The Uses of Fear and Loathing
Perverse incentives for terror, war, and disease.
Reflecting on the history of war, James Madison once remarked, “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended.”
Fear of foreigners—foreign invaders, armies, and diseases—has always been a handy tool for rulers who aspire to expand their power, wealth, and scope of their activities in the world. When peoples’ minds are gripped by fear, they become credulous, compliant, and willing to support just about any action their rulers wish to undertake.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the American people have been presented with a series of terrifying specters and told that the U.S. government must take extraordinary action to confront these “grave and growing dangers” to quote President George W. Bush’s characterization of Saddam Hussein’s non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Because this sort of gambit almost always works, it has created a perverse incentive for ambitious and unscrupulous rulers to:
1). Seek dangerous encounters with foreigners. This is achieved by placing civilians or military personnel in dangerous situations, thereby inviting an attack.
2). Fabricating incidents of being attacked by foreigners. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a notable example.
3). Intentionally allow such attacks to happen. The circumstances of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks raise the suspicion that at least some people knew these attacks were planned and chose not to intervene to stop them.
In domestic affairs, analogous events can be organized, incited, or allowed to happen for the purpose of dividing and distracting the citizenry and eliminating political opponents. The January 6, 2021, “Capitol Attack” (without firearms or incendiary devices) was probably welcomed by Donald Trump’s opponents. In my opinion, Trump and his people should have recognized that the actions of even a small number of violent protestors and agents provocateurs could be easily used against him.
The latest production of fear and loathing is the Border Crisis. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a provocative post in which I questioned if 8 million illegal immigrants have indeed entered the country in the last few years.
We are now being told that the United States is being invaded by foreigners, many of whom are military aged males, and that hostile foreigners are behind it. The illegal immigrants with whom I have spoken are, to be sure, a very small sample. They describe the situation as a commercial enterprise between the Mexican mafia and the U.S. government. To obtain safe and reliable passage across the border, one must pay $18,000 to the mafia, which gives a cut of this fee to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
This small sample of witness testimony suggests that the Border Crisis is not an invasion of men who are hostile to the United States, but a migration of people seeking a better life. This migration is being exploited and facilitated by racketeers on both sides of the border.