A geopolitical reading of fear


In his 2009 book The geopolitics of emotionDominique Moisi has divided the world into three emotional regions: the zone of hope (emerging countries), the zone of humiliation (the world of Islam), and the zone of fear (the ancient powers, also known as “the West”). Much has changed since 2009.

According to Moisi, the zone of fear is inhabited by “those who fear the present and expect the future to become more dangerous.” Perhaps today we should realize that fear has conquered the world. In other words, we live in a time organized spatially by globalized fear, and this, politically, is not a good omen.

The ancient powers remain, so to speak, the forerunners of these globalized sentiments. Anxiety about the present and the belief that the future may worsen has been realized decades ago in two areas of mass behavior, and their nature is antisocial at their core: an explosion of public spending (and debt) and a drop in birth rates. The connection is that when no good is expected to come from the future, it is best to spend everything right away, even what you don’t have. Likewise, it is better not to have children, for whom the debt burden that develops with such indifference will be afflicted.

In the Land of Fear, the cry of “Everyone for himself” echoes in evil ways. A few days after the pandemic reached France, President Emmanuel Macron described the “return of fear” as an opportunity Rediscovering solidarity and “human values”Yet nature and history suggest otherwise: seldom does fear allow us to reconnect with ‘human values’. To take refuge from danger Human Just because it is a spontaneous reaction of organisms, guided by the instinct of self-preservation. Such an individual form of flexibility often lacks constructive and collaborative features; When escaping from danger, it is easier to bypass (rather than save) your neighbor.

Past confidence

Why did the prevailing optimism of the 1950s and 1960s seem confidently to the future, producing more than was consumed and resulting in a baby boom? Because post-war reconstruction was made of “economic miracles” that made life easier and more prosperous. During the Thirty glorious (“The Thirty Glorious Years”, the term used for economic prosperity in France) Experience taught us that we can quickly go from worn shoes to motorcycles to motorcycles to compact cars. Then we bought cars big enough for the family and used them to get to tourist destinations, where we would stay in affordable hotels, and eventually buy a vacation home. Everything seemed so easy.

Ever-increasing living standards in general have been a reality unfolding before our very eyes, and something that cannot be ignored. Then, in 1973, The first crisis struck. The myth of the explosive growth in the luxury began to crack. The first new competitors, who at the time were cautiously called “newly industrialized countries”, appeared to be on the horizon. At the end of the decade, South Korea has become the second shipbuilding company in the world, Behind Japan, with output twice that of Germany, and four times that of the United States.

The global domination of the ancient powers was in crisis. These forces were no longer able to exploit all the resources of the global market unhindered and had to share them with emerging competitors, which meant that the benefits derived from this unperturbed exploitation could not remain the same.

Loss aversion

We know that fear of losing what we have is more alarming than fear of not acquiring assets that we do not have in the present. The perception of risk in decision-making is related to the current situation, and builds on past experience, which makes human beings even more loss averse, as Nobel Prize Winning Probability Theory show up.

What the geopolitical reading adds to this awareness is that such fear of losing what people think belongs to them creates angry reactions. It invokes the need to rely on leaders who promise to return citizens what was stolen from them (or what people believe robbed of them).

Therefore, people entrust their destinies to those who promise them to return their country to them, or to make it great again. Better yet, if these miracle pushers openly mock or attack the social groups that are presumably responsible for our fears: immigrants, Muslims, Jews, big corporations, wealthy people, Freemasons on Wall Street, Big Pharma, Globalization, Bill Gates, the Vatican … you name it.

Fear and Politics

The 2008 crisis, and especially the slow and incomplete recovery that followed, transformed social fear into a political weapon in the hands of the electorate. Brexit, the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the 2018 Italian elections are just some examples. Joe Biden won the 2020 US election with More than 81 million votesBut despite all the scandals and the first two impeachments, Trump still gets 74 million.

India, the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, and Venezuela, as well as China to some extent, have given up the Hope Zone. The attempt of Muslim countries to liberate themselves from the lands of humiliation has been thwarted by the bloody suppression of the various versions of the “Arab Spring”. Everyone approaches the land of fear.

Thucydides, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes and others have explained how fear is a tool for princes to control their subjects. Today, fear has become the predominant emotion of people who expect miraculous prescriptions from their princes. But these recipes, as we have seen in recent years, do nothing more than make the world more frightening.

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