Some would suggest that love is more powerful, and certainly, all novelists try to show that love is indeed powerful and redemptive and is the better choice. But nothing replaces fear.
A character motivated by fear will do anything, and they won't be rational about it. That gives an authour a great deal of room to play with, not because it's a stupid plot device, which it can be, but because it's true. A human reacting out of fear is unpredictable, because what we would deem as "logical" no longer applies. Now in fiction, you still have to be careful, but if you emphasize how frightened a character is, you can have them do anything.
And people will believe it.
Why? Because they get it. Because it's happened to them. Because they've watched their peers dissolve under fear and respond in ways that make no sense.
Take the current refugee situation. Many people in the West are responding in fear. They are saying things about the refugees that have no basis in fact. But facts don't matter when someone is scared. Think about it. That horrible little group of ignorant murderers called ISIS has everyone dancing. And not in a good way. They have Christians suggesting that poor women and children should be denied a home. They have kind people suggesting that the world has changed, so no, they won't help anyone either. They have people who have never cared about the plight of any foreigner being given a huge microphone.
The power of fear.
Fear is, without question, the easiest and quickest way to control people.
Again, this is something every artist knows, but in the realm of the novelist, it is an ancient truth. The simplest stories, those of serial killers and yes, terrorists, expound on this like its playday at an elementary school. But even the more complex works rely on fear as a driving force within their works.
The problem, at least in real life, is that most of these stories are false. Most of the memes and anecdotes regarding ISIS and the terrorists have no basis in truth. And yet, people spread them anyway. They don't care if the stories are true. They don't care if the facts don't match up with the truth. They don't care if they're being led like bulls with a nose ring to be slaughtered. They don't care because they are afraid, and once you get people scared, you can do whatever you want.
The irony is that most of these people claim to be tough. They want more guns. More military. More freedom to do whatever the hell they want when it comes to protecting themselves.
And yet... they're full of shit. The same people who advocate for guns want no part of starving children and women and refugees due to the minuscule chance that one of those people may turn against them. That such a thing is illogical (A Visa makes FAR more sense for a terrorist) has no impact on them. Why?
Because they are afraid.
That's the contradiction. The ones who advocate most fiercely for guns and violence are cowards. This is the power of fear. The ones who act macho and with so much swagger and scoff at "bleeding heart liberals," are the biggest cowards you'll ever find.
Why? Because they've been raised in fear. Soaked in it. (Why do you think they protect the 'right' to not only bear "arms," but carry automatic weapons. Because they're tough?) They are more worried about protecting themselves then listening to reason.
Novelists know all about this. However, when we write, we have to be careful. The obviousness of such things doesn't translate to the page as believable. And when you write about fear, you can't simply illustrate what is so obvious in society. If you do, no one will believe it.
So while you consider your next story, understand that fiction is not like real life, though those of us who write it understand it better than those who do not. (As we should. Our job is to be observers.) We are to provide a mirror for society, one that helps us reach for more, but if that mirror is to plain, people will reject your work. Why? Because no one will believe it to be true.
You can do it, but make sure it's subtle. Why? Because most people hate looking in the mirror, especially when they're under the grip of fear.