The Value of Fear

Fear makes us irrational. Fear makes us susceptible to poor arguments and dangerous “offers” that seem to promise relief from the pain of our terror. Fear causes us to choose rashly and pursue counterproductive courses of action. Fear makes us forget our real, adult interests, including our interests in other people, in favor of an aggressive form of self-absorption. Fear can make us childishly selfish, disrespectful of others’ well-being, and undignified in word and deed, as we leap precipitously in any direction that might save our skin, without regard for our principles, our sense of decency, and our proper pride as individual human beings. Fear is a natural passion, but can be stoked to levels of unnatural governance in the soul by extreme rhetoric, unreasoning assessments, and the emotional crushing of the normal mechanisms of adult deliberation. Fear is properly governed by courage. Fear ungoverned by courage is the death of reason, self-control, social responsibility, and human worth.

Donald Trump, a very weak man who is currently recovering from a case of COVID-19, says America should not fear this disease. The mainstream news media and its designated “health experts” are decrying Trump’s sensible and reasonable statement as a public betrayal worthy of a charge of gross criminal negligence. How dare the president of a country urge its citizens not to live in mortal terror!

Point of comparison: When a U.S. president in the 1930s tells Americans the only thing they have to fear about his introduction of socialism to America is “fear itself,” the progressive establishment holds him up forever as the model of a great leader. But when a president who actually has a flu-like virus himself tells Americans not to fear that virus, he is attacked as a murderous traitor. That is, a well-founded fear of a brutally anti-human political system is considered foolish, while a paralyzing dread of an overhyped quasi-flu virus is considered indispensable and even desirable, since that dread is helping Roosevelt’s spiritual heirs complete their imposition of socialism. Whatever works, I guess.

And this, by the way, is a practical lesson in the means and purposes of that all-American philosophy, pragmatism — the “whatever works” philosophy. Pragmatism has always been, at heart, an elaborate theoretical rationalization for progressive collectivism. If you are in the habit of calling yourself a “pragmatist,” as so many Americans are (thanks to generations of Deweyesque propaganda), you ought to reconsider that self-description. Pragmatism is authoritarian arbitrariness and collectivist social manipulation masquerading as a philosophical theory, and it has never been anything else.

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