Exploration of the Dynamics of Collboration and Non-Resistance

Author: Gilliatt, Stephen
This book represents a major attempt to analyze collaboration from a perspective that explains its appeal without the use of pathological or amoral elements of betrayal, cowardice, individual and institutional self-interest that have intruded in previous studies. The author condenses and synthesizes the existing historical literature on the subject of collaboration during the Second World War and discerns a deeply held rational and moral integrity in the intentions of collaborators that give them the confidence to act and to defend themselves without regret, a philosophy comprising a logic of weakness, a normality imperative, a theory of the shield and an idea of manoeuvre through partnership.


“Readers will be challenged, perhaps provoked, by the exploration of the dynamics of collaboration and resistance, not only in their familiar wartime context but in the more normal circumstances of Thatcherite England, where some collaborated with and others resisted what Gilliatt sees as an illegitimate extension of state power. But Gilliatt’s great contribution is to bring out the pragmatic and moral dimension of ordinary collaborationism – coping with coercive power to which the collaborator has no ideological commitment – thereby drawing it into political sociology, where it has been a notable absentee.” – Graeme Duncan

“. . . an interesting and unusual book. . . . Gilliatt has performed a valuable service in forcing us to rethink and re-examine our conventional assumptions about a specific form of human behaviour which is still deemed by most people to be repugnant. He does not seek to defend this behaviour but attempts instead to understand and explain it in terms which he believes have ultimately a fundamentally moral foundation. Collaboration is riddled with paradoxes and moral contradictions but it has been over-simplified in the mainstream literature and Gilliatt has in contract underlined both its subtleties and complexities by looking at how it has operated in different political settings. This is a fascinating but extremely difficult subject with which to grapple and Gilliatt has admirably exposed the agonies, anxieties and rationalisations inherent in the collaborator’s mind. The reader will find much here that is stimulating. The project incorporates a judicious mixture of historical interpretation, political analysis and philosophical reflection that is interlaced with the sinews of psychology. This book is to be welcomed as an important contribution to a relatively neglected subject which understandably continues to arouse much historical and political controversy and not a little public consternation. It will be particularly useful for students of history and political science but should also attract the attention of the general reader.” – Michael Burgess

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. The Question of Boundaries: Ideologists and collaborators; Collaborators and resisters
2. Three Approaches to Studying Collaboration : Collaboration as pathology; the structural-institutional approach; The ‘philosophical’ approach
3. The Logic of Weakness and the Normality Imperative
4. The theory of the Shield: Vichy – the sacrificial model of protection; the Channel Island defenders - the British road to collaboration; The collaboration of the victim – Judenrat and the holocaust
5. Manoeuvre Through Partnership
6. Collaboration Without Tears – Coping with Coercive Power in a Democracy: The theiry of the shield and local democracy; The logic of weakness and the autonomy of trade unions; Manoeuvre through partnership – from necessity to allegiance
7. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index