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Capitalism, Media, and the Fear Factory


On a sweltering afternoon in 2019, I tuned into international news channels via YouTube, only to find the world engulfed in chaos. Leading nations like China, the US, and the UK were epicenters of palpable dread. Their advanced development did little to mitigate this fear; rather, it seemed to amplify it. Observing my friends in these countries gripped by panic and uncertainty, I felt a profound sense of pity. As is my custom, I offered prayers that they might remain resilient against the wave of fear sweeping through media channels. Curiously, when I switched to my national news outlets, the atmosphere was remarkably different—this pervasive fear was notably absent. Yet, days later, as international funding was pledged to combat this fear, my local media found its voice, and the dissemination of fear commenced.


Then I pause to consider the role of the global umpire in all these; how did this guardian of human well-being adopt strategies that perpetuate conditions of alienation, as described by Marx? Marx’s notion of alienation posits that under capitalism, workers are disconnected from their labor, their products, and ultimately, from themselves (Marx, 1844). When the global umpire recommends alienation—framed as social distancing—it not only separates individuals from each other but also from a collective consciousness capable of challenging the capitalist status quo (Marx, 1867). Isolated individuals become more vulnerable to the commodified fear propagated by the media.


Interestingly, those who do not internalize this propagated fear seem less affected by it. Psychoneuroimmunology scholarships (E.g., Segerstrom & Miller, 2004) have shown that a heightened state of fear or stress adversely affects the immune system. Conversely, those who resist this fear may experience a stronger immune response (Cohen et al., 2003). My people, by defying this state of fear, not only safeguarded their emotional well-being but also stage a subtle rebellion against a capitalist system designed to profit from their subjugation (Foucault, 1977).

 

References

Marx, Karl. 1844. "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844." In Marx & Engels Collected Works, Vol. 3. New York: International Publishers.

_________ 1867. "Das Kapital: Critique of Political Economy." Hamburg: Verlag von Otto Meisner.

Segerstrom, Suzanne C., and Gregory E. Miller. 2004. "Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry." Psychological Bulletin 130, no. 4: 601–630.

Cohen, Sheldon, William J. Doyle, Ronald B. Turner, Cuneyt M. Alper, and David P. Skoner. 2003. "Emotional Style and Susceptibility to the Common Cold." Psychosomatic Medicine 65, no. 4: 652–657.

Foucault, Michel. 1977. "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison." Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books.


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