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Administration of Fear

Paul Virilio

We are living under the administration of fear: fear has become an environment, an everyday landscape. There was a time when wars, famines, and epidemics were localized and limited by a certain timeframe. Today, it is the world itself that is limited, saturated, and manipulated, the world itself that seizes us and confines us with a stressful claustrophobia. Stock-market crises, undifferentiated terrorism, lightning pandemics, “professional” suicides . . . . Fear has become the world we live in.

The administration of fear also means that states are tempted to create policies for the orchestration and management of fear. Globalization has progressively eaten away at the traditional prerogatives of states (most notably of the welfare state), and states have to convince citizens that they can ensure their physical safety.