The value of security

  • Security is a core value of human life. To be secure is to be untroubled by danger or fear. As Thomas Hobbes reminds us, without security ‘there is no place for industry… no arts, no letters, no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
  • Security is also the core concept in the theory of international politics. We can call IR theories as security theories.
  • Security is considered to be the deepest and most abiding issue in politics. While the domestic realm is kept in ordered and stable position due to the existence of sovereign states, similarly the international realm is also anarchical and therefore threatening and unstable in character.

Key assumptions of security

  • There are key assumptions underlying the idea of security:
    • Whose security is important? (territorial or human)
    • Security from whom? (state itself or non state actors) 
    • Security of what? (life, culture, environmental, social).
  • There are two types of theories.
    • Instrumentalist theories – Liberals, Marxists and realists are instrumentalists approaches. e.g. Realists believe that security can be achieved by acquiring power. Liberals support economic interdependence. Marxists support the end of capitalism.
    • Reflectivists theories – they focus on ideas, norms, values, culture as  a means of acquiring security. e.g. Feminists, Critical school, Social constructivists and Copenhagen school.

Conception of security

Realist Theory

  • Realist scholars like Rousseau, and Max Weber believe that security of state is needed from another state. This is because of the anarchical position in the international arena. The main methods used for this type of security are- the balance of power, concept of deterrence and diplomacy. 

Librals Theory

  • On the other hand, liberals like, Thomas Gordon and Denis Diderot talk about the security of both- state as well as individuals. Again this is because of the anarchical state, Limited interaction, 
    Militaristic state, Absense of democracy and the protectionist policies followed by various states.
  • The method used for this type of security are- Liberal institutionalism, functionalism, security community, trading state, democratic peace.

Marxist Theory

  • The proponents of this school of thought like- Friedrich Engels and Gramsci, talks about the human security from capitalism. They give the solution as “end of capitalism” to ensure security at the global level. In this perspective, Immanuel Wallerstein has given the concept of World-system theory to ensure security at the larger level. 

Feminist Theory

  • The proponents of Feminist school of thought like- Germaine Greer and Naomi Wolfe talks about the concept of human security from the menace of war and poverty. They talk about ending the patriarchal institutions, empowering the women, and bringing the women’s perspective in international perspective to achieve the security at international level. 

Social constructivist

  • Proponents of Social Constructivist school of thought, like Alexander Wendt, Peter Katzenstein and Elizabeth Kier also talk about maintaining human security by the means of communication, assurance and the development of new value system. 

Changing concept of security in 21st Century

  • The concept of security in 21st century is totally different from the past. Long ago, there was no electricity, Internet, electronics devices, industries, nuclear plants and so on. During that time, the core aim of the people of different tribes and empires was to protect their territories from foreign invaders.
  • Thus, the concept of the security in ancient periods was to defend the boundaries by erecting huge physical army. It is also called traditional security. However, in the present century, where the border clashes have taken back seats owing to the creation of Nation States, International laws and introduction of nuclear bombs, the countries are, now, facing different security challenges that arise primary out of non-military sources.
  • Therefore, the concept of security in 21st century is non-military and include: energy security, economic security, water security, cyber security, environment security, health security, food security, and community security among others. it is called non-traditional security as well. Today, states concentrate on protecting its peoples from these security challenges that are thriving in the current century.

Copenhagen school.

  • Scholar: Barry Buzan. 
    • According to Barry Buzan, Security is a speech act. Any issue is matter of security or not depends on how we talk about it. e.g. The general impression in India is that terrorism is the biggest security act however even SC held that every year more number of people die in road accidents than terrorism. Thus terrorism is biggest security threat’ has been securitized by policy makers in India.
    • Similarly Trump in his election speeches tried to securitize Muslims as a security threat. Since the end of cold war ethnic relations have been securitized in most of the countries causing intra-state conflicts. Thus in most of the situations govt. tries to divert the attention of people from real issues, securitizing something else.
  • Barry Buzan suggest that while concluding about security concerns we should focus on who is speaking? they are speaking about what? Who are audience? Thus Copenhagen school comes near to the views of social constructivists that anarchy is what states make of it.
  • Barry Buzan has also suggested the approach for security policies in 21st century. Security has become a multidimensional concept. Now we cannot compartmentalize state security from human security, economic security from ecological, national security from regional or global. Any security policy should have five pillars.
    1. Military.
    2. Political.
    3. Economic.
    4. Social.
    5. Ecological.

Securitization: Process of state actors transforming subject into matters of security. It enables extraordinary means to be used in the name of security.

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