A key characteristic of contemporary combating-insurgency, colonial, authoritarian regimes is the impression, sought to be drilled into those resisting those perfidious structures, through violence, in all its manifestations, is that nothing really will change. That those resisting are fighting a futile battle, wasting their lives and their breath by even speaking of freedom. This isn’t at all surprising, or even divorced from the occupier’s own belief system. The oppressor really does believe that his structure of governance, his ideals, if any, those of his mother country, if any, are worthy and much better than the systems of thought and resistance produced in the occupied land, which, consequently, is not seen as an occupied territory, but as a place to play out the ‘national/overarching’ ideals. In theory, this is also called the illusion of permanence. Which is to say that the occupier perfectly well believes that he will continue to be the occupier, and ultimately (so the fantasy goes, the pacifier as well as the harbinger of modern, higher ideals), the lasting template. That is, for example, the reason why the British colonialists built the buildings now inhabited by top-notch bureaucrats in New Delhi, the space where India displays its ‘military might’ annually, leading up to the lodge of the top Viceroy, now called Rashtrapati Bhavan. They didn’t build it thinking Indians will inhabit the spaces so as to, one day, welcome members of the British royal family to an independent nation, but as permanent fantasies of their own longevity.
That is the way things work. And to expect that sort of mentality to wither away because of a hundred thousand murders, torture, rapes, the incarceration of children, among other things, in a short space of time is an illusion. It takes time. And against the illusion of permanence, implemented by actual on-the-ground symbols and systems of oppression and overlordship, resistance also has to be ready for a long haul. A very long haul, sometimes.
Often, in this long haul, resistance itself can be co-opted. Local leaders, for example. Or local low-level stooges can be employed to speak of the benefits of occupation and the futility of resistance: be it called values, civilisation, democracy, peace, development, or letting bygones be bygones. But underlying all this is the occupier’s own suspicion of impermanence, of being an occupier, of being hated; in sum, an acute neurosis. And every act of defiance, every word of opposition, each act of self-dignity on the part of the oppressed becomes a challenge for the regime. Not even a small, individual act of resistance, thus, is misplaced