Small Terror

Small Terror January 7, 2016

In the course of a larger essay on the world’s political woes, David Brooks points out that all of the major acts of terrorism have had the effect of creating a cultural climate of anxiety, suspicion, and insecurity that he calls “small terror.”

David Brooks, The Age of Small Terror – The New York Times:

There is something important about the accumulation of these random killing sprees — the way it affects the social psychology and the culture we all inhabit. We are living in the age of small terror. . . .

These diverse acts of small terror have combined to create a general state of anxiety.

Fear is an emotion directed at a specific threat, but anxiety is an unfocused corrosive uneasiness. In the age of small terror this anxiety induces a sense that the basic systems of authority are not working, that those in charge are not keeping people safe.

People are more likely to have a background sense that life is nastier and more precarious — red in tooth and claw. They pull in the tribal walls and distrust the outsider. This anxiety makes everybody a little less humane. . . .

The anxiety caused by small terror can produce nasty mental habits. Mental resilience becomes as important as physical resilience.


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