In the past, ideology was what politicians offered to the electorate, with promises to create a better world. But when that failed, the people became sceptical of political promises.
Politicians then scrambled for the next strategy to win the votes. Instead of promising them dreams, they promised instead to protect them from nightmares.
Like dreams, nightmares are fantasies. But how are fantasies created?
According to Leo Strauss, people need powerful myths or moral values to control them. Two groups in recent times have become the epitome of this affirmation: the American Neo-Conservatives and the radical Islamists.
When the Neo-Cons began, they had as their lofty objective, to use American power to fight evil. They considered religion a false notion, but they used it as an instrument to control the American people.
This evil was defined by the Neo-Cons as the Russians. So when Russia invaded Afghanistan, the Americans supported and trained the mujahideen. Gorbachev warned the Americans that in doing so, they would create a far worse enemy. But the Americans did not heed the warning.
Americans love to go to war and love to pick fights. When Russia disintegrated into smaller nations and no longer a threat, the Neo-Cons did not need to go far to look for another one, and created the phantom enemy, Al Qaeda. But there is absolutely no evidence of any organised terrorism network.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a radical Islamist who was a poor mujahid in Afghanistan, befriended a mild-mannered but rich mujahid, Osama Bin Laden. Through Bin-Laden’s financial backing, Al-Zawahiri was able to put his radical Islamic ideas into action. He and his small group of mountain-roaming radicals identified their enemy as fellow Muslims, especially those in government. They reasoned that if you are in government, you are not a good Muslim. They believed that only the Koran should be used as the political framework. They also reasoned that those who vote for people in government are also bad Muslims. They killed with impunity men, women and children; and they allegedly carried out the spectacular killing of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat. But their ideas failed to win fellow Muslims to their side.
Meanwhile, the Neo-Cons in identifying their new enemy as radical Islamists, the Americans became the victims of their own lies. (As an aside, the American government blames the 9-11 attack on Islamic extremists and/or Saddam Hussein — both lacking proof as yet. There is another theory that there was government complicity in the 9-11 attack).
Why was this fantasy created? and to whose benefit? The politicians who create the most worst-case scenario, the loudest fear and terror-mongers, are usually the ones who become the most powerful. Like a fishmonger in the market, the one with the loudest cries attracts the most clients. It is therefore, to their political benefit that this fantasy continues.
But they are not alone in their work. The mainstream media is their bullhorn. You will find that the one who sells the most newspapers, will be the loudest terror-monger of all.
Meanwhile, the American people go out to buy duct tape… blind they are to the propaganda their government spews out.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. — Joseph Goebbels
This post is based on the wmv files: The Power of Nightmares