Networked Ideology of Fear

In Noam Chomsky's 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, he introduces the Propaganda Model of Communication. Raw news comes in the top, but is filtered by the financial incentive structures of media:

Although a news organization might want to give an anti-war perspective on the Iraq War, they are disincentivized to do so because:

  1. The owners need to make money
  2. But by being anti-war they might lose advertising revenue
  3. Or lose access to high-quality sources
  4. Or receive media flak

What about #5 though? How does fear and anti-communism fit in?

This is what Chomsky calls the Ideology of Fear. Nation-states combine with mass media to control their populations with fear.

After WWII, America painted the USSR and communism as the enemy. For a few decades, most national initiatives were painted with this frame: the Cold War, McCarthyism, the Red Scare, and more. After the fall of the USSR, we needed a new enemy. Terrorism became this enemy and we developed narratives like the "war on terror" with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the advent of the internet, the old propaganda model has lost some strength. Mainstream media combined into one feed with Sovereign Writers on Substack and content from friends. It's more difficult for the government to control. But the Ideology of Fear still exists. It's just networked now.

In 2021, the primary Networked Ideology of Fear is a fear of immigrants and being left behind. Believing in the Great Replacement (that whites were being overrun by immigrants) was the biggest indicator that someone would participate in the capitol insurrection.

Interestingly, the Ideology of Fear holds much better for conservatives than liberals:

It seems like progressives have a different filter: something like the Networked Ideology of Care.