Then conservatives feel a strong need to persuade a skeptical general public to adopt the “wisdom” their far right views, at least temporarily, for instance so they can win an election, they fall back on one of their most reliable weapons – fear. Of course using fear is a reliable tactic because the safety for ourselves and our families is one of our most basic requirements as human beings.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, after much research published perhaps the one of the most famous, well established and accepted theories in the history of the study of psychology – “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Today we refer to this theory as “Maslow’s Priority of Needs”. In simple terms Maslow laid out five distinct levels of human needs. These levels, listed in order from the lowest or most basic to highest are:
- Physiological – the need for the basics of life: air, food, water, shelter, etc.
- Safety – the need for personal and financial security, safety from illness, accidents, and attacks.
- Love/belonging – the need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance in family and social groups.
- Esteem – the need for self respect and the respect of others.
- Self actualization – the need to be all that one can be, to accomplish all that is possible.
As you will probably recall, Maslow also determined that human beings can only truly concentrate on fulfilling the needs of one of these levels at a time. He also determined the needs are hierarchical, that is a person must feel that a lower level of needs is satisfied before he or she can truly focus of the next level. In other words, until human beings fulfill their physiological needs, they can not concentrate on safety concerns. Then only when their safety needs are satisfied can they truly concentrate on obtaining a sense of loving and belong, and so on.
If you truly want to understand why preaching fear is one of the conservatives’ most potent weapons, you need only to observe that safety is one of our most basic human needs. If someone can persuade us that we or your families are unsafe, every other concern we might have for basic physiological needs will have to take a back seat until some corrective action is taken that will assure us that we and our families are safe.
So it is no surprise that when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was down in the poles and appeared to be in danger of losing during the last few weeks before the recent Israeli elections, he started beating the drums of fear as conservatives often do when they are in trouble. The prime object of his attention was the negotiations being held between Iran and the world’s most powerful and influential countries (France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the US) aimed at stopping Iran’s quest for developing nuclear weapons. It was also not surprising when Netanyahu’s fellow conservatives, the Republican in US Congress, rallied to his aid, trying to use fear to make their own political gains against President Obama’s policy of negotiation.
However, remember are talking about politicians. They don’t necessarily believe their own inflammatorily rhetoric which is meant to stir up the masses to vote for them or turn public opinion against political opponents; to them fear is often just a tool, nothing more. Once their objectives have been achieved, they need only a face saving excuse to move in completely different direction if that tactic will benefit them.
Now that the agreement on the framework for the deal with Iran has been reached, and that framework has been publicized, if the details can be worked out and the agreement signed by all parties, this is not an agreement that any rational person would reject. While it will not keep Iran from perusing peaceful nuclear objectives, it will move that country further away from being to develop nuclear weapons by removing much of the infrastructure necessary to pursue that course. It will also short circuit each and every possible Iranian path to such weapons and it will establish a comprehensive and invasive inspection protocol to detect any attempt by the Iranian government to circumvent the deal. It is not an agreement based on trust, no one should trust the Iranians given their track record; it should and must be based on verification.
I fully expect for Netanyahu and his allies in Congress to continue to do everything they can to keep that agreement from being finalized. However, once the agreement is signed by all negotiating parties as I expect it will be, I also fully expect Netanyahu to change his tactics towards ensuring that Iran lives up to the deal by demanding numerous inspections. After all, Netanyahu is first and far most a politician who is most concerned with maintaining power. For him the weapon of fear has already don’t its job; he used it effectively to obtain his objective of getting reelected. It can now he can put aside until the next time it is needed.