criminology (4)

Black Lives Matter & Policing Reform(s)

Black Lives Matter (BLM) has become a pivotal, and controversial, social movement. Triggered primarily by repeated incidents of black males being killed (murdered) on the streets of America by police officers (particularly white officers) has left a mark that is now indelible and performed in the Floyd Rebellion (street protests). It has not been pretty and disturbs and terrifies many. And, not all people of color agree with the way things have gone down on both sides--the authorities and the rebellion protestors. But lots of good things are also coming from the rubble, you might say.

So I give hats off to the BLM better aspects of liberation and its allies generally for the 'wake up' call; and especially my focus here in this blog is on the positive push of some BLM folks and other sensitive educators and therapists to help get to root causes of racism traumatization (and/or racialized trauma). I use these latter concepts, from a healing and fearlessness perspective or paradigm for social change and transformation. I am less a fan of the politically and ideologically driven 'playing the race card' and 'fanning the race wars' strategies on all sides of the battles today between opponents. Thus, with this distinction of my work and interest, I would argue that nowadays, it is really questionable if the term "racism" or "race" are actually of any value to healing, just like the term "racists" is to me only a way to continue the worst of racism traumatization [1]. The cycle of domination-fear-conflict-violence is hard to break, but I believe breaking the language and making ourselves more aware of emanacipatory and healing language is a good start to the 'rebellion' that all of us could participate in and not just BLM on the streets. 

In this regard, obviously my work is about moving from a culture of fear to a culture of fearlessness, and that ideally would be what BLM is attempting to do. I am not telling BLM what to do nor speaking as if I know all about them and their work. I certainly don't and I am willing to be informed by them as they see fit. I will listen, and I will open up opportunities for healing on their side and my side--and, all the other options of our juxtapositioning as human beings attempting to figure out how to live together well on this fragile planet. I am concerned that forces of tyranny take many forms, and no group is immune. So, to counter the fear-based tyranny movements of all kinds, on all sides of the conflicts in societies, let's take a look at the notion of racism traumatization as a learning and healing process. I have not delved a lot into this field but I have come across a book my life-partner is using for her own liberation via ancestral healing work and is planning to use in a local non-profit organization in the urban setting of the city we live in. The book is by Resmaa Menakem, a person of color and expert on conflict and violence and healing (individual and collective). The title is "My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathways to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies" (2017). It is radical on many fronts, but what it does not do is 'pit one race against another' nor attempt to show any superiority in any group that is innate or given by God, or any other power. Menakem writes with wisdom and compassion and a lot of street smarts about racialized violence and oppression--and, better yet, about racialized trauma work. I have included a couple pages from the book, particularly on Menakem's advice for reforming policing. I have also written a book with two colleagues on this topic but more general on the relationship of fearism to law and criminology [2]. Menakem's work is very pragmatic and I trust you'll find these couple pages useful for knowledge and as potential to take into action in your communities. 







1. Another angle of understanding racism traumatization is through a critical analysis of "white supremacism" and an even more interesting angle is through critical analysis of tribalism-ethnocentricism and their worldviews (e.g., in Spiral Dynamics integral theory). No doubt, societies today and in the future will best be served by multiple angles on the problem of "Race" in America or anywhere in the world. For me, I always have looked with great focus on the problem of fearism-t (toxic form) as the core root of terrorism of all kinds and those are the isms that are articulating the other isms--that is, sexism, racism, classism, adultism, and so on. Oppression is fear-based in an ideology of fearism-t. All that said, my owning responsibility for my white caucasion historical situation and current privilege is well taken as something I have to always look at as part of white supremacism agendas--that is, oppression. 

2. Fisher, R. M., Subba, D., & Kumar, B. M. (2018). Fear, law and criminology: Critical issues in applying the philosophy of fearism. Xlibris.

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I want to share a short excerpt from a new fearism book in progress, hopefully it will come out this late autumn. The book is entitled: Fear, Law and Criminology: Critical Issues in Applying the Philosophy of Fearism co-authored by R. Michael Fisher, Desh Subba and B. Maria Kumar. This book started with the project I initiated earlier this year on creating a series of dialogues with Desh and Maria on a new sub-discipline I coined as fearcriminalysis... now to the excerpt from the Introduction chapter of the new book: 

 "Overall, on first glance upon the earth, too many people and other species are not protected enough from suffering. Humanity is still striving to bring safety and security to such victims; yet, equally it seems humanity is unwinding the sacred freedoms, rights and securities faster and faster each day. Oppression and violence growing rapidly is a symptom of such desecration of basic needs of so many. Nuclear (arms) development, global killer diseases, starvation, mass human displacements, global warming, extreme weather crises, and mass species extinctions with ecological deterioration are bringing new fears and insecurities to humanity. The future is more precarious by the day. Youth are particularly ‘hit’ by this reality, as we see stresses upon them overwhelming and youth suicide rates in many countries are skyrocketing.[i] Excess fear and insecurities grows—a “climate of fear” or a “culture of fear”[ii] have been pronounced by many critics as the no. 1 problem humanity has to resolve. Generally, people don’t feel trusting or safe! It is this very condition of growing insecurities globally that no doubt has motivated us as co-authors to apply fearism to law and criminology. Maybe we can begin to bring some new insights and solutions to these ominous problems.   

Safety and security as basic needs is like mother’s milk or apple pie. How could it not be a valuable thing (like love itself) to warrant being protected with the ethical fibre of our existence? The likeability and instinctual response to value safety and security is not what is in question here. Law, in principle, is primarily oriented to such protection, just as are government sponsored “vaccine” programs. Recent raging debates and a general loss of public trust in vaccines, that is, an increase in “fear of vaccines,” is a huge international topic and has analogous lessons for the debates and general loss of public trust in governance and policing as “fear of crime” and “fear of police” increases. Yet, as critical thinkers and co-authors we also have to question the ‘sacred cow’ so to speak. No “need” ought to be given such sacred status/privilege or priority that it becomes unquestionable in its reign, where no voice of critique can be raised. It is that moment when we are facing silencing. In that moment we are likely confronted not by argumentation of common sense or logical propositions for survival and wellbeing but something more like ideology. Philosophers typically sense ideology and challenge it before others. We sense “safety and security” today is being usurped from its good side, to becoming another football for dominant ideologies to compete—to win."[iii]


[i] Yip (2010).

[ii] See a summary of these concepts and reference literature on Wikipedia, for example, and/or see Fisher & Subba (2016), pp. ii, xxiv-xxv, xxvii, xxviii, 22, 55-57, 66, 67, 93, 104, 112.

[iii] It is beyond the purpose of this discussion in the Introduction to go into it, but many astute critics have argued that the major colonizing and globalizing ideology of neoliberalism is today greatly shaping economics, politics, education and culture (e.g., see Giroux, 2014). 

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Dialogue on Fearcriminalysis (Part 3): R. Michael Fisher, B. Maria Kumar and Desh Subba

[This is third, and last of the Fearcriminalysis series of dialogues. If you haven't already read the earlier ones, I recommend you do, but it is not necessary to understanding a good deal of what is in this dialogue. For the Pt. 2 go to: Perhaps a small book will be published one day on this topic using these initial dialogues as a basis. Enjoy, -rmf.]

"Crime is down... but fear is up!"  - R. Michael Fisher

In Fisher, I wrote [1]

"Political leaders and authorities (like the police force) in Canada have been heard on CBC radio interviews in the past few years making remarks that have stuck with me: for e.g.,  the Vancouver Chief of Police was asked about the problem of violence in the city and he said (paraphrasing), ‘It isn’t the violence that is the real problem for the police force. It is peoples’ fear of violence that is creating more enforcement problems that we don’t have the resources to handle.’ The Hon. John Havelock, Alberta Justice Minister, recently (1998) reported on CKUA radio, that after tougher legislation against violence and more legal clout for the victims and society in general, he is pleased to announce statistics indicate ‘crime is down.’ However, in the next breath, he reports that ‘fear is up’ and the governments’ citizen response lines are bursting with complaining calls because people don’t feel safe anymore and governments need to do something more about all the crime and violence. In the May 6, 1997 edition of the Calgary Herald, a male Alberta judge remarked: ‘A climate of fear has started to pervade this city at night’" (Fisher, 1998, p. 5).

Fisher: From the above quotes, you can see I have long been interested in Fearcriminalysis, even though I didn’t call it that back then in the late 1990s. I was aware that crime and its effects are not merely physical but psychological and sociological. The research concept and phenomena called the “fear of crime” is one of the biggest and hottest topics, at least, in the West, as it is present in a lot of the criminology and social sciences literature.

In a policing Newsletter from the U.S. National Institute of Justice [2], the authors write about how concrete crime negatively impacts people but “Behind the immediate, concrete losses of crime victims, however, is a different, more abstract crime problem—that of fear. For victims, fear is often the largest and most enduring legacy [trauma] of their victimization….For the rest of us—the not-recently, or not-yet victimized—fear becomes a contagious agent spreading the injuriousness of criminal victimization….Of course, fear is not totally unproductive. It prompts caution among citizens and thereby reduces criminal opportunities….Thus, reasonable fears, channel in constructive directions, prepare society to deal with crime. It is only when fear is unreasonable, or generates counterproductive responses, that it becomes a social problem. This paper explores fear as a problem to be addressed by the police….it turns to what is known about the efficacy of police strategies for managing fear, i.e., for reducing fear when it is irrational and destructive, and for channeling fear along constructive paths when it is reasonable and helpful in controlling crime” (pp. 1-2).

What is interesting to me is that this policing report is totally appropriate to today, and yet it was written and published in 1988—that’s 30 years ago. The authors then conclude the report with two basic findings: (1) “Society does not yet systematically collect data on fear. Consequently, our map of fear—its levels, trends, and social location—is sketchy. Nonetheless, its main features are easily identified” (p. 2), and (2) “Fear of crime is an important problem in its own right. Although levels of fear are related to levels of criminal victimization, fear is influenced by other factors” and they suggest research shows that “the current strategy of policing [in general]  does not result in reduced fear. Nor does it leave much room for fear reduction programs in the police department” (p. 6).

My first question to you Desh and Maria: Do you think anything has substantially changed in criminology and policing strategies in your countries that has improved the situation of fear as a social problem as brought forward in this report from 1988? Explain your answers.

Subba: It is very interesting to hear words like: “fear of crime,” “collection data on fear,” “map of fear.”
They are to me beautiful words for a Fear Dictionary. These are new phrases in my knowledge. They seem to follow nicely after the word and conceptual field of Fearcriminalysis. I seek to learn more about these.

Fisher: Desh, you in your own unsophisticated way made your own Map of Fear(s) in Figure No. 21 in your 2014 book, where you began a very basic map/model of “sources” of fear to humans but yes, it would be a next step to find ways to map geographically, politically, etc. the way “fear” exists and moves on the planet [3]; the field of “geography of fear” is making some strides in this but that information is still new and hardly anyone is practically using it, especially in police forces, at least not that I know of.

Kumar: I feel that the report of 1988 is still relevant even today because there is no substantive relief in mitigation of fear. In regards to the reduction in fear of crime generally, there seems to be no change in status but rather, unfortunately, the quantum of fear appears to be on the rise.  

Subba: There now is another new phrase “quantum of fear.” Wonderful.

Fisher: Yes, I agree it is a term that catches the imagination. I’d like Maria to explain why he chose that particular phrasing.

Kumar: Good query Mr. Subba and Dr. Michael! I mean this phrase by two aspects:
1) Literal: as it means amount or quantity. A sort of an idea to quantify fear just like the way ‘intelligence’ is measured in terms of IQ with the help of Simon-Binet tests, so that we may also devise a Fear Quotient (FQ).

2) Psychological: Juxtaposed to Ian Fleming’s Quantum of Solace (QS), which refers to comfort level during tense moments, Quantum of Fear (QF) means the opposite, i,e., tense moments during comfort. When QS stands at zero on 0-9 scale, love and fellowship simply doesn’t exist. On the other hand, if QF stands at zero, fear doesn’t exist, and the world is simply overflowing with love and fellowship. That’s an ideal.

Therefore, a fearologist’s pragmatic endeavor inter alia ought to be the study of how to bring down higher QF levels to the lowest level possible, if not zero, of course, within the understanding and framing of a context of fearism-t as you both have articulated. Concomitantly, this would be a condition of the higher FQ.

Fisher: A good challenge for fearology alright. Indeed this sounds worthy to me, a Fear Quotient measure and quantum of fear. Sounds like a whole other conversation we ought to have someday. I have argued that like we have developmental lines that are measurable, e.g., re: multiple intelligences as Howard Gardner, the Harvard psychologist argued; he said, we have a cognitive intelligence (CI), a moral intelligence (MI), an emotional intelligence (EI), aesthetic intelligence (AI), etc. Then I believe we ought to have a Fearlessness line of intelligence or defense intelligence (DI); it would be similar to Fear Quotient, if not homologous.

Kumar: Back to my point. Normal crimes of 1988 had normal fears. Now different crimes like that emerging from cyberspace are dangling over our heads.

“fearism-t (toxic form) is the core issue at hand. All crime in one way or another is going to add fearism-t to the social fabric and destroy social trust—and, fearism-t is basically the more subtle form of terrorism.”   -R. Michael Fisher

 Fisher: The everywhere and nowhere kind of fear atmosphere since cyberspace was generated is definitely taxing us in new ways.

 Subba: I have listed this in my 2014 book “Cyberphobia- fear of computers or working on a computer” [4] but now in this context of Fearcriminalysis discourse beginning, I can see this psychological disorder from the DSM-IV manual must change to include the larger sociocultural and political implications, all of which advance the quantum of fear, as Maria suggested. In my book I neglected to mention cyberterrorism directly, but I say “The [new] modern fears are the products of new inventions for the protection from fears and avoiding fears….Some fears have been minimised, but many new fears have been added. It is moving around in a full circle [cycle]. We are entangled with it.” [5] In general, “the world’s become the victim of a great fear. To rescue the world from such quicksand, its sources have to be identified and they have to be reinterpreted” through a fearist perspective/lens [6]….

 Fisher: And mapped as the 1988 authors above point to, we need better research to entangle the Fear Problem and cycle of Fear analytically, never mind emotionally and philosophically. I think Desh you said it well in your evolutionary and historical mapping of the Fear Ages. Your sixth age is “Cyber Fear Age,” in which you begin that description of that age based on Prof. Dr. Gobinda Raj Bhattari whom you quote: “Cyber has a big role in transplantation of psychological fear and [an] even bigger role to wage psychological wars,” [7] like cyberterrorism.

 Kumar: I agree with Desh, that the quantum of fear high levels, which police forces and military and governments generally come across, are due to three interrelated complex factors: 1) Technological 2) Socioeconomic and, 3) Legal. For example,

  • With the advent of CCTV/AI/robotics, privacy of the individual is at stake. Fear of being watched is ubiquitous. There are the threats of identity theft, computer frauds etc. that pose new fears, adding accumulatively and qualitatively, not merely quantitatively, to traditional fears.
  • As Hawking noted, socioeconomic inequality increases with the accumulation of much of wealth in a few hands, thereby leading to more economic uncertainties and insecurities like joblessness and to the rise of a new vulnerable class called the precariat. So, again more crimes, accompanied by fears and we get that cycle of fear that Desh referred to. Like Macbeth’s fear of ghosts, people tend to nurse feelings of fear, more through imagining shadows than actual crimes but the crimes are still there and increasing in complexity and interrelationships.

  • To regulate technological proliferation and its repercussions, senators naturally happen to come up with more laws, creating and defining new crimes, hence more fears.

I feel that this is the general cycle of Fear scenario. But the problem is that the society seldom recognizes that police alone cannot tackle every crime and fear. Criminogenic factors lie elsewhere like in socioeconomic environment, socializing processes, psychological makeup, international relations among countries, unbridled enactment of laws, unnecessary curbs or restrictions on lifestyles etc.

Fisher: Thus, the need for the whole society to take responsibility and develop a good fear management/education programming everywhere, so that citizens at the foundation of society can become more response-able to handle safety and security needs, as well as initiate desires for a quality of life that no longer feeds on and depends on the cycle of Fear, but rather grows based on a Fearlessness Paradigm.

Kumar: For example, recent news points out that crime in Holland is declining so much that their prisons are being closed up. I think fear might have also diminished in Dutch society commensurately. It may reveal new realities if we can check up the state of these reports over there [8].

Fisher: One perspective on this is that Holland has overall promoted an advancing critical consciousness and evolution of thinking that few countries have. I’m not sure why that is, but some studies show this progressive thinking there. Which doesn’t mean they haven’t other kinds of problems too, because they do. I do agree they can serve perhaps as an image of possibility, a model, to some degree. I didn’t know it’s particular effective reforms to reduce crime and fear, improve safety, as you mention Maria.

Subba: I think Fearcriminalysis will be a hard conception to be listened to by others, especially in policing but there are some good signs slowly happening like in the UN Peace Keeping forces recently in Sudan, where fearism is being introduced. However, for all of us promoting this shifting consciousness regarding the role of fear, it is going to take time. It will be slow. Recently I gave an interview in Sewa Ro talk show. I said "Geeta" [i.e., Bhagava Gita] says "without expecting good result just do work." Similarly Marxism says "do labour." Why do work ? It is not mentioned. Cause and effect is popular word in Philosophy. Beyond cause and effect, there is more cause. I mean when we do work, we get wages. Work is cause and effect is wages. Behind work there is more cause, and that is fear. This fear motivates in a positive way to explore the world creatively and make it a better place with less excess fear and anxieties. In relativity theory, there must be a base. Without a base relativity cannot exist. Fear is the base of all cause. All activities are relatives of this phenomena. 

When society and governments are enlightened with a new idea, the new idea explores new solutions. Fearcriminalysis is like that, we just have to keep doing the work, without expecting good results, at least not right away.

Back to Michael’s earlier question, I do agree with Maria that fear of crime and fear of violence is becoming a hottest topic everywhere not only in Canada. Particularly the climate of fear in Canada is different, I suspect, than in Nepal. Major fears are similar but minor fears not similar. Nepal never faced fear of terrorism much but we certainly faced fear of civil war. The form of civil war encourages a trend of terrorism almost more so. I’ll tell you what happened in my home country Nepal. In 1995, allies of the communist parties put 52 demands to Congress government. Allies of communist party became Maoist later.

Nepali Government ignored their demands, underestimating them. That time communists didn't have even a rifle. Government thought they are powerless, can’t do thing. This was big mistake. If government, try to come to positive dialogue, try to listen demands, even if they cannot solve all conflicts with opposition groups, they can begin to be more positive and cooperative to avoid greater problems with security issues later. Because of government’s arrogance 12000 people directly lost lives and billions lost in values property. 

Rise of crime and terrorism must be closely related to civil war of Nepal. Nepal has not done anything much about the growing fear. There is no data of fear, maps or good analysis. There is an insidious climate of fear, unemployment, disease, poverty and all contribute to a sense of national hopelessness. Natural climate and weather crises cannot be easily changed. But a social climate of fear is not unchangeable. 

Fisher: Thanks for the history lesson in Nepal, which is probably like a lot of other countries under similar political, economic and historical challenging conditions. What stands out for me from this 1988 report, which I believe is still totally relevant, at least in the West, is that fearism-t (toxic form) is the core issue at hand. All crime in one way or another is going to add fearism-t to the social fabric and destroy social trust—and, fearism-t is basically the more subtle form of terrorism.

And terrorism I define in a much broader way than do the legal justice and state security discourses. It is not merely a political or ideological act against society or the state authorities. Terrorism is a psychosocial process whereby someone (e.g., criminal), who is already terrified and been so terrified by others, whether they know they are or not, acts out means whereby they spread their terror to the rest of the world. In a way, they are “sharing” their fear/terror and the wounding underneath it. In a way, they are looking to get attention from others, from authorities, even from the police. Sure they also want power, but who doesn’t?  

However, most terrorism exists not in the ‘big’ criminal acts of blowing up a bomb in the public square or kidnapping and killing journalists or government people or hi-jacking a plane, but terrorism has its roots in and more subtle form in fearism-t. The ‘small’ acts of someone who is afraid spreads their fear through lying, stealing, cheating, bullying, scaring, and/or other forms of abuse, some which is nearly impossible to pin down and label so clearly. It is even more subtle how fearism-t spreads fear contagion and how the quantum of fear increases so rapidly. One example of the benign spread of fear that I detest is when people in the community you live, and this happened to me living in Carbondale, IL in the USA the past nine years, tell “stories” and spread “news” as if they are helping out to avoid crime, or bad weather like tornado’s as possibilities. Yes, there is always a possibility of some horrible event and we should be cautious. But they would send me and the community members emails about the next warning, and the next possible and there was a crime here and so on. After awhile, this scared me too in deep almost somatic unconscious ways I didn’t want to be scared over.

Because I want to assess things without all of other people’s fear on top—even if they are trying to be helpful. I found that kind of “news” unhelpful, and I felt a bit bad being critical of their tactics because they argued they were being good responsible citizens helping to warn others. They defended their position when I challenged them. But something was really out of balance in those communities of “do gooders” as they are kind of like the first-warning responders for a community.

Well, it is hard to say they were bad or doing crime in any way. At least, not from a normal position of examining their behavior. However, from the critical consciousness of attempting to slow down or stop the quantum of fear cycling, that is, the climate and culture of fear, there is a moral and just reason that these tactics should be challenged and stopped if necessary. Yet, only Fearcriminalysis could really make a good case against what these people are doing. Law is useless, and police wouldn’t even touch such a case as being illegal or against bylaws of the cities.

To its credit, in part, Law, at least in the West, has long been attempting to create more and more definitions of forms of “abuse” and making them illegal. But we simply can’t make a law against every abuse and harder still is then trying to enforce it. Because so much abuse and hurting takes place in private homes and relationships that are part of families, workplaces, school systems and everyday interactions in neighborhoods.

So what do you two think of calling “fearism-t” what it is, that is—the foundation of terrorism? Would law and criminology and policing be open to this idea? Wouldn’t it help better frame an understanding of the social problem of fear that the 1988 report described? What do you think?

Kumar:  Yes, I think so. We may call fearism-t as the foundation of terrorism. Art of War strategist Sun Tzu said, ’kill one and terrify one thousand.’ And this tag line has become the unfortunate fundamental base of terrorism. One of the main objectives of terrorism is to spread fear.

Fisher: And, to do it with the minimum of resources and greatest efficacy. I think every good military leader would say something similar; even if they may sound less radical and extremist than a “terrorist” type. We know counterterrorism is an accepted and rationalized part of most every form of government, no matter what ideology and political stripes or histories—the tactics of terrorism and counterterrorism are fearism-t when you boil it down to the basics. Much conflict and out-and-out war is based on it. That’s where the problem is deep rooted and no one side can claim to be the ‘angel.’ All contribute their share to the social problem—the Fear Problem. If police forces and criminology as a whole, including Law, could begin to see their contribution to fear production, even when they may think they are not doing so, then that would at least be an admission to start the journey of recovery from this mess.

Kumar: A terrorist by nature is a sadist. There may be a good thief, good cheat, good fraudster, good drunkard etc., but not a good terrorist. Because he wants to see others stricken by fear, panic, terror and so on. The easiest and worst way to realize his motive is to get media to sensationalize through publicity his thoughts, words and deeds, however minor it could be - like issuing threats and warnings, burning of an unclaimed bike or a simple hoax. This kind of attention of public threatening becomes oxygen for which terrorists survive, strive and thrive.

Law, criminology and policing also endorse this view in that the law itself defines terrorism in terms of such and such an act that causes extreme alarm, over-awe, anxiety, fear, threat, panic etc. Criminology looks at terrorism as a serious crime because it is an embodiment of genesis of terror and the power that accompanies it.

Coming to the proposed premise of Fearcriminalysis, I also concur that it will certainly help better if we can create an understanding of the social problem of fear. Ultimately, we have to keep asking: What causes a terrorist to wage their kind of ruthless and barbaric war against the society?

A young Fearologist team may someday be lured by this dialogue to do something creative. We can do more work on family and society terrorism.    -Desh Subba

Subba: Right. This is the philosophical “cause and effect” issue that a philosophy of fearism can analyze probably better than other ways, and other philosophies that have not given such attention to fear and its role.

Kumar: To my mind, one of the main reasons appears to lie in economics, much like the Marxian view of economic determinism. As one economist professed, poverty anywhere in the world is a threat to prosperity everywhere in the world. We see many of the terrorists are a disgruntled lot, on the move to avenge the society. As has been known, no one is more dangerous than the one who has nothing to lose. Persons of such background are likely to form a major chunk of terrorist cadres, who don’t hesitate to use any nefarious means to achieve their objectives.

Therefore, one of the efforts on the part of fearologists should be to explore and plot how the potential perpetrators of terrorism could be identified so that the steps to thwart the prognosis of infection could be taken before hand.

“Policemen should not get panicky themselves. Don’t use unnecessary force and don’t create further panic.”

-B. Maria Kumar

Fisher: Yes, that’s a great challenge for fearologists, terrorologists, traumatologists, victimologists and criminologists—for starters—who have to learn to work collaboratively in the future. Then we have to get research accomplished and good critical thinking into the hands of the people on the front lines “fighting” the battles of crime and trying to maintain civil life and order. I am also optimistic that “the people” will, for better or worse, take “order” into their own hands if the authorities don’t. On the better side of that, are civil protests for new laws and policing policies and security priorities. I am thinking of the recent walkout of 1 million school students in America because they believe the gun laws in the US are not working for them, not protecting their schools from mass gun murders, etc. Yet, sadly, such protests are not accompanied by an improved fear management/education, which needs to happen below the Gun Problem, which is a Fear Problem at root. Why are people carrying guns around in the first place? There has yet to be the critical awareness in students, faculties and/or in the media and public leaders that cover and discuss these protests that what our societies need is to “fight for” an improved Fear Quotient or Defense Intelligence as I call it in my writing. So much still to be done educationally. Unfortunately, guns and violence and terrorism that is ‘big news’ and dramatic gets all the attention and resources, and fear management/education and the problem of fearism-t, gets left behind in the shadows and denied importance.

Subba: I agree with Michael that terrorists are already terrified and sharing their fear/terror within victimization. That’s a dangerous situation when they start carrying deadly weapons. In my view terrorist are victimized by some community, government, race, religion. According to them they are suffering from injustice. In the primary stages they had no rifles like Maoists of Nepal. Slowly gathering they get support from their group and grow and add technologies and economic support to their goals. This is the problem. When a small problem grows without good interventions, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to solve later. Mix up and conflict with many sources like political, international game, economic, ego, jealous, hatred, revenge. It makes the problem very big. Through terrorist attacks they want to draw attention, collect support, take revenge, create dramatic explosions, nurture hatred and fear, etc. 

Like our dialogue as example, there needs to be open ideas and follow through with respect and actions. Sometimes human beings become so hard. They keep a permanent pillar of protection around their heart, and they don’t want to move. When they start to move, then there are chances to solve the problem. If it cannot be solved, the problems over time, one day, they become a fire that burns the earth and all that remains are ashes in our hands. 

Fisher:  We need to think not just in short-term, but long-term effects to everything we do. I want to change the course of dialogue just a bit. “We are not bad, we are frightened.” – Jeanne Segal, a progressive spiritual psychotherapist [9] wrote in 1985, and it is one of my all-time favorite quotes to provoke critical thought. It is 33 years ago. Wow. I have used it often in my publications; but no one, to my surprise, ever seems to get the grit and importance of what she is claiming as a potential truth or working hypothesis.

I would like either of you to respond to this in the context of our rich discussions of what Fearcriminalysis might be, and regarding our terrorism discussion here. Go for it.

Kumar: Yes Michael! You have very thoughtfully caught hold of a clever observation made by Jeanne Segal. How I interpret it is that she put forth her assertion as an anti-thesis to what Burke quoted long ago. He stressed, ’the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ He felt that bad things continue to happen as long as the people including the good, do not oppose the bad. Since evil is ignored, it grows further and spreads farther. So, in a way the so-called good men also come to be treated as bad. But Jeanne refutes saying that it doesn’t mean such people are bad just because they couldn’t oppose bad things. They are also good but they are not in a position to put up resistance since they are too frightened and forced to remain hapless and helpless without being allowed to take a step forward externally but they are intrinsically still imbued with righteous virtues that inspire. Their condition is like the truth that unfolds slowly. As Churchill said, ’A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’

The fight against terrorists is going on across the world and millions and millions of people, though not explicitly seen or felt due to unseen reasons by way of being put to fear or whatever, continue inspiring millions of policemen to take on the evil triumphantly. That’s what Jeanne’s quote implies, I suppose.

Fisher: From the first dialogue on Fearcriminalysis in this series I began with, “I  am intrigued by the long standing traditional ethic in law, be it judges or police officers that they are to do their duty ‘without fear or prejudice.’ Easier said than done.” From what you are saying above Maria, there has to be a realistic adjustment of ideals. Whereby we have to realize that people, including police, will at times be too fearful in certain situations, conditions, contexts, to apply law as it should be applied, and to do what Burke would have wanted in a humanistic and democratic society—that is, that we not act unnecessarily from our fear or terror, and panic and thus end up not making the best or most just responses. From what I understand it has long been part of criminal law to assess the “illegal” acts of the accused under the law, not only assessing judgement and/or penalties based on the letter of the law, but also on psychological circumstances. If someone was, arguably, so fearful due to reasonable cause in a situation, the judge will give them less of a sentence or even let them off the hook of the crime.

Now, if we had police training and civilian education from the start that taught us how to develop the highest Fear Quotient or Defense Intelligence, then arguably when under stresses we would nearly all respond so much better, more just, more lawful, more democratic. Research on people in emergencies shows, if I recall, that on average only about 10% or so actually can lead, operate intelligently and flexibly in such times and not let fear overwhelm them, at least during the critical period of required action. Maria, I know that you have written on important psychological principles that ought to be taken into account in your book on law and order, which is translated into English, could you share a bit of that material as it is relevant to this series.  

Kumar: In my 17th book [10], Application of Psychological Principles in Maintenance of Law and Order, I was covering a number of broad topics but fear was in this discussion. As we all know, policing involves interactions with people. Policemen or policewomen are supposed to deal with behaviours of various types of people during the course of their day-to-day duties, and at the time of emergency operations. Therefore, handling situations by a psychological approach does matter most in any enforcement activity and it is incumbent on the police to take recourse to psychological skills and techniques in the interest of quality policing.

So I have dealt with policing in this book exclusively from a psychological perspective touching upon topics ranging from common sense to crowd behaviour, stress management to human management, persuasion to negotiation, police-public relations to attitudinal aspects, morale-motivation-discipline-welfare-leadership on the part of policemen to interrogation etc. From our dialogue’s point of view, relevant are some excerpts from my book such as the following four items:

1).Controlling Panicky Situations

Regarding panicky situations, police should be extra-cautious. The origin of panic should be found out and eliminated. In such circumstances, the police commander himself should not get panicky as a rule. Rumor mongers should be identified and dealt with sternly. There should be public announcements through public address system and media. It should be made by the way of explaining the facts. All efforts are must to restore confidence in the public. Panic stricken people could be given proper clarification about realities. And the most important part is to uplift morale and give courage to policemen under the command of police leader.

2).Handling Panic 

  • Find out the origin and eliminate it.
  • Announcements to be made through public address system by explaining actual situation and an assurance should be given to the panic stricken in order to uplift their spirits and confidence levels.
  • Rumor mongering should be stopped.
  • Peace Committee meeting should be convened and cooperation of the people should be sought.
  • Take the panic stricken people along for clarification of the realities at the very source of panic. 
  • Instill courage and confidence into law enforcement officials under command. 
  • Divide the whole force ( contingent) into sections and entrust different officers to handle different areas to ease fears.
  • Immediate foot and mobile patrolling by armed police and fixed pickets in hypersensitive areas will alleviate public fears. 
  • Policemen should not get panicky themselves. Don’t use unnecessary force and don’t create further panic.
  • Restore communication. 
  • Panic creators should be dealt with sternly.

 3).Rumor Handling /Public Opinion/Propaganda

 Counter the rumors

  • Truth to be told to the people if it has positive effect.
  • Mischievous elements who spread rumors should be detained. 
  • Denial of rumors through public announcements, tv, loud hailers, newspapers, radio etc.
  • Disinformation technique.
  • Preemptive arrests rumor mongers.
  • Police intelligence to be activated.
  • Deploy persons of credibility to counter rumors.
  • Administer vaccine against fake news.

 4).Media to be Used to Help Police 

 Create positive opinion amongst public 

  • Boost police image 
  • Contradict rumors 
  • Caution people against criminals 
  • Identify the missing/ absconders
  • Help people understand police better 
  • Promote public trust in police 
  • Help people during natural calamities 
  • Act as check on police efficiency and against police inertness 
  • As source of information! [10]

 Subba: I have curiosity to read Maria’s books. It seems attractive and useful to cure fear problems. It will be inspiring and a motivational source for some governments, communities and leaders. I think a young Fearologist Team might be lured by this entire dialogue to do something creative. We can do more work on family, society terrorism. What we are discussing is based on international terrorism often. Terrorism has multiple aspects and we have to look from more than one lens. One lens cannot see everything obviously. We have to be more alert. 




  1. Fisher, R. (1998). Culture of ‘fear’: Toxification of landscape-mindscape as meta-context for education in the 21st Technical Paper No. 7. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.
  2. Moore, M. H., & Trojanowicz, R. C. (1988). Policing and the fear of crime. Perspectives on Policing, No. 3, 1-7.
  3. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris, p. 66.
  4. , p. 338.
  5. , p. 20.
  6. , p. 65.
  7. , p. 42.
  8. Go to:
  9. Segal, J. (198 ). Living beyond fear: A tool for transformation. Hollywood, CA: Newcastle, p. 88.
  10. Go to:
Read more…

 Dialogue on Fearcriminalysis (Part 1): R. Michael Fisher, B. Maria Kumar and Desh Subba

 I am intrigued by the long standing traditional ethic in law, be it judges or police officers that they are to do their duty “without fear or prejudice.” Easier said than done.  -R. Michael Fisher

 Editorial Preamble:

I (R. Michael Fisher) took on the initiative to start this sub-field of Fearcriminalysis because of the recent email communications of Desh Subba (founder of philosophy of fearism) with B. Maria Kumar. See our bios at the end of this dialogue. I thank both of my colleagues for their important work and life experiences and how they have so easily and sincerely taken-on this dialogue series I envision on Fearcriminalysis, as we explore together the first roots of what this sub-field may entail.

Recently, I wrote on a FMning blog “What I have learned over my 45 years of teaching, more or less, professionally, with then getting three post-secondary degrees in Education as a field, is that it is good to continually reflect not only on our thinking and content, but on how we design curricula, how we imagine the nature of the human being, and how we actually teach in diverse conditions and to whom.” The analogy with “teaching” (and learning) that I was speaking about seems very appropriate when it comes to the field of governance, law, criminology, etc., of which Fearcriminalysis is focused on. I am intrigued by the long standing traditional ethic in law, be it judges or police officers that they are to do their duty “without fear or prejudice.” Easier said than done.

Like Subba and Kumar, I am interested in how we design organizations and governance, create laws (facilitate authority- power structures), make rules, regulations, policies and practices of enforcing them. Our imaginary in designing for such work are often passed on from past generations, protocols, institutional traditions, cultural and religious habits and often without a lot of critical thinking and examination of the deeper (and invisible) assumptions behind such ‘norms,’ ‘beliefs’ and practices of governance and law. And, concomitantly, our assumptions behind those who ‘break’ the law. Thus, our focus of conversation involves the political but focuses on criminological aspects in the largest sense where fear is important to account for.

Regarding tradition, although we each respect it in its best offerings, just because something was and is done this way or that, certainly doesn’t mean by necessity it is the “best” way. We all love inquiry and change. But then we have to define what best and better are, and in what context are such qualitative and/or quantitative assessments made. I’ll never forget the trial of the late Mahatma Gandhi in the British courts of India during colonization, where he more or less said to the judge and jury, “You may be following your laws, but I am following justice.” And, on that difference, Gandhi was charged and imprisoned, a similar story to the late Nelson Mandala in S. Africa.

There are always hidden biases, for nothing is value-neutral when it comes to how to best organize and manage societies. I am interested in the issue of fear-based laws, rules, etc., and what would fearlessness-based laws, rules, etc. look like in contrast and would they work better? I would like to address in this series of dialogues the notion of a Fearlessness Paradigm for law. Tagore seemed to point to the possibility of a new society, after my own heart, when he wrote, ”where the mind is without fear....into that heaven of freedom, my Father! let my country awake.” [thanks Maria, for sharing this relevant quote]

It is evident in the dialogue below the three of us quickly move into discussions of human nature, the human condition and the human potential, at least implicitly. Our own “politics” may also come through somewhat in these discussions. There is every intent in the dialogue to be non-dogmatic, non-coercive and at least listen to each others’ views respectfully, even if at times we may not all agree. The articulating worldviews, philosophies, values and methodologies that come from how we see relationships in society are important to analyze as well as the pragmatic details of governance, for e.g., policing and security, of which Kumar especially has a long track-record of highly accomplished professional competency that he brings to the table of the discussion on the nature and role of fear related to governance in India. It is also obvious that the disciplines we draw on in the discussion, although mostly about governance and law, one can see we dip into anthropology, sociology, social psychology and criminal psychology, flowing back and forth as the conversation develops. As Editor of this dialogue it was challenging also at times to interpret our words, our linguistic meanings by email, as we come from different cultures and parts of the world, with various degrees of background in English language use and writing. Each of us can Comment on this dialogue on the FMning as well to enhance and/or clarify points made.

Clearly, the world is in a lot of crises these days. Political tensions and nuclear war has never been so high a probability since many decades. The global Fear Problem is self-evident. How countries, cities, and people in general get along and/or don’t get along is crucial to the outcomes of how we are best going to solve ecological, social and political problems. Conflict is inevitable in such diverse landscapes and mindscapes of differing cultural backgrounds, and even “Culture Wars,” and so Fearcriminalysis seems ready to emerge to help out. I tend to agree with the contemplative Thomas Merton that “At the root of all war is fear” not unlike Subba’s (2014) claim, “War, murder, terror, etc. are produced by fear. Anger, conspiracy, suspicion, and hatred are produced by the fear…” (p. 11). That is, fear which is not understood or managed very well. From my research, no full attention has been given to “fear” systematically in relation to governance and law, even though fear is mentioned and seen as a factor (e.g., “fear of crime,” or “freedom from fear” in the UN Declaration of Human Rights). Centralizing analysis, through what Subba (2014) called a “fearist perspective” (lens), as the philosophy of fearism and fearology suggest, can be very valuable. This is totally new and exciting exploratory territory.

I personally, cannot think of a more important topic than these critical issues of governance and what democracies may look like that better serve the people (of all kinds). I also cannot think of a more controversial topic. In my experience in the past, be it with government leaders, bureaucrats, police, or military, or teachers and/or parents and citizens-- everyone has very strong opinions on the “best” ways to govern and keep law and social and moral order. But we need more than “opinions” to rule a society and be healthy, sane and sustainable in all ways that are moral and just. Governance and its institutionalization, on the macro-scale, is much like being parents raising children at home, or schooling them—there are a lot of “hot” contentious views in this domain. We are talking about Authority and Power every moment we talk about governance and law(s). And at the same time, we are talking about Fear related to Authority and Power and issues of freedom or non-freedom. Big stuff. So, without further comment, let’s proceed and let you the reader experience and interpret what is going on in the dialogue(s) and how we may shape Fearcriminalysis. We hope you will Comment on this blog, and/or send us personal emails as well (see bio.’s and contact info. at the end of this Dialogue).

The Dialogue:

[Ed.: For readers of this dialogue, and to remind each of us (Subba, Kumar and Fisher), I have copied [1] my recent correspondence with you both re: Fearcriminalysis (the name I coined), just to get us started, and after that it is anything goes, as an emergent creative exchange.]

Fisher: In regard to your background Maria, which I know little about re: policing and your writing and publishing, I did want to share with you that I have thought for some time that the Fearlessness Movement or whatever we call it has to bring a new radical paradigm to inform new research, thinking and applications re: fearology, fearanalysis, and feariatry, also terms Desh has used to all sorts of domains of society today.

What has not been talked so much about in Subba’s and my work is that we need to bring the study of fear and fearism in closer relations to the entire world of law, criminology, safety and security, i.e., social order--so, that we can take new and better directions in the future of governance and in how we manage societies and the plagues of phenomena like the growing "fear of crime," “fear of policing,” "terrorism." etc. There's a larger conversation I'd be glad to engage with you and Subba, if you are interested in being part of another sub-discipline of philosophy of fearism that directly relates to the above, perhaps we call it Fearcriminalysis? This would be the next specialty study for the 21st century, so that we truly can begin to turn around the growing toxic "culture of fear" that is invading all aspects of life for virtually everyone. 


"I watch people running towards the objective of happiness be that achieved individually or in groups. Unfortunately, this aim is undermined somewhat by the ‘Free World,’ which is changing to more value on competitive aims and financial gain."  - Desh Subba


Kumar: I appreciate your kind gesture in sending information about your brain child, i.e., Fearlessness Movement and references to your books, blog, tech papers etc. Desh and I are also recently corresponding and exchanging books. It will take some time to study this material to familiarise myself with both your research and teaching projects, which are quite important.

As regards to your observations on prospective expansion of fearism into the realm of crime, law, public safety and order, etc. I would like to say that it is a brilliant idea to pursue and if you and Desh Subba could guide me, I will certainly put in my efforts to work on Fearcriminalysis with you both. Having been in India’s police service as a career for the last 32 years, I have had first hand experiences about how people fear not only crime and criminals but also policing and police and other crime fighters; which is itself intriguingly a paradoxical reality.

Fisher: This is wonderful news Maria to be able to develop the sub-fields of fearism having a practitioner like yourself working alongside the philosophizing and theorizing that Desh and I have done. I note from your recent correspondence you also appear to love writing, poetry and you quote famous philosophers and mystics. That was sweet music to my ears.

We’d equally like to find a psychiatrist to work with to develop Feariatry. So, I’m curious how Desh you respond to Maria coming to this work on Fearcriminalysis at this time and what you see happening in this area of law, safety and security, etc.? I know for an example, you have a professional side career, beyond being a philosopher, writer and poet—you are a security guard in Hong Kong.

Subba: I am honored Maria has been offering to help us out. He has a prestigious reputation. Yes, I am. Somewhat like policing, our job is to provide a sense of security through watch and secure. I have since being a child closely watched the activities of people. Aristotle once mentioned that the aim of humans ought to be happiness. And happiness is not only an emotion, it involves activities. Those activities must be unique. I watch people running towards the objective of happiness be that achieved individually or in groups. Unfortunately, this aim is undermined somewhat by the ‘Free World,’ which is changing to more value on competitive aims and financial gain. I observe this kind of world creates more fear for them and less happiness the harder they strive. Between being human and finding happiness they need to cross many barriers. Every barrier is full of fear. It is not easy to reach the top of happiness.

Fisher: It has long struck me as I observe people in competitive modern societies that they seem not to be conscious of the contradiction between the high value put on competitiveness, usually a win-lose scenario and how it undermines human happiness because the latter is undermined by feeling more insecure, i.e., fearful. In a sense, it is logical that “feeling safe” is not going to be secured under highly competitive societal structures and processes of winners and losers. After my own education in such a North American society and being a school teacher and curriculum designer and social critic, it is more than obvious children generally are not very happy in these systems—mostly, they are very frightened and motivated by fear nearly chronically, and I think in postmodern society this has got worse. Insecurity is the dis-ease of choice, so it seems ironically in a society constantly seeking “safety and security” in order to avoid risk; a paradox many sociologists have seen, e.g., in labeling the West’s “risk society” [2].

Subba:  I used to watch activities of the rich man to the poor man. Most of rich couldn't sleep at night.  They wake up and drive their car early in the morning, even at 2am, 3 am., Because they are burning inside and try to cool it. Sometimes they used to take lot of medicine. I am first witness of their hide and seek activities. They used to leave medicine and 4 or 5 mobiles in guard room. These mobiles used to call entertainment girls. They keep all these in the guard room and keep away from the reach of their wives. Sometimes I watch office staff. They come early 3 or 4 o’clock to work. Their office time is 9 am. They have been given some task by manager. They must complete assignment work within tight time frames. Otherwise they lose commission, promotion and remuneration. They are always running behind so called “happiness.” It makes them hard, fast and better workers but that is where things fall short.

The rich man fears losses:  losing name and fame. To maintain it he suffers from anxiety, stress, fear, depression. Similarly, employee fears losing their job, income and family and social status. It gives overload, burden, restless etc. Slowly these activities change into sickness physically and mentally. Family life is more strained.

For these people, rich and/or poor, to meet their demand, they engage in lying, smuggling, stealing, and blackmailing. Sometimes it changes into family and social violence. These are crimes. The source of the crime maybe differs, but to solve crime we need to follow the surface symptoms of behaviors to the deeper root causes. Directly of indirectly, some parts of fear must be examined there. If we treat the root, some crime can be cured.

Kumar:  Let me at the outset congratulate you all on your unfailing enthusiasm and dedicated yeoman service for the cause of fearism. Truly, with Mr. Oshinakachi Akuma Kalu, I believe you have hit the nail on the head when you wrote [Desh’s book subtitle]: ”life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear.

As we all know, Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1913), became synonymous with his emphatic lines when he wrote, ”where the mind is without fear....into that heaven of freedom, my Father! let my country awake.” Unless fear is undone, freedom has no meaning for existence, rather existence has no meaning. It is here in this existential context of political life, that whether it is the American Declaration of Independence, or any other democratically-based national constitutional provisions and laws, there ought to be fearlessness alongside the inalienable rights of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, fraternity, justice and equality.

As I see it, knowing about handling or managing of fear well, as a philosophy of fearism promotes, is more potent than the feeling of being safe.

Fisher: Indeed, Kumar that is a powerful statement from someone in policing. I think the recent “safety” and “risk” discourses, especially in the West are excessive, if not neurotic and fear-based themselves. In general, I find, people care more about lowering risk, and striving for safety and security, than being moral citizens. In one philosophy conference I presented in my graduate years, I entitled the talk “Better Safe Than Moral.” This was a horrible state of affairs we had entered as societies. People seeking low risk and safety all the time easily become so dependent on someone, like authoritative “forces” or “law” or “policy” to protect their safety but rarely then do they take responsibility anymore for their own actions, and the very fact that risk is part of life if one wants to be a creative developing and maturing person. Worse, dictatorships more or less begin within this matrix of fearfulness of citizens who cower under all authorities and thus give over to them to rule with the iron fist. I see a lot of this happening in Western so-called “advanced” societies like in Europe and the USA today. Not a good sign of the future.

Kumar: True Dr.Fisher! Most of the people tend to care more about lowering risk than being moral citizens.

Fisher: Maria, is this human behavior even in India where you live and work? Do you think this tendency is part of human nature? Or, is it part of the human condition(ing)? Explain your views.

Kumar: I think that it hardly has anything to with India or any other country but strongly indicates that it is part of human nature in general. In a way, ‘lowering risk’ and ‘striving to be moral’ are equally important in the sense that they are complementary to each other. One alone can not bring in desired good because these two strategies need to be attended to in terms of prioritisation as well as simultaneity. Because, ‘risk management’ (i.e., lowering risk) is a short-term goal, usually because of its urgency. For example, a thirsty deer is about to drink water at a river but on sighting a lion in the vicinity, it immediately sprints away without touching water, in its bid to escape its life from the imminent danger. So is the case with anyone, who feels threatened and tries to minimise or avoid risk. If secure for the time being, then one has to the option to strive to be moralistic and ethical as a long-term goal.

Fisher: Sounds like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory explaining developmental and motivational priorities. In this sense, “true fear,” as Gavin de Becker, international security expert, would label it as the “gift of fear” [3] acts just as it is designed by evolution as good Defense Intelligence to reduce immanent and/or potential threat. So far no problem, our instincts as Nature’s gifts are working the system for best outcomes—not necessarily guarantees of safety but a likely best probability of least harm.

Kumar: But caution is warranted while handling a threat and lowering risk in the sense that it should not result in the creation of more or bigger risks, since I am reminded of Friedrich Nietzsche’s warning, “whoever fights monster should see to it that in the process, he should not become a monster.” As Michael is rightly apprehensive, Nietzsche’s apt quote serves as a red alert if the citizens cower under all authority and vest unbridled powers in the dictatorship to rule with an iron fist.


...civilisations also went on regulating the conduct of subjects/citizens through formal laws. Then what happens if regulations, enforcement and controls become more intense? Too much of regulation through laws and rules proves to be more harmful than helpful. If any aspect of human behaviour is controlled by unlimited creation and application of rules in the name of crime prevention, safety or maintenance of peace and order, what will happen to society as a whole? "  -B. Maria Kumar


Fisher: Then the social contract and basic trust, the republic and its principles, all take a dive and democracy itself is threatened or collapses. Terror(ism) is released, more or less. The classic is fighting “the enemy” who is “evil” over there as having weapons they could use against us, and so, pre-emptively, let’s strike them with our bigger weapon first. For example, the spiraling nuclear warheads phenomena—that is Fear Wars, fits this, and shows how easily, when perceptions and worries lead to decisions that are chronically fear-based, we end up with bigger risks—e.g., US and N. Korea for one, and maybe the same for India and Pakistan, and many gang wars, etc. War itself seems to fall into this wrong thinking as Nietzsche was getting at. In other words, It’s sort of bad policing all around. I also think your deer and lion example is only partly successful as explanation when we apply prioritisation principles to a chronically worrying sub-set of humans, that is, who are neurotically fear-based people living in culture—living under oppressive conditions [4]. Human nature is now operative, more or less, as  the human condition—the latter, a Defense Intelligence undermined and compromised by what de Becker calls “false fear.” Now risk assessment, in a postmodern “risk society,” often is exaggerated to default on the ‘worst scenario’ when there is no real evidence for it. This is the opposite of Tagore’s ideal, because the mind is filled with fear and worry and a big brain that can project that fear into the future (unlike a deer). A more complex explanation and theory is required here. Anyways, Maria could we get back to your views about the haves and the have-nots that Desh spoke about earlier.

Kumar: Let me start with an observation of four categories I have observed and named. I’ll distinguish two generic types of peoples’ patterns distinguished within the haves and have-nots. Some of such people are have-nots whose primary aim is to survive. I call them “literal survivors.” These struggling literal survivors can be of two sub-types. The first sub-type may struggle morally, ethically and lawfully to secure their most basic needs like food/water and sex—that is, the instinctual goals of existence-food for self-survival and sex for familial, tribal and/or survival of the species. Say for example that someone of this sub-type having no means of livelihood shows initiative to take-up manual work as a farmhand and marries a girl as per normal legal procedures. Let us call such people “socially approved literal survivors.”

The second sub-type of have-nots are those who struggle for existence by ‘hook or crook’ without little if any concern for upholding social standards of morals, ethics or laws; say for example that a man is starving and resorts to robbing a passer-by and/or raping a lonely vulnerable girl as instinctual acting-out. We may term them as “socially disapproved literal survivors.”

Fisher: I think this second sub-type nicely fits, for the most part, what criminologists and psychologists would label “deviants,” and Subba might call “corrupt people” [5] of which I tend to prefer to name and theorize generically as “rebels.” The issue of one’s relationship to Authority/Power becomes a major factor in outcomes of these actors and their interactions. A point, perhaps, later we can return in regard to the relationship and role fear plays in these authority-power-control and ‘game’ dynamics in governance and law.

Kumar: Okay, regarding the haves, on the other hand, as the more well-to-do people, I see two sub-types under the generic label “lateral survivors.” They don’t need to struggle for food and sex. They just want to survive their current affluent status (i.e., status quo), meaning that they don’t want to go down below the current standards of living.

Subba: They fear falling and failing. It is fear accompanied often by guilt and shame, if not terror deep down.

Kumar: Yes, it’s this fear that tends to dominate their motivations. They have to keep up the present sophistication and norms. During the course of their efforts to maintain this sameness in status, some people follow morals, ethics, and laws to do so. This sub-type we may refer to as “socially approved lateral survivors.” Similar in motivations, but strategically in contrast to the first, are those who don’t adhere to standard rules, morals and laws, these are the “socially disapproved lateral survivors.”

The socially disapproved literal survivors and the socially disapproved lateral survivors are well aware of the unsavory consequences like penalties, and legal sentences, etc. for their illegal and immoral activities; hence they continually try to lower the risks and uncertainties involved in achieving their objectives. These people feel threatened by the ‘long arm’ of the law and by lawful defenders and are more fearful of Authority.

Fisher: Are you saying the haves/laterals are more fear-based in general than the have-nots/literals? If so, that seems counterintuitive at first glance, doesn’t it? I think Desh might agree with you, as he has argued in his philosophy of fearism that people living more simple lives, e.g., traditional villagers without formal education, without high tech, and living closer to Nature and outside of big cities, etc., are generally less fearful and less fear-driven than modern urban dwellers living more complex and “well-educated” lives.

Kumar: No, I think the opposite; the socially approved survivors, whether literal or lateral, are less fearful; and less fearful in the sense that they are concerned only about natural hazards or sudden change in policy etc.. like a cargo truck washed away by unexpected floods or their share-values fell due to new pricing regulations.

Subba: I have, as Michael says, hypothesized that the better well-off generally are the more fearful compared to the less well-off. In my book Subba (2014), “After the fulfilment of all these stages [in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs], they live their lives happily. But they are more aware of some things than the common people [at less advanced stages].they have a lot of stress in regard to the[ir] security of property, necessity, and increment of investment. They always have the fear of downfall from the[ir] present position. If they have a little loss in their business, they feel as if they are completely hopeless. That is why they are hard-working; they work day and night at the cost of their health” (p. 288). [6]

Fisher: Desh, in your 2014 book you give attention to this hypothesis in your views on rural simple-traditional lifestyles vs. urban modern life-styles [7], as well you wrote about a model--“Pyramid of Renowned Person” Figure No. 71, and bluntly say, “According to this pyramid, most famous people have the highest fear and ordinary people have the lowest fear. Since ordinary people have the least fear, they have the freedom to walk wherever they want and also they don’t fear to walk wherever they like and eat whatever they like…” (p. 233). I think your security guard experience may have informed this view? Perhaps also your study of Marxism and class? Desh, where did this hypothesis, re: haves and have-nots, start in your thinking? And, I’d like to hear more what Maria thinks of it. 

Subba:  You know Michael, I have less theoretical basis and bookish knowledge for this view. I mostly do practical study. What I mentioned above can seen by everybody. When people rise in hierarchy needs, more and more, they fear more and keep more bodyguards, keep CCTV, bullet proof cars. Without checking proper security, they never dare to travel, walk freely. It is right, when people have nothing, that person has less enemies, jealousy, kidnapper, torturer, and harm. A coolie, labourer, daily wage worker normally has less fear and fears less heath and diet problems.

Fisher: It’s interesting that, at least in North America, the sociologist Barry Glassner, famous for his book on the “culture of fear” studied also the great worry and fear over what people eat these days because of a sense of always something is going to cause some health problem [8]. They listen to the news way too much and read too much about warning reports and often they have contradictory results. It leaves the informed consumer confused often. I don’t think people on bare survival on the street worry much at all about the same neurotic details of diet and health choices. I don’t suspect they listen to the mainstream media news two or three times a day or read newspapers often as daily diet. Though, in extreme cases they may fear starving to death or freezing at nights. But generally the street comm-unities take care of each other because they are all vulnerable together. In competitive and well-to-do communities people are more isolated, although they do have extra money to insulate themselves from disease and death too. It’s complex to generalize but I do think you have a good point Desh. I don’t know if it has ever been systematically researched. I wonder how it may be something relevant to our topic of law, social order and policing? It is relevant to Kumar’s model of literal survivors and how they are perceived as deviants—maybe, they are less fearful people (more fearless?) and in that sense “healthier” than the richer? Maybe if this is true, we would see them differently when we are in the middle and upper classes? I wonder. Maybe we could learn something from them about fear management?

Kumar: Yes Michael. What I opine is that riches, fame, name, power and status may bring in fear at times as shown in Subba’s model of Pyramid of Renowned Person but it may not be generalized because there are many great people in history who walked around freely. We know that the Danish king used to bicycle alone on the streets. Mahatma Gandhi was always amidst masses but he was not afraid of being killed, though as irony has it, he was shot dead by the assailant at a prayer meeting. Despite being great, one’s security can be compromised, as some people are “too bold” in terms of spiritual strength-- being loving, caring and humble. Mother Teresa of Kolkata was one example. On the other hand, the down-trodden poor like untouchables of ancient Kerala in India fear to come near to a Brahmin, so they maintain a distance of 10-20 steps or so, lest the upper castes become impure. And the untouchables may even incur legal penalties.

Fisher: This kind of code of law is based mostly around mythological-based fears that have infiltrated the culture, even if somewhat irrational, even if they may have once had meaning in earlier times--or even if they are unjustice we might say, there’s real pressures and fears as you say, regardless of reason and rationality and life in a modern world. I suppose such primal magical and mythical fears are “laws” (or taboos) that have their own logic developmentally and they can be recalcitrant to change and adaptation over time. Fear (i.e., taboos) are powerful shapers of social life and law(s). They are also the basis of a good deal of prejudice unfortunately, and they spread a culture of fear as well, even in non-industrialized countries. No small problem, from an ethical and fearist’s perspective. It is difficult for me as a modern Westerner to get my head around how an untouchable caste put upon a person is treated like this via criminalization for such an ‘innocent’ event like walking to close to another person (i.e., the upper-caste) in public space—where is freedom in that? I think Mahatma Gandhi, espousing a philosophy of fearlessness and liberation for all, was on a mission to change these traditional ways. No wonder he was assassinated, for he was not only challenging the British Rule but also India’s Religious Traditional Rule—which, I would guess he saw both as unnecessarily fear-inducing—and, ultimately creating unnecessary fragmenting and polarizing against the establishing of a just sense of modern liberty, governance, law, security and social/moral order—that is, of a true (ethical and spiritual) community and democracy.

Kumar: Indeed. This ‘forced fear’ seems to have been ingrained and conditioned in the minds of lower castes in such a manner that it led Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution of modern India to say: ”so long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom provided by the law, is of no avail to you.” I also suppose that it may perhaps depend upon the person’s state of mind as to feel fearsome or fearful, depending upon various factors. Relevant here is Steve Biko’s eye-opener observation, “the most potent weapon in the hands of oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Subba: I discussed in my Philosophy of Fearism (2014) book the “Fear Weapon” of which is the worst configuration of fear in history (pp. 235-38). I write about law and criminals and how people fear to violate rules and laws. They fear going to prison. This is essential to society, but it can be abused. However, we have to recognize what fearism reveals over history, and that is that fear is one of the most powerful weapons to use to maintain law and order from tribes to grand nations and even over the world. It makes people more disciplined so they can function in groups and that’s a good thing generally.  

Kumar: As also pointed out by Subba earlier in this dialogue, well-to-do people do nurse fear about their wealth that it might be taken away or about how it could be secured/preserved. Same way, poor people also suffer due to fear of uncertainty about how the future holds for them in terms of socioeconomic well-being. It was also clearly visible in ancient India that the people of lower castes were more fearful than upper castes because of societal sanction accorded in the texts of some scriptures. In the 19th century of Europe also, Karl Marx felt that the upper classes were more powerful whereas the lower classes were more fearful. It is in this connection that he yelled his battle cry, ‘workers of the world! unite.... you have nothing to lose but chains.’ Metaphorically speaking, these chains he referred to were nothing but the shackles of fear. With apologies to my revision of Karl Marx, one way of looking at things could be: “history of all hitherto existing society is the history of fear maneuvers....the fearsome have always exploited the fearful; but the point however is to change it for pan-fearlessness.”

Subba: A new formation of history itself, based on a fearism perspective and philosophy. I am writing about Marx and dephilosophy soon to be published.

Fisher: I so agree that the fearsome (elites, for e.g., and/or street gangs and other leaders) of history have tended to run the course of a logic of moral order upon the basic principle (written or not) that: Right is Might! However, that will not sustain sane or healthy existence in societies. Why? Because the “might” is part of the mechanism of terror(ism)/fear(ism) in its most toxic forms. I have, like Kumar suggested, thought that history (the human condition) is one of repeated (traumatic) Fear Wars. By definition: someone somewhere is out to see how they can make (force) someone else to become more afraid than themselves—and, that, supposedly (for the short run) produces superiority, power-over, domination, and rule. These Fear Wars are killing us all and destroying the planetary ecology that sustains life. We need alternatives, time is running short re: our cascading multiple crises. We need to critique everything we do as to when excessive fear is being induced for control in one form or another to dominate. This gets critical for police officers and military. A big topic. Suffice it to say, a new kind of education is required, and fear and its management has to be part of it. That’s why I am so delighted to have Maria as part of this dialogue. I am also heartened by recent teaching at the UN bringing fearism to police and peace keepers across several countries [9]. And so, I suggest, armed and unarmed, rich and poor, black and white, secular or religious, all can, if they allow it, get caught up in this addiction to fear-power-might. The game of control and who can give freedom and who can take it away. This patterned dynamic is so dangerous when it motivates “righteousness” (i.e., rules and laws) which motivates reactions and even revolutions.

Subba: As much as I see Kumar’s point of the complexity and situation variances. I still believe for poor and workers, their life is one of more satisfactory when it comes to fear. They have big hope of having daily food and finding a place to sleep. Street sleeper, beggar life is far better than rich in sense of fear. This picture we can see everywhere. It does not mean that I fully support we all live a life-style like of those persons; I support them, their space of hope. They have many spaces of hope. In comparing to their life, the rich person’s scope of hope is limited. Size of fear is less in poor whereas full fear is in the life of renowned person. When they have more fear, certainly they have more fear-related anxiety, depression, mental sickness, stress etc. Thank you for giving me chance to put my view. I think our dialogue will be fruitful to interested readers.

Kumar: Michael’s concerns are genuine in the sense that the so called authoritative ‘righteousness’ in the guise of laws and rules may foster the deadly combination of fear-power-might. After all, crime is a product of law, rule, regulation or procedure. As long as law does not talk about pass-port or visa, everyone used to roam freely across the international borders in the past. Now the pass-port Acts, visa rules, deportation and extradition procedures, etc. restrict individuals’ freedoms and define ‘non-adherence’ or any violation as crime. And then enters the police and other enforcement agencies, as the strong arm of the government to prevent/detect or investigate crime and to enforce law.

It is not illogical to say that people get such police that they deserve. If people are violent, police also have to resort to more of their coercive powers. The more intense the enforcement, the more fearful or aggressive the people are. If people are law-abiding, police rarely have to intrude into people’s privacy or conduct investigations as peace prevails in the society. When necessitated, police are required to use force as little as sufficient enough to bring back normalcy.

When laws were not enacted, there were also problems such as the reign of brutality of anarchy and fearsome chaos, the prevalence of unwritten practice of ‘might is right’ - whoever is strong, they arbitrarily dictate, etc. That kind of disorderly situation in the Babylon of 18th century BC forced King Hammurabi to formulate a code of conduct or laws that set the standards of orderly behaviour and justice. By this enactment, the hitherto prevailing unbridled freedoms of the mighty that led to fear, disorder and violence were regulated so as to facilitate order, peace and fearless interpersonal harmony.

Fisher: Maria, it is good to be reminded of some of this history of law. In future dialogues, however,  I want to critically examine any so-called “fearless interpersonal harmony” as idea(l) under law, and what the actual real(ity) may have been.

Kumar: Subsequent civilisations also went on regulating the conduct of subjects/citizens through formal laws. Then what happens if regulations, enforcement and controls become more intense? Too much of regulation through laws and rules proves to be more harmful than helpful. If any aspect of human behaviour is controlled by unlimited creation and application of rules in the name of crime prevention, safety or maintenance of peace and order, what will happen to society as a whole? Same situation as aptly assessed by Michael will occur in terms of reactions and revolutions as history witnessed exactly 36 centuries after Hammurabi’s code that the 18th century AD’s French Revolution took place when the dictatorial monarch imposed too many of laws, rules etc. in the name of “liberty” while collecting too much tax, curtailing basic freedoms and denying food to people.

Lastly, as Michael said, we are inclined to design governance, create laws, make rules, regulations, policies and practices of enforcing them. I too feel that it is here in this context that a balanced approach is required to be devised so as to ensure that the governance intervenes least in the affairs of people except in the matters of life, liberty, equality, justice and the like; facilitates an environment free from fear and inconvenience while safeguarding the rights and interests of people and at the same time preserves and enlarges the freedoms of all individuals through appropriate moral and legal framework.

Fisher: Okay, lots to think about, for our next dialogue. Thank you both for a stimulating start on issues of fearcriminalysis. It has all got me thinking about at some point there may have to be a distinction drawn with a sub-field also related I’m coining fearpoliticology as more general than fearcriminalysis.


  1. I have made slight modifications in uses of correspondence (as personal communications, Jan. 31- Feb. 1, 2018) for clarity, accuracy, English language use, and prompting purposes; but have attempted not to change the content and intent of the messages from my dialogue partners here.
  2. See, for e.g., Ulrich Beck’s work. Beck, U. (2003). An interview [by J. Yates] with Ulrich Beck on fear and risk society. The Hedgehog Review: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Culture, 5, 96- Also, Beck, U. (1999). World risk society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Also Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. [Trans. Mark Ritter]. London, UK: Sage. This concept “risk society” overlaps with “culture of fear” (e.g., see Frank Furedi, Barry Glassner).
  3. De Becker, G. (1997). The gift of fear: Survival signals that protect us from violence. NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell.
  4. This is where I introduce ‘fear’ (with ‘ marks) to distinguish the topic and phenomena (i.e., fear) that I see dominating today in most societies, a morphing culturally modified ‘fear’—especially in the West where I live, in a culture of fear (e.g., see Fisher, 2010). Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  5. See Subba (2014), p. 322-23.
  6. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.
  7. Fisher, R. M., & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris, pp. 57, 89. In part, Subba’s views have been validated in a recent research study and article, where Subba (2014) is cited in supporting evidence. See Farzana, S. U., & Mannan, A. V. (2017). Vernacular settlement vs. fractal geometry: A comparative study addressing popular density and space quality in rural Bangladesh. AIUB: Journal of Science & Engineering, 16(3), 1-8.
  8. Glassner, B. (1999). The culture of fear: Why Americans are afraid of the wrong things. NY: Basic Books. See also Glassner, B. (2007). The Gospel of Food: Why we should stop worrying and enjoy what we eat. NY: HarperPerennial.
  9. Specifically, I am referring to the workshop on fear management and fearism by a colleague of Desh Subba’s, his name is Furgeli Sherpa from Nepal, currently working with the UN Peace Keeping services as a police officer himself in Sudan; go to


B. Maria Kumar (

Born on 5th April 1958, B. Maria Kumar studied biology at pre-graduation level, chemistry in graduation and business management and philosophy in post-graduation at Vijayawada, Guntur and Hyderabad (India) respectively. Joined Indian Police Service in 1985, he served in central India holding various positions in law enforcement and is presently working as Director General at Bhopal. Interested in literature, he wrote in his mother tongue Telugu and also in English. Some of his published titles are:

 Mahimalesa Satakam (Telugu), Sanjivayya Satakam (Telugu), Vannela Dorasni (Telugu), Nenu (Telugu), Anandangaa Vundaalante (Telugu), Generation Z (Telugu), Voh Venus aur mein (Hindi translation), Poems d’Romance (Telugu), To Be Or Not to Be Happy (English), The Teapot Book of Love and Romantic Poems (English), Policing by Common Sense (English), Application of Psychological Principles in Maintenance of Law and Order (English), Be Selfish But Good (English), Kuch kadam aur khushi ki oar (Hindi translation), Psi Phenomenon of Nestorism (English)

Some works were translated into Russian language. Besides, he wrote articles in journals of national and international repute. Reviews of his works appeared in various newspapers. The following titles of honour were bestowed on him as a mark of recognition for his contribution to literature: Sahitya Sree, Vidya Vachaspati, Acharya, Bharat Bhasha Bhushan. He was also decorated with the following medals by the President of India in recognition of his services to police profession. Indian Police Medal, President’s Police Medal. Other distinctions won are: Singhast Medal ( Government of the state of Madhya Pradesh), EOD Medal (US Administration). He currently lives in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India with his wife Vijayalakshmi. He has one son and one daughter.

 Link to books available online:

 Desh Subba  (

Is a philosopher, poet, writer, and founder of the Fearism Study Center (Nepal) and leading expert on the philosophy of fearism.

Pseudonym: Desh Subba, Full Name: Limbu Desh Bahadur, Address: 215, Yuk Ping House, Long Ping Estate, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong.

Date of Birth: 06 Dec, 1965, Birth Place; Dharan, Sunsari, Nepal, Fathers' Name: Kubir Jung Limbu, Mother's Name: Tilmati Limbu

Education: Master in business administration, Writing field: Philosophy of Fearism, Novels and Poems, Published Novel Books: Four novels, Doshi Karm 2050 B.S, Apman 2052 B.S., Sahid 2056 B.S., Aadibashi 2064 B.S., Philosophical Books: Philosophy of Fearism 2014 (English and Nepalese), It is translating in Hindi, Assamis and Burmese, Philosophy of Fearism- a First East-West dialogue 2016- English (co-author with Dr. R. Michael Fisher), Tribesmen's Journey to Fearless (Novel based on Fearism)

R. Michael Fisher (

Has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (UBC), and is an educational consultant, editor, lecturer, independent scholar, writer and founder of the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-), In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (1991-), the Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education (2009-), The Fearology Institute (2018). He is a world-renowned expert on the topics of fear and fearlessness and has published hundreds of articles and books on the topic and on education: The World's Fearlessness Teachings, The Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue (with Desh Subba), and Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer. His latest blogs are at the Fearlessness Movement ning which he began with his with Barbara Bickel in 2015. Also go to


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