Fear drives the loss of both our personal and our social power. Fear separates us from our own thinking which stagnates. Fear clouds our evolving presence in the globalizing superstructure. Henry Giroux reveals here how fearfulness is a major component of the Society of Control and, oddly enough, how this proliferation of fear is tied to market branding of all things. Branding quickly is becoming the sine qua non of Control as everyone gets a branded avatar within the ever overlapping networks of media, government, corporate finance, consumer lifestyle, etc.
Just as the necessity of fighting terror has become the central rationale for war by the Obama administration and other governments, a visual culture of shock and awe has become ubiquitous by the intensified and expanding presence of the internet and 24-hour cable news shows devoted to representations of the horrific violence associated with terrorism – ranging from images of bombing raids in Syria to the countervailing imagery of grotesque killings of hostages by ISIS fundamentalists. The visual theater of terrorism aestheticizes politics, celebrates a sacralization of politics as war, and stylizes raw violence as it is integrated into audio-visual spectacles that shock and massage the mind and emotions with the theatricality of power and a steady regimen of fear, extreme violence and the drum beat of a hyper-charged masculinity. If the media are to be believed, every aspect of life, as Brian Massumi has argued, increasingly appears as “a workstation in the mass production line of fear.” It gets worse. It is not unreasonable to assume that if the sheer brutality and barbarism of ISIS did not exist, it would have to be invented by the United States. ISIS not only symbolizes rightfully an extreme form of fundamentalist barbarism, but also offers the United States a new enemy that fits right into its need to legitimate its own culture and apparatuses of fear, spectacle of terrorism and machinery of militarism, regardless of its disingenuous appeal to human rights.