What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
Wise are the oft-quoted words of Benjamin Franklin:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. (via Quoty)
The dichotomy between liberty and so-called safety (or, in modern vernacular, “security”) is depicted well by the following comic:
The fearmongering depicted by Bush’s character in this cartoon is everywhere evident in modern political discourse, and it saturates everything we hear from the executive branch. We’re told time and again of the importance and necessity of certain programs and legislation to fight terrorism abroad so that our homeland can remain free and safe.
No, officials instead lust after power, and the oldest trick in the book to obtain more power is to have those beneath you beg you to do whatever it takes to protect them. This was the reasoning behind Franklin’s quote, leading H.L. Mencken to also opine:
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. (via Quoty)
Indeed, alarmism is crucial in government policy (think global warming), propelling propaganda efforts to convince the citizenry of some dire need. This creates a demand for legislation, which gives the government exactly what it wants: oversight, control, and power. The perpetual cycle continues, with “hobgoblins” created by those in power (I would argue that most, not all, are imaginary) and problems inflated to garner public attention and outcry.
Watch the next speech given by President Bush and see how many times he cites 9/11, global terrorism, domestic security, and all the other related buzzwords that translate into nothing more than “give up your liberty, or we’re all gonna die!”