Since the beginning of time, our world expects Doomsday. Similar information regularly appears in mass media. The latest date of the end of the world was September 21, 2012 - mass media actively assured that it was not a mystical prophecy, but scientific data from the report of US Academy of Science and NASA specialists, who allegedly forecast global catastrophe - magnetic mega-storm. However, people of the Earth never saw that north light, which was supposed to disable all electronics, destroy infrastructure and communications. The next day people had to go to work/study as usual and to give back borrowed money spent for the end-of-the-world-festival. And nobody cared that the official website of NASA had never published doomsday information.

The end of the world will not come on December 21, 2012 either, as archeologists have discovered a new Maya calendar, formed in IX century and containing no apocalyptic prophecies. Sure enough, we will have to face numerous 'ends of the world' again in the future, as apocalyptic prophecies of visionaries, experts, analysts and politicians speak about out times. Moreover, the year 2012 is marked not only by Sun flashes, but also by the parade of elections: Ukraine, Georgia and the US. Therefore, there is no chance to avoid information about various fatalistic scenarios.

So, do we face the final countdown, or deal with mass hysteria, covering this world from time to time? Psychologists state that the source of panic is not prophecies and publications, but people, for whom it is natural to fear. Fear is a feeling, conditioned by real or imaginary tragedy. And every busybody in town takes advantage of it.

As ForUm learned from social psychologist Oleh Pokalchuk, the society is influenced by the fact that the life is not eternal, and sooner or later everyone has to face his own end of the world. He believes that Christianity owes its expansion to medieval epidemic of plague: people were scared and turned to new religion in order to find salvation. "I'll tell you more, every person uses fear. Fear is the most ancient and most powerful force of human mind, which evolves into any other emotion, including heroism. Politicians and political forces also use fear," Pokalchuk told ForUm.

'End of the world' is a personal matter. For one person it means the end of human civilization, for another it means job loss or death of a close person. It is typical for men to fear the end and to hope for a miracle, Ph.D. Myroslav Popovych, director of the Institute of philosophy, told ForUm. "People are afraid of end of the world: economic crises, hyperinflations, defaults and other similar things. At the same time, everybody hopes for a miracle, an economic miracle first of all. Thus, various profiteers play on these emotions: either scare or promise a miracle. This is a pure ideological phenomenon, and people should understand this," Popovych believes.

President of the analytical center "Politics" Ihor Popov shares the opinion. He says that human weaknesses are the playground during pre-election campaigns in many countries. The expert states that the policy of scaring includes not only end of the world, but a number of other technologies. "American political strategists scare their nation with terrorism, French - with Muslims, Polish - with Russian, and so on." 

"There are two major instincts, being used during election campaigns - greed and fear. The human greed is fed with direct bribery or with promises of high salaries or unreal wealth. The fear element is used in every political ad with very simple storyline: if you vote for them you are doomed," the expert notes.

Political strategist and director of the Center for civil society problems study Vitaly Kulik also agrees that political campaigns, including pre-election ones, cultivate fears and phobias among the population. "The matter concerns the so-called negative narrative. Thus, Kherson, Kyiv, Lviv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions are known for their fear of chemical and nuclear waste. In this case, the main subject of campaigning is warnings that a rival candidate allegedly intends to dispose chemical and nuclear waste on the territory," he says. The second variant is fear of illegal migrants, the expert continues. As an example, rival candidates have distributed certain leaflets against one of the candidates in Zakarpattya, saying he allegedly supports the establishment of Gypsy autonomy in the region and compact settlement of illegal migrants, detained at the border. According to Kulik, political strategists working with small communities (villages and small towns) know that short-term hysteria helps to manipulate voters, pushing them to radical actions, while in ordinary times voters will never do something drastic. "The matter is what to plant in the original narrative," he says.

As a separate article of psychopolitical technology Kulik notes permanent fear of the end of the world or a global catastrophe. For example, almost every article about stock crises on financial markets, collapse of mortgage services or third world war starts with quotation from gospel of st. Matthew 'Apocalypses'. In certain historical situations, the fear overtakes the major part of citizens and provokes mass psychosis. The political result of such actions is acceptance of forceful regime change. Fear narrative is also used in military and political operations. Even the names of operations obtain sacral content - "Desert Storm" for example. Similar events happened in Tunis and Egypt before "Arab Spring", in Syria before rebellion against Assad and in Ukraine in 2004.

"According to famous Russian specialist on political discourse Elena Sheigal, political and pre-election narrative simplifies the reality: it invents a story and all real facts and events get adapted for this story. Clarity and simplicity make the narrative a powerful instrument of influence," Kulik sums up.

As we can see, the cause and effect system is simple - we fear and they scare. And you cannot argue with this, as the emotion of fear, the same as pain (aimed at preservation of an individual), are truly dangerous in a long-term manifestation. Quoting Nikolai Gogol from his "Dead souls", fear is more sticking than plague.

Yulia Artamoshchenko


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