls, and gated residential communities, all of whom have their private police. (Davis: 221-265). Public/Private partnerships, which go under many names, including community policing, are now the rage.(Shearing, 1996) and prey on a democratic public's fears of urban crime and personal insecurity. Proactive international policing works in tandem with reactive private policing of neighborhoods.

In this context torture is changing, this is my third point. Torture used to be the lot of the political criminal, but now increasingly it is the lot of the ordinary criminal, the vagrant, illegal immigrant, or drug runner (See for example, York, 1999). In retrospect, in some countries such as Iran , the Cold War actually was a golden age for ordinary criminals since even the most authoritarian states liked to operate the civilian prison system in exemplary ways and keep the focus off of the prisoners in the political prison system. This technique was used to satisfy local and international critics of the regime. But with the end of the Cold War, there is no particular need for such pretenses and torture has once again become a common place for ordinary, as well as political criminals.

Finally, torture technology itself is changing. One of the increasingly disturbing trends in modern torture is that police forces are becoming interested in forms of torture that leave no marks, and hence no story to tell. Such tortures are especially common in semi-democratic states where a press, left-wing politicians, and intellectuals are apt to denounce torture and increasingly in authoritarian states that are closely scrutinized by international human rights organizations.(Ron, 1997; Kirschner, 1999; Rejali, 1999) If one could put words to such processes, one might say this is a police captain's way of saying: "you see, this person claims to have been tortured, but in fact you see, there are no marks, you see them exactly as they always were." How far this process can go, no one knows, but one hopes the Israeli Supreme Court sets a standard here when it condemned such invisible torture techniques this fall. In the absence of such explicit judicial condemnation, torture of this sort may not only be more tolerable, it may be increasingly regarded as legal by police, media and the public.

At its grandest level, Orwell's vision of state and society presupposed military bureaucratic states locked in alternating "Cold" and "Hot" wars. This backgrounds informs his vision of torture. His account draws on certain characteristic features of torture in Franco's Spain, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia to complete the picture. This model of torture had many imitators during the Cold War and in countries where a version of a "Cold War" still exists. Orwell would have not have been the least surprised by torture in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its show trials, public forced confessions, and constant "War with the American Great Satan" (Abrahamian, 1999). In many ways, it is the best exemplar of what Orwell thought torture would be like.

But even in places like Iran, this model is now becoming history, and Iran itself is a curious backwater as far as security concepts for the modern state go. With the end of the Cold War and the dawning of globalization, everything is changing: states, police forces, prisons, community security, and torture. We have every reason to fear a world of torture in the twenty first century, but not for the reasons Orwell has suggested. We may be entering an age of "Cold Peace" and torture as I have described it will have a place in that world. And that world will be populated by people who betray others or resist in the ways I've described. And resist they will. Nothing that is human, even something so seemingly inhuman as torture, is alien to man, and whatever one man makes, another can understand and undo. That is the rule of the human world.


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