Last week we briefly identified three tactics which in-groups use against out-groups, tactics which do harm. Today, we look at two more.
Defensiveness emerges as the in-group establishes a “fortress mentality”–a further distancing from those whom the in-group has identified as dangerous. Historically, defensiveness has manifested itself in two main ways: a compound system and a retributive legislative mentality.
When Britain wanted to dominate indigenous people groups in India they built compounds and established clubs where only in-group members could fellowship. Out-group persons could be servant staff, but never members. The popular PBS docu-drama, “Indian Summers,” captured this practice well. In the civil-rights era in The United States the same mindset established white-only country clubs, civic clubs, schools, churches, department stores, lunch counters,etc.
To insure that the compounds were preserved, laws were passed by the in-groups that defined and limited access by the out-groups–with clear and swift punishment for any violations of those laws. The most pervasive were voting-restriction laws passed by individual States even though a national voting rights act had been passed. These included the requirement for Negroes to pass tests which were so detailed that a professor at Harvard Law School could not pass it–thus insuring that only a tiny percentage of African-Americans were allowed to vote. And even the few who passed the test had to be approved by a white-only panel, further reducing those permitted to vote. In addition to this, additional laws were in place that elevated the defensiveness through a judicial process that was weighed in favor of the white in-group. [See Note below]
A fifth in-group tactic is deliverance. The distortion, danger, distance, and defensiveness all come together in leaders and groups who can “save the day” and “fix” whatever breaches of control the out-group attempted. Subjugation over the course of history has almost always been engineered by an individual or small group (self-avowed or group elected) to insure the preservation of the in-group.
With these tactics at work–combined with the in-group’s assumption that the general public will never expend the energy or take the time to explore things on their own–the in-group now has great potential to do harm toward the out-group through efforts to establish, maintain, or restore in-group power. The in-group has produced the causes that make the response of nonviolent resistance necessary. They have established a scenario which only leaves nonviolent resistance as an option for those who disagree.
With the context of in-group dominance in place, we are in a position to examine the principles and practices of nonviolence, which is the focus of this series. Next week we will begin that exploration.
[Note–John Lewis describes the legislative/judicial system that preserved racism in his book, ‘Across That Bridge]