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Biosecurity and State-Corporate Interests


White, R, Biosecurity and State-Corporate Interests, Borders and Crime: Pre-Crime, Mobility and Serious Harm in an Age of Globalisation, Palgrave Macmillan, J McCulloch and S Pickering (ed), Basingstoke, UK, pp. 113-129. ISBN 978-0-230-30029-3 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2012 Palgrave Macmillan

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The primary argument of this chapter is that state-corporate interests define environmental risk and harm in ways that prop up existing profit-based modes of production (and consumption). In so doing, transgressions against particular groups of people, specific environments and other species occur as a 'natural' consequence of systemic pressures and elite decisions. Exploitation of both the human and the non-human is built into the very fabric of dominant constructions of biosecurity and national interest.

In a nutshell, sectional class interests and the interests of state elites are privileged over and above both universal human interests (such as those of an ecologically sustainable environment) and the particular needs and rights of specific population groups, non-human species and biospheres. For the purposes of this chapter, therefore, it is assumed that there is a close relationship between state power and class power. Wealth, power and influence are not pluralized, but are increasingly concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, typically in the form of the transnational corporation. The state is not independent of the general power relations within a society, and therefore the exercise of state power generally reflects the interests of those who have the capacity to marshal significant economic resources (such as large mining companies and agricultural corporate giants).

Nonetheless, there is a relative autonomy to state power insofar as the nation-state must rule in favour of the system-as-a-whole (which periodically means intervention in the affairs of specific companies). Likewise, for the sake of the wider political economy, the nation-state has an interest in maintaining a modicum of public order (which may require addressing the most obviously harmful social and environmental practices of private business). In a capitalist society the state is a capitalist state. However, its effectiveness in most Western countries rests, in part, upon maintaining the illusion of neutrality, impartiality and plurality, and sustaining this through the implementation of basic safeguards for individual human rights, baseline welfare and educational provision, democratic elections and a degree of environmental protection. Where these collapse, the result is dictatorship and more blatant self-serving activity on the part of both the state and corporate elites. Capitalism does not require democracy, liberal or otherwise.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Criminology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Justice and the law not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:White, R (Professor Rob White)
ID Code:83490
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2013-03-14
Last Modified:2017-12-14

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