This chapter discusses what it means to adopt a critical perspective to analyse security. It highlights the fact that critical perspectives share a common concern with identifying and transforming forms of domination and oppression. To identify how security may be connected to domination and oppression requires uncovering the logics of the socio-political order in which a security mobilization takes place. The chapter then looks at the different ways that we can conceptualize power and how power can (re)produce hierarchies through identities, ideas, interests, institutions, and infrastructures. It also illustrates how forms of domination and oppression made possible by security mobilizations can be contested and resisted.
3. Orders, power, and hierarchies
Xavier Guillaume and Kyle Grayson
Security Studies: Critical Perspectives takes a question-centred approach by introducing the analysis of security from critical and interdisciplinary perspectives. It provides a set of analytic steps so that readers develop the critical thinking skills and confidence to ask important questions about security and our worlds in contemporary politics. Common-sense security assumptions that reproduce forms of oppression and domination are revealed and their justifications decentred while perspectives inclusive of class, gender and sexualities, ethnicity and race, religion, disability, culture and ideology, political belonging, and the global south are introduced. In doing so, the chapters in this book combine critical analysis with concrete empirical issues that connect readers to the social and political worlds around them.
26. Emma Goldman
This chapter examines resistance in Emma Goldman’s anarchism. It starts with an discussion of her reputation, especially with respect to her detachment from conventional political theory and her failure to investigate race as a category of oppression. The chapter contends that Goldman’s structure of resistance involves love with open eyes and the spirit of revolt. It then considers her understanding of political theory as a practice informed by experience, which she then deploys to develop her conceptions of power and emancipation, in particular her understanding of the relation between class power and women’s oppression. The chapter discusses slavery and slavishness to show how Goldman used rights to advocate resistance to domination. The chapter further explores how her acceptance of revolt highlighted the futility of struggles for inclusion.
35. Angela Y. Davis
This chapter examines the core ideas of Angela Davis’s radical Marxist, abolitionist, political theory. It starts by looking at her experiences of racism, sexism, and imprisonment which underpin her activism to create a better world against the oppressions of the capitalist, white supremacist and heteropatriarchal state. Additionally, Davis advances arguments for the abolition of prisons. Davis’s abolitionism promotes a more humane and inclusive society based on radical conceptions of community, caring, and solidarity. The chapter also covers Davis’s work examining how Black women in particular faced multiple and intersecting oppressions of gender, race, class, and sexuality, especially as articulated in her Women, Race and Class (1981).
22. Iris Marion Young
This chapter explores American philosopher Iris Marion Young’s central contributions to contemporary political theory. Young remains well known as a leading socialist, feminist political theorist, whose ground-breaking work on oppression, equality, and democratic theory has had an enduring impact, despite her premature death. After introducing Young’s multifaceted engagements with issues of justice and equality against the backdrop of her personal and political contexts, the chapter examines her influential account of oppression. This analysis is essential to understanding Young’s conception of equality as inclusion. The chapter then analyses her critique of the universal model of citizenship as delineated in her celebrated 1990 book Justice and the Politics of Difference.
28. Frantz Fanon
This chapter offers a brief account of Frantz Fanon’s life and experiences, which provided the material for his analysis of the psychology of racialized colonialism. The chapter investigates his account of the psychology of race and gender with in a world where such categories operate to organize privileges. Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1962) examines the violence of colonization and decolonization, especially with respect to the use of revolutionary violence and the struggles of transforming liberation movements into long-lasting regimes providing freedom. Moreover, Fanon’s prediction of the systemic dysfunctions of postcolonial regimes provides valuable tools for analysing contemporary global politics. The chapter also acknowledges Fanon’s ultimate message that overcoming oppression means accepting collective responsibility for making and remaking the world, regardless of conditions.
34. Shulamith Firestone
This chapter explores Shulamith Firestone’s 1970 feminist manifesto The Dialectic of Sex, which provided an analysis of women’s oppression. The chapter introduces the Women’s Liberation Movement and its strands of liberal, socialist, and radical feminism. According to Firestone’s thesis, the origins of women’s oppression lie in their procreative capacities. The chapter also details Firestone’s vision for a utopian society created through a feminist revolution in which women seize control of reproductive technologies. The chapter highlights the significance of The Dialectic of Sex in relation to queer politics and movements for reproductive justice despite its flaws, notably its treatment of race.