Geopolitics of Culture of Fear

First Part. What they do not teach at Harvard...

7 SEPTEMBER 2017,
House of Cards
House of Cards

With a very common, apparent naivety of a modern times academic who seeks to be politically correct and professionally accepted by justifying or reinterpreting ongoing policies, not unsimilar to the struggle of a priest, especially among those monotheist ones, who have to close their eyes to the evil or disastrous consequences of human and natural deeds and desperately seek for any kind of positive interpretations that would be in favour of the proselytised eternal goodness of the godly power behind the ”only apparently” bad deeds of the powers, whether political or those divine, respectively, Dominique Moisi concludes his very readable, however also very elaborate and very poignant recent book on politics and fear in TV series [1] with claims that it is aiming to find a “hope” within the cruelty, violence, social and political intrigues depicted in the modern TV series such as Game of Thrones or Occupied, and the resulting fear that they are often designed to create.

Identifying fear as one common pattern among the series, facilitates to assert its continuous utilisation in the modern time, TV medium, something that has been used in the cultures and, at the time contemporary communications media, for millenia, something that has been used and miss-used from the very beginning of creation of social groups, and later-on, human civilisation.

Before TV it was film and before it, for hundreds of years, Shakespearean and the Ancient Greek Classic theatre, novel writing and, of course, traditional heroic sage and legends story telling which probably trace their origins within the early roots of social integrations of the speech and language capable and the time conscious homo-sapiens.

What is different of course is the power of the TV and similar, computer based media based in their accessibility and the resulting frequency their observers are exposed to them, and thus, the strength of their in-carvings in the synapses of the human brains nowadays comparing with the less accessible, older media used for the same purpose, and unfortunately a much higher level of desensitisation for cruelty, violence they result in but consequently reduced fear resulting from them.

But what is behind such culture of violence and fear, where killing humans is usually rated by censors as being suitable for much younger audience than actually crating them. There are likely to be two, very closely interwoven, reasons.

For start, it is the fear, that of the natural or that from other, foreign enemy humans attacks and the ability to resist and sustain them as a larger group rather than an individual, or an atomic family, that lies at the fundus of the social organisations, whether human or even some of animal ones. The more aware of the danger causing fear, whether imminent or distant, the stronger bonding social group can have and its leaders can can impose various sacrificial demands from their members. Needless to say, modern state is based on two similar social contracts, the classic, Mediterranean one between its, often subordinate citizens and the, initially, some strongmen who imposed on them a kind of a large-scale “protection racket” or, the more Nordic ones originating in unification of their rural and nomadic social groups, and later, cities and villages aiming to act in self-defence (or in joint attacks and invasions), the stronger defence the larger unity they established.

But submission and acceptance of such social contract and maintaining strong intra-social bonding is essentially based on continuous awareness of the dangers, whether imminent and visible or invented, the later which has then been repeatedly reiterated through various forms of heroic legends, traditionally, either intentionally aimed at, or unintentionally, in either case, inspiring young men to join national military in its actions, presumably, for protection of their parental or married-in families. The new mediums for similar war-fear-mongering are TV series and computer games and Moisi's excellent tutorial focuses on the latter through five samples of fears, that of:

  1. Return to barbarianism through analysis of Game of Thrones;
  2. loss of democratic system in House of Cards;
  3. terrorism in Homeland;
  4. loss of the old and loved world order in Downtown Abbey, and
  5. Russian occupation in Occupied.
    Thus, notably three US, one UK and Norwegian each.

Continues on the 7th of October...

[1] Dominique Moissi, La géopolitique des séries ou le triumphe de la peur (“Geopolitics of [TV] series or the triumph of the fear”); Flamarion 2017