“The first principle is that everyone is scared,” said Mike. “The second principle is that everyone hates.”
Wondering what drives our politics these days? Read Eugene Burdick’s powerful 1956 novel, “The Ninth Wave.” “A prescient and still relevant story,” opined one critic. The opening quotations come from the book’s lead character, Mike Freesmith, who harnessed the power of fear and hate to control an election.
Today, big money and big data have taken these principles to new heights to manipulate and control voters to enhance their political power.
“Everybody worries about something,” Mike said. “Up in an office on the top floor of the Golden State Building, we’ve got a research staff picking out every group, every locality, every organization that’s got something to worry about.”
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Operations today are much more sophisticated as algorithms mine the internet and social media for gigabytes of data on individual voters; fear and hate messages are tested through blogs, emails and texts and responses measured; and incessant telephone and email surveys gather and analyze opinions on a daily basis.
“They exploit decades of behavioral science research into the flawed, often irrational ways human beings make decisions to subtly ‘nudge’ us — without our noticing it — toward one candidate,” reported Newsweek in June.
In the book, once people’s worries were identified and characterized into broad categories, “I tell them what to be scared of,” Mike said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Nowadays, once the operators hone effective messages, dissemination begins through sponsored radio and TV talk shows, blogs, social networks and advertising. The dissemination goals are to tell people what to fear and to stir up hateful emotions.
The real purpose behind these machinations, however, is to get large blocks of people to rely on the message moguls as trustworthy, real authorities.
“There is one thing the masses know,” said Mike, “real authority. And a real authority is someone who can satisfy their desire to hate and their fear. A good authority works the two of them together.
“He plays ‘em like they’re an organ,” Mike continued. “He sits at the console and gives ‘em what he thinks they need; a little fear today, a little hate tomorrow.”
The organmeisters today don’t speak directly to the masses, but communicate by multiple means through the vast message operations they fund and control.
One diabolical technique described by Burdick thrives today — pick out something people have, then persuade them someone is trying to take it away.
“Try and take something away from people and all of a sudden that’s the thing they want,” Mike said.
Consider the various freedom movements. Those behind them have convinced blocks of people that government is trying to take away some freedom. As a result, more and more Americans now alternatively fear and hate government.
Once most Americans took pride in our unique Constitution and the representative form of government it empowers, a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The powerful manipulators who utilize Burdick’s “fear + hate = power” formula have turned cherished government into the enemy.
Beware of fear and hate.
Pray for all hurricane victims.
Bill Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian.