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

Boukalas, Christos (2020) Overcoming Liberal Democracy: “Threat Governmentality” and the Empowerment of Intelligence in the UK Investigatory Powers Act. In: Studies in Law, Politics, and Society. Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, 82 . Emerald, Bingley, pp. 1-25. ISBN 9781839822797, 9781839822780

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/s1059-433720200000082002


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.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: biopolitics; electronic surveillance; Investigatory Powers Act; liberal democracy; pre-emption; rule of law; threat governmentality; total intelligence
Subjects: L200 Politics
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2019 12:41
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 12:36
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/40020

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