• Geoffrey R. Skoll


Albert Camus said, “Our twentieth century is the century of fear” (1946b, 257). The twenty-first century, in turn, is the century of terror. Governing through fear is not new. Circa 350 BCE Aristotle noted: “Fear is associated with the expectation that something destructive will happen to us” (Rhetoric 2.5.1383). Around 98 CE Tacitus related it to success in battle: “Defeat in battle starts always with the eyes” (Germania, 137). Machiavelli argued that fear is central for effective governance: “For men injure either from fear or hatred … men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails” (1513/1532, 23, 46–7). In a more contemporary vein, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall adverted to fear in one of his opinions: “History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. The Second World War relocation camp cases and the Red Scare and McCarthy-era internal subversion cases are only the most extreme reminders that when we allow fundamental freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of real or perceived exigency, we invariably come to regret it” (Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives 1989, 635; Thurgood Marshall, J., dissenting).


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© Geoffrey R. Skoll 2016

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  • Geoffrey R. Skoll

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