History and Theory of Political Repression

Feature Articles by PRA

Repression and Ideology:
  How Police Justify Labelling Demonstrators as "Terrorists"
by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons

One key to litigating against government prosecution of dissidents is understanding the underlying assumptions...
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This article originally appeared in Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report Vol. 5, Nos. 13-14, Jan-Feb., and March-April 1998.
The Hunt for Red Menace
  A major study of the structures and institutions of political repression in the U.S. since WWII
By Chip Berlet

Following the end of World War II, a coalition of conservative, ultra-conservative, right-wing and liberal anti- communist political movements and groups organized support for high levels of military spending, promoted the use of covert action abroad, and cultivated the acceptance of obsessive governmental secrecy, surveillance and repression at home. In the domestic public sphere this coalition shaped an overwhelming willingness among citizens to trade real civil liberties for illusionary national security safeguards. Some observers of this phenomenon see it as having fueled Cold War antagonisms and resulted in what they term the "National Security State..."
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What is the Maldon Institute and Who is John Rees?
  A Case Study of One Right-Wing Private Intelligence Network
By Chip Berlet

There have been a series of revelations about the role of private right-wing countersubversion groups--such as the Maldon Institute--in circulating concepts and information used to justify law enforcement intelligence abuse. Repression against demonstrators make more sense if one explores the history and background of public and private countersubversion networks.
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Power Structure Research v. Conspiracism and Paranoia
  By Matthew N. Lyons
  What's the difference? Find out in this essay.

Cold War fears of Red Menace subversion have been recycled as warnings of impending terrorist attacks

Who is a Terrorist?

These two selections relate to the issue of government use of terminology to demonize dissent. The first is the government's attempt to include under the term "terrorism" a variety of methodologies, some of which are not even violent. A selected response critical of that ploy follows.

Louis J. Freeh (Director Federal Bureau of Investigation),
Congressional Statement on the Threat of Terrorism to the United States
before the United States Senate Committees on Appropriations,
Armed Services and Select Committee on Intelligence, May 10, 2001,
full text at http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress01/freeh051001.htm

Reclaim the Streets: "Is Dancing Terrorism?" by PB Floyd in Slingshot,
Urban75 Action News, July 1, 2001 at http://www.urban75.com/Action/news137.html




  • Caignon, Denise and Gail Groves. (1987). Her Wits About Her: Self-Defense Success Stories by Women. New York: Perennial Library.
  • Center for National Security Studies. (1996). Terrorism Law Is Major Setback for Civil Liberties. Report. Washington, DC: by the author.
  • Chang, Nancy. (2002). Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties. New York: Seven Stories.
  • Churchill, Ward and Jim Vander Wall. (1988). Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Boston: South End Press.
  • Churchill, Ward and Jim Vander Wall. (1989). COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. Boston: South End Press.
  • Cunningham, David. (Forthcoming). "State vs. Social Movement: The FBI's COINTELPRO Against the New Left" In Jack Goldstone, ed., States, Parties, and Social Movements. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Davis, James Kirkpatrick. (1997). Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Dempsey, James X. and David Cole. (1999). Terrorism & The Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security. Los Angeles: First Amendment Foundation.
  • Donner, Frank J. (1980). The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Donner, Frank J. (1990). Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Feldman, Jonathan. (1989). Universities in the Business of Repression: The Academic-Military-Industrial Complex and Central America. Boston: South End Press.
  • Fijnaut, Cyrille and Gary T. Marx. (1995). Under Cover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.
  • Gelbspan, Ross. (1991). Break–Ins, Death Threats and the FBI: The Covert War Against the Central America Movement. Boston: South End Press.
  • Glick, Brian. (1989). War at Home: Covert Action Against U. S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. Boston: South End Press.
  • Goldstein, Robert J. (1978). Political Repression in Modern America, 1870 to Present, 2nd edition. Rochester VT: Schenkman Books, Inc.
  • Herman, Edward and Gerry O'Sullivan. (1989). The “Terrorism” Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror. New York: Pantheon.
  • Karp, Walter. (1988). Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988. New York: Henry Holt & Co.
  • Keller, William W. (1989). The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Kovel, Joel. (1994). Red Hunting in the Promised Land: Anticommunism and the Making of America. New York: Basic Books.
  • Lyon, David. (1994). The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Mackenzie, Angus. (1997). Secrets: The CIA's War at Home. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Marx, Gary T. (1988). Under Cover: Police Surveillance in America. Berkeley: Twentieth Century Fund/University of California Press.
  • Nelson, Jill, Ed. (2000). Police Brutality: An Anthology. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • O’Reilly, Kenneth. (1983). Hoover and the Unamericans: The FBI, HUAC and the Red Menace. Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press.
  • O'Reilly, Kenneth. (1988). “Racial Matters:” The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960—1972. New York: Free Press.
  • Scher, Abby. (2001). "The Crackdown on Dissent." The Nation, Jan. 19, 2001, pp. 23-26.
  • Schultz, Bud and Ruth Schultz. (1989). It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Staples, William G. (2000). Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • More Extensive Bibliography:
    Reading List on Intelligence Agencies and Political Repression


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