Securitati perpetuae

If we knocked on the graves and asked the dead whether they would like to rise again, they would shake their heads. … With true instinct the ancients put on their tombstones: Securitati perpetuae.

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II (1859).

It’s not clear whether in making this statement Schopenhauer had in mind the satirical inscription to which Kant refers at the beginning of his 1795 essay on peace. The inscription in question, ‘The Perpetual Peace’, is said by Kant to have been seen on a Dutch innkeeper’s signboard along with the image of a graveyard. In an essay known for its argument for a global community of lawful states and the implicit idea that such a community will lead to ‘peace’, Kant begins by hinting that perpetual peace really comes only with death: you will get peace when you finally ‘rest in peace’, but in the meantime you should commit to law. We might also observe that Kant’s title Zum ewigen Frieden could easily be translated as ‘Towards Eternal Peace’ rather than the standard ‘On Perpetual Peace’, an alternative that has very different connotations indeed, especially given that just a year previously Kant had written an essay called ‘The End of All Things’ (1794) which begins with the image of a dying person passing from historical time into eternity.

The politics of perpetual peace in Kant’s essay, then, perhaps really requires us to think about death rather than law. In that sense, Schopenhauer’s twist with perpetual security might simply be a cheeky nod towards Kant. But Schopenhauer was not known for his cheekiness, and although, philosophically speaking, his suggestion that the ancients might have got it right in putting Securitati perpetuae on their tombstones is unremarkable, politically the idea is completely antithetical to security’s status as the supreme concept of bourgeois society, to the extent that the claim might appear as nothing less than scandalous.

Borrowing Marx’s astute formulation that security is the supreme concept of bourgeois society, I have for some time been arguing that a critique of security needs to be central to critical theory, not least because of the role security plays in the fabrication of social order and the pacification of political subjects. 1 The extent to which the security industry constantly bombards us with its double-sided message – ‘more security with the next security measure’, the interminable message from the state; ‘better security with the next security product’, the interminable message from capital – is obvious. Equally obvious is the way that obedient subjects are created through these products and measures. In this regard, security is pacification. 2 But what does this have to do with death?

Towards the end of his short book The Loneliness of the Dying (1982), Norbert Elias connects some of his earlier arguments about the civilising process as a process of pacification to the question of death, and makes the following comment:

The greater pacification of developed industrial states and the marked advance of the embarrassment threshold in the face of violence gives rise in these societies to a usually tacit but noticeable antipathy of the living towards the dying … Thus, a higher level of internal pacification also contributes to the aversion towards death, or more precisely towards the dying. So does a higher level of civilising restraint. 3

Where pacification in his earlier work was examined through the shift in practices and behaviours, turning once dangerous territories into spaces of security, Elias here makes a clever move, suggesting that pacification in bourgeois modernity has also involved a shift in our relationship to death.

If security is pacification, and if pacification involves a certain kind of elision of death, then we need to consider the relationship between security and death. I want to use this relationship in order to extend a little the critique of security. And I want to do so through the lens of insecurity. 4

One of the questions heard many times in response to the critique of security is whether this implies being somehow for insecurity. The backdrop to such a question lies in a common refrain concerning the ‘insecurity’ generated by capitalism. A remarkable feature of Kate Pickett and Richard Wilson’s The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone (2009), for example, a widely-read and much-cited book that has frequently been described as ground-breaking and influential, is the extent to which the argument about ‘inequality’ veers into an argument about ‘insecurity’. This becomes even more pronounced in their follow-up book The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (2019). That the ten-year period between their two books has seen an increase in their stress on insecurity should not surprise, for the rhetoric of insecurity has risen across the board in general. According to the catalogue of the British Library, there have been 330 books published since 2001 with ‘insecurity’ in the title, almost twice as many as had been published in the previous 400 years. The language of precarity has reinforced this growth, being largely a kind of left field thinking about insecurity: Isobel Lorey’s State of Insecurity (2015), for example, has far more to say about ‘precarity’ than ‘insecurity’; the original 2012 German text was Die Regierung der Prekären, its translated title presumably a result of the publisher’s desire to benefit from the growth of interest in ‘insecurity’.

There is no doubt, then, that we are living in an ‘Age of Insecurity’, as several books with that exact phrase as their title suggest. Yet is this not also the ‘Age of Security’? Certainly the number of books with this as their title would suggest as much, as would the 21,000 books (and counting) published in English since 2001 with ‘security’ in the title. The more we talk about security, the more insecure we seem to be becoming. In one sense, this might not appear too much of a surprise. ‘We can never think security without insecurity, and vice versa’, observes Mick Dillon, pointing to the ‘unified agonal relationship of mutual definition’ between the two words. ‘Modern usage proposes that there is a state of affairs – insecurity – and the negation of that state of affairs – security’. To this end, Dillon relies heavily on the idea of ‘(in)security’. 5 The radical ambivalence of this term ‘(in)security’ has led to it becoming central to what is called ‘Critical Security Studies’, a body of thought which is critical of mainstream approaches to security, not least by placing a heavy emphasis on the possibility of ‘emancipation’. For this reason Critical Security Studies has highlighted the role of ‘insecurity’ in thinking about ‘security’, to the extent that it has become, in effect, a kind of ‘(In)Security Studies’, the sine quo non of which is that ‘society is no longer focused on achieving perfect security’ but, rather, on managing the fact that ‘insecurity pervades all’. 6

Yet there is a problem here: much as it might seem obvious that we can never think security without insecurity, the truth is that ‘security’ existed for a long time before ‘insecurity’ was ever invented. In other words, people were for centuries more than capable of thinking security without thinking insecurity. Thomas Hobbes, for example, is taken by Critical Security Studies and many other fields as ‘the classic source of modern wisdom about security’. 7 But as we shall see, Hobbes has absolutely nothing to say about insecurity; in retrospect, my own Critique of Security (2008) elides this very point, along with most commentaries on Hobbes. To think of ‘insecurity’ as always already unified with security, then, and hence to imagine one single idea of ‘(in)security’, is at the very least a poor engagement with historical sources, reading them a little too anachronistically.

The more telling point, however, is that insecurity does eventually emerge and become conjoined with security, but it does so in the condition of bourgeois modernity. To put one part of my argument in a nutshell: much as ‘security’ can be traced back to the Romans, ‘insecurity’ was invented as an ideological category under capitalism. In this regard, bourgeois thought could eventually develop a jargon of ‘insecurity’ in order to reinforce political acts carried out in the name of ‘security’. Rather than being understood as an unalterable truth intrinsic to the human condition, ‘insecurity’ needs to be understood as the product of very specific historical circumstances. In that sense, I am doubtful about the power of ‘insecurity’ as a critical concept.

The second part of my argument is that the politically-telling divergent and then convergent histories of security and insecurity requires us to address them in relation to death. Dillon suggests that ‘the truth of security is the radical ambiguity of human freedom’. 8 I want to suggest that the truth of security is in fact death. If so, then perhaps what is at stake in security is not so much the insecurity of life and freedom, but of the nature of death in a condition of unfreedom. What is at stake is dying in a society in which the radical ambiguity of human freedom is, in part, our knowledge that we are unfree. Perhaps what is at stake in security and insecurity, then, is nothing less than the two things from which we appear unable to escape: capital and death.

‘Security some men call the suburbs of hell’

The English word ‘security’ comes from the Latin securitas, a complex word derived from sine, meaning ‘without’, and cura, meaning ‘troubling; solicitude; carefulness’, giving us securitas: to be without care and untroubled. As can be seen, there is an immediate ambivalence here, something untranslatable, in that cura can express something troubling – such as anxiety or fear – but it can also express something beneficial, such as attentiveness or loving diligence. So securitas as the removal of cura can be either beneficial or harmful. 9

The idea that securitas is beneficial is found in the Roman Republic and the work of writers such as Cicero and Seneca, the former being the most likely candidate to have invented the term. For Cicero, the cura that is cancelled in securitas means that securitas itself tends to be associated with the beata vita (blessed life) and tranquillitas animi (peace of mind). ‘How can anyone be in possession of that desirable and much-coveted security, who has a multitude of evils attending him?’, Cicero asks (Tusculan Disputations, Bk. 5.XIV). The peace of mind that Cicero calls securitas refers to an internal stability and feeling of peace. ‘We must keep ourselves free from every disturbing emotion … so that we may enjoy that calmness of soul and security [tranquillitas animi et securitas] which bring both moral stability and dignity of character’ (Cicero, De Officiis, Bk. I, Para 69). 10 Note that this beneficial aspect of securitas makes it a highly personal thing, a question more of moral psychology rather than political order, which is itself quite remarkable for a deeply political thinker such as Cicero. For Cicero, the notion of securitas tends to apply to the ‘private’ realm, as distinct from salus, with its connotations of safety or protection within the city: hence the expression made famous by Cicero, Salus populi suprema lex, refers to the safety of the people as the supreme law. Hamilton expresses the distinction well: ‘self-therapy produced securitas; state therapy engendered salus’. 11

With the collapse of the Roman Republic, however, the earlier republican distinction between salus as public ‘safety’ and securitas as personal ‘peace of mind’ begins to break down – although in some languages it never really develops anyway, with Spanish (seguridad), German (sicherheit) and Italian (sicurezza) all combining safety and security – and securitas is increasingly employed in a decidedly public fashion. 12 Some authors increasingly connect the idea of an inner security with the idea of the security that is provided by the state (Seneca, Epistulae morales, I.73.2 and 73.4). ‘What is a happy life?, asks Seneca. ‘Securitas et perpetua tranquillitas’ (Epistles Lucilium, 92, 3). Tacitus makes a similar point in his book on Julius Agricola, the Governor of Britain in the second half of the first century (Agricola, III). During the first century AD, securitas and securitati perpetuae begin to appear on coins and medallions, hinting at an increasingly public and political dimension to the concept, not least in its connotations of imperial propaganda. 13

All of this might be taken to suggest that securitas becomes political with the Romans and then stays with us, which would make for a nice and even story. Unfortunately, this is not the story. For the fact that securitas could imply the removal of a careful attention meant that it could also be seen as something negative, connoting a freedom from concern and danger and thus a state of carelessness. This is what we get with the rise of Christianity, for which securitas remains a personal peace but – and this is a huge but, for reasons we shall see – it is a personal peace that comes through union with God.

For Augustine, for example, security is a blessed state, but its blessedness points to the fact that security – and we need to perhaps qualify the word and say ‘true security’ – is only possible posthumously. ‘There is no security except through God’, Augustine claims in The Confessions (II.6.13). In The City of God he is even more explicit, suggesting that in ‘situations of weakness and these times of evil, even anxiety if not without its use in leading them [worshippers] to seek, with more fervent longing, that state of security where peace is utterly complete and assured’ (City of God, XIX). 14 Security, like peace, ultimately comes with eternal life (City of God, XIX.11). Herein lies the basis of Schopenhauer’s observation about the inscription on ancient tombstones: Securitati perpetuae.

The implication of this, however, is that because security is a blessed state in the eternal realm of peace in which we are freed from the troubled nature of earthly existence, to claim security in this world is nothing less than an insult to God. One of the dangers on earth is that ‘one should sin with deadly security [mortiferas securitas]’ (Augustine, Of Holy Virginity, para. 50). Hence to think of oneself as secure in this world – or as we might now say, to aim for a freedom from insecurity – undermines the ideal of and desire for real security, which comes only with the peace of death; no person can or should be deemed ‘secure’ until after death. ‘When people say “there is peace and security” then sudden destruction will come upon them’ (I Thess. 5: 2-3); a passage which Hobbes will put to good use, as we shall shortly see. Hence, a figure such as Pope Gregory I (Saint Gregory, or Gregory the Great) comments in his Exposition on the Book of Blessed Job (578-595) that ‘security is often the parent of negligence’, adding that ‘to keep security from generating carelessness, one must come to the service of God and stand in fear’ (Vol. III, Pt. V, Bk. XXIV, 27). The last of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses (1517) likewise exhorts us to ‘be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the security of peace’. For Luther, people who think of themselves as secure are those who no longer put their faith in God, a condition which renders them unable to either work or pray; fiducio, like certitudo, is better than securitas. Robert Burton, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in various editions between 1621 and 1651, suggests two pieces of advice for warding off a melancholy despair: first, rely on God’s word, and second, reject ‘perverse security’ (Vol. 3, Pt. 3, Sect. 4, Mem. 2, Subs. 6).

All of this goes some way to explaining why it is that the early references to security in the Oxford English Dictionary are to a negative state: ‘our vayne glory, our viciousness, avarice, ydleness, security’ (1564); ‘they … were drowned in sinneful securitie’ (1575). Shakespeare in Macbeth (1606) has Hecate declare that ‘security is mortal’s chiefest enemie’, while John Webster in The Duchess of Malfi (1612-13) has the tomb-maker Bosola say that ‘security some men call the suburbs of hell’. Security here is a careless, dangerous and, in most cases, sinful confidence. This is captured in the wider literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For example, a 1585 sermon by Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, has him commenting that ‘we sleep as well in security as in sin’. Because the world is one of perpetual warfare against God’s adversaries, ‘there is no place of security left for a Christian soldier’ and ‘there is nowhere any place wherein it is safe to be secure’. People have in the past sought peace, but ‘their peace bred plenty; their plenty, their security; their security, their destruction’. Hence the message: ‘watch, therefore, and sleep not in security’. 15 We find a similar message in John Stockwood’s A Very fruitfull and necessarye sermon of the moste lamentable destruction of Jerusalem (1584), where the author invokes us from being ‘lulled a sleepe in the cradle of securitie or carelesnesse’, Johann Habermann’s The Enimie of Securitie; or, A Daily Exercise of Godlie Meditations (originally published in German and Latin in 1579, quickly translated into English and going through several editions) and William Est’s The Scourge of Securitie; or, The Expulsion and Returne of the Uncleane Spirit (1609). Likewise, John Downame’s Guide to Godlynesse (1622), the long subtitle of which includes a claim that it is a Treatise on Carnal Security, with that same section being published as a separate shorter book called A Treatise of Security, exhorts readers to rise out of the ‘lethargy of carnal security’, and lists security’s various causes, including ignorance of God, customable sinning, the impunity of sinners and the neglect or contempt of the means of grace. Security, for Downame, is ‘the mother and nurse of all other wickedness’ and ‘deprives us of eternal happiness’. In another text, The Christian Warfare, written between 1604 and 1618, Downame writes of ‘their carnal security which so lulleth them asleep in the cradle of worldly vanities’. 16 The theme continues into late in the century: a Sermon published in 1672 called Security Surprized, or, The Destruction of the Careless denounces those who go about in sin and ‘horrible security’. ‘Consider the evil of this security you are in … when you cry peace, peace to your selves in the midst of God’s displeasure. It is an evil disease, a spiritual lethargy’. And the Sermon makes clear that this applies to people, nations and kingdoms, all ‘drowned in drunken security’ and a ‘spiritual Lethargy that leadeth to death’. Death was brought upon Sodom and Gomorrah precisely because of their security. 17

Throughout much of Christianity, then, securitas is largely a pejorative term describing a sinful condition, a lethargy, an ignorance of God; security is wickedness. One might seem secure, but this is highly deceptive, being a false security and thus undesirable. Rather than securitas, the Christians were interested in certitudo, certainty of faith. To fail to recognise, accept and live with what we would now call ‘insecurity’ – although this term will only emerge gradually and much later, as we shall see – is to suffer from the carelessness of a security that leaves one more even more ‘insecure’ than ever. The Christianisation of the empire therefore meant that the positive connotations of securitas found in authors such as Cicero more or less vanished from political and religious usage, making it difficult to find any positive connotations of securitas in the Christian tradition. Although some such connotations can be found in a few legal contexts, Hamilton notes that the term securitas is, in general, ‘not explicitly employed as a political or philosophical concept in any sustained manner before the fourteenth century’. What we find instead is a range of other words closer to what we understand as ‘safety’ (salus), ‘certitude’ (certitudo) and ‘peace’ (pax). In that sense, the concept of security only really enters European political thought when institutions that had historically claimed to offer stability and cohesion, most obviously the church, begin to weaken. 18 When it does so, the meaning of securitas will oscillate between an inner subjective sense of composure and an external objective sense of a public safety, with the two dimensions circulating around each other, generating many of the problems we now face.

‘Let every man go about without fear’

With that in mind, we might benefit by pausing for a moment on Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s so-called ‘Good Government’ and ‘Bad Government’ frescoes from the early fourteenth century. Since this series of three large paintings have been described as offering ‘the most famous artistic political allegory of the fourteenth century’, 19 and have been a major point of political discussion in the history of ideas, art history and political theory, it is worth considering what they have to say about security, as Hamilton and others have. At the same time, however, I want to use them to consider what they manifestly do not say about insecurity. This will allow me to segue into a discussion of security and the absence of insecurity in the work of Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith, in order to draw out the point I want to make about death.

Lorenzetti’s paintings occupy three complete walls of the Sala dei Nove in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. This room was the main Chamber of the Council of Nine, the ruling officials of the increasingly dominant merchant oligarchy that governed Siena between 1287 and 1355. The frescoes were commissioned by the Council and produced between 1337 and 1339. There are three walls. On the northern wall, in the middle and hence centre stage, is Peace, the central figure of the central image. Alongside peace we have virtues such as faith, charity, fortitude, temperance, justice and concord. The figure in the middle appears to be a King but since Siena was a republic the figure is seen by some as representing the ‘Common Good’, and by others as a kind of representative of the type of signore or signoria that a city needs to elect if the dictates of justice are to achieved. 20 On the western wall is what is taken to be Bad Government – dominated by a figure called Tyrammides, who sits enthroned like a King but carrying a dagger rather than any of the standard instruments of kingly authority. At his feet lies Justice, tied up and looking forlorn and unkempt, in contrast to the image of justice in the Good Government fresco where she is serene and beautiful. Surrounding Tyrammides are a black satanic goat and a black hybrid man-beast called Furor, and figures such as Avarice, Superbia, Vainglory, Discordia and Guerra. Over the city hovers Timor. In the city itself, the only activity appears to be people going off to war, on the left, and a man being murdered, at the bottom right. On the eastern wall is Good Government. On one side of the city wall is the hustle and bustle of the city: people working, shopping, talking, dancing. On the other side of the wall is the land just outside the city, where we see a lady going off to hunt with servants and dogs, people tending their cattle and tilling the land, which is itself very fertile, unlike the countryside in bad government. There is no apparent danger. People are at peace and at work on both sides of the city wall. 21 Some commentators have noted that if one follows the line of sight of Peace in the middle fresco, then one discovers that she is looking directly at this image. In other words, this is literally the ‘vision of Peace’.


Overlooking the whole scene of Good Government is Securitas, hovering in the sky, overseeing town and country and thus establishing the good order of the city. She holds in her right hand a banner with the words:

Let every man go about without fear
And let every man sow
While this lady rules the land
For she has taken the power from all the guilty.

The city is under the rule of Securitas. Securitas enables work and leisure. Securitas oversees the peaceful and commercial city. Securitas ensures good order. Securitas appears as both the desire and product of the rising merchant class whose ruling oligarchy would meet in this very room to discuss, under the sign of security, how best to manage the commercial order of the city.


In one sense, what we see represented is an image of a social order founded on an institutional imposition of security. It is thus worth noting in passing that Siena is also at this moment a key stage in the history of police power, for by this stage in its history the city had become an experiment in policing, with a number of different forces in operation: the quattrini, charged with daytime custody of the city and numbering around 100; the captain of the people, with a small force of between 10 and 20; the force of the Podesta, the town’s chief magistrate, of around 40 established by the constitution of 1337; the war captain’s force, of between 50 and 100; the force of the Nine, also around 100 strong. William Bowsky calculates that, all told, by the mid-1330s there was one ‘policeman’ per 145 inhabitants of Siena, a proportion of police to populace far higher than places such as medieval Florence but higher too than modern states. 22 This tells us what we now know: the free circulation of goods and people requires a heavily policed city; a heavily policed city is policed under the sign of security. ‘Security’ and ‘police’ are beginning to come together as the supreme concepts of bourgeois society.

Lorenzetti’s images go some way to capturing what was happening to Securitas in the early modern West. Whatever theological trappings remain in the images, Securitas has developed in three important and overlapping ways: it has started to take on decidedly positive connotations, despite the Christian context; it has started to connect the inner tranquillity of the soul with the public tranquillity of the city, as the self-therapy of ‘secure subjects’ begins to combine with the political therapy of ‘secure cities’; and it has become increasingly secular and political. All of which is to say that security has started to become the sign of modernity, a policy objective as well as a personal goal.

Yet there is something fundamentally odd about the images: insecurity is not represented. The frescos possess a range of opposites between Good and Bad Government: peace versus war; charity versus avarice; concord versus discord; and so on. Yet despite the formidable presence of ‘security’ in Good Government, ‘insecurity’ does not yet exist in Bad Government. This tells us something important: insecurity does not yet exist as security’s opposite. Indeed, ‘insecurity’ does not yet exist at all. Insecurity may well be talked into existence through ‘discourses of danger’, 23 but at this point in history, whatever dangers existed, and there were plenty of them, ‘insecurity’ has clearly not been talked into existence. What does exist, however, being talked into existence time and again as security’s opposite, is fear. The banner of Securitas proclaims loudly: every man should go about the city without fear, not without insecurity.

This dominating presence of fear and complete absence of insecurity must be read in the light of both the final line on the banner held by Securitas (‘she has taken the power from all the guilty’) and what she holds in her other hand: a figure executed on the gallows. This somewhat complicates the message that Securitas will allow us to go without fear, for that message now appears to have two dimensions. On the one hand is the obvious: people can go about without fear because Securitas will punish those who commit crimes in the city; in contrast to Bad Government where killing takes place on the street in the absence of security, in Good Government killing takes place on the gallows in the hands of security. On the other hand, the image is also very much a message that one’s fears might now need to be directed towards Securitas herself. The gallows reminds us that it Securitas who now holds power over life and death. Securitas removes fear of one kind of violent death, then, only to replace it with another, offering us a permanent reminder that we should fear security itself. Securitas appears as an apparatus in which the death penalty is necessarily inscribed, to use Derrida’s formulation about sovereignty. 24 For Good Government to persist, Securitas must hold death in her hands. Or to use the wry formulation of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, responding to the inscription with which Kant begins ‘Perpetual Peace’: walking past a graveyard one can at least say that its residents ‘can now be sure they aren’t going to be hanged, which is more than we can’. 25

Now, one way to read Lorenzetti’s paintings is through the lens of what has become a commonplace in the history of political thought, namely that the image shows us the gradual placement of security at the heart of the conceptions of state and social order. This is of course the very story we are told when we are introduced to modern political theory, in which we are taught that security comes to form the underpinning dynamic of modern ideas about sovereignty and that it does so because of the insecurity experienced by human beings: the insecurity of the state of nature leads us to create the social contract and the state, we are told, and it is insecurity that remains even after the creation of the sovereign that leads us to accept the ongoing authority of the state. Yet there’s a problem with that story. It is a complex problem that has a number of overlapping dimensions upon which we have already touched and which are pertinent to my argument here: first, insecurity is not yet in the picture; second, what is very much in the picture is fear; and third, the key fear appears to be of death. I want to now unravel this a little through a discussion of Hobbes, because he is widely regarded as the philosopher of security par excellence, but I also want to use the work of Adam Smith in order to push home my point about capital.

‘Acknowledge your darkness’

The idea for which Hobbes has become best known is that we need a sovereign power because without it ‘we can neither expect from others, nor promise to our selves the least security’ (De Cive, I.3). The extent to which security is central to Hobbes’s thought is evident from the fact that he oscillates but often combines securitas and salus, along with other terms such as the New Testament Greek asphaleia, which refers to a firmness or stability, often in the literal sense of a ‘security’ against falling but also sometimes in the civic sense of the stability of institutions. Thus, when in 1628 Hobbes translates Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, he frequently translates asphaleia as ‘security’, extending it to include military practice rather than just personal security (Thucydides, History, III.37). So he is certainly keen on pushing the point of security for which his work has become well known. At the same time, he also rejects Cicero’s position on tranquillity, since there can be no such thing in a world in constant motion: ‘there is no such thing as perpetual Tranquillity of mind, while we live here; because life it selfe is but Motion, and can never be without Desire, nor without Fear’ (Lev., VI).

Yet what Hobbes does not have is the concept of ‘insecurity’. The frequently quoted passages on the generation of the Leviathan often describe this as a response to the insecurity of the state of nature and our insecurity as regards to others. Yet ‘insecurity’ is at this point not a common term. The OED gives the first use of ‘insecurity’ from 1646, in Sir Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica, where it is used to describe ‘the insecurity of truth’ with no political connotations whatsoever. So Hobbes might have been in a position to use ‘insecurity’, or even perhaps to develop the word himself, given how often he led the way in developing the English language. But he does not do so. What he does say a lot about, however, is metus, a Latin word which for him is the closest we might find as the opposite of securitas but which is usually translated as ‘fear’. More to the point, it is metus mortis violentae – the fear of violent death – that is key. We do not need to delve too deeply into his personal experiences here. (He liked to claim that his mother went into labour upon hearing the news of the Spanish Armada and that he was therefore born twinned with fear, and as an adult he was always fully aware that those like himself who were on the side of the king were liable to be executed.) For Hobbes, fear is the basis for the right of self-preservation – ‘life it selfe is … fear’ – and is the very reason we cannot expect security from others. In the passage just cited from De Cive, the reason why we cannot expect security from others is explained as being due to ‘mutual fear’ which stems in turn from our ‘mutual will of hurting’. In De Homine, ‘security of future time’ is set against fear of death as ‘the greatest of all evils’ (XI.6). The point is that a condition lacking in security, in which there is no industry, no cultivation, no navigation, no building, no transport, no knowledge, no arts and no society, is a condition not of ‘insecurity’ but, rather, of ‘continual feare and danger of violent death’ (Lev., XIII). We create and choose to live with a sovereign ‘for fear of one another’ (Lev., XX). Fear, not insecurity, drives Hobbes’s philosophy.

Hobbes’s whole work is organised around this fundamental fear of violent death, as Leo Strauss stresses in his book The Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes (1936) which, I think consciously echoing Hobbes, eschews the language of ‘insecurity’. Hobbes believes that people must recognise their fear of violent death and organise themselves accordingly. ‘It is through fear that men secure themselves’ (De Cive, I.2-3). The fear of death at the hands of another becomes the basis of sovereignty and subjection. At the same time, however, this fear remains present in that very state erected to provide security. Despite the creation of the Leviathan, despite Securitas overlooking the city, we still lock our private doors and secure the public gates at night.

I comprehend in this word fear, a certain foresight of future evil; neither do I conceive flight the sole property of fear, but to distrust, suspect, take heed, provide so that they may not fear, is also incident to the fearful. They who go to sleep, shut their doors; they who travel, carry their swords with them, because they fear thieves. Kingdoms guard their coasts and frontiers with forts and castles; cities are compact with walls.

The imagination of death in the state of nature as the most telling detail of our fundamental fear is carried over into the imagination of incalculable fears in the social order, as conflicts over even ‘trifles’ such as ‘a word, a smile, a different opinion’ can result in death (Lev., XXIII). The natural fear of death takes on a social dimension, rendering security always already under threat: the police power always already liable to fail fear never leaves.

Moreover, every person must ‘be restrained through fear of some coercive power’ (De Cive, Preface). Here we come to the second dimension of Securitas which we saw in Lorenzetti’s frescoes: ‘the terrour of some punishment’ must always exist. And for Hobbes, the good bourgeois, such terror must exist to ensure ‘security of performance’ (Lev, XV), so the creation of the Leviathan means that we come to fear death at the hands of the sovereign. In an earlier book The Elements of Law, Hobbes suggests that a person fears a death brought about by the ‘displeasing of his superior’, because behind this lies the ‘fear of eternal death hereafter’ (II.6.5), and in the later Leviathan the idea that ‘there is no natural knowledge of man’s estate after death’ becomes the basis of political order, for the one way of ‘gaining the secure and perpetuall felicity of Heaven’ lies in the ‘keeping of Covenant’ (Lev, XV). To claim the power to preserve our life, the sovereign claims the power of death but also operates in such a way that is rooted in our continual fear of death. The state is a power to enforce the punishment of death to achieve a condition called ‘security’. To be successful in its offer of protection, Securitas must also itself threaten death. The gallows rope always dangles before us.

This is why Leviathan needs to be read not simply for what it says or implies about security in the first two parts of the book, ‘Of Man’ and ‘Of Commonwealth’, in which he outlines the state of nature, man’s drives, and the creation of a sovereign power offering security, but also, and more pertinently, for what it says about security in the fourth and final part, a political theology concerning ‘The Kingdom of Darkness’. In that fourth part Hobbes imagines the Apostles after Jesus’s Resurrection asking him whether he will restore the Kingdome of God. Hobbes offers us Jesus’s answer:

When the Apostles after our Saviour’s Resurrection, and immediately before his Ascension, asked our Saviour, saying (Acts I.6) Wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdome to Israel? he answered them, It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power; But ye shall receive power by the comming of the Holy Ghost upon you, and yee shall be my (Martyrs) witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth: Which is as much as to say, My Kingdome is not yet come, nor shall you foreknow when it shall come; for it shall come as a theefe in the night; But I will send you the Holy Ghost, and by him you shall have power to bear witnesse to all the world (by your preaching) of my Resurrection, and the workes I have done, and the doctrine I have taught, that they may beleeve in me, and expect eternal life, at my comming againe (Lev., XLIV).

Hobbes is lifting here the passage from Thessalonians cited above, but also referencing the more general Christian tradition, to the effect that when people say ‘there is security’ then destruction will be on them. What is in going on in Part 4 of Leviathan is thus a suggestion that the security constructed through the erection of a sovereign power in the opening parts of the book is not ‘real’ security. It cannot be real security because man is still ultimately a wolf to man, each threating the other with death; because Behemoth, the monster of revolution, is always a possibility; because despite the ever-present threat of the gallows, the obedience we learn is perpetually liable to dissipate; and because, after all, the Leviathan is not the City of God.


What this means is that the picture is far more complicated than the one which suggests that for Hobbes the sovereign is created in order to provide security. The security offered by the sovereign is a kind of holding power through which men must learn to ‘acknowledge their owne Darknesse’ (Lev., XLIV). This is a darkness which generates fears about what Hobbes variously describes as ‘Powers Invisible’, ‘Spirits Invisible’, ‘Invisible Agents’ and ‘Invisible Powers’. 26 ‘This Feare of things invisible’, from Witches to Fairies and from Ghosts to Goblins, ‘is the natural Seed of that, which every one in himself calleth Religion’. But as well as driving us into the hands of the immortal God, our darkness and our fears also drive us into the hands of a mortal God. Power operates through our darkest fears, most obviously by peddling the idea that the Invisible Powers have a ‘Kingdom on Earth’.

This seed of Religion, having been observed by many; some of those that have observed it, have been enclined thereby so to nourish, dresse, and forme it into Lawes; and to adde to it of their own invention, any opinion of the causes of future events, by which they thought they should best be able to govern others, and to make unto themselves the greatest use of their Powers (Lev., XI).

In other words, one of the main mechanisms of political obedience is the fear of death at the hands of some unknown ‘Invisible Agents’, a fear that is all the darker for being superstitious.

In this light, security is achieved only with and through the Kingdom of God restored by Christ at the end of historical time, at which point the political Leviathan created in the book’s earlier parts disappears. The frontispiece of De Cive here becomes just as interesting as the more famous frontispiece of Leviathan. The image has three parts. On one side is ‘Libertas’, portrayed by a forlorn looking semi-naked Indian holding a bow and arrow with other Indians in the background hunting both animals and other humans. On the other side is ‘Imperium’, portrayed by the figure holding the scales of justice, bearing a sword and with work and industry taking place in the background. At the top of the frontispiece, above both Imperium and Libertas, is ‘Religio’, an image of the Last Judgement with people heading for either the perpetual security of Heaven or the perpetual misery of Hell.

Let me flesh out some of these ideas a little more with some observations about the work of Adam Smith, as a liberal and supposedly ‘anti-Hobbist’ counterpoint to the ‘authoritarian’ tendencies found in Hobbes. The first thing to note, however, is that a century on from Hobbes and despite the emergence of the word ‘insecurity’ in the mid-seventeenth century, as we noted, the word has still not yet become common. The first book with ‘insecurity’ in the title does not appear in English until 1706 (The insecurity of a printed overture for an act for the Church’s security) and the second book, on Insecurity against the small-pox, takes another 100 years to appear (in 1806). It is therefore no surprise to find that ‘insecurity’ does not figure in Smith’s work. In neither The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) nor The Wealth of Nations (1776) does ‘insecurity’ make an appearance, despite the former book being about human morality and the latter book containing descriptions of the negative effects of the division of labour on society. ‘Insecure’ appears once in The Wealth of Nations, but only in relation to the situation of a sovereign who has lost the support of the clergy (WN, V.i.g). In the Lectures on Jurisprudence, delivered in the early 1760s, Smith makes reference to ‘security’ time and again in discussions of police, liberty and sovereignty, but ‘insecurity’ is nowhere to be found. In contrast to this complete absence of any interest in or use of ‘insecurity’ on Smith’s part, ‘fear’ is as integral to his work as it is to Hobbes.

The fact that fear is central to a thinker widely understood to be one of the leading classical liberals thinkers and defenders of capital is perhaps telling, and is far from apparent in most accounts of fear. In contrast to Hobbes, Smith makes barely an appearance in intellectual histories of fear, such as Corey Robin’s Fear: The History of a Political Idea (2004) or Geoffrey Skoll’s Social Theory of Fear (2010). Smith likewise rarely makes an appearance in cultural histories of fear, despite how much his main work concerning competition, work and sympathy resonates with key cultural tropes in the West. Smith barely appears in Frank Furedi’s The Culture of Fear (2002), Joanna Bourke’s Fear: A Cultural History (2005), Barry Glassner’s The Culture of Fear (1999) or Marc Mulholland’s Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear (2012). This absence is really rather strange, given the centrality of fear and, in particular, the fear of death, to Smith’s political economy of liberty.

A notable feature of the account of sympathy in The Theory of Moral Sentiments is that it begins with and relies on an argument about sympathy with the dead. ‘We sympathise even with the dead’, he says, and are affected by ‘that awful futurity which awaits them’.

It is miserable, we think, to be deprived of the light of the sun; to be shut out from life and conversation; to be laid in the cold grave, a prey to corruption and the reptiles of the earth; to be no more thought of in this world, but to be obliterated, in a little time, from the affections, and almost from the memory, of their dearest friends and relations (TMS, I.i.1.13).

In a later chapter he comments on our sympathy for someone being oppressed by another, but this quickly turns into a discussion of death. We sympathise with the injured party and rejoice when we see them attack their adversary. And yet ‘if the injured should perish in the quarrel, we not only sympathise with the real resentment of his friends and relations, but with the imaginary resentment which in fancy we lend to the dead, who is no longer capable of feeling that or any other human sentiment’.

We put ourselves in his situation, as we enter, as it were, into his body, and in our imaginations, in some measure, animate anew the deformed and mangled carcass of the slain, when we bring home in this manner his case to our own bosoms, we feel upon this, as upon many other occasions, an emotion which the person principally concerned is incapable of feeling, and which yet we feel by an illusive sympathy with him. … We feel that resentment which we imagine he ought to feel, and which he would feel, if in his cold and lifeless body there remained any consciousness of what passes upon earth. His blood, we think, calls aloud for vengeance. The very ashes of the dead seem to be disturbed at the thought that his injuries are to pass unrevenged.

The example is telling, for it concerns a person who has been killed by another and whose very death thus demands vengeance: ‘the ghosts which, superstition imagines, rise from their graves to demand vengeance upon those who brought them to an untimely end, all take their origin from this natural sympathy with the imaginary resentment of the slain’ (TMS, II.i.2.5).

All of this leads Smith to what he claims is ‘one of the most important principles in human nature’, namely the fear of death. This claim completes the opening chapter of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and is perhaps more important than the general logic of sympathy for which the book is better known. It is important for a number of reasons. First, our fear of death generates a ‘foresight of our own dissolution so terrible to us’, generating a sympathy for the dead which in turn forms the foundation of all other sympathy. Second, we feel sympathy for the dead yet also recognise that death is a ‘safe and quiet harbour’ (TMS, VII.ii.1.25). The happiness of the dead is not affected by their being dead. Why? Because of the profound security of their condition. Hence we identify with the dead, but we do so in such a way that differentiates and distances ourselves from them. In particular, we differentiate our own lack of security with the security of the dead. When Smith says that we ‘lodge’ our ‘own living souls in their inanimated bodies’, it may well be their security we are seeking, for this is something that we ourselves cannot have (TMS, I.i.1.13). Third, our fear of death propels us in turn into new forms of security. ‘Death … is the king of terrors’, Smith says in one of his many Hobbesian moments (TMS, VI.iii.7). This psychology concerning the terror of death pushes us into the hands of a power that might then appear to offer security, or at least some version of it: the sovereign power. ‘The dread of death … [is] but the great restraint upon the injustice of mankind, which, while it afflicts and mortifies the individual, guards and protects the society’ (TMS, I.i.2.13).

Smith is on the terrain of security as both moral psychology and political strategy, but this terrain is grounded not on ‘insecurity’ but on the fear surrounding death. Hence, into this picture comes the other dimension of fear about which we have already said a fair amount, namely the fear of death at the hands of the state. Smith says that ‘we both punish and approve of punishment, merely from a view to the general interest of society, which, we imagine, cannot otherwise be secured’ (TMS, II.ii.3.11). For Smith as for Hobbes, it is the terror of punishment that lies at the heart of social order (TMS, II.ii.2.3; II.ii.3.7; VII.iv.17). Recall the examples just given: those who have suffered a violent death at the hands of another demand vengeance, and we sympathise with their demand. The feeling that vengeance in the form of punishment is justice lies in the fact that resentment is a feature of the general sympathy around which Smith’s theory of moral sentiments is organised. We readily ‘sympathise with the natural resentment of the injured, and the offender becomes the object of … hatred and indignation’ (TMS, II.ii.2.1). The criminal, as ‘the proper object of the resentment and indignation of mankind’, must therefore accept the ‘vengeance and punishment’ that follows (TMS, II.ii.2.3). Because ‘punishment, is the natural consequence of resentment’, so mankind will always ‘approve of the violence employed to avenge the hurt’ (TMS, II.ii.1.5), including the punishment of death. This punishment applies especially to those crimes that damage not a particular person but, rather, the security of the whole society. ‘Of this kind are all the punishments inflicted for breaches of what is called either civil police, or military discipline’. The ‘severity’ of the execution of these people is ‘just and proper’ (TMS, II.ii.3.11).

‘By the scruff of the neck’

As is probably clear, despite important differences between their work, I am treating Hobbes and Smith as exemplary thinkers on the nature of a social order driven by a ‘possessive individualism’, whether that possessiveness comes in the form of an aggressive and antagonistic search for glory (Hobbes) or a self-regarding but sympathetic competitiveness (Smith). A fundamental feature of such an order for both thinkers is a sovereign power that reminds us time and again of the threat of death and uses this threat to underpin the security of order. The point appears to be the need for something that might act as a political condition of security, which might do so because of our fear of death, while also pointing to the fact that anything we might call ‘real’ security is possible only in death. These visions of politics consider both the public (political) and private (psychological) sides of security but also, simultaneously, the impossibility of security other than with death. Harping back to the Christian tradition, security is still in some sense divine, but divine only by virtue of being a feeling achieved with the divine. In the meantime, all that we have is the security offered by the sovereign power. This security plays heavily on the concept that will much later become something called ‘insecurity’, but about which these writers have absolutely nothing to say.

All of which is a kind of historico-theological backdrop to the political problem we face and which, for a number of reasons, points to a fundamental bind, touched upon by Jean Baudrillard when he observed that ‘our obsessional compulsion for security can be interpreted as a gigantic collective ascesis, an anticipation of death in life itself’. Security, he suggests, is some kind of pact devised in opposition to death, which is precisely why it has come to stand as the basis of sovereignty. 27 What then is the bind?

First, the peace and security of being in the arms of God was no doubt once highly reassuring, but we are in the rather unfortunate position of having disillusioned man so that he no longer revolves around God, but without simultaneously abolishing the conditions of that illusion. A new secular God has emerged: Security. Our liberation from a theology of perpetual security has been used to reinforce our belief in a politics of Security, in the form of a security state which likes to reassure us that it can perform the task of God all the while knowing, and knowing that we know, that such a task is impossible. This is a problem that is in turn compounded by the fact that the one thing the modern state can and does guarantee is the perpetual ‘insecurity’ of the capitalist order.

Second, what this tells us is that Security wants to dispossess us of our own death. This might be the very reason that the term ‘terror management’, a term used by psychologists to understand our ‘insecurity’ in relation to death (following Ernst Becker’s path-breaking Denial of Death), is also a term that describes perfectly what takes place in security politics; ‘our work has … suddenly been recognised to be relevant to current circumstances’, note the leaders in the field following the attacks on the World Trade Centre. 28 The existential ‘taming of terror’ in the face of death coincides with the political ‘taming of terror’ offered to us by the security industry as the grounds of its power. To the extent that security wants to dispossess us of our death in this way, so it allows ‘insecurity’ to step in and consume our thinking. Instead of developing the critique of political economy and with it the critique of security, we are instead expected to fall back on the constant refrain of ‘insecurity’. But the cry of ‘insecurity’ is impossible to disconnect from a cry for security. Aside from anything else, this is why ‘insecurity’ has absolutely no purchase as a critical idea.

Third, if there is one thing that might be said about security, it is that it is a death machine. Carol Cohn, commenting on her experience of working with security intellectuals, commented that she came to see herself as ‘a feminist in the house of death’. 29 Security is a system for the manufacture of corpses. Securitas holding the gallows in Lorenzetti’s fresco now takes the form of the images on our TV screens of piles of corpses created in the name of security. From the gallows to the drone: I am security, I hold death in my hands. And yet surviving through the manufacture of death and thriving on the spectacle that this creates, security has an easy time insisting that what it is doing is absolutely necessary because of our purported insecurity. The terror before the abyss of death, reconstituted as a series of never-ending insecurities, is expected to be removed by a consciousness of an abstract ‘Security’ and then a series of particular ‘security measures’. Yet all that then transpires is a terrible insecurity, and in the face of those very same measures. Security as the sublimation of death, reducing us to terror management.

‘Death has us by the scruff of the neck at every moment’, Montaigne once reminded us, as if we needed reminding. But he added that a person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave: ‘to practice death is to practice freedom’. Paraphrasing Montaigne, we might say that genuinely practicing death might be a way of learning how not to be a slave to security, and hence might be the basis of our liberation from the jargon of insecurity. My paraphrasing here might not be so far off of the mark, at least as regards Montaigne. According to Giovanni Botero’s 1588 treatise The Greatness of Cities, the ‘multitude of thieves and murderers’ in France had led to an increasing number of ‘confines, boundaries, ditches, hedges and enclosures’ and the employment of large numbers of ‘watchmen’ to oversee the security of private estates and property, yet Montaigne employed one elderly doorkeeper and, contra Hobbes’s knowing reminder to us of the everyday practices that are manifestations of our fear, such as locking our doors, Montaigne often did not lock his door, sensing perhaps that allowing our fears to dominate our world would push us into a plethora of fabricated ‘security measures’ and distract us from learning how to die. 30 Perhaps it is security rather than death that now has us by the scruff of the neck. Perhaps it does so because we have forgotten how to die. Perhaps ‘the destruction of the ideology of death would involve an explosive transvaluation of social concepts’, 31 including the concept of security.

To the extent that security wants to take our future from us in this way, it colonises any thinking about alternative futures. The future gets appropriated by the supreme concept of bourgeois society and the security industry’s myth of its own power, which is then forced to acknowledge that it cannot offer anything remotely like ‘perpetual security’ and, as a way of sustaining the myth, peddles instead a jargon of insecurity and terror management. Death gets buried beneath the banal and seemingly never-ending performance of security and its insecurities, but also dangled before us as evidence of security’s power.

‘Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble’, James Baldwin once commented, ‘is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death’. 32 Among the most powerful of these prisons is now the prison of security, before which we sacrifice both life and death. This is why every discussion about security and insecurity is always tinged by a sense of melancholy: a reminder not of what we cannot have, but of what we have lost. To be free, we must renounce security.

Notes

  1. Mark Neocleous, Critique of Security (Edinburgh University Press/McGill-Queens University Press, 2008); War Power, Police Power (Edinburgh University Press, 2014); The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power, Revised Edition (London: Verso, 2020). ^

  2. Mark Neocleous, ‘War as peace, peace as pacification’, Radical Philosophy 159 (Jan/Feb 2010), 8–17; Mark Neocleous, ‘Against Security’, Radical Philosophy 100 (March/April 2000), 7–15. ^

  3. Norbert Elias, The Loneliness of the Dying (1982), trans. Edmund Jephcott (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985), 88–89. ^

  4. This is a much-revised version of a paper first developed for the conference ‘Insecurity’ at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 4-6 May, 2019. ^

  5. Michael Dillon, Politics of Security: Towards a Political Philosophy of Continental Thought (London: Routledge, 1996), 120, 122, 127. ^

  6. M. J. Williams, ‘(In)Security Studies, Reflexive Modernisation and the Risk Society’, Cooperation and Conflict 43:1 (2008), 66. ^

  7. R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Subject of Security’, in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams (eds), Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases (London: UCL Press, 1997), 67. ^

  8. Dillon, Politics, 127. ^

  9. The untranslatability of securitas is why it appears as an entry in Barbara Cassin, Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 936–38. The entry by John T. Hamilton is a very short version of the much longer argument in his book Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013). Also here see Dillon, Politics of Security, 16, 125; J. Frederik M. Arends, ‘From Homer to Hobbes and Beyond – Aspects of “Security” in the European Tradition’, in Globalisation and Environmental Challenges: Reconceptualising Security in the 21st Century, eds. Hans Günter Brauch et. al. (Berlin: Springer, 2008), 263–77. ^

  10. I have adjusted the translation slightly, on the grounds that the translator renders securitas as ‘freedom from care’. See Cicero, De Officiis, trans. Walter Miller (London: Heinemann, 1913). ^

  11. Cicero does refer to statesmen doing well to also possess securitas, but this is still in reference to a calm soul: ‘Statesmen too, no less than philosophers … should carry with them that greatness of spirit and indifference to outward circumstances to which I so often refer, together with a calmness of soul and security [tranquillitas animi atque securitas], if they are to be free from worries’ (Cicero, De Officiis, Bk. I, Para 72). Hamilton, Security, 59. ^

  12. Hamilton, Security, 58–59, 186. ^

  13. Erika Manders, Coining Images of Power: Patterns in the Representation of Roman Emperors on Imperial Coinage, A.D. 193-284 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 205–11. ^

  14. The standard English translation of City of God by Henry Bettenso (Penguin, 1972) has ‘serenity’ not security (864), but the original Latin is ‘securitas’. ^

  15. Edwin Sandys, ‘The Eleventh Sermon’ (1585), in The Sermons of Edwin Sandys (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1842), 210–12. ^

  16. John Downame, The Christian Warfare. Wherein is first generally shewed the malice, power and politike stratagems of the spirituall enemies of our salvation, etc. (London, 1604). ^

  17. The text is Sermon XII of Thrēnoikos: The House of Mourning, Furnished with Directions For, Preparations To, Meditations Of, Consolations At, the Hour of Death: Delivered in LVI Sermons (London: John Williams, 1672), 143–58. ^

  18. Hamilton, Security, 63–4, 137. ^

  19. William M. Bowsky, A Medieval Italian Commune: Siena Under the Nine, 1287-1355 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1981), 283. ^

  20. See, respectively, Nicolai Rubinstein, ‘Political Ideas in Sienese Art: The Frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Taddeo di Bartolo in the Palazzo Pubblico’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21 (1958), 179–207, and two essays by Quentin Skinner: ‘Ambrogio Lorenzetti: The Artist as Political Philosopher’, Proceedings of the British Academy 72 (1987), 1–56, and ‘Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Buon Governo Frescoes: Two Old Questions, Two New Answers’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 62 (1999), 1–28. Skinner’s essays are reprinted in slightly altered form in Visions of Politics, Vol. 2: Renaissance Virtues (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). ^

  21. Uta Feldges-Henning, ‘The Pictorial Programme of the Sala della Pace: A New Interpretation’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 35 (1972), 145–162; Jack M. Greenstein, ‘The Vision of Peace: Meaning and Representation in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Sala Della Pace Cityscapes’, Art History 11:4 (1988), 492–510; Gerrit Jasper Schenk, ‘Human Security in the Renaissance? Securitas, Infrastructure, Collective Goods and Natural Hazards in Tuscany and the Upper Rhine Valley’, Historical Social Research 35:4, (2010), 209–33; Hamilton, Security, 138–46, 152–3. ^

  22. Bowsky, Medieval, 120. ^

  23. Jef Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2006), 7. ^

  24. Jacques Derrida, The Death Penalty, Vol. 1 (2012), trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 23. ^

  25. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books (1765-99), trans. R. J. Hollingdale (New York: New York Review of Books, 2000), Notebook L, 1796-99, No. 15. Compare the observation of Gregory Zilboorg: ‘we like to read about executions. …What I would like to point out here is the less obvious unconscious reaction of egocentric self-delight which could be expressed by the exclamation: “It is not I who was executed last night”.’ Gregory Zilboorg, ‘Fear of Death’, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 12:4 (1943), 469. ^

  26. See Mark Neocleous, The Universal Adversary: Security, Capital, and ‘The Enemies of All Mankind’ (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016). ^

  27. Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976), trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (London: Sage, 1993), 178. Also see Ernst Becker, The Denial of Death (New York: Free Press, 1973); Zygmunt Bauman, Mortality, Immortality and Other Life Strategies (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992); Jeff Huysmans, ‘Security! What Do You Mean? From Concept to Thick Signifier’, European Journal of International Relations 4:2 (1998), 235–56. ^

  28. Tom Pyszczynski, Sheldon Solomon and Jeff Greenberg, In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2002), 8. For the popularisation, see Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski, The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life (London: Penguin, 2016). Their starting point is Becker, Denial, 145. ^

  29. Carol Cohn, ‘Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 12:4 (1987), 691. ^

  30. Montaigne, ‘To Philosophise is to Learn how to Die’, in The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (London: Penguin Books, 1987), 89–108; Giovanni Botero, A Treatise Concerning the Causes of the Magnificency and Greatness of Cities (1588), trans. Robert Peterson, in Giovanni Botero, The Reason of State and The Greatness of Cities (London: Routledge, 1956), 279. ^

  31. Herbert Marcuse, ‘The Ideology of Death’ (1959), in Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Emancipation: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Vol 5, ed. Douglas Kellner and Clayton Pierce (London: Routledge, 2011), 128. ^

  32. James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (London: Penguin Books, 1963), 79. ^

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