Some sorts of fear are worse than others:
There is good fear and there is bad fear. The Christians knows that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). He also knows that “the fear of man brings a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). So in part it depends on what or who we are fearing. There can be a place for fear, and it is a good and healthy fear.
But there are other times and places where fear is a bad thing. Indeed, Scripture often tells us to “fear not”. In many cases to fear is the opposite of trusting God. If we have a strong confidence and trust in God and his good purposes for us, then there are many things that we need not fear.
There are other sorts of fear however that we can speak about. A bully for example will keep those he is tormenting in a state of fear. He can get away with things because his victims are too fearful to resist. But it is not just the neighbourhood punk who understands the value of fear. Governments also know its value.
Fear, statism and tyranny
Let me turn to this ugly use of fear. While all tyrants and dictatorships have used fear to good effect to keep the masses enslaved and under control, this has certainly ramped up in recent times. New technologies make for even greater control, and for an even more docile population.
As German/American writer Hannah Arendt put it in her important 1951 volume The Origins of Totalitarianism: “A fundamental difference between modern dictatorships and all other tyrannies of the past is that terror is no longer used as a means to exterminate and frighten opponents, but as an instrument to rule masses of people who are perfectly obedient.”
Closely connected to the use of fear is the exploitation of a crisis – real or imagined. For leaders eager to consolidate power and control, using a crisis – or if need be, inventing a crisis – is often a prime way of turning up the fear factor. If the state can convince the population that some threat or crisis is out there that they must fear to the max, then they are well on the way to total control.
They will be able to do almost anything, as long as the populace is convinced that the State is trying to keep them safe, or to protect them from whatever threat is being run with. By manipulating the masses through fear, the State can reign supreme.
Consider these events that occurred within a two-month period in Germany in 1933:
January 30 – The Nazi seizure of power. President Von Hindenburg capitulates and appoints Hitler chancellor.
February 4 – The “Decree for the Protection of the German People” is issued.
February 27 – The Reichstag fire, which Hitler blamed on the Communists.
February 28 – A decree “For the Protection of the People and State” is issued.
March 5 – Federal elections are held in Germany, with the Nazis getting 43.9% of the vote.
March 23 – The Reichstag meets and passes the ‘Enabling Act’.
Here we find various restrictions put on political freedoms and individual rights. The origins of the apparent arson at the Reichstag are unknown, but the Nazis exploited this to the hilt, further taking power onto themselves while taking away rights and liberties from the German people.
The February 28 decree – also known as the “Reichstag Fire Decree” – suspended various constitutional protections such as the right to assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. The March 23 Act was even worse. I speak more to all this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/10/15/statism-and-crises-learning-from-20th-century-germany/
The point that needs to be stressed is that most Germans seemed to happily go along with all this. After all, in the face of an emergency or a crisis, why not readily cede all your powers over to the state? It was just trying to ‘protect the people’ after all!
It should be clear that with various governments today using the COVID crisis as a means by which a whole raft of ‘emergency powers’ have come into play, along with massive lockdowns and the suspension of all sorts of basic liberties and freedoms, we may see history repeating itself here.
I have documented far too many shocking cases of over-the-top Statist heavy-handedness and control, and the corresponding loss of basic human rights, both here and overseas. On a daily basis we see the suspension of normal liberties and rights, all under the guise of ‘keeping us safe.’ And that includes 185 days of lockdown here in Victoria.
And just as in Germany in the 30s, it seems many folks today are more than happy to go along with this. I have had too many folks tell me – presumably with a straight face – that the government REALLY cares about us, and is only doing what is the very best for us.
Such naïve, sickly and sycophantic responses are what scare me the most to be honest. We expect power-hungry politicians to exploit a crisis to get and retain even more power and control, but when folks slavishly lick the statist boots that are on their necks, effectively telling the State they are happy to worship and adore this new Saviour, then you know we are all in a real bad way. History is simply repeating itself.
Consider a few more incredible examples of raw political power in action. They all make no sense, show no proportionality, and tell us what heartless bureaucrats we have running things here in Australia. One report says this about a real shocker from South Australia:
Hundreds of South Australians will be forced to complete two weeks of quarantine in medi-hotels as authorities fight to quash two “superspreading” events. The direction, which is mandatory, comes after the state recorded two new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Thursday – a brother and sister both in their 20s who were at Tenafeate Creek Winery at the same time as a previously recorded case. Authorities have dubbed the winery a superspreading event, with five other cases linked to the venue on Wednesday. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/south-australia-records-two-new-local-covid19-cases/news-story/a02a71128d94ae1f3e22c9f14192ddef
But these people – who are rightly angry and confused – seem to have no symptoms and are showing no sickness. And if they were to have been found to have the virus, they should have been allowed to self-isolate at home. Instead, they were given an hour’s notice, and they were promptly rounded up by the police into buses and taken away. Imagine that!
How would you like it if you were perfectly healthy, yet the State pulls you out of home and locks you up for a full two-weeks – no questions asked? This is all getting out of hand, with any and all draconian steps being taken with no regard whatsoever for our fundamental liberties and due process of law.
Also, we just learned that the three Sydney removalists who brought the Rona from NSW to Victoria recently, causing the latest full-state lockdown madness, will go Scot-free. Our leaders assured us just weeks ago that ‘the book would be thrown at them.’ Now we find that they got nothing – just one measly $200 fine for not wearing a mask! They were not even named and shamed.
And then we have the recent anti-lockdown protests held over the weekend. Folks are welcome to ask whether this was a good or a bad move. But one thing is perfectly clear: the complete double standards by government over this. When much larger BLM marches took place last year, it was all just peachy-keen. In Victoria for example the police actually gave their full blessing to the march, even though the entire state was in lockdown.
Police back then not only fully supporting the protest, but we had some who took the knee in solidarity with it! Yet now these very same authorities are telling us they will go after the freedom marchers and fully prosecute them. Hmm, so one march was perfectly acceptable to the powers that be while the other was totally anathema. It is this repugnant set of double standards that drives so many ordinary citizens around the twist. ‘One rule for me, another rule for thee.’
It is this rank hypocrisy and arbitrary use of power that has so many people so rightly alarmed and upset. People in government are called “public servants”. They are supposed to serve us, not lord it over us. This completely irrational and ever-changing set of policies with regard to the virus is just becoming ever more bizarre and infuriating by the day.
But it is all being put to good use by our political overlords. Never knowing from one day to the next that we might be falling afoul of yet another new rule just dreamt up by the bureaucrats keeps us all in a state of constant fear. And that is just what so many of our leaders want: perpetual tyranny based on perpetual fear and alarmism.
And don’t get me started on the daily catastrophe briefings! ‘We had five new cases today – we are all going to die!’ Nothing positive. Nothing encouraging. No hope for the way forward. Just never-ending panic porn from our power-drunk bureaucrats and politicians. Just never-ending terrorising and tyranny.
The quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson is most certainly applicable here: “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”