The NY Salon, The Nation And Economist Present:
‘Living in a state of fear’
Tuesday 20 March 2007
Theresa Lang Center, The New School,
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011
This concluding public event shall attempt to contextualise the particular way in which we understand risk and fear today – and how it is different to the past. The earlier Salons explored the debate in relation to oil depletion, global warming, the danger of bad parenting and adults fears of one another toward young people as well as our constant need of emotional support. These issues often tend to emphasize human culpability and human vulnerability. Little time passes without the prospect of new horrors that we will inevitably face – which are often sited as being due to our greed and avarice. This orientation stands in sharp contrast to the approach adopted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugural address in 1933, when he stated that the ‘only thing we have to Fear is Fear itself. Roosevelt’s statement sought to assure the public that it was both possible and necessary to minimise the impact of fear. His was a positive vision of a future where fear would be put in its place by a society that believed in itself. To what extent today does it seem as though politicians are more likely to advise the public to fear everything and not simply fear itself? Has fear assumed the character of a ‘natural’ problem that is detached from any specific experience? In this form, does this become a perspective on life rather than a response to any particular threat? From the early days of the Enlightenment human progress and the aspiration to improve our every day conditions of life, was celebrated by Western culture. These days human ingenuity is regarded with apprehension and even fear. What has changed? What are the consequences for the future of society? How we view humanity matters but is the future human?
Megan McArdle holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She began working as a freelancer after graduating from business school in 2001 and went to work for The Economist as Deputy Countries Editor for the website in 2003. In April 2004 she became Countries Editor. She is also the editor of Asymmetrical Information, a website devoted to business and economic issues, and writes a weekly column for TechCentralStation.com.
Professor Frank Furedi, Born in Hungary, Furedi is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. During the past decade Furedi’s research has been oriented towards the way that risk and uncertainty is managed by contemporary culture. He has published widely about controversies surrounding issues such as health, children, food and new technology. His Therapy Culture ;Cultivating Vulnerability In an Uncertain Age (March 2004) explores the ascendancy of the therapeutic imagination. It develops the arguments contained in two previous books The Culture of Fear (2003) and Paranoid Parenting(2001) In recent years Furedi has been exploring the way that fear has come to dominate public discussions in Western Societies. His Politics of Fear; Beyond Left and Right, published in September 2005 explores the crisis of meaning afflicting the West. His new book Invitation To Terror, to be published September 2007 explores the relationship between 21st century Western culture and its preoccupation with terrorism.
Furedi regularly comments on radio and television. His articles are published in the New Scientist, The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Express, The Daily Mail, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Observer, Toronto Globe and Mail, The Times Higher Education Supplement, The Times Literary Supplement,New Statesman, India Today The Harvard Business Review, La Republica and Die Zeit amongst others.
Christopher Hayes is a Contributing Writer at the Nation and a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes for a wide variety of independent publications. He regularly covers issues related to politics, labor, criminal justice, the environment and community development. His essays, reviews and feature articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including In These Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and the Chicago Reader.
Moderated by: Jean Smith - A Director of NY Salon
Jean is a fund raising director for a major health care institution in New York. Before settling in Brooklyn, Jean was based in London and Birmingham, England where she co-founded and directed a major volunteer led arts charity providing a platform for artists to show their work which otherwise might be ignored by mainstream venues. Her work to challenge the perceptions about people who suffer mental health problems has provided an open platform for debate on the issue and she has developed practical strategies to enable more productive, independent living.
The NY Salon aims to raise the level of discussion of our culture – from politics and business to science and the arts. We seek to provide environments in which ideas can be robustly debated among critically-minded people from a variety of backgrounds. Whatever the forum – discussing a novel, arguing the merits of a museum exhibition, or organizing a public debate – our goal is the same: to ensure that the assumptions underlying the pressing issues of the day are thoroughly examined.