Terror and Fear. The Analogies

During the period January–March 2022, the research revolved around the question of whether terror can be viewed as more than just a tool for terrorism and how the culture of fear during the Covid-19 pandemic and even during the after-effect of Black Lives Matter represent similarities with terrorising nature of things in phenomenological-hermeneutical perspective. Māris participated in two conferences at the 80th International Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia. On March 8th in session “Pandēmijas, epidēmijas un stihiskās nelaimes Āzijas un Tuvo Austrumu kultūrvidē = Pandemics, Epidemics and Natural Disasters in Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures” was presented paper “Šausmu un baiļu fenomens: vīrusa pandēmijas terorizējošā iedaba = Fenomenon of Terror and Fear: Terrorising Nature of the Pandemic of Virus” and on March 3rd in session “Kritiskās domāšanas iespējas un robežas mūsdienu Latvijā = Possibilites and Borders of Critical Thinking in Modern Latvia” was presented paper “Dialoga un kritikas neiespējamība iekšējo konfliktu draudos: woke vs base = Impossibility of Dialogue and Criticism in the Threat of Internal Conflicts: Woke vs Base”.

The research addresses that contrary to fear, dread of dying rearranges our values, nevertheless the contrast is set by, for example, experience of terrorism:

[..] In contrast to fear, dread of dying rearranges our values. This contrast is illustrated by terrorism. Jean Baudrillard, a French philosopher, was right when, describing the September 11 attacks, he called terrorism a blatant deception. (Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism, p. 16) It breaks the basic rules of the game by challenging a system that strives for an existence where death is absent. There is no death in consumerism, it has, in fact, been banished because the dead are not very good at shopping. By turning death into their ultimate weapon, Islamic suicide bombers pretty much blew away the goalposts. How does one fight terrorists (and now the virus) who do not dread their own mortality? What would they even consider a threat? Upon closer inspection, the parallels between terrorism and a viral pandemic become apparent and mutually explanatory — a virus acts like a terrorist, and terrorism acts like a virus. Relatively recently there was a different perpetual menace — the atomic bomb and the radiation it would cause.  These evil forces – radiation, terrorism and virus – are external and invisible. Nobody has really seen them with their own eyes but they are on everyone’s tongue and the dominant viewpoint is that they are not to be questioned, as that could have fatal consequences. Of course, everyone knows there are people who have faced the menace (soldiers, counter-terrorism forces and, now, medics), yet the overwhelming majority has seen exactly nothing. No radiation, no terrorists, no virus. Unlike conventional warfare with clearly marked frontlines, terrorism targets the public mood. In this sense covid-19 acts just like a true terrorist — it has no shame, it cares not for our values, it shows no mercy to civilians, it is suicidal, it makes us feel awful, and at the same time the vast majority knows almost nothing about it and has never encountered it in their lives. [..]

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