Domestic terrorism: Notes on the state system of oppression

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Twenty‐five years after the Watergate affair culminated in the resignation of Richard Nixon, the country continues to be animated by the spirit of scandal—even if the alleged offenses against William Jefferson Clinton involved sexual misconduct rather than illegal bombings, break‐ins, and other non‐"crimes and misdemeanors.” In this article, Noam Chomsky discusses a more basic threat to the Constitution than Watergate found in the pattern of FBI break‐ins and illegal actions first revealed to the public in 1973. (Illegal actions by the national police are known to have continued in the 1980s as a tactic used against activists in the Central America solidarity movement.) Not only does Chomsky locate a pattern in the FBI's actions since the founding of the Bureau, he discusses historical antecedents in the Alien and Sedition Acts, the judicial murder of the Haymarket anarchists, and the Palmer raids. For Chomsky, the real meaning of these actions is that the system routinely works to stifle dissent using means far more problematic than those employed by the Watergate burglars. In Chomsky's view, the purpose of these criminal actions is to frustrate preliminary stages of organization before more advanced forms of “revolutionary radicalism” can develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-324
Number of pages22
JournalNew Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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