speaking out against security

Kirsch, Thomas G. 2016. On the difficulties of speaking out against security. Anthropology Today 32 (5): 5-7.

"This article argues that those who oppose the proliferation of security agendas face two challenges. First, it is normally not feasible – to say the least – to speak out against security by voting for its direct semantic opposite; that is, insecurity. Second, because the direct antonym of security can hardly be seen as a legitimate vision of an alternative order, opponents of security have to make excursions into other semantic domains which are then presented as the obverse of security and, most importantly, as being threatened by it and in need of protection. Such semantic domains include ‘freedom’, ‘privacy’, ‘liberty’ and ‘human rights’, among many others. Yet, in doing so, opposition to security easily becomes tangled in complicated discussions about the meaning and value of what precisely it is that needs to be protected from security. I conclude that it is comparatively easy to set up and legitimize security measures and comparatively difficult to discursively devise counter-programmes against them. The seemingly self-evident nature of the necessity of security can only be opposed by making reference to utopian visions of an alternative social order that defy easy definition and as a consequence are likely to give rise to controversial debates among those in the political field who seek to oppose security."