Fear, Despair, and Politics

The difference between Despair
And Fear — is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck
And when the Wreck has been –
(Emily Dickinson)

Despair And Fear have become the operational mantra of America’s modern right wing politic. Why is that? My personal presumption is a simple one: the far right wing has realized that, over the last three or four decades, their combination of irrational policies alongside the irrational fears they’ve readily imposed upon society (via their purposefully-diminished educational systems) WILL work, invariably, in their favor.

Historians could, I’m sure, write thousands of pages on the methods, outcomes and successes of impositions, over the centuries, of ‘fear’ as a political motivator. It is, however, also true that one need not study each and every event where fear has been used as the principle means to coerce submission of the many to the authority of the few. Not really. In fact, a quick perusal of just a handful of quotes collected in the aftermath of 9-11 (mainly to satisfy an emergent WTF? attitude in re the actions/reactions of the Bush administration to that event) exposes those subtleties which reveal — again — the benefits that fear and despair always offer to the tyranny of the moment, as well as the consequences thereof to ordinary people everywhere. Following are attitudes — cogently expressed — which most ably summarize both the intent and the program(s) of criminal politicos . . . today’s American “conservatives” in particular:

“Fear always springs from ignorance.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” ~Edmund Burke

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” ~Bertrand Russell

“But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy & it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism & exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” ~Hermann Goering, 1946, in his testimony at the Nuremberg trials (shortly before he poisoned himself in his jail cell)

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -― kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ―- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” ~General Douglas MacArthur – (1880-1964) WWII Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific, Supreme United Nations Commander; 1957

“The ‘war on terror’ has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. … The damage these three words have done — a classic self-inflicted wound — is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. … But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a ‘war on terror’ did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.” ~Zbigniew Brzezinski, Washington Post Op.Ed.; March, 2007 (highlight mine)

“Sometimes it is difficult to decide who to fear the most – the ethically-bankrupt President whose madness drives what was once the greatest country on earth closer and closer to ruin or the blind, brain-dead lemmings who continue to follow him into the abyss.” ~Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue.

“What happened yesterday [November 2, 2004] was this: The Republicans finally achieved their long-held goal to use fear (of Muslims, of homosexuals, of minorities, of terrorism) and fundamentalism to get poor people to vote for the causes of the wealthy. It worked. Mission accomplished. The arrogant invented a crisis and the ignorant rallied to be saved from it; it’s the oldest form of power play in the world.” ~Dean Bakopoulos; Author

“When fear rules the day, many minds are weak enough to crack the world into nothing but ‘me’ and ‘evil-doers,’ and as long as we’re proudly killing unlike minds over there, they feel emboldened to do the same over here. For minds like that, the great attraction to patriotism is, as Aldous Huxley wrote, that ‘it fulfills our worst wishes.’” ~Barbara Kingsolver in Small Wonder

“Fear is all the Republicans have left–fear of brown people, gays, workers, foreigners and anyone who questions their (loosening) grip on power.” ~Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate; August 25, 2006

And finally, during the early (circa October 2007) run-up to the 2008 election, Paul Krugman wrote this brief synopsis of the Bush (post 9-11) years:

“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration adopted fear-mongering as a political strategy. Instead of treating the attack as what it was – an atrocity committed by a fundamentally weak, though ruthless adversary – the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction.

“Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up – perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general. And the base is looking for a candidate who shares this fear.

“Just to be clear, Al Qaeda is a real threat, and so is the Iranian nuclear program. But neither of these threats frightens me as much as fear itself – the unreasoning fear that has taken over one of America’s two great political parties.” ~Paul Krugman, circa October 2007

Krugman refers to both Al Qaeda and the Iranian nuclear program as potential threats-of-the-day to be feared by we the people, and while it’s fair to note that today, under President Obama’s leadership, BOTH of those threats have been either eliminated or substantially reduced, the current GOP refuses to so acknowledge. Instead, they carry forward their menu of fear and despair as if nothing has changed. Al Qaeda — now ISIS (created by the Bush Admin’s incursion into Iraq) in their fear-mongering linguistic — and our eternal enemy, Iran — a title now some forty years old but recently revitalized since Iran has toyed with nuclear centrifuges . . . well, the handwriting is clear. America is doomed. Be afraid. Be desperately afraid. Feel the Despair! Vote Republican because only “we” can save you! Us! We! The world! Etc.

And remember always:

“The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear.” ~Heinrich Himmler.

Fear clearly remains as useful as it is mindless . . . ergo its widespread political popularity both today and across the ages. Fear. Despair. Effective . . . when and where

The Mind is smooth — no Motion —
Contented as the Eye
Upon the Forehead of a Bust —
That knows — it cannot see —
(Emily Dickinson)

G.O.P. Defined.


About frugalchariot

How Frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human soul. (Emily Dickinson)
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