What would real non-collaboration be like?

From time to time it occurs to me that I’m a collaborator, that I play a small but essential part in the Trumpification of the country. Essential, in that I and millions of my ilk are as vital in our way to his success as is his base of supporters; “our way” being that we disapprove and complain but do nothing else, nothing effective.

My latest bout with this idea came from a discussion with a friend about the 1969 documentary film The Sorrow and the Pity. If you don’t know it it’s a French film about the German occupation. After its release it was discussed throughout France for months on end. It revealed, really for the first time, the extent to which the French mostly collaborated passively with the Germans and their sympathetic government in Vichy. Few people argued with its conclusions, and none of those who did convinced many people. The almost universal response was “This is terrible, but we didn’t know!” Yet among those who didn’t know were those now revealed to have been passive collaborators. How was this possible?

It was possible because most of those collaborators imagined that they had resisted. These were people who had fallen into a strange state during the war. Their world contracted to their families, their jobs, and a very few trusted friends. They did not actively collaborate. They ignored the Germans, they cut them dead on the street, and in their minds they were resisting. But they actually did nothing. After the war they told their children “Oh yes, we all did our own little bit to resist” and they mostly came to believe it. This is why they were so ready to accept the universal resistance myth that countless books and films had been spreading since the end of the war.

A friend of mine who had lived through the occupation as a teenage explained it like this: It’s not like people talked about it, you know! Sure, with your close family and your very closest friends, but not with anybody else. That would have been incredibly foolhardy – everyone knew that they were everywhere, everyone knew who some of them were (you could read it in their faces), but everyone also knew there were a lot more who would do anything for a few extra ration coupons.

To be sure, conditions during the occupation were very different than they are here today, Even talking against the government and especially against the Germans could get you shot – maybe even tortured and then shot. Nothing like that is going on here. Nobody has yet been stood against the wall. Not so in France. In the movies it failed to intimidate the populace. In reality it paralyzed almost everyone. That’s understandable, in a way that our own widespread paralysis is not.

The French passive collaborators have their counterparts today: me, for instance. In my mind I allow myself to believe I’m somehow opposing Trump. In fact I only disapprove of him mightily, which I’m sure is just fine with him. I tell myself that at least I haven’t put a “Resist!” bumper sticker on my car and pretended to myself that I’m thereby a hero of the Maquis – but what would change if I did fall for that silly idea?

I suppose that the biggest obstacle to becoming non-collaborators is genuine bewilderment about what actual and effective non-collaboration would be like. Write a check or two? Done that. Join a march? Sure. Work to get the vote out when and where you can? Of course, it goes without saying. Most of all, talk about it. And we do, till we’re blue in the face. But there comes a point where we ought to admit that we’re doing nothing effective. And maybe there really is nothing effective to be done, but I’m not quite ready to admit that. Not because I have any inkling about what that effective something might be, but simply because I do not want to be remembered as the passive collaborator that I well and truly am today.

So, once more: anybody have any ideas?

277 Responses to What would real non-collaboration be like?

  1. NatashaFatale says:


    I don’t think the problem is so much with anyone here but with the people Lithwick quoted (leading off with dear old Glenn) who to took the position that nothing Flake says can matter because his votes are wrong. Which is just another way of saying that my words matter but yours don’t.

    I’m afraid the NRA thing will be shrugged off too. And by the same people who 30-some years ago considered the NRA to be the last real bulwark against the impending Russian invasion (remember Red Dawn?). “Putin did that? Well good on him. I just love it how that makes you crazy.”

  2. bluthner says:


    I tend to agree about the NRA: I mean if I believe in the mission of the Red Cross, and Putin gives money to the Red Cross, to be spent on Red Cross projects,then where’s the harm?

    Of course if Putin did give money to the NRA the NRA would be breaking the law by accepting it and spending it. So there’s always that.

  3. KevinNevada says:

    One more thing I found online yesterday.

    On my cell I found a longer version of this piece.

    MeToo and the wave of women getting active, to run for office at all levels, is still a growing movement. The longer version that I read included a fascinating fact: the local committees organized to recruit and support women for office, are about double in number and in fundraising progress, compared to what the Tea Party accomplished in 2009, by early 2010.

    This movement is double the size of the Tea Party, at the same stage of development, about a year into the Early Surge.


    So this one won’t only affect 2018, bigly, but also will predictably surge into 2020 as well.

    This will be transformational.

    And it’s overwhelmingly hostile to the Trumpians. Bigly so there, too.

  4. KevinNevada says:

    The NRA scandal, if confirmed, will be a bombshell.

    The pretense of all these strutting noisy-patriots is that they are More Patriotic than anyone else. Hell yes. Just ask them.

    If their wonderful organization is found to be laundering dirty Russian money, and the officers of the NRA have to endure a perp-walk or two, and indictments for criminal conduct, that WILL have an effect.

    It cannot be shrugged off. No way.

  5. KevinNevada says:


    sorry to read of your medical bill.

    A few weeks ago we visited the local emergency room. My dear wife was very sick, turned out to be a flu bug in the guts, stomach and such.

    Even at the HMO discount two hours on a bed, and some treatments, and an MRI scan, will cost us over $3,000.

    It’s under our deductible, all upon us.

  6. Expat says:

    Flake may well be making a noble stand before retiring from public life – and his input at this time is welcome – but forgive my cynicism if I suspect he is teeing up for a naive and forlorn presidential run.

    Sure he can court the center and win plaudits from Democrats, the media and wider culture just now but if he ever gains pole position on the Republican ticket in a general election he will be destroyed in the established press and on social media a la McCain and Romney. Even if he is as pure as the driven snow, with no history of molesting choirboys or consorting with organized crime, they’ll find dog in a crate on the roof of the car stories to beat him with incessantly.

    Caving and downloading Fire and Fury onto my Nook – no queues or back orders Kevin. (Still ploughing through Diary of the Dark Years Nat – got diverted by Christmas presents of a Lincoln bio and the Dylan Chronicles V1 – I can hear Dylan’s drawl as I read it.)

    But it is the 19th and I still haven’t caved on a Dry January.

    I almost asked what the medivac cost was when you first mentioned it 9k. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap. When I was working with the composites company an employee’s 16 year old son shot himself and was helicoptered to Albany Med. He didn’t survive and the family’s tragedy was compounded when they were saddled with the significant and uninsured portion of the cost. Our company helped and colleagues raised money but it didn’t put much of a dent in the liability. I guess the good thing is that that technology and service is readily available here where distances are large and hospitals often far away. It saves lives that otherwise wouldn’t be saved – but it isn’t cheap. If you were in the UK 9k the pilot might have been the Duke of Cambridge!

  7. bluthner says:


    Who needs a dog in a crate story to stop Flake getting elected. The politics he professes and has supported all through his career will be far and away enough to prevent him ever winning the oval office. No Democrat would dream of supporting him over a democrat. And anyone who said nice things about him standing up to Trump, at least at the podium, will make it very clear they may have respected that moment of talk, but the man’s ideas stink to high heaven.

    If you were in the UK 9k the pilot might have been the Duke of Cambridge!

    Once upon a time that’s true, but I believe he stopped doing that a while back. But whoever was flying the copter the most exciting part, by far, would have been the size of the bill: no charge.

  8. Expat says:

    …..would have been the size of the bill: no charge.


    I wonder who decides to call out the helicopter and what qualifies for it? Both here and in the UK?

    We live about a mile from the local hospital and the medivac seems to pass over our house daily on its way to Albany which is only a 45 or 50 minute drive. The helicopter must only save 20 or 25 minutes at most – zero if you factor in the transit time to get here from Albany once the decision is taken.

  9. KevinNevada says:

    I am not touting Sen. Flake as any hero. He voted happily for the ‘tax reform’ scam and for various noxious judges including Gorsuch.

    But if he resists Trump in some substantial way, over the next year, and limits the damage, I’ll take that, and hold a good thought for the guy for at least a day. Or two.

    I don’t care about his motives or plans.

    This thread began with a damned good question. And the happy news you are all ignoring, is that the answer is being served up for us by the wimminfolk, en masse, all over the country.

    What non-collaboration looks like, is female candidates showing up everywhere and many of them winning. Bigly.

    And Trump is still turning off and disgusting a significant fraction of the swing voters. This new shutdown will happen as he flies one more fucking time to Mar-O-Lago, and to wallow in the dear old GOP swamp in the process! That ain’t going to turn the tsunami around, one bit.

    How to resist? Vote for women. Change government by changing the gender of who runs it.
    It really will make a difference.

    It’s going to happen in the business and corporate world, too. MeToo is just getting started, guys.

    Help the tsunami. Simples.

  10. KevinNevada says:

    Simple number for the contrast, 2016 to now, from that NYT piece.

    Emily’s List fielded about 1,000 inquiries in 2016 from first-time female candidates for offices, all over, all levels.


    In 2017 they handled 29,000, more or less.


  11. bluthner says:

    In the Swiss Alps I met a doctor who ran a private clinic in the mountains who explained the constant struggle he had to to make sure the helicopters taking ski accidents off the slopes didn’t opt for the longer ride down to the big hospital in the lower valley (more money for the copter company) as opposed to the shorter ride to his clinic (more money for him). Being Switzerland, the treatment was top-notch either way, he had invested in all kinds of scanning equipment, and set so many bones in season he was the go-to guy for tricky cases even at the big hospital (according to him at least). So what he really liked was days when the fog was too thick for the copters to fly. Then the bashed up skiiers had to be pulled down the mountain on sledges behind snowmobiles (much cheaper if much more painful than a copter) and he got ALL the bodies.

    In the U.K. I’m pretty sure most of the time it’s the paramedic’s call, about whether to bring in a copter or not. They attend in an ambulance, and if they think the patient is won’t survive the road trip, or will seriously deteriorate if they don’t see a full trauma team very quickly, then they call for the copter. Civilians can’t just call up and say they want a copter not an ambulance.

    Or I guess sometimes the dispatchers look at what has been called in, and how far the nearest ambulance is, and how far it will have to travel, and they must have a protocol. What I have never ever heard once in all the years I’ve lived here is anyone complaining that the copters are being sent out too often or for trivial matters. Emergency room trauma docs I have talked to, no matter how many years they have been doing it, always feel worried when they hear a patient is coming in on a copter. They know that means they very likely have a far higher chance of losing the patient.

  12. KevinNevada says:

    And according to this, Sen. Jeff Flake is finally standing up.

    He is negotiating, legislating, and willing to ignore McConnell’s orders.

  13. KevinNevada says:


    I refuse to buy licenses for e-books. It’s a scam, you don’t own it, cannot gift it to a friend.

    So I held out for the print version, and in a real store.

    Wolff is still No. 1 (two weeks now) on the NYT non-fiction list.

    Here’s another good sign. No. 3 is a science book by Tyson (!), and nos. 4, 6 and 7 are historical biographies, of DaVinci, Grant and Jackson.

    Oprah-sponsored fake science/medicine and similar goofiness are not in season, at the moment. So that is good, too.

  14. KevinNevada says:

    And, Bandy Lee and her colleagues are still No. 15 on the NYT list.

    That is also very good. It’s moving. People ARE reading it.

  15. Expat says:

    I refuse to buy licenses for e-books. It’s a scam, you don’t own it, cannot gift it to a friend.

    True – but it is half the price at $14.99

    Although there is something nice about holding a paper book – or hiding behind a newspaper of an evening.

  16. bluthner says:

    I got my hands on a copy of F& F and am about halfway through.

    Meanwhile Trump is throwing a party to celebrate the fact that it’s a year on and he’s still in office. Imagine the ogres who would pay 50k each for the priviledge of joining him. And what a better place the world would be if a tsunami happened to crash in and drown the lot of them.

  17. Squirrel says:

    Do you mean there are no lies left that a body could tell itself to pretend freedom from complicity?

    Getting that way. . .

    Or that anyone who is still supporting Trump at this point is so far gone that they can’t even see a probelm with such complicity?


    And what about the news that Putin was quite likely funnelling money to the NRA? will that be shrugged off as well?


  18. Squirrel says:

    On the helicopter thing: I did wonder if you might be charged in the UK, though effectively the air ambulance helicopters are charities, funded mostly by contributions, though most I think carry a NHS doctor and either a nurse or a paramedic.

    I did find a mention of some people getting a bill for £2,500, but couldn’t at all make out what the circumstances might be. Perhaps that was actually just the average actual cost of coptering someone to hospital.

    We had one here a few years back after someone fell three storeys out of a window after an epileptic fit; the pilot tried to land in front of the local church in a tiny little square only about 50m away, but gave up because of trees in the way. He landed it on the playground of the local elementary school instead, about 400m away. An even smaller area, but not encumbered so much by trees. I go past it quite often and still wonder how on earth he got it down in that space.

    I presume the sort of people who would pay $50,000 are the kind who wouldn’t be in the least concerned about the views of Higgledy-Piggledy or whatever his name is. and who very likely treat Trump to much of the same every weekend at the nineteenth hole at Mar-a-Go-Go. Before retiring to bed with a Forbes magazine and a companion for a spanking good time . . .

  19. Squirrel says:


    Why an MRI scan?

  20. bluthner says:


    I can’t speak for Mrs. Kev, but MRI scans of the digestive tract are used a lot these days. If she had very bad pain it could have been a fistula, or a blockage, or other bad stuff that will now show up on an MRI, thoughone has to drink some ratherunpleasant liquid contrast, and have some mildly radioactive contrast agent injected into her bloodstream, to make the soft tissues of the tract show up well.

    I’ve heard of people in the U.K. being charged for copters if they were found to have been telling lies and thus wasting the resuce services time.

  21. Squirrel says:

    There’s rather a lot of Trump on TV here at the moment. Pretty well all of it implicitly critical.

    But I don’t think any more it’s whether words matter. Or whether words get divorced from actions or principles and therefore become either meaningful or meaningless. It’s the discourse which has collapsed and simply lost all relevance. And reality has become irrelevant.

    An example just a few minutes ago: some Utah Republican Mormon politician:

    “Grabbing women by the pussy?”


    “Retweeting anti-muslim videos?”


    Other Trumpisms: “Unacceptable.”

    “But you still support him?”

    “Of course.”

    That is discourse without meaning; it’s simply absented itself from reality. It’s absent of logic; It’s absent of principle; it’s absent of morality; it’s absent of judgement.

  22. bluthner says:

    Or- the judgement that adorable person has made is: I hate the same people Trump hates, and that means more to me than anything else at all.

  23. KevinNevada says:


    The MRI was for lower abdominal pains, quite severe plus upchucking.

    No injections or drinking of noxious drinks, but they apparently got the information they needed.

    They thought it might be a blockage, or her appendix going awry.

    Turned out to be flu, a nasty version, she was out of commission for almost two weeks.

    As for the Mormons still supporting Trump, there is less of that, than some realize. Many Mormons really do care about the conduct of leaders, and Trump’s is unacceptable to many of them. I speak from personal conversations here.

    (They may be more honest with me, on this subject, than down at church on Sunday.)

  24. Squirrel says:

    “There are indications that Donald Trump’s son-in-law or persons or companies close to him could have channeled suspicious monies through Deutsche Bank as part of their business dealings.”

    The German Manager Magazin quoted in Mother Jones on an internal investigation by Deutsche Bank (results of which have apparently been passed to German bank regulators and presumably Mueller. . .)

  25. Squirrel says:

    Oh, such principled government. . . .

    Five Democrats sided with most Republicans to keep the government open: Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

    All but Jones, who defeated Roy Moore in an upset win last month, are up for reelection next year in states Trump carried in 2016.

    But four Republicans sided with Democrats to block the bill and shutter the government: Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

  26. Squirrel says:

    So, will that $50,000 a head be wasted? And will the Hairball return it* if he doesn’t make it to Mar-a-Go-Go with his copy of Forbes?

    *Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha. . . [Squ collapses]

  27. Squirrel says:

    Didn’t Trump tweet that the US needed ‘a good government shut-down’? Were this another country in another century, I would have assumed the next logical, even sensible, step would simply be not to bother starting it up again.

    As a detached (mercifully by a couple of thousand miles) observer I’d quite like to see how that came out.

    “King Donald IV”? (The Scots have had three already, I believe—for No III, see Macbeth—though I doubt they’d really go for “King Donald I of the USA and IV of a Scottish golf course”.)

    Donald I is described by ‘Undiscovered Scotland’ as “wanton . . .a playboy prince. . .who never expected or perhaps even wanted to become King” and left behind the law of ‘tanistry’ which allowed a family member to inherit the kingdom . . .

    None of the four Donalds (sorry, three, I anticipate) seem to have ended well . . .

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