Note: After the Great Site Meltdown of 2016, I lost a lot of articles that, quite frankly, I wanted to keep and/or refer back to (and a few that I sincerely hope stay gone forever). Now that the book is done, I’ve been going through the Wayback Machine and pulling some of the older articles for republication, so if you read something and think, “Gee, I think I read this a while back,” you might have. Read it again anyway. 😉
Recently I was in a conversation with someone over the non-negotiables—the things that for us, are automatic deal-breakers when considering someone for membership in our ‘tribe,’ so to speak. Now, keep in mind that there are obviously different levels of trust, and different activities and/or information levels that you’re going to engage in with various people. This topic is often danced around, or there’s a lot less thought given to it than there should be. It’s not as simple as “Yes I trust you” or “No, I don’t.” It’s not a 1-5 scale. It’s not a permanent rating, either—it can vary with every action, every word. Trust is beyond fragile, and at this point, if you don’t see it as a literal life-and-death thing, then you are playing tiddlywinks against an opponent who’s playing chess.
In order to talk about non-negotiables, we have to talk about infiltration. Often in a group (whether on Facebook or even off of it), people have a shortened trust process. I’ve ranted on the topic of the use of Facebook in the ‘patriot movement’ plenty so I won’t belabor that point now. Bottom line is, a lot of folks think that if they do a cursory Google search, and/or add someone on Facebook so they can check out their timeline, that should take care of the trust thing. [I’ll admit that if you’re aware of how to leverage the Google engine correctly, and use the right tools with it, it’s pretty powerful, but then again, you’re using Google, with all of the caveats and cautions that come with it.]
People have been lying about themselves on the internet since there first WAS an internet, but for some reason, people forget that. Even though it’s known that Bill Keebler had three federal agents in his inner circle for 18 months people think that it can’t happen to them. Even though it’s now known that there were 15 informants involved at the Malheur takeover, people still act like it’s shocking to think of.
I had someone tell me that “We expected there to be one there, but 15? That’s not even playing fair.” I didn’t even know how to respond to that without using profanity and the word “idiot.”
Here’s the cold truth. They have the funding, the time, and believe it or not, they have the talent. The FBI has been doing infiltration for decades (in many cases successfully), against far more violent groups with a lot tighter security than you have. Do some research on federal infiltration of organized crime, and I don’t mean watch the movie Donnie Brasco. Read the docs. The mafia was about as closed an organization as it gets, and the feds still wreaked havoc within that structure over time. Look at their escapades in the 1990s. “If you can’t infiltrate it, create it” was the motto. The feds were controlling militia units, white supremacy groups, you name it.
Folks like to portray federal agents as wholly incompetent government workers who can barely surveille their way out of a paper bag (and sure, some of them are) but let’s think about that. Fifteen informants at Malheur. Three on Keebler. Four that I can name off the top of my head currently operating in Washington State, with several more suspected. We’re talking long game operations, where these agents and informants were/are inner circle, even leadership. Entrapments where they get ‘good people’ to do ‘bad things.’ So, either people in the movement are pretty freaking stupid, or you’ll have to give a bit of begrudging admission that the feds aren’t as bad at this as the movement likes to make them out to be. Say what you want about the evil in their tactics…they’re still working. If they didn’t, the feds wouldn’t use them. I’ve already written some basics on the infiltration topic as an offensive tactic, and I’m sure I’ll write more later on that as well. But for now, let’s talk about why it matters in the context of non-negotiables.
If you’re talking about inner circle, you should first define what that phrase means to you. I’m a huge proponent of risk assessment—thinking through situations and making risk projections based on the information you have available, and then either making a mitigation plan for those risks, or simply altering your course of action to avoid the risk entirely. That’s a process that doesn’t get done enough. So when you’re talking about “inner circle,” what does that mean?
- People you’re willing to talk about your preps and bugout plan with?
- People you would actually SHARE your preps with?
- People who you’d take life in prison for?
- People who you’d break the law with?
- People who you’d turn around from bugging out and go back for?
- People who you’d trust to defend YOUR wife and kids with their lives?
As you can see, that tiny list could be expanded a great deal—and your definition may be one, two, or all of those. It may be something totally different. The point is, before you even start talking about inviting people into your ‘inner circle’ you need to define in your own head what that even means, and then you need to decide what kind of person they’d need to be in order to reach that level. What is that person’s worldview? What’s important to them?
People tell you a great deal by how they live. If you’re just looking for someone to organize a rally with, that’s one thing. But if you’re looking to create a solid small group for whatever you’ve got going on, you’ll need to be a LOT more choosy. (Keep in mind that when I’m talking about a group, I mean 5-7 people, no more than 10.) In order to decide what the criteria are for your mutual values and societal mores, you first need to know what YOU believe—and you’d be surprised at how much you probably haven’t thought about your own belief system. It’s not as simple as checking the list of hot-button political issues or candidates. If you’re looking to trust someone on that level, you need to know how they’ll respond in a given situation. What drives them? What do they need? What do they want? What’s most important to them? Don’t assume it’s their family or liberty or anything else. You may find out at a very critical time that his friendship with you is suddenly not that important when he’s facing jail time. You might realize that his loyalty stops when his kids get hungry. You may find that their self-preservation trumps even their own spouse.
It’s easy to toss out some generalized things. You need a guy with integrity, let’s say. You want someone with strong character who believes in liberty. Okay…but what does that mean? I know plenty of people who “believe in liberty” that I wouldn’t voluntarily be within a mile of, and plenty more who are ‘upstanding, good people’ who couldn’t pay me enough to get into my inner circle. I even know solid people who I work with on various things that will never be part of my inner circle. Truth be told, just because you believe in the right of people to believe and live as they choose doesn’t also mean you have to allow them in your groups. Now we start getting into the uncomfortable parts of the exercise.
What your deal-breaker list is made up of depends not necessarily on what you believe the world should be like (since if you actually understand liberty, that’s a pretty wide variety of things you’re not going to like, too), but what you want around you. For instance, I’m all for legalization of various drugs, but I won’t allow someone who uses them in my inner circle. Not because I have a moral problem with their conduct, because I don’t care what they do in their own lives. I would nix them because addiction is a liability to me. That also goes for marital relationships; I do not care what kind of arrangement you have in your own house; that’s your business. If the man in that marriage is weak, however, that’s a deal-breaker to me because as I’ve said before, if a man cannot stand up to his wife, he won’t stand up to anyone else (or it’ll be a fear-based aggression as opposed to a calm assertiveness under pressure). Either way, no thanks.
I have many other things like this, based on threat models, avenues of potential exploitation, and a host of other variables that I choose to minimize exposure to in my environment. Certain vices, certain activities, certain beliefs. Not because I want to judge them or because I see myself as somehow better than they are, but because I have decided that the vulnerability created by their presence outweighs any positive benefit. I’m not going to go deeper into what my list is; you need to decide your own list. Once you sit down and think about it, your list may include any of the following:
- Faith or lack thereof. Religious differences can become a problem; some faith-based folks may not want to have an atheist in their group, and some atheists may not want “Bible thumpers” etc. in theirs. I know folks for whom the phrase “mission from God” is an instant stopping point. If they hear that, they’re out.
- Financial solvency. Some may find financial issues to be an avenue of exploit they’re not willing to deal with. If someone has a house in foreclosure, or is filing bankruptcy, for instance, it may signal other issues that should be considered. Some refuse to work with those who are wholly dependent on the government for their sustenance (welfare, food stamps, etc.). Again, this is a decision you need to make for yourself, and you may want to consider the situation surrounding those circumstances as well.
- Personal conduct. Sure, if someone is having an affair on their spouse, that’s their business. But it may give you pause about their trustworthiness. Certainly it’s not our job to police other people’s personal lives, but you have the right to decline to work or align with someone whose morals cause you concern. This heading covers a multitude of various things, and in recent months the movement has seen several examples of people deciding to publicly break off with conduct they find abhorrent.
- Sexual deviancy or habits. This can include anything you see as exploitable. If you find out that someone has a certain sexual habit, that may be a red flag to you—especially if the person needs that habit kept secret.
- White supremacy or other similar beliefs. Personally, if someone wants to rant about the origin of Jews or the need for a white nation, I’m out. Your mileage may vary.
- Temper/mouth issues. This can be a big one. If someone cannot control their temper or their mouth, you may find that to be a liability (because it is). It can bring you and your group unwanted scrutiny.
- Defiance of laws. Now, before you start screaming “I will not comply,” I want you to think about something. This is one of those items that makes YOUR thought process so critical. You and your group may be agitators, and so this may be a non-issue to you. However, if your goal is to stay under the radar, someone who likes open carrying and engaging in confrontations with cops may not be your best choice. YOU need to decide what is right for YOU and YOUR group.
- Compliance with laws. Again, this comes under “what are you trying to accomplish?” If you’re an agitator, or your group plans to engage in civil disobedience, etc., then someone who’s not interested in those things might be an issue, or may even be a danger.
- People who are in a relationship or married. Some activist groups advocate that working with a couple who is romantically involved is a bad idea for several reasons. Others refuse to work with people who are in the middle of a divorce, or in a bad/emotionally unstable relationship.
- Drinkers and brawlers. You may decide that someone who drinks a great deal (or at all) is not a good fit, and the same goes for those who seem to enjoy physical confrontations.
- Criminal history. You may choose not to work with someone with a criminal background, especially if that background involves fraud. Then again, it may be just what you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that a lot of informants were created when they were offered deals or found themselves in trouble with the ‘law.’
- Obese folks. I know people who refuse to work with those who are obese or not physically fit. They see these folks as being a liability to their group. This may apply to those who don’t train with their weapons, or are unsafe gun handlers as well.
- Lack of knowledge. You may not want to work with people who refuse to learn new skills, or who think they have already learned all they need to know.
- People who seek leadership positions or need to feel important. This can be a big one, for reasons that you probably don’t need explained to you.
- Overuse of social media. Some groups refuse to even recruit a member if they use social media.
- People who like to cause drama, or who like to talk about violent action. The old joke is that it’s easy to tell who the fed in your group is; he’s the one always trying to get you to blow something up. That isn’t entirely true in every case, but the principle stands. I’ve heard people tell me that someone in their group “is a hothead but we love him because he’s dedicated.” Well, that person is also highly exploitable. It’s an uncomfortable truth that in order for entrapment to work, the person needs to agree to be a part of it. If you don’t allow yourself to associate with people who can even put you in that position, it makes your group less vulnerable.
As you can see, this list goes on and on. You may read through it and decide that none of these are an issue for you, or you’re willing to take the chance. You may add things to this list. You may even decide that all of these are on a case by case basis, or you may adopt them as hard and fast rules. Whatever you decide is just that—your decision. Think through the ways that a human can be exploited, and understand that if there is a weakness there, you can rest assured that someone is looking for it, is feeding their family based on their ability to find it, and will use it.
Get Basics of Resistance: The Practical Freedomista, Book I on Amazon.