Security, Liberty and the Myth of Balance: Towards a Critique of Security Politics

Contemporary Political Theory 6 (2):131-149 (2007)


This article aims to challenge the idea of a 'balance' between security and liberty. Set against the background of ever greater demands for security, the article argues that the idea of balance is an essentially liberal myth, a myth that in turn masks the fact that liberalism's key category is not liberty, but security. This fact, it is suggested, undermines any possibility of liberalism challenging current demands for greater security, as witnessed by the thoroughly authoritarian 'concessions' to security by some contemporary liberals. More ambitiously, the article also suggests that attempts to develop a 'radical' politics of security are misplaced, and that what is needed is more a political critique of the concept.

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References found in this work

Two Treatises of Government.Roland Hall - 1966 - Philosophical Quarterly 16 (65):365.
Taking Rights Seriously.Alan R. White - 1977 - Philosophical Quarterly 27 (109):379-380.
Security and Liberty: The Image of Balance.Waldron Jeremy - 2003 - Journal of Political Philosophy 11 (2):191-210.

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Citations of this work

Freedom, Security, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.Josette Anna Maria Daemen - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-21.

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