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Freedom From Fear

By Sheikh Javaid Ayub

03 June, 2016

Oxford English dictionary defines fear as a strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger, or threat. As a countable noun it means a phobia, a sense of fear induced by something or someone. Islamophobia is an undue fear of Islam, so is Westernophobia a growing sense of insecurity and fear of the West. Fear makes minorities feel vulnerable about their minority hood. Fear of communal violence and rightist ideology may make Indian Muslims vote for secular parties, especially for the Congress. Despite constituting 14 percent of the total population of India, Indian Muslims, it is stated, are deliberately being kept out of the Indian parliament. In the 2014Lok Sabha elections Muslim representation hit an all time low of just 22 MPs, with UP despite its substantial Muslim population, not returning a single Muslim candidate to the Lok Sabha. The parties are finding it difficult to field Muslim candidates for fear of consolidating the majority vote.

Politics – both international and domestic is shaped by fear. The anarchical world order can create fear among the nation state so do the US hegemony. Fear of losing statehood put the nation states on the path of armamentation. From conventional arms to nuclear bombs, fear has largely been a motive in this mad race of arms. The idea of the military utility has been a key driver for the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The fear of Fascism galvanized into the Second World War and the fear of Communism produced the Cold War. Cold War was a war of build up Vs build up. The two superpowers were so massively engaged in a nuclear race that they were in possession of more than 70000 weapons by the US and the Soviet Union during 1970s and 1980s. However, today’s nuclear world is very different from the bipolar world of the Cold War dominated by nuclear rivalry between the two superpowers. The centre of gravity is relentlessly shifting from Europe to Asia Pacific. Fear is thus mother of all wars and all weaponry. China’s presence as a nuclear power in the neighborhood provides a powerful reason for India to detonate its own, irrespective of being among the world’s poorest countries. According to the annual report of Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, India is home to 194.6 million undernourished people, the highest in the world. Despite being in such a killer poverty trap it manages its nukes. India’s bomb gave reason for Pakistan to have her own. Making of bomb kills so do its use.

Living with nuclear bombs has made us believe that possessing such beasty bombs will secure us through nuclear deterrence. Believing in the logic of deterrence is to live in a fool’s paradise. Deterrence is the buzz word of the people who like to think of themselves as hawks – claiming to have known human nature in its totality; perhaps not, because no one can claim a mastery over understanding the human nature. Ask Hobbes and he will claim human nature to be selfish, egoistic, quarrelsome, timid etc. Ask Locke and Rousseau they will opine that humans have a natural tendency of degeneration which is sufficient for men to wage wars and go for a rampant killing.

The theory of nuclear deterrence, we are told, prevented the Cold War from turning into a ‘Hot War’. True, the Cold War remained cold till it ended but there are lots of hidden truths that need to be unearthed. Neither states nor the statesmen have saved the world at the most dangerous moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It was Vasili Arkhipov, a Soviet Submarine Officer who blocked an order to fire nuclear-armed torpedoes, at the tensest moment of the crisis, when the submarines were under attack by US destroyers. A devastating response would have been a near certainty, leading to a Total War.

In a nuclear world it is not dying that we must fear, but living. It is folly to believe that nuclear bombs are deadly only if they are used. But the fact is that their very presence is cancerous for our existence. Setting of a tradition of using nuclear bomb, the US has put the whole world on a nuclear volcano which can burriest any time anywhere. The day it burriest, will surely be a dooms day for the mankind. Ours is a risk society and nuclear risks cannot be overlooked.

Barak Obama became the first serving US president to visit Hiroshima on May 27 of this year. The visit is mostly looked as reflecting obama’s conviction about a nuclear free world. Although he did not make an apology for dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945, but he returned to the nuclear disarmament agenda, stating that new and destructive technologies need a moral revolution. He called for moral courage to escape the ‘logic of fear’ in order to pursue a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. But he forgot to mention that the US has announced an ambitious plan to spend $1 trillion for modernization of its nuclear arsenal over the next three decades. Neither did he say that the US still maintains the right of ‘first use of nuclear weapons’ though limited to extreme circumstances.

Fear, if well articulated, can become a handy tool for keeping hegemony intact and can provide a kind of free license to intervene, attack and control nation states. Consolidation of power need creating and countering perceived threats to the society. Threats are created and solved in such a fashion that people relinquish their sovereign powers and surrender before propagandist state apparatus that virtually present herself as the guardian and protector of individual. People are made do think in the terms state wants them to think, there is no thinking beyond that, and no truth beyond the truth that is articulated by the state. Truth is what the hegemon calls truth! The fear of Al-Qaida can become enough reason for invading Afghanistan. In the same fashion the fear of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction become a valid reason for bombarding Iraq and eliminating Saddam Hussain.

The fear is seen everywhere. It is politicized, manipulated, mutilated, manufactured and removed – only to be replaced by a more intense one. The presence of seven lakh troops, backed by draconian laws is a glaring example of India’s fear of losing Kashmir. The presence of such a huge number of armed personnel has domesticated fear in every house hold with every Kashmiri. The fear hounds them as do ghosts in the dark dreadful nights. They are feeling dwarfed with their manhood lost. Their voices chocked and their individuality crushed. What they really need is freedom from fear.

Let the fears are done with and the much needed peace and tranquility be restored for human happiness and human progress.

The author teaches political Science and can be mailed at [email protected].




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