Has Joe Biden Made Anti-Capitalism Illegal? Domestic Terrorism Strategy Explained

On June 15 2021, the White House published a National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism that represents the most comprehensive plan for tackling the issue from any U.S. administration.

The strategy, published in a 32-page document, outlines the Biden administration's classifications of different types of domestic terrorists and explains why the issue is such an important one for the current team in the White House and for future presidents.

"We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away. Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the Federal Government and beyond," President Joe Biden wrote in the report.

"We have to take both short-term steps to counter the very real threats of today and longer-term measures to diminish the emerging threats of tomorrow."

Although the strategy proposes several ways to tackle domestic terrorism in the U.S., parts of the plan will need to be formulated into policy and be voted through by Congress before it becomes law.

However, the strategy has already caused controversy on Reddit, as users claimed on Saturday that it would classify "anarchist violent extremists" that "oppose all forms of capitalism" as "domestic violent extremists (DVEs)."

Would the strategy make anti-capitalism illegal in the U.S. if created into a law, or is its scope much more narrow?

What does the strategy propose?

The 32-report proposes various ways for the U.S. to tackle domestic terrorism, but states that its main purpose is "specifically on addressing violence and the factors that lead to violence."

As part of that plan in the section called "Today's Threat," the administration outlines groups that it believes should be classified as DVEs, including "extremists and networks whose racial, ethnic, or religious hatred leads them toward violence."

The report puts an emphasis on ideologies that are "rooted in a perception of the superiority of the white race," but then singles out several groups "who take steps to violently resist government authority or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. Government."

Classified as part of this section are "anarchist violent extremists, who violently oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which they perceive as harmful to society," according to the report.

The strategy adds that the groups "may be motivated to violence by single-issue ideologies related to abortion, animal rights,environmental, or involuntary celibate violent extremism, as well as other grievances—or a combination of ideological influences."

Why have people said the strategy would criminalize anti-capitalist beliefs?

A post on Reddit on Saturday used quotes from the section describing those who "oppose all forms of capitalism," to argue that people who believe in that ideology would be classified as a DVE if the report became law.

The post was titled: "Joe Biden's new anti-terrorism initiative classifies 'anarchist violent extremists' that 'oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which are perceived as harmful to society' as 'domestic violent extremists.'"

A majority of the commenters on the thread then criticised the strategy, with one person claiming that it "looks like even using rhetoric will mean you're a terrorist."

The Reddit users also highlighted a definition of domestic terrorism included in a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on March 1 2021, which also included residents who "oppose all forms of capitalism."

Using the two reports, several of the users claimed that the Biden administration would aim to criminalize opposition to capitalism by defining those who do as DVEs.

Who does the strategy actually apply to?

Despite the claims that the strategy would apply to anyone who believes in anti-capitalism, the report makes it clear that people would only be included as DVEs if they intended harm to others.

The strategy proceeds the section by explaining that domestic terrorism is only classified as such if it involves acts that are "dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State."

The report makes no claims that U.S. residents who agree with anti-capitalist beliefs would be automatically considered as a DVE, as it states that they would have to also be "anarchist violent extremists."

The report from March 1 also makes clear that "mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics may not constitute violent extremism and may be constitutionally protected."

The White House pushed back on the claims in comments from a press call shared with Newsweek, saying that "Since January 20th, the President has focused on addressing the elevated threat of domestic terrorism.

"And he has been equally focused on ensuring that our efforts to counter it take place within the context of upholding American civil rights and civil liberties. Those are the very freedoms that make us unique."

The White House added: "This is a strategy that is agnostic as to political ideology or off the spectrum. What matters is when individuals take their political or other grievances and turn that — unacceptably, unlawfully — into violent action.

"So, it's not motivating politics or ideology that matters for us or, more importantly, for the strategy and implementation; it's when political grievances become acts of violence. And we remain laser-focused on that, and that's how we'll continue."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Domestic Terrorism report explained
Razor wire is seen on fencing near the US Capitol Building on Capitol Hill March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. On June 15, the White House published a National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism that represents the most comprehensive plan for tackling the issue from any U.S. administration. Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images