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The criminalization of dissent, and possible threats to civil liberties posed by this criminalization, have become central issues of debate within liberal democracies, particularly in relation to discussions of political violence and the role of law in protests.
Law against Liberty provides significant commentary on the criminalization of political movements and dissent within (neo)liberal democracies in the contemporary context. The criminalization of dissent has been a common feature of neo-liberal governance in the current period of capitalist globalization. It has accompanied various structural adjustment and free trade policies as the required force to impose such programs on unwilling publics.
Police violence has been a constant feature of alternative globalization demonstrations. Examples of escalating state attacks on opponents of global capital include tear gas attacks, use of rubber bullets and concussion grenades, illegal searches and seizures, surveillance and beatings of arrestees, and, most severely, the deaths of people at the hands of police as in Genoa and England. At the same time demonstrators have developed new repertoires of protest practice, including acts of violence and combat.
Yet these engagements of escalation (as police and protesters adapt to each other's actions) have been understudied and undertheorized in recent social science works. Most works on the criminalization of dissent focus on a specific national context. Those that offer multinational examples tend to be earlier works that predate the Seattle protests of 1999, a watershed event in the development of alternative globalization movements and struggles.
Based on contributions from engaged scholars, many of whom have direct, first-hand experience in the protests that they analyze, this book offers the most extensive and diverse examination of dissent and its criminalization in contemporary liberal democracies. Through a discussion of a variety of protests and movements in different national contexts this collection offers a unique perspective that is not available in another title.