(Robin 2004) Fragmented state, pluralist society

Robin, Corey. Fragmented state, pluralist society: how liberal institutions promote fear. Missouri Law Review. 2004 Fall; 69(4):1061–1093. Available from: http://law.missouri.edu/lawreview/docs/69-4/robin.pdf. Accessed 2012 Jan 5. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/64TegBPZi.

This article is adapted from Robin’s book Fear: the history of a political idea. Using examples drawn largely from the McCarthy era, Robin documents how social repression of dissent in the USA has primarily been conducted through the private and unofficial, rather than public and legal, exercise of power, and yet has largely been conducted within the limits of the law. He also documents how commonly accepted liberal principles of limited government and open societal organization—separation of powers, federalism, the rule of law, and social pluralism—have often failed to secure the rights of individuals to free expression against either official or unofficial repression, and in some cases have actually strengthened the hand of repression. The fragmentation of government power into federal, state, and local levels, and its limitation by constitutional constraints, has not in practice created checks and balances to protect individuals from repression. Instead, diverse centers of power, public and private, often coordinate their repressive actions, and are more difficult for individuals to resist or evade, and for the collective citizenry to control through democratic processes, than a single powerful central government would be.



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