The Greater Fear

David Cameron, right, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker before the Brussels EU meeting (AP)

I have just bumped into some Slavoj Žižek which applies rather well to the ‘European’ debate, I think!

Žižek says:

‘Recall the classic example of two missionaries working in a politically stable and wealthy country: one says, ”The end is near – repent or you will suffer greatly”, while the other’s message is just to enjoy a happy life. Although the second message is much more attractive and beneficent, it is the first who will win out. Why? Because if you believe that the end is near, you will make a tremendous effort to convert as many people as possible, whereas the second belief requires no such extreme commitment to proselytising’

People are generally in dismay over Remain’s strategy of fear. Well, according to the above example it is the only one supposed to work.

However, the Remain campaign seems to have not succeeded in proselytising. There have been a number of studies and various communiques on economic impact, that’s true… I have just read one, released by Bernstein, saying that in case of a Brexit, banks would face devastation, incomes would fall substantially, debt holding by banks would get riskier and so on. But studies just don’t have the gift of converting people!

A quick but eloquent example: Corbyn said he felt 7.5 (on a scale of 1 to 10) involved in the issue of Europe!!! 7.5??? He’s not converted, so it seems to me!

On the other side, the Leave campaign has got just one fear waving as their standard: the fear of immigrants. Nothing more, nothing less! They have no studies at all (at least not backed by any credible institutions)! Pretty much all of us can intuitively note that their economic argument is rather precarious: we will do, we will see, we will open trade links, and so forth! But, sharply contrasting the Remain, Leave has managed to convert people on a big scale.

Something is rotten here…

Could it be that Žižek’s example is too complex and doesn’t fit our given situation? Or… is it just Britain? Is Britain’s fear of foreigners so much greater than the fear of economic repercussions?

Which fear is Greater?