Hannah Arendt and the Art of Secrecy; Or, the Fog of Cobra Mist


Using Hannah Arendt as our guide, we examine the imperfect and at times curious mechanisms through which state projects enact an aura of secrecy and deception. To date, International Political Sociology (IPS) has paid strikingly little attention to the workings of secrecy and deception in politics. Arendt’s contributions to international political sociologies of state secrecy are threefold. First, Arendt’s reflections on lying and secrecy occur across a wide historico-philosophical field, generating insights that a focus on liberal democracy alone cannot. Second, Arendt draws our attention to important variations in the arts of secrecy and deception, and their ethico-political implications. Third, Arendt highlights the limits of traditional scholarly methods for research on lying and secrecy and offers an important tool that we conceptualize as a twist. We demonstrate these three contributions through a case study of a foggy Anglo-American intelligence project called Cobra Mist.

International Political Sociology, 11(1)