Bernard E. Harcourt, The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens – out in February with Basic Books.
A distinguished political theorist sounds the alarm about the counterinsurgency strategies used to govern AmericansMilitarized police officers with tanks and drones. Pervasive government surveillance and profiling. Social media that distract and track us. All of these, contends Bernard E. Harcourt, are facets of a new and radical governing paradigm in the United States–one rooted in the modes of warfare originally developed to suppress anticolonial revolutions and, more recently, to prosecute the war on terror.The Counterrevolution is a penetrating and disturbing account of the rise of counterinsurgency, first as a military strategy but increasingly as a way of ruling ordinary Americans. Harcourt shows how counterinsurgency’s principles–bulk intelligence collection, ruthless targeting of minorities, pacifying propaganda–have taken hold domestically despite the absence of any radical uprising. This counterrevolution against phantom enemies, he argues, is the tyranny of our age. Seeing it clearly is the first step to resisting it effectively.
“Bernard Harcourt’s The Counterrevolution offers a masterful look into the deeper logic and long-term consequences of the systemic changes that took place in the United States in the name of the war on terror. Harcourt brilliantly recasts the premises, the terminology, and the consequences of post-9/11 policies of surveillance, detention, torture, and targeted killings in a way that is bound to transform our understanding of our times and to inspire new means of protest and counter-action. The Counterrevolution will no doubt become a must-read for any student of the era.”–Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State and editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib
“I’m not on board with the premise, and I found something to disagree with on nearly every page, but make no mistake: The Counterrevolution is an important and deeply challenging book. It should be mandatory for anyone who cares about the future of the Republic, especially to challenge those who want to believe, as I do, that we aren’t doomed.”–Noah Feldman, author of The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President
“As far as I can tell, Bernard Harcourt has never had an uninteresting thought.”–Malcolm Gladwell
“Shattering any notion that the current state of American politics, or today’s uglier practices of exclusion and repression, are either new or temporary, Bernard Harcourt’s The Counterrevolution is searing and indispensable. From this richly researched and powerfully argued account, we come to appreciate the full depth and scope of the crisis we now face in our country. Harcourt’s analysis is brutal and clear: if we don’t fully grasp just how totally our democracy is now compromised, we might never rescue it.”–Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy
“Bernard Harcourt has written a brilliant and disturbing book, which shows that James Madison was right when he said that ‘no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’ The Counterrevolution make a compelling case that the U.S. government is employing the same strategies and weapons that it uses to fight its endless wars abroad to deal with imagined enemies on the home front. This book should be required reading for every American.”–John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago