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Illusions of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism$
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Richard English

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265901

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265901.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 18 October 2021

No Golden Age

No Golden Age

The Deep Origins and Current Utility of Western Counter-Terrorism Policy

(p.73) 5 No Golden Age
Illusions of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

Conor Gearty

British Academy

From the moment of their emergence, democracies everywhere have been alive to the importance of their survival. This institutionalised anxiety has meant that radical critiques of power differentials and wealth-inequality (which survive in all democracies) have been vulnerable to being cast as challenges not to injustice but to the integrity of democracy itself. This is the deep root of counter-terrorism law today, now not applied to a plausible threat from the radical left but rather to extreme criminal acts which, however heinous, do not directly challenge the state. As inequality in democracies grows and opportunities for orthodox political change are reduced by the increasing power of money, so old style anti-radical laws are increasingly combined with contemporary terrorism laws to stifle extra-parliamentary dissent. This takes place through the deployment of political and legal devices the effect of which is to allow the continued appearance of democracy while reducing its egalitarian impact in practice.

Keywords:   terrorism, counter-terrorism, human rights, rule of law, civil liberties

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