DisInfoWars with Tom Secker- The Politics of Fear

Today, almost all politics are a politics of fear, and almost all policies are defended and excused through some notion of 'security'. Fear-therefore-security is the dominant political dynamic of our time. This week I take a look at these concepts, exploring whether all politics is a politics of fear, and offering examples of when this can work well and when it can work very badly. I focus in on the recent general election in the UK, showing how every candidate, even those offering some degree of real opposition, are all engaged in a politics of fear and security.
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Comments

  1. Arnar Steinsson says:

    Thanks Tom, looking forward to the interview with Lars. His book POF will without a doubt end up on my shelf when I can afford it. I would also like to thank you for your work on Spyculture wich I find excellent and would highly recommend to people who haven´t checked it out.

  2. Gary Binmore says:

    Good choice of subject.
    All the usual suspects win with the fear narrative: military-industrial complex, intelligence agencies, welfarists, big pharma, Big Finance (inevitable winners when a lot gets spent on stuff nobody needs),politicians and especially mainstream media.

    Imagine these two stories break on the same day: “Research estimates modern western society is 127 times safer than hunter-gatherer societies” and “ISIS cell uncovered hiding in kindergarten”. Even if the latter is a complete non-story – say two poor Arab squatters – what will the MM run with? And what does this say about people?

    Is it just a matter of brainwashing and stupidity? Or does the fear narrative produce an unerring resonance – not visceral, real fear, but an urge to self-dramatization that somehow elevates a person out of day to day banality. Fear means enemies, and life is always more intense when you have enemies, hence the obsession of defining everything in terms of wars – the war on drugs/terror/climate change you name it.

    I’m searching out on a limb because I see very little evidence of real fear, even among those who fall for the fear narrative and vote for “we will protect you” politicians. In this respect, fear has become a form of escapism. The bad guys keep changing, there’s plenty to talk about, hardly anybody gets hurt and the powers that be increase their power. It beats the old-fashioned way of introducing fascism, in which people do get hurt and scared.

    • This sort of question is exactly what I discussed with Lars Svendsen – the episode should be out on Tuesday as normal. I have nothing to add to what you’ve said except that I agree.

    • dancingbrave says:

      ‘but an urge to self-dramatization that somehow elevates a person out of day to day banality.’

      The narratives are like a form of entertainment, not much different to reality tv and soaps, people relate to that rubbish!

    • visservrouw says:

      I am not sure I agree that fear is mostly “fake” (can’t speak for UK, of course). In my experience many people exposed to an indirect experience of terrorist act(s) do react with real fear to repeated threats of terrorism, even if probability of drowning in one’s bathtub is much higher than dying in a bombing.

      Similarly, people do fear economic hardship, and that is, relatively speaking, a pretty reasonable fear. Funnily enough, it seems to apply both to populations that have actually experienced it – many people don’t want to repeat it – and those that didn’t, because then the fear can be blown out of proportion. West Europeans, for instance, seem to treat the prospect of currency crisis with a lot more trepidation than my countrymen, who have direct experience and know it’s unpleasant, but not the end of the world.

  3. I agree. The politics of fear go hand in hand with the profits to be made off fear. Tom- I’m looking forward to your interview with Lars. I’ve been meaning to email you to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed all your work here and I really loved the CIA and Hollywood podcasts. I’ve been working my way thru all your past Clendestime podcasts and they have all been fantastic.

    • Thanks lizzie, that’s always great to hear. We should be doing another season of the CIA and Hollywood before the end of the year, so keep an eye out for that.

      As to profits – yes, disaster capitalism, even when the disaster is only perceived and not even real, is omnipresent in our society. It’s a concept I need to talk about more because in our ‘race to the bottom’ economies it is becoming ever more influential.

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