Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Risk Society pre/post 9/11

“In the risk society, the past loses the power to determine the present.  Its place is taken by the future, thus, something non-existent, invented, fictive as the ‘cause’ of current experience and action.  We become active today in order to prevent, alleviate or take precautions against the problems and crises of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow –or not to do so.” (pg. 34)
“The relevance and importance of these variables is directly proportional to their unpredictability and their threat, and we (must) project the latter in order to determine and organize our present actions.” (pg. 34)

I was seven years old when Ulrech Beck’s thesis was published in 1986. 
Beck’s examples of the global implications of the noxious by-products of industrialization; DDT, deforestation and the toxic chemicals in “foodstuffs” seem so insignificant when compared to present-day America.
Environmental issues are still a hot topic as proven by the popularity (and Oscar win) for “An Inconvenient Truth.”   Al Gore’s demand for government intervention to cap ozone eating emissions was a shared sentiment by the public even before many of us drove to the theater.  Add a financial and economic crisis to the mix, 2 wars and the presence of a visible threat (Al Qaeda) and we’re all setup for risk society reaction and inaction(paralysis).

If the United States wasn’t a risk society before September, 11 2001, I believe we are now.   In the late 90’s and early 00’s, the byproducts of America’s consumption were having global affects.  While we still celebrated our triumph over the Y2K bug from 2000,  the unimaginable happened.

“As the risk society develops, so does the antagonism between those afflicted by risks and those who profit from them.  The social and economic importance of knowledge grows similarly, and with it the power over the media to structure knowledge and disseminate it.”

For the past ten years American’s have been fighting the “war on terrorism.” Politicians, businesses and individuals used 9/11 as a platform to pitch their party’s agenda or personal gain.

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