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Aorias of Security

Aorias of Security

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Published by Zafar Moosajee
philosophy quite a good read
philosophy quite a good read

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Published by: Zafar Moosajee on May 05, 2011
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Alternatives
27
(20()2),]-27
AporiasofSecurity
Anthony
Burke*
Maybethe[t<lsk]nowadaysisnottodiscoverwhatweare,huttorefusewhatweare.Wehaveto...getridofthepolitical"double-hind,"
whichis
thesimultaneousindividualizationand
totaliza-
tion
of
modernpowerstructures..,.Thepolitical,ethical,
so-
cial,philosophical
problem
ofourdaysis
notto
try
to
liberatetheindividualfromthestateandfromthestate'sinstitutions.huttoliberate
us
both
from
thestateandfromthetypeofindi-vidualisationwhichislinked
to
theSlate,-MichelFoucault,"TheSubject
,HId
Power"
What
does
it
meantobe
secure?
Shouldweeven
needto
ask?Surelyweknow.\\'eknowthatsecurity
isoneof
themostfunda-mentalhumanneeds:
an
irrefutableg-uaranteeofsafetyandwell-being,ecouomicassuranceandpossibility,sociabilityandorder;ofalifelivedfreelywithoutfearorhardship.That
ser
urityisauni-versal
good
available
to
all,and
a
solemnpledgebetweencitizens
and
theirpoliticalleaders,
to
whomtheir
people's
security
is
"thefirstduty,"theoverridinggoal
of
domesticandinternationalpolicymaking.
Assuch
it
has
beenable
to
trace
a
powerfulpathbetweensubjr-rtandworld.state
and
citize-n.topromise
simultaneouslya
solutiontotheinchoatefearsandinsecuritiesofeverydaylifeandthe
eno
rmous
spariul,culuual,economic,andgeopoliticalcom-
plexitiesofgovt'rnrncntInshort,securityremains
Ollt'
ofruoder-
nitv'smost
stubbornandenduringdreams,However.
Ibe-lievethat,m
orethanever,wedoneedtoaskwhatitistobesecure.Surelywe
110
longerknowwhatsecurity
is-«
inthatPlatonicsense,Surelymorethantenyearsafterthecud
or
theColdWar,aftertheClintonDoctrineandthedestructionoftheTwin
'fowt'J's,
aflelhumau
i
arianandpolicydbastersinIndochina.Africa,
East
Timor,the-Middle
East,
andCentralAmerica,
andafter
agrowinghodvofhumanistandcriticalscholarshiphasquestioned
+School
ol
Pulitie,l
S('ictl("
andlrucruarionalStudies
Un
iverxitvofQuee-nsland,SLLucia.QI.D407(1,AUSIrali'LE-mail:alltholly.hmkc@rn...ilbox.uq.cdu.au.
1
 
2
AporiasofSl'curift/
security'sunity,discursivcstructure,andpoliticalimplications,se-curitynolongerpossesses
acredible
wholeness.
I
Thisarticlebegins
frr
nnthepremise
rh.u
security's
claims
touniversality
and
whole-nessfounderonadestructiveseriesofaporias,whichderiveIirst.lvfromthegrowingsens!'thatsecurity
110
longerhasastablereferentobject,nornamesacommonsetofneeds,means,orwaysofbeing,andsecondly,fromthemoralrelativism
that
llesatthe
ce-nter
or
dominant
(realist)
discourses
or
securitythat
pretendtounive-rxa]-it}
hili.insist.IhOlt
"our"
securityalwavsrests
Oil
theinsecurity
andsullclill)!,
or
au-other.While
this
articlearguesstronglyt.hat.securityhasnoessentialontological
integrity,
italsoargues
t
hat
if
thepowerandsweepofsecurityarctobeunderstoodandchallenged,itsclaimstouniver-
sality
musthetakenseriously,They
underpin
andan
imatcsweep-ing-formsofpower,subjectivity,force,andeconomiccirculationandcannotbe
dismissed
outof
hand.
Nor,inthehands
01'
somehumanistwriters-whohavesoughttothink
human
andgenderse-curityinradicalcounterpoint
to
realisl
im;lges
of
national
andin-ternationalsecurity-aresuchclaimsalwayspernicious.Theyhaveavaluablemoralandpoliticallorccthatundermines,perhapsun-wittingly,thelogoccnlricpresuppositionsoftherealistdiscoursestheyquestion.
Yet
acommonassurnprio
nthatsecurity
canhe
on-tologicallycompletedandsecureddocspresentahurdleforthekilld
of
"OIl
ropolitical"critiqut:thatwereallyneed."The
answer
is
nor
toseektocloseouttheseaporias;theycall
to
usandlit
ei
rexistenceprcsclltsanimporran
t
political
opening.Ratherthanseck
to
rexecur«sCCllrily,
to
makeitCOliformtoanew
humanist
ideal-however
laudable-e-we-neerl
to
challenge
security
asaclaimto
trur
h,tosetits"meaning"aside.Instead,weshouldfocusonsecurityasapervasiveandcomplexsystemofpolitical,so-cial,andeconomicpower,which
reache-s
fromthemostprivatespacesof
heing
tothevastflowsand
conflicts
ofgeopoliticsandg'lohaleconomiccirculation.IIis
(0SCt'
securityasaninterlocking
svxtr-ruof
knowleriges,represelltations,
prar
rir
es,
and
institutionalformsthatimagine,direct,andact.uponbodies,spaces,andflowsin
c{'rt,Lin
W,lYS-1O
seesecurity
not
asanessentialvaluehiltasa
jlOfitim/ler/tllOlug'v.
Thisistomovefromessence
to
genealo)!,y:a
ge-
nealogythataims,inWilliamConnolly'swords,to
"OpCIlLIS
lipto
theplayof
possibilityill
the
present...[to]incitecriticalre-sponsestounncccssaryviolencesanrlinjuriessnrreptiriouslvim-posedupon
li1'c
by
theinsistence
thai
prevailingformsare
natural.
rational,universalornecessary.":,Thisarticleexplorestheaporiasofsecurity.Andthenbeginsthework
or
itsgenealogy-agenealogyof'security'sconceptualand
 
AtltlumyBurke
3
discursiverootsthataims
to
uncover,atitscrucialpointsofforma-tion,theorderofknowledgelyingbeneathsecurity'sdramaofstruggle,technology,violence,andmetaphor-inthehopethatthisorderofknowledgecaninturnhechallenged,altered,andrethought.Itis
10
ask:
Is
theresomething
beyond
or"outside"
se-
curitv?Whatmightitspossibilitiesanddangersbe?
TwoKindsofAporia
Inbothitsrealistandhumanistguises,securitytakestheformandpromiseof
a
Jnela/Jhy"iut/
discourse:anoverarchingpoliticalgoalandpracticethatguaranleesexistenceitself,thatmakesthepossi-
hiliry
oftheworldpossible.
US
President
Bill
Clintonprefacedthe
1997
NationalSecurityStrategy
by
sayingthat"protectingthese-curity
ofour
nation-ourpeople,ourterritoryandourway
of
Iile-e-is
myforemostmissionandconstitutionalduty."
Dr.Mahathir
Mohamad,
or
Malaysia,hasarguedthat"nationalsecurityisinsep-arablefrompoliticalstability,economic
successand
social
har-
mony."In
1995,
former
Australian
Labor
leaderPaulKeating-
ar-
g-ueel
that
"a
prime
minister's
duty,
his
first
duty,istothesecurity
of
his
countrv,"whilehissuccessor
Kim
Beazleydeclaredtheparry'scentral
valuesas"securityandopportunity"andelevated
se-
curirytoanoverarchinggoalthatlinked,alongaseamlesscontin-
uum,
thepersonalsecurity
of
individualsandfamilieswiththesecurirvofthenation
itself."
InIndonesia,securitywasafunda-
menialsocietal
discourseduring
the
entiretenure
of
the
Soharto
NewOrder,and
ithastaken
on
onlygreaterurgency
in
theturmoilthat
accompanied
hisretreat
from
power.InIndonesia'sdoctrinalcontinuumbetwee-nnationalandregional"resilience,"securitylinks
i
heunity
andprrispe-ri
tv
ofthe
nationtoidealsystems
or
re-
g-ion,t\andinternational
order."
Indeed.theEuropean
politicaltheorist
R.
N.
Berki
arguesthat
se-ruritvis
Iii!'
ultimateandove-rriding
humanvalue,
the
basic
con-
dition
for
life
andfreedom:
"Securirvis
theparamountvaluefor
self-conscious,rational.thinkingindividuals...not_jnstanexter-nal(and
IheH'fo)"('
optional)condition
of
lifeandfreedomhUIsimplyanotherwordforliteandfreedom.
h(j
Morecritically,thecriticalscholar
Michae-lDillon
recognizesthesamedrive:"Security
i
mprr-ssjr-s
I
itselfllPon
politicalthought
asaself-evident
conditionforthevcrvexiste-nceoflife-bothindividualandsocial."?
R.
B.J.
Walke-r
likewiseargu('s
thai
modernaccounts
of
security
define
"t
h
e-
conditiorisunderwhichwehave
beenconstructed
as
subjects
subject
In
subjection.
I'he-v
tell
us
whowemust
be."1l

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