Police Forces pp 221-265 | Cite as

Exception Rules: Contemporary Political Theory and the Police

  • Klaus Mladek
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Lampedusa,1 Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, Florida—contemporary politics has rediscovered the lawless zones where the darker practices and fantasies of civilization are outsourced. The law’s withdrawal from all fronts coincides with the reemergence of atavistic modes of violence that once again can be freely employed without the inhibitions of conventions and rights. Sublime sovereignty, once rich with imagery and pomp, now makes way for more anonymous powers whose effects, though muted, are no less devastating. Moreover, these states of exception2 have hit home. Skirting the restrictions of civil liberties and court oversight, Western democracies systematically seek out law-free zones—where legal codes do not reach—abroad and at home. Refugees across the globe suffer from expulsion, exploitation, social injustice, genocide, state terrorism, racism, and war. Bereft of formal protections, they import their emergencies into the wealthy fortress of the Western world. Yet the leading statesmen of the First World, betraying a curious lack of imagination for the potential of the political, do not have much more than security, order, and danger on their minds. Hence, wherever we look at National Security initiatives, “super-police forces,” intelligence agencies, and military intervention troops are popping up while belligerent threats, war-like mobilizations, shadow diplomacy, and frenzied media coverage envelop the globe. We live in a state of exception that no one has decreed but to which everyone subscribes.3


Homeland Security Political Theorist Police Work Geneva Convention Police Power 
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© Klaus Mladek 2007

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  • Klaus Mladek

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