Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

If You’re Reading This, You’re Probably a Terrorist


This has been one of those times that a series of random, seemingly unrelated events have all reinforced a common lesson for me. First, it was reported on January 21 (“Opposed to Fracking? You Might Be a Terrorist,” that Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies — Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Mounties, the FBI, Homeland Security, and provincial, state and local police — have been working closely with Enbridge, TransCanada and other energy companies engaged in pipeline projects to keep leading anti-fracking activists under surveillance as potential “terrorists.” Scotland Yard has carried out similar surveillance of “radicals” in the animal rights, anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-GMO movements.
The same day in the U.S. (“So now Homeland Security can detain suspected movie pirates?” IO9, January 21), Homeland Security seized a man for wearing Google Glass in an Ohio movie theater,  detaining him for three hours — even though he had the “record” function turned off.
Finally, on February 3, reported a lawsuit to overturn the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a U.S. law that treats formerly misdemeanor acts of civil disobedience like freeing animals from factory farms — or even trespassing or filming undercover without permission — as acts of terrorism (“Is Freeing a Duck Terrorism?“). By way of background information, bear in mind that — even though the FBI in 2004 designated animal rights and environmental activists the leading threat of domestic terrorism, no one has ever been injured by any of these movements’ protest actions.
All the high-level “counter-terrorism” legislation passed after 9/11 was justified at the time by the urgent need to stop anyone from ever again crashing a jet plane into a skyscraper, spreading anthrax or setting off a “dirty bomb” in a major city. These were supposedly extraordinary powers granted only to counter extraordinary dangers, never to be used by law enforcement against ordinary crimes. But when has the state ever promised that and kept its word? The Espionage and Sedition Acts passed during World War I were accompanied by similar assurances that they wouldn’t be used to suppress ordinary dissent and political debate — and wound up being used as grounds for mass arrests of I.W.W. and Socialist Party members and public critics of the war.
So here we are. The USA PATRIOT Act, and a whole slew of security agencies like the CSIS, RCMP, FBI and DHS are being used to protect the profits of the fossil fuel industries, the movie industry and corporate agribusiness against public debate, embarrassment, or protests. Treating protests that disrupt business as “terrorism?” If USA PATRIOT had been passed a couple of generations ago, I suppose lunch counter sit-ins and bus boycotts would have been classified as “terrorism.”
The ultimate purpose of all the state’s laws and enforcement apparatus, regardless of the many ostensible justifications for this law or that, is to defend the interests of the system and those who control it. Any laws passed by the state, and any armed and uniformed functionaries employed by the state to enforce those laws, will interpret the laws in a way that serves the interests of the system of power.
Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society ( and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society ( and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017