Democracy transfigured: The dawn of the ‘umpire state’

Peter Lehr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the previous chapter, I focussed on the state. However, answering the question on how modern security technology impacts on our liberal democracies requires a look at actors other than the state as well – actors that are per definition non-state actors but who, in some regard, act like quasi-state actors. In this chapter, I assess these private actors in a critical perspective to see how they influence our daily lives. My main argument, following James Madison, is that ‘the state’ as such is running the risk of being reduced to an ‘umpire state’ in the shape of a political actor who, as a primus inter pares (first among equals) mediates conflicts between private actors in the shape of powerful corporations but is no longer able to control their ‘quasi-feudal’ domains. But, since our ability to predict the future arguably is quite limited, I end this chapter with a couple of thought-provoking questions: could it be that this fear of many ‘Big Brothers’ instead of just one is as overblown as the fear of terrorism?

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications
ISSN (Print)1613-5113
ISSN (Electronic)2363-9466


  • Data-mining
  • Outsourcing
  • Private actors
  • Private companies
  • State actors
  • Umpire State
  • ‘Big brothers’


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