On the economy of fear.

A few things are uncountable. Magical things like the stars in the sky and the exact number of people on mother earth. They are the mysteries of nature. But some uncountable things are not the mysteries of nature but rather the result of the mind of mankind. Like how many people were killed by other people and how much money is earned by creating fear.

Today I zapped through some television programs on my laptop and in one of them an acclaimed journalist explained the inner workings of ‘The Fed’s’, the FBI. The American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The organization that makes and breaks presidents and the organization that protects and manipulates society. All for the good of the security of the State. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. But not always what they really do.

Another show showed the horrors of World War Two. After all, it’s that time of the year again. Every year just after the beginning of spring Dutch television re-focusses on that war that started over 60 years ago and lasted ‘only’ 5 years. Many wars have been fought since and many are still being fought now. The third program had someone discussing the current financial crisis and somehow 9/11 came into tha discussion. And in yet another program there was a discussion about spending less money on development aid and what that would do to our security in the west. The speaker presumed an improvement of the safety of our economy because less people would come to live on ‘our money’.

And all of a sudden it became clear to me.

We in the west live in an economy that’s thriving on fear. Terrorism, war, immigration, foreigners, homosexuals, emancipation, they all seem to scare the hell out of governments and agencies working for those governments. Because there is no control over any of them.  Of course governments try to control society and to get a grip on the tumbling economy. But they also know that it really is in vain and they do not really want to have grip. Because behind those governments there are thousands of organizations and individuals who thank their very existence to fear. Fear is simply big business. It is for many the big money maker.

Now, if only 1 percent of the money that goes into this fear industry would go into improving living conditions of the poor and threatened across the globe, I am sure many problems would be solved. But that is not what we do in the west. We rather embrace fear because we need that in our lives. There have never worked more people in organizations who’s task it is not to help refugees or disadvantaged but to keep as many people outside our well protected and secured society. There was never spend more on arms globally and believe it or not, most of that goes to the scared west.

So now not a single day passes with politicians explaining the need to secure our society even further, to lock it up in way that even less people are allowed to become part of that society. Xenophobia is the very basis of politics nowadays and goes hand in hand with the adagium of the need for economic growth. Because that is what our society has become. A society interested in two things: growing economy and securing that economy from outsiders. We have become protectionists.

And that alone creates jobs, lots of jobs. For people making CCTV systems and others monitoring society with these thousands of cameras all over our streets observing you and me. Jobs for people working in security, just because we think we have so much to secure. Jobs for police forces and armies. Jobs for supporting ‘peace missions’ that inadvertently result in more fighting and more killings far away from our safe little homes in out safe little bubble. If fear would leave our society I am sure this society would collapse as the result of thousands and thousands of extra unemployed and we would after some time become less financially rich. But our minds would be much cleaner then, our hearts warmer and our future brighter because we would have to embrace friendships and foreigners. We would have to open ourselves up for the ones we do not know and the ones we haven’t taken notice of their existence. We would be condemned to start living together, not against each other.

And that is scary. So in stead of that we simply put more money, more effort and more people on the balance of our economy of fear. No government, left or right wing will change that. Because in the end we all want to have more than the others. And at the end we will loose is all. But will we ever learn of that? Will we ever become less focussed on growth and will we ever learn that there can also be an economy of less, a social society. A society that cares and not scares.

Alice © 2012