Risk is a concept expressing the possibility of things going wrong. Risk is a fact of life, and we can express morality, indeed all of life, as risk-management. The concept of opportunity costs tells us that inaction (or indeed, any action at all) brings with it the risk of losing what could have been gained by acting otherwise.
There is a vanishingly small probability that you will be killed at this very moment by a plane crashing from the sky, or a meteor, or a big stone from the nearby quarry. These risks, of course, we rightly consider insignificant. Other risks are extremely hard to evaluate, mainly because of media bias. The media, being virtually an arm of the ruling class, hypes up threats and downplays others. Terrorism, poverty, drug overdose, child kidnapping, school shootings, the melting of icebergs, poisoning from fish consumption, are all portrayed as clear and present probabilities: in some cases by constantly hammering us with news about it, and in other cases by omitting to mention the risk level (yes, eating fish can be dangerous if you make it your sole diet and eat, eat, eat: just like any other food out there).
Studies indicate that, due to the media and the human brain, we grossly misevaluate risk. Cars kills far more than planes, but we hear more about plane crashes because they are more rare and spectacular. There is more risk of you dying of lightning or an allergic reaction to peanuts than of a terrorist attack. There is more chance of any given child dying at football practice than from a school shooting.
Risk is a rich vein for collectivists, and it is used in many different ways to attack our freedom. It’s not hard to understand why: risk imparts fear, and people don’t generally like fearing things. Fear is what the State and religion feed on, not risk per se. If you fear something, or feel uncertainty or doubt (our good ol’ friend the FUD), then you will be more receptive to coercive control than you would be otherwise.
Risk is, in effect, a more specific form of uncertainty. We can be uncertain about the number of planets in a nearby star system, but this does not necessarily entail risk, unless you have a bet riding on it (or somesuch nonsense).
There are four basic ways in which risk is manipulated for coercive ends:
1. A new risk appears (due to new technology, new social behaviours, etc) and is hyped up by propaganda, even though its consequences are yet unclear or relatively uncertain.
2. A prominent event puts a specific, already-existing risk at the forefront of people’s minds. Subsequent similar events are hyped up as part of a new “wave” or “threat.” Risk is slowly misrepresented, going from “one-off incident” to “epidemic.”
3. Hyping up a new or already-existing risk by refusing to quantify it. “Alar in apples can kill you” makes the news: “drinking 19,000 quarts of apple juice in one day can kill you” doesn’t.
4. The wholesale creation of non-existing fears in order to preserve the status-quo (such as the belief that without the State the charity market would collapse, even though all the studies on the issue confirm that the State is the main competitor of the charity market).
In all cases, the first rule in hyping any risk-assessment is… to not make any assessment. Do not quantify, do not give any sense of perspective whatsoever, treat every event in isolation except to link them to other similar events in order to link them as an “epidemic.” To do so would invite actual thinking on the issue and its proper place in one’s view of the world. This is what you do NOT want people to do. You want people to get carried by whatever fear you’re peddling, without regard for perspective.
Global Warming is pushed as a gigantic risk, and the Kyoto Treaty is proposed as the solution. Never mind that the Kyoto Treaty is a tradeoff that no one in his sane mind, and even in a somewhat insane mind, would ever, ever, ever find acceptable (a reduction of 0.07C by 2050, with the lowest estimate of cost at 150 BILLION dollars PER YEAR). The risk is hyped up and the tradeoff not even mentioned. Don’t you want to stop Global Warming? Sorry about your job, working class sucker, but it’s for the greater good.
After the manufacturing of fear, the State must then propose its manufactured solution: central control and coercion. In short, it must seek to expand its power against the individual’s freedom, using fear as leverage.
Why does collectivism attempt to cut off avenues of risk? First, conformity brings little risk, and therefore seeking risk is mainly an expression of individuality, which must be repressed. Second, it’s a way to control your impulses and keep you cowed. For example, people who suffer from incurable diseases are more likely to seek risky medications: by refusing them this chance, the State sends a clear message that the individual is subservient to the State to the death.