The Enemy Within

A common theme among authoritarians is that of “the enemy within.” This idea has been used to great effect for as long as recorded history. In the last millennium, we have seen this idea spread from the witches and heretics of the medieval church to the counterrevolutionaries of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

We like to think of these paranoiac visions as belonging to foreigners. If you’ve read this far, though, you probably imagine a few scenarios I might recall from recent American history. Foremost among them will certainly be the Red Scare of the McCarthy era. Since then, few reasonable people would entertain the idea that dissent was tantamount to treason. Yet that is where we find ourselves now. From the patently absurd claim that the war in Vietnam was lost due to anti-war protesters to the controversy of not wearing a silly flag pin on the lapel, we are presented with old fashioned propaganda modernized only in the media used.

I find one seemingly obvious facet of the meme interesting. Anytime the meme is brought up, the proposed solution is a concentration of power in the hands of the already powerful.

By marc

I am a scientist interested in laser safety, modeling and simulation, and statistics. I speak some Spanish, German, and Chinese.