Overcoming Liberal Democracy: “Threat Governmentality” and the Empowerment of Intelligence in the UK Investigatory Powers Act

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Abstract

The sudden rise of the socio-political importance of security that has marked the twenty-first century entails a commensurate empowerment of the intelligence apparatus. This chapter takes the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 as a vantage point from where to address the political significance of this development. It provides an account of the powers the Act grants intelligence agencies, concluding that it effectively legalizes their operational paradigm. Further, the socio-legal dynamics that informed the Act lead the chapter to conclude that Intelligence has become a dominant apparatus within the state. This chapter pivots at this point. It seeks to identify, first, the reasons of this empowerment; and, second, its effects on liberal-democratic forms, including the rule of law. The key reason for intelligence empowerment is the adoption of a pre-emptive security strategy, geared toward neutralizing threats that are yet unformed. Regarding its effects on liberal democracy, the chapter notes the incompatibility of the logic of intelligence with the rule of law. It further argues that the empowerment of intelligence pertains to the rise of a new threat-based governmental logic. It outlines the core premises of this logic to argue that they strengthen the anti-democratic elements in liberalism, but in a manner that liberalism is overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Law, Politics, and Society
EditorsAustin Sarat
PublisherEmerald
Chapter1
Pages1-25
Volume82
ISBN (Electronic)9781839822780
ISBN (Print)9781839822797
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Law, Politics, and Society
PublisherEmerald
Volume82
ISSN (Print)1059-4337

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