Strangers at Our Door
Strangers at Our Door
Floating Insecurity in Search of an Anchor
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines 'security' as a 'condition of being protected from or not exposed to danger' - but, at the same time, as 'something which makes safe; a protection, guard, defence': this makes it one of those not common (yet not uncommon, either) terms that presume/hint/suggest/imply an organic - and so once and for all fixed and sealed - elective affinity linking the condition to the assumed means of attaining it (a sort of unity akin to that which, for instance, is suggested by the term 'nobility'). The condition to which this particular term refers is highly and deeply, as well as unquestionably, appreciated and yearned for by most language users; the approbation and regard bestowed on it by the public rubs off thereby on its acknowledged guards or providers , to which its name also, in one fell swoop, refers. The means bask in the glory of the condition and so share in its undisputed desirability. Once this has been accomplished, a fully predictable pattern of conduct tends to be followed automatically, in the way typical of all conditioned reflexes. Do you feel insecure? Demand and press for more public security services to guard you, and/or buy more security gadgets believed to avert dangers. Or: do the people who elected you to high office complain of feeling insufficiently secure? Hire/ appoint more security guards and allow them also more liberty to act as they consider necessary - however unappetizing or downright loathsome and revolting the actions they might choose turn out to be - and advertise widely what you've done.
A heretofore unknown term - and one still unrecorded in dictionaries available in bookshops - 'securitization' has appeared quite recently in public speech, coined and quickly adopted in the vocabulary of politicians and media people. What this neologism is meant to grasp and denote is the ever more frequent reclassification of something previously thought of as belonging to some other phenomenal category, as an instance of 'insecurity'; recasting followed well-nigh automatically by transferring that something to the domain, charge and supervision of security organs. Not being, of course, the cause of such automatism, the above-mentioned semantic ambiguity no doubt makes its practising easier. Conditioned reflexes can do without lengthy argument and laborious persuasion: the authority of Heidegger's 'das Man' or Sartre's 'l'on' ('this is how things are done, aren't they?') renders them so obvious and self-evident as to be practically unnoticeable and unavailable for questioning. A conditioned reflex itself stays, safely, unreflected upon - at a safe distance from the searchlights of logic. This is why politicians gladly resort to the term's ambiguity: making their task easier and assuring their actions a priori of popular approval - even if not of the promised effects - it helps politicians to convince their constituencies that they are taking their grievances seriously and acting promptly on the mandate those grievances have been presumed to bestow.
Just one example, picked up at random from among the most recent headline news: as the Huffington Post reported shortly after the night of terrorist outrages in Paris:
French President François Hollande said a state of emergency would be declared across France and national borders shut following a spate of attacks in Paris on Friday evening ... 'It is horrifying', Hollande said in a brief statement on television, adding that a cabinet meeting had been called. 'A state of emergency will be declared', he said. 'The second measure will be the closure of national borders', he added. 'We must ensure that no one comes in to commit any act whatsoever, and at the same time make sure that those who have committed these crimes should be arrested if they try to leave the country.