Use of Fear to Gain Power

Use of Fear to Gain Power

Use of Fear to Gain Power

There are different ways into which many people come into power.  Some of them do that by inflicting power to their subjects. According to Johnson, (2009), fear is an unpleasant strong emotion that is mainly caused by anticipation or an awareness of danger. It is normally a natural feeling that mostly comes as a response to situations of threat. There are however, different kinds of fear some of which are healthy while others are harmful to one’s psychology. Healthy fear has a protective function but can however develop to become unhealthy fear that might lead to a violent character. Other types include real fear, that is always based on a real situation, realistic or possible fear, that causes a person to avoid a possible threat, exaggerated fear that makes an individual recall other occurrences that once happened then relates them with a current situation. The last type is emotional fear. This affects people’s way of handling situations when in conflict.  In this article we will discuss how some people can use fear to rise into power and giver real life examples of people who have done that in the past.

People who take advantage over their subjects ensure that they inflict fear through humiliation, victimhood, persecution of a certain group and causing a feeling of inferiority to certain groups of people. These propel have been identifies as causing real fears of extinction, loss of identity and fears of oppression to the target groups.

Fear is an important factor in contractible conflict (Green, 2009). Fear can result to escalating conflict that always result to irrigational behavior in people. There are those who believe that for any political success, the subjects must be subjected to fear by the ones in authority. According to (Johnson, 2009), the common threat that weaves political movements together is fear. The ultimate reason why people are always willing to die or kill for a cause is fear.

Fear have been used by political leaders and elites for their advantage. We all agree that leaders need support and respect form their subjects. They, therefore nee to figure out ways through which they can do demand this from them. The only perfect way to do this is therefore through inflicting fear after knowing what they fear most. These leaders are deemed as using this tactic intelligently. They act differently on the basis of their divergent perceptions (Johnson, 2009). while other leaders that seem to be social might use soft power and empathy to build a name for themselves, these kind of political leaders use fear and intimidation to exploit the anxieties and the vulnerabilities they detect in their subjects. They view people as resources of getting things done which is a dispassionate, instrumental and a clinical view of the people. The appreciate the close relation fear, anxiety and submissiveness have.

As president Nixon once said, people react to fear and not love (Robin, 2014). He tried to emphasize that leadership was not all about being loved; it was all about producing results that could be seen by anyone. They go by the principle that “it is better to be feared than to be loved (Green, 2009). While love is internally based and a feeling one can choose to turn on and off, fear is more predictable and externally based. Fear does not wear off if one’s character stays the same (Green, 2009).  Such leaders intimidate others into having similar vies as them. They are mostly willing to do anything for their opinion to be seen right, they can go to an extent of killing, hurting or even imprisoning others to pass their message across. They have a strong argument that whatever they stand for is the right thing that everyone within their reign should adopt. This has been seen as producing results.

Most of this leaders operate through direct confrontations where they are mostly willing to invade the personal space of those they want to control. These kind of people use aggressive languages and physical demeanor to gain power. they routinely use the weapons of language to provoke their subjects. His gives the subject no time to think or go by their own plans. They are thrown off balance and it is hard for them to have a clear mind of what they should do.

These people who are in many occurrences in the urge to gain or maintain a leadership position use anger and rage as their weapon. Their calculated loss of temper becomes an instrument for inflicting fear to the subjects since they always become cautious not to trigger them to get angry. They at times use this as a tool to make them seem superior to the subjects. It has at times shown positive has enabled them get their desired results.

Chris Mathews once said that one needed not to be a nice guy, it has never done anyone any good (Pain & Smith, 2008).  when other leaders who are deemed as nice strive to make their subjects understand what they’re doing, intimidators seem to keep their subjects guessing all the time. They prefer to remain unfathomable since this keeps their subjects at toes therefore making it easier for these intimidators to make them do what they want. They prefer catching their subjects at surprise in this way rather than having them know their every move. In this way people fear falling on the way of these leaders and therefore remain as cautious as they can.

These people who constantly inflict fear to their subjects always seem to draw a certain attention from many others.  They trample on people’s feelings and end up setting up impossible standards. They make themselves famous and end up beating others who in being given credit.


There are historic memories that can be related to fear and action. It mostly involved large groups of people since group fears are always narrowed down to individual fears. Such people include Adolf Hitler. He instilled fear in the people he led during his NAZI reign. He was a bully and a dictator as well. Not measuring up in his eyes gave one a reason to fear more than anything else since this could lead to unpredictable things anytime. This included murder and punishments. People just dreaded letting him down since they had the belief that doing that was an automatic murder.

Adolf Hitler came into power in 1993 as German prime minister. He rebuilt the German Army and started the Nazi regime. He had a misconstrued perception of wat he wanted for his country. He wanted everything to be bigger and better for propaganda reasons (Mulholland, 2012).  And because this was the time Germany was in financial constraints, he wanted to remove the Jews who owned businesses in the country to make the country financially stable. The Jewish community was forced to wear golden stars on their clothes. This was meant to enable others identify them quickly and a means of intimidation. The Jews were then displaced from their homes and were sent to ghettos and later to concentration camps. Whoever was found trying to help the Jews was punished by his government this instilled fear in everyone under his reign. Tis was to ensure that his plan worked perfectly.

During his rise to power, he used the “Brown Shirts” who acted as his private army that he used to intimidate opponents. He was initially very careful when doing his wrong doings since he still needed public support. His use of fear and intimidation came into full force when he got the position of Chancellor in 1933.  He had the Reichstag burned down then used the “emergency” to seize complete control (Kolkey, 2007). He then went on to outlaw all the other parties that seemed to oppose him. They included the catholic and communist parties. He even arrested the teams’ leaders to make their followers fear opposing him. His Brown Shirts team beat and killed people across the country. The intended purpose of all these acts was cow people into submission and prevent them from opposing his regime. Hitler wasted no time telling his opponents to either back down or be killed. He said this could even be done even in front of witnesses.


The Nazi regime used scare tactics as their major tactics against everyone in the country. This included the citizens as well as the holocaust prisoners. Hitler made it clear to everyone that he would punish anyone who wen t against his will. People were so much afraid that they did not even sleep in for that they would say something in their sleep that was against him.

Prisoners of the Holocaust lived in fear since they were at the brink of death at all times. They were deprived of good meals and hygiene at the concentration camps. The guards killed them whenever they seemed too weak or sickly to do anything. They killed them to set an example to the others. This made those who were sick pretend to be in good health to avoid standing out as examples to others.

Hitler used fear to make people believe in his views and allow the holocaust to happen. Hitler was feared by both the people and the military as well. He did not give anyone freedom of speech or an opportunity to voice their complaints.  Hitler did not give his people a choice to choose what they wanted. You either did what he said or you were never seen again. Many people ended up signing the Luftwaffe not on their will but just because they had no option. One could not simply afford to say no to his opinion. People had to what he wanted out of fear that they would be putting their families at risk if they defied. He knew that if he had masses of people obeying his commands out of fear of death, then he could do whatever he wanted.

In conclusion, Hitler had come as a savior to the German people from the hands of communists and then collapsing economy. He had promised people that he would restore peace and order and as well boots to the economy through offering them jobs. They had entrusted everything to him till his actions became too extreme. After his dictatorial actions took root, no one wanted to be in the spotlight of his reign. He was able to become so powerful that the very people who loved him began to fear him and felt helpless to defend themselves and the Jewish people (Green, 2009).  He used fear to get people’s attention as well as support.


Green, L. (2009). Fear as a way of life: Mayan widows in rural Guatemala. New York: Columbia University Press.

Johnson, E. A. (2009). Nazi terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and ordinary Germans. New York, N.Y: Basic Books.

Kolkey, J. M. (2007). Germany on the march: A reinterpretation of war and domestic politics over the past two centuries. Lanham u.a.: Univ. Press of America.

Mulholland, M. (2012). Bourgeois liberty and the politics of fear: From absolutism to neo-conservatism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Pain, R., & Smith, S. (2008). Fear: Critical geopolitics and everyday life. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate.

Robin, C. (2014). Fear: The history of a political idea. New York: Oxford University Press.