Fear is the war inside us. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Although in the world of politics, it can keep ‘us’ , the mob, motivated.
Fear in politics, in leadership and government is as old as the first political race. Since the first Caveman responding to a leadership challenge with “Urrrr…lets invade next cave?”, fear has been used to subdue the discord and distract the masses.
So, how does it still work then? And why do we still fall for it? Well, it seems our fears have not really changed much over history. Current polls of people’s fears show death, terrorism, violence, failure, injury, being alone, (as well as intimacy), snakes and spiders, and of course, public speaking as our main threats. Although some of these resonate with us all (please add sudden, excruciating, limb ripping Shark attack for me please), the more prosperous we become as a nation, the more our fears turn well, petty. Let’s just say, the game of materialism which most of us are involved in can distract us from more salient issues.
So, how are they doing it these days. Well Fear of Invasion is the Right Bower in the political card game. Why? We are a massive island nation with a little defence and a small population. It would be pretty easy to knock us off in the middle of night. Or is it as simple as that we know how good we have it here, so we are fearful of foreigners coming to ruin (or change it slightly). So whether it be the Bloody Japanese, the Bloody Communists, the Bloody Vietnamese, the Bloody Dagoes or our current Bloody Boat People, our xenophobia certainly doesn’t discriminate. And lets not forget the original Boat People, the unBloody First Fleet. Maybe this is where this original dread feeling has come from. We don’t want someone to do what has already been done before to the First Australians.
“This time, though, it’s real.”
The current government, who so brilliantly played on these fears in opposition, had been struggling with the transition to power with their ‘if you let us cut all your funding now, we won’t need to cut it in the future’ brand of governing. With the problem of ‘illegal boat people’ or ‘refugees’ (depending on your leaning) being solved/moved to PNG, the Coalition needed a new narrative. To their relief and my cynicism, a life ring came along in the form of Malaysian Airways Flight MH17. Since then, Tony Tone has been on a crusade of ‘leadership’/’belligerence’. With nothing to lose or gain from Russia economically, our PM and his wizards thought it the perfect antidote to their struggle. And what mileage he has got from the crash and subsequent shirtfront frenzy. Remember the Budget anyone?
To the next fear of choice, Climate change. Conservatives will tell you this is the biggest Fear used in politics and it is the bastion of the Progressives. The bloody hypocritical Right wing socialists! Using fear to destroy the livelihoods of the working families in our economy!
But shouldn’t we a be society, not an economy? An economy is what we have, what we produce. Our prosperity shouldn’t define us. So this righteous belief that, if we don’t always chase the maximum dollar for our resources at any expense, it will cause a mass economic downturn and we may end up losing our jobs. To not be able to afford the new house, another car, a bigger tv, a better mobile phone. The fear is always prevalent. The cycle of wealth must continue to grow. You are failing if you’re not working for these possessions, not buying things for you and yours. Wanting more, striving to be bigger and better. Having status. Always Open for Business.
But it doesn’t end there. Ebola, Isis, And lately a fall in living standards if we don’t pass Joe’s budget. It never ends. But the Government wants us to know these threats. To be Alert, but not alarmed by them. To know they are aware of them and they are looking out for us. Making policy to curb them. This policy where You lose freedoms, is of course, to protect you. Small government that sees all and knows all and can do whatever it pleases.
But it’s not just about the economy, stupid.
And for all theses government hyped distractions, when real genuine fears and emotions surface – including the loss of a young cricketer and the self-fulfilling prophecy Lindt Cafe siege – the national interest is consumed. And at that time, some who usually fall for it, will call bullshit to peace time propaganda.