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Security is safety from threats against one's well-being. Any form of progress is potentially a threat to the establishment since it could render the establishment obsolete. Most progress is accompanied by creative destruction that causes temporary economic dislocations as consumers abandon old products, and companies abandon old production techniques, in favor of new and better ones. New ideologies, too, can arise and threaten popular support for the leaders and policies that currently guide the State. For this reason, rulers often seek to closely monitor and control venues of political expression, censoring speech that is dangerous to their interests and countering opposing ideologies with their own propaganda.

On the other hand, stagnation too is a threat to the establishment because external threats continue to evolve into more dangerous forms that will eventually overwhelm any defenses that do not evolve along with them. Ludwig von Mises notes, "If primitive men had adopted the principle of stability, they would never have gained security; they would long since have been wiped out by beasts of prey and microbes."[1] An entire chapter of Socialism is devoted to analysis of why socialism is unsuitable to a world of dynamic conditions and forces.[2]

In international relations, a prime example of an attempt to produce security through stagnation is the United Nations, whose Security Council includes five veto-wielding permanent members whose unanimous consent must be obtained for any revision to the United Nations Charter. One of those powers, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, no longer exists; its membership was transferred to Russia, a significantly smaller state that in many respects lacks the superpower status of its predecessor. Two other permanent members, France and the United Kingdom, have also greatly diminished in importance in the international arena, having given up their colonies and surrendered some autonomy to the European Union. Meanwhile, Brazil, India, Japan, Germany, Turkey, and many other countries have greatly increased in economic importance but have not been able to join the Permanent Five.