Throughout history, the playbook of those who sought to take away the freedom of individuals and transform it into their own centralized power has been to use fear to ‘justify’ their actions, hoping to keep people desperate and off balance until it is too late.
“For your own safety.”
“To protect you.”
“To keep you safe.”
These are words we are used to hearing throughout our lives, particularly when we are young.
Parents, teachers, and other authority figures regularly set out the list of rules and restrictions we must follow, and it’s always ‘for our own good.’
First comes the fear, then the promise of protection.
Thus, we are primed in our early years to trust those who claim to be looking out for us.
Often, this is exploited by politicians and people who seek power over us, and we are seeing that today.
Fear of the Wuhan Virus.
Fear of ‘hurtful and offensive’ speech on social media.
Fear of economic collapse.
All being used to ‘justify’ power grabs and erosions of freedom that would have previously seemed incomprehensible in supposedly ‘free and democratic’ nations.
Now, it is reasonable to be afraid of a virus that can cause death and harm. The issue isn’t that people are afraid, it is how that fear is being exploited.
Every step of the way, those in charge avoided taking proactive measures, and instead took measures that would involve the maximum amount of government-imposed restrictions.
People have been fined and arrested for visiting family, trying to worship, trying to keep businesses open, walking outside after ‘curfew’ hours, and more. People have even been taken from their families at airports, in some cases taken to government facilities without their family members even being told where they were being taken.
In many cases, people have become so used to this that we see demands for even more restrictions.
Fear has convinced many people to simply trust any government authority figure and support any new restriction.
When it comes to free speech, the government is seeking to take further control over social media. First, they claimed it was about ‘hate,’ but already they are expanding it to ‘offensive and hurtful’ remarks and ‘dissent’ that could erode trust in government. That’s the same kind of language that communist and authoritarian states use to silence those who disagree with the government.
They are using fear, particularly fear since the riot at the US Capitol, in order to ‘justify’ what will clearly be government imposed restrictions on free expression.
And when it comes to the economy, the government is clearly seeking to make as many people dependent on the state as possible, by imposing higher taxes, regulations that push investment out of the country, while running endless deficits and expanding government spending in a way that is only possible because the Bank of Canada (and most central banks around the world) are creating money at a rapid pace and suppressing interest rates.
Of course, a key bastion of true economic independence and freedom – small businesses – have been decimated by government policies, while big box stores have remained open.
The more the government can make people lose confidence in their local community and in themselves, the more people will demand government ‘help’ and centralized control, which is exactly what is happening.
Linking all of this together is that the ‘answer’ to fear always seems to be more government centralized power, when what we really need is to trust in the self-determination of individuals.
Trusting in each other, and trusting in freedom, is difficult at the best of times, and it may feel especially difficult now. But history shows that those who can hold onto freedom amid a crisis are on the right side of history, while those who give away their power to a centralized authority often look back with regret and wonder ‘how did we let this happen.
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