Re: [OPE-L] Crashes, Panics, and Expectations

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Mar 27 2006 - 08:41:45 EST

> There is a material base for 'mass fear' in Palestine and Iraq, e.g., but
> do we in America really live lives of 'mass fear' of violence against
> ourselves?  (I'm not speaking of 'mass fear' of unemployment.)  We are not
> Chile of 1973+, or Indonesia of the 1960s or Japan of 1944-45 or Burundi
> of  a decade ago.
> 'Mass fear' is not a very useful concept (yet?) of the overwhelming lives
> of most Americans and we need to know how privileged they are (9-11
> notwithstanding) relative to other parts of the world and relative to
> history.
> I hope you understanding correctly what I am trying to convey.

Hi Paul Z,

I agree that the material basis for mass fear in the US can not be
compared to that in Palestine and Iraq.  But,  fear can not simply
be grasped with reference to material conditions alone: i.e. fear can
be a rational response to material conditions OR NOT.   I don't
think it is an exaggeration to claim that there was mass fear in the US
following 9-11 --  which was out of all proportion to any actual
threat -- and that this fear was *created* by bourgeois social
institutions, most notably the state and the media.  The _capitalist
class_ in the US (or, at least, a segment of that class) had a material
basis for invading Iraq, but this does not mean that there was a material
basis within the US working class for supporting that war.

Yet, I agree that the relative privileges of different segments of
the working class have to be comprehended to discern whether
there is a material basis for beliefs within that segment -- which
there often is.   While it is true that the US working class complains
bitterly about rising gas and oil prices (despite the fact that the
prices for these commodities are significantly lower than the
prices for the same commodities in many other parts of the
world, most notably the EU) mass support for the war against
Iraq could not have been built by the state on that basis, I
think.  But, mass support could -- and was -- built through
deceptions about WMD and exaggerations concerning
terrorist threats (and, of course, through spreading the lie that
Saddam Hussein was, in part, responsible for 9-11).

Do you agree?

In solidarity, Jerry

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