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Emotions and the brain
Fear, anxiety and anguish

Help Linked Module: Fear factor: on the issues of guns, politics, the media, and America's culture of fear Linked Module: Bowling for Columbine Linked Module: Bowling for Columbine - Michael Moore
Linked Module: CHRONIQUES DE PALESTINE : Le côté humain du conflit Linked Module: Sur quelques contes sécuritaires venus d'Amérique Linked Module: Lutter contre la corruption dans les pays en développement Linked Module: Book: The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, by Barry Glassner, Basic Books, 1999
Linked Module: Book: The Politics of Everyday Fear, Brian Massumi, Editor Linked Module: The Culture of Fear Linked Module: The Politics of Everyday Fear
Original modules
History Module: The Long History of the Culture of Fear in the Americas The Long History of the Culture of Fear in the Americas

The Harmful Effects of Television on Young Children

Terrorism is often the last weapon a people have left to make their voice heard. Because spectacular terrorist actions generate such a terrible climate of fear, they cause leaders and intellectuals in the target countries to assert that they are dealing with an enemy who operates beyond the bounds of normal politics and, indeed, beyond the bounds of civilization. But by refusing to analyze terrorist acts in political terms (that is, to seek the historical and geographic causes of this violence), the authorities only worsen the fear that ordinary citizens are already experiencing.

This problem is compounded by the fear that the war on terrorism itself generates, and the way it can be used to justify repression of any form of dissent in the country’s domestic politics. The targets of this war against dissent are always the same: teachers, people of colour, the labour movement, and other activists fighting for social justice.

Linked Module: Do You Fear Fear? Docile Bodies and Fear of the Other Linked Module: Policing Our Lives, Policing the World: The U.S. Expands Its Role Linked Module: De la peur en temps de guerre

The system that lets us detect dangers and thus improve our chances of survival involves many interconnected structures in the brain. From a psychological standpoint, this system triggers what we call fear, and the often beneficial behaviours associated with it.

But daily contact with fear creates a “culture of fear” that paralyzes people’s ability to participate in democratic life. Cultures of fear can be brutal and obvious, as in dictatorships. But they can also be more subtle and serve their purpose of controlling the public through the media.

Most people now spend several hours each day sitting in front of their television sets watching spectacular images of war, murder, and repression. These images fly by so quickly that there is no time to analyze or understand them; instead, they encourage ignorance. Ignorance then leads to fear, and fear leads to hatred and violence.





It then becomes normal for people to spy on their neighbours, to denounce them to the authorities, to be afraid to let their children play in the neighbourhood, to settle their differences with firearms, or to silence their own deepest convictions for fear of being identified with the enemy of the moment (terrorists, Communists, “savages”, etc.).

In such cultures of fear, people often end up accepting social controls that infringe on their personal freedoms and their right to participate in the kinds of debates that are theoretically allowed in democracies.

Thus, we see that the major media in capitalist Western democracies follow a propagandistic model that sanitizes information by passing it through several institutionalized filters.

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