I recently stumbled upon an intriguing historical document (source and link at provided at the end of post) that I believe has a loose parallel with the social and economic situation we now find ourselves trapped within. It consists of notes for a lecture on Communist Interrogation Methods by Royal Australian Air Force Intelligence, and is dated circa 1953.
It may be familiar to some Cats, as I posted extracts from it on a recent open thread, but I believe it bears repeating.
I make no claims that the conditions we are presently living under are in any way comparable with being a prisoner of war. Aside from the obvious physical and psychological differences, the interrogation of a prisoner of war is focused on the individual, whereas with Covid-19, the coercive techniques enacted to produce compliance are aimed at a very large population.
Neither am I suggesting that our restraining authorities have had the present outcomes meticulously planned in a long-term sense. I would guess, in fact, that initially they were as shocked as anyone at the levels of compliance the population demonstrated.
The document itself is lengthy, so I have been selective with the extracts, and have resisted the temptation to add my usual dribble, in order to allow readers to make their own interpretation.
The Eight Classifications of Coercive Interrogation are:-
the purposes of which are to develop an intense concern with oneself, to make the victim dependent on the interrogator, and to eliminate outside support of the victim’s resistance, including mutual encouragement, praise, and blame from his fellows in terms of the moral standards of his own group.
… Frequently harsh punishments are inflicted for “violation of rules”, which are not only expected to induce co-operation but are also calculated to alienate the members of the group from one another and to provoke fear of informers.
(b) Monopolization of attention.
(c) Induced debilitation and exhaustion.
(d) Cultivation of anxiety and despair.
… Threats of punishment as a “War Criminal” – Prisoners are told that they will be considered “war criminals” until they comply; that they will be tried as “war criminals”; that they will be turned over to the civilian population for punishment.
…Threats of endless isolation – Prisoners are told that the interrogators are not in a hurry; that they will be held continuously in isolation and constantly interrogated until they capitulate.
(e) Alternating punishments and rewards,
the purposes of which are to … hinder adjustment to privation; to indicate possibilities of a “happy future” in captivity…
Special promises – [Prisoners of War] may be promised special jobs or privileged status as rewards for co-operation.
(f) Demonstrating omniscience and omnipotence of captor.
the purposes of which are to make capitulation appear less damaging to self-pride than the indignities and debasement inflicted because of resistance; to reduce the prisoner to simple, “animal level” concerns …
Insults and taunts – Interrogators verbally abuse the prisoner. An insult which appears to have affect on the prisoner will be repeated …
Denial of privacy – Prisoners may be subject to constant surveillance; if vulnerable to embarrassment they may be forced to perform private functions in public.
(h) Enforcing trivial and absurd demands.
The purpose of which is to develop the habit of compliance. (a) Forced writing – Post [Prisoners of War] are required to write and rewrite answers to numerous questions – frequently, exceedingly trivial questions. They are given only very general instructions and forced to rewrite the answers over and over again until “an acceptable” version is completed. In this way, the tendency to seek to understand and satisfy the interrogator’s wishes is fostered.