Legality & Justice Are Not Identical – Criminalizing Dissent

Expected and official – the global surveillance state. Edward Snowden’s leak to The Guardian blew wide open just how far the United States has gone in the name of “national security”. What has been revealed by the leaks is a government outside the limits of its constitution, dedicated to intelligence, and incredibly intrusive. With in the halls of centralized power and private security firms, intelligence is being gathered on us all.

Why though? Such intelligence gathering is certainly not necessary to conduct the never ending “War on Terror.” The US civilian population and those of US Allies are not all in a secrete terrorist plot to wage war against western nation states. No, this is rather an extension of the Corporation State. The Guardian notes that since the financial crash of 2008 surveillance has expanded due to concerns over political unrest. Political activism needed to be monitored, to protect state and corporate interests. Indeed, the Pentagon now has extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance”.

Some of these emergencies the pentagon is worried about are environmental. Climate Change, Mountaintop Removal, Hydraulic Fracturing, Keystone XL, Logging, and a host of other environmental issues have large social movements surrounding them which are beginning to affect US energy policy – and the corporation state is treating them as a top priority.

An example, as reported by Nation of Change, is the story of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition of Pennsylvania. This group of concerned citizens (and rightly so) work to raise awareness of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing currently spreading across their state. Though active and engaged citizens, one should hardly consider these folks “radical” or “extreme” by any sense of the word. The Coalition purposely remained moderate in tone, never engaged in civil disobedience, never even organized a protest, but they still found themselves logged in an intelligence bulletin from a private security firm (Institute of Terrorism Research and Response), investigated by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security who distributed their information to local police, state, federal and private intelligence agencies and even found their information had been shared with the security directors of natural gas companies, industry and public relations firms. All of this for a moderate community group, just imagine the apparatus surrounding the whole environmental movement, and social movements in general (here are some other horrifying examples from the same private security firm).

This information is surfacing at an incredible time for the environmental movement. As I have written before, we are at a time in Earth’s history that we as species will have to deal with complex wicked environmental problems facing our biosphere and our own human civilization. We are seeing the effects of climate change at a global level, from extremes in weather, to specie migration, specie decline and changes in continental geomorphology. As a result, popular movements are forming worldwide in response to hydraulic fracturing (fracking), coal surface mining, climate change and more. In the United States, the largest environmental rally in the nation’s history, Forward on Climate, was organized in protest over the Keystone XL pipeline – a predicted game changer for the climate.

Data gathering is an incredibly effective tool that can slow and/or direct social movements. If direct action, protest, civil disobedience and organizing is defined extreme by the state, with laws such as the Patriot Act and the NDAA (among others) waging war on Habeas Corpus, just what action do we the people have against vested special interests? Surely state sanctioned activities such as blowing mountains apart for coal, contaminating drinking water for natural gas, building nuclear plants in the wake of (just the latest disaster) Fukushima, ignoring climate science and, of course, the global hegemon for the attainment of energy resources is more “extreme” than grass-roots activist holding signs, chanting, singing songs or having a potluck dinner with neighbors while watching a documentary. With all the propaganda about “clean coal” technology, natural gas being a “bridge fuel”, climate science being “junk science” and more, community grass-roots action groups are leading the narrative and actions promoting localism, microgeneration, transition economies and other alternatives to the status quo. Working to silence them is incredibly dangerous and, if I may, radical. The corporate state is seeking to criminalize dissent, by itself defining what is legal, to create an even more obedient society.

Legality and justice are not identical, though legality is included in justice. It is high time we move to criminalize the state. Power does not imply justice or correctness, more often just the opposite. The state defines what is “disobedient” in a civil society but it is wrong in doing so. Society should be obedient to conscience instead of law. What these environmental groups are doing is just – it is proper to carry out actions that protest and prevent the criminal actions of the state. In heavily subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, by using eminent domain or compulsory (forced) pooling to ignore property rights, in auctioning off public lands to large corporations, in waging war, in building nuclear arms that could annihilate the human species, the state is sanctioning its own immoral and unjust policies – deeming them “legal” while deeming direct actions challenging these policies “illegal”.

The system is broken. The federated, centralized nation-state and its favorable regulations (which stifle competition – big business loathes competition) is the problem. Citizens are beginning to realize no elected official can build a free and prosperous society, rather only the spontaneous order of  freed markets can create such a community– the state is scared of this growing consensus.

The state serves only the interests of the state. “Public servant” is laughable, “state servant” is more accurate. We don’t have public lands, we have state lands. We do not respect property rights – eminent domain, compulsory pooling, heavy subsidies and regulations that restrict market competition fuel the energy economy. This is the exact opposite of what would occur in a stateless libertarian society. Government is the problem. The state knows that a voluntary society, based on mutual exchange and voluntaryism, with respect of privately property and the commons is more attainable now than ever before. A peaceful, non-violent revolution is within our grasp. The principles of freed markets will allow creative human labor to flourish and build society – these principles are catching on

Government is documenting and criminalizing dissidents in the green movement because real environmentalism (not green washed corporate environmentalism) is counter to the state – the largest wrecker of air, water, soil, climate and biodiversity of all time.

At a recent protest in North Carolina an environmental activist was quoted: “Respect existence, or expect resistance!” – They are.

Now let’s get this revolution started.

Translations for this article:

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory