Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Power of Nightmares

Fears may be liars.
- Arthur Hugh Clough
The Power of Nightmares is a BBC documentary series that is already being hailed as documentary of the year, as much for its brilliant editing and use of images as for its content. It shows the remarkable parallels between the American Neocons and radical Islamists. Even if you feel its central thesis has been pushed too far - that the threat from terrorism has been exaggerated, although it undoubtedly has - it still provides an amazingly lucid insight into the history of the past 30 years and the rise of the politics of fear.
The timing is also fortuitous, with the Republicans showing election commercials that resemble a B horror movie, with wolves prowling in the woods, designed to scare the shit out of the electorate.
The terrorist threat has already been used by the British Government to mount an assault on civil liberties and democratic values but they'd like to go much further, which is in the nature of governments. As so often, the two Johns - Bird and Fortune - put it very well in their sketch last week. "David Blunkett is labouring under a great burden" said the 'Home Office advisor'. "There hasn't been a major terrorist attack in Britain." When you see what Blunkett has done on the basis of a threat, what might he do with the excuse of an actual attack? Now that is genuinely frightening.


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