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It has been a long time since FDR uttered that famous phrase in his first inaugural address in 1932 but it couldn't have more relevance in 2014!  Fearseems to be the predominant emotion running through American society today and that my friends is no accident.   An opinion piece in the N.Y. Times entitled "50 States of Fear" by Peter Ludlow outlines how we got to this state and it isn't pretty.  Follow me over the scary looking orange thing..

One often associates a fearful populace with a totalitarian state, but as Ludlow points out in his excellent article :

" the opposite is frequently true. Even democracies founded in the principles of liberty and the common good often take the path of more authoritarian states.  They don't work to minimize fear, but use it to exert control over the populace and serve the Governments principle aim: consolidating power."
I think the whole article is a must read.

Ludlow goes on to say :


Philosophers have long noted the utility of fear to the state.  Machiavelli notoriously argue that a good leader should induce fear in the populace in order to control the rabble."
And that is just what the one per cent think of the rest of us, rabble that needs to be controlled.  I understand Obama's tepid NSA speech.  A few cosmetic changes but the NSA is too useful for those in power. It is a genie that can not be put back in the bottle. When a populace is to afraid to speak so-called radical ideas on the phone or in E-mails , the control is complete.  And this is done all in the name of what? , protecting us from terrorists?

How about protecting us from unregulated corporate behavior that has resulted in things like the West Virginia  water supply being poisoned.  Ludlow nails it:

"...while we spend 7 billion dollars a year on the TSA'S national security theater in which over 58,000 TSA employees make sure we are knot carrying to much toothpaste or shampoo onto airplanes, the budget for the Occupational Safety and Health administration is under 600 million a year.  It seems are threat assessments are flawed.

We are conditioned to fear persons in caves in Pakistan, but not the destruction of our water supply by frackers , massive industrial accidents, climate change, or the work related deaths  of 54,000 Americans every year. Fear of outside threats have led us to ignore the more real dangers from within."

But of course if you made your people aware of those very real threats to our safety, they might get pesky and unruly and actually ask for regulations that would make things safer.  Much harder to control that!
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    " We're all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can."................Will Rogers

    by tvdude on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:10:39 PM PST

  •  the need for certainty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    here's a take on authoritarianism....

    fear is an extreme reaction to uncertainty. manipulating the uncertainty/certainty dynamic is where the power is.

    the need for certainty turns uncertainty into stress and fear. the stronger the need for certainty the easier uncertainty turns into fear.

    the secret of power is to be certainty- always be right and never admit you're wrong. the idols of the authoritarians have the royal certitude, which means they're better at selling the lies and fantasies that ease the fear. christie just lost that royal certitude- he's toast as far as authoritarian leadership goes because there will always now be doubt and uncertainty around him.

    why the need for certainty? it hardly exists in nature- the universe is infinite and constantly changing. we need certainty because that's what happens when sex energy gets into the left side of the brain, where logic is done. it pushes logic to abandon objectivity and patience and find premature conclusion and finality- certainty.

    since 'nothing' is certain it has to be created - that's what our value structures have evolved to do - paint reality in black and white, yes and no, right and wrong. that allows rulers to judge and demonize their opponents, create fear, and offer certainty.

    so why do humans need certainty like that?

    since humans became 'civilized' it became necessary to limit population, control reproduction, and increase the age of reproduction. that meant a lot more masturbation.

    with boys and men especially, no sex ed, and sexual repression, that usually happens with guilt and with the right/tool hand, which is connected to the left side of the brain.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:02:56 PM PST

  •  I agree, (0+ / 0-)

    Ludow's article is excellent, it reminds us of just how much manipulation we have been subject to post 9/11.

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