Fear and fortification
Susanne Piet © 2003

This is the Age of Fear. Fear not so much in relation to imminent danger but free floating fear. The worst kind, least of all treatable by psychiatrists or psychologists. A pathological fear. This is the fear that lacks a concrete object of threat. Threat therefore can be every- en and anywhere.

Where does this fear come from? Fear always had big potential in every man, because he innately dreads dying. But fear needs food to grow. In this age fear has been fed by the condition in which man knows everything about the bad that is happening in the world in the simultaneous realisation that there is nothing he personally can do about it. It gets him in a state of constant alarm, energy built up, nowhere and never to use, only motivating him to find extreme stimulations without taking risks.

This fear got solid ground in The Field of the Two Modern Beliefs: the Belief in Make-ability and in the Existence and Prevalence of Romantic Love. Modern Man is trapped in these beliefs, because they inspire and oblige him to pursuit personal happiness as the ultimate and attainable goal. His fear stems as much from the possibility of losing what he got as never attaining what he aims for in this live.

Modern Man has delivered himself to authorities in the outside. He is not self sufficient anymore. He depends completely on his surroundings and material goods. He is helpless without public services like electrical current, water, internet, telephone, public transport. He can do almost nothing to defend himself, though he desperately tries. He has to protect his fundamental and lawful right to be instantaneously happy and glorifies anyone who substantiates the illusion to get in that state.

He therefore worships icons who feed this illusion that happiness is make-able, that wealth makes happy, beloved and beautiful, that you can live forever young, that you can be in control of everything, and most of all that you can beat death by living without mercy. Happiness seen as an accessible and buyable commodity, that can be contagious when touching the icons by successful networking. Or by buying their symbols and imitating their lifestyle.

This Fear creates therefore The Modern Knight, who enriches himself beyond mercy at the costs of their labourers and slaves. Also The Knight feels himself threatened, he cannot really trust anyone. He lives in Modern Fortresses, with walls of electronics and under protection of security services or small armies of private guards. Knights, who are worshipped for their wealth, their comfort, their appearance, their vision. Who are in turn obliged to keep up appearances, visible and vulnerable in their armoured coaches when they move from one Fortress in the other. They are stiff and limited in their movements, not by means of the literary harness, but by The Code: rules of fashion and political correctness and their movements are limited by the range of their own comfort zones. The Knight creates the symbol of the Big Goal, but the Goal,- if it is a Mission at all-, is certainly not the Holy Grail. It is not an Outward but an Inner Goal of Utter Aestheticising, to guarantee a constant state of Happiness. His battle is only to protect wealth and feelings of comfort.

The people who depend on them and make their existence possible, copy, as explained before, this existence. They make their homes to small fortresses, wired by electronics, not to enter without a code, and they transport themselves preferably in enormous armoured wagons with fortifications everywhere. The labourer or slave lives so much in fear that he cries for protection, for rules of conduct and thinking, for criteria of judgement, more blue on the streets, harsher punishments for criminal, even capital punishment is an option, larger fines, bigger prisons, more cameras, more uniforms, more wars.

His safety has become his biggest priority, even if it is at the costs of his liberty, his freedom, his personal space, his openings for creativity and novelty and meeting other people and other possible contributions to his experience of happiness. He demands on the contrary surveillance in the public space and almost no building is accessible without identification and search for weapons. And he becomes the more a slave, since he is addicted to stimulation to free his alarm-built up energy, and therefore any product or service that can provide him that in his limited space: drinking, drugging, consuming, browsing, zapping.

Lots have been invented so he does not have to leave his small castle, but also the labourers move from one fortress to the other. They live in fortified communities that are shielded by electronics, mayors of big western cities exactly used these terms and the American Knight made a fortress of the United States of America by a shield against missiles. And as the Modern Knight he organises a Crusade against terrorists. Terrorists who are threatening the Wealth with other beliefs and therefore less fear and more commitment. Anyone strange could be a terrorist. Blackmail interknight-messages of bonding like: if thou are not with u thou art with the Terrorist, have become officially endorsed.

The fear as described before has not fought much because its existence is also in the interest of man. It has been exploited because it also creates a huge market and motivates big constituencies. So fear is fed from mankind itself.

The result of it is a fear that is actually bigger than the sum of all thinkable threats. While 45 percent of interviewed Dutch expect (and fear) to get cancer after the age of 60 years, only 6 percent actually gets that disease at that age. Heart attacks is feared by 45 percent, while 16 percent really runs a chance. Especially the market for the elderly is hugely exploitable. Their free floating fear is legitimised by a variety of small fears, for not being able to sleep, weak health, heart failure, the chance of being robbed or mugged. The percentage of persons who actually experienced such mishap is very low. In fact while crime figures are getting lower fear of becoming a victim rises.

Dutch young people of Moroccan, Surinam or Turkish ancestry notice in public space or means of transport, that their white countrymen and women close their purses and bags more tightly when they get detected, as reported by some of them on radio. In this condition free floating anxiety creates objects of danger anywhere. Youngsters in the Netherlands are reported by research to be more afraid on a much higher level than the youngster were in the fifties of the last century. Actually their Fear has reached a level that by standards of the fifties would make them a suitable case for treatment in institutions.

Mankind in western society is knighted to his own fear.

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