Shackled Liberties, or: How Security Came to Trump Everything Else
In this paper, the origins of the “security narrative” in contemporary German political discourse is traced back to the early modern conception of “natural law,” first emphasized by Thomas Hobbes. Underlying this conception is that individuals would – by acknowledgment of their inborn “natural law” – sacrifice their individual liberties for the sake of public security. It is shown that a conception of state based on such a metaphysical premise discounts the existence of any discontent as valid within a society, and allows for top‑down coercive measures against anyone who does not buy into this narrative. Those measures, exemplified by political rhetoric in Germany and beyond in the wake of recent mass migration and “terrorist threat,” do quite often impair with even fundamental human rights and appear at odds with the simultaneous claim to represent a liberal-democratic constitution.
Keywords: Germany, natural law, security, mass migration, state-sponsored media, atmosphere, fear, human rights