I’ve no intention to talk about communism or marxism today. It’s not that I feel defeated (you won’t win that easily Paul Lester!), it’s just that I have nothing new that I could say. Give me some time though 😀
No, today is about fear mongers and why they always win. I don’t know why I got the idea to think about it, but I did and then I realized something interesting.
Did you ever feel that fear mongers always win? It’s true and the reason is this:
It is easy to claim a danger and it is most of the time impossible to prove that it does not exist.
The fear monger simply argues the possibility of the danger, no certainty. Normally this is enough to cause the intended reaction. Normally they also combine this with an actual proposal: “Someone could harm your kids. We’d better install more surveillance cameras!”
It’s true. Someone could really harm your kids. It’s not only sometimes true, it’s always true. It’s not likely, but to the extent of an unspecified probability it can’t be denied. You can’t prove that it won’t happen, and as soon as you argue probabilities you have lost.
The problem here is, that anybody arguing against the danger has to prove its impossibility, and that is a much stronger claim than the one it opposes. It requires much more effort, resources and likely time. Thus, even if someone takes on the challenge, the goal has either already been reached or public attention has shifted to other matters.
Note that this also works with libel, any kind of false accusations and with lies in general. The only necessary condition is, that the claim is presented dramatically and that it appeals to strong emotions.
Today’s politics mostly revolve about fear mongering. Here in Austria I think it really began with the populism of the late Jörg Haider. From then on the case for responsible and reasonable politics was lost in Austria. Populism was just too successful, fear mongering too tempting.
In some way this disparity between the easiness of causing fears and the almost impossibility to control them (at least without further manipulation) may account for the state of the world. Pretty sad, and again I have no answer. Nobody seems to have one.
The Song of the Day is “Fear Is My Business” from the 2010 DePhazz album “Lala 2.0”. Hear it on YouTube.