The Criminalisation of Political Dissent

The Criminalisation of Political Dissent: Huckstering the Law | Critical Legal Thinking.


“Of course it would be just if the State were to stop crim­in­al­ising polit­ical protest­ors, and this is neces­sary, at a min­imum. But polit­ical trans­form­a­tion lies in chal­len­ging the nature of private own­er­ship that per­vades the very form that law takes. In the Eco­nomic and Philo­sophic Manu­scripts of 1844, Marx writes that the “huck­ster­ing with landed prop­erty, the trans­form­a­tion of landed prop­erty into a com­mod­ity, con­sti­tutes the final over­throw of the old and the final estab­lish­ment of the money aris­to­cracy.” Huck­ster­ing, Marx tells us, is what defines the very essence of own­er­ship (whether it’s feudal or cap­it­al­ist, of land or money).

“Per­haps huck­ster­ing is also an apt and ana­log­ous term for the use of law to crim­in­al­ise polit­ical dis­sent. What we are being offered here (what is being peddled) is a ver­sion of the law that deems it crim­in­ally improper to dis­rupt the enti­tle­ment of the wealthy to enjoy sport, to assert a noisy, vis­ible pres­ence in pub­lic space, to chal­lenge the increas­ingly private own­er­ship of our uni­ver­sit­ies. Per­haps one place to begin in recon­cep­tu­al­ising a law of pub­lic harm is to ima­gine laws that are not tied to the pro­tec­tion of prop­erty in all of its glor­i­ous diversity, but con­ceives of pub­lic harm as that which dam­ages the life chances of that major­ity liv­ing on the mar­gins of socio-​economic privilege.”

Brenna Bhandar is Lec­turer in Law, Queen Mary, Uni­ver­sity of London.

Petition: protect #occupywallstreet

We petition the Obama Administration to:

Send the National Guard into New York City and elsewhere to protect the right of We the People peaceably to assemble.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are being beaten, bloodied, pepper-sprayed, photographed, arrested, finger-printed and harassed by police and by counterintelligence agents.

The First Amendment guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The kinds of harassment and counterintelligence mentioned above abridge that right.

Local restrictions on assembly intended to keep good order in normal times should also be suspended in this instance.

Therefore, we petition our government to send the National Guard into New York City and anywhere else where police, agents of government, or thugs may abuse and abridge the civil rights of Occupy Wall Street and affiliated demonstrators.

Created: Oct 09, 2011
Issues: Civil Rights and Liberties, Human Rights

Signatures needed by November 08, 2011 to reach goal of 25,000: 24,999

Sign Here at

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Cry Tyranny?

What should I do if I hear that the theater I’m sitting in is on fire?

What if I’m convinced that a tyrant has taken control of my government?

When people cry “tyranny” in the media (our modern theater) what should the rest of us, we the people, do?

When is a  “Second Amendment remedy” in order?

Doesn’t any true revolutionary contemplating “Second Amendment remedies” (you may see a brief ad before the main clip) fully expect to risk life and liberty for standing up against real tyranny?

At the signing of the US Declaration of Independence on August 2nd 1776, Benjamin Franklin famously said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately” meaning that if they did not band together in the fight against the British, they would all be hanged separately.  They didn’t expect to go on with their lives, business as usual, if their revolution failed.

People today accuse our government and our president of tyranny and expect to go right on with business as usual. Does that expectation make any sense?

On the other hand, if we the people are offended by shrill charges that our duly elected government is guilty of tyranny, and we revoke academic and professional credentials, audit taxes, impose fines, or put the speakers in jail for such inflammatory claims, would that create a slippery slope down which we might all slide closer to actual tyranny? Or would it help to protect a legitimate government from misguided extremists or bad-faith fear-mongers with hidden political agendas?

Does it make sense for society to impose consequences on such speech, or must we wait for the “Second Amendment” gunfire?

In a case of true tyranny, anti-incumbent, anti-establishment, and minority voices would immediately be “disappeared” into secret political dungeons.  Fortunately for all concerned, when charges of tyranny go unanswered and unpunished, it is a good sign that no tyranny actually exists. Thus a healthy liberal democracy will usually err on the side of permissiveness when it comes to inflammatory and even revolutionary speech.

But those who casually throw “tyranny” around in the media should remember the prohibition on shouting “fire” in the public theater and not feel too certain that the public will tolerate such speech ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Their false bravado and sanguine expectation of impunity betrays the lie in their phony “revolutionary” speech. That is self-evident to most mature and rational people.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the media audience has such emotional maturity and intellectual good judgment.

Whenever and wherever politically motivated violence breaks out, all those who have cried tyranny and called for violent revolution in the public theater (even in veiled metaphors) must be rounded up, prosecuted, and hung (figuratively or literally) as accessories and co-conspirators.

The honorable Founders of this nation, and all true revolutionaries, would expect no less. But any false revolutionaries, corporate stooges, and mercenary political saboteurs remaining might sit down and shut the fuck up.

As one who identifies strongly with the traditions and principles of true revolution, that would please me.

Poor Richard

What if the Tea Party was black?

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