Imprisoning Politics: The Logic of Security and the Undermining of Democracy

Newman, Saul. 2009. Imprisoning Politics: The Logic of Security and the Undermining of Democracy. In: Matt Morgan, ed. The Impact of 9/11 on Politics and War. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 197-207. ISBN 978 0 230 60763 7 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In this chapter, I propose to explore the contours of a new ‘security’ paradigm - by which I mean an episteme of discourses, speech acts, power relations, ideological mystifications, institutional practices, and concrete measures of control and surveillance organised around, and given intelligibility through, the amorphous notion of ‘security’. In other words, with the declaration of the global ‘war on terrorism’, ‘security’ has become a kind of global signifier which authorises measures and policies – both internally and externally – which would not hitherto have been seen as legitimate in liberal democracies. A number of paradoxes are central to this discourse of security: while the discourse of security takes as its seeming prerogative the protection of citizens from terrorist attacks, it provokes a permanent state of fear, vulnerability and insecurity; and perhaps more fundamentally, while it is instigated by formally elected democratic governments in response, partly, to perceived democratic pressures and fears about terrorism, presenting itself, moreover, as being necessary to protect democracies against their external enemies – in its application and its potential, it is profoundly anti-democratic. We have, then, a discourse and politico-ideological paradigm which emerges from within the liberal-democratic space and yet which is profoundly hostile to liberal-democratic principles and practices.

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Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2010 14:49

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 12:21


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