Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tony Curzon Price, "Modern Legitimacy," openDemocracy, March 4, 2009.

For at least the past thirty years, our state’s claim to legitimacy can be thought of as the marriage of Hobbes and Bentham. The first duty of the state is to deliver security through its monopoly of force and its second duty is to promote the good of all, however defined, and with whatever model of society the state might be using as a working assumption at any time. The basic deal has been: ”protect us, deliver our desires and we’ll play by your rules.”

Liberty, in this deal, was all encapsulated in the desires that would be fulfilled—as Cory Doctorow tweeted on Saturday: ”A generation has been habituated to seeking and finding liberty in consumption.” ”Protect us” has become a joke, as the state has waged wars it does not feel it can publicly justify and joined the ranks of the world’s torturers and destroyers of civil rights. The rules we are meant to follow have become legion, from laws to administrative orders to ”code-law”, the rules that are made by the industrial processing of information in the database state. And now, with the world economy collapsing, even the residual claim to deliver our simplest desires is in tatters.

  Entertainment and news regularly feed the fears that need this security as a solution.

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