Crises, Fear, and Big Brother Statism

3 September 2021

7.3 MINS

Statists love to ramp up fear and panic to control the masses:

We live in an age in which most governments are simply running with one crisis to the next, and are resorting to rule by fear. What better way to control the masses and increase your power than to exploit — or manufacture — emergencies and crises, and then ramp up the fear factor?

Keeping the people in constant fear and panic, and promising them that the State exists to keep them safe, like a warm-hearted nanny, is an ideal way in which politicians can increase their control. And the amazing thing is, the masses are quite happy to simply go along with all this. The fearful are so very easily manipulated.

The hype and hysteria about Covid provide a perfect example of all this. In the name of keeping us safe, governments have robbed the people blind of their most basic and most fundamental human rights and freedoms. And most folks seem to love it. How many of these folks would readily do almost anything if they were told by the authorities that this would protect them from the Rona?

Fear Over Reason

As commentator Nick Cater recently put it:

The big problem is that public policy over the past 18 months has not been driven by reason — it has been driven by fear. The public are genuinely fearful of the virus. Many people are telling the state governments to go harder, because they have been told that Covid is very dangerous. We are caught in a feedback loop, a vortex of fear, where politicians can no longer act sensibly because they have to respond to public fear. If they opened up now people would go berserk and say that it’s not safe to go outside.

Working for a policy think tank, we at the Menzies Research Centre have really been banging our heads against a brick wall for the past 18 months, thinking that there must, surely, be other approaches out there. I have come to the conclusion that the government has lost control. It has to obey this mantra of fear, and as a result of that it takes no risks whatsoever…

Nobody is prepared to put up with the slightest amount of risk. Wherever risk occurs the government has to deal with it. We are in this ‘every granny’s life is sacred’ zone, where we are unable to make public-policy or health decisions as we normally would, by looking at the costs to life and assessing where resources should go. From the very beginning we haven’t been allowed to make that calculation.

Life is Risk

Life is all about risks, and learning to live with them. We all want to be safe, but at what cost? As Dennis Prager writes, we need to be aware of “The Dangers of Pursuing Safety Above All Else”. He explains:

I have never led my life on the basis of “until it’s safe.” I do not take ridiculous risks. I wear a seatbelt whenever I’m in a car because the chances are overwhelming that in a bad accident, a seatbelt can save my life. But I get into the car, which is not 100% safe. You are not on Earth to be safe. You are on Earth to lead a full life. I don’t want my epitaph to be “He led a safe life.” It’s like another epitaph I don’t want: “He experienced as little pain as possible.”

The nature of this world is such that if you aim for 100% safety and no pain, you don’t live. I have visited 130 countries, some of which were not particularly safe. Safe, as in “no risk,” doesn’t exist. Accepting that there are degrees of safety and balancing risk with reward are part of the reason I’ve led a rich life…

I’m thinking of a trivial example, but life is filled with trivial examples. Most of life is not major moments. If I am at a restaurant and my fork or knife falls, I pick it up and use it. They rush over to give me a new one, like I am flirting with death if I take the fork from the floor. My view is that there’s no reason to come over. The fork fell on the floor. What did it pick up — diphtheria? Am I going to get pancreatic cancer from a fork that fell? I’m not troubled by these things. “Safe” is going to suppress your joy of life.

When I was 21 years old, I was sent to the Soviet Union to smuggle in religious items for Soviet Jews and to smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union. It wasn’t safe. I was in a totalitarian state, smuggling things in and out. But it was one of the most important things I’ve done in my life. Not to mention a life-transforming experience.

Before I went, I told my father about my plans. We both knew it wasn’t safe. I’ll never forget what my father said: “Dennis, I spent two and a half years on a Navy ship in World War II, fighting in the Pacific. So you can take risks for a month.” Yes, he was worried. But this was a man who, despite having a wife and child, enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. He was an officer on a troop transport ship, a prime target of the Japanese. He wasn’t safe.

The World War II generation has been dubbed “the greatest generation.” Part of what made them great was the last thing they would ever ask was “Is it safe?” If you want to lead a good and full life, you cannot keep asking “Is it safe?” Those at college promoting “safe spaces” are afraid of life, and they want to make you afraid of life.

We’re going crazy on the “safe” issue. It’s making police states. That’s my worry: In the name of safety, many Americans are dropping all other considerations. “Is it safe?” shouldn’t be the overarching element in your life. Pick the fork up. Wipe it off and use it.

Paranoid Obsession

A related article speaks about “Why an Obsession with Safety Creates Sick Minds and a Sick Society”. It begins:

Our age has been called many things, but an age of cowards may best describe it given the immense fear, anxiety and helplessness that most people display in the face of even trivial threats. We are not a generation that moves forward into the uncertain future in a bold and heroic manner, instead most people fear the future and prefer safety, comfort, and ease of life, to risk-taking, experimentation and freedom…

Overawed by uncertainty, fearing the future, conceptualizing oneself as vulnerable, weak, and fragile is not a recipe for individual or social flourishing. Rather this way of life promotes mental illness and paves the way for authoritarian rule and so, as we will explore in this video, the world would benefit if more people were willing to live just a little more dangerously. For danger, when a by-product of pursuing worthwhile goals or in defence of values like freedom, justice or peace, is life-promoting and as the Roman historian Tacitus put it “the desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise”.

Not all societies, however, have ranked safety as high on the scale of values as does the modern West. Many flourishing societies of the past considered safety to be a secondary value and showed a remarkable capacity to take risks in the face of an uncertain future and to display courage and bravery in the presence of danger…

A further flaw with an approach to the future that strongly favours the safe road is that it creates fertile ground for tyrannical, or even totalitarian rule, for as Alexander Hamilton famously stated: “to be more safe they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free”.

When a society elevates safety to the position of a first-order value, freedom is by necessity demoted to the position of a second-order value which can be trampled on by those in power who, throughout history, have disguised tyrannical intentions with claims of wanting to make a society safer. What makes matters worse is if a society socializes people to be fearful of the future and overawed by uncertainty, the masses will welcome, or openly call for authority figures to protect them.

That is exactly where we are now at with the Covid hysteria. Masses of scared and panicky people are readily handing over all their freedoms and basic human rights to the Saviour State, just as long as they can be “kept safe”. But as Benjamin Franklin once said:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Good Books

Many books have already been written about how leaders thrive on fear and panic to gain and keep control. Let me bring to your attention just a few important recent books which deal with these themes, with four of the six specifically focusing on the Covid crisis:

I close with just one quote, from the very important Dodsworth volume. While dealing with the situation in the UK, it is fully relevant to the scene down under:

People are notoriously bad at judging risk and numbers, but we substantially over-estimated the dangers. And this wasn’t helped by the daily reports from the government and media. We heard about new cases, but never the recoveries. Hospital admissions but not discharges were reported. We were given numbers of daily deaths, but largely without the context that about 1,600 people die every day in the UK anyway.

By the end of March 2021, just 689 people under the age of 60 with no co-morbidities had died from Covid in England and Wales according to NHS England. The average age of death with Covid was 82.3 years — one year more than the average life expectancy in Britain.

Of course, all the deaths associated with Covid count, but if these facts had been widely reported and people had realised it was a disease which was primarily dangerous to the elderly and otherwise unwell, then ‘a substantial number of people’ would probably not ‘feel sufficiently personally threatened’.

One government report said that lockdown could cause 200,000 people to die as a result of delays in healthcare and economic effects, also equating to one million years of life lost…

The government, public health bodies and the media used alarmist language throughout the epidemic. Big numbers, steep red lines on graphs, the use of selective information, careful psychological messaging and emotive advertising created a blitzkrieg of daily fear bombs.

Exactly right. There is a clear correlation between our rising levels of fear and paranoia and the amount of truth and facts NOT being shared by our governments and media.


Originally published at CultureWatch.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

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