The History of Fear, Part 1

by Corey Robin on October 1, 2013

With this post, I’d like to kick off a five-part series on the intellectual history of fear.

Long before I was writing or thinking about conservatism and the right, I was writing and thinking about politics and fear. I began working on this topic with a dissertation in the early 1990s. I concluded that work with my first book Fear: The History of a Political Idea, which was published in 2004.

When I embarked upon the project, not many people in the academy were interested in fear. By the time I concluded it, everyone, it seemed, was. What had happened in the intervening years, of course, was 9/11.

To some degree, I think 9/11 has short-circuited our thinking about fear. Not in the obvious ways—frightened people are not in much of a position to think about anything, or so the argument goes—but in a more subtle way. [click to continue…]