In this report, former PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet exposes the extensive and oftentimes illegal activities of the Right’s counter subversion movement in the United States throughout the 20th century.
Rooted in conspiracist and anti-communist thinking, the movement grew out of early 19th century nativism, flourishing in an official capacity with the rise of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and McCarthyism during the Cold War. Despite setbacks during the Watergate scandal and the Carter administration, the movement again began to thrive under Ronald Reagan and into the 1990s.
In tracing this history, Mr. Berlet offers chilling case studies of abuses of power at every level of law enforcement, including wiretapping, theft, sabotage, and even violence. He also highlights the important connections between the public and private sectors that allowed the movement to sidestep the law and subdue legal forms of dissent such as the Civil Rights Movement, women’s movements, and the Vietnam War protests.
This dark history is especially important to understand today, as government agencies gain unprecedented powers of investigation with limited checks. Mr. Berlet’s historical overview makes a clear case for more transparency and stronger oversight, without which the Right’s oppressive counter subversion measures will continue to thrive in the 21st century.