R. Lee Wrights: The manufacture and manipulation of fear

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor 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. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur

by R. Lee Wrights

BURNET, Texas (July 23) – Fear is a very powerful emotion. Fear can paralyze you into inaction, or stampede you into doing things you would not ordinarily do. In certain situations fear can be beneficial; it can heighten your senses when you’re facing danger, stimulating the adrenalin necessary to survive or the sense to avoid the situation altogether. But more often than not fear simply overwhelms principle, reason, logic and common sense and drives you into a state of paralysis or panic that may ultimately destroy you.

Fear is such a strong emotion and so easy to arouse that it is, deplorably, one of the most powerful weapons in a politician’s arsenal. In the cacophony of today’s political discourse the Manufacture and Manipulation of Fear is the ideal companion tactic to the Wasted Vote Lie. Democrats and Republicans know it’s easier to scare people into supporting them than it is for them to convince people of the truth and value of their own arguments; it is easier to scare than persuade. It is simpler to demean, degrade and demonize their opponents than it is to admit that the other side may have sincerely held beliefs, even if they don’t agree.

We hear the unholy invocation of fear distorting discourse on every issue. For example, everyone is screaming that we must raise the debt ceiling or catastrophe will strike our beloved nation. Unfortunately, catastrophe is already upon us with the enormous burden of debt all Americans must endure as their livelihoods are taxed away. The only thing that can make it any worse is going deeper into debt. It is foolish to believe that America can solve her debt problem by plunging even deeper into debt. But mark my words, the fear of what might happen if we don’t will win the day, and once again the debt ceiling will be raised.

Any attempt to rein in runaway government spending is characterized as advocating “tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor and elderly.” Every new suppression of individual rights and expansion of government power, every new or expanded foreign military adventure is justified by the shibboleth that “we have to fight them over there or else we will fight them over here.” Words like “calamity, catastrophe, disaster, collapse, and imminent danger” permeate a politician’s every political utterance. Every political decision or issue is categorized as a “crisis.”

Eric Hoffer once noted, “You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.” It’s increasingly clear that the current assemblage of characters masquerading as our political rulers are afraid of just about everything – and most afraid of the very people they claim to serve. Exploiting Fear, in tandem with its evil companions Envy and Pride, creates an even greater control mechanism.

Our republican system of government is not greatly flawed; in fact, its chief deficiency lies in the overabundance of less-than-honorable representatives who occupy the seats of government. The desire to control is the real motive for most who seek an elected position. They may disguise this desire with pleasant-sounding terms, like “giving something back,” calling what they do “public service,” or claiming they are doing it “for the children.” But as Daniel Webster observed, “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

We have far too many representatives who believe they were elected to “make things better,” who believe that they — and they alone — have the solution to all our problems, and who fervently desire to regulate every aspect of our lives for the ostensibly noble purpose of protecting us from harm. Like overbearing parents, they are intent on eliminating every boogeyman under the bed and every monster in the closet. As with the Wasted Vote Lie, the ruling class is basically telling Americans that we are too ignorant, too stupid, too lazy, two uninformed, and generally incapable of making such decisions for themselves. The ruling elites are claiming that everyday life is simply too hard, too demanding for most people to cope with unless the “helping hand” of government is there to protect and guide them.

In his first inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror…” Whatever else President Roosevelt may have been or done, his observation was right on the money. Today, the political class revels in conjuring up “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror,” using it at every opportunity to, in the words of H.L. Mencken, “keep the populace alarmed … by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

The most dangerous threat to freedom and liberty is to continue to allow fear to rule us and to blind us to real terrors and threats we face — not from foreign dangers, but from the ruling elites here at home. Supported by nothing but their self-anointed, sanctimonious claim that they “knew better,” these political charlatans manufacture and manipulate fear in order to frighten people into acting and thinking in ways contrary to their nature and tradition, to pit neighbor against neighbor so they can rob them of riches and freedom, and to drive citizens into willingly sacrificing their liberty before the false god Security.

It is time to tell the ruling class: We are not afraid. We will no longer be ruled by fear. We will no longer fear “the other” or the unknown and demonize those with whom we differ. We will not allow politicians to scare us into sacrificing those precious American siblings – Liberty and Freedom. It is time we openly declare that we own ourselves, we are responsible for our own lives and welfare, we can take care of ourselves — and we are not afraid!

R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.

Lee Wrights for President
Contact: Brian Irving, press secretary