11 March 2008

Samizdat and the No-Talk Rule

The "No-Talk Rule" is the foundation upon which all abusive structures are built. You will find it in alcoholic families, in the families of battered spouses and children, in abusive churches, in sweatshops [including many, many white collar corporate ones]. And in totalitarian states, oh my yes.

The Rule itself is rarely spoken aloud - it may be stated to young children, or to newcomers to the group/church/cult/sweatshop; but this is rare, and the very need to articulate the Rule is usually accompanied by fierce disapproval.

It is simple and brilliant. Whatever most needs to be discussed, whatever problem is most urgent, pressing and real, is placed under conversational interdict. We Will Not Speak Of This.

"This" may be mother's drinking, father's beating of mother, brother's compulsive sexual acting out, sister's gambling. Or the consistent favoring of one staffer over all others in the work group. Or the minister's obvious hatred for competent, intelligent women [something that can be expressed by women ministers, sadly, just as often as by men].

The idea is that as long as people are prohibited from talking about X, their ability to think about X, define it, understand it is severely curtailed. Their ability to actually do anything productive about X, of course, is completely pre-empted, since they can neither think nor talk about it effectively if at all.

This Rule is very often accompanied by corollaries - an attitude that to mention the abusive circumstances is to tacitly consent to them, or to be in some way a supporter of them. This attitude combines magical thinking [ignore it and it will vanish - if you sincerely want it to] with pernicious thought control, as a form of projection [if you see it you must be it].

Again, these thought patterns are pushed in unhealthy groups of all shapes and sizes, from abusive families to worldwide cults. You will notice how beautifully [in the same sense a coral snake or lionfish is beautiful] these patterns push all responsibility for the abusiveness directly onto the person who perceives and articulates the abuse [usually because they are experiencing it].

This is where samizdat comes in. Samizdat is literally defined as 'self-publishing' - but encompasses any distribution of 'forbidden literature'. It was widely practiced via surreptitious copying and sharing of information that was otherwise suppressed in the Eastern bloc, i.e. the former Soviet Union and allied nations. The word is appropriate in our cultural context as a term for discussion of otherwise unmentionable social realities. What may not be discussed using the spoken word may be extensively explored using the written word - and that nowadays includes podcasts, blogs, texting.

Think of it in the broadest sense - as the distribution of union literature in sweatshops, the purchasing of a book on alcoholism for a friend whose father is a heavy drinker, the passing of a 'safe house' address to a woman friend fleeing a batterer. Or the starting of a blog by a cult survivor or someone who has escaped from an abusive family structure.

Samizdat is one proven antidote to the No-Talk Rule. It is not always safe, but it can be very effective.


Blogger CZBZ said...

Love this message, Stormchild!

It's been an inspiration reminding me why we offer forum for people to speak the truth about their lives. Thank you so much!

This quote came to mind right after reading your message about the No Talk Rule. Many years ago, I started talking and haven't quit since. ha!

“We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.” ~Audrey Lorde

Big hugs,


19 March, 2008 00:00  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Thank you CZ!

Your new blog, The Narcissistic Continuum, is a thing of beauty. I've added it to the links here.

Big hugs right back, and long may samizdat continue!


19 March, 2008 20:57  

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