For a number of years, I’ve been on the email list of The Independent Institute. I’m not really a Great Big Fan of pubic policy "think tanks" for several reasons, but as such things go, these guys and CATO do some good work I suppose.
I usually only skim the emails that come, rarely reading the whole thing or really even any one of the articles completely. Today was different. Finally; something comes along with which I can find nary a single thing wrong.
This bears reading about ten times. Take it to heart; because it’s the absolute reality concerning the State and always has been. Given that the State is such a huge force in everyone’s existence, then if the following does not represent your view of it, you’re ill-equiped to live a life as full and happy as it could be–such fulfillment and happiness always requiring the maximun possible adherence to reality. The State: it’s nothing more than fictional harbor for scaredycats–and it always has been.
HOW RULERS EXPLOIT FEAR
When governments of old tired of spending lots of resources to beat the public into submission, they created the court priest, who promoted a theology of obedience. Modern governments, by contrast, maintain power by exaggerating crises (or crying "wolf" about non-crises) — and clamoring for "solutions" that would give them even greater amounts of power and resources. Both responses are propaganda strategies that exploit the public’s psychological insecurities for the benefit of the rulers.
"From top to bottom, the government wants us to be afraid, needs us to be afraid, invests greatly in making us afraid," writes Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, in an insightful new article, "Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power."
Higgs argues that fear plays a key role in helping the rulers maintain dominion over the ruled. Further, because fear is a "productive" resource for the government, like any other productive asset it is subject to the law of diminishing returns. Hence, governments (and their shills in the media and elsewhere) ceaselessly search for new fears to create and exploit — fostering the phenomenon Higgs calls the "danger du jour" seen on television news programs.
"By keeping the population in a state of artificially heightened apprehension, the government-cum-media prepares the ground for planting specific measures of taxation, regulation, surveillance, reporting, and other invasions of the people’s wealth, privacy, and freedoms. Left alone for a while, relieved of this ceaseless bombardment of warnings, people would soon come to understand that hardly any of the announced threats has any substance and that they can manage their own affairs quite well without the security-related regimentation and tax-extortion the government seeks to justify."
If only more members of the public would dare to look behind the curtain, they would see the small mentalities to whom they had surrendered the fruits of their labor and become emboldened to reclaim their liberty.
"Were we ever to stop being afraid of the government itself and to cast off the phoney fears it has fostered, the government would shrivel and die, and the host would disappear for the tens of millions of parasites in the United States — not to speak of the vast number of others in the rest of the world — who now feed directly and indirectly off the public’s wealth and energies. On that glorious day, everyone who had been living at public expense would have to get an honest job, and the rest of us, recognizing government as the false god it has always been, could set about assuaging our remaining fears in more productive and morally defensible ways.
This is a summary. The entire article takes about 10-15 minutes to get through and is very well worth the time. Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power, by Robert Higgs.
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace
alarmed–and hence clamorous to be led to safety–by menacing with an
endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." — H. L. Mencken