This essay concerns paranoia's apocalyptic implications when harnessed by the state. It argues that current characterizations of paranoia as either resistance to globalization or a lay critique of Enlightenment ideals do not obviate paranoia's destructive dynamics in the service of state power. Paranoia remains a political phenomenon that calls for analysis at the level of the structure of rule. The essay explores one approach to paranoia as a political category through an ideal-typical model drawn from Elias Canetti's classic 1960 text Crowds and Power. It concludes with a discussion on how technology mediates between power and secrecy, forming a key nexus in the exploration of politics and paranoia.
Power, Secrecy, Paranoia: Technologies of Governance and the Structure of Rule
JONATHAN BACH IS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AT THE NEw SCHOOL IN NEw YORK. HE wORKS ON CONTEMPORARY RECONFIGURATIONS OF SOVEREIGNTY, IDENTITY, AND MEMORY. HE HAS wRITTEN ON GERMAN POLITICS AND CULTURE, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND ORGANIzATIONAL CHANGE, AND THE POLITICS OF SECURITY, wITH ARTICLES APPEARING IN, AMONG OTHERS, PUBLIC CULTURE, AND THEORY, CULTURE & SOCIETY.