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The Politics of Fear

Trevor Amundsen

Those who are familiar with the writings of George Orwell will be familiar with the concept of keeping the masses compliant by keeping them fearful. For those who haven’t read the classic novel, 1984, it is loosely centred on a political leader called Big Brother who constantly conjures up new enemies to go to war against; the existence of a new enemy keeping the population fearful. When the public begin to believe that the new enemy is under control and get restless another, even bigger, enemy is found; and the population is warned through Big Brother’s political publicity.

This book was written as a warning but I sometimes wonder if it is a warning we are not heeding, as the politics of fear in New Zealand is becoming predominant. The current Government really became enlightened with the coming of the Covid-19 Pandemic. A Government that was going nowhere and being given a hiding in the polls suddenly discovered fear made them popular. A story of, “ensuring the Health System could cope” quickly became a story of, “We will be the only country to defeat this new enemy”. People were afraid for their lives and grateful for the politicians who were the only ones who could save them. Taking a tactic from Big Brother, the Government swamped us publicity about how they were saving us from a terrible fate.

Unfortunately our Government has been pretty terrible at most things, excluding the promotion of fear, and their fight against the Covid enemy faltered, so they have given up on that enemy. We have now had over 2500 deaths due to Covid in New Zealand but, not to worry, our Government has found a new enemy to help bring us back to a compliant state - bad weather.

Ridiculous as it seems, we are now being taught to be fearful of the weather. Bureaucrats in Wellington have discovered immense power in ordering a population to stay at home and now they are using intense rainfall as an excuse to exercise that power again. While we might grumble a bit, our compliant population does exactly as they have been told by the faceless ones in Wellington.

The climate change industry has previously used a macro level of reasons to be fearful; the planet is going to burn, there will be ice bergs in your fish pond sort of thing. They seem to have realised this is not personal enough however, so now you are told to be fearful for your home. Climate Scientist Professor, Tim Naish, told us late last year that many coastal areas would be uninhabitable within 20 years. An earlier report by the Government was more specific, claiming 9000 houses would be lost to the weather. Recently, we were warned by a politician that many settlements would need to re-locate. Some areas were just not suitable for habitation, he cried. Well I am sympathetic to Aucklanders but we can’t have them all leaving at the same time. Where would we fit them?

This political methodology is supported by a quite nasty branding tactic whereby anybody who argues against anything you want is branded, usually in an aggressive way. Hence if you wish to argue for a consistent democracy, you are a racist. If you want to argue for a woman’s abortion rights, you are a child killer. If you want to argue for a better quality education system, you are encouraging youth failure, and of course, if you do not accept all of the publicity about climate, you are that most evil of citizens, a Denier!

It seems to me that the mixture of the ‘politics of fear’ and branding of your opposition is removing healthy debate and the exchange of ideas from our political theatres. This is wrong and must be stopped as the end result is that well thought-out policies will become a thing of the past and we, the people, are the ones to suffer.

So do not refuse to travel because of fear. Do not lock yourself away from your community because of fear. Do not plan to move to Taumaranui or such places because of fear. And most of all make you opinion heard; without fear of the childish brands the politicians and their supporters may try to affix to you.


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