Tracing Spikes in Fear and Narcissism in Western Democracies Since 9/11

by Maximiliano E. Korstanje (Author)
©2018 Monographs XII, 152 Pages


Tracing Spikes in Fear and Narcissism in Western Democracies Since 9/11 discusses critically not only the modern obsession with consuming news related to disasters or terrorism as a primary form of entertainment, but also explores the theory of pleasure as it was formulated by the ancient Greeks and continued by Sigmund Freud. Beyond the principle of pleasure was the touchstone of the sense of scarcity, which was rooted in the logic of capitalism. Throughout the 1970s, the society of producers brought about the advent of a society of consumerists; however, after the attacks on the World Trade Center September 11, 2001, things radically changed. The idea of terror, which had been encapsulated within the society of producers, was expanded to become the centerpiece of a new stage of capitalism, Thana-Capitalism, which made the death of others the main commodity for exchange and consumption.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Advance Praise for Tracing Spikes in Fear and Narcissism in Western Democracies Since 9/11
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • References
  • Chapter 1: Beyond the Principle of Pleasure Lies Terror
  • Introduction
  • Pleasure in Ancient Philosophy
  • Sigmund Freud and the Rise of Pleasure
  • The Sociology of Pleasure and Consumption
  • What Does Psychology Say About Pleasure?
  • The Theory of the Noble Savage
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 2: The Archetype of Lost Paradise: Neglecting Suffering
  • Introduction
  • Religious Tourism—State of the Art
  • Preliminary Discussion
  • Tourism as an Escape
  • Tourism as an Alienatory Industry
  • The Religious Nature of Tourism
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 3: From Production to Consumption: The Origins of Terror
  • Introduction
  • The Basis of the Capitalist Economy
  • From Production to Consumption
  • The Industry of Pleasure
  • Terror and Tourism
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Miscarried Enjoyment!: Alcohol Consumption as a Platform of Pleasure, Hospitality, and Distinction (written in collaboration with Hugues Seraphin)
  • Introduction
  • Hospitality and Moral Values
  • Of Hospitality, Dialogues with Derrida
  • Interrogating on Hospitality
  • The Religious Nature of Hospitality
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 5: From Risk Perception Towards Thana-Capitalism
  • Introduction
  • What Is Risk?
  • Towards a New Horizon for Risk Research
  • From Risk Perception to Thana-Capitalism
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 6: The Heritage of Terror
  • Introduction
  • Terrorism in the Global World
  • Literature, Fictionality, and Reality
  • What Is Terrorism?
  • The Culture of Surveillance
  • La Lenta Agonia de los Peces
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 7: Terrorism and Media in the Days of Thana-Capitalism
  • Introduction
  • Discussing Risk Perception and Media
  • 9/11 and the Rise of Thana-Capitalism
  • Mass Media in Times of Thana-Capitalism
  • Thana-Capitalism and Christianity
  • Future Guidelines of Research
  • Conclusion
  • References

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I could not complete this book without thanking my colleagues for their discussions on this topic. I would like to thank Geoffrey Skoll, David Altheide, Rodanthi Tzanelli, Adrian Scribano, Hugues Seraphin and many others, as well as my wife Maria Rosa Troncoso, whose patience and love illuminated me in the dark days during which this philosophical investigation lasted. I would also like to thank my children, Ciro, Olivia and Benjamin. My immense gratitude also extends to Meagan Simpson and Peter Lang for the opportunity to produce this project with such a prestigious global publisher.

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Over the past few years, experts and pundits have agreed that the problem of capitalism, far from being limited to one factor alone, corresponds with the roots of liberality as a doctrine and ideology. While slavery and slave-holders exploited the workers to death, their nutritional health needs were still met so that their productive manpower did not decline. With the advance of capitalism, some people became more prosperous, whereas the living conditions for many others gradually deteriorated. The introduction of an economy of scarcity illustrates a slippery slope in view of the fact that capitalism does not warrant the same conditions for all members of society.

This volume was inspired by individual worries about the future of capitalism, firstly as an economic form of organization that is based on levels of extreme inequality, and secondly, posing democracy as the best of feasible forms of government. While considering the nation-state as the stalwart watchdog of freedom, we are involuntarily pressed to think of terrorism as the worst of all evils. Such a dichotomy leads to some misunderstanding and confusion, unless explored further. Some interesting questions arise against this backdrop, such as, are poverty and resentment self-explanatory variables that predict terrorism? Why did Western civilization develop an idealized view around pleasure? Is pleasure the key factor towards a society of competition and consumption? Why are we afraid of death? And finally, to what ← 1 | 2 → extent have pleasure and liberalism cemented the possibility of creating a fairer society?

In his seminal book, The Democratization of American Christianity, historian Nathan O. Hatch (1989) holds an intriguing thesis relating to the possibility of liberal thought and politics molding the pillars of religion. While the first Methodists and Baptists advanced in former centuries by the articulation of an evangelizing message, the already-existent climate of egalitarianism—coming across from the United States—broke with the Old World and the conceptual pillars of Christianity as they were forged in Europe. Not only were Americans loath to embrace any authoritarian rule as a remnant of Europe, they also refused the hierarchal society of European priest-craft. As Hatch brilliantly observed,

In this respect, the need to frame classes into a coherent unit ushered Americans into enthusiastically embracing the free marketplace as a haven from the tyranny of politics and governments. Hence Anna Stilz (2009) corroborated how the notion of civility was framed within the scaffolding of the nation-state from its inception. The sense of security, which is crystallized as a reification of pleasure maximization, exhibits two important assumptions. Liberty interacts with nationhood in a way that poses “identity” as a form of relations. For example, Canadians are prone to abide by Canadian laws, but only when on home soil; if they travel abroad, new patterns of behaviour should be expected. In the same way, when touring in Montreal, Argentinians should temporally abandon their daily obligations to accept new laws within a new territorial domain. It seems as though, Stilz added, something other than a specific relationship is requested when one invokes the right of nationality; people are supposedly bound to the territory where they reside or were born. The precise point that liberalism has not debated yet, at least with any accuracy, is what happens when we are obliged to accept unjust local rules. At this point, not only does the principle of redistributive justice not work, it ← 2 | 3 → also becomes counterproductive. If citizens are morally pressed to obey a new emerging dictator (such as Hitler or Stalin), how should they behave? Are they liable for the political crimes of their new regime, or simply companions of such unmoral acts?

In answering the above questions, the liberal emphasizes the term civil obligation, which is helpful to legitimate the authority of the state. In this respect, civil obligation assumes that residents should be law-abiding persons who pay their taxes and behave as good citizens. As a cultural and political project, the nation-state envisaged the concept of liberty and civil obligation as vehicles for democracy. Over centuries, Americans seem to have developed a special attachment for the free marketplace, which, according to their ideology, warrants the same opportunities for all citizens. As stated, the marketplace is the safe place from the arbitrariness of political powers (Forbath, 1991; Stilz, 2009). The same is reflected in Political Liberalism by well-known scholar John Rawls (1993).

But what are the limitations of liberalism in thinking about the violence exerted by the state over its subjects? Is global capitalism a reification of liberalism?

Rawls’s (1993) interrogations come from the following point: how can political liberalism bolster some or many contrasting ideologies coexisting within the same society?


XII, 152
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XII, 152 pp., 1 table

Biographical notes

Maximiliano E. Korstanje (Author)

Maximiliano E. Korstanje is Senior Researcher in the Department of Economics at University of Palermo, Argentina. He was awarded Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, UK, and at the University of Havana, Cuba. He was recently awarded Emeritus Chief Editor of the Journal of Cyber Warfare and Terrorism. His recent books include The Rise of Thana-Capitalism and Tourism (2016), Terrorism, Tourism and the End of Hospitality in the West (2017), and Mobilities Paradox: A Critical Analysis (2017).


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166 pages