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culture of fear (25)

For my latest FearTalk2 video with Luke Barnesmoore, an up and coming young philosopher (doctoral candidate) from the Geography department of The University of British Columbia: 

Description of what is on this video: 

This is a lively (sometimes heavy) discussion between two perceptive philosophical thinkers as comfortable with vulnerable intimacy and abstract ideas as they are savvy with the aesthetics of oppression (via fear of the Eternal) and the many neurotic loops of fear-based escape routes from the Real. With a deep concern for finding the best ways to build a healthy and sane society, their Integrating of East-West, Indigenous and ecological knowledges brings forward a synthesis of ideas to be reckoned with. Dr. Fisher, founder of The Fearology Institute and Luke Barnesmoore a doctoral student in the Geography department at The University of British Columbia (https://ubc.academia.edu/Barnesmoore) caress the contours of fear and fearlessness and the importance of admitting how much fear exists in most all places humans dwell in contemporary urban societies. if we are to avoid the worst catastrophe's of crises we face on the planet in the very near future, Fisher and Barnesmoore are sure that fear is going to be a major player in the outcomes. Note: Dr. Fisher's reference to his work with the A-D-Ness model ("test") re: an aesthetics of fear -- go to https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED... Also a discussion of A-D/ness can be found in Fisher's video "Do's and Don'ts of Fearology" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcNte... A fitting poem that Barnesmoore wishes to share relevant to this discussion: "Each and All" …All are needed by each one; Nothing is fair or good alone. I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven, Singing at dawn on the alder bough; I brought him home, in his nest, at even; He sings the song, but it cheers not now, For I did not bring home the river and sky;— He sang to my ear,—they sang to my eye. The delicate shells lay on the shore; The bubbles of the latest wave Fresh pearls to their enamel gave, And the bellowing of the savage sea Greeted their safe escape to me. I wiped away the weeds and foam, I fetched my sea-born treasures home; But the poor, unsightly, noisome things Had left their beauty on the shore With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar… Then I said, “I covet truth; Beauty is unripe childhood’s cheat; I leave it behind with the games of my youth:”— As I spoke, beneath my feet The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath, Running over the club-moss burrs; I inhaled the violet’s breath; Around me stood the oaks and firs; Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground; Over me soared the eternal sky, Full of light and of deity; Again I saw, again I heard, The rolling river, the morning bird;— Beauty through my senses stole; I yielded myself to the perfect whole.” (Emerson 1914, pp. 7-8)[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson 1914, The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson Vol. V Poems, London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd.

 

Also check out my 2nd part on FearTalk 3 video with Luke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3Gjn10t38

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Well, after a lot of years of making documentaries, in the 'wild' style of art, activism, and education... Micheal Moore has just had his newest film released last night (mostly on the Trump election and following disasters to democracy in the USA) and on "fear" (and "terror") of all kinds of fascist waves going on all over the world.. I look forward to seeing his latest film, and it is not because I love everthing Moore does and how he represents people and problems--the big and "wicked problems" that we have to face as humanity... but I like to see how he uses his art, smarts, and technologies to "create curriculum" for the 21st century.

I followed his work closely in the post-Columbine highschool mass shooting and how he approached the American "Gun Problem" (aka "Fear Problem") in his movie that won an Academy Award, Bowling for Columbine" (2002). 

I won't say much more at this point until I see the film, and listen to interviews of Moore... with the question in the back of my mind: "Is Moore a good artist, activist, educator?" and so far, I think he is a better artist-activist than he is an educator, and particularly I am referring to how he handles "fear" as a major topic... which runs all through all his best documentary works... in Bowling for Columbine he really was making a film about the growing "culture of fear" ... and its consequences...which, arguably, I would speculate have been brewing for a good 30 years in particular, and the symptoms are arising (e.g., gun violence) etc... and if you watch his 2002 award winning film, it is the "best" dealing with fear as a topic... and of course terror is not far away... in Fahrenheit 11/9 we'll no doubt once again see him dealing with "fear of Trump" and everything Trump represents ... watch carefully how he "teaches" us about what is going on and how best to understand fear/terror and how best to manage it... transform it... if he even gets to anything so complex... my critique of all his works (as he is a typical activist) is his stereotypes and polarizations (simplifications)--to create his stories. 

RECENT VIDEO RESPONSE of mine to Moore's interview on "Democracy Now" tv program (with Amy Goodman): 

https://youtu.be/ga5BZfV5UnA

 Most recent video (2nd one) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJLdM85Rwts&t=4s

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For a book video trailer (click here)

To purchase the book online: Fear, Law and Criminology

We are (as co-authors), excited to see that our new book is available (by Xlibris publishing, Australia). This is the first book in a series of books that are going to be published over several years, as each one takes on a topic or critical issue in the world and applies the philosophy of fearism (a la Subba) to it. The original dialogues behind the making of this new book are all posted here on the FM ning and have been slightly modified in this new book, along with a lot of new material as well. We thought we'd include here the summary text from the back cover of the book and our brief bios: 

Fear, Law and Criminology -With the growing awareness of many critics of "risk society," the "culture of fear" and the dangerous rising levels of unhealthy fear around individual, group, and public insecurities, three keen observers of the human condition have joined experiences, theories, and ideas to create a fresh vision for how best to look at the Fear Problem and how Law and Criminology may benefit from a new lens or perspective.

The authors, with their backgrounds in the study of the philosophy of fearism (a la Subba), bring a new lens to Law and Criminology, to social policies, politics, and policing and how best to improve enforcement of safety, security, and moral order. The fearist perspective of a philosophy of fearism creates an exciting, challenging, and sometimes radical position, whereby the authors argue that fear itself requires a concerted focus for analysis and solutions--that is, if Law and Criminology are to fully meet the highest standards of serving justice for all in a globalizing complicated world. 

Going beyond the simple fear of crime or fear of policing issues commonly dealt with in discourses about law, the philosophy of fearism offers other concepts with a rich vocabulary introduced in this book, one of which is the introduction of a new subdiscipline called fearcriminalysis. Readers will find, in addition to the main text as collective writing of the three coauthors, several fresh dialogues of the three authors in conversation, which bring their individual personalities, philosophies, and approaches into a weaving of differenes and similarities. Overall, they each agree that fear has been underestimated and often misinterpreted in Law and Criminology, and this has resulted, at times, in exacerbating insecurity, crime, and injustice in the world. 

 

R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, AB, is a Canadian philosopher, educator and fearologist, having studied fear from a transdisciplinary perspective for three decades. He is founder of The Fearology Institute, a professional training program, and author of hundreds of articles and several books, including The World's Fearlessness Teachings.

Desh Subba, livess in Hong Kong. He is a Nepali philosopher, poet, writer and founder of the philosophy of fearism and Fearism Study Center in Nepal. Author of several books and articles, his pivotal award-winning textbook is Philosophy of Fearism. 

B. Maria Kumar, living in India, is a long-term career police officer, recently retired as Director General of Police in Bhopal. He has published many books, such as Policing By Common Sense, and To Be or Not to Be Happy.

 

 

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Book Cover- [photo of Four Arrows by Beatrice Jacobs]

I  would like to share with you my new book soon to come out in July, 2018 (New York: Peter Lang). For an advanced look at the book's content see a short book video trailer and the FE brochure 2018.pdf (4 pp) I created here. Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs) is an FM ning member. Feel free to pass on these promotional materials to your networks and those you feel would be interested. Thanks.

I'll be writing more about this book on the FMning in future blogs. I'll leave you with one excerpted quote by Four Arrows (interviewed by me) from the book: 

"In my mind, this mass hypnosis syndrome, I now call Trance-based Learning (TBL) gone awry, is the only explanation that makes sense of how modern educated societies, especially, have rationalized their technologies of domination, their polluting of their own nest, and their addictions to ways of life that paradoxically destroy Life. My own vision of rehabilitation from this destructive path is that Fear and courage concepts are essential to understand as they drive learning and development in a 'good way' or 'bad way'....I offer an intentional transformation learning theory and critical praxis as an initiative to build a society and world that is able to resist and reconstruct current hegemonic fear-conditioning--the latter, which has unfortunately become 'normal' socialization--a 'culture of fear.'" (p. 2)

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Time Magazine Cover Image (revised by RMF)... Apr. 2, 2018

There's a churning of emotionalism and activism in America this year, especially this spring. I have posted a few blogs about youth (mostly in highschools) across America but also around the world, protesting "gun violence" in their schools and communities. They have picked various slogans and hashtags, but the one I think is most telling and interesting is "Fear has no place..." (and the usual term finishing that phrase, but not only one, is) "in our schools." Does this means American youth are protesting in record numbers publicly to say, "We want no fear in our schools? our societies?" --and, why are they not saying they want a "Fearless Society"? 

I have just completed a new Tech Paper 76.pdf "Fear has no place..."..": Youth movement for fearlessness in need of critique" which I would love if folks read and gave me feedback. In particular, I'd love this paper get out to youth who are in this movement and may we find ways to dialogue. 

Also see Photo I recently posted of the images, t-shirts, mugs and commercialization that has already quickly adjoined itself to the youth protest movement. I very much wanted to see this movement as a Fearlessness Movement (see my blog post "March Without Fear"https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/youth-s-march-for-our-lives-is-a-march-for-without-fear

I really wonder where the "Fear has no place..." slogandia started? Maybe some of the readers here know. All I know is that, as a fearologist, this is the last thing to be voting for or marching up and down the streets for. Notice, I am not talking about the "gun problem" these young people are also addressing, but interestingly enough it has spread from there, the more concrete part of their activism, to an issue of "fear" (again, see the Internet and all the articles and images that have grown up around this notion of "Fear has no place in our schools" for example. 

As a fearologist, and as one who articulates and follows the philosophy of fearism, and philosophy of fearlessness, everything tells me that the narrow and shallow notion of "Fear has no place" is quite the wrong direction to go if we really want to be liberating youth, school cultures, and society as a whole. It's too bad that phrase is a 'viral' catch phrase but perhaps with time and more deep thinking, and informing of the movement by fearologists, a more congruent message can be applied. The basic starting point is not to try to get rid of fear. That is casting it out like a mis-placed thing. Fear is us, as the saying goes. I cannot help but think youth in America have been disillusioned and or so brain-washed in some ways (not all), that they are taking on the politically and ideologically fraught with problems view of the "conservatives" in American culture and politics--that is, with their Zero Tolerance policies and practices. The very discourse (unfortunately) of the rebelling youth today in America is sounding an awful lot like a discourse that is from the elders they have been oppressed by for so long--that is, a Zero Tolerance policy of excluding "fear" from schools and well, where does that exclusion stop. It is ironic that this youth generation protesting is also the most articulate and delightful in supporting inclusion (diversity-- equals difference and the Other). But when it comes to "fear" they are saying it has no place in American schools, communities, and societies. This is a contradiction and a basically 'wrong-headed' strategy and rhetoric. 

Again, this short blog is not my full argumentation re: the problem this declaration has brought forward. As a hint, I will say a much wiser declaration or wisdom comes from the elder African-American Black novelist Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature--where, she wrote about in her novel Sula on the very importance of Black People (generally, meaning the oppressed) to rather "make a place for fear" where it can be seen, worked with, and "controlled" (re: the character Shadrack in that novel)--and managed because it is known and studied and lived with in relationship because it is real. The African-American experience and guidance here is well worth looking at in terms of its contradictory message relative to the youth message today in America (and not only youth) of "Fear has no place...". Equally, in future writing on this, I'll examine Four Arrows' Indigenous-based theory of Fear [1] and why the native people and their worldview also are wise enough to know that the last thing we ought to be promoting anywhere are places where "fear" is not welcomed! It is rather astounding, on one level, that all the "fear-positive" literature and teachings since the 1990s in N.A. has had little to no uptake so it seems, at least, at this time for this youth movement [2].

I'll leave it here, with the dialectical thought that if one creates "no place for fear" likewise that is going to create "no place for fearlessness" --and, thus I see a lot of emotionalism and bravado in the new activism of youth today in America rather than true fearlessness. But that's not a put down or dismissing of the good spirit that is driving behind their efforts [3]--their peace, anti-gun, anti-violence anti-fear efforts... I applaud their heartfulness to find truth and justice, and yet, I am seeing how woundedness and trauma doesn't always analyze deeply enough the discourse of the oppressors--of the 'Fear' Matrix (culture of fear) that beseiges us all today--including youth in school cultures. 

Notes: 

1. See for e.g., Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival.  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. 

 2. By "fear-positive" I am referring to literature from many disciplines and professionals, who have asserted that we need to shift from seeing fear as only negative to also seeing fear as positive, a gift and so on. For e.g., one of the most effective teachers of this has been de Becker, G. (1997). The Gift of fear: Survival signals that protect us from violence. New York: Bantam. 

3. On the positive-side, I could argue a "spirit of fearlessness" is motivating their call, their 'truth-to-power' discourse. Another view is that from a nondual standpoint argument that could be made, as a colleague Luke Barnesmoore makes generically in an unpublished essay "Fear and Fearlessness" (in his larger collection of essays "Nomadic Exploration of Critical Pedagogy") that: "I seek to emulate the Divine out of loving respect, not fear (which is a product of the potential for the Divine's privation in manifestation and has no place, in and of itself, in the eternal" (p. 7). Barnesmoore's argument is one from an absolutistic philosophy (spirituality) or what he calls the "Natural Worldview" of the "Nothing-Infinite Eternal and its emanations Force, Form and Consciousness" whose attributes inlcude Love, Truth, Reality, Beauty, Goodness, Unity, etc." Thus, arguably, one could take such a metaphysical principle and say that there may be wise truth practical and value in the rhetoric of "Fear has no place..." that the youth in America are manifesting in their own way, consciously or not. See Barnesmoore, L. (2018). Fear and fearlessness. Unpublished paper. A self-identified San Franciscan (California), Luke is currently a doctoral student in the Geography department, Co-Founder/Director of the UBC Urban Studies Lab, at The University of British Columbia, Canada.

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I have recently come across the research in art education and learning and teaching art, by Dr. Stephanie Baer, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Miami University, OH. In an article she published in Education and Culture 28(1) (2012): 42-61,  Dr. Baer studied the habitual fears that her beginning Arts in the Elementary Classroom course she taught had: (1) "I'm not very artsy" -the fear of doing a daily art sketch book, (2) "Others won't like what I have to say" - the fear of being judged, (3) "nervous about getting outside my comfort zone" - the fear of performance. Although this was a class of non-majors in art, they were afraid of art and their own creativity incapabilities and how they would look bad in front of their peers. Dr. Baer knew that they needed to talk about these greatest fears up front and work with them as part of the course material, and as the philosopher John Dewey would suggest in the early 20th century writings on art and experience and learning, that the students need to be aware of the impact of affect and emotions and utilize them as authentic experience in everything they are trying to accomplish and learn so that, with practice, support and teacher guidance, they could move with that energy converting it into "interest [motivational drive] rather than fear [alone]" (Baer, 2012, p. 51). [Note: Saunders & Jenkins, 2012 argued fear also has to be taken into account consciously in its impact on future envisioning; see below for Reference] 

Having taught this course eight times, Dr. Baer noticed these same basic fears year after year in her preservice teachers, and she was attempting to utilize fear in the course learning process. She wrote, "My responsibility as their instructor is to question mantras that reflect insecurity in process and make pedagogical use of their fears" (p. 42)--because otherwise, fears such as these blocked the students' imaginations, creativity and seeing the possibilities of art's power in expression and communication. Their own K-12 students would likely also face these blocks in schools they were going to teach in, so it was better to address these fears now and understand them before teaching children. Dr. Baer also wrote of her own fears encountering this unfamiliar and difficult experience with these teachers and risking to find ways to deal with it all in the course itself. What I like in particular is her energetic vision, mostly as I read her dissertation (Baer, 2012), upon which the above article was written, as it is entitled: "RE-ENVISIONING FEAR...". I like her question: "In what ways can fear be interpreted to included a greater understanding of fear's roles and capacities..." (p. 16). Now, she has my attention, because that question is the basis of all my research for nearly three decades. I begin that question, unlike Baer, with assuming "fear" has not been well interpreted or defined period, and that's where we should start our inquiry to "re-envisioning fear" (what I call 'fear'). And, to do so, I assume fearlessness has to be interpreted dialectically right there, right along with fear ('fear') to get the best holistic-integral analysis and interventions. 

Most of us can recognize these fears in likely any new learning situation, more or less. Importantly, from a philosophy of fearism perspective, the teachers above are recognizing that fear has to be part of the everyday discourse of learning, regardless of the subject content. Education as a whole has not always given enough attention to the role of fear in learning, and with the current climate of fear in schools and culture of fear in general, especially in North America, this ignore-ance is no longer tenable. Curriculum and pedagogy and fear are a must as far as I am concerned. But that's only scratching the surface of the issue, and Dr. Baer's research study and experience also is only scratching the surface. John Dewey's progressive educational writings likewise. Yet, I found in a rare quote from John Dewey that he also was in favor of fearlessness. I found my FM blog over 2.5 years ago on Dewey's "rant" as I called it, and how he is an important advocate for both what today Subba calls a philosophy of fearism but also what I would call a philosophy of fearlessness. So, in that regard, I will republish that blog below, as it is so important and worth reconnecting with for any of us who are educators especially. I also want to note that I have written an extensive critique of two educational philosophers who are Deweyians and who did a major study on fear and learning (of which Baer, 2012, relied heavily upon in her interpretations), mainly because of the emphasis on "fears" and loss of meta-context of fear itself (e.g., culture of fear) and neglect of trance-based learning (e.g., Four Arrows' CAT-Fear dynamic), for e.g., see Technical Paper No. 37.

References: Baer, S. (2012). Re-envisioning fear: The role of conversation in an arts classroom for prospective teachers. Unpubl. Diss. University of Nebraska; Baer, S. (2012). The fear of art and the art of fear. Education and Culture, 28(1), 42-61.

[Insert: Saunders & Jenkins (2012) wrote, "This paper explores the significance fear plays, or does not play, in the practice of envisioning. Envisioning is seen as a powerful tool in the delivery of education for sustainable development, for it seeks to engage people in imagining and creating a better future. However, drawing on work undertaken with undergraduate students at the University of Glamorgan, South Wales, we argue that envisioning relies upon ‘absent fear’: it works to suppress, or make absent, fear as a valid response to present and future development. The presence of ‘absent fear’, we suggest, poses a barrier to fully engaging with the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future, for it is difficult to conceive of a positive vision without first acknowledging and confronting our fears. It is in articulating fear, we observe, that people are more able to respond to the challenges of the future in hopeful and creative ways. Utilising work undertaken with our students this paper revisits envisioning and suggests the need to understand envisioning as a broader process of reflection and action."] Saunders, A., and Jenkins, S. (2012). 'Absent fear': Re-envisioning a future geograpy. Futures, 44(5):, 494-503.

 

Holy Rant: John's Dewey's Fearlessness Project

Remember the folk wisdom: Never judge a book by its cover. There's a metaphor there as well as a concrete and literal truth. And, of late with my discovery (below) one could add to this folk wisdom, and Never judge a philosopher by their books-- that is, unless you've really looked into them all in fine-detail. 

In the past couple days, due to meeting some interesting people and a project they have cooking in Murphysboro, IL (1), I've been researching in an area I have not looked at as intensely in the past as I ought to have. And, a good couple lessons it taught me: one of them being, that just when I thought I spent decades getting to know the literature in the field of Education, and thought I knew most of what educators (from scholars to practitioners) had and/or were saying seriously about fear and fearlessness (that's my speciality)... ahhhhh... 

I have to say I am a bit "shocked" that I have finally found a Western philosopher-educator, thought by many to be The Greatest Philosopher in America in the 19th-20th Century era--none other than John Dewey (1859-1952), writing a "holy rant" (prophetic) piece on fear and fearlessness.

My second lesson in finding this prophetic gem (quoted below), is that I have bolstered my respect for Dewey's life and work by a whole lot of positive notches. Fact is, I never liked Dewey (meaning his writing)--nor, did I like the male philosophers at UBC (my alma mater) who were so off-putting because they were Dewey experts and I hadn't read much Dewey. I tried getting into his work a few times in my undergrad and graduate years and later but... it bored me.

I should have read Dewey, after all I was in Education becoming a teacher and later a curriculum and pedagogy scholar and so you have to read John Dewey (it's part of the educational culture and W. canon)--but I preferred reading a lot of others and mostly I enjoyed reading the educational philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti (2) and others (primarily, Eastern type philosophers or my fav was E-W integral philosophers like Ken Wilber). I was not (still am not) a big fan of the philosophy of pragmatism he advanced in America during his life, with great success I might add--he had enormous impact in this country at many levels and I felt it the moment I moved here.

The Center for Dewey Studies was just one block away from where Barbara and I moved in to rent a house. And, part of the "awakening" in myself and others here is that SIU just bull-dozed that Center to the ground yesterday and relocated (3), with several disturbed people (myself included) taking pictures of the devastation. One by-stander told me "it is so violent" how the university administrators have only an interest in profit and have disrespect for history, and tradition (i.e., John Dewey). What they mean is there is an increasing disrespect for the Arts & Humanities in the current university system all across this country and many other W. countries. Yes, right here in Carbondale is one of the best collections of Dewey's work in the world. It attracts an ongoing stream of international scholars, and apparently Dewey has never been so popular in other countries around the world, while his reputation in America has fallen considerably since his death (albeit, with small revivals now and then). And guess what? I never ever went in that Center since I lived here, now 7 yrs. I rode by it on my bike many times, and looked in the windows, but could never get myself to go in, even though I thought of doing so. I should have but I had no calling strong enough. There were too many brewing arguments in my scholarly head, filled with complaints of why I didn't like Dewey's work (i.e., it didn't fit my way of thinking) (4). I suppose I was also ticked that Dewey got so much attention here and it felt like there was no philosophical room for my own views. All of that was part of my alienating feelings as a Canadian coming to live in the USA for the first time. A lot of mixed feelings there, as I have been an out and out critic of much of America's philosophy and politics (mainstream that is, Americanism as ideology, etc.). I didn't think Dewey's work was critical or radical enough. But now I realize that was a short-sighted judgment (5). Oooops!

Okay, my great excitement was to discover a passage published in 1922, from an interview with Dewey by Charles W. Wood, and I just thought of a great piece of art to accompany Dewey's Holy Rant on the role of fear and fearlessness in American education (then and now, as his rant so applies to everything today, 93 years later). 

Art work by Art Young (entitled: "This World of Creepers", c. 1907 [15 yrs. before Dewey's published Holy Rant on fear and fearlessness], published in a political magazine I found in the library stacks at UBC in my graduate years (unfortunately I didn't write down the exact reference info. and haven't been able to find it again). Oh, this image is slightly 'touched up' by yours truly as I added the 'ISM' part in the original version. I love that the artist (Young) was tapping into the climate of increasing fear and its consequences in the world (America) at the time of post-WWI, and it is rather earth-shaking, spine-shaking, to me the prophecy in Art Young's piece and John Dewey's piece (below). These are both markers of the history of fear and fearlessness that has been left out of the history books, I'm sorry to say, it is sad. I really need to write my own version of the history of these fascinating and important ideas/realities-- fear and fearlessness, and their dynamic relationship. Mostly, what is missing is the history of fearlessness! (I have found at least five good scholarly works on the history of fear). So, why the absence of a history of fearlessness (especially, in the West)? See my recent technical paper "What is the West's Problem with Fearlessness?" (scroll down the web page link to find a pdf). 

John Dewey on Fear & Fearlessness

[This is not the complete interview, nor the complete text from the summary of the interview by Charles W. Wood in 1922, just after Dewey had returned from a long visit to China; this article was originally published as Wood, C. W. (1922). Professor John Dewey on the hysteria which holds teaching in check. New York World, 27, Aug.; the current excerpt [reprinted version] below is from Boydston, J. A. (Ed.) (2008). Report of Interview with Dewey (by Wood, C. W.), In John Dewey, the middle works, 1899-1924, Vol. 13, 1921-22 (pp. 425-32). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press]

[with bold added for emphasis] [Dewey:] "The greatest enemy to human progress is fear. People generally tell the truth unless they are afraid to--afraid of punishment, afraid of someone's opinion or afraid that some competitor will gain an advantage. A large percentage of human ills is due to greed, but back of greed lies the sense of insecurity and its accompanying fear. Fear is the soil in which wars are bred. Fear engenders hate. Individually and socially, wherever human life and human relations become inhuman, we are quite sure to discover that they have been poisoned by fear. Cowardice in public office, cowardice in business dealings, cowardice in international relations--we are all more or less familiar with the havoc wrought by these; but the most insidious poison I know of in modern society is cowardice on the part of those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching our youth" 


[that open's Wood's article, and Wood responds to it:] "Before I tell you who said it, I wish you all read that paragraph again. Find a flaw in it if you can."

[Dewey continues:] "And the boys and girls in our New York schools... are not getting half a chance. They are the victims of an inherent timidity, if not an active intimidation, within our school system. There can be no real education unless there is fearlessness, but New York teachers are not free to teach. The situation in this respect is worse, it seems to me, than it ever was before.... [re: his critique of "training" vs. true "education"] But the very basis of such training is fear of what they [the child] may do without it. When we are trying to draw out human intelligence , there must be no such fear.... the system is now additionally cursed by a set of silly laws conceived in fear and born in political hysteria [culture of fear] which seized this country during and immediately after the war.... The public now would like to return to sanity: But unless it provides some antidote for those poisonous [fear-based] laws, the minds of our children generally must suffer incalculably.... The school authorities, in the very nature of their organization, cannot be trusted with this task. They are, to say the least, timid. It is their nature [fear habit] to travel the beaten paths. They are afraid of innovations. They are necessarily afraid to run counter to the public wishes.... [and what we must do, he says] see to it that this haunting fear is eliminated from our school life [and society]."

******

If I am over-zealously reading Dewey, forgive me for my ignorance, and passion, it is just that it seems obvious this mild-mannered philosopher is going for the juglar vein, with no holds barred. That's prophetic pedagogy and philosophy of the kind very rare to see in the Western world, especially in the Education field. But it was the 1920s. I wonder if Dewey ever came back to these poignant points and arguments and fleshed them out? I am going to find out. I wonder if all the hundreds of scholars who have taken up to critique and follow Dewey's legacy, with multiple angles of interpretations, do they write about this interview on fear and fearlessness? Why have I never seen this referenced in my 26 yrs of researching on fear and fearlessness? I'm sort of thinking that perhaps no one has picked up on the holy rant of Dewey in 1922, which I am dubbing as John Dewey's Fearlessness Project. Again, I caution myself that perhaps I am overly reading into Dewey's grand philosophical and educational (and political) project... and, it then seems clear as a bell when I re-read and re-read his interview extracts here. Thank you Charles W. Wood (if you are still alive) for bringing this holy rant out of Dewey and publishing it. Thank you all the Dewey followers for reprinting it (note: in a book/journal issue published in Carbondale, IL by SIU Press in 2008). I haven't read it in the complete yet, and will do so soon. 

John Dewey's Fearlessness Project is not a label I use lightly, it is however one I am totally glad to apply and I am considering (after more research, perhaps) to end up including Dewey's movement in progressive education and philosophy in America (19th-20th century) as a contributing "Fearlessness Movement" initiative and add it to the Wikipedia on that topic. One outstanding question is can a pragmatist (6) like Dewey be prophetic (are they supposed to be, based on the definition of pragmatism and its history in American philosophy and as American philosophy)? I won't go on and on here with so many questions that arise, some very troubling as to the 'absence' of this holy rant in all my scouring the Educational field (albeit, I will say I have found other W. critical thinkers, and educators saying very similar things to Dewey in the above--but that's another article; I'm wondering if they had read Dewey's rant or it was picked up in them by osmosis--matrixial threads--unconscious collective archetypes?)--I trust some of you may like to comment on this. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Oh, one last (very interesting) thought, according to a Dewey scholar (Ryan, 1997, p. 80), it was Alice Chirman, Dewey's wife (1886 on) who gave Dewey three things he need, says Ryan, "The first was fearlessness about the ideas and opinions of the rest of the world" -- the other two things (note) follow from that gift... now there is a great feminist, womanist, feminine acknowledgement. See Ryan, A. (1997). John Dewey and the high tide of American liberalism. NY: W.W. Norton. 

 

End Notes

1. I am referring to a very interesting duo (and others), Prof. of Philosophy Randy Auxier, SIU and Prof. of Philosophy John Shook, University of Buffalo NY, who have decided to pool their huge libraries, each over 15,000 books, into a library and research center in Randy's home in Murphysboro, IL (a 5 min. drive W. of Carbondale, IL where I live). They are putting together a non-profit organization at the same time and already have other retiring philosophy professors donating their life-long book collections to their center. Auxier and Shook believe their project reflects, as a counter-response, to a growing disturbing trend of American higher education institutes in general, which have disregarded the best quality of philosophy from American scholars in history. They are more than a little perturbed at the "State" of funding losses in higher education from the public purse and the overly business attitude of administration in many universities today in N.A. I agree with their critique and I think it is fascinating they are taking their passions into their own hands and not depending on anyone else to secure the best of knowledge and wisdom. One could write an essay about this changing landscape of American higher education in the past few decades where institutions care more about "profit" than securing the wisdom of a culture, in particular through the academy. I think they are marking a trend of alternative learning centers. The place at Randy's will be available to the public not merely scholars. It will have a residential component for scholars as well. I am even putting together a proposal for such a year long residency (I'll talk about that later perhaps). 

2. My all time favorite education book has got to be Krishnamurti, J. (1953/81). Education and the significance of life. NY: Harper & Row.

3. The Dewey materials from the Center are now in the (cold and dark) basement level of Morris Library, SIU. Larry Hickman, Director of the Center for Dewey Studies has been demoted to a small cubicle in that basement and most of his budget for research assistants and graduate assistants sliced. This doesn't speak well of the attitudes of the upper administration in SIU. 

4. The almost repulsive quality I had built up inside myself for over 3 decades in the field of Education, can be summarized (albeit, a bit grossly) to what I read in his work as a functionalist perspective (even if he was somewhat a radical liberal reformer challenging the status quo) and not a conflict perspective (i.e., based in critical theory). This is a much longer argument of differentiation that I spent years in my graduate work sorting out and researching, to come to the conclusion I was a conflict theorist not a functionalist (pragmatist) theorist. It makes a big political difference. For those really keen to know more about this you can check out these terms online and a really good summary of the distinction is my daughter and her collaborator's chapter in a recent book I also have a chapter in, see Fisher, V., and Nicholson, S. E. (2014). Introduction: Developing a critical integral praxis for sex, gender, and sexuality. In S. E. Nicholson and V. Fisher (Eds.), Integral voices on sex, gender, and sexuality: Critical inquiries (pp. 1-12). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 

5. I still am not convinced his work is strong enough to bring about the transformation that I think America needs to go through before it destroys itself and the rest of the world with it. Thus, I am still rightfully critical he was not "radical enough" (you could say)--that is, he never was a good conflict theorist. Now, even that, as I age, is becoming a little more tenuous of a divide in my mind (despite E.N. #4). But that's a longer story, and I'm interested to study Dewey to look at just what kind of conflict theorist he perhaps was and/or he was an integral theorist and I just missed it and frankly, I haven't read enough nearly to even assess this anymore. 

6. I had read a scholar recently writing on Dewey's work and suggesting Dewey preferred to be called some working with the philosophy of "experimentalism" and yet, many have dubbed him working with the philosophy of pragmatism (along with William James, Charles S. Peirce, etc.). Albeit, Dewey is uniquely a pragmatist with a strong social philosophy (activist) bent; and his background in Christianity (which he left the church eventually) and as a social reformer connected with religious life in America (i.e., New England)--all this leads to him being "prophetic" (and I mean that, because of his confrontation of our society with its culture of fear and the need for fearlessness). 

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Gun Problem: Fear Problem

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist and Director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society (Vanderbilt University, TN)

 https://www.vanderbilt.edu/mhs/faculty/jonathan-m-metzl/

I just watched an interview with Dr. Metzl on Democracy Now on the internet, and I know his expertise is very important to the debates, as we now witness the tragedy of another mass murder shooting in a Florida highschool, another one, one of 18 such incidents in the school year so far in the USA. 

Most important in the discussion on the program was the impact on society of such events, which Metzl raised as the "broader questions" beyond all the details and symptoms of these mass murders. I heartily agree, as he says, "In terms of what I think psychiatry and mental health can do.... the question that rarely gets asked at times like this is why do we need so many guns in the first place? What kind of society do we really live in and want to live in?....in the aftermath of this people start to mistrust each other, all of a sudden, we need more guns in schools, more armed guards, more metal detectors....this mistrust becomes so pervasive," he says.

And, yes, mistrust only can register and grow like a virus damaging the social fabric (i.e., sociality and social trust) if fear is rampant and spreading like a virus. The word fear was not actually mentioned on the entire story Democracy Now covered, or in Metzl's dialogue. I think this is where feariatry (as one of the branches of fearology and the three pillars, in Desh Subba and my books) comes in... we will not get to the roots of what Metzl is concerned about without a serious study of the Fear Problem, as more important than the Gun Problem, and that whole shift would really give us a chance to ask what kind of society we live in and want to live in. Since the mid-1990s these issues have been brought up with the documenting and naming of the "culture of fear" problem in America, but fast spreading around the world... and, actually, this label goes back to the early 1980s. So, clearly, there isn't much take-up of the problem, and much really serious public discourse on fear--and, certainly, in my 29 years studying this all the school systems are loath to get into discussing it. We so lack vision in W. society.

Anyways, there will always be more opportunities, and unfortunately, more deaths... more guns... more mistrust and more fear. Feariatry has to be brought up to help inform psychiatry (and mental health) at all levels. I have written on several of the mass murders about these things for years. So far, no one really is listening too intently and rather people follow the fear trail... and look who to blame ... a point Gavin de Becker made back in the late 1990s as he studied these issues as a security expert... yes, change is very slow. Though, one cannot predict the future totally by the past--thank goodness, otherwise, I'd be motivated to say, "we're fucked!" 

 

 

 

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Fearpoliticology And Democracy's Fragility

The recent dialogue (on the FMning) on initial ideas surrounding Fearcriminalysis brought forward thinking about the relationship of law and crime and safety and security enforcement, etc., with politics, and especially with thinking about democracy and the future, as things are getting tense around the world and liberal republics (and democracy) are showing signs of breakdown and being over-taken, more or less, by forces of fundamentalism of one kind or another, often with their own forms of terror(ism) and fear(ism)-t (i.e., toxic variety). 

Barbara sent me an interesting article recently in the N.Y. Times (01/2718) which I want to quote some excerpts for educational purposes here [1] on thinking about governance, politics, law and I think they very much run along parallel to concerns that ought to be taken up in a new subdomain I am labeling Fearpoliticology [2], with concurrent parallel themes in fearcriminalysis. This article is by two Harvard University professors of government. 

Levitsky & Ziblatt (2018) wrote, 

"The problems we face [in America] run deeper than Trump [and his particular autocratic leadership style].... We should not take democracy for granted. There is nothing intrinsic in American culture that immunizes us against its breakdown. Even our brilliantly designed Constitution cannot by itself, guarantee democracy's survival. If it could, then the Republic would not have collapsed into civil war 74 years after its birth. 

To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual tolerance [i.e., basic social trust], according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual tolerance exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do. 

The second norm is forebearance, self-restraint in the exercise of power [and concomitantly, fear]. Forebearance is the act of not exercising a legal right [to win and dominate]. In politics, it means not deplying one's institutional perogatives to the hilt [maximum], even if it is legal to do so. [i.e., what has been called "constitutional hardball" by some legal scholars]

History suggests... that democratic norms are vulnerable to polaraization [via legalism in extremis--i.e., constitutional hardball]. Some polariation is healthy, even necessary, for democracy. But extreme polarization [i.e., enemy-making] can kill it. When societies divide into partisan camps with profound different worldviews, and when those differences are viewed as existential [if not religious] and irreconcilable, political rivalry can devolve into partisan hatred [i.e., extreme fear]. Parties come to view each other not as legitimate rivals but as dangerous enemies. Losing ceases to be an accepted part of the political process and instead becomes [seen as] catastrophe [if not as terrorism or anti-democracy and thus forebearance is abandonded].

If we believe our opponents are dangerous [e.g., fearsome], should we not use any means necessary to stop them? This is how democracy died in Chile [S. cone in 1970s-80s in Latin America] [where, social political life turned into a "death spiral" [3].... [today] our parties are more polarized than at any time during the last century. [according to a Pew Survey]49% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats 'say the other party makes them afraid!' 

This is not a traditional liberal-conservative divide [i.e., it is a Fear Wars, and a type of ideological cleansing campaign]. People don't fear and loathe one another over taxes or health care. As political scientists have shown, the roots of today's polaraization [and growing fear-based governance and rancid conflict, violence] are racial and cultural.

... the norms [informal sociality] that once protected our institutions are coming unmoored....Democracy remains at risk--president Trump or not president Trump." 

 ****

 I have long thought about this, and when Trump got elected, it was a clear sign to me of where a burgeoning (e.g., post-9/11) culture of fear will end up, if it keeps control and manipulates the fears of the people. There is an important role for fearpoliticology and fearcriminalysis in helping to better analyze this reality so more people are aware of the dynamics and how to contradict them, transform them to more creative and transformative growth. We have our work cut out for us. 

   

Notes: 

1. From Levitsky, S., and Ziblatt, D. (2018). How wobbly is our democracy. New York Times, 01/2718. 

2. Although, I have not fixed a definition or meaning on this term, it obviously has a lot to do with political life and governance overall, and it has to do with what many have called the "politics of affect" (and/or "politics of fear"), and it has a lot to do with fearmongering and enemy-making, and conflict and its managementin its many forms in political life. As I will shape a definition or meaning down the road, fearpoliticology is definitely going to involve my own DCFV theory (i.e., Domination-Conflict-Fear-Violence) which I unraveled and somewhat developed in grad school in the late 1990s.

3. It is not insignificant that the very first coining of the term "culture of fear" came from this time and from interdisciplinary researchers working in the aftermath of these horrors, as they came to configure a new understanding of the major role of fear in these political dynamics and dictatorships. 

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 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.

Notes:

  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 https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearism-in-united-nation-workshop-room-mukjar-sudan

****

B. Maria Kumar (b.mariakumar@gmail.com)

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:

https://www.amazon.in/Books-B-Maria-Kumar/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A976389031%2Cp_27%3AB.%20Maria%20Kumar

 Desh Subba  (fearism@gmail.com)

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

http://fearism.blogspot.hk/

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 (r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com)

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 http://www.loveandfearsolutions.com

 

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Dr. Margee Kerr, a sociologist, who professionally studies fear. 

Kerr says, "We have a negative bias" by which she means, given a choice in certain experimental studies of visual stimuli, most people will pay more attention to a negative (scary) image than a beautiful one. Psychologists have said this for a long time and shown it true in experiments. Now, to assume this is our human nature (or natural)? is another question Kerr does not debate but merely reads Psychology unproblematically, which is the problem I have with her "scientific" bias as a sociologist. That said she does look at the culture of fear in this short video worth watching "The Science Behind Why We Live in a Culture of Fear." go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQIgToDwL-o

I attended one of her lectures at SIUC some years ago, and I questioned her on her bias in studying fear. She was reluctant at best to engage me. Several emails later, and trying to have a good quality conversation with her and for her to look at my work, she ignores all contact. Too bad. I wonder what she is afraid of? From what I can tell she has built her growing career (and income) as a "horrorologist" of sorts, in that she likes to promote the good things that can happen when people enter into fearful experiences, like at horror shows and extreme sports or entertainment events like horror houses (that was the topic of her dissertation). I am very critical of all of that in ways she isn't. 

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Continuing on with the series of five technical papers on ecocriticism, I am pleased to offer this 2nd one: "Ecocriticism, Ecophobia and the Culture of Fear: Autobiographical Reflections" (Technical Paper 67). 

R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 67

 

Abstract – This second of five Technical Papers on ecocriticism, and in particular with a critical focus on discourse(s) on ecophobia (e.g., Estok’s “Hypothesis of Ecophobia”), is intended to assist the author and reader to integrate the basics from the postmodern field of ecocriticism. The author utilizes a brief autobiographical and historical ‘coming out’ as an early ecocritic and eventual academic critic of the larger phenomenon of the “culture of fear” as central to the author’s project (since 1989). He contends that despite not having accessed the ecocriticism scholarship over the past three decades or so, he has been attracted ‘naturally’ (from his late teens) to critiquing the very environmental and ecological (‘green’) movements he so loved. Though, mostly, he critiqued the mainstream society and media in how it depicted these movements. Within this autobiographical narrative the author brings in several theoretical guides (e.g., primary influence of the integral philosopher Ken Wilber) and shares his own theorizing on the “culture of fear” (and its critics), and ‘Fear’ Studies.   

 

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In 2007, the well-known sociologist of fear (in the UK), Frank Furedi, published a catchy article in both the prestigious American Journal of Sociology 32, and on his own blog site "Spiked" online. The title: "The Only Thing We Have to Fear is the 'Culture of Fear' Itself" (which is obviously his play on U.S. Pres.  F.D. Roosevelt's quip from 1933). I have followed Furedi's work on fear since the late 1990s. This article in 2007 (10 years ago) still speaks well to the phenomena that is going on today around the world, but especially in the UK and USA (even Canada): here it is: Furedi pdf  

As far as I can see over the years, and from my correspondence with Furedi, he has utilized much of my research on fear to expand his own work but never once has he cited my work. I have virtually always cited his work since the late 1990s. Anyways, despite that unfortunate turn, I agree with lots of his notions on fear and disagree with lots too. He's a sociologist and not transdisciplinary enough for my liking when it comes to the complex Fear Problem.

That said, I really like what he says in this 2007 article: "Fear is often examined in relation to specific issues; it is rarely considered [in academia and social sciences especially] as a sociological problem in its own right"--leading, he continues, "to a stituation where people are talking about fear (and risk, etc.) and doing so via "under-theoritisation of fear." Right on! 

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Ecology of Fear: Invoking the Primal Foundations

Prairie Falcon - predator - ecology of fear 

Some of you may know that I am a "birder" (naturalist) and have been seriously (off and on) for 50 years. My deep connection to the land and ecological relationships of all things, more or less, began when I was a small child barely able to walk. I loved being outdoors in Nature, and my most important character-shaping years from 2-8 years old were at an old house we lived in on the escarpment of the Bow River valley. I literally walked 30 meters from my back door into the "wilderness" of the escarpment community of plants and animals--that is, the "prairie" biome, as it is called by ecologists. The escarpment is an 'extreme landscape' so steep and erodes and can landslide easily, so cities cannot build on these places, and they thus tend to become "natural areas" carrying the diversity of plants and animals that are not possible in the rest of the urban landscape/city today. This area and my interactions with the environment of the "prairie" shape my life--I have an 'escarpment personality.' Btw, Just two days ago, I was "slow birding" on a hill and spotted a "Prairie Falcon" which I studied for several hours up close as it was hunting ground squirrels along a major highway going through the city (of Calgary). I'll return later in this blogpost to why I practice "birding," still to this day, in order to become a better fearologist. I recommend "birding" (i.e., "naturalizing")[1] to everyone, but especially to budding fearologists.

Me With Spotting Scope - Campbell Hill, N.E. Calgary                -photo by Barbara Bickel 2017

If you have followed my research on "fear" (and 'fear') at all, you'll have picked-up my ongoing interest in developing a very important primal foundation for the basis of fearological work. Fearology itself as an inter-/trans-disciplinary study has to be able to engage all sorts of discourses and disciplines and traditions that have something to say about fear management/education. Fearologists of the future have to have some regard and competencies (as much as possible) to 'speak' to researchers, practitioners and others who come at the topic of fear from many directions and perspectives, for e.g., the physiologist-biologist, the evolutionary behaviorist, the psychologist, sociologist, philosopher, artist, architect, political scientist, cultural studies scholar and so on. Having an extensive vocabulary and basic knowledge of these fields of study and their approach to fear takes a lot of years to develop. For e.g., as well as there being new scholarship available recently on "ecology of fear," one can find similarly on the "sociology of fear," "geography of fear" and on and on... My goal has been to be able to have some confidence to speak to them all and at least show them I respect their views from their particular biases, and yet, as an integral-based fearologist it is my aim to not be overly-dominated by any of these views and their inevitable biases--and, that is because they are not holistic-integral perspectives in and of themselves. Rare is it to find someone who has a holistic-integral perspective. Now, to the question and focus of this blog:

What has the ecology of fear discourse to offer to the field of fear management/education, at least from the point of view of the integral fearologist (i.e., my point of view)? 

FYI, my first love of learning in high school was in grade 10 when I became very curious with biology, the living science, as it helped to explain so many things I had experienced in my body and in Nature for many years prior. I pursued two post-secondary degrees thereafter, one in Biological Sciences (Ecology Option) and one in Environmental Biology (specialized in zoology and ecology) between 1972-1978. So, it is quite natural in the later years of my life, after several other career tracks, to return to this bio-ecological science background I have because it is my most profound ongoing experiential base of real-life empirical "practices" and "knowing" that I will argue is most primal (natural). To understand "fear" well, in all its holistic dynamics, the fearologist has to be in-touch (in some ways) with the primal-instinctual and Natural domain of reality, and to do so without that domain being totally submerged and conflated with the Cultural and Spiritual domains of reality. I became fascinated with psychology, culture and spirituality much later in life.

The integral fearologist keeps a 'balance' (integration) of the three domains of knowing and reality (NCS), and does not privilege any one of them over the others but rather respects their differences and similarities in an evolutionary sense-- whereby (arguably) the Natural is the oldest and wisest in terms of how to "survive" well and sustainably on this planet that depends on ecological healthy relations/systems. The Cultural is next oldest (and not very old at all) and Spiritual follows as the youngest and advancement and corrective on the problems that the Cultural realm creates--that's a more complex evolutionary theory I utilize and will not go into here.

A lot of the contextual influence regarding my interest recently in an ecology of fear has come from tracking experts (i.e., bird language study by the teacher Jon Young [2]) and "Indigenous" philosophy/worldview and "primal awareness" practices through my 10-year study of the 71 year old teacher Four Arrows' and his scholarship and practices (as I am currently writing an intellectual biography on his life and work) [3]. Oh, and for those of you wishing to see other things I have published on this topic of ecology of fear see the resources in Notes [4]. There are many topics one could cover, and I'll have to focus on only one here--the ecology of fear and/or the "ecology of predator-prey relations." 

So, there is a long evolutionary discourse (both W. science and Indigenous prior) that have articulated the importance value of pre-human species and their ecological relationships--because they are in a sense our "ancestors" and some of them have lived for many tens if not hundreds of millions of years. The principle point of this research and knowing is to say that any wise human ought to listen well, and learn well, from its "ancestors" and what they learned about fear and its management on this planet since the beginning of life--and thus, in some way, arguably, the beginning of fear. Life in fact makes that "life" vulnerable to extinction (i.e., death). So, the complex, evolutionary, and ecological relationship of fear to survival (i.e., our instincts and motivations to live)--are primal foundational curriculum material for any fearologist. 

The particular study (dubbed in the last 30 years) "ecology of fear" (or "ecology of predator-prey relations") is one I find particularly useful to study. It has many implications for the human world as well. Ecologists are starting to address just how important the ecological systems (i.e., living and non-living things and processes) are impacted greatly by predator-prey relations (i.e., in simple language, the "fact" that all living things are susceptible to being eaten and thus at the same time are putting other creatures at risk because they also eat to live). The entire dynamic of Life on this planet is turning out to be that everything is eating everything, and thus, everything can be prey and/or predator at the same time. And behind that empirical truth, then there is the sound foundational evolutionary principle that: "nothing really wants to be eaten" (i.e., die) (i.e., fear of death). So, thus begins this complex ecology of "fear of dying" (including injury) in one form or another, which become more complex the higher up the evolutionary chain and with advanced consciousness capacities--right up to "self-reflective" species (brains). A whole other dialectical principle is that the "spirit of fearlessness" is right there helping the organism both survive, but also thrive and heal if injured.  

I won't go on and on, in order to keep this blog short. The thing I find interesting to remember is that the human being is a "top predator" ecologically. And, we best not forget that empirical truth, within the frame of evolutionary theory at least. Being a top predator means, more or less, we are making all other species "afraid" more or less. That's where "birding" comes in. It teaches me the lessons of evolution and Nature every time I go out there and walk with my binoculars and spotting scope. When you learn bird (animal) language, you realize they are continually giving alarm signals (more or less intense) as you walk into their territories, be it in the city or in natural areas. You are a threat. Now, apply that to all predators (which is, all living creatures)--and, the outcome logically is that everything is making everything, more or less, afraid of it (because, everything is eating and/or preying upon everything else). Of course, you could come up with arguments that cooperation is also going on and that not all creatures are "preying" upon others actively, e.g., some are scavengers of already dead organisms. My generalization is really intended to act as a baseline reference for human beings--that is, "top predator" in the food chain. Because, that is whom the fearologist is addressing in their work. Human beings and how they make themselves and everything living around them afraid, more or less. It is really hard for the "humanist" ideology to take this reality in--and, that's why I offer this counter narrative of an ecology of fear to the more humanist sentiments that see humans as more benign (certainly, not as a predator). 

The predator-prey behavior and evolutionary strategies that are ancient, are critical to understand in our theorizing about risk, threat, security today.The ecology of fear plays a critical role in all these areas that are getting a lot of attention--especially, in a so-called society that is driven/motivated by what many critics are calling the "culture of fear" dynamic --which is, another form of the more primal predator-prey ecology and/or ecology of fear. I would recommend studying this connection between risk, safety, threat and violence and fear in the work of Gavin De Becker, a well-known respected security expert today [5]. I have followed De Becker's work and corresponded with him for near 20 years. Much of what he writes about (like Jon Young) is all about the ecology of fear, as far as I am concerned, though neither of them use that language or research and discourse (including, Four Arrows). So, fearologist can improve this whole field of risk management/education, and fear management/education and safety and security domains by a primal study of the foundations of fear in the Natural world. That's my basic point. As Four Arrows (and the Indigenous worldview) suggested, that in order for us to become "connoisseurs of Fear" we ought to start asking where is it best to "know Fear"?--and, his response: 

"To survive and thrive, wild animals must be experts in Fear. Humans who wish to express their positive potentiality must also be connoisseurs of this great motivator." [6] Basically, Four Arrows, like myself, suggest strongly that if you want to "know Fear" then study Nature, be in/with the Natural domain as you observe, experiment, inquire, record and study the topic Fear--and, that means, study it as part of an "ecology of fear" (of predator-prey relations). Btw. researchers using this term "ecology of fear" are also including plants as "teachers" of how this all works. And, sure, we always have to be cautious not to try to directly apply everything from these ecological studies to "humans" (and Cultural and Spiritual) and the complexity of our lives, but some of it does apply, and will give us creative and fresh views into the nature and role of Fear on this planet. 

Oh, and why do I go "birding"? To continue to develop my primal brain! I am always learning to trust it's instincts and intuitions--and, you never know when you may need them handy to help out. And the basic corrective, healing principle I am particularly developing in the birding world is "slow birding" (I've coined the name)--to enact a counter to a world where everyone (even birders) are spinning out there way too fast, too many pictures, too many this and that... so, I return to the Indigenous-based wisdom in regard to Nature (the Natural domain), and cite Four Arrows (relating the lessons from Mexican shamans), who  wrote, "Nature cautions us to go slowly." [6] 

Notes: 

1. One could just as easily use the term "Indigenizing" here, as my colleague Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs) would do so. 

2. Young, J. (2013). What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World. Boston, MA: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

2. The book is to come out in 2018 with Peter Lang publishers, entitled at this moment: Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer. 

3.. FM Blogs: see "Rhetorical Ecology of Fear: Scholarship" (Oct. 7/16); "Bird Watching/Listening: Teachers of the Ecology of Fear" (Oct. 14/16); and Technical Papers see "Further Steps to an Ecology of Fear" (Technical Paper No. 52, 2015) and "Steps to an Ecology of Fear: Advanced Curriculum of Fearlessness" (Technical Paper No. 38, 2012). 

4. De Becker has published several books now, but his classic text is "Gift of Fear" (1997). See a good talk De Becker with Sam Harris on the "wild brain" as De Becker calls it and "true fear" (intuition) that predicts violence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh9OpbJXOHA ; and just to be clear, I do not necessarily embrace all of what these guys are saying in the video--rather, I'm quite critical.

5. Jacobs, D. T. (1998) [aka Four Arrows]. A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

6. Ibid., p. 226.

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Erosion of Sociality: Fear

 I found this quote from an article which I have not read as a whole as it is not easily available online (or for free):

Overcoming Fear Culture and Fear Itself

by Julie Hanus

Utne Reader, January-February 2009

 For the first time in history, fear is tearing society apart. In the past, fear has engendered solidarity—as it did in the 1950s, when nuclear anxieties bound Americans together. Contemporary fear throws wedges between us. This isolation, in turn, renders the public ever more fearful. What’s more, media outlets, politicians, and businesses all have learned to capitalize on this distinctly modern sense of dread, and thus profit from finding ways to cultivate it. Until we find a way to resist fear, we’ll live at the mercy of these emotional entrepreneurs—and in doing so, be party to the personal, cultural, and political consequences.

http://www.utne.com/politics/overcoming-american-fear-culture-on-eve-of-new-presidency.aspx

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This is my most "complete" summary of my work on Love & Fear for the past 28 years. I highly recommend it as the "basic reader" (document) to consult to get you familiar with and to guide you to further study on this universal problem that we have to understand and resolve--the sooner the better. Here it is in pdf Love-Fear & Uni-Bicentric Theorem (2017)

Here is the full title of the article and Abstract

Love-Fear: Uni-Bicentric Theorem as Basis for

the Fearlessness Movement

 

R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 65

2017

 

Abstract  This is the latest articulation and upgraded version of the Love vs. Fear theory/discourse found universally across historical time. The author traces a summary of his own working with these “forces” under the label of archetypal metamotivations. His own articulation of the Fear Problem is only part of a more encompassing Uni-Bicentric Theorem he discovered and has promoted for 28 years, all as part of the Fearlessness Movement/Tradition. He claims that the language/theory of Love-Fear, rather than Love vs. Fear, is more healthy and effective for liberation than the language/theory of Good vs. Evil (dualism) underneath the discourse of Love vs. Fear. His unique Uni-Bicentric Theorem offers the foundational thinking to make this shift in our dominant current guiding kosmologies that tend to default to Good vs. Evil when under pressure and less than ideal conditions. He also critiques his own work, while drawing upon (mainly but not only) the theories of Ken Wilber and Abraham H. Maslow. He suggests viral ‘Fear’ complex is a different ‘beast’ than fear or Fear, and so the entire Love and Fear discourses/theories all need revision, via a confrontation with the Shadow (e.g., ‘Fear’ Matrix, and/or “culture of fear” meta-context) and a thorough ontopsychosocial therapy (or therapia). 

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I have just written and published Technical Paper No. 64, entitled "Fearism" as an analysis of the literature of scholars in global migration studies. Below is the Abstract for this technical article:

Abstract

 Although terrorism was coined in the French Revolution over 200 years ago, fearism has emerged in scholarly and popular culture in the past 25 years, articulating a new critical perspective on the nature and role of fear. This is the first review study of scholars using “fearism” overall but with a focus on uses and misuses within the fields of global Migration, Ethnic and Citizenship Studies (MECS). The 13 MECS’s publications reviewed, with the first use of fearism in 2009, indicate discourses conform closely, yet with differences which require conceptual and theoretical clarification. MEC’s discourses suggest we ought to think critically about fearism as a postmodern complex concept, phenomena, analytic framework, discourse, rhetoric, ideology, imaginary and matrix, with historical, traumatic, sociopolitical and cultural implications for migration problematics in the 21st century. Nearly 80% of the MECS’s authors, more or less, quoted and/or cited the same excerpt, that is, a 24-word definition of fearism (Fisher, 2006, 51). Unfortunately, the excerpt is a truncated definition, when the original definition is more complex and radical as contextualized by Fisher. This author recommends how to correct this truncated, often inaccurate, reading of Fisher’s original definition which MECS’s discourses tend to rely upon.  

  Keyword:  fearism, fear, fear management, hidden curriculum, migration

 

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If you haven't seen it already, I recommend watching the 70 min. interview of Dr. Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor at MIT, author of over 100 books, and critic--go to Democracy Now, Apr. 4, 2017. I have been following Chomsky's work for decades, off and on. He has written often about the "culture of fear" in various countries and the problems with it in terms of undermining civil societies.

In this latest interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Amy introduces a question from the viewers as she introduces it as a question about "Trump exploiting fear" and Chomsky answers (a repetitive analysis I have heard him say this several times over the past decade about America):

"[T]his is a very frightened country. For years, this has been probably the most frightened country in the world. It's also the safest country in the world. It's very easy to terrify people [here]."

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Let me say a few brief comments about this statement/observation. To say the least, I agree with Chomsky on the Fear Problem in the USA, and not that I agree America is the most "frightened country" but it is at least right up there in the top of them in the world, especially countries that are under dictatorships, I'd say they are more frightened. But one can't measure this so easily and no data is presented by Chomsky, only some 88 yrs of observations of being an American, and that counts! He's an astute and brilliant social critic of our times. His voice ought to be taken seriously. Yet, so disappointing amongst all his fans and they must be millions around the world, I do not hear any concentrated effort or advocacy of how to handle the Fear Problem, not even from Chomsky himself in terms of fear management/education strategies. That's what tends to gut his emphasis on America as "the most frightened country in the world." You can say this, and it may be plausible, as I say, I agree more or less, yet what is there to do about it directly. I mean to go to the source. Chomsky's general solution is just to have a more rational and civil democracy that works well, and the fear ought to decline. That's pretty much the operating assumption. It's no doubt partially true. However, my 28 years researching the Fear Problem (and "culture of fear" specifically) tells me that this will not be a solution, and it also will not happen without some major intervention (e.g., 'fear' vaccine) to turn America around in another direction away from this chronic frightened state--kind of like a general anxiety disorder on the scale of a whole country. That is pretty much Chomsky's diagnosis. I don't disagree basically and other critics of the "culture of fear" phenomenon has said as much for decades, e.g., the sociologist Barry Glassner amongst the more popular authors.

I have written about Chomsky a year ago. Fisher, R. M. (2016). In defense of fearism: The case of Noam Chomsky. Technical Paper No. 58. Carbondale, IL: In                    Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. I argued he would in all likelihood support the philosophy of fearism (at least my own theory of fearism)--because toxic fearism is like terrorism but works in the more subtle infrastructures of societies to create this chronically frightened (anxious) state, where as Chomsky says, it becomes "very easy to terrify people." So true. I have lived in the USA for 9 years and I feel it and see it among Americans. Now, I have gone out to make myself present here (Carbondale, IL) and reached out to many activist groups, to clergy to political leaders to non-profit organizations, to school system leaders, etc. And they have little to no interest in the Fear Problem, even when they sort of agree with me it is a big problem in the USA. This I have found empirically disturbing to see how they will not, on the whole, or in small groups, focus on the root of all the rest of their problems that makes them so susceptible to being "very easy to terrify." It is like they are so terrified as the 'normal' condition they also are so arrogant that they are "fine" and that they already know how to solve their social problems, etc. They must be in a state of denial and psychic numbing, as far as I can tell. Even Chomsky, will say the core of the problem is fear but he offers no other analysis, or insufficient analysis as I point out in my Technical Paper No. 58. And, I have always said, to Americans I meet and who are so quick to reject or just ignore my efforts to help them, that sure maybe you don't want to be a "connoisseur of fear" (as Four Arrows and Sam Keen and myself suggest) but could you at least consult with people like me, a fearologist, so that you get that expertise to help? No, they do not. I can tell you in all these years, they do not ask for it. This is the real Fear Problem, is when you know you are operating out of so much fear (and thank you Chomsky for calling it out), and you don't do anything substantially different to change it.

All I can say, is that Americans didn't get here over night. It has been part of their European history coming to America, part of their slave trade to build this country--all points that Chomsky has pointed to historically, as have others. The American "culture of fear" or "politics of fear" (e.g., Corey Robin's analysis) has a long intricate history that must be understood and taught in our school systems, and generally it is not, and only as so partial and then with no follow up in terms of teaching fear management/education in the radical ways I have suggested for nearly 3 decades. So, Four Arrows has said it recently in our work together that the Indigenous Peoples of the world, practicing the 'old ways' have a worldview where they are taught not to fear fear itself. This has never really been part of the non-Indigenous or Dominant worldview on the planet.

I'll leave this commentary with the comment that Chomsky threw into his interview (and the quote above): "It's the safest country in the world." Too bad he didn't give statistics for this, and too bad Amy didn't ask him about this. Let me explain where it is coming from, as far as I can tell, because when you read the quote as a whole it is so paradoxical and ironic, that the most frightened country is the most safest in the world, according to Chomsky. Many of the culture of fear theorists, and critics have said the same things (Glassner, Frank Furedi, Gavin DeBecker, etc.). So what is going on here? The argument of these  critics is that America has created the "safest" society but yet it is the most "frightened"--and, there is a real 'disconnect.' One indicator these critics give is that the rates of crime have gone done for decades but on surveys the population as a whole keeps saying that they have a higher "fear of crime." All the critics pin this problem down on how media creates this fear by exaggeration and repetition on TV and other sources of mass media, and they do so to "win" viewers to their programs because nothing gets attention like fear--as they say. It is part of the "economy of attention" as some scholars have called it. It is part of the "culture of fear"--and then, when you get government leaders, activists, and corporations using this economy of attention--that is, economy of fear to manipulate people's opinions--then, fear keeps going up, no matter even if the society is relatively safe and secure.

I agree with most of this "culture of fear" and "politics of fear" analysis to explain the 'disconnect.' It is a very troubling psychic and social state going on, and I have witnessed it here in the last 9 years. But more disturbing to me, is how Americans are so arrogant, and ignore-ant, as a whole, to actually attend to this Fear Problem 'disconnect.' I also am a critic that you can't use simple statistics on "safe" and "secure" to measure a society that is living in a post-traumatic condition and culture of fear as ongoing chronic context. There is always, says, Brian Massumi the cultural critic, a "low-grade fear" that isn't even normal anxiety or fear--it is like another phenomena we haven't easily been able to "name" or study. I have called it toxic fearism.

It would be great if someday, Chomsky and others like him, and the culture of fear critics will take my work seriously and engage with me, instead of deny we need a much better fear management/education that is systematic in all curricula.

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From: Time magazine (March 27, 2017), p. 24.

THIS IS THE WORLD young people live in today, through the eyes of an artist/cartoonist who perceives and creates images that depict often what is more in the "collective unconscious" (much like a good filmmaker), and yet we all know that we are living reality as something like this "dream" image that is depicted, as the arational space in which artists work. The image above can be interpreted in so many ways, and one of the reasons I liked it was it relates to my last blog on schooling and fear/anxiety (see below). How can educators, researchers, psychologists, pretend to make the study of "fear and learning" so clean cut and "scientific" and "statistical" when the lived reality of a child or adult going to school (in this cartoon by John Atkinson) a bit of a "nightmare" --even if an exaggerated one (dreams and nightmares exaggerate for a reason). Clearly, this is what it is like living in a post-traumatic culture and century, as several critical observers I have read speak about. I and others simply call it the everyday "culture of fear"... whatever the name, I like that we have pictures of this phenomenon, and that's why this art image is so important to reach the other-side of our rational brain and communicate what we often tend to deny and repress due to the predominance of the logical side of our brain that keeps busy and distracted in the everyday "conscious" world of affairs.

I see images like the above as not attempts to scare us most, but to wake us up to how scared we already are--and how we are living in a psychic numb state--which is definitely not healthy. We'd be much better to admit the fear(s) and work through them, as a good fear management/education would teach us how to do and not only teach us, would allow us to re-connect with our primal instincts of knowing how to manifest the spirit of Fearlessness in the face of Fear.

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Once again, or rarely these days, I'll pick up a journal issue from the American Research Education Association. My life-partner is a member and receives their regular journal called Review of Educational Research. In the April 2017 issue [1], I scanned through Fong et al.'s paper "Psychosocial Factors and Community College Studies" a meta-analysis of data/studies. Okay, I am attracted to how they define psychosocial development, but it is typically pretty shallow and trapped almost completely within the framework of an individualistic "psychological" model/paradigm. The research they summarize is virtually about teaching and learning strategies and mostly about the individual learners characteristics and what they can do to worsen their learning outcomes and what they can do to improve them. Fair enough, this is important. But it all depends on what you are going to pull out of their psychosocial development that will really make a big difference, even a transformative difference, that's where I get critical of this research I see over and over again.

Let's look at the five broad areas these researchers take as likely most important in psychosocial development--and, remember they are focusing on how these relate to learning outcomes (i.e., primarily cognitive-behavioral psychology). So, they list the five, of which I am glad they list Fear (i.e., Anxiety): (1) motivation, self-perceptions, attributions, self-regulation, and anxiety. They discuss each one briefly before they do their huge meta-analysis of all the studies that involve these categories in some way, again, with focus on college student success. There's no big questioning about "success" in any sociological, cultural, historical or political context. Anyways, here is what they say about Anxiety:

Anxiety - "As the most widely studied academic emotion in the educational literature (Zeidner, 1998) [2], anxiety is not only conceptually distinct as a psychological factor but also highly prevalent in today's college campus culture and student population. Although some degree of stress [i.e., fear and anxiety] can indicate a healthy interest in the task and a response to appropriate task difficult, many students experience overwhelming amounts of anxiety that ultimately [negatively] affect their performance." (p. 395).

What is great about this is the up-front acknowledgement of the powerful negative role of anxiety/fear [3] in learning and successful performance, and that it has been obviously recognized by enough researchers and others in the field of Education to be "the most widely studied" of psychoemotional variables. Wow. Great. But then, after this great introductory sentence, and surely one could generalize that this finding on the major negative affective impact of fear for college students could easily be applied to K-12 schooling as well. I'm not up on the latest research, but I know as a professional educator for 40 years this is no surprise to education researchers and teachers. They know fear is crucial in educational learning successes and a whole lot of other things that go on in schooling environments/cultures, never mind society at large. But, I can tell you there is very little about this psychoemotional factor brought out into the common Education discourses, policies, practices. That aside, once I look a little deeper into this statement on anxiety, in the study, there is a disturbing finding of this large meta-analysis by Fong et al. (and, yes, it is related to statistical meta-analysis studies in general), these researchers admit in their Results section:

"We observed some differences as well between our review and Richardson et al.'s. Anxiety and stress were found to be consistently negatively associated with college achievement by Richardson et al. [4]; however, in the present meta-analysis, there were no significant [i.e., statistical] relationships between anxiety and achievement." (p. 414).

So, because their statistical meta-analysis did not pick-up any significant correlation of anxiety/fear to learning, guess what? They don't say another thing of any substance about this psychosocial domain--I would call Fear. Nope. They talk only about significant correlations issues, all the while I am asking yeah, but, what about the claim you made when you folks described "Anxiety" earlier in the article? If you re-read their statement (p. 395), again, so positive to me in admitting this is likely the most studied because it is the most powerful "academic emotion" recognized [5]. Yet, Fong et al., leave it behind and no new educative knowledge or ideas are shared about how to deal with this worst problem. It is astounding how 'blind' researchers can be. We spend our time on the less important, less worst problems in contemporary literature on education. That's the basic reality of Fong et al.'s study. Once more, Fear is side-lined to the shadows, and education as a whole does not progress, in my view. It regresses, and gets distracted. Okay, there are more problems in this study.

Besides both systematic reviews (meta-analyses), Fong et al., and Richardson, et al. being totally enwrapped in the limited world of Psychology discourse, and besides the problem of limiting (reducing) Fear to an "academic emotion" as if that can be restricted to academic concerns only, or even accurately--then, we see that this entire study does not study the "culture of fear" as an over-structure (meta-context) today in education but society in general. They ignore that, as likely is the case with most of the "success" interested studies in Education. Sure, they'll mention anxiety, but that's only a "variable" or "factor" not a context for these educational psychology folks. Big mistake. And, when I looked up in the references of Fong et al.'s article to who actually said that "anxiety is so important (i.e., the most widely studied academic emotion in the educational literature (Zeidner, 1998)) it turns out so problematic in that the Zeidner reference is a text on "test anxiety." All the focus is on cognitive achievement, behavioral outcomes and all within the context of "testing" achievement success. This is so disturbing because the Fong et al. study is on psychoemotional development, a notion they repeat in the article, and I agree it is so important. But "testing" is where the researchers go to find out how important anxiety/fear is. Wow, that is a big mistake. No wonder, they end up dissing Fear in their article, especially once it is not shown to be "statistically important"--etc. Also, it is disturbing to see their reference for the quote on the importance of anxiety/fear is now two decades old. What? They couldn't find a more up-to-date reference on Fear and learning? This is really not good scholarship, and it also shows how little they cared about this variable, they name "Anxiety" in psychosocial development. Typically, I have found educational psychology researchers to be very 'heady' people who love statistics and rational arguments--trying their best to get funding and credit for their "scientific" studies. And what gets lost in the mean-time beneath their own agendas, and their own fear of fear (to be frank)... very, disturbing for me as a fearologist to see this kind of research still filling major journals in education to this day. There has been such a major shift in American (Western) cultures in two decades, and anxiety/fear have to be looked at seriously in contextual ways of framing what is happening to our students in all schooling settings.

Oh, and I ought to finish this initial critique with how uneducational this education research continues to be. Let me quote Fong et al. again, with what they say about anxiety/fear management now [bold added for emphasis]:

"... many students experience overwhelming amounts of anxiety that ultimately [negatively] affect their performance.... To reduce the deleterious effects of anxiety on performance, anxiety requires management through a process of awareness, reflection, and control for students to analyze how their affective reactions to learning are manifesting and hindering their performance." (p. 395)

Added to this quote they note studies showing the negative associations overall between "anxiety and academic performance." Again, all psychological-individual based discussion here, including management strategies. Oh, to be fair, Fong et al., do say near the end of their article one of the limitations of this study is that it doesn't assess structural aspects of student learning (e.g., schools themselves, "college climate" and relationships,  organizations, structures, politics; see p. 416). However, that is tucked away as a caveat way to deep into and at the end of the article. Sorry, it doesn't cut it. The reality, is very clear what is being ignored virtually by Fong et al., and nearly every other researcher on student learning success. I want to know why the larger structural context(s) are ignored, not just acknowledged that it is ignored. We will never be able to address "many students experience overwhelming amounts of anxiety" as the real problem at the root of (most) all learning problems. We have known this intuitively as human beings since near the beginning of history. Tell me (tell us) something new would you please! Tell us something new about the nature and role of anxiety/fear, which you as researchers actually point out "anxiety [fear] is not only conceptually distinct as a psychological factor" --I agree, it is. But the article says nothing about why it is conceptually distinct. That is so disappointing. Again, we are not learning anything much new about this "most widely studied" (obviously, most important) factor. Again, your statistical analysis left it behind to be not seen, not conceptually distinct (aka important). This is so unacceptable research because we have the ethical imperative to actually help our students who are, as you admit, and research shows consistently, suffering "overwhelming amounts of anxiety." The construct "culture of fear" has to be taken into account, because "fear" is not an isolated phenomenon in education, learning, teaching. The current immigration (DACA) situation with so many students in the USA right now under the Trump administration being one driver of overwhelming fear of the vulnerable and yet it is bigger than that. I have documented this "culture of fear" and "education" literature some years ago (Fisher, 2011) [6]. If we are going to take the "social" seriously in "psychosocial" then we are obliged to always include a cultural/social context to any research on fear and learning/teaching.

I guess, I trust you all (including Fong et al.) will apply "self-regulated learning" to your own research and this article, and perhaps correct some things in future writing. Yes, I'd like you to "reflect" on what it is you are saying, think about what is important ethically--that is, in what is causing the major suffering (i.e., mental health issues)--and, especially, as you say in the article, anxiety/fear levels most negatively impact already susceptible ("primed") students--already "fearful" (p. 395). 

I hope you get lots of good feedback on this article: Dr. Carlton J. Fong, carlton.fong@utexas.edu

I also am glad to assist, if you wish re-thinking educational research that is actually truly educational for the real problems of student suffering (and, thus, their success as well. Feel free to contact me: Dr. R. Michael Fisher, r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

Notes

1. Fong, C. J., Davis, C. W., Kim, Y., Kim, Y. W., Marriott, L., and Kim, S. Y. (2017). Psychosocial factors and community college student success: A meta-analytic investigation. Review of Educational Research, 87(2), 388-424.

2. Zeidner, M. (1998). Test anxiety: The state of the art. New York, NY: Plenum.

3. My 28 years of research on anxiety/fear shows there is overall no distinguishing "actual" or "important" difference between these two constructs, even if many researchers will disagree, and give me the simple (operational) definition they use in psychological research. And, by the way, this also applies to existential thinking, although, I would have to go into far too complex of a discussion about this to nuance special attention to existentialism. For a review of my own thought on this you can go to any of my publications, and precisely, see Fisher and Subba (2016), look up "anxiety" in the Subject Index for several references, and note the issue of definition (contra fear) on p. 20. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

4. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., and Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students' academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 353-87.

5. Calling anxiety/fear only an "academic emotion" is also highly problematic, as my work continually has argued that we have to see "fear" as much more than an individual and psychological construct or "emotion." That emotion discourse is way to restricted, and insufficient to diagnose the Fear Problem on this planet (see Fisher and Subba, 2016).

6. Fisher, R. M. (2011). "Culture of fear" and education: An annotated bibliography, 1990-2011. Technical Paper No. 28 (2nd ed.). Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

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With all the different emotional reactions on either side of the political spectrum, especially in the U.S., since Trump's presidential victory, we need to find larger perspectives for analysis and not merely be caught up in the either/or binary of arguments and aggressive fighting back n' forth.

So, the other day, thanks to Dan McKinnon in Calgary, I received a copy of a draft that Ken Wilber, the integral philosopher, has been sending out to some people on his application of Integral theory (and Spiral Dynamics beneath it), of why there is an evolutionary correction going on that had to come out eventually, and it came out in the 2016 US presidential elections. Like it or not.

Wilber, is one of my mentors, and as a philosopher he understands cultural evolution, especially in America, like no one else I know of, especially with his meta-theory and contextual worldcentric and kosmocentric view. His arguments I find very compelling, and always have in his critique of postmodern excess and pathologies (e.g., narcissism and nihilism via relativism). Anyways, I won't say more but I'll post his 90 page document here KEN%2BWILBER%2BTrump%2Band%2Ba%2BPost-Truth%2BWorld.docx

I only got to page 6, I haven't read the rest. And on page 6 I found the "truth" I was expecting would be in his argument, but I love the way he said it. This may not make full sense to the rest here on the FM ning, but I'll put it into the perspective of fear, and the culture of fear which I study.

Basically, Wilber is saying that cultural evolution had gone forward on a leading edge for quite awhile, at least in human terms, since the 1960's especially (in the Western world). This was the time of radical cultural (r)evolution, and the Love Generation. I grew up in that too. We thought Love would take victory over Fear basically and make the world a better place.

Wilber, using Integral theory, tells how the leading-edge of cultural evolution (i.e., postmodernism) got twisted and extreme (especially in academia in the humanities and arts) but also in the general popular culture. The idea was in this Love culture of equality and pluralism (Lower Left quadrant reality) and all the good stuff of postmodernism there was an problem with what I call Culturalism, in that cultural ideas (media) had taken over casting a better view of life than was actually being had. This is the virtual (unreality) of Culturalism and people believed it until the structural social reality (Lower Right quadrant reality) was so grossly out of synch with the Culturalism view, because greater disparity of health, income, and freedom, etc. was occurring as the "middle class" myth collapsed (especially, in the US). This gulf or gap between Cultural and Social Reality, to use Wilber's analysis, really brought the whole System into such contradictions that something big had to change.

Wilber says on page 6 "the culture was lying" (and had been for about 60 years, more or less). This, from my perspective, is because we were living in a growing culture of fear (as many critics have recently claimed) not a culture of love. Darn! This has brought the evolutionary system into a bit of regression and chaos, and who knows what else... but Trump rode the falsity of it all, the anger and frustration of the contradiction. And, he led with contributing and flying along the waves of the culture of fear not the culture of love--and, his predecessor Pres. Richard Nixon, once said exactly that-- it is not love that changes people but fear, that is, if you are a leader and want your way to dominate. Welcome to the power-game. Trump is riding in there well suited, more than any other candidate to play that game. But what will the next (r)evolutionary correction be after Trump's time in office? We'll see...

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