Tuesday, October 27, 2009

State of Fear: The Imagination of Crisis and Its Political Exploitation

Americans are overreacting to events: to the "Great Depression" of 2009, to the increasing numbers of young people with Attention Deficit Disorder, to the histrionic fantasy that climate change will become global boiling. None of these issues is without substance, and none of them should be ignored; but in one way or another, we are overreacting by turning each of them into a crisis...We seem to have fallen in love with crises, and the more crises we find the more animated we seem to be. We are immersed in a Crisis of Crises, replete with illogic, a surfeit of emotion, and strings of events vying for crisis status..."Crisis," literally, means separation, and involves a break with the past by supplanting the existing order with a new one...All Crisis, All The Time, Irwin Savodnik, Weekly Standard, 10/19/2009

Savodnik has illuminated the subject the late Michael Crichton left out of his seminal State of Fear, a novel about the political exploitation of fear, especially as it involved ecological 'disasters' like 'global warming.' What Dr. Crichton didn't pay nearly attention enough to was the popular openness to their emotional manipulation by cynical politicians. (Only a profound cynic would use these fear campaigns to exploit citizens.) It's evident from polling after proclamations of crisis that we must like to be scared. Why do we act that way?

Read his article to guide the answer to that question. And, the next time you're inspired to fear by a politico grandstanding about a crisis, ask yourself a simple question? Is he or she just playing on fear? You can find out by investigating the sources of the "crisis" yourself. CNN doesn't have all the answers. In fact, by their slippage to 4th place in cable ratings for news programs, it's likely they have very few that audiences recognize.


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