Mark Neocleous in Critique of Security is unsympathetic to the traditional This book is an attempt at a critique of one of the key political categories of our. Christopher M.J. Boyd at University of Glasgow · Christopher M.J. Boyd. University of Glasgow. Abstract. Review of ‘Critique of Security’ by Mark Neocleous. In Critique of Security Mark Neocleous takes an entirely different approach. Treating security as a political technology for liberal order-building and engaging .

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We live, apparently, in insecure times. Not only the new global market, but what is taken to be its opposite — the idea that society can be planned and bureaucratically ordered from above — bring about insecurity on a wide scale.

Indeed, the question of how the concept of security can be expanded, broadened or deepened has been the central debate within international relations theory in the s. Such arguments have dominated debates within the European Union during Against security. Social democracy offers nothing if it does not offer security.

My concern in this article is as follows.

Buying into the assumption that the best way to have something done about these issues is to code them as questions of in security would appear to render objections to it — arguments against security — completely out of place.

In fact, as I shall argue, this is the very problem. A more critical interrogation of the concept of security reveals a deeply problematic core. In the summer ofa few days before Hiroshima received its abject lesson in US military power, Joseph E. The implications of this development on the security concept were massive, not just because the global expansion of US power spawned and funded a generation of academics guided towards area studies, security studies and international relations more generally, [11] but because it appeared to place the state at the heart of the security question: To spell out the implications of this we need to take a historical detour.

Critique of Security – Mark Neocleous – Google Books

This was eventually transformed into the idea of security of state. The US development of the concept in may be seen as reviving and building on this tradition. Sine — meaning without, and cura — meaning troubling, solicitude, care, anxiety, attention, pains, grief and sorrow, guardianship, concern for persons and things. Together they give us sine cura: Although by the eighteenth century the term had developed an intensely political meaning focused on the state, the second half of that century was a period of conceptual innovation for the concept of security, as important as that after the Second World War, but in an entirely different way.

In stark contrast to the state-centred approach embodied in the Act of Security and later revived by the American state, as security became the decisive criterion of liberty it came to imply the security of an undisturbed development of the life process of society as a whole.

The concept of security thus became the ideological guarantee of the independent and self-interested pursuit of property within bourgeois society — the guarantee of the egoism of civil society.

In doing so, security became the supreme concept of bourgeois society. Historically, then, it might appear that there are two broad approaches to security, a state-centric approach and an approach focused on the individual property owner.

Thinking about what unites them reveals some of the problems with recent demands for more security and the attempt to securitize a range of social issues. As a consequence virtually every development in the world is perceived to be potentially crucial.


The range of threats becomes limitless. The expansiveness of the doctrine also holds for perceived problems internal to states: This is apparent from the statutes themselves. Such formulations obscure any distinction between the civil and military spheres and merge internal and external security.

The best way to understand this penetration is as a police project. I shall develop this argument initially through a brief account of the work of two writers from very different intellectual backgrounds who developed a critique of neoc,eous liberal conception of security in the early nineteenth century: Hegel and Patrick Colquhoun. One of the reasons for this neocleeous because the system of private property necessarily requires the existence of a class of poverty.

This is a condition of profound insecurity which needs to be dealt with politically. For both writers the political solution resides in the police. Security needs to be guaranteed, and this is what the police provides. As Marx puts it, with typical acumen: This deepens the concept of security and draws together the two approaches outlined above.

First, because in specifying the centrality of the policing of poverty to security, the question of class — as the key to making a market economy possible — becomes from the bourgeois point of view an essential part of the politics of security.

The condition of security is thus not so much liberty and property, nor the state itself, but the penetration of civil society by the state via a range of police mechanisms. Far from being a spontaneous order of the kind found in liberal mythology, civil society is the security project par excellence.

Police is a mechanism for securing civil society ; a mechanism, that is, for securing class society. That the security of civil society is fabricated by the state tells us something important about the concept of security.

Critique of Security

But it also refers to a means of being secure and thus a process of making safe, of securing something. As Sfcurity puts it, security is not just securiyt noun that names something, but a principle of formation that does things. This process is necessary because of the insecurity inherent in the system of private property.

Securing is therefore what is done to a condition that is insecure. It is only because it is shaped by insecurity that security can secure.

This is what James Der Neocleoua describes as the paradox of security: Any argument for security contains a strong trace of insecurity within it: The history of security is a history of the state seeking an impossible security from the terror of the death of civil society and thus the end of private property. To escurity the point in more explicit class terms: The economic inactivity of the working class is the heart of the insecurity of the system; the resistance of this class to the social domination of private property is its next step; and the political mobilization of the class its highest form.

Secueity police project involves nothing less than securing the social system — the fabrication of social security — the aim of which is less the security of the individual citizen, assured of a safety net in place to help him or her in times of need, and more the security of the existing forms of social domination.

Against security

In the process the disruption of normal liberal politics under the exercise of emergency powers is legitimized. Whatever one feels about treating the environment, economic change, new forms of migration, developments in biotechnology and so on, as existential threats, the logically and politically prior point to be made is that these are socially manufactured problems. To say this is not to say that they are unimportant. To securitize them, or to view them through the prism of security, represents a profound and disturbing failure of political awareness.


And this is the point: This revives the liberal assumptions about individual autonomy and private property in the guise of new forms of neo-liberal subjectivity. This denies that security is a political relation and makes it the responsibility of the private individual pursuing their self-interest, consolidating its position as one of the greatest commodities of our time. Security functions as knowledge, relies on knowledge, produces knowledge, and uses its claim to knowledge as licence to render all aspects of life transparent to the state.

Security therefore requires that civil society be calculable and knowable, a project of knowledge and calculation in the services of state power. It is no more than the dream of state power and its search for security. For if, say, environmental questions are security questions, then it is perfectly reasonable for the security services to place environmental groups under surveillance. Thus, as a major contribution to making us more secure, the Prevention of Terrorism bill currently being considered by the British parliament will treat environmental groups as terrorist organizations.

But this reveals itself to be a politically naive misunderstanding kf ruling-class inventiveness with the concept of security, not least because the ruling class has been most sensitive to the fact neoxleous property and the state are the two sides of the security coin.

In accepting, as we must, that to some extent the needs of national security must displace civil liberties, albeit to the least possible extent, it is not irrelevant to remember that the maintenance of national security underpins and is the foundation of all our civil liberties.

The beauty of such a formulation is in the way that it synthesizes the classical liberal principle of individual rights ndocleous one of the most trenchant twentieth-century formulations of authoritarian rule. The demand for security, then, lends itself to the greater exercise of state power and private property. Securitizing questions of social and critiaue power has the debilitating effect of allowing the state to subsume genuinely political action concerning the issues in question, consolidating the power of the existing forms of social domination, and justifying the critiquee of even the most minimal liberal democratic procedures.

Rather than securitizing issues, then, we should be looking for ways to politicize them in non-security ways.

Towards a New Modernitytrans. Essays on the Politics of the Risk Societytrans. Mark Ritter, Humanities Press. New Jersey,p.

Can New Labour Deliver? Mark Ritter, Polity Press, Cambridge,p. Norton, New York, On the same theme, see Michael Renner, Fighting for Survival: Acton, Dent, London,pp. Stein, Liberty Crltique, Indianapolis,pp.

John Bowring, William Tait, Edinburgh,pp. Faulder, London,pp. Burrow, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis,p. Carringtonin which the court argued that the constitution existed to protect liberty and security State Trials, Todd, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis,pp.

Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Righted. Nisbet, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,paras. The First Philosophy of Right: Michael Stewart nsocleous Peter C. Hodgson, University of California Press, Berkeley,para. William Wallace, Clarendon Press, Oxford,para. Hatchard, London,pp. Mawman, London,pp. Preface, 94—5,— Berki, Security and Society: Bauman, In Search of Politicsp. In Britain the evidence for how successful security cameras are in making us more secure is mixed.

Walter Kaufmann, Vintage, New York,p. Skip to content We live, apparently, in insecure times.