The German thinker G.W.F. Hegel began his great work ‘The Philosophy of Right’ with an aphorism: “What is reasonable is real; and what is real is reasonable.’
Hegel’s remark remains contentious. Some readers conclude that he is arguing that what is real must also be right. That is not the case - rather, Hegel, was arguing that the philosopher must be concerned with understanding the world as it actually is, not with how we may wish it to be.
It is tempting to deny the reality of these evils. Yet recent events remind us again that there are wicked people who are set on destroying our values,
What was true of Hegel’s philosophy in the nineteenth century is equally true of public policy today, particularly in relation to the fundamental issue of national security. The monstrous terrorist attacks in Brussels serve to remind us all that the threat posed by terrorism is real, unprecedented and growing.
Andrew Parker, the Director-General of MI5, has said: “The threat we are facing today is on a scale and at a tempo that I have never seen before in my career.”
In the 12 months to September last year, our police and security services arrested 315 people for terrorism-related offences.
Some want to link all of this to our membership of the European Union, as terrorism and the response to it are pan-national. Nevertheless what’s happening would continue whether we decide to leave the European Union or not.
The greatest challenge we face stems from how terrorists have changed. Daesh, in particular, use modern media and new technology to achieve their despicable ends. They adapt in ways we have not seen before.
To face down this threat we must continue to disrupt terrorist attacks and those who help to support them. To this end we have banned 15 terrorists groups including 11 linked to Syria and Iraq. We have revoked British citizenship from individuals, and since May 2010 we have excluded over 100 hate preachers.
But facing reality also means ensuring that the police and security services have the powers they need to keep us safe. Modern media and the latest technology are at the heart of the threat we now face and so must be at the heart of our response. The Investigatory Powers Bill, which I will taking through Parliament from next week, will enable those missioned to keep us safe to access the data they need to prevent potential attacks. Communications data matters; it has been used in every major Security Service counter-terrorism investigation over the last year as well as in almost all serious crime investigations.
It is tempting to deny the reality of these evils. Yet recent events remind us again that there are wicked people who are set on destroying our values, radicalising our young people and killing indiscriminately across the globe. Out of this adversity comes an opportunity for us to provide real leadership, to grasp that our certainty must outpace our adversaries, our commitment should out match those who want to harm us. Our clear purpose will always be to take whatever steps are necessary to keep our people safe from harm.