Criminalizing Dissent in Post-Democratic Societies

Since his election in late 2018, commentators have expressed deep concern at the threat posed to democracy by Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, including how his presidency will affect environmentalists, indigenous people and workers’ movements in Brazil and across Latin America. Among other things, Bolsonaro promised during his campaign for the presidency to banish political rivals from Brazil. Branding them ‘red outlaws’, he said that “Either they go overseas, or they go to jail”. The background to Bolsonaro’s election is now familiar. Promises to purge the state of a corrupt political class, to tackle violent crime, and fix a faltering economy are hallmarks of conservative-right rhetoric in the current conjuncture. Indeed, these issues featured in the Trump campaign in the United States, and to some degree in the run-up to Brexit in the United Kingdom. Both the Trump and Brexit campaigns also had antagonism to migrants as their centrepiece. Continue reading

Civil Liberty in Crisis? Evidence from a Comparative Empirical Study

Is there a fundamental trade-off between collective security and individual liberty? This question is by no means a new one for democratic societies. Long before the Islamist terror threat scenarios of the 2000s, Western democracies had been menaced by domestic terrorism, violent separatism, and organized crime and their reaction was always the same: security laws were tightened, new tools for keeping citizens under surveillance were created, the rights of suspects, accused persons, and convicts were restricted. Continue reading