(WARNING: Those of our readers who think we should be sticking to Austrian economics in some narrow sense can just skip along to the next post.)
My iTunes shuffle just hit on a song whose lyrics seem amazingly appropriate to the times we're living through in the last few months. Written in 1982, Rush's "The Weapon" (from their Signals album) has always been a particular favorite of mine, as it reflects an early attempt of Neil Peart to write lyrics that were less didactic in their politics and a little more subtle and cultural in exploring the political realm. It's part of set of 4 songs that spanned 4 albums and more than 20 years that all addresed the idea of "fear."
"The Weapon" has never seemed more appropriate given the ways the Bush Administration has used fear as a path to increased power in both times of war and economic crisis. The early indications from the new administration is that not much is going to change (cue another of my favorite bands... something about the new boss and the old boss). I especially like the play off FDR that starts this song and the lovely ambiguity of the very last line, which resonates with my call for "controlling the narrative" from a while ago.
The Weapon (Part II of Fear)
We've got nothing to fear -- but fear itself?
Not pain, not failure, not fatal tragedy?
Not the faulty units in this mad machinery?
Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry?
With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
In the glory game on the power train
Thy kingdom's will be done
And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us...
He's not afraid of your judgement
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He's a little bit afraid of dying
But he's a lot more afraid of your lying
And the things that he fears are a weapon to be held against him...
Can any part of life be larger than life?
Even love must be limited by time
And those who push us down that they might climb
Is any killer worth more than his crime?
Like a steely blade in a silken sheath
We don't see what they're made of
They shout about love, but when push comes to shove
They live for the things they're afraid of
And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them...
UPDATE: A friend and fellow Rush fan reminds me of a great Mencken quote along the same lines:
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed
(and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an
endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.