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Rodney's Ramblings: Fear And Anger

" I am guessing that the main challenges, to the stability and peace of Western society, come mainly from our own state of mind and reactions we have to our own institutions, than it does to any external threats,'' writes Rodney Gascoyne.

We have recently seen how these two forces can be used and misused, both in politics and in wider arenas. Within the last decade, maybe it was Karl Rove who was the master of the first, and then expert at using that to bring on the second, to his benefit. If you want to look at manipulation by certain people against the interests of their opponents, these must be the two most potent powers to muster.

Some people saw it at the time, but maybe many more have now come to recognize, recent presidential elections have been almost entirely built on fear, with the bogie man being National Security. It is interesting to note that even today, these same fears are being argued to gain unthinking support for right wing Republicans, draped in their usual calls for patriotism. I am guessing that the main challenges, to the stability and peace of Western society, come mainly from our own state of mind and reactions we have to our own institutions, than it does to any external threats. We undermine ourselves far better than do our enemies. Is it a wonder that conspiracy theories seem to emerge almost daily now?

Fear can be a powerful motivator, to act in irrational and almost damaging ways, to our own safety and security. Changes to civil liberties and privacy laws, that have been implemented worldwide in recent years, have forced a major retreat of all the principles we had been working towards for centuries, as laid down in many bills of rights and thoughts on the ways to treat each other. It is mainly brought to bear in order to extract exactly that behavior in the general public, and so why it is often matched by a call to patriotic responses. These two influences are so often used together, and should be an automatic indicator, that what follows is almost certainly wrong and repressive.

The current climate change arguments are being formed on the basis of fear, but now accompanied by threats of what we are doing to our own grandchildren, to get us to accept their ‘facts’ and to immediately agree to implement their solutions, without wasting time to check on the science behind their claims. The first run at this was with the ‘Ozone’ issues some time ago, that people think has been solved by banning CFCs. Every so often we do hear of newer scientific findings that say there is still a loss of ozone in the atmosphere, with holes in the North and South, but this no longer engenders the fear it once did. It is no longer seen as leading to the catastrophes once promised. Leaving aside possible motives from both sides of the climate change arguments of late, we are not progressing an open minded look at all the science we do have, let alone seeking new data where needed. Wasn’t Copenhagen all about stirring up the fear factor, by those who thought they were in control of the debate? Maybe the emails from the University of East Anglia blunted those ambitions.

Fear is also being used to demonize a number of countries who are claimed to be pursuing nuclear weapons for foul reasons. Of course, it is those countries that already possess them, that suggest this is unacceptable. These fears could also be called on to justify unilateral military actions in the future when the situation is judged acceptable to the public at large. Hey, just think of all the illustrations of why Saddam Hussein was a legitimate target, given his weapons of mass destruction, even in the absence of any real proof.

Anger is usually the corollary to the use of fear, in that people are given a seemingly legitimate outlet, as a result of the fear that has been induced. Look at politics recently in many countries to see how opposition parties, and outside vested interests, are courting the anger of the mob, to be aimed, of course, against their own enemies. This can also take on a nationalistic character when you want to focus forces against other countries, for whatever reason. Again, this anger is best encouraged to instill a quick reaction, not leaving time to consider the facts, and rationalize a course of better actions. This anger is also often focused and aimed at becoming hate for the enemy. A few years ago we saw ‘organized’ parties to publically oppose any ideas of Health Reform in the US, and saw ‘tea party members direct their aim against moderate Republicans, in an attempt to force them to vote and act radically, out of fear of losing their seats. Mob violence has always been a potent force and so why Riot Acts, and the use of the army, were constants in past centuries, in an effort to restore law and order.

Am I alone in thinking a strategy of using mob anger, is increasingly being brought to bear, in order to restrict or even stop a debate and search for complete facts? This appears to be endemic worldwide, no matter from where or for what reasons it might originally have been stirred and misused. Can you think of any recent uses, or engineering in the direction of fear and anger, that have been used for positive and genuinely helpful purposes? I am not sure I can. Manipulation of the general public and data gathering about the individual, are ever increasing aspects of our daily lives.

We must be individually, and perhaps collectively, vigilant and demanding against those trying to misuse such forces against us, for their own selfish reasons, most often to our own detriment. Life is becoming more Orwellian all the time, or am I becoming paranoid? If I am, it does not mean they are not out to get me!


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