A fearful and frightened population is easier to control. Any dictatorship will agree: it is an obvious statement, really. If people are unsettled, worried or just plain frightened, then they are less likely to ask awkward questions.
Here in the UK, the fourth richest nation on the planet, we are kept fearful. Over the last twenty five years or so the notion of community has been eroded. We have become the most watched society in Europe, with the most CCTV cameras tracking our every move "for our safety and security" the signs tell us. If we need watching over, then we must have something to fear, surely? The grainy images of a trusting toddler being taken from a shopping centre are played again and again to remind us that we are not even safe from our children.
The media, too, play their part. The newspapers are full of stories about crime, from fraudulent financiers to predatory paedophiles. TV programmes such as Crimewatch regale us with horror stories of terrible crimes happening in our midst, painting a picture of a world full of burglars, rapists, armed robbers and murderers. (Then patronisingly telling us not to have nightmares) We are asked to report anything suspicious to the authorities in the spirit of community cohesion. Neighbourhood Watch moves closer to the Stasi as we are told to 'dob in a dealer' or crack down on benefit cheats. One company recently asked its staff to report colleagues who failed to park their cars in the required manner in the car park!
So, as we trust one another less, and seek to protect our own interests even more, all sense of true community disappears. We become fearful and therefore more susceptible to propaganda. A nation numbed by cheap alcohol, bombarded by advertising and enticed by the promise of free broadband internet access does not notice its civil liberties being eroded; does not question the need for a central database of key medical data; does not feel much at all - except fear.