As we stand in line for security checks at airports, we may have the distinct feeling that we are being herded like cattle. Air travel has changed, and has become much less pleasant, since the fear of terrorism replaced the fear of communism as the excuse that governments give for diverting colossal sums of money from desperately needed social goals to the bottomless pit of war. Innocent grandmothers, and their grandchildren, are required to remove their shoes and belts. Everyone is treated like a criminal. It is a humiliating experience. We may well feel like dumb driven cattle; and the purpose of the charade is not so much to prevent airliners from being sabotaged as it is to keep the idea of terrorism fresh in our minds.
Is the threat of terrorism real? Or is it like the barking of a dog driving a herd? The threat of climate change is very real indeed. The threat to future global food security is real too. Already 11 million children die every year from malnutrition and poverty-related causes. The threat to human civilization and the biosphere posed by a possible Third World War is real. The threat of exhaustion of non-renewable resources and economic collapse is real. The dangers associated with our unstable fractional reserve banking system are also real. Beside these all too real threats to our future, the threat of terrorism is vanishingly small.