The Politics of Fear
This is very good:
...one might suppose that modern democratic states, with the lessons of history at hand, would seek to minimize fear Â or at least minimize its effect on deliberative decision-making in both foreign and domestic policy.
But today the opposite is frequently true. Even democracies founded in the principles of liberty and the common good often take the path of more authoritarian states. They donât work to minimize fear, but use it to exert control over the populace and serve the governmentâs principle aim: consolidating power.
However, since 9/11 leaders of both political parties in the United States have sought to consolidate power by leaning not just on the danger of a terrorist attack, but on the fact that the possible perpetrators are frightening individuals who are not like us. As President George W. Bush put it before a joint session of Congress in 2001: "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." Last year President Obama brought the enemy closer to home, arguing in a speech at the National Defense University that "we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States" -- radicalized individuals who were "deranged or alienated individuals Â- often U.S. citizens or legal residents."
The Bush fear-peddling is usually considered the more extreme, but is it? The Obama formulation puts the âradicalized individualsâ in our midst. They could be American citizens or legal residents. And the subtext is that if we want to catch them we need to start looking within. The other is among us. The pretext for the surveillance state is thus established.
Posted on January 29, 2014 at 6:24 AM • 51 Comments