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Dialogue on FEARCRIMINALYSIS (Part 2): R. Michael Fisher, B. Maria Kumar and Desh Subba

Editorial Preamble:

This second dialogue with two fine thinkers, Maria and Desh, and two accomplished writers of several books and awards, is one of great treasure for me as I am simultaneously talking with law enforcement people, Desh a guard, and Maria a top position police officer. The first dialogue we had is worth reading over before you begin this one, but it is also not a necessary pre-requisite. Go to: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearcriminalysis-dialogue-series-pt-1-subba-kumar-fisher

The Dialogue

 

“Hundred of years before modern human life was present, there were less terrorists and risk. Not too much murdering, kidnapping, stealing and raping. People generally felt more secure everywhere.”  - Desh Subba

 

Fisher: There’s so much to pick-up on if we wish from the last dialogue (Pt. 1). Though I’m starting this dialogue off with some more practical issues, especially in regard to how you both experience your work as in jobs and careers in the security and policing worlds. I’ll then stir up a very specific conversation around applying a philosophy of fearism to law and enforcement and security, especially, at the large domain of research and attention that has been given to “fear of crime” and its relevance to Fearcriminalysis.

So, let me start off by asking you both a professional question but also with a personal and subjective component. You Desh are a security guard for a private company. Let me start with that. Could you respond to the empirical evidence I have seen that there are now like several times as many security guards in the world as police.

What has happened in societies, and I am presuming this isn’t just a Western phenomenon that brings about this relatively recent recorded trend of seeing privatized security guards--working in for-profit companies-- just about everywhere, even in grocery stores and schools? Equally, I also am aware that prison guards and prisons are one of the fastest growing industries and mostly privatized now. I sometimes think civil society and the world is being invaded by Security Forces! Is there a connection between these two industries? And, lastly, how do you feel about this personally when you are out there working? And how does it all relate to a philosophy of fearism for you?  

Subba: You are right the Security Industry is one the fastest growing. We can take it as an industry. Security guards are not a basic requirement of life. It is one kind of luxury related to standard of life. Rich people are getting more and more rich. The gap is greater. When people become richer they need more security as a buffer protection from the poor in need. Because they have more fear, it means together with being rich--fear and risk is growing in this class.

It has also put some pressure on to improve the standard of security guard work. Rich demand more honest, sincere and loyal security guards. In Hong Kong and India, for example, richer people lean more to Gurkha Security. Gurkha security guard has a good trade name. Mostly in Hong Kong, rich people hire Gurkha Security guards. They are more expensive than other security guards. Gurkha security has the elite name and fame since WW-I. When India was ruled by the British, the British forces attacked many times Nepal, which is my home. All effort of the British became unsuccessful. First the British recruited them, the Gurkha as British soldiers. Then retired soldiers started to be recruited in the Security Guard industry. Wherever there was a British Colony, the British people as invaders hired the Gurkha as their security. British colonialism in that sense made them so famous and contributed greatly to the professionalization of the security industry. Belief and trust in a security person itself is a kind of security guard. If a client does not trust them fully then insecurity starts.

Fisher: It’s a kind of worrisome world this whole security forces business. We know that at times an honest security force can build very strong but it also can turn against it’s rulers and clients if need be. I’m not historian about this but I’m sure there have been lots of cases because security forces once working on your side tend to know all the insides and outsides of their client’s defense systems, because they are the defense system largely. So, there can be a lot of vulnerability set up when the security force or some radical faction of it decides it’s better to turn and betray your boss, so to speak and gain power-financial and/or blackmail power. Criminality amongst security forces and growth of the industry leads to corruption and more fear, it seems to me. Who can trust who after awhile? It leads to a paranoid world.

Also, I want to say one more thing about what has happened in American in a few places at least that is a very troubling trend. And, this has to do with civil disobedience on the streets that the public has a right to protest and then privatized security forces, other than government and state forces, are being hired to suppress and intimidate the protestors, often in quite brutal ways. Some of this has happened with the private security forces coming in and infiltrating civil disobedience protestors’ movements like in the Black Lives Matter and the Water Protectors in North Dakota this past fall at Standing Rock. I know my friend and colleague Four Arrows was involved in the latter situation four times in the field representing support for the Native people to protect their lands from an illegal oil pipeline. Four Arrows, a former US Marine officer and now Indigenous scholar and peace activist, was a representative of the Vietnam Vets for Peace at the Standing Rock Camps. He and others wrote about the vicious private security firm contracted by the State, which is made up of largely past special forces from the US Marines. Again, these corporations recruit these people and they have tactics that are more extreme. And because they are contracted by local police forces, as they were in North Dakota, it was found out that their tactic were determined by an internal company protocol, not by the State, because they named the Indigenous peace-protestors “jihadists” and thus they were treated unfairly, and illegally, as such, with no consequences for law enforcers [1].  

Subba: Most places people use CCTV security technology as well. It is a form of mechanical guard. The purpose of human and CCTV guards are almost same. If people cannot affordable high security capacities then they don't hire. It is a class-based tiered system of privilege for some and not for others. That's why I said security systems, guards and such are a luxury. 

Hundred of years before modern human life was present, there were less terrorists and risk. Not too much murdering, kidnapping, stealing and raping. People generally felt more secure everywhere. Generally, communities and cities were smaller and people were helpful, honest, co-operative. There’s so much conflict and technologies in weapons have advanced greatly. Nowadays, everywhere there are bomb blasts, kidnapping, murders, rapes, stealing, etc. It makes more danger and life becomes full of more risks. Most countries of the world people can’t relax and walk in the evenings. Nobody can predict  where the target of attack will be. If you watch media like most people do, we are always listening news of mass killings, bomb blasts, etc. It makes people generally more fearful, frightened of the smallest risks or big ones, and sense of dread and pessimism can set into our lives and societies.

 

“Desh, I think your model somewhat matches with the sociologists for example naming the postmodern era as a “risk society,” which really means predominantly fear-based, paranoid society and/or “culture of fear,” that is where most are now afraid to risk, afraid to live…”   -R. Michael Fisher

 

Fisher: In Subba (2014) you give your own informed and thoughtful history of the “Ages of Fear” (Chapter 3). You write, “When human beings existed in this earth, consciousness began to increase. They began to consider the necessity of security. As was knowledge about different caste/ethnicity, life, and the world, so was fear in human minds.” You then describe the evolution of nine Fear Ages humanity has gone through overall in a global macro-scale, even if certain parts of the world may not have advanced consciousness and technologies and their fears at such levels. Desh, you claim that currently in the developed world overall, we have entered the “Extreme Fear Age” not very long ago [2]. I think your model somewhat  matches with the sociologists for example naming the postmodern era as a “risk society,” which really means predominantly fear-based, paranoid society and/or “culture of fear,” that is where most are now afraid to risk, afraid to live; because living is so risky or at least it is perceived and inflated by media etc. to look and feel that way.

In this Extreme Fear Age people with money live behind gated communities with security guards 24/7 and so on. Fear often dictates the changing shape of our communities and cities and policies. Architects have said that we have moved into a postmodern era in urban planning of creating “defensive architecture” that is quite ugly and meant to withstand bomb blasts. Some leftists call this a growing “bunker mentality” and a general “domestic militarization” of police forces, security guards, and society overall, including our schools [3]. These are a few examples of insecurity and fear, mistrust, shaping our educational institutions [4] and the ‘new world’—a world competing for how to bring Order and Control. The latter, supposedly, is to bring peace and security back?

Subba: Yes, this is the way I see it. As I wrote in my book, with different ages there are certain fears created as people become more conscious, as their brains evolve bigger and life gets more complicated by more information and knowledge and awareness of things: “Knowledge generates fear” [5]. The historical ages develop “different thoughts and faiths” [6] and/or secular ideologies and theories as ways of managing these fears and stresses. The first age I label “Primitive Low Fear Age (primitive hunting age)” and the cultural evolution moves through various fear ages with agricultural, feudal, industrial, nuclear developments, etc. My thesis is that the first fear age consisted of “only 10 per cent fear compared to the present. Therefore, it is the primitive low fear age” [7]. By the seventh fear age or “Space Fear Age,” “fear is increased to 70 per cent” [8], and yes, that’s a big jump but so has knowledge jumped relatively as well.

Fisher: I have always found your historical theory of Fear Ages fascinating. The conclusion is that human history has grown more consciousness, more knowledge, and more fear.

Subba: Yes, that’s correct. And, as our discussion today suggests, and more security forces. It challenges notions of “progress” as supposedly taking human civilization out of a world driven by superstitions, fears, etc. –this is what one gets when one takes a fearist perspective on history, it is a different result and progress is not one-side.

Fisher: Indeed, it’s a unique and controversial perspective you’ve offered us. I think your Fear Ages logic of development makes sense in terms of who I have studied regarding evolution, that is, Ken Wilber the integral philosopher. He argued that evolution of consciousness has vertical increasing complex levels or stages as well, some 9-10 or so depending on your categorizing. Humanity has gone through these, and some place and times change slowly and don’t evolve to higher stages and some shift quickly. One is not absolutely better than the other, the key issue is adaptability of the consciousness for the conditions at hand and the brain-size available—that is, what works best is best. But, evolution happens because conditions change, nothing is static. New strategies evolve to meet new demands of the environment, etc.

Wilber’s main point, as I see it from a fearist lens, is that all stages of development, culturally and individually, he argued, are challenged by certain emergent fears based on conditions and brain development and complexity of living systems; that is, consciousness maturation. He argues that the simpler—meaning less complex structured systems—as consciousness stages do not construct the same kinds of fears as complex higher stages, each stage has its own fear-set, you might say [9]. Again, this also includes environmental conditions. So, evolution, according to Wilber, is growth and maturation where one set of old fears are eventually (re-)‘solved’ and at the new level of transformation and new potential also comes new fears that also have to be solved [10]. He calls it a view of evolution based on a “dialectic of progress”—and, that means not everything as you evolve is just great and better, loving and harmony, without problems—the latter, is an artificial abstract idealistic view of progress. He also says something very interesting: when a new level develops/evolves and a society and/or individual take it on as a ‘better way to go’ but still have some old fears not yet fully resolved but rather are missed by error of communications, and/or bypassed consciously, that is, forgotten temporarily, and/or dissociated from and placed completely in denial and unconscious repression shadows, he then argues the new emerging level of consciousness will eventually be limited and undermined in its full potentials and even fraught with pathologies from the earlier levels (i.e., fears) unresolved. You may recognize that some of that psychological theorizing is quite similar, but different, to what Freud found regarding the unresolved unconscious repression patterning from the past that can haunt our futures. So, if there are “cures,” or what Wilber calls a philosophical “therapia” [11] for evolution and the human situation, they will be found in our ways of managing fear(s) well. That’s where the fearism comes in, right?

Now, I suppose some would debate, as I read and hear at times, that the world is less risky for the majority, and surely in the first-world developed countries so-called. They compare statistics over time. Historians speak of a lot more terrifying times for human groups thousands of years ago, empires invading other empires, torture, horrible plagues and massive deaths, as well or during the Middle Dark Ages, and so on. I tend not to have that historical statistical debate but go with my gut and some evidence from sociology that say “fear is on the rise” and contagious--even if less actual crime is reported statistically when looked at by quantitative data.

And people generally today feel much less secure than they did a generation or two prior [12]. Several critics have said that around the early 1980s much of the Western developed nations entered a state of “risk society” [13]–a by-product of late modernism and the coming postmodern era.  And because of the security risks rising all the time, and technologies like nuclear energy have added to this problem there is a huge tendency for citizens and their leaders to then become overly gun-shy about taking risks in governance. Another topic we can come back to later, but it is probably more appropriate to the development of Fearpoliticology. I also want to say that it has got to put people in a lot more fear-risk expectation every time they see a security guard on the corner of this street or that, or the grocery store or school hallway, and so on. When are they going to start wearing guns too, just like police? I think this is a subtle thing perhaps, but most people don’t like seeing security forces all over their communities. Of course, they don’t like seeing crime and violence in their communities either. It’s a real Catch-22 or double-bind scenario with no easy and pure answer to the problem of insecurity. I call it all part of the Fear Problem.

Subba: Right. But people with power and wealth want higher security and pay for it and that keeps the market growing for security forces of greater effectiveness. These problems are every where. In developed countries generally, governments take this rising insecurity more consciously and with responsibility to protect others and try to solve the roots of the problems. Yet, in underdeveloped countries less so, where there is more corruption in government-and private security forces working together. Or they just don’t take it seriously if threats are not coming to them and only to the poor people. 

Fisher: So, what is your 10th Fear Age, Desh?

Subba: The Fearless Age. Now we are talking about the future vision in my historical theory and logic of Fear Ages in humanity’s history. It’s a positive with the negative. There is the 10th stage called “Fearless Age.” As we are undergoing the Extreme Fear Age, some of us will be driven by evolutionary adaptation and intelligence systems to develop the counter to the worst of the Extreme Fear Age. Fearless is also extreme and a response to extreme. That’s how I see evolution and development works at its best.

Fisher: Right. A strong problem creates a strong solution—potentially, and it helps only if we take the opportunity and manifest its gifts. And you write that the Fearless Age is “the last stage of fears—is fearlessness” [14]. Of course, I was really happy when I read that a few years ago in your book. Both Wilber’s work and my own have also such a theory built-in with potential of fearlessness and beyond that to fearless [15]. What would law, and policing and security world look like in a Fearless Age? But, let’s leave that topic aside and hear from Maria. Could you also comment on these beginning queries of mine re: security and prison guards in general and also more specifically how this relates to your vocation so dedicated to policing? I’d like both professional answers and your personal more subjective views too, if you would. And how do you think this relates to a philosophy of fearism?

 

“A considerable number of policy makers also don’t seem to know that the enactment of their own policies, laws, rules etc. creates fear in the minds of people.”  - Maria B. Kumar

 

Kumar: Sure. One of the foremost traditional and current objectives of policing is the protection of life and property. Police are supposed to safeguard the rights of people in regard to their lives and properties.  Right to life, right to livelihood etc. emanate from what we call human rights. Right to life doesn’t simply mean that of living for living sake. A life shall be lived and enjoyed freely. One has to have freedom and liberty in exercising the right to free life. ‘Free’ means free of crime, theft, bondage, restrictions, threat, slavery etc. and ultimately it boils down to freedom from fear while exercising the right to life. Liberty is the other face of freedom meaning that the individual has got the right to lead his or her life freely. Here ‘freely’ means fearlessly. That way, freedom connotes ‘freedom from fear’ whereas liberty demands ‘liberty to act fearlessly’.

In order to ensure these fundamental aspects of human life, the institution of policing system was envisaged and with a view to equipping the police force accordingly for that purpose with requisite authority, accountability, duties, tools, legitimacy etc.; laws, rules, regulations etc. were framed. So we may say finally that it is the responsibility of police to facilitate public peace and order in the society so that all the individuals enjoy their lives freely and fearlessly.

Fisher: Wow. That’s a wonderful framing of policing function, Maria. First, I wonder if other police and/or law policy makers understand policing like this? Do they train their leaders and staff to implement it? And, who is actually teaching them about fear and fearlessness in order to be informed widely and deeply and critical enough to bring that about as a good vision for law? I am skeptical about what is really going on, in terms of priorities, in policing world, you might say; but maybe I just don’t know enough.

Kumar: That’s a good question Michael! Very few police officers understand policing in terms of fear and fearlessness. Most of them look at policing as an instrument of controlling crime and keeping order in the society. In the process, some resort to instilling a feeling of fear. Of course, fear to some extent is a necessary evil for example in case of dispersal of violent crowds as a deterrent mechanism to prevent the criminals from committing crimes. If fear serves for larger good, it is okay. But if it worsens the otherwise tranquil climate to deteriorate, then it is bad. So it all depends upon the principle of larger good.

Fisher: I understand the practicality of that reality. I think the principle would be summarized as simply: fear is useful for some good, but not too much fear then turns destructive. Basically, that is not a different principle than most of the literature one can find in popular and professional discourses. Many books I’ve read on fear management and psychology in general say that kind of thing and use that pragmatic principle. They usually call it good fear and bad fear, and they name the various symptoms of them both and typically end up in a quantitative paradigmatic meaning frame on the subject of “fear.” The referent measure of distinction is always some fear is good as long as it is not too much because then it is bad. And, again, I am not saying that has no common sense validity, it is obviously pragmatic for where we are in our maturity of a species and how much or little we are informed about fear management and fearology etc.

However, I think like all principles and pre-fixed definitions of “what is fear” and “how should we best manage it,” even if they seem to have served in the past, have to be analyzed critically in postmodern contexts and beyond—because such knowledge assumptions and experiences are  themselves in part constructions of perception, based on understanding at the time based, on experience, tradition, and likely habitual discourses, with some utility but maybe ‘out of date. They made need to be asked as questions of fresh inquiry within new contexts not used in the past or now [16]. I’m saying more or less, what I said in the Editorial Preamble in Part 1 of our Dialogue: “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.”

I know that may sound too abstract to some. My own research and the imperative of fearology, with its epistemic doubt, itself demands more re-examining everything we think we already know about fear and how to best manage it and, of course that boils down to how we’re going to manage human beings, conflict etc. Policing and law are all about that, from one point of view.

Subba: I am less academic than Michael, however there are two things I found in my research on why fearism is so important in a new fear management outlook and plan. First, I found the heavy bias toward fear is due to a negativism in people’s views, and fearism has the counterbalancing to make fear more positive. Next, I found that fearism is a platform for criticism, it began with literary criticism, and quick spread as a philosophical fearism critique to reinterpret all things. Policing and law is one of the things that fearism has yet been applied to and I think that is what Michael is getting at. The Third thing I found is that fearism alone is not sufficient to understand anything. I ended my 2014 book writing, “Thus, fearism interprets, investigates, and analyses many things….It unfolds the folded aspects/sides. It also opens closed doors.” [17]

Fisher: Thanks Desh for clarifying. Your point Kumar about how police understand fear and fearlessness and your view to me show a significant ‘gap’ and that’s exciting territory to explore, especially because you are a career policeman yourself. Police and law and policy makers may actually listen to you and your context of how things may be done differently. Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt your train of thought….  

Kumar: A considerable number of policy makers also don’t seem to know that the enactment of their own policies, laws, rules etc. creates fear in the minds of people. A climate of fear. For example, curfew during war. The efficacy of their policy making depends upon how well it succeeds on a cost-benefit scale.

Fisher: That’s the economic-logical-rational paradigm—now, largely dominating fear management discourses under the rubric of “risk management” and “risk analysis” as you seem to be indicating.

 

“If we browse through the preamble of any national constitution, we find liberty, equality, fraternity, dignity, pursuit of happiness, justice and so on but nowhere is the word ‘fearless’ found.”  

- B. Maria Kumar

 

Kumar: Right. Here also the principle of the larger utilitarian good steps in. Larger good means that larger number of people are fearlessly pursuing their respective affairs. Practically speaking, complete fearlessness is only utopian whereas total fearfulness is dystopian. All policies, laws, rules, regulations etc. are supposed to grant legitimacy to institutions for fearless working. As said by the philosopher John Locke, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain but to preserve and enlarge freedom. Like- the institution of marriage was established in order to facilitate fearless sex between consenting partners. A firm is established under law just to function its way to achieve business objectives fearlessly. But the problem is that the true spirit of fearlessness is not expressly pronounced in the tenets of the institutions of police, business, politics, education etc. but is only implied. Hence training curriculum is deficient on that count.

Fisher: Exactly! Desh and I would agree with you. “Fearless” and/or “freedom from fear” for marriage, or policing, or education, are only words with some good intent. We seem to have an impulse for that true freedom as the spirit of fearlessness—but the psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, for example, also showed humans who have operated under the fear-principle a long time as dominant, when shown “freedom” they tend to “escape from freedom,” which was the title of one of his books in the early 1940s-50s as I recall. I think the link here is similar to the paradox Maria you pointed out in the freedom from fear that good law and policing intend and the reality that people too often end up fearing the police. Although, other factors are going on too in the climate of fear that grows around the world of policing and militarisation. As you say, there are some police for example, who operate on a different principle than what you are suggesting and it is anything but true fearlessness. Indeed… the problem is receiving a better education for police and law and policy makers and everyone else-- a quality curriculum on fear and fearlessness that just doesn’t exist, and I doubt if it has ever existed in human history. It is coming though!

Kumar: If we browse through the preamble of any national constitution, we find liberty, equality, fraternity, dignity, pursuit of happiness, justice and so on but nowhere is the word ‘fearless’ found. Therefore, I think that this is the time to emphasize the need for explicit provision of ‘the right to fearlessness or the right to be fearless’ so as to help all institutions including police redraft their vision, mission and objectives.

Fisher: What a great place to end Part 2. There’s so much I wanted to get to as well around “fear of crime” as a problem itself in law and policing today, but that will have to wait for Part 3. Thank to you both for this.

****

 Notes

  1. See Four Arrows’ 2017 article, http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/39504-february-22-at-standing-rock-a-last-beginning
  2. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris, pp. 44-45.
  3. See e.g., Giroux, H. (2001). Mis/education and zero tolerance: Disposable youth and the politics of domestic militarization. Boundary: An International Journal of Literature and Culture, 28: 1-92. Most of these critiques link the fast growth of a privatized prison complex with this domestic militarization—and, all the racism that has been shown to accompany it in the US especially.
  4. A more problematic American trend in the last few years but also after 9/11 somewhat, is the expansion of U.S. State Homeland Security Office. There has been a growing infiltration of “homeland security” as a subject matter for junior and senior high school students in public schools and now these are coming into colleges and universities—as basically funded and taught by State officials of Homeland Security, with the objective on the surface to provide young people with career jobs for the growing state security industry. See Nguyen’s new book Curriculum of Fear that studies this infiltration problem; I posted on this https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/photos/curriculum-of-fear
  5. Subba, p. 21
  6. , p. 35
  7. , p. 37
  8. This is an empirical reality in the USA, as security expert Gavin de Becker has researched over the years.
  9. This fear-set is basically a particular generalized Fear Management System, which I have identified 10 in the evolution of humanity, accordingly with Wilber’s stages of consciousness evolution. See Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st Lanham, MD: University Press of America. I also take a slightly different view than Subba’s continuous model of Fear Ages. I have constructed more a “point of departure theory” to explain certain fear dynamics in human and cultural evolution (i.e., of fear management systems)—whereby, one sees at a certain point the fear became ‘fear’ (a very toxic form and fearism-t began to rule as an ideological pathological system or ‘Fear’ Matrix, around 9-10,000 years ago, according to Four Arrows)—note, this is all in Fisher (2010) more or less, and now I have aligned some of my thinking with Four Arrows, and an Indigenous worldview critique, see his wonderful theory and writing on fear and fearlessness in 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.
  10. Wilber (1995) wrote, “Each successive stage brought new information, new potentials, new hopes and new fears; brought a greater complexity, a greater differentiation, a greater relative autonomy—and the capacity for a new and greater pathology [i.e., bigger Fear Problem] if a corresponding integration and embrace did not ensue [i.e., was missed or by-passed]” (p. 104). Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology and spirituality: The spirit of evolution (Vol. 1). Boston, MA: Shambhala.
  11. Wilber (1995) wrote, “each discovery [evolutionary development] of a new and deeper context and meaning [i.e., expanded consciousness structure] is a discovery of a new therapia, a new therapy, namely: we must shift our perspectives, deepening our perception, [and do so] often against a great deal of resistance [i.e., fear of change], to embrace deeper and wider contexts” and with these shifts is a shift in the very identity of the self-Other reality (p. 73).
  12. , p. 43
  13. g., see Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London, UK: SAGE.
  14. Subba, p. 45.
  15. For Wilber it would be the achievement of “integral” consciousness or “vision-logic” to get to fearlessness as the basic motivational core, and it would be to achieve the higher stage of “nondual” consciousness to reach fearless. I use this same foundation for my Fear Management Systems Theory and Fearless Standpoint Theory, and I have been writing about the notion of a “Fearless Society” at least since 2000; e.g., see Fisher, R.M. (2000). A movement toward a fearless society: A powerful contradiction to violence. Technical Paper No. 10. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.
  16. Two such meta-contexts off the top of my head: (a) Fearless Age and historical unfoldment and theory in Subba’s work and, (b) the Fearlessness Movement as I have conceptualized it. So, I would ask about law and policing and security principles and practices and suggest they also need to be calibrated and re-constructed within at least these two meta-contexts, and then see what we learn from that process. Even if we don’t see anything immediately relevant or practical to use, the exercise is one that will likely give us new perspectives on our old and traditional ways of doing things. However, I don’t know, I can only speculate. This dialogue is a beginning first in this field of bringing together enforcement people (e.g., Kumar) into relation with thoughts about fearism and my own fearwork(ing).
  17. Subba, p. 333.

 

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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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