Former President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel stated in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” The Russian dictator Joseph Stalin stated: “Crisis alone permitted the authorities to demand – and obtain – total submission and all necessary sacrifices from its citizens.” From the beginning of history, people have given up freedom in a time of fear. Fear and insecurity caused people to give up the independence of their farms and gravitate together for protection in the first communities. They looked for someone good at fighting to be their captain.
An example of fearful people wanting a captain is in the Book of Judges 11: “And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went … unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”
After captains won victories, people showed favoritism to them and their families, leading to a concentration of power in the hands of kings. An example this was after Gideon led Israelites to victory (Judges 8): “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.”
Another example is the Roman Republic, ruled by 600 senators. When there was an attack, they created an emergency one-year position called a “dictator.” After the year of crisis, the Republic went back to business as usual. Julius Caesar took the unprecedented step of making himself dictator for life.
Crises can be natural, such as the famine in Egypt, where people surrendered not just their freedom, but their cattle, land, and lives to the Pharaoh in exchange for food.
In the 16th century, Machiavelli chronicled the devious tactics of Cesare Borgia. Machiavelli, who is credited with the concept of the ends justifies the means, reasoned that if a prince conquered a city in his quest to unify Italy, the people would hate him. But if the prince paid agitators and criminals to create terror, the people would panic in fear and cry for help. The prince could then come in and dispense with the criminals, and the people would praise him as a hero.
It is good marketing – create the need and fill it — go around the back of the house and set it on fire, then go around the front of the house and sell them a fire extinguisher. They will pay anything for it and even thank you for being there. The term “Machiavellianism” refers to creating or capitalizing on crises to consolidate control. Machiavelli stated: “Politics have no relation to morals.”
In 1793, the mob in Paris beheaded King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In order to consolidate control in the new “fraternité,” the French word for socialism, Maximilien Robespierre instituted a Reign of Terror, where the government intentionally terrorized citizens, till out of fear, they submitted. As head of the “Committee of Public Safety,” Robespierre gave a speech to the National Assembly titled “The Terror Justified,” 1794, stating:
“Lead ... the enemies of the people by terror ... Terror is nothing else than swift, severe, indomitable justice.”
Ivan the Terrible, Sultan Abdul Hamid, and innumerable despots through history used terror to bring rebellious people under control. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explained (Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 318):
“Conspirators by no means confine themselves to organizing ... Their business consists in ... spurring it into artificial crises ... They are the alchemists of the revolution.”
Prussian philosopher George Hegel advocated that crisis was necessary to bring change. Hegel influenced Russia’s Lenin and Stalin, as well as Germany’s Hitler, who, in the crisis of the burning of the Reichstag capitol building, blamed his political opponents, arrested and executed them, then became dictator.
A crisis needs to be blamed on someone or something other than those seeking power. A tactic called “psychological projection ” or “blame-shifting” is where the perpetrator blames the victim, as Marx said, “accuse others of what do.”
Fidel Castro, the leader of Communist Cuba, explained:
“The revolution needs the enemy ... The revolution needs for its development its antithesis’ ... And if enemies were lacking, they had to be fabricated.”
Richard Pipes wrote in his book, Communism-A History:
“Stalin’s regime needed another crisis ... In 1934, a prominent Bolshevik, Sergei Kirov, the party boss of Leningrad, was assassinated under mysterious conditions ... evidence points to Stalin ... Kirov was gaining too much popularity in party ranks for Stalin’s comfort ... His assassination brought Stalin two advantages: it rid him of a potential rival and provided a rationale for instigating a vast campaign against alleged anti-Soviet conspirators ... Purges of the 1930’s were a terror campaign that in indiscriminate ferocity and number of victims had no parallel in world history ... Authorities ... beat them until they confess to their crimes they have not committed.”
A crisis can be an economic collapse to eliminate the middle-class, leaving deep-state, elite in control, who take money from political opponents and funnel it to political supporters, as the axiom goes: “He who has the purse strings has the power.”
Socialist Friedrich Engels wrote (London: W.O. Henderson, The Life of Friedrich Engels, 1976; Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, 1844):
“Every new crisis must be more serious and more universal than the last ... Every fresh slump must ruin more small capitalists and increase the workers who live only by their labor. This will increase the number of the unemployed, and this is the main problem that worries economists. In the end, commercial crises will lead to a social revolution far beyond the comprehension of the economists with their scholastic wisdom.”
The media irresistibly exacerbates crises to an urgency where people almost believe the world will end. In each case, the media whips the country into a frenzy, pressuring Congress or the President to act quickly to pass legislation or issue executive orders. Only after the crisis, when the dust settles, do citizens find out what they gave up in the panic. Predictably, as well-intentioned as responses may be, the government ends up with more control over people’s lives.
There is a tactic called “gaining the moral high ground,” where those concentrating power need the public to perceive them as having superior altruistic motives, while at the same time, they must portray anyone voicing concern over potential unconstitutional power grabs as having irresponsible, selfish motives. Healthcare crises can be particularly opportune times to demand citizens give up rights, as anyone voicing concern can be maligned as uncaring.
The CDC estimates that in the United States, there are 30,000 flu-related deaths annually. In 2009, the H1N1 Swine Flu resulted in 12,469 deaths. As of March 17, 2020, there have been 70 persons in the United States who have died of Corona virus; 42 of whom were in Washington state, and 29 of those from one place – Kirkland Nursing Home, and reports were they were not given adequate medical treatment and allowed to die. Not discounting the health dangers of the virus, the fact that it is getting an unprecedented amount of media attention as compared to previous cases of flu raises questions.
One historical point to ponder is, whoever is President when there is financial panic or economic collapse is almost always voted out of office; Herbert Hoover being a case in point. Being that the 2020 Democrat Party’s Presidential front-runner is not a strong candidate, there is speculation that the same media that spent years pushing a Russian collusion narrative, then a Ukrainian quid pro quo narrative, may actually be fanning the Coronavirus panic to precipitate an economic downturn for which the President will take the blame.
The Book of Revelation describes an end-times scenario of a global crisis and financial collapse, which will cause the world to submit to the anti-christ and out of fear, take the mark of the beast. Though this current crisis may not be that, from a faith perspective, this could be an opportunity for something else — a great revival of people turning to the Lord, as it is in crises that people turn to Christ.
It is also in times of crises that God raises up courageous leaders, such as Moses, Gideon, David, and the Apostle Paul. In its final words, the Bible is replete with verses encouraging believers to “fear not” and “be not afraid.”
“The LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, FEAR NOT, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
“FEAR THOU NOT; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
“Be strong and of a good courage, FEAR NOT, NOR BE AFRAID of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”