Critical security studies

Authored by: David Mutimer

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


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‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it’ (Marx 1888). This noted aphorism by Karl Marx may be said to mark the origin of modern critical social theory. While the point might be to change the world, it is not the only point. Marx is not suggesting abandoning the philosophers’ search for understanding, but rather advocates understanding the world in order to change it. It is likely that most, if not all, forms of social theory would accept Marx’s point. Social theory is a policy science, that is, a form of knowledge (science) that informs how we live together in political communities (polity). Even a liberal thinker such as Francis Fukuyama, who argues that the great struggles of history are over, would accept that social theory should seek to understand the operations of our now-eternal liberal democratic present to make things ‘better’: increase the overall wealth and freedom of the world’s people, and include more and more in the virtuous circle of liberal democratic governance and market economies (Fukuyama 1992).

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