Lock and Load, Oh Israel! Fear-Mongering Always Wins – Blame Our Brains

Well, it looks like more warfare is coming for the benighted people’s of Israel – all of them.  Sad but predictable.  The psychological and commercial evidence is pretty good that tribal fear-mongering and intergroup hatred speech/behaviors correlates with political and media success.  It is well known in the media that “If it bleeds it ledes.” – even if it is fake blood.  The success of Fox News in the US echo’s right-wing dominance all over the world.

Fear and hatred of the “other” always wins.  No one knows this better than the Jewish people!

There just does not seem to be any way for the human brain to detach from it’s instinctive and automatic fear responses as it’s main driver of driver.  There have been studies showing clearly that triggering fear is the most reliable way to get and keep attention in business, marketing, politics and the media.

Warfare Distorts

Of course, warfare distorts everything in a society; economics, civil society, institutions, etc.  In American politics we see how appeals to, mainly ethnic fear and hatred, has been the path to power and media success.  America is a country obsessed with “guns and ammo” as the solution to pretty much every social problem.  Much of the fear is directed at black-skinned folks, or frankly, anyone with darker skin.

The “guns and ammo” obsession in America is a symptom of unconscious, biological, ethnic fear/hatred, not the cause.  The loudest voices are always those selling fear and hatred of the “other.”  Hysteria always wins.  But fear also cripples civil society.

Not a Matter of Right or Wrong But What Works to Solve Problems

No one really knows whether, in response to fear and insecurity, warfare, fighting and killing, works.  It may.  Nor can we say the fears are not legitimate and fact-based.  Maybe everyone is right.  Maybe killing must be met with killing.  Certainly, that is the oldest human codified response – “eye for an eye.”, etc.

It does seem that constant warfare suppresses other voices and that public conversations become preservation about immediate mortal threats – perceived or real.  It must be exhausting.  Of personal, social and institutional resources and psychic energy.

In other settings the research evidence is clear – diversity in voices and painfully long, detailed, hard conversations, dialog and negotiations produce optimal results.  Jewish intellectual and Torah study traditions know this better than any other cultures as well.

The current election results suggest there will be far fewer difficult, endless, exhausting and really hard problem-solving negotiations, conversations and study of Israel’s problems and just more of the same – fighting and killing.  Well, that’s human nature.


About the Author
Elmer Rich is interested in evidence-based problem-solving in professional, business and policy work. With an M.S. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from University of Chicago, he works as a professional marketer and communicator in B2B/technical topics in financial services.