Politics is fear. {part 1/2}

Fear is, and has always been, the hallmark of political tactics. The people will only willingly submit to tyranny if they are made to believe that without government a fearful state of affairs might obtain. No other emotion can bypass rational argumentation, grab allegiance and push people to violence like fear.

Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Machiavelli was writing for kings and emperors. Nowadays, of course, politicians have the loyalty of the people, and no longer need to be feared. Rather, they use fear for the further purpose of expanding their power.

The very existence of government is predicated on fear, the fear of chaos and general violence of all against all. Never mind that government itself is the greatest creator of chaos and violence; never mind that Anarchies have always been less violent than their contemporary societies; government propaganda and Big Media have been successful in implanting the belief that Anarchy equals chaos and violence by constantly making this correlation. Now we are stuck with the laughable absurdity of a society of people who fear that, if we remove the entity which causes wars, outlaws victimless crimes and takes over vast swaths of said society, we will have widespread violence and chaos.

The dishonest usurpation of the Articles of Confederation, and its thuggish replacement by the US Constitution (a document which deserves a place alongside the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as rallying points for the enemies of freedom), was based on fear of widespread chaos, using the Shay Rebellion as the case in point. Very often, fear is generated by taking one or a few isolated cases and letting people’s imagination run wild. “What if we get rebellions all around? What will we do without a strong central military to protect us?” These scenarios are always outlandish, but as long as people believe that it might just happen, they will fear it, no matter how improbable it is (see, for instance, the tactics of global warming fearmongers).

Now think of all the areas in which government takes over, intervenes or legislates, and you will find a tactic (if not all tactics) based on fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of other “countries,” fear of “immigrants” taking over, fear of losing one’s culture, fear of being attacked, fear of being sick, fear of dying, fear of accidents, fear of having to take responsibility for one’s actions, fear of losing control over other people.Fear, of course, is rarely the actual reason underlying any government policy. The actual reasons for government policies are generally more mundane: corporate favours, popularity, interventionist foreign policy, expansion of the tax base, control over prevalent ideas, and so on. But fear is the most powerful tool that they possess in order to get those policies accepted and supported by the general population.

Take the “War on Terror.” The WoT has been a tremendously powerful and efficient tool in expanding the power of government. Why? Because the fear tactics underlying it became ridiculously easy to implement after 9-11. This operation made it easy for everyone to swallow the party line that “terrorists want to kill you for your freedom.” Never mind that the 9-11 attacks came after a concerted strategy that aimed to attack US military assets in the Middle East, and that the enemy of the terrorists is the interventionist policy of the US Empire, not “our freedom.” Never mind that we are not free. Never mind that the attacks that came afterwards had absolutely nothing to do with stopping terrorism.

Most wars start with government lies and deceit, and the 9-11 attacks really illustrated the power of fear. Unthinkingly, the American public bought the lies completely, because they were gripped with fear and the desire for revenge. Fear overrides discourse and thought. Fear is primal, visceral, animalistic, a similar overwhelming feeling to the one primitive man must have felt when he faced a saber-tooth tiger. A man experiencing fear either flees or fights. If he cannot fight himself, then he will cheer on those who can. Thus the terrorists’ strategy of sinking the US government in war debt predictably won out, because their terrorist attacks were so spectacular that they had the expected effect.

18 thoughts on “Politics is fear. {part 1/2}

  1. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 15:34

    Wait a minute. Why is the Communist Manifesto an anti-freedom document? I’ve analyzed it carefully. Karl Marx was actually a free market advocate.

  2. Francois Tremblay November 25, 2007 at 15:36

    Yes… of course…

    And George Bush is actually a classical liberal, too!

  3. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 15:45

    For example, the “Labor Theory of Value” isn’t a communist idea. It’s a free market idea. In a truly free market, the Labor Theory of Value actually holds.

  4. Francois Tremblay November 25, 2007 at 15:46

    In a truly free market, the price of product is dictated by the amount of labour one puts in it?

  5. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 15:46

    The Communist Manifesto, AS IMPLEMENTED IN RUSSIA, CHINA, AND THE USA is anti-freedom. However, Karl Marx’s actual goals were a free market.

  6. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 15:47

    In a truly free market, the price of capital is relatively cheap. Under a gold standard, interest rates are 1%-2%. Labor winds up being the largest component of price, but capital is part of the price.

  7. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 15:50

    Also, the Labor Theory of Value doesn’t say that everyone’s labor is valued equally. My interpretation is that more skilled labor is valued more.

    However, in a truly free market there is a natural arbitrage as workers move from low-paid jobs to higher-paying jobs.

  8. Francois Tremblay November 25, 2007 at 15:53

    Yea, Karl Marx’ actual goal was a free market. Also, George Bush’s actual goal is world peace. It’s just… they’re both kinda secretive people.

    So do explain again how in a free market prices would be based on labour?

  9. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 16:52

    In a free market, capital is available relatively cheaply. You don’t have the state distorting the capital market via a central bank.

    If labor is underpaid relative to the value of their work, workers will borrow capital (available cheaply) and start competing businesses.

    The Labor Theory of Value fails to hold in the current market, because the current market is not a free market.

    Under a gold standard, interest rates are typically 1%-2%. This means that capital invested in businesses should earn a return of slightly more than that. In the present, the central bank distorts the credit market and capital can earn an excessive share of profits.

  10. fsk2006 November 25, 2007 at 16:54

    Read this post for Karl Marx participating in a tax resistance movement:

    http://sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=21Nov07&showyear=2007

  11. Francois Tremblay November 25, 2007 at 18:11

    Is there some kind of point to all this?

  12. krsnakhandelwal November 26, 2007 at 02:41

    There are govts and there are govts.,exposed tyrrannical govts fall and unexposed unethical govts carry on. The publics intelligence level has been found to be poor as a single body because parts of it have an axe to grind in the matter along with rulers.

  13. confusedtwenty November 26, 2007 at 08:08

    I completely agree with you regarding governments fear mongering.

    In London, you can go for months without hearing about terrorists or 9/11 but then all of a sudden, stories are splashed all over the papers that people should be vigilant as the police have come across some sort of evidence that there will be a new bombing.

    Whether this is to scare monger the people, or to show that work is being done to prevent new attacks is unknown, but the fear factor is definitely still there. And with regards to the political parties in Britain supplying these messages? Its always labour, never the conservatives.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  14. lsj521 November 29, 2007 at 23:36

    You know all those “preventative treatments” that are out there to keep you from getting a cold? Squirt this up your nose & you won’t catch that cold going around the office? Well, how do you know you actually “didn’t get sick”? Can you see in to the future & know with 100% certainty that you would have gotten sick?

    That’s exactly what this administration is doing – trying to convince us that they are preventing other attacks. And people are falling for it! Here we have an oppressive gov’t and people are actually willingly giving up freedoms thinking that it’s necessary.

    I have been looking for a place to rant about this and clearly I’ve found it. We live in a society that is being ruled by fear and too many people are willing to buy into it! They don’t see that the cause for the attacks was diverted from the gov’t to the fault of the people… as you stated “Never mind that the 9-11 attacks came after a concerted strategy that aimed to attack US military assets in the Middle East, and that the enemy of the terrorists is the interventionist policy of the US Empire, not “our freedom.””

  15. Francois Tremblay November 29, 2007 at 23:48

    Not to mention that a lot of those products are homeopathic, so you’re literally just squirting water in your nose… lol!

    Generally you would be looking for causal links between the mechanism of contagion or disease and the products being used. In this case, it is rather quite unclear how war is supposed to “cure” terrorism… when war is merely a different form of terrorism. The technical definition of terrorism is “violence used in order to effect political change.” That’s the definition of what the American Army is doing! And terrorism is on the rise, too.

    It is supposed to be un-PC to say that the cause is the US government, as you’re accusing the victims, which is ridiculous. The people who died in those buildings had nothing to do with the imperialist policy of the US government.

    I’m glad you liked the post. I don’t really write on news issues on this blog, I write mostly on political theory, but I hope you like it anyway. ;)

  16. lsj521 November 30, 2007 at 18:22

    “The people who died in those buildings had nothing to do with the imperialist policy of the US government.”

    Yes, and the people who were blamed (by certain religious leaders: feminists, jews, homosexuals) also had nothing to do with the attacks.

    I get really sick of “free speech zones” and “this isn’t the time for free speech” arguments. I actually had someone tell me I had no right to speak out against the war – that by speaking out against it I was “FOR” killing our soldiers and ending Democracy!! It’s so bass ackward that I have to laugh.

    well, being a musician political “theory” is a bit out of my league (not to say I’m stupid, just my brain works in a very different way) but I am glad to have wandered over here to get some fresh perspectives on things.

  17. lsj521 November 30, 2007 at 18:24

    “Not to mention that a lot of those products are homeopathic, so you’re literally just squirting water in your nose… lol!”

    Oh, and yes. Salt water. Someone told me that these are all being marketed toward Baby Boomers who all either want to “appear hip” to new ideas or who are too stupid to read the ingredient lists. :)

  18. Francois Tremblay November 30, 2007 at 23:37

    “I get really sick of “free speech zones” and “this isn’t the time for free speech” arguments.”

    Yes, the very idea of having a free speech zone (in parks, in schools) is ridiculous. It just shows you how our rights are not considered important by the government.

    “I actually had someone tell me I had no right to speak out against the war – that by speaking out against it I was “FOR” killing our soldiers and ending Democracy!! It’s so bass ackward that I have to laugh.”

    Oh, well. I tried talking to a few pro-war people, but none of them were listening to what I was saying, so I stopped trying. They are the most close-minded people I have ever tried to talk to.

    “well, being a musician political “theory” is a bit out of my league (not to say I’m stupid, just my brain works in a very different way) but I am glad to have wandered over here to get some fresh perspectives on things.”

    No, I don’t think it’s really out of anyone’s league. If you understand the universality argument, then you can probably understand anything I write about on this blog.

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