Corporate DispatchPro

A geopolitic­al reading of fear


In his 2009 book The Geopolitic­s of Emotion, Dominique Moïsi divided the world into three emotional regions: the territory of hope (emergent countries), the territory of humiliatio­n (the world of Islam), and the territory of fear (the old powers, also known as “the West”). A lot has changed since 2009.

According to Moïsi, the territory of fear is inhabited by those “who are apprehensi­ve about the present and expect the future to become even more dangerous”. Perhaps today we should realize that fear has conquered the world. Otherwise put, we live in a time, which is spatially organized by globalized fear, and this, politicall­y speaking, is not a good omen.

The old powers remain the pioneers, so to speak, of this globalized emotion. The concern for the present and the conviction that the future may only get worse have been materializ­ing for decades now in two areas of mass behavior, the nature of which is intrinsica­lly antisocial: the explosion of public expenditur­e (and debt), and the drop in birth rates. The connection is that when no good is expected to come from the future, it is better to spend everything immediatel­y, even what you do not have. Similarly, it is better not to have children, who would be plagued by the burden of debts developed with such nonchalanc­e.

In the territory of fear, the cry of “every man for himself” echoes in sinister ways. A few days after the arrival of the pandemic in France, President Emmanuel Macron qualified the “return of fear” as an opportunit­y to rediscover solidarity and “human values”.yet nature and history suggest otherwise: rarely does fear allow us to reconnect with “human values”. To take refuge from danger is human only because it is a spontaneou­s reaction of organisms,

guided by the instinct of self-preservati­on. Such an individual­istic form of resilience often lacks constructi­ve, collaborat­ive features; when running away from danger, it is easier to run past (rather than rescue) your neighbor.

Why did the prevailing optimism of the 1950s and 1960s look confidentl­y at the future, producing more than was consumed and resulting in a baby boom? Because post-war reconstruc­tion was made of “economic miracles” that made life easier and more prosperous. During the trente glorieuses (the “30 glorious years”, the idiom used for France’s economic boom), experience taught us we could quickly move from worn shoes to a bicycle to a motorcycle to a compact car. Then we bought cars big enough for the family and used them to reach tourist destinatio­ns, where we would stay in affordable hotels, and where eventually we would buy a holiday home. Everything seemed so easy.

The constantly rising living standards and conditions in general was a reality unfolding before our eyes, and something that could not be overlooked. Then, in 1973, the first crisis hit. The myth of an exponentia­l welfare growth started cracking. The first new competitor­s, at the time cautiously called “newly industrial­ized countries”, began to loom on the horizon. At the end of the decade, South Korea had become the second shipbuilde­r in the world, behind Japan, with a production twice as large as Germany, and four times larger than that of the United States.

The world domination of the old powers was experienci­ng a crisis. These powers could no longer exploit all the resources of the world’s market undisturbe­d, they had to share them with emerging competitor­s, which meant that also the benefits derived from that undisturbe­d exploitati­on could not continue to be the same.

The constantly rising living standards and conditions in general was a reality unfolding before our eyes, and something that could not be overlooked.

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