Culture of fear
Culture of fear (or climate of fear) is a term used by some scholars, writers, journalists and politicians who believe that some in society incite fear in the general public to achieve political goals.
Nazi leader Hermann Göring explains how people can be made fearful and to support a war they otherwise would oppose:
The people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that the use of the term War on Terror was intended to generate a culture of fear deliberately because it "obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue".
Frank Furedi, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent and writer for Spiked magazine, points out that today's culture of fear did not begin with the collapse of the World Trade Center. Long before September 11, he argues, public panics were widespread – on everything from GM crops to mobile phones, from global warming to foot-and-mouth disease. Like Durodié, Furedi argues that perceptions of risk, ideas about safety and controversies over health, the environment and technology have little to do with science or empirical evidence. Rather, they are shaped by cultural assumptions about human vulnerability. Furedi say that "we need a grown-up discussion about our post-September 11 world, based on a reasoned evaluation of all the available evidence rather than on irrational fears for the future.
British academics Gabe Mythen and Sandra Walklate, argue that following terrorist attacks in New York, the Pentagon, Madrid, and London, government agencies developed a discourse of "new terrorism" in a cultural climate of fear and uncertainty. UK researchers argued that this processes reduced notion of public safety and created the simplistic image of a non-white "terroristic other" that has negative consequences for ethnic minority groups in the UK.
In his 2004 BBC documentary film series, The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, the journalist Adam Curtis argues that politicians have used our fears to increase their power and control over society. Though he does not use the term "culture of fear", what Curtis describes in his film is a reflection of this concept. He looks at the American neo-conservative movement and its depiction of the threat first from the Soviet Union and then from radical Islamists. Curtis insists there has been a largely illusory fear of terrorism in the west since the September 11 attacks and that politicians such as George W Bush and Tony Blair had stumbled on a new force to restore their power and authority; using the fear of an organised "web of evil" from which they could protect their people. Curtis's film castigated the media, security forces and the Bush administration for expanding their power in this way. The film features Bill Durodié, then Director of the International Centre for Security Analysis, and Senior Research Fellow in the International Policy Institute, King's College London, saying that to call this network an "invention" would be too strong a term, but he asserts that it probably does not exist and is largely a "(projection) of our own worst fears, and that what we see is a fantasy that's been created."
Sorted upwards by date, most recent last.
- Risk Society, Towards a New Modernity (1989), by Ulrich Beck, ISBN 9-780-80398346-5 [the term was coined in German by the same author in Risikogesellschaft. Die organisierte Unverantwortlichkeit (this subtitle means in English: "Organized irresponsibility"), a speech given at St. Gallen College, Switzerland, 16pp., in 1989, then published as full-length book with the title: Risikogesellschaft, Suhrkamp, 1989, 391pp., ISBN 3-518-11365-8]
- Creating Fear: News and the Construction of a Crisis (2002), by David L. Altheide, Aldine de Gruyter, 223pp., ISBN 978-0-202-30660-5
- Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003), by Hunter S. Thompson, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-87324-9
- The Climate of Fear (2004), by Wole Soyinka, BBC Reith Lectures 2004, London, Profile Books, 155pp., ISBN 1-86197-783-2
- State of Fear (2004), Michael Crichton, ISBN 0-06-621413-0
- Culture of Fear: Risk taking and the morality of low expectation (2005), by Frank Furedi, ISBN 0-8264-7616-3
- Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right (2005), by Frank Furedi, ISBN 0-8264-8728-9
- You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear (2005), by Frances Moore Lappe and Jeffrey Perkins, ISBN 978-1-58542-424-5
- Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right and the Moral Panic over the City (2006), by Steve Macek, ISBN 0-8166-4361-X
- Cultures of Fear: A Critical Reader (2009), by Uli Linke, Danielle Smith, Anthropology, Culture and Society, ISBN 978-0-7453-2965-9
- The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things (2010), by Barry Glassner ISBN 0-465-00336-2
- Conspiracy of silence (expression)
- Criticism of the War on Terrorism
- Crowd psychology
- Fear mongering
- Information warfare
- Mass hysteria
- Mean world syndrome
- Media hype
- Horror and terror
- Mind games
- Moral panic
- North Korea
- Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
- Religious paranoia
- Yellow journalism
- 1984 (book)
- Klaehn, Jeffery (2005). Filtering the news: essays on Herman and Chomsky's propaganda model. Black Rose Books. pp. 23–24.
- Gustave Gilbert (1947) Nuremberg Diary.
- Post Store (March 25, 2007). "Terrorized by 'War on Terror' by Brzezinski". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- Zbigniew Brzezinskiwhile the true nature of the threat can't be established: it can be less it can be worse. (March 25, 2007). "Terrorized by 'War on Terror' How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-03. "The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America...."
- Frank Furedi. "Epidemic of fear". Spiked-online.com. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- Communicating the terrorist risk: Harnessing a culture of fear? Gabe Mythen Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, Sandra Walklate University of Liverpool, UK
- "The Power of Nightmares: Your comments". BBC (London). August 3, 2005. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
- Jeffries, Stuart (May 12, 2005). "The film US TV networks dare not show". The Guardian (London). Retrieved July 14, 2010.