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<nettime> Fear-mongering is the enemy of democracy
nettime's panic room on Thu, 2 Jul 2015 12:51:03 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Fear-mongering is the enemy of democracy



The Tories always use Project Fear to get their way at the ballot box,
and the same tactic is used when the Greek people are asked to choose
between the hell they know and one they can only imagine

Wednesday 1 July 2015 20.00 BST
Suzanne Moore

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/01/fear-mongering-enemy-of-democracy-from-greece-to-camerons-eu-referendum-euro-crisis

Project Fear stalks Europe. In suits and ties and chaffeur-driven
cars, in hurried meetings, in corridors blaring with strip lights,
around the cabinet tables, in meetings where strategy is scrawled on
whiteboards, in advertising agencies where earnest young people
compete to unsettle us in the most effective ways.

Perhaps I am too old and dreamy to think that politics was ever about
anything other than fear; that hope is a necessity not a luxury.
Surely I know, really, that when you want someone to vote a certain
way you have to frighten them into thinking that any alternative is
worse. We may not know what we like, but we sure as hell as know what
we donât like.

Project Fear is not a paranoid delusion of mine. This phrase was used
by the Conservatives in the last election and the pro-UK Better
Together campaign. It was part of Lynton Crosbyâs tactics to scare
those in marginal seats by suggesting that a Labour vote meant a vote
for a smarmy thief or a snappy dominatrix in the form of Alex Salmond
or Nicola Sturgeon. It mostly worked. People donât like being ruled by
people from another country, except, of course, if you are actually
Scots and are meant to love it.

Project Fear is now to be used by David Cameronâs team campaigning to
keep us in Europe. All the alternatives will be made to appear risky.
His message will be âbetter the devil you know than the devil you
donâtâ. This is an entirely negative form of politics, where the whole
vision thing goes out of the window. Democracy boils down to a vote
for the status quo and anything else is too inherently risky.

Of course, Project Fear reaches its apotheosis in Greece. If there is
a referendum, the Greek people will be asked to vote for a hell they
already know or one they can only imagine. They will continue to be
lectured on profligacy and infantilised as lazy children, while their
hospitals are running out of supplies, people are sleeping on the
streets and unemployment soars. Those who stand in ATM queues are
fearful, and who wouldnât be? But from my last couple of visits to
Greece, I would say that when a crisis is everyday, when you live on
the brink, a strange calm sets in, a resilience that I can only
compare to what I have seen in war zones, in that the need to get on
with living overrides fear. No one can panic 24/7.

âWe will grow potatoes,â one man said to me. âWe all watch out for
each other,â said a woman. For the thing about Project Fear is that
when it becomes the weather, one learns to ignore it.

As the Eurocrats huddle and speak of Greece, and then Spain and Italy,
as some kind of totemic ethnic âotherâ, we should be disturbed. Does
this huge south need to be dealt with differently? Is this all a place
of unpaid tax and bribery and siestas? Be fearful of this. âThey will
take what is oursâ is the subtext here. There is no respect for
seasonal economies like Greeceâs, but the fear is myopic. How can we
not see that all of Europe will lose, too, if it continues to
impoverish these places?

With migrants arriving in Kos and hordes of the dispossessed massing
in Libya, why would we want to alienate a nation just one country away
from Isis? Greece spends a lot on defence, this is true. Can we not
see why?

But the troika are the agents of Project Fear. Though Germany was
allowed to grow its way out of recession in 1953, it will not let
Greece do this, because it would set âa bad exampleâ. The aim of all
these dealings becomes clearer. It is to remove the democratic
challenge of Syriza to these huge, undemocratic institutions of the EU
and IMF. Even many rightwing economists argue that the conditional
loans given to Greece have only enriched the financial intuitions. The
aim is not growth but punishment.

The struggle within Greece is over whether it can be considered a
sovereign state. This matters. It matters because it makes Europe a
hostile place for those who are concerned with sovereignty, and this
will play into the hand of the ultra-rightwing sceptics. Within
Greece, it will play into the hands of the fascist Golden Dawn.

It will be yet another victory for largely faceless financial
institutions over an elected government. Those who are pro-Europe are
going to have make arguments based on these anxieties. We will have
seen that some parts of Europe are way more equal than others.

Project Fear, when it is activated by the Yes camp of our own pro-EU
referendum lobby, will surely involve a muted defence of the
indefensible in the name of trade. It will have to be vague abut how
this bureaucracy works without going into Farage-type spasms. It will
have to, in some way, play down the power of the banks and play up the
power of national politicians. Otherwise we might all look at Greece
and be very afraid indeed.

We might wonder if Europe is our future. Project Fear works, you see.
As Mussolini said: âDemocracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it
is a fallacy.â


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