Geoffrey R. Skoll
Globalization of American Fear Culture: The Empire in the Twenty-First Century, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016; 213 pp.: ISBN 9781137570345, $84
The present book aims to bridge the gap that existed in Skoll's previous work, Social Theory of Fear, Terror, Torture and Death in a Post-Capitalist World, published in 2010. The present book offers a wide-ranging discussion on how fear permeates our social relations as the old system of capital has been on the verge of collapsing. Globalisation of American Fear Culture seeks to explore how political scares can be utilised to induce fear culture. Instead of analysing American fear culture within the context of globalisation, the author situates it in a wider context. It applies an insightful framework to analyse four key concepts: fear, imperialism, terrorism and capitalism. The author demonstrates the way in which the US resorts to these four elements to spread American fear culture on a global scale. One of the significant dimensions of the book is that the author conceptualises fear in the political, economic and cultural milieu. This conceptualisation deepens our understanding of fear.
The initial chapters throughout the book set out to delineate the historical roots of fear and how it can be used to control people. Skoll offers a theoretical debate on how the ruling class resorts to 'repressive apparatuses' and 'ideological apparatuses' (p. 1). This is an important point of departure in Skoll's view. He argues that 'an American culture of fear is dominating the world in the 21th century. Its means are ideology and repressive physical force. Its exemplar is the American global war on terror. And its form is empire' (p. 2). He notes that the historical roots of American fear culture can be traced back to 'Red Scares' and 'Fears of Crime' (p. 121). However, at a deeper analytical level, the book makes it abundantly clear that capitalist elites are responsible for the emergence of this fear culture. Capitalist elites 'have fostered its construction with planning and deliberation', Skoll maintains, 'it is possible to lay the main responsibility of this culture of fear at the feet of a relatively small number of powerful people' (p. 27). Here, the centre of his account is that this ruling class seems susceptible to 'liberation movements' and the revolts of the masses. Skoll reminds us that there is an 'eternal class struggle' between these two classes. He concludes that 'In...