Surveillance, Conspiracy, and the Nanny State

John T. Hamilton

in Security

Published by Princeton University Press

Published in print May 2013 | ISBN: 9780691157528
Published online October 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781400846474
Surveillance, Conspiracy, and the Nanny State

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This chapter argues that the provision of security is not only an act of care but also an expression of power. And power is always something that stands to be abused. Agencies of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes consistently and explicitly claimed to maintain security by inculcating insecurity among the masses. The perverse logic is that fear alone sustains the need for security, which consequently legitimizes the state's existence. This logic has at least two alternative results. On the one hand, the care for the individual citizen has simply been converted to the care for the state. Here, security is a dehumanizing project that shifts all concern to a realm well beyond the human. On the other hand, precisely by promulgating fear among the populace, such projects also inadvertently humanize. Stripped of personal security—deprived of the privation of concern—the subjects of these regimes are left with nothing more and nothing greater than the capacity to care.

Keywords: security; care; state power; fear; insecurity

Chapter.  6766 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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