Madeleine Bunting today poses an interesting question:
Despite the unprecedented security of life in the west - we live for longer and are less vulnerable to absolute poverty than any previous generation of human beings - we seem more anxious, and fearful than ever. Why?I would have thought the answer was obvious. People live in fear of finding the next Madeleine Bunting article staring out at them from their copy of the Guardian. OK, OK, don't run off. I'm only joking. Well. Yeah, I'm only joking.
Bunting's article is about the exploitation of people's fears of terrorism by unscrupulous politicians - you'll already know who these are - and about how we're more vulnerable to fear now than people used to be; 'because of how isolated and fragmented our lives are', and because of diminished 'social connectedness to political, religious institutions and neighbourhoods'. And then there's also the 'peddling' of fear which is 'a lucrative business'. I'll pass here on the strength, or otherwise, of these proffered explanations and confine myself to one comment.
In so far as what Bunting is addressing is the threat of terrorism, fear is not, in my own view, the key emotional consideration. Anger is. By this I don't mean uncontrolled rage; I mean something more like justified indignation. Everyone is entitled to the expectation that they won't simply be blown up somewhere one day, or otherwise dispatched by parties who just happen to feel that way inclined. You don't have to walk around trembling with fear - and I don't believe many people in Britain are doing so - to think it right that those with the responsibility for such matters should be taking due care to secure the lives of the citizenry.