Saturday, July 23, 2005

Propaganda Machine Tools: Fear

Fear and the avoidance of danger are primary factors in the both the evolution and survival of any species. We humans have used our large brain capacities in combination with the primal mechanism of fear to advance our species. Our brains have given us an expanded array of options in danger avoidance. Our more primitive mammal cousins have only basic danger avoidance techniques like running or hiding. As we develop more tools that harness the destructive power of nature, our need to develop mechanisms to avoid the fear generated by the potential use of these destructive tools is increased. Since many modern threats to security come in forms that call for collective action, our governments become providers of security and danger avoidance options.

The propagandist can, if skillfully executed, use the primal emotional mechanism of fear to alter public opinion and justify actions that are non-intuitive or non-logical. There are four elements to a successful fear appeal: 1) a threat, 2) a specific recommendation about how the audience should behave, 3) audience perception that the recommendation will be effective in addressing the threat, and 4) audience perception that they are capable of performing the recommended behavior.[1] The current administration has used fear and the avoidance of danger to justify unilateral preemptive military actions. They have also used fear to justify the alteration of our fundamental rights to privacy and further enhance the powers of an immerging police state. The Bush administration has used fear at the center of a very effective propaganda campaign to sway public opinion. They have been able to use fear and the avoidance of danger to mask the true direction and purpose of their aberrant right wing foreign policy agenda.

[1] The Institute for Propaganda Analysis



Blogger The Progressive said...

The precept for which Bush uses instilling fear into the American people is to induce us to want him to keep us safe. Ironically, the opposite is occurring. The war president Bush loses is the one against terrorism. According to reports from his State Department, it turns out Bush's actions have increased the danger the world is in.

11:35 PM  

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