Drugs, crime, terrorism and war are all serious problems. What should be done about them? How about declaring war on them? Yet the war approach hasn’t fixed any of these problems but instead seems to have made things worse.
The wars on drugs, crime, terrorism and war can be understood as persistent panics. They each share features with what are called moral panics, as well as features of long-lived public scientific controversies. Despite being dysfunctional and damaging, the wars continue. They thrive by exaggerating threats, creating enemies, hiding more serious problems, building empires and fostering supportive belief systems.
Brian Martin analyses these four wars, showing similarities and commenting on ways to end the panics. He doesn’t offer solutions but provides ideas for those who care about the heavy toll of persistent panics.
Brian Martin is emeritus professor of social sciences at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is the author of 20 books and hundreds of articles on nonviolent action, dissent, scientific controversies and tactics against injustice, and is vice president of Whistleblowers Australia.
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