Fear: The History of a Political Idea
For many commentators, September 11 inaugurated a new era of fear. But as Corey Robin shows in his unsettling tour of the Western imagination--the first intellectual history of its kind--fear has shaped our politics and culture since time immemorial. From the Garden of Eden to the Gulag Archipelago to today's headlines, Robin traces our growing fascination with political danger and disaster. As our faith in positive political principles recedes, he argues, we turn to fear as the justifying language of public life. We may not know the good, but we do know the bad. So we cling to fear, abandoning the quest for justice, equality, and freedom. But as fear becomes our intimate, we understand it less. In a startling reexamination of fear's greatest modern interpreters--Hobbes, Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Arendt--Robin finds that writers since the eighteenth century have systematically obscured fear's political dimensions, diverting attention from the public and private authorities who sponsor and benefit from it. For fear, Robin insists, is an exemplary instrument of repression--in the public and private sector. Nowhere is this politically repressive fear--and its evasion--more evident than in contemporary America. In his final chapters, Robin accuses our leading scholars and critics of ignoring "Fear, American Style," which, as he shows, is the fruit of our most prized inheritances--the Constitution and the free market. With danger playing an increasing role in our daily lives and justifying a growing number of government policies, Robin's Fear offers a bracing, and necessary, antidote to our contemporary culture of fear.
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Fear: the history of a political ideaUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
In this original and fascinating work, Robin (Brooklyn Coll., CUNY) examines how fear represses, rather than unites, a nation. The first half of the book dissects fear as discussed by philosophers ... Read full review
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accessed on March action American argued argument aroused believed Cambridge University Press Chicago civil society claim coercion Cold War collaborators culture Democracy in America democratic despotic terror dissenters Eichmann Eichmann in Jerusalem elites employees Essays in Understanding eunuchs evil fear of death federal force freedom gulag Hannah Arendt Harvard University Press Hobbes Hobbes’s Hobbesian HUAC human ideology Ignatieff individual inspired institutions intellectuals Jews labor leaders Leviathan liberalism of anxiety mass McCarthyism ment Michael modern Montesquieu moral movement Nazis Nazism Old Regime one’s organizations Origins Origins of Totalitarianism passion Penguin Persian Letters Philosophy political fear Princeton radical reason repressive resist Revolution revolutionary rule of law sense Shklar social sovereign Soviet Spirit Stalin theorists Thomas Hobbes thought threat threatened tion Tocqueville Tocqueville’s total terror Totalitarianism trans union United Usbek victims violence Walzer women workers workplace writes wrote York Times September