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Feardom: How Politicians Exploit Your Emotions and What You Can Do to Stop Them Paperback – December 8, 2014
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"Liberty and safety are ideals that can be attained together, but too often Americans sacrifice the former in pursuit of the latter. Feardom explains how this happens, and offers important solutions for how the trend can be reversed." --Anthony Romero, Executive Director, ACLU
"Totalitarians gain power by promoting fear and hate among the masses. In the 20th century, the communists gained power by promoting fear and hatred of the czars and capitalists. Adolf Hitler gained power by promoting fear and hatred of Jews and Bolsheviks. While America has not yet reached such heights of totalitarianism, Feardom does a yeoman's job of giving us advanced warning signs." --Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics
"Tools I created for the government to protect the American people were turned, by that very government, into a weapon against us. Sadly, this is nothing new; as Connor Boyack explains in this timely and compelling book, power-hungry politicians and conniving bureaucrats take advantage of whatever opportunity they can to further their agenda. You can help throw a wrench into their machine. Read Feardom!" --Bill Binney, former NSA technical director turned whistleblower
"Feardom explains clearly and succinctly how Americans have lost their freedom and what they need to do to win it back. Everyone should read this book." --Jacob Hornberger, president, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Good journalism should be skeptical of government actions and should inform and empower individuals. Most media institutions fall short of this ideal and instead routinely paralyze their viewers with fear. As Connor Boyack explains in this compelling book, the consequences of this are drastic and detrimental--but they are not irreversible. Feardom offers solutions to this problem that are sorely needed and very timely. A must read!" --Ben Swann, award-winning investigative journalist
About the Author
Connor Boyack is founder and president of Libertas Institute, a libertarian think tank in Utah. In that capacity, he has spearheaded important policy reforms dealing with property rights, civil liberties, transparency, surveillance, and education freedom.
Connor is the author of several books, including the new Tuttle Twins series that teaches the principles of liberty to young children. Other books include Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics and its companion, Latter-day Responsibility: Choosing Liberty through Personal Accountability.
Connor's work has been publicly praised by former Representative Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Tom Woods, and other nationally recognized figures. He is a frequent commentator on current events and has appeared in local, national, and international interviews to publicize and comment on his work.
Connor lives in Utah with his wife and two young children. Visit ConnorBoyack.com for more information.
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Top Customer Reviews
Early on, the author clarifies that fear isn't a universal evil, and is is sometimes justified. In one of my favorite passages, the author explains: "It's rational to duck when somebody points a gun at you. It's not rational to do so when the person is making a 'gun' with their fingers" (17). This book serves as an attack on fearmongering with finger guns.
There are two main lines of argumentation in this book. The first, focused on American national security, is by far the more researched and developed. The author explores how fearful deception and propaganda have fueled wars and intrusions of privacy. In example after well-researched example, the author exposes the fear-based rationales for a majority of the armed conflicts the USA has engaged in over the past seven decades. Because the fears that led the country into so many wars are irrational, they lead to unjustified power grabs by opportunistic individuals and institutions.
It is on the strength of this line of reasoning that I recommend this book.
The author occasionally strays from the excellent war-by-fear vein of the book and when he does, the book and its argument suffer. The second main thread is far less developed, takes up far less of the book, and is backed up by far less research. Chapters regularly commit intellectual hit-and-runs on issues such as gun control, social security, HOAs, and (to appease Godwin's law) Nazi Germany. The author's point is that intervention in each of these cases is driven by irrational fear, and as such is essentially despotic.
The author also explains that the reason people succumb to the government-stoked fears of "privation, homelessness, unemployment, and so on" (63) and thus allow the government to take action to curb such issues, is that they are "gullible enough" (129), "ignorant, indifferent, or afraid" (128). Perhaps homelessness and privation are not rational fears for the author, but they are very real and very rational for millions upon millions of his neighbors.
This second line of reasoning is based almost entirely on the author's opinion of the rationality of those fears. Unlike the war sections, in which the irrationality of the fears are clearly explained (and convincingly researched), the other issues are repeatedly assumed by the author. If the reader already agrees with the author's opinions that such fears are irrational, then this will not be a problem. If the reader doesn't, however, it will raise more questions than are answered. For example, does the author really think that anyone who supports government action against poverty is gullible, uninformed, and succumbing to irrational fear?
Overall, this was a strong book about an important topic. Irrational fear is a dangerous tool, and can lead to devastating and despotic rule by governments. For the benefit of the country I hope the author continues to engage and expose the power of fear in society.
Boyack explains that fear is a biological response, with stressful stimuli inducing a chain reaction that results in chemical changes in the brain – this leads to the “fight or flight” reflex. Fear has an evolutionary purpose: it can spur us to act when we don’t have time to rationally consider our options – imagine, for example, if a saber-tooth cat were chasing you. But in the modern West, humans’ safety is rarely in legitimate danger. Indeed, the greatest danger to most Westerners is their governments – institutions supposed to protect them!
Connor Boyack doesn’t buy into the state’s legitimacy. In fact, he points out that the very notion that "the state is necessary" is premised on fear; the fear of foreign invasion. Boyack convincingly demonstrates, through ample use of statistics and simple (but very necessary) logical extrapolations, that governments exaggerate and even invent “hobgoblins” for their subjects to fear, because a fearful, irrational public is more than willing to surrender its liberty in the name of supposed safety. Throughout the short book’s six chapters, Boyack cites numerous examples – beginning with the administration of John Adams – in which governments have aggrandized themselves at the expense of the people’s liberty, in the name of protecting those same liberties. Of course, this was true of Rome, the Greeks, and likely the ancient civilizations before them, too.
I thought one of Boyack’s most interesting insights was the notion that legitimate fears are quantifiable, whereas irrational ones are not. The most prominent example Boyack uses is the 1979 swine flu epidemic, for which a national vaccination was planned – but after vaccinating 25% of the country, more people were dying from the vaccine than from the swine flu; and meanwhile, over 100 people in America die from the regular flu every day throughout the eight-month flu season! Real, quantifiable data can help humans better evaluate their risks when there is ample time to do so – fear is a “shortcut” that should only be indulged in moments of immediate danger.
In his conclusion, Boyack offers his readers some suggestions about what to do. It’s one thing to diagnose widespread societal fear and how it inhibits people from making rational decisions, but it’s a whole other story to figure out what to do about it. Boyack’s suggestion is a bit surprising, given the no-nonsense “just the facts” approach he takes throughout most of the book: Love. He then cites examples of men motivated by love of their fellow man, such as Oskar Schindler, and how they were able to overcome government-imposed fears to use their rational minds to do what was right. Not everyone necessarily needs to be convinced; just enough people, and it can start with you. Why not?
My one criticism of the book is that the chapter titled “The Calm of Despotism,” which shows how economic protectionism is based in fear, does not present a positive argument for free trade. Mr. Boyack seems to take it as a given that his readers will be free traders, but question of free trade is probably the one in which the experts and the general public are most at odds: Virtually every economist, even the likes of Paul Krugman, favor freer trade – and yet Americans have been convinced by political fear-mongers that free trade “steals jobs.” Mr. Boyack would have done his readers a great service to include a short explanation of the division of labor and comparative advantage and how these contribute to the greater social good.
Despite this one complaint, I must say that Feardom is one of the best libertarian treatises I’ve ever read. Its logic is undeniable and easy to follow, its morality is clear and consistent, and its writing is punchy and rousing. I devoured the book in a single day and underlined more text than I didn’t. Boyack dedicates the book to everyone who helped him find the “red pill” – with any luck, Feardom will help more good people follow Boyack out of the Matrix.
Connor Boyack's book first explains the physiological effects of fear and what happens to our bodies and brains when we are afraid of something. He then dives deep into fear and how it is being used to wrest our freedoms away from us. He brings up many examples of this, and especially how involved the media and government is in doing this. His examples are well-cited and in-depth. He ends his book with a plan on how each of us can combat fear and become more free of it. It is a simple plan that opens up many possibilities for more freedom, contentment and happiness.
My favorite thing about this book is this: Although there is a lot written about how we are manipulated and driven by fear (which greatly helps with the background and context of the book's subject), Boyack gives us a well thought out way to counter the manipulation and lies we are told. We are encouraged to seek the truth. We are encouraged to not be held captive by fear. And Boyack gives us a plan to do this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr.Boyack has written,albeit, too short a recipe for the state to assume power without a fight.
The recent Sony hack show how it's done.Read more