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Security after emancipation? Critical Theory, violence and resistance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 August 2010

Abstract

Within the current configuration of Critical Security Studies (CSS) the concept of ‘emancipation’ is upheld as the keystone of a commitment to transformative change in world politics, but comparatively little is said on the status of violence and resistance within that commitment. As a means of highlighting this relative silence, this article examines the nature of the connection between CSS and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. In particular it disinters the reflections of Herbert Marcuse on the connections between emancipatory change, violence and resistance as a means of interrogating and challenging the definition of ‘security as emancipation’. Doing so, it is argued, points towards some of the potential limitations of equating security and emancipation, and provides a provocation of contemporary CSS from within its own cited intellectual and normative foundations.


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Research Article
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Copyright © British International Studies Association 2010

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References

1 Pieterse, Jan Nederveen, ‘Emancipations, Modern and Postmodern’, Development and Change, 23:3 (1992), pp. 541, 78CrossRefGoogle Scholar ; on the etymology of emancipation see also: {http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=emancipate} accessed on 15 July 2009.

2 See the special issue on ‘Critical International Theory after 25 years’, Review of International Studies, 33:S1; Devetak, Richard, ‘The Project of Modernity in International Relations Theory’, in Roach, Steven C. (ed.), Critical Theory and International Relations: A Reader (London: Routledge, 2008)Google Scholar , and ch. 7 of the same volume, pp. 227–65.

3 Most notably Nicholas J. Rengger, who suggests that ‘critical theory has a profound ambiguity about the question of emancipation, an ambiguity which weakens, possibly fatally, the sense of “emancipation” as the possible route out of the problem of order’, and, by implication, that emancipation is thus potentially a ‘worm’ at the core of critical international theory that ‘constantly threatens to pollute the whole project’ – International Relations, Political Theory and the Problem of Order: Beyond International Relations Theory? (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 159, 151.

4 Linklater, Andrew, ‘Toward a sociology of global morals with an “emancipatory intent”’, Review of International Studies, 33 (2007), pp. 135150CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

5 Alker, Hayward, ‘Emancipation in the Critical Security Studies Project’, in Booth, Ken (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World Politics (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 2005), p. 200Google Scholar . Emphasis in original.

6 Usually this ‘School’ is taken to be comprised primarily by Ken Booth and Richard Wyn Jones and their respective works on security; see the C. A. S. E. Collective, ‘Critical Approaches to Security in Europe: A Networked Manifesto’, Security Dialogue, 37:4 (2006), pp. 443487, 448CrossRefGoogle Scholar . For the purposes of this article, though, the term ‘Welsh School’ is generally eschewed (the notion of ‘Schools’, as noted below in relation to the Frankfurt School, is itself inherently problematic) in favour of a specific use of the term ‘Critical Security Studies’ (CSS), used as shorthand here to refer primarily to the work of Booth and Wyn Jones.

7 Booth, Ken, ‘Security and Emancipation’, Review of International Studies, 17:4 (1991), pp. 313326; 316CrossRefGoogle Scholar . The article was drawn from the plenary address to the British International Studies Association (BISA) annual conference in 1990.

8 Booth, Critical Security Studies and World Politics; Theory of World Security.

9 Booth, Ken, Theory of World Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 45CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

10 See in particular Aradau, Claudia, ‘Security and the democratic scene: descuritization and emancipation’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 7 (2004), pp. 388413Google Scholar ; also Huysmans, Jef, ‘Minding Exceptions: The Politics of Insecurity and Liberal Democracy’, Contemporary Political Theory, 3:3 (2004), pp. 321341Google Scholar .

11 See, for example Booth, Ken, ‘Introduction to Part 3’, in Booth, Ken (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World Politics (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 2005), pp. 181182Google Scholar and Booth, , Theory of World Security, p. 278Google Scholar . Jones, Richard Wyn likewise argues that CSS reconceptualises security by virtue of being ‘Focused, crucially, on emancipation as the prism through which both the theory and practice of security should be viewed’, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 1999), p. 166Google Scholar . Emphasis added.

12 See, for example, Sheehan, Michael, Security: An Analytical Survey (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 2005), pp. 164168Google Scholar .

13 Some of which are discussed in more detail below.

14 See references in n. 11 above and, for example, Jones, Richard Wyn, ‘On Emancipation: Necessity, Capacity, and Concrete Utopias’, in Booth, (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World PoliticsGoogle Scholar .

15 Booth, ‘Introduction to Part 3’, p. 181.

16 Booth, ‘Introduction to Part 3’, p. 183. See also Ken Booth, Theory of World Security; for example pp. 110–1.

17 Booth, , ‘Critical Explorations’, in Booth, (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World PoliticsGoogle Scholar .

18 ‘Emancipation is the freeing of people (as individuals and groups) from those physical and human constraints which stop them carrying out what they would freely choose to do. War and the threat of war is one of those constraints, together with poverty, poor education, political oppression and so on. Security and emancipation are two sides of the same coin. Emancipation, not power or order, produces true security. Emancipation, theoretically is security.’ – Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 316.

19 With the conference at York University in Toronto that eventually led to Krause, Keith and Williams, Michael C. (eds), Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)Google Scholar .

20 Most notably Richard Wyn Jones, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory.

21 Booth, ‘Beyond Critical Security Studies’, pp. 261–3.

22 Theory of World Security, p. 41.

23 Booth, ‘Beyond Critical Security Studies’, p. 261; see also Theory of World Security, p. xv.

24 Jones, Richard Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 2Google Scholar .

25 Ibid.

26 Booth, , Theory of World Security, pp. 3941Google Scholar .

27 Ibid.

28 Horkheimer, Max, ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’, in Critical Theory: Selected Essays, trans. O'Connell, Matthew J. and others, (New York: Seabury Press, 1972)Google Scholar .

29 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 23Google Scholar .

30 Horkheimer, cited in ibid., p. 23.

31 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 23Google Scholar .

32 Ibid., p. 77.

33 See Sheehan, , Security: An Analytical Survey, p. 167Google Scholar .

34 Horkheimer, Max, Eclipse of Reason (New York: Continuum, 1974)Google Scholar .

35 Adorno, Theodor W. and Horkheimer, Max, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Cumming, John (London: Verso, 1979)Google Scholar .

36 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 35Google Scholar .

37 ‘Emancipation’, Nicholas J. Rengger argues, ‘was not one of Adorno's major concerns’, and his collaboration with Horkheimer is conventionally seen to curtail the thematic of emancipation – Rengger, , International Relations, Political Theory and the Problem of Order, p. 162Google Scholar . In another sense, though, Adorno's later work might be read as an attempt to re-conceive emancipation in a manner that is not identitarian/totalitarian and avoids some of the potential pitfalls of subjectivism and violence that are discussed later in this article – see especially Adorno, Theodor, Negative Dialectics (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1973)Google Scholar . More recently Andrew Linklater has sought to ground a sociology of global morals in a reading of Adorno – see Linklater, Andrew, ‘Toward a sociology of global morals with an “emancipatory intent”’, Review of International Studies, 33 (2007), pp. 135150, 143Google Scholar , and ‘Distant Suffering and Cosmopolitan Obligations’, International Relations, 44 (2007), pp. 19–36, 23.

38 Adorno, and Horkheimer, , Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 134Google Scholar .

39 A position subsequently reiterated in Wyn Jones' ‘On Emancipation’.

40 Booth, ‘Beyond Critical Security Studies’, p. 263.

41 Booth, ‘Introduction to Part 3’, p. 181.

42 As argued at length in Wyn Jones, ‘On Emancipation’, p. 219.

43 Shaw, Martin, ‘There is No Such Thing as Society: Beyond Individualism and Statism in International Security Studies’, Review of International Studies, 19 (1993), pp. 159175Google Scholar , and Buzan, Barry, Wæver, Ole and De Wilde, Jaap, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998)Google Scholar . See Sheehan, , International Security: An Analytical Survey, pp. 165166Google Scholar for an overview.

44 See Hayward Alker, ‘Emancipation in the Critical Security Studies Project’ and Rengger, Nicholas J. ‘Negative Dialectic? The Two Modes of Critical Theory in World Politics’, in Jones, Richard Wyn (ed.), Critical Theory and World Politics (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2001), p. 98Google Scholar .

45 C. A. S. E, ‘Critical Approaches to Security in Europe’, p. 456; Aradau, Claudia, ‘Security and the democratic scene: desecuritization and emancipation’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 7 (2004) pp. 388413, 398CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

46 Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene’, p. 398.

47 Ibid., p. 390.

48 Neocleous, Mark, Critique of Security (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), pp. 4, 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Emphasis in original.

49 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 55Google Scholar .

50 See ch. 5 of Security, Strategy and Critical Theory.

51 Feenberg, Andrew, Critical Theory of Technology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991)Google Scholar .

52 See, Feenberg, Andrew, Heidegger and Marcuse: The Catastrophe and Redemption of History (New York: Routledge, 2004)Google Scholar .

53 Kellner, Douglas, preface to Marcuse, Herbert, Technology, War and Fascism: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Vol. 1, edited by Kellner, Douglas (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. xivGoogle Scholar .

54 For an overview see Jahn, Beate, ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Critical Theory as the Latest Edition of Liberal Idealism’, Millennium, 27:3 (1998), pp. 613641CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

55 Kellner, (ed.), Introduction to Technology, War and Fascism, pp. 1215Google Scholar .

56 When Marcuse does refer to DoE it is usually in the form a positive endorsement; see, for example, Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), pp. 137, 157Google Scholar .

57 See Marcuse, Herbert, Counterrevolution and Revolt (London: Allen Lane, 1972), esp. pp. 7677Google Scholar .

58 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 161Google Scholar .

59 Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 324.

60 Marcuse, Hebert, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Enquiry into Freud (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), p. 20Google Scholar .

61 Marcuse, Herbert, An Essay on Liberation (London: Allen Lane, 1969), p. 10Google Scholar . Compare Booth: ‘Critical theory escapes the confines of privileged referents [of security] by embracing no static interest save that of the primordial human being and the species in nature’ – ‘Critical Explorations’, in Booth, Ken (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World Politics, p. 12Google Scholar .

62 Marcuse, Herbert, An Essay on Liberation, p. viiiGoogle Scholar .

63 Ibid., pp. ix–x.

64 On the tendency towards interchangeable use of the concepts of ‘emancipation’ and ‘liberation’ more generally, see Pieterse, ‘Emancipations, Modern and Postmodern’, p. 11.

65 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 76Google Scholar .

66 Ibid., p. 13.

67 See Kellner, Introduction to Technology, War and Fascism for further historical background.

68 As an aside we might note a parallel lack within the ‘Copenhagen School’ approach with regard to the role of violent resistance in processes of ‘desecuritization’ (or ‘counter-securitizations’) – see Wæver, Ole, ‘Securitisation and Desecuritisation’, in Lipschutz, Ronnie D. (ed.), On Security (New York: Columbia University Press), pp. 4686Google Scholar ; Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene: descuritization and emancipation’, p. 399; Diez, Thomas, ‘The Paradoxes of Europe's Borders’, Comparative European Politics, 4 (2006), pp. 235252Google Scholar .

69 Booth, ‘Introduction to Part 3’, p. 183.

70 Marcuse, , Essay on Liberation, pp. 19, 25Google Scholar .

71 Ibid., p. 27. See also pp. 40–3, and Marcuse, , Counterrevolution and Revolt (London: Allen Lane, 1972), pp. 23Google Scholar .

72 Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 316.

73 Ibid., p. 323.

74 Counterrevolution and Revolt, pp. 2–3.

75 Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth (London: Penguin, 1965)Google Scholar .

76 Compare Wyn Jones' argument that ‘the relative security of the inhabitants of the North is purchased at the price of chronic insecurity for the vast majority of the world population […] So, far from being a necessary condition for the good life, statism appears to be one of the main sources of insecurity – part of the problem rather than the solution’; prior to this he argues that ‘When a broader definition of security that includes non-military threats is applied, it is clear that many states are deeply implicated in the creation of other forms of insecurity for their own populations, for example in such issues as food and environmental security.’ – Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 99.

77 Ibid., p. 37.

78 ‘[T]o countless millions of people in the world it is their own state, and not the “Enemy” that is the primary security threat.’ – Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 318.

79 Marcuse, , Essay on Liberation, p. 67Google Scholar .

80 Galtung, Johan, ‘Violence, Peace and Peace Research’, Journal of Peace Research, 3 (1969), pp. 167191Google Scholar . On CSS's identification with this understanding of violence see Smith, Steve, ‘The Contested Concept of Security’, in Booth, Ken (ed.), Critical Security Studies, p. 54Google Scholar .

81 For Marcuse, domination exists as something of a social fact and a ‘decisive tendency in current politics’; indeed, one of the major problems for Marcuse's own analysis (given his own search for elements of resistance and liberation) is that his conception of domination is so all-encompassing – to the point that ‘society’ and ‘domination’ are essentially one and the same – see his Five Lectures: Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Utopia, trans. Shapiro, Jeremy J. and Weber, Shierry M. (London: Allen Lane, 1970), p. 1Google Scholar , and, more generally, Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man.

82 Marcuse, , Essay on Liberation, pp. 7576Google Scholar .

83 Marcuse, , ‘The End of Utopia Q&A’, in Five Lectures, p. 7273Google Scholar .

84 Essay on Liberation, pp. 71–2.

85 Essay on Liberation, p. 72.

86 Ibid., p. 73.

87 Kahn, Richard, ‘The Educative Potential of Ecological Militancy in an Age of Big Oil: towards a Marcusian ecopedagogy’, Policy Futures in Education, 4:1 (2006), pp. 3144, 35CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

88 Essay on Liberation, pp. 76–7.

89 Marcuse, Herbert, ‘Repressive Tolerance’, in Wolff, Robert Paul, Moore, Barrington Jnr. & Marcuse, Herbert (ed.), A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969)Google Scholar .

90 Kahn, ‘The Educative Potential of Ecological Militancy’, p. 35.

91 ‘No matter how non-violent our demonstrations are or will be, we must expect them to be met with new institutional violence’ – ‘The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition’, in Five Lectures, p. 105.

92 Marcuse, , ‘The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition’, in Five Lectures, p. 89Google Scholar .

93 Ibid.

94 ‘Repressive Tolerance’, p. 90.

95 Ibid., p. 102. Cf. Balibar, Étienne on ‘Violence, Ideality and Cruelty’, in Politics and the Other Scene (London: Verso, 2002)Google Scholar – ‘there are certainly degrees in the amount of violence which goes along with civilizing ideals; but nothing like a zerodegree. Therefore there is no such thing as non-violence’ – p. 145.

96 Counterrevolution and Revolt, p. 78. Marcuse draws here on Delacroix's painting of liberty leading the people as illustrative of a potential female counter-force: ‘She wears no uniform; her breasts are bare, and her beautiful face shows no trace of violence. But she still has a rifle in her hand […].’

97 Marcuse, (ed.), ‘The End of Utopia Q&A’, in Five Lectures, p. 78Google Scholar .

98 Ibid., pp. 78–9. ‘Where in a revolution this sort of terror changes into acts of cruelty, brutality and torture, then we are already talking about a perversion of the revolution’ – Marcuse, ‘The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition’, p. 103.

99 Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene’, p. 397.

100 As advocated more explicitly in, for example, Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 321.

101 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 161Google Scholar .

102 Essay on Liberation, p. 53.

103 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, p. 43Google Scholar ; cf. Booth, Ken and Vale, Peter, ‘Critical Security Studies and Regional Insecurity: The Case of Southern Africa’, in Krause, Keith and Williams, Michael C. (eds), Critical Security Studies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)Google Scholar .

104 Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, p. 326. Booth also considers peaceful anti-nuclear protests at length in the article.

105 Booth, , Theory of World Security, p. 112Google Scholar .

106 Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals as cited in Booth, , Theory of World Security, p. 87Google Scholar .

107 As Pieterse notes, ‘The various definitions of emancipation, liberation, participation and empowerment show a tendency towards circularity, one being defined in terms of the other. Emancipation is a form of liberation, liberation is a form of emancipation etc.’ – ‘Emancipations, Modern and Postmodern’, p. 11.

108 Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene’, p. 401. Similarly, Ernesto Laclau argues that emancipation has a necessarily ‘dichotomic dimension’: ‘otherness […] is required by the founding act of emancipation’ – Emancipation(s) (London: Verso, 2007), p. 4.

109 van Munster, Rens, ‘Review of Ken Booth, Theory of World Security in Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 21:3 (2008), pp. 437439, 438CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

110 Booth, , Theory of World Security, p. 113Google Scholar .

111 Booth, Ken, ‘Response to Rens van Munster’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 21:3 (2008), pp. 439441, 440Google Scholar .

112 van Munster, , ‘Review of Theory of World Security’, p. 439Google Scholar .

113 Neocleous, , Critique of Security, pp. 7, 2629Google Scholar ; Marx, Karl, ‘On the Jewish Question’, [1844] in Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick (ed.), Collected Works, Vol. 3 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975), p. 163Google Scholar .

114 See, for example, Keller, Douglas, Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

115 See Essay on Liberation, pp. 50–2.

116 Essay on Liberation, p. 7.

117 Ibid., p. 69.

118 Ibid., p. 93.

119 Ibid.

120 Ibid., p. viii.

121 Marcuse, ‘The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition’, p. 89 Emphasis added.

122 Marcuse, ‘Repressive Tolerance’, p. 116.

123 Cf. Benjamin, Walter, ‘Critique of Violence’, in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (New York: Schocken Books, 1978)Google Scholar . In a similar vein, Slavoj Žižek has urged a move ‘from the rejection of false anti-violence to the endorsement of emancipatory violence’ – Violence (London: Profile, 2009), p. 174.

124 See C. A. S. E., ‘Critical Approaches to Security in Europe’, pp. 455–7.

125 ‘Repressive Tolerance’, pp. 109–10.

126 Neocleous, , Critique of Security, p. 74Google Scholar .

127 Ibid., pp. 104–5.

128 Marcuse, ‘Repressive Tolerance’, p. 117.

129 Žižek, , Violence, pp. 9, 147Google Scholar .

130 Hanssen, Beatrice, Critique of Violence: Between Poststructuralism and Critical Theory (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 27Google Scholar .

131 Ibid., See, Arendt's, On Revolution (London: Penguin, 2006)Google Scholar ; see also Keller, Douglas, Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 283Google Scholar and, more generally, Parekh, Bhiku, ‘Marxism and the Problem of Violence’, Development and Change, 23:3 (1992), pp. 103120Google Scholar . For a recent counter-reading, of ‘The Terror’ in particular, see Žižek, Slavoj, In Defence of Lost Causes (London: Verso, 2007)Google Scholar .

132 Laclau, , Emancipation(s), p. 11Google Scholar .

133 Cf. Jahn, ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’.

134 Booth, (ed.), Theory of World Security, pp. 134148Google Scholar .

135 Jones, Wyn, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory, pp. 125160Google Scholar .

136 Cf. Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene’.

137 ‘Emancipations, Modern and Postmodern’, p. 14.

138 See, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory.

139 Aradau, ‘Security and the democratic scene’.

140 Briefly, Badiou's focus on emancipatory ‘events’, Rancière conception of emancipation as ‘listening to the unheard’ rather than treating the poor/dispossessed as ‘a cog in the philosopher's explanatory machine’, Balibar on emancipation as ‘the battle against the denial of citizenship’ – see Hewlett, Nick, Badiou, Balibar, Rancière: Rethinking Emancipation (London: Continuum, 2007)Google Scholar for an overview and discussion. For applications and more extensive evaluations of such perspectives in relation to international studies, see Claudia Aradau, ‘Security and the Democratic Scene’, op cit, and her Rethinking Trafficking in Women: Politics out of Security (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); and van Munster, Rens, Immigration, Security and the Politics of Risk in the EU (London: Palgrave, 2009)Google Scholar .

141 Balibar, Étienne, Politics and the Other Scene (London: Verso, 2002), p. 6Google Scholar . Emphasis in original; p. 30.

142 Hewlett, , Badiou, Balibar, Rancière: Rethinking Emancipation, p. 135Google Scholar . For a further critique of Balibar's ambiguities on the role of violence see also p. 153.

143 For a related argument in regard to the relationship between the Frankfurt School and Critical International Theory more broadly see Rengger, Nicholas J., International Relations, Political Theory and the Problem of Order: Beyond International Relations Theory? (London: Routledge, 2000)Google Scholar : ‘the notion of ‘emancipation’ in this context […] creates the problem – rather than the project of critical theory per se.’ – p. 162.

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