Thursday, 7 January 2010

Fear the Witch

Ever since the dawn of humanity, some people have sought to exercise control over others. In this excellent piece, blogger Leg-iron explains what has been perhaps the single key technique over the years:

The real fear is fear itself. Not fear of the Thing, but fear of being accused of being the Thing.
If you do not join in the witchhunt, and join in enthusiastically, then you may very well be a witch yourself, or at least Soft on Witches.
People will submit to full body scanners because if they refuse, they know the mob will take it as a sign of guilt. They will cheer on minimum alcohol pricing because if they don't then they must support alcoholism. They will worship the Green God because if they don't they will be seen as polar bear killers. Standard witchhunting methodology - the mob will always support the witchfinder because the witchfinder might accuse any who don't. The mob will be keen to report the witch to prove that they are not also witches. The mob is easily controlled by the fear of being accused, not the fear of the witch.
People will submit to all those lunatic controls on flights, some of which make absolutely no sense at all, not because they are scared of terrorists but because they are scared of being suspected themselves. All these controls on smoking, drinking, diet, travelling, what you can say and so on are not there for your benefit. They are to keep you in the mob, to keep you compliant and to keep you too scared to object.
Obviously this has strong resonances for the current anti-alcohol crusade, but it goes far wider in society, in fact in every case where the cry goes up “the innocent have nothing to fear” – implying that if you raise any objection, you can’t be entirely innocent yourself.

A prime example is the hysteria over paedophiles, which has led to millions of people needing expensive, time-consuming and probably ineffective background checks, and responsible men avoiding work with children for fear of others questioning their motives.

Interestingly, he says that such crusades eventually fail not because of popular opposition, but because those in authority decide that they have gone too far (as they always do):
The Righteous fail when they go too far. When people in authority start speaking out against them. The Pope stopped the Inquistion. The Church stopped the Witchfinder-General. The common people did nothing because they were under the thrall of 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' until someone they saw as an authority figure spoke out.

There are signs of this starting now. It could be messy, the Righteous have never had so many projects running at once before. What they'll take down with them, and whether they'll all go at once is anyone's guess but they will fail and I think it'll be soon.

Let us hope that the day when Sir Liam Donaldson and Don Shenker go the way of Matthew Hopkins and Joe McCarthy is not too far away.


  1. Bloody good stuff. Not that I'm agreeing with you. I don't want to be accused of that. I'm just saying like.

  2. "Let us hope that the day when Sir Liam Donaldson and Don Shenker go the way of Matthew Hopkins and Joe McCarthy is not too far away"

    Chance would be a fine thing. The truth is, it's only just starting to gain momentum with regards alcohol.

  3. Don Shenker go the way of Joe McCarthy, who drank himself to death! I'd pay to see that.

  4. I’ve no wish to sound like a sycophant, but despite our politics being wide apart, I always enjoy reading your blog. Don’t always agree with what you say but I come away feeling replete. Thanks for pointing us in the direction of this blogger. I read his arguments with interest and found myself agreeing with much he writes, although not all. Of course like most people’s arguments, including mine, there are flaws, and if you extrapolate Leg-Iron’s to their obvious conclusions he will inevitably disappear up his own political arsehole. But it is well written all the same.

  5. Don Shenker go the way of Joe McCarthy, who drank himself to death!

    It would be really good to find out that the likes of Shenker actually had a secret drink problem.

    Of course it's not unknown for alcohol charity workers to fall off the straight and narrow. I was tempted to make a post about that when it happened, but actually reading further it seems a sad case and she can't really be accused of being a hypocrite.

    On a similar note, no doubt plenty of people in Northern Ireland are currently pissing themselves over the predicament of "scourge of the gays" Iris Robinson.

  6. Thanks for the kind words, Paul :-)

    I'm not sure that conventional political labels have all that much relevance nowadays. For me, the crucial divide is between people who believe that the State should tell you what to do, and those who believe you should be able to decide for yourself.

    As science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said, "The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."

    But it's interesting that remarkably little criticism of the current "ban everything" tendency comes from what is traditionally described as the political Left.


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