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Oliver P. Richmond “Security Cosmpolitanism or ‘Securitopia'”

Richmond, Oliver P. 2015. Security Cosmopolitanism or ’Securitopia’: An ontological trap and a half-hearted response to structural war? Critical Studies on Security 3(2): 182-189. doi: 10.1080/21624887.2015.1065119

Increasing war, conflict, and political violence are being replaced with structural war, which is hybrid in strategy and designed to maintain ‘naturalised’ and structural, comparative inequalities in the lives of peoples across the world, often whilst simultaneously speaking of progress. In modernity, power prefers this version of progress to pluralism, equity, and justice across time and space. (182)

Though cosmopolitan thought often conjures up an image of global polycentricity, and confederal forms of global governance, in practice it is often centred on the historical emergence of Western power, the relationship between liberal subjects, legitimate governance at state and international levels, and global capital: it is grounded in a shaky liberal international order, in other words. (183)

Power–even a variant of liberal power–justifies its reluctance to concede on the grounds of divine right translated in modern stratification, leadership, economy, and management based upon epistemic superiority, and ultimately as the guardians of the security of the less capable. (184)

Even where freedom and liberty is the goal, the growth of security is ontologically predicated on a growing awareness of insecurity for an existing or ideal order and concurrent hierarchy intent on balancing present with future, and power with norms. Insecurity is ever expanding, refined, mixed with ideals (often for others) and embedded into the existing political order in order to maintain its‘progressive’, interventionary power structures and the exceptions that enable its vanguardism. (184)

Burke’s argument seems be based upon the idea that security can be reconciled with insecurity and that there is at least an interim way around such deep-rooted structures. It is based on a pluralist and equitable ontology, which only needs to be realised after the scales have been removed from the eyes of power (Burke 2013, 21). (184)

[…] security cosmopolitanism risks handing the epistemological site of securitisation the legitimacy that accompanies the norms and ethics of cosmopolitanism in a complex process not of de-securitisation, but of co-optation. Securitisation, covering human rights, markets to the territorial state, transport, the environment, and humanitarianism and medicine, has long been used to maintain and enhance hierarchies, whilst persuading the losers (the conflict-affected subject or the global poor) to become resilient in the face of their iniquitous situation. If this is a covert structural war then it may mean that structural change is necessary, meaning the end of ‘security’. (187)

Security cannot be secured: security provides a platform for‘threat assessments’ (a mendacious phrasing of governmentality if ever there was one) to forever expand the field of security whilst promising securitopia. For security to be meaningful, it has to be unpacked into its intersubjective and multiple fields, to encounter ungovernmentality with the objective of structural progress. When one unpacks security and then reframes it in view of the subject, one ends up with perspectives of peace. Peace emancipates, by cementing layers of social, economic, political, cultural, frameworks, which lock in order and provide platforms for its further advancement. It does so by offering a contemporary positionality in which violence retreats, and a future probability that structural violence will be redressed, across time and space. Therefore, what if peace, with its implications of empathy, emancipation, care, and progressiveness, was the central focus on cosmopolitanism, and security was its procedural component, but not its objective focus (even in liberal-internationalist, global governmentality guise?). (187)

Security is probably too tainted to be the enabling epistemology through which to see this world coming into being, though of course it is a necessary part of it. If in/security is the by-product of power-relations, and the aims of peace praxis are to promote pluralism, equa-liberty, hybridity, reconciliation, through law, institutions, and practices which effectively dismantles power, then making security the centre of praxis is a securitisation process in itself. (188)

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