Forget Equality? Security and Liberty in the 'War on Terror'

Aradau, Claudia (2008). Forget Equality? Security and Liberty in the 'War on Terror'. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 33(3) pp. 293–314.



The 'war on terror' has triggered intense debates about the role of security and liberty, the trade-off between security and liberty, the meaning of security and the power of civil liberties. Nonetheless, while security has been closely dissected either as a governmental or exceptional practice, liberty has been largely shrouded in silence. Rather than contesting practices of security, liberty appeared degraded, a fetish, justifying restrictions and regulating conduct. This article unpacks the conditions of possibility for the degradation of freedom in the 'war on terror,� and argues that freedom degenerates when its relation with equality is severed and it is instead tied up with security. Rather than the dichotomy liberty/security, I consider the triadic relationship with equality and the implications of the double demise of equality: On the one hand, the demise of equality from theories of security (starting with Hobbes); and on the other, the demise of equality in contemporary social and political thought.

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