Review: “The Administration of Fear” Seminar

by Dr Paul Tyson, Director, Emmanuel Centre for the Study of Science, Religion and Society

This seminar covered a number of demanding and disturbing areas. Paul Tyson’s paper introduced us to the central ideas of the Philosophy of Technology, explaining a few of the ways in which space and time overcoming technologies of global interconnectivity are reshaping the very fabric of our lives. The French thinker Paul Virilio argues that we are vulnerable to new forms of uncontrollable accidents due to this context, and so there are strong objective reasons for us to have an ill-defined sense of fear about safety and durability in our world. However, the ideologies of security, health and prosperity that we believe our technologies will deliver to us make it very hard to locate what the real cause of our fear is. This is why a security narrative protecting ourselves from religious terrorists is so useful.

The ‘plus’ side of our anti-terrorist security culture is that our fears can be easily politically harnessed and placed on some covert and evil outsider. In this way, our fears are managed so that we do not need to ask hard questions about ourselves. However, the ‘minus’ side of this dynamic is the curtailment of civil liberties, the rejection of UNHCR commitments, and the political use of racially and religiously defined fear. You can read Paul’s paper here.

Dave Andrews looked at what people distressed about this politics of racially and religiously defined fear can seek to do to combat the dark trajectories of mainstream politics in Australia since 9/11. Some very careful thoughts about the nature of fear, and about how to combat fear without providing fuel for more fear, were explored by Dave. Essentially, love – intelligent, courageous, vulnerable love – is the only thing that can reverse the dynamic of fear and inhumanity. Dave’s thoughts come out of his direct engagement with Australian politics. You can read Dave’s paper here.

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