why is mans natural aversion towards helplessness exploited to inspire fear?Thesis: Man's greatest fear has always been losing control over his life; dystopian films, current political debates,...

why is mans natural aversion towards helplessness exploited to inspire fear?

Thesis: Man's greatest fear has always been losing control over his life; dystopian films, current political debates, and anti communist propaganda effectively exploit this natural aversion towards helplessness to inspire fear in people.

This is the thesis i am working with, but am having trouble figuring out why there is such a commonality among this fear, between different mediums. Why is this fear of man being helpless so common throughout anti communist propaganda, dystopian films like the matrix, 1948, etc., and current political debates concerning Obama taking away our freedoms and being socialist?

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brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Fear is an extremely simple emotion, one born out of our desire to survive.  We identify threats, develop fears and either fight or avoid the threat.  It's human nature.

So it's natural that there are those, both in government and in our private lives who recognize and exploit that fear for their own personal or political gain.  Professionals who exploit this on a mob or national level know to first identify the helplessness, to publicize it, and thus, amplify the fear.  Then they provide the answer or antidote or protection from that fear.  This increases their popularity, to be sure, but also it increases support for their policies and ideas which might otherwise lack support.

The Patriot Act passed very quickly after 9/11, even though almost everything in it had been written and proposed long beforehand.  9/11 and the fear that resulted was exploited to make political gain in that case.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The thesis and the analysis present makes some rather large leaps of faith.  The first is that it presumes that that there is a natural aversion towards helplessness within individual consciousness.  I think that this might be present, but it seems as if the argument being made is to reduce all individual perception to solely the fear of losing control.  At the same time, I think that some of the analysis could also be discussed.  Works like "The Matrix" actually end up asserting individual action and freedom, as opposed to forcing some type of capitulation.  "1984" leaves the reader in the same light, in that one seeks to actively work against the development of such a regime like the one in Oceania from emerging.  I would also question the inclusion of Obama in such a setting.  I am not sure that a clear case can openly and legitimately be made that the President is seeking to activate Socialist reforms and reduce the power of individuals.  For instance, in the last three days, the President has placed the burden of the Gulf Oil Spill on the corporation, BP, arguing that it has a "vested interest" in the cleanup effort.   The president has not called for a government takeover of the operation, rather entrusting the corporation to solve the problem.  This is not socialist in scope or process.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my opinion, this is because our Western philosophies and institutions (things like democracy and capitalism) are so centered on the individual and on the freedom of the individual.  To our Western mind, individual freedoms are almost synonymous with life.  I think this is especially true in the United States where the whole basis for the existence of our country is the desire for political and economic freedom.  I would bet, but I don't know, that the further you get from our political and social ideas, the less people are motivated by this fear.  I think it is less a universal fear and more of a fear that comes from our value system.

Once the fear is there, then why would it not be common across various forms of media?  In addition, it makes sense that it would be exploited to serve both economic and political goals.

So I think that what you really need to do is figure out for yourself why you think people have this fear.

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