The Cost of Resistance

Victoria Strake
4 min readNov 1, 2020

We can either benefit from the system or attack it, but not both.

“Prisionero encadenado” — Francisco Goya (1806–1812) — Public Domain

If we speak against power — or worse, act against power — we will be punished according to the caprice of the powerful. In our time this can mean loss of job, homelessness, social isolation, hunger, violence, and death. It’s not something to take lightly or think you can dabble a bit in on the weekends and then return to your normal life. If we truly step against the powers-that-be we will be hurt, and if we aren’t prepared for that it will ruin us not only in body but in spirit.

This alone is why you rarely find idealists with grey hairs on their heads. Both because punishment so often works to break the spirit of resistance, but also because resistors tend to die younger if they continue to resist. The stakes are high when a lost job is lost health care. Most bend the knee willingly or otherwise. Even those who spoke boldly and protested and marched are most often ground down and either broken or discarded.

They Will Hurt Us

It’s easy to talk and easy to know what ought to be done. The corruption and brutality of our society is not well-hidden even in the best of times. Anyone with a bit of decency can see how things urgently need to change. Waking up to hell is the easy part — it’s resisting that is the challenge.

It isn’t just punishment, though, if you are white — especially if you’re a man. There is another effective means of undermining your will to resist: appealing to your greed, seducing you with what you desire, enticing you into investing in a corrupt system until you identify with it. This is as easy as offering well-paying jobs based on your higher education. Like the proverbial boar-hunter, the powers-that-be need only get you feeding from their hand to own you and your will. Are you really going to oppose your boss when doing so would threaten your mortgage, your retirement fund? No, you’ll keep quiet, and you’ll fucking do what you are told if you want that money.

College students who resist so loudly get pretty quiet once they’re employed, and they tend to stay quiet. You don’t speak against your employer, and that means you don’t speak against employers categorically, and that means you don’t resist but instead you partake. You become the corruption. (Save your…

Victoria Strake

Essayist, former scientist, trans woman. Striving for actionable methods of peaceful revolution — relationships, community, mutual aid, subsistence, science.