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The Question of Fear - Part 1

There's one thing that is always true of your life in capitalist society. While you may have developed a personal behavior and our society has developed a culture around it, it's always there like one of those joint pains you learn to live with.

Except this pain is knawing and degenerative and punishing. Each day you live in capitalism, you live in fear.

You are afraid to die and you are afraid to live as you are living because you fear that something you believe is necessary to your life will be taken from you. You are afraid of starving or not having a place to live or losing your relationships or losing your mind or losing your health. Because if any of that happens, you fear you will find no way to recover and this society won't help you.

If you have kids, you are afraid they won't "make it" or will become criminals or drug addicts or very sick. You are afraid you will have to watch them die or lose your money to pay to save them. And when you lose your money, you fear, you will starve or be homeless or lose your relationships and friendships, etc.

You are afraid of people who are funny-looking. For some of us, these people are white with strange noses and strangely colored skin who talk like a TV commercial with strange inflections and believe they own everything around them, including that which is yours. And you are afraid they will take those things away. And you are always afraid that, sooner or later, they will kill you or your family.

For others of us, these scary people look like...well...me. They are grotesquely colored, speaking unintelligibly even when they speak perfect English and act in a way that is truly bizarre. And they are brutal to women and can't be trusted in closed places. And you are afraid to board an elevator with them.

They could be Latino. Or African-American. Or Asian. Or whatever. In any case, they are frightening and unreachable through logical discourse and they don't understand what you are going through and what you are facing and what is dear to you. They don't understand you.

And you're afraid.

And sometimes these other people say a prayer and think God tells them to fly planes into buildings. And no matter how hard you try, you are afraid they will do that again and that, this time, you or a loved one will be in the building.

You never think, of course, how scary you are to them. After all, you look like the people who have wiped out about a million Muslims during the 20th century. Well, if you're white, you are those people. But your fear doesn't let you see the fear of anyone else.

Yours is the fear of the hunter looking down the barrel at the fierce bear that threatens, never understanding how scared that animal is as it faces the end of its existence. The hunter doesn't know; the hunter doesn't care. Fear has its own logic and it is fear, in the end, that makes for hunters...and prey.

Fear is something we all feel in this society. It is, in the end, capitalist society's most potent weapon. Fear is what divides us so we can't unite to overthrow it. Fear is what allows us to let capitalism use our children in the most horrible of human activities: war. And fear prevents us from solving the problem.

Because, given the information that is out there freely and clearly circulated and easy to find and given the way capitalism has virtually destroyed us and now threatens to finish the job, there is no reason why the people of the United States have not made a revolution...except fear.

During the next couple of weeks, I'm going to write about various aspects fear and what we can do about it.