Ulrich Beck

Scientists, whose findings often contradict each other, who change their minds so fundamentally, that what was judged ‘safe’ to swallow today, may be a ‘cancer risk’ in two years time? Can we believe the politicians and the mass media, when the former declare there are no risks, while the latter dramatize the risks in order to maintain circulation and viewing figures? Let me end with an ironic confession of non-knowledge. I know that I, too, simply do not know.

2 thoughts on “Ulrich Beck

  1. shinichi Post author

    The greatest military power in history shields itself with an anti-missile defence system costing billions of dollars. Is it not also a bitter irony that this power should be struck to the heart of its security and self-confidence by an action that was utterly improbable according to every logic of risk, when suicide terrorists succeeded in turning commercial passenger aircraft into rockets, which destroyed symbols of American world power? The irony of risk here is that rationality, that is, the experience of the past, encourages anticipation of the wrong kind of risk, the one we believe we can calculate and control, whereas the disaster arises from what we do not know and cannot calculate. The bitter varieties of this risk irony are virtually endless; among them is the fact, that, in order to protect their populations from the danger of terrorism, states increasingly limit civil rights and liberties, with the result that in the end the open, free society may be abolished, but the terrorist threat is by no means averted. The dark irony here is that, while very general risk-induced doubts in the benevolence of the promises of governments to protect their citizens lead to criticisms of the inefficiency of scholarly and state authorities, critics are blind to the possibilities of erecting (or expanding) the authoritarian state on this very inefficiency.


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