Fear and the State – Controlling the Fear

Fear of the strong, of the one in power, is the longest existing political emotion in human history. This fear is hardwired into our genes. Whole social systems have been built through its institutionalization in regulations. Entire eras of human history have been dominated by it. Every form of slavery is based on this kind of fear. Every form of unlimited power, of subordination and restriction of an individual or group of people, is based on a fear of the ruler and the state.

Power is inextricably linked to fear. It has created the most stable human emotion, and with it, the most important political instinct – that of survival. In historical perspective, the degree and form of fear of the ruler determine the differences between the disenfranchised person, the subject, and the citizen. The disenfranchised knows no other protection against arbitrariness than the benevolence of the ruler. The subject – outside of modern constitutional monarchies – exists in a world of hierarchy and institutionalized inequality. He depends on an authority that is formally limited by customs and norms, but not subject to control by any institution or collective body. The only way for the subject to reduce his degree of fear of the government, aside from the benevolence of the ruler, is to rely on his status, on custom, or on traditions.

The citizen is the first type of human being in whom fear is a function of the application and interpretation of words written on a piece of paper by a formally independent court, and not of the will of the ruler.

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