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Liberal Terror

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6531-3
224 pages
March 2013, Polity
Liberal Terror (0745665314) cover image
Security is meant to make the world safer. Yet despite living in the most secure of times, we see endangerment everywhere. Whether it is the threat of another devastating terrorist attacks, a natural disaster or unexpected catastrophe, anxieties and fears define the global political age. While liberal governments and security agencies have responded by advocating a new catastrophic topography of interconnected planetary endangerment, our desire to securitize everything has rendered all things potentially terrifying. This is the fateful paradox of contemporary liberal rule. The more we seek to secure, the more our imaginaries of threat proliferate. Nothing can therefore be left to chance. For everything has the potential to be truly catastrophic. Such is the emerging state of terror normality we find ourselves in today.

This illuminating book by Brad Evans provides a critical evaluation of the wide ranging terrors which are deemed threatening to advanced liberal societies. Moving beyond the assumption that liberalism is integral to the realisation of perpetual peace, human progress, and political emancipation on a planetary scale, it exposes how liberal security regimes are shaped by a complex life-centric rationality which directly undermines any claims to universal justice and co-habitation. Through an incisive and philosophically enriched critique of the contemporary liberal practices of making life more secure, Evans forces us to confront the question of what it means to live politically as we navigate through the dangerous uncertainty of the 21st Century.
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Preface vi

Acknowledgements x

1 Imaginaries of Threat 1

2 Liberal Security 42

3 Potentialities 70

4 On Divine Power 98

5 A New Leviathan 135

6 The Event Horizon 165

Notes 201

Select Bibliography 230

Index 241

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Brad Evans is senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Bristol.

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  • A critical, cutting-edge reassessment of the relationship between security and liberal democracy
  • Examines the processes of ‘securitisation’ which are central to contemporary societies
  • Advances a sophisticated argument about the normalisation of terror
  • A major contribution to political theory, which will be of interest to students and scholars in a wide range of disciplines
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"Makes an important macro-theoretical contribution to the micro-level ethnographies of security  conducted in geography."
Antipode

"In this brilliant book, Brad Evans offers a forceful, cogent, and eye-opening analysis of the complex forces shaping the new normal of terror and security, and provides the theoretical and political tools to challenge it. Liberal Terror should be required reading for everyone concerned about both the changing nature and fate of politics today."
Henry Giroux, Professor of Global Media Networks, McMaster University

"Liberal interventionism is driven by imaginaries of fear and uncertainty. With its desperate quest to control ungoverned space and eliminate autonomy in order to secure the global bio-sphere, this interventionism now engulfs us all. Brad Evans has written a superb and vital critique which is highly original and compelling. It demands our attention."
Mark Duffield, University of Bristol

"A tour de force. Page after page, the rhetorical motions of the text are disruptive, insightful and compelling. A counter-effectuation of the prevailing, neo-liberal political conceits in both academic and governmental spaces, its contributions to security analysis, critical methods, and political thinking in general will have lasting effects."
Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawaii, Manoa

"This book is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the 21st Century security terrain. It illustrates with sophisticated critical poise the ethical and political stakes of the contemporary attempts at securing planetary life. In doing so, the need to think beyond the failures of liberal humanism becomes altogether more urgent and pressing."
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research
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