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The Boogeyman: Fear of the Unknown

When society creates governments to ward off the Boogeymen of the world, they often become the evil they seek to defeat.

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By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the vast majority of the world and all of recorded history, there have been tales of boogeymen: monsters in the dark to punish the disobedient and the susceptible. The Boogeyman goes by various names with the male, female, or neutral gender. These include the Bogieman, El Coco, Sack Man, Ou-Wu, Babayka, El Ogro, The Devil, and more. Most of the story origins are unknown. It is as if they are a part of human nature and a mechanism for control or protection.

Most of the time, the boogeyman is a threat that adults use towards vulnerable children who may be misbehaving. The character has a number of different commonly said actions. Some say it eats children, holds them hostage in a hellish place, or even scares them into correcting their behavior. Overall, the boogeyman is, unfortunately, a socially approved terrorizing mechanism that plagues the mind with fear of the unknown. By presenting the monster as too strong to fight, society instills a fearful reaction of flight over fight.

The Beast in the Dark

When we were children, we usually heard of such a beast in the dark, under our bed, in the closet, or in a forbidden area. In each of these cases, an adult probably told the child the story or scared the child enough to make him or her invent the demon on his or her own. On the contrary, some cultures have a protective guardian angel of sorts to save children it deems good. This invisible protector is all that can immediately protect a child from the bad one out to get them.

Even as adults, the boogeyman may still come to mind in places we deem as dangerous: in dark places, after deaths of bad people, and in some unknown futures. When many adults think of robots and artificial intelligence, they also think of the boogeyman, but in a different form. With super intelligent computers constantly improving around the world, many people will propose that these unknown machines will become sentient and seek to enslave or destroy humans and the world.

In the case of robots conquering the world, it is nothing more than a Nietzschean Übermensch: a Superman that all aspire to become but none can. This super demon then begins to wipe the world clean of humans or enslaves them for its own gains. Similarly to that of the Übermensch, we find the boogeyman again in space exploration, with the idea that evil aliens are waiting to harm us.

Protection from Unwarranted Fear

In both of these cases, the fear of an unrealized boogeyman limits success and progress. Many people will turn towards religion and government to protect us from the unknown monster. They present these organizations as the fairy godmothers that will protect our soul, body, and future with regulations, limitations, and letting someone else decide what is right. Religion can become a government, and the blind allegiance to the government can become a religion of its own: Statism.

Statism is the belief that a government should control an individual’s economic and social decisions in order to prevent deterioration of society, corruption, losses, heinous crimes, terrorism, and more. Proponents of Statism view it as avoiding a Hobbesian regression to the turmoil and chaos of human nature. The ideology of Statism declares that government can, at least theoretically, control every aspect of one’s life. In fact, Statists have manufactured boogeymen of their own throughout history. Without a doubt, Statism becomes an endless, warrantless hunt for the outsider: non-Christians, non-Muslims, witches, spies, Communists, terrorists, drug dealers, immigrants, and more.

Statism: Fearful of Freedom

Statism has also provided the fear of Liberty, of not having a central government, and of no government at all. The State portrays this in the images of utter chaos and the threat of a power vacuum or void. A power vacuum, or power void, is the idea that without one government, other, more evil governments will take over. This proposed boogeyman is said to appear when the coercive control of the few (government) goes away, leaving the helpless and hapless people vulnerable to this invisible monster.

The devout followers of the State will use this boogeyman as a form of mental terrorism that instills fear into the minds of the impressionable. They propose that the only guardian against such a boogeyman is that of the omnibenevolent, omniscient, and possibly near-omnipotent government that staves off the evil, lurking, monsters in the unknown darkness. The closer people move towards Liberty or freedom, the more that Statists will pontificate this fear of the boogeyman into the hearts and minds of all that listen. As the fears build within society, Statists require more and more control. Thus, policing, laws, regulations, spying, recordkeeping, and taxing increase.

The Boogeyman Is Getting Stronger

As time moves forward, the boogeyman, or Übermensch, is always growing stronger and more cunning than its potential victims. It is like the nightmare in which you are forever running away from the unstoppable monster. In Statism, this all-pervasive boogeyman begins as a child’s common fear of the unknown. But relatively quickly, it becomes a psychological defect, leading to the embodiment of a boogeyman in the monster of an oppressive government. It matters little that the State was supposed to protect against this monster: it nonetheless becomes it. This idea that such a boogeyman exists slows human progress by creating a real one from the idea.

If anything, not teaching our children of such monsters as a boogeyman, not scaring them in the dark or around corners, while encouraging them to learn about what makes us scared or fearful, can help them understand the world in a more realistic manner. It will teach them to be less afraid of the unknowns in our lives. At the same time, they will learn to pursue difficulties, rather than back away from the unknown. These constant fears of boogeymen do not need to exist when it comes to peaceful, free, and voluntary action; the fears of boogeymen instill fear of the unknown, inhibit actions, and bog down growth.

A Hindrance to Human Progress

Furthermore, the fear of such boogeymen inebriates the infected individual’s will to better their own life, progress, and success, leaving them timid and unsure how to guide their own life. This removal of the individual’s capability to properly lead their own life also restricts their moral gauge, furthering their dependence on the guardian in control while making them more susceptible to relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism. In response to their fears of boogeymen, many will not only embrace religion and government. Moreover, they may cling to collectivism to help combat the invisible boogeyman. This is because they believe their particular group should survive, and perhaps their group knows how to best fight off the boogeyman better than others’.

If the fear of the unknown and creation of evil to fight it is a natural process, then Reason, peace, voluntary exchange, and Liberty will rid us of these deplorable thoughts. This is a way to become stronger than the fictional beast of Statist myth. This is a way we become our own heroes. In a world where are the biggest hindrance and threat to our own betterment, it is the way forward.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”Friedrich Nietzsche.


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