Notes from the Future Fabulators Scenario workshop in October 2013, based on the question “What will happen to fear in 2033?”
In 2033 in the Land of Little Dictators (LLD) all thoughts and actions are driven by suspicion, mistrust, egoism, caginess, greed and dogmatic convictions that exclude all other possible viewpoints, opinions and attitudes. Interactions and transactions – if existing at all – between local or foreign people, companies, or universities are based solely on maximisation of personal profit and assets. Ethical and moral dimensions are off the cards and no one considers others, not the mention “the Other.” Values such as understanding, solidarity or fellowship are alien concepts. Exploitation of both the environment and other people is thus the central pillar of the economy as well as the social order – an order which has developed very rigid boundaries between rich and poor. You belong either to the ruling, money-making elite through your business or you are condemned to live in bitter poverty as a slave to the rich.
This socioeconomic order has become a highly fertile ground for the growth, spread and promulgation of fear. The poor must be kept in fear to ensure that they serve the rich, and the rich need to fear the loss of their supremacy. Thus we find the emergence of a vast and highly flexible “fear market” in LLD. A whole army of people work to maintain and manage fears. Fears need to be invented, designed, sowed, and promptly updated if they become less terrifying, and replaced if any become irrelevant.
Structures as well as mindsets have emerged within this ubiquitous fear management system which dominate the entity of the LLD. Firstly we see the unrestricted expansion of an insurance industry which cultivates the illusion that every fear on the market can be comprehensively covered by one or another insurance policy. In the unbalanced social structure of this fearful culture there is no shortage of individuals desperately wanting insure their goods (whether these goods are tangible or intangible, no matter if they are even valuable or can be insured at all). This again assures a handful of people loads of money.
Secondly, we have a sophisticated system of surveillance in the LLD. A powerful and intimidating Ministry of Surveillance which minutely monitors all business undertaken, controls and charges fees for all sorts of transactions, and prevents any attempt at cross-border or cross-disciplinary communication. All residents are registered, profiled and precisely classified to provide information for the most effective distribution of fears. As a result of this we have another burgeoning market: a black market for identity profiles. Yet another money-driven phenomenon that can allow you to perform business transactions, “illicit” communication, etc. under a fake rented profile which can't be traced back to your known identity.
Another effect triggered by this permanent state of intimidation is the rise of psychosomatic diseases. There are increasing numbers of inhabitants (in both of the classes) who just can't endure this constant living in fear. Instead of establishing institutions which would support people who – through a system-immanent triggered malfunction – struggle to participate in a meritocratic society, in the LLD you are simply doomed. Or rather, at least you have one hope: join the lively LLD resistance (if you still find the strength for it either before you get awfully sick or during your illness). The LLD resistance can be seen as another significant phenomenon which is slowly but steadily growing within the LLD itself. The longer this order is perpetuated, the more its inhabitants begin to question the system and even attempt to fight it.
This scenario is one of four Fear scenarios: