In the ideal world, laws are made by legislators and legislators are elected by voters. This of course is not always the case but for purposes of this article, let us assume that the proposition is true. For a discussion of how dictatorships and similar autocratic regimes function, read “The Enabling Act.” The resultant laws that the legislators’ enact are reflections of what the legislator believes or should believe the voters want. This of course is not always the case but for purposes of this article, let us assume that the proposition is true. In the real world, how legislation is enacted is often more about how much money the legislator received from one or more lobbying groups and thus how the legislator can get re-elected.
Nothing succeeds in motivating a group more than parading out the twin evils of fear and uncertainty. And fear and uncertainty lead to other feelings including hatred and anger toward anyone or anything that we believe is causing that fear and uncertainty. Tap into these feelings and you are on the way to being a politician. Or a dictator.
Of course, life is never
We only imagine that there are times of certainty as well as times of
The pace of change seems much more rapid today than ever before.
I’m not sure that the actual pace has accelerated.
I believe that what has made it seem accelerated is that
we are so much more aware of events that are part of the pace of change that
“change” is simply in our face 24/7 and thus seems more accelerated.
Of course as well, none of this reality matters for it
is our perceptions that guide us.
For those acting out of fear, it is no balm to say that
those fears are not real.
To them, it is very real.
I’m not talking about personal fears and insecurities, although they may and are likely certainly at work here. I’m talking about great ill-defined, macro-fears. In many ways, these have remained the same throughout history even if there has been some tweaking of the details to fit the times. Perhaps a short list of what has been the subject of these fears may be of some assistance.
The [fill in the nationality or ethnic or ideological group] are coming. Some of these nationalities, ethnic or ideological groups have been the Irish, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Communists if you are a Capitalist, the Capitalists if you are a Communist, the Democrats if you are a Republican, the Republicans if you are a Democrat, and going back further into history, the Hittites, the Mongols, and…you get the point. It’s as endless as history.
The [fill in the nationality or ethnic or
ideological group] are coming and they are going to [fill in the parade of
Some of these horribles have been: take your jobs, rape your
women, sponge off our welfare system, destroy your family values, take away your
healthcare, destroy your
way of life and…you get the point.
It’s as endless as history.
The government is going to impose “socialism” on
you, as though anyone actually knew what “socialism” was.
Never mind that our society in the United States and
indeed in other countries is filled with “socialist” ideas such as public
education and public parks, roads and bridges and municipal water supplies and
other parts of the infrastructure, public police and fire departments, crop
subsidies to farmers (most recently, soy bean farmers), Social Security and
and Medicaid and the equivalents in government pensions for elected representatives
and others (although only the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and Medicare
and Medicaid are under attack), the
new (and all prior) tax acts which take money from lower income, less
politically well-connected persons and give it to the wealthy, well-connected in
our society on the totally unproven theory that somehow those wealthy,
well-connected parties will altruistically spend their money on those lower
income, less politically well-connected among us, the huge amounts spent on
defense contracting and other forms of “socialism.” Our
society has always been a mixed society in these regards but the parading out of
the terms, whether it be “socialism” or “capitalism,” taps into our inherent
fears, even though those fears are based primarily in ignorance.
The reason we need a strategic bomber, indeed 3 strategic bombers (and proposing a fourth strategic bomber) is because [the Soviets are coming, the Chinese are coming, when there is probably no one coming that can be deterred by 4 kinds of strategic bombers].
Not only do we fear uncertainty, but we fear even talking about our fear of uncertainty. So we talk about many other things that are merely symptoms of our fear of uncertainty but are not about our fear of uncertainty. We talk about immigration and walls to prevent the same. We talk about war and weapons to prevent the same. We talk about “us vs. them” and how, if we can only defeat “them,” “us” will be safe. We respond like so many Pavlovian dogs, to the tinkling of the bells. We talk about anything but what we need to talk about. When people in a marriage are having difficulties, they either have a baby or buy new bedroom furniture.
Often looking for real
answers is like looking in the dark without the benefit of the lamp post.
There are lots of uncertainties in looking for real
Talking about real issues involves lots of “ifs” and uncertainties.
We’d rather come up with pretend answers that are
The “fix” for this problem is “this” or “that.”
So we look under the lamp post precisely
because we know we’re not going to find anything
Looking there is easier even if futile.
And so when someone comes along and tells us that all our problems will go away if only…., it’s like “where do I sign up?” And this someone can be a political leader but he or she can also be any “too good to be true” salesperson or anyone else that our heart of hearts tells us is lying to us but who we choose to believe because, well, because there’s more light in the story they tell.
And because these
“solutions” never actually solve anything, the problems persist, thus
perpetuating in power those who fed us the non-solution in the first place.
Unlike democracy, which
only offers uncertainty and change.
After all, if you have to listen and respect the views
of others, you have uncertainty.
And uncertainty is thus equated with democracy and
democracy, though nominally espoused, is unkempt and messy and unlikely to lead
Democracy is a process, one that requires information, decisions,
living with uncertainty.
Autocracy is finite solution.
How do fear and uncertainty
result in laws?
But since these articles are about the law, we need to examine how our personal and macro fears lead to the enactment of laws designed to remedy our personal and macro fears. It is out of our fear and our need for certainty that we create our laws. All societies, as they evolved, developed laws to define relationships in those societies. They sought to codify, sometimes in writing, sometimes orally, how we should behave one to the other in given situations. As such, law has the potential to create certainty but within the scope of any law there is often significant uncertainty. No matter how many drafts a law goes through, no matter how artfully crafted the language of any agreement might be, there is always the possibility of other interpretations. So even law has uncertainty within it.
We vote for those who tell us that our fears, our uncertainties, our insecurities can be solved by simple fixes. Exclude this group, build a wall, take away social security and Medicare, give money to the rich who will then “trickle down” their benefits to the rest of society are just a few simple fixes that have no evidence to support any of the claims.
And along came a voice saying “If only we got rid of the Communists and the Jews, all our problems would be solved.”
In short, we demand of our leaders that they offer concrete solutions that offer security and certainty. That is what elections are about. Elections are not about solving problems and certainly not about discussing issues. They are about getting elected so that the winners can be re-elected. Elections are the wrong time to discuss issues.
Copyright © 2018 Ivan Hoffman. All Rights Reserved.
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Ivan Hoffman has been practicing intellectual property law for over 45 years and has written extensively about that topic. (www.ivanhoffman.com).
This article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. This article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should not rely on this article in any manner whatsoever and you should not draw any conclusions of any sort from this article. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article is based on United States laws but the laws of other countries may be different. You should consult with an attorney familiar with the issues and the laws of your country. This article does not create any attorney client relationship and is not a solicitation.