Working Paper 90-4, July, 1990.
By Kevin Clements
Department of Sociology Visiting Professor
University of Colorado at Boulder
Department of Sociology University of Canterbury Christchurch 1, New Zealand
The statements and ideas presented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Conflict Research Consortium, the University of Colorado, or the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
This paper was written with a small grant from the Conflict Resolution Consortium, University of Colorado. Funding for the Consortium and its Small Grants Program was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The statements and ideas presented in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Conflict Resolution Consortium, the University of Colorado, or the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information, contact the Conflict Resolution Consortium, Campus Box 327, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0327. Phone: (303) 492-1635, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) 1990. Kevin Clements. Do not reprint without permission.
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"Security" is one of those relatively uncontested, taken for granted concepts, which justifies a wide variety of political, military and social activity. At the national and international levels, political and military leaders invoke "national security" to legitimate the coercive agencies of the state (the military, the police, the judiciary, and secret intelligence organisations). Insurance companies--particularly health insurers--sell "peace of mind" security by insuring clients against probable and improbable adversity. At the local level, private "Security Firms" dedicate themselves to the protection of corporate, household and individual security through the provision of "security systems"; burglar alarms, electronic surveillance, personal security guards, etc. And there are a wide variety of other groups whose sole purpose is to regulate and maintain industrial safety and security.
"Neighbourhood watch" groups endeavour to safeguard specific communities against a variety of potential threats through informal networks of vigilant citizens. And in the United States, large numbers of individuals purchase cannisters of mace, hand guns and other weapons in an effort to counter perceived or actual threats to personal security.
It is not in the interests of states, insurance companies, security firms or weapon seeking individuals to ask whether their actions deliver real "security" or to adopt critical or relativist views of the meaning of security. On the contrary these groups insist that security is a saleable commodity, or at the very least "something" attainable, the precise specifications of which will be determined by public or private "security professionals". This means that in most debates about security there is little appreciation of its relative nature and even less awareness of ways in which security processes inform relationships between all peoples and between people and nature.
This paper is an attempt to raise some of these questions and map out some of the dimensions of a sociology of security. In particular, it argues against viewing security as a contingent, dependent variable (something to be attained in a final and absolute sense) and in favour of viewing it as a dynamic independent variable. The aim is to establish security as a basic social process (a changing but integral component of all relationships), without which social life would be both meaningless and relatively dangerous.
Thus this paper has both analytic and normative intentions. It asks what factors contribute to feelings of safety and what socio-political and economic relationships are most likely to generate maximal security for individuals, nations and the globe as a whole.
This means contesting the dominant elite views of security as a variable flowing primarily from the existence of strong state with extensive military capability and constructing a view of security which may ultimately be guaranteed by state and legal institutions (although very different ones from those which prevail today) but which has its origins and receives its most important expression in much more fundamental processes lying at the heart of society and community. Thus cultural values, processes of sociation, integration and co-operation are likely to be more important determinants of real security than strong state systems which rest their power on the military or other forms of coercive capability.
Viewing security as a contingent variable flowing from a strong nation state (as most realist/neo-realist thinkers do) inevitably means that the coercive power of the state, embodied in the power of the police and the military has received an emphasis far out of proportion to its actual significance in the maintenance of order domestically and peace internationally. This narrow view of security, resting as it does on offensive/defensive capability, strategic threat assessments and worst case scenarios stimulates the development of a thriving weapons culture (for states and individuals) which normally tends to generate the insecurity it is seeking to prevent.
Protagonists of the realist view argue that it is the judicious use of power and force which guarantees national values and it is this which is the final sanction for the rule of law. It is a major contention of this paper that such a view of national security has delivered more insecurity than security and has frequently resulted in people as opposed to states becoming alienated from a concept and a process which are of fundamental importance to their own survival. The persistence of social systems, the maintenance of social order and the achievement of relatively safe environments can be explained better by non-coercive, nonviolent processes rather than coercive, violent ones. This is because non-violent exchanges continue to outweigh the violent in most countries of the world. They are the norm while violent co-ercive processes are exceptional. To erect national security regimes on the reverse assumption is to do an injustice to the processes which really guarantee survival through time.
Thus modern/post modern theorists need not be constrained forever by the pessimistic and gloomy views of human nature enunciated by Hobbes and the realist school he helped initiate. On the contrary reconceptualising security in ways which do justice to the means whereby most individuals attain both a sense of security and actual security may provide more creative ways of dealing with brutality, inhumanity , threats,fear and anxiety than those currently offered by the managers of "national security".
Imbedding the concept of security in fundamental social processes may help contest the dominant political views of security and enable citizens to determine whether institutions established to generate security really deliver what they promise.
There are fundamental lessons to be learned from the political revolutions of recent months. The first is that the limits of possibility hinge more on the quality of our imagination than the perceived immutability of political and social realities; the second is that the power and legitimacy of state systems are dependent on the consent of the governed. Citizens who feel that the state is generating more insecurity than security have a legitimate right to overthrow those authorities. They are only able to do so because of an intuitive or learned sense of security that owes little or nothing to the actions of the state.
WHAT IS SECURITY
?Security is a very slippery word to define and even more difficult to operationalise. Most sociologists ignore the concept altogether preferring to focus on power, authority ,order and control. They concentrate on electoral processes, interest groups, political organisation and socialisation. There is no recognisable sociology of security.
Political scientists, on the other hand, assume that security is primarily a question of the survival of the nation state and normally don't bother trying t o define it in any more detail. They rather lazily assume that security has to do with maintaining the integrity of the state and protecting national values against actual or imagined adversaries. What this has meant in practice is that security has become inextricably associated with the activities of diplomats, security specialists, military personnel, politicians and those academics who study such people. Security thus becomes whatever national security elites say it is. There is normally little effort made to see whether these views coincide with those of other branches of the state or the broader views of citizens.
Security, therefore, has become one of those taken for granted organising concepts which political scientists (particularly international relations and strategic analysts) and their bureaucratic counterparts use without question (Arnold Wolfers and Barry Buzan being two notable exceptions). In fact most empirical studies in international relations and strategic studies simply describe processes which maintain the domestic status quo and perpetuate a now outmoded central rivalry between the two nuclear superpowers globally. For the last 45 years this central rivalry has resulted in a bias towards exclusively political and military definitions of security and against more inclusive socio-cultural definitions.
The Dictionary definition of "Secure" and "Security" is as follows: Free from danger or risk, or loss; safe. Free from fear or doubt, not anxious or unsure. Not likely to fail or give way; stable, strong. Anything that gives or assures safety. Freedom from risk or danger; safety. Freedom from doubt, anxiety or fear; confidence; something deposited or given as an assurance of the fulfillment of an obligation; a pledge.
The Latin root of security "securus" literally means "without care" thus security flows from social processes which reduce risk, enhance normality, predictability and mutual reassurance. The prospect of complete freedom from care is impossible and socially undesirable since some uncertainty and paradox is a characteristic of living and without it human beings stagnate, cease learning and stop exercising imagination..
The crucial question is how much uncertainty and insecurity is optimal for creative endeavour and when does insecurity prove dysfunctional for individuals and society? People who engage in popular sports such as bungee jumping, mountaineering, hang gliding etc. court insecurity to compensate for the security and stability of everyday life. While others who live in very dangerous conditions on the margins of existence desire minimal levels of security to ensure their survival.
It is this ambivalent quality of security which poses so many problems for analysts and policy makers. Since there is no such thing as absolute security optimal levels of risk can only be determined experimentally in interaction. We need minimal levels of personal integration to act socially. Such integration flows from successful socialisation experiences-e.g. close bonding between parents and children which then provide the basis for other encounters in schools, churches, work places, public spaces and in our leisure time activities. While there are elements of threat in early socialisation processes these are not as effective as those that reward "socially acceptable behaviour". Those who endeavour to guarantee security by threat and punishment (national security managers, police, armed criminals) are in the minority, (despite what the media say). Most people in most countries of the world exercise restraint and reciprocity in their interpersonal relationships and thus generate the necessary conditions for relatively stable, secure, social interaction. If everyone operated on the basis of threat/counterthreat and thinking the worst of others, social life would be impossible. Which does not mean that there are no threats or that insecurity is simply a consequence of faulty socialisation. It does suggest that normal social life, peaceable behaviour, socio-political and economic security rests on something other than the avoidance of danger and risk. It rests on a willingness to act in trust and the expectation that most of the time one's trust in others will be reciprocated. But as Wildavsky notes:
...life is not so straightforward. For the most part, safety and danger coexist in the same objects and practices. Under the right (or wrong) conditions, everything we need for life can also maim or kill: water can drown, food can poison, air can choke. Babies cannot be born without risk to the mother, nor can they grow to adulthood without facing innumerable dangers. The trick is to discover not how to avoid risk, for this is impossible, but how to use risk to get more of the good and less of the bad. The search for safety is a balancing act. For if the axiom of connectedness holds, there is no choice that results in no harm.
Thus security is a very subjective concept which only assumes real meaning when we ask additional questions which enable us to see it in terms of particular actors, groups, organisations, societies, nations and so forth. Security has to become a grounded concept for it to assume any real meaning. Security for whom, for what and under what circumstances or conditions?
Families, for example, are popularly understood as archetypal safe places. While this is probably true for most families in most societies there is a significant minority for whom these intimate communities are very unsafe and indeed are a cockpit of violence and aggression. Acknowledging this is not an argument against the institution of the family but a recognition that intimacy is sometimes abused and an acknowledgment of the fragility and vulnerability of all social life. Since security is not a thing that is ever finally attained each social exchange represents an opportunity for highlighting elements that enhance reassurance and boost confidence or alternatively unpredictable and chaotic possibilities. Societies only survive through time because most actors choose reassuring rather than destabilising behaviour.
Women, are much more aware of the fragility of security than men. Because of this their perceptions of self interest result in interactions with other women and with men aimed at enhancing trust, confidence, and community. This results in very different conceptions of security than those of most men and new thinking about national and global security should incorporate these feminist critiques since they underline the necessity for tilting the balance in security discussions towards communal rather than individualistic solutions. Northrup, following Bakan (1966) suggests that men tend to be more agentically oriented than women and interested in self protection, self assertion and self expansion while women are more communally oriented and interested in "being at one with other organisms". .pa Men thus tend to be more isolated, alienated and alone than women who favour contact, openness and union. While acknowledging that there are men who think communally and women who think agentically, Northrup, suggests that:
"...men spend more time and energy thinking, acting and relating in an agentic fashion, while women focus on communality. It seems likely that these two approaches or "realities" when either is predominant (unmitigated) will result in different definitions of security and danger. Carol Gilligan,..in her work on moral development, suggests that the agentic `reality' defines security in terms of individualism, separation and achievement, while danger is perceived in intimacy. Within the communal `reality' security is defined in terms of connection and caring, and danger in terms of separation."
Clearly these are polarities that need to be kept together for healthy interaction. Emphasising one or other end of that polarity poses its own particular problems. Northrup says that the
"ideal is to have the ability to blend concern for self and other in such a way that decisions concerning action may emphasise either or both. Taking care of an infant would seem to require a different combination of agency and communion than defending oneself against a mugger."
Irrespective of how the balance between this duality is struck there is considerable evidence that women try and guarantee their personal security in ways that differ from most men and also have different perceptions of national and international security as well. To assume that the views of male "national security managers" have equal validity for both men and women negates the diverse ways women endeavour to guarantee their security, distorts gender differences and subsumes women's views to those of men. Furthermore it is likely to result in women being ignored or treated with indifference in national security discourse.
Feminist perspectives on security are absolutely crucial to the arguments in this paper, since both underline the need for relationships which facilitate connectedness and interdependence. Feminists emphasise the necessity for individuals, groups, organisations and states to address the quality of their relationships and the tacit and explicit agreements about the physical, emotional, intellectual and social spaces they occupy. Even here, however, what constitutes relatively "safe space" for normal social behaviour raise important gender and class differences.
"Even something as apparently innocuous as the notion of space is incredibly gendered (and also class and therefore race related etc). People and groups of higher status and power get to have more space and to have private,"un-violatable" space, while space is limited and always subject to invasion for lower status, lower power individuals and groups. Social psychological studies make that extremely clear in relation to gender. Men (in Western societies at least) are given a significantly larger envelope of space around their bodies which is never invaded by others, unless by males of higher status. Women (and to a lesser extent lower status males) have measurably less space allotted to them in social situations and are touched, pushed and otherwise physically impinged upon far more than males. For women, .pa space has implications for being abused physically in all sorts of ways, and also in terms of psychological space women are more vulnerable to invasions-like sexual harassment, being blamed when they are the victims of violence and abuse etc"
Northrup's interpersonal concerns apply to the international level as well. Small and expendable nations (e.g. Grenada, Panama, Lithuania, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Samoa, Jamaica, Estonia etc), are much more vulnerable than strategically important nations and know that their interests are best served by policies that advance co-operation and community. They are thus more likely than larger nations to use the United Nations and other multilateral bodies to secure their national interests.
Thus while there are some universal elements to security  there are also some very specific security concerns that flow from the structural location of different groups within societies and between nations. Thus it might be appropriate to think in terms of "spheres of security" or "security communities" in much the same way as Michael Walzer does in his book Spheres of Justice. A delineation of these different spheres and how they relate to each other might heighten inconsistencies between individual, national or international quests for security and result in higher levels of consonance and articulation between them. For example, it is often assumed by the managers of national security that their decisions will have beneficial effects internationally and automatically enhance individual or group security domestically. The evidence for this is patchy and it is entirely appropriate for people/ citizens to ask how and in what way these decisions generate more secure relationships, more interdependence, more real community at home and abroad?.
It is important, therefore, to be skeptical and suspicious of narrow, exclusive views of security whose claims are generalised to both genders, all classes, all citizens and all peoples. Security must be defined sufficiently broadly to encompass the diverse ways in which individuals and groups endeavour to enhance their own safety and yet narrowly enough to provide normative criteria with which to judge whether the actions intended to advance security really do so.
As a working definition, therefore, security can be defined as a fundamental social process (with some instinctive spontaneous properties) aimed at achieving relatively safe social, political and economic (spaces) communities. Such communities enable people to live, move and be true to their own cultures, languages and identities without fear of direct or indirect violent threat. Integrative relations are both a cause and a consequence of such safe spaces and they will dominate destructive and threatening relations. Safe communities are characterised by institutions which facilitate co-operation, the non-violent resolution of conflict and peaceful social transformation.
Clearly this definition has both analytic and normative aspects. It describes those milieux within which most people feel safe but it is also an assertion that a secure community -with strong communal bonds and obligationswill yield more real safety for individuals than those societies that rely primarily on coercive capability and non communal contractual obligations. In the latter case state systems may be able to guarantee law and order domestically and a balance of power abroad but in a paradoxical way they are likely to be more vulnerable than those "weaker" states which do not have as much coercive capability. This is because contractual obligations are not as resilient as communal ones and do not enable individuals to take calculated risks and act adventurously, safe in the knowledge that they belong to caring communities. It is clear that modern industrial societies are a combination of both communal and contractual relationships. In so far as the balance tilts towards one or other end of the continuum the society will be vulnerable in different ways. Communal societies are predictable but they might also be stultifying. Contractual societies might be freer but they are also subject to strong centrifugal pressures. Once again real security is most probable when there is a healthy combination of both elements. Small societies like New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden tend towards the communal end of the continuum while large societies like the United States, the Soviet Union tend towards the contractual. As the dinosaurs discovered, size generates a very particular kind of national vulnerability.
Realists and neo-realist theorists would argue that the working definition of security (above) excludes fundamental political realities (power, force, and military capability) and does not advance any resolution of the "security dilemma" The counter to this is that more inclusive views of security may make it possible to develop more stable, normal and less risky conceptions of security for individuals, nations and the world as a whole.
This is not to substitute a utopian idealist conception of security although the definition is clearly in an idealist and transformative tradition. There will always be struggles to attain and maintain reasonable levels of security and it is not possible to ignore the continuing role and importance of state in stitutions or force and coerciannationally and internationally. What is being proposed is that the narrow, exclusive military views of security as depicted by national security managers have tended to undermine the ability of individuals and social movements to determine for themselves whether or not particular individual, national (state) or international actions really advance security. In the final analysis individuals are the only actors able to determine whether or not government and corporate actions intended to advance security really do so. In most national security discussions such individual concerns are not considered as important as those of the security professionals.
Linking security explicitly to community building and the enlargement of safe spaces provides individuals, social movements, and political leaders with important criteria for determining whether or not behaviour is likely to enhance or diminish net security. If the actions of individuals, governments, large corporations, or international organisations do not result in an expansion of integrative relationships, for example, they will probably generate short and long term insecurity and a disposition towards threat and counterthreat. If they do result in an expanded sense of community with sets of negotiated obligations and responsibilities (locally, nationally, internationally) it is likely that security will be enhanced.
IDEOLOGY AND SECURITY
In addition to structural location having a profound impact on definitions of security so too do particular ideological and philosophical assumptions.
The discussion thus far has dodged the question of what difference ideational /ideological perspectives make to subjective perceptions of security. Clearly security means different things to those who adopt a realist/neo realist conservative view of the world and those who adopt an idealist/transformative view of the world. Within these two divides, however, (and they could be broken down further) there are those who prefer to conceptualise security narrowly and those who wish to view it more inclusively. (To some extent this divide parallels that in peace studies between those who are concerned primarily with negative peace (the absence of war) and those who are concerned with positive peace (the attainment of peace and justice). There are costs and benefits in exclusive versus inclusive views of both peace and security. The chief cost and benefit of a narrow view is that it tends to be state centred and preoccupied with issues of power, politics, influence and persuasion while generally neglecting psychological, social and economic variables. The chief cost of an inclusive view is that it introduces so much complexity it is often difficult to determine what mechanisms are crucial to outcomes. But if there is a desire to avoid having the "specialists of violence" determine the parameters of the security debate we need to start with an inclusive view and then work back to narrower more exclusive views.
TABLE ONE: CONCEPTS OF SECURITY
NARROW/EXCLUSIVE BROAD INCLUSIVE
[IDEALIST] Optimistic View of Human Optimistic View of Human Nature Nature. Individuals Human Learning capacity high. capable of learning but Ambivalent view of State insts. necessity for external Social Control, order more likely control. Strong but less to flow from processes of threatening state. interaction/exchange rather than Heighten invulnerability co-ercive controls. Security thus and reduce threat nationindependent variable rather ally through N.O.D., C.B.D. than contingent. Heightened Transarmament. International invulnerability, reduced threat Consequences-neutral nonthru combination of individual aligned foreign policy social interaction within and posture. Possibility of between states. Negotiation World Government/Federaof secure relationships. tion. Common Security based Development of global civic on Inter-State agreements. culture global securitystress on depolarisation, demilitarisation, transcendence of enemy imaging. Species solidarity. Functional alternatives to military-regional integration global integration. World parliament but local participatory governments.
[REALIST] Pessimistic view of Human Pessimistic view of Human Nature. Human learning Nature. Economic, social capacity low. Individuals and political factors importmotivated by selfishness/ ant as aspects of state power. greed/competition. Necessity Human learning capacity for strong state instituneeds to be underwritten by tions with coercive and threat capability. Nation threatening capability. states have priority over all State institutions based on domestic institutions. But a monopoly of force-police willingness to acknowledge military. Peace through equality of other state institustrength, Balance of Power, tions and importance of multiDeterrence. Weapons of lateral bodies. Regional Mass destruction. Dominance institutions constitute new of military specialists and important centres of coercive politics. The world power and influence. Likely system essentially perpetual to threaten national interests. anarchy with agreements to Accepts arms control common provide minimal order. security narrowly conceived as a means of regulating international anarchy. The main difference between the idealist and realist perspectives on security relates to degrees of optimism/pessimism. The idealist prefers to operate from best rather than worst case assumptions. This is because most human history (despite some appalling wars and genocide) has been remarkably peaceful.
"Warfare, which figures so prominently in history books, rarely occupies more than 10 per cent of human time and energy. The other 90% or so goes into plowing, sowing, reaping, weaving, building...and so on."
Irrespective of whether one adopts an idealist or realist perspective, security remains relative and highly subjective. There is no absolute security and it is pathological to try and pursue such a chimera. All of us are more or less secure depending on the context we find ourselves in and the character of the relationships we negotiate in that context. Creative living implies significant vulnerability even if responsible living implies minimising risks wherever possible. There is no way that any individual, group or nation can make themselves absolutely invulnerable or secure. But by making explicit the normally implicit and intuitive measures that individuals adopt to protect themselves and by analysing the ways in which different ideological assumptions operate to determine how we feel about security, we should be able to analyse the interplay between individual, social and political action in the negotiation and maintenance of relatively safe spaces/communities.
TOWARDS A HOLISTIC CONCEPTION OF SECURITY
Barry Buzan and Kenneth Waltz both underline the necessity to adopt a holistic view of security and wherever possible to keep the three levels of the individual, the state and the international system together.
"The concept of security binds together individuals, states and the international system so closely that it demands to be treated in a holistic perspective. Although some sense can be made of individual security, national security and international security as ideas in their own right, a full understanding of each can only be gained if it is related to the other two. Attempts to treat security on any single level invites serious distortions of perspective."
The question which neither Buzan nor Waltz posed is what common features bind each of these levels together. Irrespective of whether one adopts a realist, idealist, inclusive or exclusive view of security most individuals, states and the evolving global system have common interests in: preventing harm being done to themselves (damage prevention or limitation), short and long term survival, independence, the strengthening of community, the enhancement of economic well being, popularity/good reputation, stability and the maintenance of specific cultural and belief systems. These minimal shared interests are pre-requisites for leisure pursuits and more adventurous creativity, imagination and spiritual searching.
In his analysis of the nation state, Buzan identifies three component parts: its physical base, the idea of the state and the institutional expression of the state. It seems useful to extend these dimensions to the individual and global levels as well. Thus at the individual level we need to know what is likely to preserve and guarantee the physical base of the individual -food, health, psychosocial integration etc. What institutional arenas individuals act within (e.g the family, religious,educational, leisure and work institutions) and what ideational or cultural assumptions individuals bring to their exchanges with others. How do men and women, majority groups/minority groups conceptualise security? How do individuals actually act to protect themselves? How do the institutions of which they are a part reinforce or undermine individual identity and how do they protect physical health and mental well being. Knowledge of these processes is particularly important for an inclusive conception of security.
Similarly at the level of the nation state as Buzan proposes, it is important to know something about its physical base (its short and long term viability) how it is understood and conceptualised by leaders and citizens and the workings of its key institutions.
Conceptualisation of the world as an indivisible global entity is a crucial element in the achievement of international common security. But equally important are the diverse individual and collective conceptions of the global system. What might a global security system look like and what sorts of institutions need to be developed to give some institutional expression to this system.?
Conceptualisation of the global system despite the accelerated development of international non-governmental and governmental institutions is much more difficult than conceptualising the much more accessible nation state.
What also needs to be added into the mix is some notion of time as well since perceptions of security at any of these levels will differ on a basis of the time scale employed. Longer term time scales will generally enable more reflective less impulsive views of security than those based on responses to immediate and direct threats.
Thus the building of safe places/secure communities is an activity that requires us to both see and develop connections and relationships between individual, national and global processes in terms of their spatial, ideational and institutional components.
While narrow strategic understandings of national security acknowledge the importance of relationships too, (albeit adversarial relations) they tend to ignore the multidimensional and holistic nature of these relationships by concentrating primarily on military capability and political intention. Because they are fixated on these phenomena they often overlook tractable elements in antagonistic relationships. Thus reliance on coercive power diminishes rather than enhances options since even the most complex and conflictual relationship always embodies co-operative as well as antagonistic dimensions. To highlight the remorselessness of adversarial factors is likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate them.
Highlighting the ambivalent, tractable, nature of relationships, however,and stressing those that actors feel comfortable consolidating will result in conditions which are more optimal for the promotion of non-zero sum relationships and real security. To begin maximising relationships which enhance confidence and trust require the key players to learn negotiating modes that will advance empathetic understanding in all exchanges.
Because we learn basic lessons about trust and security in close interpersonal relations the principles underlying these intimate exchanges should be given an importance equivalent to the preoccupations of grand strategists in security discussions. This is a very difficult thing for "national security" professionals to accomodate since they see personal security as an outcome of a hard state rather than a primary cause of a secure state. Strategists, therefore, are inclined to view social and community security as soft elements in the national security equations. Yet even strategists acknowledge that if individuals, communities and minorities are not secure there is no way that co-ercive power will maintain the survival of the state over the short or long term.
Recent events in Eastern Europe have demonstrated this very graphically. But in the forgotten parts of the world in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, for example, it is chimerical to talk of national security in military/political terms when the vast majority of the peoples in those countries are subject to economic threats, environmental degradation, human rights abuse, loss of cultural identity and the constant undermining of basic social processes by poverty, illness and malnutrition. Thus an alternative reconceptualisation of security must accord as much if not more weight to the enhancement of individual and communal wellbeing as it does to the maintenance of state institutions.
Another and perhaps more compelling reason for attaching primacy to micro processes is the necessity for individuals to develop basic protective mechanisms for themselves. Since these mechanisms may need to be invoked against the state itself it is crucial that their development not be dependent on it.
Liberal political philosophy has assumed the central importance of the state in preserving the welfare of citizens. Such notions rest on a contract between governed and governors in which both parties fulfill their obligations to each other and citizens expect basic protection and care from the state. When governments break this contract, act arbitrarily, corruptly, and repressively, legitimacy disappears and popular movements have a right to agitate for alternatives.The recent popular movements in Eastern Europe have demonstrated the finiteness of corrupt and tyrannical regimes.
Governmental or state induced insecurity, however, is not just a feature of repressive regimes. All state institutions exhibit paradoxical tendencies. On the one hand they exist to guarantee the security of individuals and subcultures but on the other hand and in a whole variety of ways state institutions threaten citizens as well.
Buzan highlights four types of social threats which originate from states against their own citizens. These include physical threats (pain, injury, death) economic threats (seizure or destruction of property, denial of access to work or resources), threats to rights (imprisonment or denial of basic civil liberties etc) and threats to position or status (demotion or public humiliation). Whether or not state institutions end up generating insecurity and social threats among citizens hinges to a large extent on whether or not they are weak or strong, corrupt or uncorrupt or have a "minimal or maximal " view of their roles. But it also hinges on whether or not citizens have been socialised in a way that makes them conscious of when their security is threatened and when the state is acting arbitrarily and subverting its contract with the people.
The fact is that no state is immune from generating threats to its citizens and these have to be weighed against the benefits that are conferred in any evaluation of national security. Internally generated threats against citizens are as much of a challenge to security as externally generated threats. They are normally not defined as threats, however, and should be, so that the relationship between state and civil society can be made explicit and political leaders can be reminded of the real ends of the state security system. Countries that have abolished the death penalty, for example, are signalling clear limits and restraints on the power of the state. By waiving their right over life and death, these states are demonstrating a reverence for life which others that still retain the death penalty have not. It would be interesting to know whether a willingness to employ violence against citizens (even as retribution for capital offences) is correlated with a willingness to use threat and violence internationally.
Similarly states that have renounced instruments of mass destruction for their defence are signalling clear boundaries over legitimate or acceptable modes of defence and make themselves safer in the process by signalling that other states should exercise similar restraint.
In the United States, national security managers place their own citizens at risk in the act of producing nuclear and chemical weapons. The Rocky Flats plant, for example, has been afflicted with accidents and sloppy environmental practices which have placed the citizens of Broomfield, and Denver at risk. How many citizens need to get ill or die before the costs of such plants outweigh any national security benefits? Asking these sorts of questions suggests that the specific concerns, and preconceptions of individuals and communities are only dimly taken into account by those entrusted with determining national security in a narrow sense.
If it is possible for a state to act in ways which generate insecurity for its citizens then it is also possible for citizens to do the same for states, through terrorism and subversion. The claims of each on the other, therefore, have constantly to be evaluated in terms of whether or not they are likely to result in net welfare for all or net misery. Thus security,democracy and equality are closely interlinked concepts.
Moving from the individual-state nex of connection and caring, and danger in terms of separation."
Clearly these are polarities that need to be kept together for healthy interaction. Emphasising one or other end of that polarity poses its own particular problems. Northrup says that the"ideal is to have the ability to blend concern for self and other in such a way that decisions concerning action may emphasise either or both."
TAKIS AND SECURITY
The definition and maintenance of boundaries are a crucial component of the quest for security. Such a process requires some notion of the nature of the boundary (territorial, linguistic, cultural,sexual) as well as some determination of how permeable or impermeable such boundaries should be. The argument of this paper is that, wherever possible, boundaries should be relatively permeable but distinct enough to maintain a coherent sense of identity. In fact the definition of these boundaries is a part of generating security. Individual, communal, national boundaries provide something equivalent to the basic membranes of molecular biology. They help facilitate identity and relatively safe growing spaces for groups and subcultures. Stable borders and a commitment to non-interference in the affairs of other countries are an essential component in the establishment of peaceful relations between nation states.
Boundaries are the means of distinguishing one security community from the other. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, however, and social reality is full of overlapping boundaries, sometimes contradictory and conflictual sometimes consensual. For example, men and women may perceive security in fundamentally different ways while blurring boundaries between themselves and accepting the overall confines of the nation state of which they are a part. Conversely, minority ethnic groups might want to draw tight and distinct cultural/linguistic boundaries around themselves as a protection against dominant groups or the state endeavouring to assimilate them. ( e.g. Azerbaijani's in the Soviet Union, French in Canada).
Delimiting specific territorial or even ideological boundaries has been one of the principle sources of conflict over the years especially when there are incompatible claims for the same space.
One of the major problems about thinking globally is the difficulty of establishing a clear conception of a global boundary. Is it something defined in opposition to nations or inclusive of nations? Only viewed from space does the world have its physical boundaries clearly delineated. Its cultural and ideational boundaries are even more complex and consist of all those diverse cultures that exist within the world as a whole.
As an AFSC study group on this question noted:
"As we considered questions of borders, we were confronted by two realities: the deep seated tendency of human communities to affirm their own identity by establishing boundaries between themselves and others and the fact that such boundaries may be arbitrary and in their implementation often do harm to human beings and communities".
So while boundaries are essential means of determining differences between individuals and states they also have negative features as well. They constitute an impediment to human solidarity and often divide people who would otherwise have been able to mingle freely. They are a source of instability insofar as they generate ethnic, linguistic and cultural conflicts (Recent events in Soviet Armenia, the Baltic Republics, etc. being notable examples of this as is the constant conflict in the Middle East which is primarily over safe spaces for Palestinians and Israelis).
Borders can also perpetuate unequal class relationships by allowing access to the wealthy and denying access to the poor and by border officials being racist and exclusionary.
For many people their only encounter with the state is with police and customs officials at national borders. It is there that aliens are made to feel insecure and citizens receive the benefits and obligations of their citizenship. Insecure states make access very difficult more secure states are willing to take more risks at borders. Thus the permeability, malleability, and accessibility of national borders are critical factors in the evolution of a global security community. Such a security regime will require national units large enough to facilitate the efficient administration of public goods but need to be small enough to enable the full expression of linguistic, cultural and ethnic difference. It will also require the relatively free movement of peoples across borders as has happened in Europe over the past few years. It will not be advanced, however, by a rigid adherence to national territoriality and the denial of access to those who wish to relocate themselves. On the other hand opening up borders to the free flow of labour, resources and ideas poses its own particular problems in terms of the maintenance of identity and privilege. So .PA much work remains to be done on specific ways of transcending narrow national spatial imagery. Such research is critical, however to the promotion of economic,and sociopolitical processes that will help generate the development of a global civic culture and security.
If this sounds too utopic it is salutary to reflect on whether anyone 50 years ago could have imagined that by 1992 there would be a united Europe with a common market and absolutely permeable borders. The evolution of the EEC, therefore, represent processes that lie at the heart of alternative definitions of security, e.g. functional integration, political co-operation, sharing of political power on key economic and social policies, the development of institutional mechanisms for the non-violent expression of grievance and the exercise of restraint and reciprocity between states. While there may have been unique features spurring European integration there are some fundamental ecological, economic and security imperatives which underly the new doctrines of common security. These are forcing states to become more open and permeable and are also beginning to challenge the immutability of national sovereignty itself in much the same way that cannons (and economic factors) resulted in the end of feudalism.
TRANSITIONAL STEPS IN THE TRANSCENDENCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY
While environmental, developmental and security crises are one way of inducing more co-operative behaviour there are other reasons as well. Robert Axelrod argues very persuasively that rigorous self interest dictates non Hobbesian co-operative problem solving. In his chapter on the "Robustness of Reciprocity" he underlines how co-operative behaviour can be entrenched between actors and how this will generate self propelling order and security. Since it is clear that human beings can learn rational co-operative and peaceable behaviour those who continue to argue for unilateral adversarial national security policies are restricting their future options and generating vulnerability for themselves.
Most of the conventional discussions about security divert attention away from the sociology and politics of security (i.e the embodiment of security in concrete relations and exchanges between institutions and peoples) onto arcane discussions about military capability and intention. The major problem with this view is that it assumes that national and international security is divisible and that pursuit of national interest will guarantee international security. On the other side those concerned with the development of global security systems assume the essential indivisibility of security and see the pursuit of national security as largely incompatible with global security.
As stated ad nauseum in this paper, determinations of security require an oscillation backwards,forwards and between the individual, national, and international levels of analysis and an identification of which economic, social and political processes enhance or detract from real security. This means grappling with paradoxes and acknowledging that very often "the secret of safety lies in danger" acknowledging that "being safer than we used to be, the historical standard does not mean necessarily being as safe as we might be." Rather the quest for security means taking calculated risks in the company of others in order to achieve desirable objectives and to facilitate relatively secure communities at all levels of analysis. At individual levels, for example, this means processes of radical sociation, forging close, supportive and communal links with family,friends, neighbours, and workmates and by reclaiming unsafe spaces through collective action of one sort and another. The women's marches to "reclaim the night" are obvious examples. But boosting involvement in political institutions especially in places where alienation is high and participation rates low will ensure representative institutions become more accountable and responsive to citizen demands. At a national level-there are both unilateral and reciprocated initiatives that might begin nudging state systems in alternative directions, e.g. unilateral action such as that taken by New Zealand in rejecting nuclear deterrent doctrines and endeavouring to place conditions over the nature of strategic engagement are useful spurs to reconceptualising dominant strategic doctrines.
Such unilateral initiatives need to be coupled to the development of new security paradigms to guarantee national defence narrowly conceived. Much of the thinking in this area by scholars such as Galtung, Johannsen, Boserup and Sharp has stressed the need to move beyond offensive defence towards defensive or nonoffensive defence and to work out ways in which invulnerability can be expanded without generating increasing insecurity for others. In its most radical expression, Sharp and others have argued for a totally nonviolent civilian based defence either in terms of neutral or non-aligned foreign policy postures or as novel strategies within alliances. All of these strategies are aimed at demilitarising national security as much as citizens will allow.
While these suggestions are important in the transition towards a global security system many of these alternative security proposals (especially those based on defensive configurations of armed forces) are all based to a greater or lesser extent on the maintenance of a coercive threat system (albeit a relatively benign one). There is a lot of evidence to support the view that the maintenance of such a system is itself an important impediment to a realisation of security in more non-coercive relationships. In the transition, however, such proposals and those emanating from the Palme Commission report on Common Security which underline that nations cannot expect to achieve security at each other's expense have provided crucial new metaphors for helping nations transcend narrow adversarial views of security and for providing realistic bridges between old and new conceptions of security.
Regional initiatives aimed at establishing functional integration, and facilitating confidence, communication and cooperation between nation states are also important. It looks as though Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland (to name but three) will wish to affiliate themselves economically and politically to either EFTA and the EEC as well and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that there will be an integrated security system in Europe within the next 50 years.
While the EEC is a particularly graphic example of regional integration there are a number of other regional attempts to develop policies that may eventually lead away from narrow national attempts to guarantee security. While most have not been as spectacular as that in Europe they do deserve to be celebrated as transitional steps towards regional and hopefully global security regimes. Thus, for example, the denuclearisation of Antarctica, the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, the Latin American Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, and discussions about a single security community in Europe, while they have taken place within an orthodox national security discourse, have tried to enlarge the number of safe places at a regional level. They have done so by concentrating on trying to remove or transfer what is perceived as the greatest threat of all--intended or unintended nuclear war and then by working out ways of preempting military solutions to regional problems, minimising polarisation and confrontation and by establishing defence policies that do not generate insecurity for others. In all the regions mentioned there is still a long way to go before these objectives are even partially realised but current geo-political conditions are much more propitious than those which prevailed two to three years ago and there is a much higher awareness (even among traditional strategists) of the necessity to make rather rapid moves from counter productive strategies.
Processes like the CSCE talks in Stockholm for example, have generated greater confidence between states and vindicate many of the propositions advanced in this paper. But such processes need to be expanded and applied to regions outside of Europe if they are to result in expanded regional steps towards a global security regime. The significant thing about many of these developments is that they represent state responses to popular demands and thus straddle individual-state-international levels in a progressive fashion.
The onus is still on social scientists, however, to demonstrate that the values embodied in an inclusive view of security, peace, justice, human rights, development, environmental integrity and a sustainable future can all be achieved without systems of threat and violent coercian. The terrible dilemmas posed by pathological people internally and threatening nations internationally demand more than platitudes. Those interested in socio-political transformation have an obligation to demonstrate how they would deal with threats of violence and actual violence. We need to know what non-violent, non-coercive inducements are applicable to the solution of social and political conflicts between individuals, groups, nations and within the global system as a whole? What mechanisms exist to both pre-empt and resolve violent conflicts once they have occurred in ways which enhance real security and peaceable relations. What institutions are available to help disputants resolve conflicts? What non-governmental and governmental organisations can substitute for coercive agencies? Above all these questions is the fundamental issue of whether there be any real security for anyone in a world that is so radically divided into rich and poor
?There are many questions which can and must be asked but there are also many signs that the world is on the verge of a paradigmatic switch of fundamental proportions in relation to both a more inclusive conceptualisation of security but more importantly some attainment of it. It is not going to result in an end to threat, coercian and violence overnight but the delegitimation of violence (which is occurring in many parts of the world) is creating important new opportunties for the promotion of real security. President Gorbachev's initiatives have been a powerful force assisting this transition and have largely removed the raison d'etre for current US national security policy. Although there are a number of question marks over the post-containment period in regard to old ethnic hostilities and new nationalisms there has also been a quite astonishing delegitimation of violence as an appropriate means of dealing with dispute and generating security.
Accompanying these processes, must be a reactivation of global visions to enlarge horizons for peoples and policy makers. At a UN sponsored symposium on global security for the Twenty First Century, for example, there was an attempt to combine reduced East-West rivalry with expanded equality between North and South and a recognition of the diverse psychological and spiritual dimensions of security. At an earlier United Nations Colloquium on Teilhard de Chardin in 1985 considerable attention was paid to the necessity to undergo a transformation of consciousness. "To deal with peace, then, we must undergo a parallel transformation; from tribal, national consciousness to global consciousness. We must activate a sense of belonging to the entire human community, of being citizens of the entire planet; and we must acquire a perspective from which to view the Earth and the entire human community as a whole... At this point in history, we need not only a symbol of peace but visionaries of peace--thinkers who can transform that symbol into an horizon of consciousness, a perspective, a vision, a wisdom that will help us deal with peace (and security) as a global issue."
Clearly such statements will not by themselves ensure the development of a new global security system nor will they result in the cessation of the corrosive conflicts that continue in many parts of the world. Nor will they result in safer neighbourhoods or cities or put the nuclear genie back in its bottle. But they are important visions of what might be, and insofar as these visions begin transforming the discourse on security and insofar as people start acting to give expression to these new visions they provide the best chance we have for generating a safer and more secure world.
The task of articulating and implementing a global security system will not be easy but we have to begin somewhere. Reclaiming common sense understandings of what is likely to generate safety and by contesting those who use the term security to subvert lasting and real security is a good beginning. Delineating the intuitive and taken for granted nature of security as it is embodied in normal human relationships and exchanges should provide us with a means of determining the extent to which they are applicable to more complex organisations and systems. It is not possible to reduce macro processes to micro ones but the micro-processes seem to hold many of the clues as to how we should conceptualise and begin to realise greater security in the future.
"A membrane is a firmament to separate the waters of the cell's interior from the waters of the environment. In more scientific terms a membranous vesicle impedes the free flow of molecules between the interior and the exterior and thus establishes a space (the cells interior) or thermodynamic system, within which different chemical processes can occur and reaction products can be retained... I tend not to think about the question of when life began. Rather the issue is when chemically active organic cycling systems gave rise to three zones: the inner watery substance, the oily membrane, and the outer watery substance. From a biophysical point of view, the membrane is the point of interface between the I and the Thou within the realm of existence. Insofar as there is exchange across this membrane, the I and the Thou are connected; insofar as this exchange is restricted the organism and the environment have a certain measure of autonomy." (pp 233 -234)
Thus Horowitz suggests that fundamental growth and existence depends on two things, namely the establishment of boundaries and the development of safe spaces within which complex chemical and physical reactions take place. I don't know whether physical scientists would like me extrapolating from this insight but it seems to me that many of our fundamental social science questions also have to do with the establishment of boundaries (permeable or impermeable). I am grateful to Elise Boulding for bringing this theory to my attention and for suggesting how and why safe places are critical for human growth and development.
28. Reflections of an AFSC Working Group, 1989 "Borders and Quaker Values," Philadelphia: AFSC.
29. Ibid, pp 7-8.
30. For an interesting recent discussion of some of these questions see R. B. J. Walker (1988) One World, Many Worlds: Struggles for a Just World Peace, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, pp 120-121.
31. See Elise Boulding (1988) Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World, NY: Columbia University Press.
32. See Gro Harlem Brundtland, et al (1989) Our Common Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press for an elaboration of some of these.
33. Robert Axelrod (1984) The Evolution of Co-Operation, NY: Basic Books, Chapter 9, pp 169-192.
34. Those which evaluate the strategic relationships between the superpowers, offensive versus non-offensive defence doctrines, the use of military threat, coercive diplomacy, and the future of alliances in the post containment era, etc.
35. See Buzan, op cit, p 250 for an interesting discussion of the fallacies of idealism and realism.
36. See A. Wildavsky, op cit, p 205, and the whole of Chapter 10, pp 205-229.
37. Ibid p 209.
38. For an analysis of the New Zealand case see Kevin.P. Clements (1988) Back from the Brink: The Creation of a Nuclear Free New Zealand, Wellington/London: Allen and Unwin Ltd.
39. See J Galtung (1984) There Are Alternatives, U.S.: Durafour edition; Robert Johansen (1982) "Building a New International Security Order: Policy Guidelines and Recommendations" pp 40-70 in Carolyn Stephenson (ed), Alternative Methods for International Security, Washington: University Press of America; Anders Boserup and Andrew Mack (1975) War Without Weapons, New York: Schocken; Gene Sharp (1988) "National Security Through Civilian Base Defence," Nebraska National Association for TransArmament Studies; also (1986) Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian Based Defence, Cambridge: Ballinger.
40. See Olaf Palme, et al (1982) Common Security; A Programme for Disarmament, London: Pan Books, and R. Vayrynen, (ed) (1985) Policies for Common Security, London: Taylor and Francis.
41. See Kevin P. Clements, "Common Security in the AsiaPacific Region: Problems and Prospects," pp 49-76, Alternatives, Vol XIV Number 1, January 1989 for a discussion about some of these issues as they apply to the Asia-Pacific region.
42. See Kennedy Graham (1989) National Security Concepts of States: New Zealand, New York: Taylor and Francis for UNIDIR, p 168.
43. Dr. Ewart Cousins in "Humanity's Quest for Unity: A UN Teilhard Colloquium," Leo Zonneveld (ed), UN University of Peace, (1985), pp 29-30 quoted in Graham, ibid p 164.
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