Fear of crime
angst to define these deeper aspects of angst in society. For now I confine the subject to the dread of criminal activity.
The current situation is dangerous. Fear is a terrible teacher in the halls of democracy and civil rights. By far the most powerful exposition in political philosophy of the ‘need’ for ruthless dictatorship is contained in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan. And the key to that great, dark book is fear. “Fear and I were born twins,” Hobbes wrote about himself. And, he warned, when men live “without a common Power to keep them all in awe,” then in such a vacuum there will be “no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and, which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” The strong arm of power is welcomed with a sigh of relief. So in the end for ordinary men and women safety comes before democracy and human rights. A deplorable conclusion, no doubt, but something to ponder as any society faces what seems to be a growing breakdown in law and order.
In a passage which I think perfectly captures the danger which a democratic society faces when ever-increasing threats to life and security plague society, that great West Indian-American, Alexander Hamilton, in Chapter
ANo. VIII of The Federalist, November 1787, had this to say:
“Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.” lexander Hamilton was referring to the external threats of war. But what is violent crime running out of control but internal war? And in the grip of fear even the most liberty-loving will be all too inclined to condone or even endorse a stringency among law-givers which in normal circumstances they would certainly condemn.
The sooner authority recaptures the initiative in dealing not only with the violent criminals but also with spreading lawlessness, minor and major, the sooner democracy as well as safety will be secured. which he wrote in