The Global Police State by William I. Robinson
  • Title: The Global Police State
  • Subtitle: None
  • Author(s): William I. Robinson
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (UK)
  • Year: 2020
  • ISBN-10: 0745341640
  • ISBN-13: 9780745341644


The Global Police State” by William I. Robinson is a gripping and thought-provoking examination of the current state of global affairs. Robinson, a distinguished sociologist, delves into the rise of authoritarianism, surveillance, and state control in the modern world, presenting a comprehensive analysis of what he calls the “global police state.”

In this book, Robinson argues that we are witnessing the emergence of a new and unprecedented form of power that extends beyond traditional state boundaries. Drawing on examples from across the globe, he explores the increasing militarization of police forces, the surveillance of citizens, and the erosion of civil liberties. Robinson argues that these patterns of control and repression are not isolated occurrences but rather symptoms of a larger global phenomenon that can be observed in countries from the United States to China.

Highlighted throughout the book are the author’s concerns about the impact of this global police state on social movements and the future of democracy. Robinson argues that these trends represent a grave threat to human rights and freedom of expression, as well as to social and economic justice. He draws attention to the ways in which governments use technologies, such as mass surveillance and data mining, to monitor and control their populations, exacerbating existing power imbalances.

The Global Police State” is an extensively researched and meticulously argued work that provides valuable insights into the current political climate. By examining the historical and geopolitical factors that contribute to the global police state, Robinson challenges readers to question the status quo and consider the implications of increased state control. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the complex dynamics of power, democracy, and civil liberties in the 21st century.


Book Review

"The Global Police State: Unveiling the Perils of Modern Authoritarianism"

In his groundbreaking book, “The Global Police State,” acclaimed sociologist William I. Robinson delivers a compelling analysis of the rise of authoritarianism, the erosion of civil liberties, and the expansion of state control in the modern world. Through extensive research and a wealth of evidence, Robinson provocatively exposes the alarming global trend towards surveillance, militarization, and oppressive governance.

Robinson coins the term “global police state” to capture the phenomenon of increasing state power that transcends borders and stifles dissent. He compellingly argues that we are witnessing the convergence of various political, economic, and technological factors that have set the stage for a new era of control and repression. Drawing on a wide range of case studies, Robinson provides a comprehensive assessment of our current reality, illuminating the common threads that underpin the global police state.

One of the key elements Robinson explores is the alarming militarization of police forces worldwide. In the United States, he points to the widespread deployment of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement agencies, citing examples such as the use of armored vehicles during protests. In Brazil, Robinson highlights the unprecedented militarization of favelas, where residents are subjected to constant surveillance and police violence. Through such illustrations, he lays bare the systemic implications of these trends: the erosion of trust between citizens and those entrusted to protect them, and the resulting normalization of state-sanctioned violence.

Robinson’s analysis also delves into the insidious expansion of surveillance apparatuses that permeate societies globally. From the mass surveillance programs revealed by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden to the pervasive use of facial recognition in China, he carefully exposes the mechanisms employed to monitor and control citizens. Robinson astutely points out that this surveillance extends beyond political dissidents; it also infiltrates the everyday lives of individuals, making privacy an increasingly rare commodity. By connecting disparate examples, he highlights the parallels between seemingly unrelated surveillance narratives, painting a vivid, and often unsettling, picture of the global police state.

Moreover, Robinson analyzes the impact of these developments on social movements and democracy itself. His examination exposes how governments exploit advanced technologies to quash dissent and target activists. He vividly illustrates how social media monitoring and data mining infringe upon free speech and the right to peaceful assembly. Drawing on protests in countries like Hong Kong and Tunisia, he emphasizes the delicate balance between resistance and coercion, providing evidence that the emergence of the global police state stifles collective action and undermines the very foundations of democracy.

The Global Police State” is an essential read for those concerned about the dire consequences of unchecked state power. Robinson’s rigorous analysis and expansive research provide readers with a fresh perspective on global affairs, offering new insights into the interconnectedness of seemingly isolated authoritarian tendencies worldwide. With a clear and compelling writing style, he weaves together a complex tapestry of political, historical, and socioeconomic factors that collectively contribute to the current state of affairs.

While the subject matter can be unsettling, Robinson’s work serves as a call to action, compelling readers to critically assess the implications of the global police state and explore avenues for resistance. By shedding light on these pervasive trends, the author encourages us to challenge the status quo and protect the values we hold dear.

In conclusion, “The Global Police State” is an outstanding work that leaves an indelible mark on readers. Robinson’s bold analysis and evidence-backed arguments provide a much-needed wake-up call, urging us to confront the perils of modern authoritarianism and work towards safeguarding our civil liberties, democracy, and social justice for generations to come.

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With the rise of global capitalism, we have witnessed the emergence of a new form of global governance that can be characterized as a global police state. This is not a hyperbole or a conspiracy theory, but rather a clear and alarming observation of the current state of our world. [...] In this global police state, power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few transnational elite who control key economic and political institutions. The state apparatus, which includes security forces, surveillance systems, and legal frameworks, is deployed to protect the interests of this elite and to maintain social control. [...] This new form of governance operates through a combination of coercion and consent. Coercion is evident in the growing militarization of societies, the expansion of surveillance capabilities, and the use of violence to suppress dissent. Consent, on the other hand, is manufactured through the dissemination of ideological narratives that justify and normalize the existing power structures.

Key Ideas

In “The Global Police State,” William I. Robinson presents several key ideas that underpin his analysis of the rise of authoritarianism and state control in the modern world. These ideas shed light on the interconnected nature of these trends and the pervasive threats they pose to civil liberties, social movements, and democracy as a whole. Some key ideas in the book include:

  1. The Global Police State Robinson introduces the concept of the “global police state” as a framework to understand the growing convergence of surveillance, militarization, and state control on a global scale. He argues that this new form of power extends beyond traditional boundaries and poses significant challenges to human rights and social justice worldwide.

  2. Militarization of Police Robinson examines the increasing militarization of police forces, highlighting how law enforcement agencies around the world are adopting military tactics, weaponry, and strategies. He demonstrates how this shift leads to an erosion of trust between citizens and the state, resulting in the normalization of state violence and a threat to democratic ideals.

  3. Surveillance and Control The author explores the pervasive nature of surveillance, drawing attention to government programs and technologies used to monitor and control populations. Robinson emphasizes that mass surveillance extends beyond targeting political dissidents and infiltrates the everyday lives of individuals, eroding privacy and stifling dissent.

  4. Impact on Social Movements A central concern in the book is the effect of the global police state on social movements. Robinson argues that the expansion of state control and surveillance hampers the ability of activists to mobilize and challenge oppressive systems. He provides case studies and examples to illustrate how governments exploit technologies to suppress dissenting voices.

  5. Threat to Democracy Robinson highlights the ways in which the global police state poses a grave threat to democracy. He examines how state governments exploit advances in technology and surveillance to suppress free speech, limit assembly rights, and manipulate public opinion. By analyzing protests and uprisings in various countries, Robinson demonstrates how the rise of authoritarianism hampers democratic processes and stifles civic engagement.

Overall, “The Global Police State” provides a critical analysis of the underlying dynamics of state control, surveillance, and authoritarianism in the contemporary world. Robinson’s key ideas draw attention to the systemic nature of these phenomena and emphasize the need for collective action to safeguard civil liberties, democracy, and social justice.


Target Audience

The Global Police State: " by William I. Robinson is targeted at a diverse audience interested in global affairs, political science, human rights, and social justice issues. The book is recommended reading for the following groups:

  • Scholars and Researchers Academics specializing in political science, sociology, and international relations will find “The Global Police State” invaluable. Robinson’s extensive research, nuanced analysis, and incorporation of diverse case studies make it a valuable resource for understanding the complex dynamics of state control and authoritarianism on a global scale.

  • Activists and Advocates Those engaged in advocating for human rights, civil liberties, and social justice will benefit from the insights provided by Robinson. The book offers a deeper understanding of the systemic threats posed by the global police state, aiding in the development of effective strategies and campaigns to counteract these trends.

  • Policy Makers and Decision Makers The book provides valuable insights for policymakers and decision-makers in areas such as law enforcement, national security, and intelligence. Robinson’s analysis can help shape informed policies that strike a balance between security concerns and individual freedoms, offering a broader perspective on the implications of surveillance and state control.

  • Students and Educators “The Global Police State” serves as an essential textbook for courses in political science, sociology, and human rights. It offers a comprehensive overview of the key concepts, case studies, and theoretical frameworks related to authoritarianism and state control, fostering critical thinking and enabling deeper discussions on these crucial topics.

  • Global Citizens The book’s accessible style and relevant examples make it suitable for any reader concerned about the erosion of civil liberties and the rise of authoritarianism. Robinson’s analysis serves as a wake-up call, urging individuals to question the status quo and inspiring them to actively engage in the defense of democratic values and human rights.

In conclusion, “The Global Police State” is recommended reading for a diverse audience interested in global affairs, political science, human rights, and social justice. Its comprehensive analysis, empirical evidence, and thought-provoking arguments make it a valuable resource for scholars, activists, policymakers, students, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by the global expansion of state control and authoritarianism.

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