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United States Politics

Where Does America's Fear Come From? 926

An anonymous reader writes "While far from a dictatorship, the United States has employed a number of paranoid tactics that delegitimize its democracy. And the motivation for doing so is — fear. That seems to be a long way from 'So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.' Where is the U.S. heading?"
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Where Does America's Fear Come From?

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  • Control... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumLeaper ( 607189 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:33AM (#45382149) Journal
    Fear give those in Power, control of the command person.
    • Re:Control... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BSAtHome ( 455370 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:43AM (#45382197)

      It is "Fear and consumption".

      A way to keep the populations under control. The Roman Empire used "Bread and circuses".

      2000 years, and nothing has changed.

      • Re:Control... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:00AM (#45382251)
        Nothing has changed because basic human nature is the same. This is the way it will always be. So you get to choose whether you want to be part of the herd near the edge looking for the wolves, or oblivious somewhere the middle, or if you want to be a wolf. Being near the edge isn't a problem because you see the danger coming, so you get a head start. Being in the middle, you don't even realize the danger is there until the whole herd is moving.. And of course being a wolf has its own unique advantages: you get to eat mutton and you get to watch the whole herd fear you. But you have no herd for protection and in trying times, the other wolves don't mind eating wolf, too.
        • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:17AM (#45382313)

          Meanwhile hippy veggies such as myself are swinging in the trees making suggestive motions with our bananas and flinging shit on the crowd below.

          • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:50AM (#45382721) Journal

            TFA sez:

            And the motivation for doing so is â" fear

            Dunbal sez:

            Nothing has changed because basic human nature is the same. This is the way it will always be. So you get to choose whether you want to be part of the herd near the edge looking for the wolves, or oblivious somewhere the middle, or if you want to be a wolf. Being near the edge isn't a problem because you see the danger coming, so you get a head start. Being in the middle, you don't even realize the danger is there until the whole herd is moving.. And of course being a wolf has its own unique advantages: you get to eat mutton and you get to watch the whole herd fear you. But you have no herd for protection and in trying times, the other wolves don't mind eating wolf, too

            Both the above have failed to realize that there is another entity in the picture --- the one who puts ***FEAR*** in the midst and use it for its own dastardly agenda.

            A true analogy : Fish farmers who ship live fishes in flexitanks used to be troubled by the large number of fish turned belly up during the transit, and finally someone found a simple way to solve the problem --- they put a live crab inside the same flexitank with the fish.

            Because of that one live crab, the fishes were pre-occupied with fear throughout the journey, and as a result, up to 95% of the fishes arrived at the destination still alive.

            Same thing happens in the United States.

            Because of the fear that has been instilled by the government the people forgot about everything else and willingly surrender their rights, their liberty, their privacy, just so they can remain "protected".

            • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:17AM (#45383245)

              I know NOTHING about fish farming, but are you sure the crab didn't just eat the dead fish?

            • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:19AM (#45383263)

              Just in case you missed , it is not the government selling fear thus time (WMD Anyone?), but rather the right wing media. The left media can spin as well, but are simply outclassed by outlets such as fox, which has ingrained itself as 'mainstream'. I have friends from over seas who laugh when they hear Obama is called an extremist.

              Death Panels, socialism, communism, dictators, taking your guns, scandalegate, climategate, gay armageddon, etc.

              The list just goes on and on. I turn on Fox 'news' and they literally have huge flashing red warning banners about whatever talking point is on the menu for today. I hear my right wing friends whispering about the dictator in office, the Muslim friend of the 911 terrorists. The saddest part is that they truly BELIEVE these stories.

              The media is far better equipped at selling fear than the government. The current crop is ripe for the picking.

              The reason? It allows those who are really pulling the strings, like the big money behind every political engine, to control things in a way that makes business more profitable, regardless of the real cost.

              • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @12:45PM (#45384341)

                In the beginning, humans knew that they were only one bad mood from the gods before they met with death and destruction. Disease, famine, injury, war - all these and more could maim or kill you. In in an era where leveraged force was more the exception than the rule, even a minor injury could put you out of the game and possibly kill you and yours.

                So people made sacrifices to the gods and hoped for the best, knowing that even the most benign gods were prone to go on the occasional rampage.

                In the last few centuries, however, we've abandoned the gods. We think we have made ourselves masters of our own fates, because we can cure many diseases and injuries, have exterminated or reduces many of the external threats, learned to grow crops more efficiently and formed into nations and trading units extensive enough that one part of the country can keep others fed when local conditions such as drought would have previously wrought havoc on the population.

                In other words, we've come to think that peace and plenty are the natural state of all civilized beings.

                But not all humans are civilized, either individually or in groups. And while it helps if you're not a member of a targeted group, ultimately just about any group can be targeted. And, thanks to the incredible leverage that modern humans possess, a single person can kill hundreds with little effort. So paradoxically, the safer we get overall, the more we fear. As in many cases, the closer you get to perfection, the more it costs you. And the fewer the everyday fears, the more impact the extra-ordinary fears have.

        • Re:Control... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:24AM (#45382325) Homepage Journal

          If you're going with that analogy - some of us prefer to be sheep dogs. Sheep are just sheep, after all. Some of us are not sheep, and are incapable of reacting as sheep. Of course, we run into another problem - the government is incapable of distinguishing between wolves and dogs. Anything with fangs must be a predator, and dangerous.

          I'll keep my fangs, and damn the government. And, damn the mindless sheep as well.

          • Re:Control... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:32AM (#45382663)

            To extend the analogy a bit and pay additional credit to the wolf, some wolves can and do function quite well as sheep dogs. In keeping with the nature of wolves, sometimes the line between what is perceived as a protector and what is perceived as a threat is only a matter of interpretation on the part of leaders that are ill-equipped to make the determination in the first place. To clarify the point a bit, you cannot ever truly tame a wolf. You can establish a relationship with it based on mutual respect and hierarchy, but you cannot bend it entirely to your will. Dogs are another matter, and can be broken.

            I speak from experience, having been fortunate enough to have a wolf as a member of my family in my life.

          • As long as you're not planning to become a German Shepherd, that will be fine.
          • Re:Control... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:01AM (#45382775) Homepage

            some of us prefer to be sheep dogs.

            All of us prefer to be sheep dogs.
            In reality, practically none of us are.
            The dozen or so that are, we all know by name and most of them are dead already.

          • Re:Control... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:54AM (#45383077) Journal

            I'll keep my fangs, and damn the government. And, damn the mindless sheep as well.

            There is more to it than just that. Our civilization has allowed more and more purely physical power to be accessible by average folks --think of any 200-horsepower car as being equivalent to owning a herd of 200 horses, and think about all the work that such a herd might have done before the Industrial Revolution. Well, Power is supposed to be associated with Responsibility. It is Education that provides information about "how to use Power responsibly and ethically" --but there are always folks who either don't pay proper attention to the lessons, or don't care, because they want what they want, regardless of the consequences. Thus did the Power of three jet aircraft become misused as missiles, destroying two tall buildings and severely damaging a third large building. If the overall Trend continues, regarding accessibility of physical Power by average folks, then eventually average folks will have access to Power equivalent to an H-bomb. (Note that already lots of folks seem to have access to Modern Biological Power....) One of the proposed Answers to the Fermi Paradox [] is that every technological culture will eventually face a challenge regarding how to deal with such Power in the hands of ordinary small-minded selfish (and even psychotic) folks --and that most cultures don't survive that challenge. I will disagree that clamping down on Freedom is the correct solution; there are stories about "mad generals", after all. But we most certainly need a solution, and sooner rather than later.

        • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

          Nothing has changed because basic human nature is the same. This is the way it will always be.

          So "human nature" has not changed, ever, in the history of our species? That's a remarkably grim (not to mention) view of humanity and it's potential. BTW, your metaphors don't work either. We are not sheep, or wolves, though I'll admit that the comparison are, at times, tempting. We have capabilities far beyond what those instinct driven animals possess. To suggest that we do not is just absurd.

      • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:19AM (#45382315)

        It's older than that. People haven't changed for 10s of thousands of years. We just have better records of the more recent stuff.

      • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:25AM (#45383317) Homepage

        Did ya get the ""While far from a dictatorship," part? This guy learned everything he knows from the media. LOL
        I guess he didn't notice that it's either a Republican or a Democrat stripping away our liberty, rights,privacy over the last century.
        Never heard of the Repubmocrat tyranny. Well, if the majority of the U.S. populace can be suckered into trading freedom for comfort and security, maybe the rest of the world should check themselves.
        I'm guessing it's time for worldwide bloody revolution. If we can manage to get it done by next Sunday, I can watch the Chiefs play Monday night without distractions.

    • . . .planted the seeds that have bloomed, revealing what is tantamount to aristocracy.
      1. The Big Senate [] no longer represents the people meaningfully.
      2. The Little House [] no longer represents the 50 States United, or offers any thoughtful feedback to the Big Senate.
      3. The federal government has eminent domain over your wallet [].
      4. DC is printing money at will [], demolishing the value of what you think is in your wallet, and obstructing reform.
      5. We're all modern monetary theorists [] now.
      So shut up, peasants,
      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:19AM (#45382591) Homepage

        #4 is largely incorrect. There was a big burst of inflation in the 1970's that basically halved the value of money in 9 years, and that's the kind of thing you fear. But since then, it's been closer to a rate that halves the value of money in over 20 years, which is neither unusual nor particularly harmful. And all you need to do to beat inflation is to hold assets that aren't cash, such as stocks, bonds, a home, land, or commodities.

      • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:27AM (#45382637)

        Dude, This is fucking America. We have never, ever all agreed on anything. In this case a significant proportion of the people who fought the Revolution were extremely pro-aristocracy.

        Our number three or four guy General was "Lord Stirling," our top trainer as "Baron von Steuben," we received aid from extremely aristocratic France, and the officers of the Continental Army created a hereditary order (the Society of the Cincinnati) at the end of the war specifically intended to become our new nobility..

        As for the rest, increasing the House to 30k is simply not practical. There's a reason the Indians, with a population triple ours, have a Parliament that is less then double ours. It's just not practical to run a Legislative body with more then 600 or so members. You'd have to have a working group in DC much smaller then the 30k Congressman, and you'd probably need actual Constitutional amendments governing how that working group was chosen, when the 30k could meet to fire the working group, etc.

        As for points 4 and 5, you really don't understand Progressives. At all. It's not that we think sovereign debt is a good thing, or even a not-bad thing; it's that we think the problem with sovereign debt is that it leads to inflation. OTOH the problem with cutting government spending is that it involves firing people, which reduces salaries for everyone by increasing the supply of available labor while reducing the demand for said labor. If the economies doing great, inflation is real, and the employment situation is fine government debt is a bad thing to have.

        But we're in the middle of a years-long employment slump, with basically no inflation, it's foolish to cut the deficit. We'd cut everyone's salary, to solve a problem that simply does not exist.

        That would be like a guy whose house is currently on fire sealing up his basement because a flood is sure to hit real soon now.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:53AM (#45383069) Homepage

          "with basically no inflation"

          You are an utter fool if you believe that.

          There has been almost double digit inflation during this years long period of low employment. My $1.00 buys only $0.70 today than what it did only 3 years ago.

          It's the bulshit made up numbers that the Government releases that people listen to... "we have 7% unemployment!" if you don't count the unemployed that are not getting Unemployment insurance. Actual is near 20% unemployment. under Employment is higher than that, and then what I call the "bullshit employment" People that have skills but are working Mcdonalds,Walmart,etc instead of their skilled labor job the numbers hit near 40%
          The cost of living which is the real inflation, has steadily increased. Loaf of the cheapest crap white bread was $0.90 just 4 years ago. Today it is $1.19 That is so close to a 30% increase it's scary. Meat, etc... all up about the same amount. People that actually track their expenses will all see about a 30% increase in costs over the past 3-4 years. And a 0 to -10% change in their income.

          Some places can see an almost 50% increase in cost of living over that same time period.

      • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:44AM (#45383013)

        1. The Big Senate [] no longer represents the people meaningfully.
        2. The Little House [] no longer represents the 50 States United, or offers any thoughtful feedback to the Big Senate.

        Last I read the Constitution, the Senate represents the States, and the House represents the people.

    • by davide marney ( 231845 ) <davide@marney.netmedia@org> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:25AM (#45382625) Journal

      This post assumes that the actions of the federal government are in response to people's fears. That's your problem right there, you've got it backwards. It's the government who is acting in bad faith to begin with, and is then just looking for some cover to excuse it.

      You didn't really think it takes $4 Trillion to catch a bunch of terrorists, did you?

  • Is it fear ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Melkman ( 82959 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:38AM (#45382173)

    I don't think the primary motivation for massive surveillance and such things is fear. In my opinion it is about control and power. Being able to silence any opposition before it gets organized and knowing in advance which groups dissent is growing gives you the power to stay in control longer. Fear is only used to gain acceptance of the public: think of the terrorists etc.

    • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:23AM (#45382321)
      If food an games aren't sufficient to keep your populace at bay, you'll use fear. Using fear has it's limitations, because once people will get hungry because you don't provide them with food, they will revolt. History has always proven this principle right and it will do so again. Over 40% of the USA citizens are around or below poverty rates and this number is still growing each year. Regardless of what political party is in control when that happens, there will be mass protests and plundering going on, just like in Egypt or any country where hunger and poverty is abundant and only a few rich people have control.
    • Re:Is it fear ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pinkfud ( 781828 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:30AM (#45382349) Homepage
      I think you're exactly right. The Bush Administration used 9/11 to gain the level of power and control that allowed them to pass the Patriot Act and create the DHS with all its Draconian aspects, and now the Obama Administration is either unable or unwilling to change it. Do you want to fight terrorism? Well, you don't gain a damn thing by giving the terrorists what they want! Their name says it all - their goal is to put their enemies in FEAR of them. By running scared and giving up our freedom in the name of 'security', we have given them a major victory. It needs to stop. We the people need to MAKE it stop. Because where we are heading is ever deeper into the swamp, and in that swamp there lies nothing but mud and snakes.
  • by zmooc ( 33175 ) <(zmooc) (at) (> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:39AM (#45382177) Homepage

    Where is the U.S. heading?

    Nowhere special. The US has been like this for ages. Apart from some details (TSA, leaks, technical possibilities) there has not been any real big change.

    The fear has been around for just about always. And when there's nothing left to fear (like communism or alcohol) something new will be made up (like terrorism or drugs). Since the US spends more on its military than on social security, the military has become some kind of social security. It must be kept busy.

    • there has not been any real big change

      The USA used to have the USSR to keep it in check and provide a limit to the US's more paranoid actions against foreign countries it imagined might harm it. Now that the USSR is no more, the USA allows it's fear and insecurity to run rampant and bomb the crap out of every little thing that gives it nightmares - whether rational or not.

      • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:46AM (#45382427) Homepage

        When the soviet union imploded the USA needed to invent other enemies, they found: terrorists and paedophiles.

        This is not about protecting human life, the number killed so far by the USA in drone attacks in Pakistan [] (2,830) is about the same as the number killed in the 9/11 attacks [] (2,978); then start counting the number killed in Afganistan (Coalition casualties: 3,395 [] civilian casualties (an order of magnitude more) [].

      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:29AM (#45382927) Homepage
        The USSR had another important role. The USSR was the state which used mass surveillance and curtailed personal freedom to keep the own population in check. So the USSR was the projection screen where the U.S. saw their own shadow and defined what they liked about themselves and what not. The U.S. saw individual freedom as their biggest selling point, so they tried to label "individual freedom" on everything. And everything the U.S: was against was labeled "socialist" or "communist", completely independent of any normal definition of socialism or communism or even individual freedom. (Your employer being responsible for the insurance of your teeth? Come on! Your choice of health insurance should have nothing to do with the way you are employed.)

        But at least always insisting on personal freedom and the right to privacy made the population sensitive for any infringment on both, keeping the surveillance in check.

      • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:17AM (#45383243)

        there has not been any real big change

        The USA used to have the USSR to keep it in check and provide a limit to the US's more paranoid actions against foreign countries it imagined might harm it. Now that the USSR is no more, the USA allows it's fear and insecurity to run rampant and bomb the crap out of every little thing that gives it nightmares - whether rational or not.


        The Soviets did not help us keep our paranoia in check. They were the cause of our paranoia, and that paranoia caused numerous incidents that were both more illegal and less ethical then anything the NSA is accused of.

        For example, there was the time we supported Diem in a coup d'tat against the Emperor of Vietnam. Then Diem himself got to be an embarrassment, and the coup d'tat that replaced his ass killed him. When we realized that Latin America occasionally liked to elect leftists who sympathized with the Soviets we started supporting numerous Latin American military dictatorships. These dictatorships engaged in such brutal repression that nobody knows how many bad things they did decades later. This was repeated in pretty much every region of the world. The recent film "The Act of Killing" tells the story of a bunch of massacres in Indonesia during the Vietnam war era. A million people died. In our defense our Evil Dictators were generally less evil then their Evil Dictators, but when your entire defense is "less evil then Stalin," you're in a pretty fucked up place. I could go on.

        I'm not saying mass data collection of everyone is right, Constitutional, or ethical. I am saying that this is a massive improvement over the Cold War when Operation Condor killed upward of 60k, the Indonesians killed a million, etc.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:07AM (#45383173)

      I hope you notices that the referenced article is from a German perspective. The Germans have seen several totalitarian regimes in recent memory and at least the more sophisticated Germans can by now recognize the warning signs. These warning signs are glaringly obvious in the US.

      But keep kidding yourself. Just remember that you lose all rights to complain when your nation has gone down the drain.

  • Fear and Paranoia... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ImOuttaHere ( 2996813 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:42AM (#45382193)

    My family visited Europe this Fall and were surprised at the level of civility experienced there.

    It seems that fear and paranoia drive Americans to give up liberties in trade for some vague promise of security. "Stand your ground" laws and the vast supposedly all knowing NSA wiretapping program are just two small examples of the manifestation of all pervading fear and paranoia.

    Other First World Nations have a different balance between liberty and security. It's not that they don't spy on each other. It's not that good people don't die at the hands of bad people. It has to be experienced elsewhere to know that things don't _have_ to be they way they are in the US.

    I can't help but feel it has to do, in small part, with basic civility between humans. Too bad America can't/won't follow these better, more secure examples.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:44AM (#45382419)

      America has largely stood alone, with only two neighbours whom it outnumbers or out classes technologically there has never been anything to fear from them.
      The American people have lived in a fortress surrounded by (vast) ocean.

      Pearl harbour penetrated that and look at the response.
      Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh attacked from within and look at the response.
      Same with the 9/11 attacks.

      Americans haven't ever lived with the threat of violence, except sporadically. The response is disproportionate, but that's largely natural to unfamiliar circumstances.

      • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:56AM (#45382469)
        This is actually a pretty smart post...

        We like our oceans, it keeps us away from all the "crazy" people in the world.

        Note, I know they aren't all crazy, but considering that most Americans don't even have a passport, much less have ever left the country, to a large number of Americans, the USA is the center of the Universe.

        If anyone even makes noise about coming over here, the general reaction is, "bomb them". And if that doesn't work, then you aren't using enough bombs.

        The irony is that much of the hate towards America is caused by America's own actions. On the flip side, we do need to protect our interests overseas, the world is very much smaller than it was 100 years ago.

        There are no easy solutions.

    • by anyanka ( 1953414 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @08:15AM (#45382567)

      My family visited Europe this Fall and were surprised at the level of civility experienced there.

      I just visited the US last week, and was surprised at the level of civility I experienced there.

      Seriously, whenever I meet USians (even in the wild), they're generally friendly, sensible people. Which makes it perhaps even more depressing that the country as a whole is run by sociopathic assholes. Unfortunately, European leaders (both political and corporate) are learning quickly.

      • I just visited the US last week, and was surprised at the level of civility I experienced there.

        That's my experience too. Sure, you meet the occasional 'hole. But they are everywhere and not confined to any particular country (which is a pity: we could leave them all there together). I do have a theory that one of the factors that influences the politeness of americans as individuals is not knowing if the person they are talking to is carrying a gun, or not.

        • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @11:02AM (#45383651)

          The only people I have ever met carrying a gun outside a gun club are policemen and criminals.

          I seriously doubt that influences public behavior between civilians in America at all.

          My wife and two of my best friends emigrated to America; one of the reasons they decided to stay is that America is a much more classless society than what they were used to. For example people aren't categorized by what their last name is. And we have a black President. And at the level of local politics anyway it is not a surprise if your neighbor decides to run for office.

          My worry is that this is changing. There are parts of America now where it is very hard to get out of poverty.

          This lack of mobility could become a really serious problem.

    • Other First World Nations have a different balance between liberty and security.

      Yes. The balance is much further towards security, with a whole lot less liberty. You deserve neither.

  • by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:45AM (#45382205)
    Same answer as always: You've Got to Be Carefully Taught [].
  • Two big sources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @06:58AM (#45382245)
    First of all: the amount of stuff people have. The more you have, the more you are afraid of losing it - and the more jealously you guard it.

    Second: guns. Having a gun is a sign you are afraid. What are you afraid of? Ans: all the other people with guns.

    There is no easy answer to these problems as they are deeply rooted in human nature and are probably survival instints. Just ones that were developed as cavemen but have now got way out of control.

  • Fear comes from (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:02AM (#45382261)
    • Loss-aversiveness: a strong desire to avoid harm or loss, so much so, that we will undergo self-destructive behavior to avoid the remotest of risks of of death, harm, or loss.
    • The reality of the situation we live in: The inherent Uncertainties and risks that we all face throughout life.
    • Reminders of Uncertainty, such as natural disasters, 9/11, etc
    • Political figures reminding us, that we are at risk, and they need to do things to protect us
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:06AM (#45382275)

    And the Kardashians!

    Oh and Honey Boo Boo! []

    And the schools!

    We've become a nation of self-gratifying, illiterate dip-shits who would much rather not be informed and learn about an issue and take the time to vote or to become involved even when your liberty is at stake. Human nature being what it is, It's easier to panic and pray that the leaders we elect can actually lead and take everything they say at face value. Unfortunately for the rest of us, your { congressman | senator | president } is senile or so wrapped up in pandering to big campaign contributors or party interests that they have little stake in protecting your liberty; for them it's all about getting re-elected. That's why when things like the patriot act come along we all say "it's a good thing because it will protect me from all the terrorists out there." "Terrorists are bad mmkay?" and the spin doctors go on all the news talk shows that drone on and on about issues like Benghazi and then suddenly shift to Obamacare because Benghazi is so like last year dude! Because you don't become involved and you keep voting that party line you suddenly realize now that you have to have a virtual strip search just to board a plane or that TSA agents will stop you getting off of a train and search you. [] Why? Because those terrorists are bad people and they hate us so you have to give up your privacy and your liberty in order to win the war on terror. And all the while you hear "we're winning!" That's right, we're winning and just because every new drone strike creates more hatred and more enemies for us to kill [], we'll be able to keep this war up as long as necessary or until we can't sell anymore bonds to pay for it all. Because we're "in a war" we'll then create more government bureaucracy and will give money to your local law enforcement so they can all dress up like jackbooted Nazis with sub-machine guns! []

    So keep watching the Kardashians and just leave your safety to those folks you elect, who get re-elected over 70% of the time, who you've probably never met, who have staff that create talking points that become sound bites, that play video poker during important hearings, that lie to you about keeping your health insurance, who really were "C" students in college and were drunk all the time, who receive all that money from special interests that feed off of your tax dollars, who hand feed pieces of legislation they never read already written up so they really don't have to work and slap their name on it, who pass legislation because it's so massive "You just have to pass it to see what's in it" and because they go through special lines at the airport and don't get nudeo scans.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:31AM (#45382359) Homepage

    This has been going on for a very long time and I saw it as a kid. WAY back when there was rampant Trick or Treating, there were vague reports of "razors in apples" and stuff like that. [] It's just nonsense. As a child, even I saw it as nonsense, but my mother took it quite seriously every year inspect our haul piece by piece.

    We have systems over-run with parasitic lawyers who live on fears which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    And the Vietnam "domino theory"? That war on "communism"? Once again, I have seen this for the farce it was since I was a child. When I learned what communism is, I thought "hey this is a great idea for the future of man's civilization!" And when examining what existed, we saw extreme violence against the people and an elite power structure that benefited themselves while making their people miserable. That's not communism. And THAT image is what got everyone "fighting the war on communism." From that we got the Cold War, the Military Industrial Complex thrived on the fears of a whole nation.

    It has been going on far longer than partisan politics in its current form. You realize that "the conservatives" were once the democrats and "the liberals" were the republicans a few decades ago? But that was before the republicans pulled "god on their side" to get the religious vote.

    Before people can see past the current partisan politics, people have to be able to see a history that hasn't quite made it into the books.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:33AM (#45382373)

    The fear comes from propaganda penned by the elite. The elite that control America's politics and economy are constantly afraid of the Sword of Damocles -- an angry mob of Americans calling for their blood for their failure to do something or other. Fifty years ago it was a fear of a communist revolt, where the people take away their power if not their life. Now it's a fear of some crisis happening and being seen as not having done enough to prevent it. As a result, politicians want to be seen as "doing something", even if what they're doing is ineffective or counterproductive. If there's supposedly a "drug crisis", politicians will pass laws to be seen as "tough on drugs". It works the same for terrorism or any other societal ill, real or perceived. Opportunistic politicians, as opposed to being afraid, turn this around and sponsor a bill, make a story and pretend as if there's a real problem, in order to gain popularity or power; this is the malice on the flipside of the former problem's ignorance.

    Despite most Americans being more interested in money than politics, big business and finance tend to get less public scrutiny than government. These sectors are equally afraid of the people though: witness how quickly they used government resources and propaganda to cause the Occupy movement to lose steam.

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:50AM (#45382447) Homepage Journal
    ... and its promotion of a xenophobic education system, xenophobic religious presence, and xenophobic foreign policy.
  • Fear is inherent. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <(VortexCortex) ( ...> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @07:59AM (#45382497)

    It's not a new thing. Remember the Red Scare? Remember the Internment Camps and Witch Hunts? It's the ancient fear of the unknown, of other tribes to be precise.

    Fear is instinctual in humans, granted to us through millions of years of evolution. It exists, and need only be cultivated into hysteria to cloud minds. The fear comes from within, that's what makes it powerful. It should be considered a crime to wield fear against the ignorant masses. Those stoking the fear are fearmongers, or scaremongers -- The word looks familiar because these are the same as warmongers. As the Chomsky showed us decades ago, fear and filters are used to manufacture consent. []

    For what ends? Oh, I think we know that too, very well indeed. []

    The question is wrong. We know where the fear comes from. The more apt question is why we are more scared of terrorists than fast cars and fast food, which combined claim over four hundred 9/11 scale attacks in victims every year? The answer isn't no one is brave. The answer is no one is educated. It's been over a decade. That's four thousand 9/11 scale attacks in victims... Will you still drive and occasionally eat junk food? Yes? Then how can anyone justify the spending to prevent such a minuscule threat to life in terrorism at such a great cost? It's because they're ignorant.

    A small child turns on the light to reveal what the dark has kept from them, and is no longer afraid. Without ignorance there can be no fear. The scale of the threat is never given context, so it seem more ominous than it is; When in reality its not that big of a deal. Terrible, yes, but so are car accidents and heart attacks, yet we wouldn't agree to give up our Freedoms, Privacy or our French Fries to prevent them.

    The warmongers who want to line their pockets with trillions we could be spending to actually protect and benefit us at home claim Terroists are nothing to sneeze at, but if you set a 9/11 scale attack next to the Flu, you'll notice there are six times more dead Americans every year from the Flu. Fire the liars. Fight fear with facts. []

  • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @09:19AM (#45382875)

    In a long-lived slashdot tradition, it doesn't appear that anyone on this discussion thread read the fine article. It argues that freedom is the root of fear in America. More specifically it is the freedom myth - that we are a nation founded in freedom - that is the root of all fear and paranoia in America. He compares 3 countries with what he defines as cultures of fear based in freedom myth as the root of their anti-democratic evils: the US, Israel and Apartheid South Africa.

    In his view we are slaves to a culture created in the back of covered wagons, with women and children cowering in fear from the isolation and danger crossing the frontier alone.

    I suppose it is left to the reader to divine what the solution would be if the problem is that we venerate freedom too much.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:38AM (#45383421) Journal
    I will tell you.

    In 100 years there won't be a USA. There will be a north American confederacy of states, composed of what was the USA and Canada. It will be a massively decentralised confederacy. Most transportation will be by electric train. Personal transport will be by bicycle. The suburbs will have been abandoned and plowed back into farms. Much of the midwest USA will no longer be habitable due to drought and the collapse of the acquifers from draining them and from poisoning them via gas fracking earlier in the century. This confederacy will eventually unravel as the temperatures increase and the southern sections migrate north. Plagues (most flu but also drug resistant bacteria) will sweep through the urban populations, killing millions. In 1000 years, the population, compared to 2013, will have been more than decimated. What is left of humanity will live in valleys in high elevations, or near the Arctic and Antarctic circle. There will be very little metals left, and many people will live as hunter gatherers. Those cursed with civilisation will mostly live in coastal cities in Siberia and Canada and the horn of S. America. Fishing villages will appear in the archepelago of Antarctica. The level of technology will, at best, be roughly that of the 16th century.

    In 10,000 years, the few metals will have long ago oxidised. The few million remaining people will live as hunter gatherers in Siberia and Canada and Antarctica. Everything between the 50th parallels will be a hot desert or a hellish jungle where the wet-bulb temp far exceeds human survival. The few temperate forests left will be in the far north and south. The pyramids will be underwater, and the rest of the world's cities were dismantled and stripped for metals 9,500 years earlier. The Anthropocene will have disrupted the glacial cycle, and the world won't grow cold again for another 50,000 - 100,000 years. In 100,000,000 years, the earth will be a bit warmer than today, as the sun continues to increase its radiance as helium "ash" collects at the core. The decendants of racoons will have evolved and grown into furry bipeds with opposable thumbs and complex social systems. They will re-invent the wheel, and perhaps the scientific method. They will dig into the earth and find a thin layer of carbon and radioactivity. They will find our skeletons, most of them dated to within a few millennia, and realise what happened:

    At the edge of the forest is where there is the most activity and disruption. Weed species abound - crappy, sappy, trees with shallow roots, shrubs and grasses that strangle other plants, and this constant churn over territory and nutrients bounded by the soil and the sun permits for a great deal of opportunity for animals and plants to reproduce. One of these weed species evolved in Africa 103,000,000 years earlier than these racoonish scientists. The species was bipedal and omnivorous and highly social. Breaking into bands of 30 to 50 and assembling into crowds of 150 they believed that unseen beings controlled their world. They built shrines to these beings after a particularly cold ice age. To build these shrines they needed members of their society in place all year round, and thus devised small villages and agriculture. This permitted over population, but it also created hierarchy in their society. Where previously sociopathic behaviour was not tolerated in the small bands (murderers were punished by death), sociopaths were now able to flourish and institute systems of slavery and domination. These systems evolved the villages into cities; areas of such density that they required the import of resources. Emphasis on require. Soon, millions of people were slaughter by one city or group of cities for their resources. Shortly there after, the species discovered huge carbon deposits which were burned as fuel, and powered this weed species into planetary dominance. The oceans were quickly emptied of fish, and the air was filled with CO2, and the population skyrocketed. All of the metals that could be extracted, were.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:49AM (#45383509)

    I think that the fear at the top has come from the realisation that the way the US works is unsustainable in the long term. I am thinking primarily of the debt-based economy that is based on economic growth to function, the large dependence on oil and the effects of global warming becoming more apparent.

    These are smart people. They understand that change from post-WWII model is inevitable and that this change may not come easy.
    There is a large probability of future social unrest, riots and organised armed resistance against the ruling caste, so they do what they think is necessary for them to retain control of the country in the future. This is what I think is the real reason behind the de-democratisation of USA.

  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @10:56AM (#45383581) Homepage Journal

    is simply a police state, in the velvet-clad incarnation of a surveillance state. [ This goes true, alas, also for certain western European states, most of all Britain and the Netherlands- ]

    Fear, indeed, may be a good label to stick upon some of the deeper undercurrents that began flowing through, or rather: under, western culture since september 2001. As bad a motivator as it is, fear is a powerful one. Couple that with consumption and the benumbedness of the lower socio-economic strata ( in the US case I think explicitly of the urbanized black population in its pit of misery ) and you have the most effective tool there is, for less-than-well-intended or simply *stupid* politicians. to bring society under minute control. All the while, most John Does in that same society will still think they live in a "free" country, even bragging about it.

    The only thing that would help here were revolution, a revolution of courage. I think of citizens, united in new parties, declaring independence - of or in smaller states. Although for a very unjust cause, the southern states were fighting for just reasons and stood on justified ground. Their attempt at breaking away from the Union could be repeated with peaceful means. Next year, Scotland will be voting on formal independence from the UK - an historical opportunity to get those hateful cameras off their streets, and GCHQ out of their backyard. In the Netherlands, it will needs be done with different means, as breakaway is nearly impossible in such small entities.

    All in all, though, I wonder how millions of reasonably smart citizens can undergo the current climate of repression [ see Sarah Harrison's comment on calling a duck a duck [] ] without a tinge or mere inkling of revolt ?

  • by UltraZelda64 ( 2309504 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:29PM (#45384643)

    It's as simple as that, and I am an American myself. I sure as hell wasn't one of the masses crying for "protection" and for the government to infiltrate every aspect of every citizen's lives back when 9/11 happened. My exact thoughts at the time were something along the lines of, "shit happens. People will get over it." Only, apparently I was wrong about people "getting over" it; if they really did, we wouldn't have the dragnet of mass surveillance placed upon us by the federal government as we do now and find ourselves forced to figure out how to reclaim our 4th-Amendment rights (and others).

    All 9/11 did was make the whole horde of pussies come out in droves and produce legislation to help drive the government into the ground and weaken its people. The worthless yellow journalism that is the mainstream news sure as hell didn't help much. If that is what the terrorists wanted (to erode the U.S. into a rogue, fascist government with powerless citizens), the Americans didn't put up much of a fight, because that is exactly what they got and with no trouble at all.

    The way I see it, the real "terrorists" are my own government. Its citizens need to grow a pair and quit going apeshit over "terrorist attacks" and stand up for their rights and freedoms. It's ironic the way people sharply and strongly react to even just the word "terrorists"; why no talk of all the *wars* going on? Why does no one give a fuck about those, some of which the U.S. is directly a part of? How did people get such a strong hatred of terrorists that kill, and not their own government that does the same fucking thing *on their own behalf*? Looks like another win by the mainstream news corporations, which no doubt have their own political agendas.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @03:06PM (#45385353) Homepage

    Read "Bin Laden - The Man Who Declared War on America. [] This was published in 1999, before 9/11, and as a result is a reasonably hype-free biography. It quotes bin Laden during the years he was building up his organization.

    I'm doing this from memory, but one of the key points bin Laden made to his followers was that, to defeat the United States, it had to be weakened first. He was writing this in the 1990s. (Situation in the 1990s: USSR was history, previous US war was four days of total victory over Iraq in Kuwait, balanced budget in US, US economically dominant in world, most of world wanted to be more like US.) He discusses how to weaken the US. Bin Laden specifically discusses how to make the US paranoid and more heavy-handed, and thus a less competent opponent and a less desirable alternative to Islam. That was the goal of his terror campaign.

    Mission accomplished.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann