The Rhetoric of Fear

Oliver McGillick
Feb 7, 2017 · 4 min read

We are entering a dark time of globalised fear, in which the most important men and women on the planet are preaching fear on a daily basis. We are constantly bombarded with a shadowly theme, in which we are led to believe in a force of greater evil somewhere in the midst of middle east outlands. This rhetoric, very much like many before, suggests an existence of one great enemy — an enemy so large, that it becomes incredibly simple to be pointed at. Consequently, there is no need for anyone to target and identify such an enemy — it will only be a huge mass that is easy to see, without having to make much of an effort. In fact, one will barely need to raise his hand to point at this enemy, because one is virtually surrounded by this enemy. But who is this enemy? Who exactly is it, that the leaders so strongly preach against? What is this invisible force around us? And how can one point so hastily towards something that is virtually nondescript? The rhetoric of fear has injected the enemy in to our surroundings, while in fact there is no enemy present. And as we all very well know, from history alone, human fear can be the true fuel to unprecedented tragedy, grief and destruction. A destruction within — an implosion of human kind.

This model of behaviour is nothing new to the human race — it is stored in every single one of us. Fear drives us to attack, and paranoia brings out the flaws in our characters, that may have never been revealed, unless provoked. We are taught not to kill, but that does not mean we aren‘t capable of killing. The only factor holding us back from killing is validation. One’s inner evil is only activated if externally validated — in other words, a man will only kill when he is given an excuse for doing so. This validation has many forms, but mostly it comes from the actions and words of those important men and women, that have recently re-adapted the rhetoric of fear. The world leaders are losing faith in peaceful resolution and constructive discussion, resorting to simple-minded hate speech. By doing so, they give validation to all the hate laying in the followers watching them. They validate the inner demon in a civilised society: By forecasting radical and “easy” solutions to world’s problems, they validate and activate the radicalism in the many single souls that are listening. And I can’t help but think: Who are the real radicals? This nondescript alpha enemy that we all hear so much about, but have never seen? The current state of affairs seems to suggest, that the true radicalism lies elsewhere.

The strongest and most vengeful interpretations, seeking radical social division, are now resonating throughout the western world. A shocking representation of the darkest condemned history has resurfaced: An elite white man, building walls around his “own” country and segregating based on faith, is hurling commands from a building built by black slaves. Preaching oppression of anyone who deviates from his utopian vision of an elite faultless society; igniting millions of souls to follow his words.
Does this not sound familiar? This historical reoccurrence was greatly described by a Huffington Post writer, Tobias Stone, in an essay commenting the nearing dangers:

“… a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable. That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe and so many more.”

He then continues with a chilling remark:

“It seems inconceivable that people could create a situation in which tens of millions of people die without reason, but we do it again and again.”.

Though, what strikes the most is that we are capable of electing such people in a fully democratic election. Millions and millions of people casted their votes in favour of a radical and “easy” solution to all problems, while failing to realise that many of those problems are indeed fabricated. Millions favoured aggression over peace, but failed to realise there actually is no great enemy. As Stone brilliantly noted — there is no logic driving these actions, it’s only the drummed up anger and hatred that makes the masses move. And of course — it’s perhaps just the course of history repeating itself.

The true radical lies in us. We inflict the pain on ourselves. That is, because we are incapable of informing ourselves and opening a free discussion, as we base our opinions on false un-reliable sources and rushed emotions.
We seek extreme change, even though we don’t truly need it.
We seek war, when we are at peace.
We seek conflict, when in fact we are incredibly close to consensus.
It is always a bleak step away, yet we always revert to destruction.

We can attribute this to the ill-educated nature of the modern world — if only we were capable of this discussion, and if only we were capable of broadening our horizons. The remaining step would then be complete. We must talk, and we must reach out to others. We must have the patience to discuss the diverse opinions: embrace diversity and discover the benefits that this diversity can bring. Ultimately, a unanimous consensus is never possible — but a well-informed public, completed with a diverse discussion, is a basis for true democracy and a peaceful society.

Therefore — rather than opting for those who divide, let’s opt for those who aim to unite.

The author is a 26-year old global citizen.

Oliver McGillick

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Learn, Live & Play. — I write about art, music and whatever's going on.