"Project Fear" is an apt definition, but it is being pointed at the wrong side.
The day our nomadic ancestors decided to start farming is the day we all became Xenophobes.
Our instinct for survival and protection of our gene-pool means we are always ready to side with the big boys, that way you are less likely to get punched. Today, this manifests itself in a wide range of fun activities for all the family. In no particular order of preference these are: Racism, Xenophobia, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Sexism, Homophobia, and that one about fear of spiders hiding in your anorak.
We constantly seek to be in a majority. This is basically fine, except, in order to have a majority you need a minority. Depending on the direction of the wind, or in political terms, the strength of economy and sense of personal security, the minority is going to be at best, tolerated, and at worst, persecuted and hunted.
So, let's imagine we all have a little box of potentially lethal dosages fear inside us. It is kept locked safely somewhere between your belly button and your rib-cage. You know, that feeling when your child suddenly runs towards a busy main road, or when you stand up to give your Best Man speech, or when a charismatic man in a suit tells you there are foreign people out there who will probably rape you. That feeling? Got it? Right.
What is it?
A surge of adrenalin and cortisol is flooding your body, and you are ready to fight to the death, you possess the strength to lift a car off your child, or run for your life through a dark forest.
The fear both sides feel is real and palpable. The physical sensation knows no difference between actual threat or imaginary threat. Fear is fear. And we are all scared. This is why the recent EU debates have been so heated. People on both sides truly feel as if they're fighting for their lives. In the terror-stricken eyes of leave campaigners it is an imaginary fear, in the remain camp it is a real, true and visceral fear that the leavers might actually win.
'If you tell a lie often enough, you start to believe it yourself.' -Adolf Hitler
To control a population, all you need are the keys for their fear boxes. Helping people to think rationally and altruistically is good if you're a vicar or psychiatrist, but not for the charismatic suit-man and his cronies.
History and the present teaches us that an ideology based on vague notions of nationalism spells trouble. Slogans like 'Take Back Control' sounds like the working title of a self-help book by Joseph Goebbels. (Hitler's minister for Propaganda.)
What the leave campaign have are two likeable, articulate and charismatic extroverts. Catch phrases such as: 'Take Back Control' sound great. I feel all fuzzy inside hearing that. I don't really know what it means. But I have a vote. So it's the fuzzy feeling that counts, not historical perspective or rational thought.
My vote, combined with an underlying sense that my life is not as good as it should be, and maybe, just maybe there is somebody, or better yet, a group of people who are responsible for my misfortunes who I can blame. No not elected politicians whose decisions directly affect my quality of life, no, that would be absurd. So how about those immigrants. All of them. What a deceitful bunch they are. I just have an overwhelming feeling that our island is full up. Filled to bursting. Not because it really is actually about to burst, but because charismatic suit-men and their newspapers keep telling me it is. Over and over again. An angry granny I meet at the bus-stop told me our island is sinking as there are too many immigrants. And then there's those people who keep talking foreign on the train. The nurse giving me an enema the other week when I finally got seen, could hardly speak English.
If we could only make the people who weren't born here and their children just disappear, my inner sense of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with life in general, would go away.
As I write this, in a public place drinking an Italian Coffee (had to get that in), I feel a bit like J.K. Rowling, except the fantasy world is on the outside, I look at the people milling past and think: "My child's future is dependent on how you understand your own fear".
My daughter might be a teeanger by the time a potentially isolated and not-so-great-after-all Britain can negotiate a fraction of the trade deals we currently enjoy as a member of the EU. But, I am no expert, I have no idea what I'm actually talking about. But hey, I have a vote! And I have a fuzzy feeling inside, and that is what counts! Why listen to actual experts?
If we leave, we can't vote ourselves back into the EU in four years. There may not even be an EU in four years. Anyone remember Putin's little fly past last year?
So what's my perspective? My job is to stand on a stage and sing at people who pay to sit opposite me. My remit is to deliver words and music that will physically resonate in a deep emotional place inside the receiving person's body, somewhere around the adrenal gland and if I'm lucky I might even make someone cry who isn't my mum. I know when and how to use the tools at my disposal, (most of the hard work has already been done by the composer), to manipulate the emotions of the audience. To be a performer is to work in sales. Sometimes you have to sell something you know is a load of shit as if it's the greatest work of art ever known to man. That takes charisma and self-confidence. I know what these suit-men are up to, and terrifyingly, it might just work.