Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Don't try this unless you're Alexander

“I’m afraid,” she told me. “Write that. We’re scared to death.”

The Blues Cruise

Fear motivates people. Unfortunately, it's hard to stop once it's started.

The most powerful military tactic in the ancient world was the feigned withdrawal; to have your battle line retreat, or even appear to break and flee. Invariably the enemy would break ranks to pursue. Partially because they were never that well disciplined, and pursing weakness is as common to a man as a dog; partially because it was when the enemy broke that one could actually inflict damage on the enemy army. A full day of battle could produce as little as 3% causalities, but a single rout could do 15% to 50%.

The problem, of course, was convincing your troops to feign withdrawal, and prevent it from turning into a real rout. Once your men started running away, the panic pretended by the generals always had the danger of becoming real. This was so dangerous that few generals ever attempted it, despite the incredible success rate.

This is what the Right-Wing noise machine has done; feigned panic so long that their troops are now truly in panic. It is true that the D's played on fears of Romney's election, but those were rational fears: that he would continue the status quo or do the things he said he wanted to do. The fears of the R's were that Obama would reveal his secret agenda and do things opposite to his speeches. And now they've lost control; their own base is so afraid they are turning on their leaders.

Where does it stop?

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