Back to Security

To return to my posts (one, two and three) where I attempted to outline, firstly, why I found the concept of Noblesse Oblige problematic, but how I could see a positive potential in the implicit ‘security’ of such a social mechanism, and, secondly, where I was lambasted by Angela for using the term ‘alternative security’ in this context (on Jon’s blog). The negative of ‘security’ is captured by Jon in this brief post. The positive potential of ‘security’ as I was imagining it can be envisaged from Maurizio Lazzarato’s comments on security as the current mode of control in this short essay “Biopolitics/Bioeconomics:A Politics of Multiplicity“:

“Thus there are two techniques that produce two different types of normalisation. Discipline arranges the elements on the basis of a code, a model and norms that determine what is forbidden and what is allowed, what is normal and what is abnormal. Security is a differential management of normalities and risks that are regarded as neither good nor bad, but as natural and spontaneous phenomena. It designs a cartography of this distribution and the normalising operation consists of playing one differential of normality against another.
‘The moment sovereignty capitalises a territory and discipline creates architecture for a space where the essential problem is the hierarchical and functional distribution of the elements, security starts managing a field according to the events or the series of possible events, series that it needs to regulate within a multivalent and transformable frame’.
Security intervenes in possible events rather than facts. It therefore refers to what is aleatory, temporal and in course of development. Finally, security, unlike discipline, is a science of details. To adapt a citation from “Security, territory and population”, we could say that the things that concern security are those of each instant, whilst what concern the law are definitive and permanent things. Security is concerned with small things, whilst the law deals with the important issues. Security is always concerned with the details.
In reality we are not seeing the worker through the classical lenses of the term (Marx), since the problem is to manage one’s life time rather than one’s labour time. And that starts from birth, since these future performances also depend on the quantity of affect that is given to the worker by relatives, capitalised by income for him or her and in “psychic income” for the relatives. In order to turn a worker into an entrepreneur and an investor, one needs to “step to the exterior of labour”. Cultural, social, educative policies define the “wide and moving” framework within which choosing individuals evolve. And choices, decisions, conducts and behaviours are events and series of events that must be precisely regulated by the dispositifs of security.”

As I was saying earlier, security is a relation of futurity. It is a regulation and engagement with possible events (quasi)determined by probabilities. The Howard government in Australia is incredibly skillful at manipulating such events for political capital (witness the timing of the recent ‘terrorist arrests’). To configure sustainable ‘ways of life’ worth living as full and enjoyable lives means imagining and experimenting with subjecthoods that are able to cope with the novelties (events) produced by and in life, but do not rely on the (neo)liberal free-market mechanisms of social regulation. The simularity between what I am advocating and the actual (neo)liberal program of ‘security’ can only be found on the most ‘virtual’ of registers. As soon as security is actualised in a state of affairs the simularities end… why? Because security as I imagine it hasn’t happened yet.

To repeat myself:

Security would be more like ‘maintenance’, ie if you maintain your car you can be secure in the knowledge that you can expect it to run properly and it won’t break down. There is no certainty here; one’s car may very well breakdown. Yet, there is a pleasant kind of security in knowing that your car should not break down. [On further comments on the similar event of ‘going wrong’ see my post here.] There is a reduction in the mist of (im)probability surrounding each movement. I think it is necessary to reclaim the positive potential in this. What I am dreaming is a ‘security’ that can serve as an alternative stability to the social mechanisms serving as apparatuses of capture for Empire. Stability in this sense is having the security in an expectation that the future will be something and having some conception of what that something will be.