There is a good gag doing the rounds of the political internet just now. It’s a pastiche of Voltaire’s famous dictum as spoken by a Progressivist Liberal-Leftist. It runs;
“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death my right to have you arrested for saying it.”
As Homer informs us, it’s funny because it’s true. Homer Simpson, that is, not the other Homer.
As I have written before, the distinction between the political Left and Right is becoming as archaic as that between an Aristotelean and a Platonist, but let’s assume we are in broad agreement, at least for the purposes of argument, when I refer to the Left. The person of the modern Left will be Progressivist and Liberal in outlook, tending to the belief that the world is unjust and in need of correction through the agency of championing the poor and oppressed. This aim will, quite naturally, be achieved, at least in part, by weakening the rich.
This broad definition granted, political power per se – the power to change the world directly - is no longer sufficient, or even available, for this contemporary Left to restructure the world to mirror their image of social justice. This is particularly true given the elites’ impatience with democracy, and the recent penchant Europeans seem to have for the Right. The Progressivist Left must turn, have turned, their attentions to the Gramscian long walk through the institutions. When you cannot storm the Bastille, the Winter Palace or the barricades, you tip-toe quietly up to the universities, the public sector, the media, the arts…
So it is that the universities, for example, institutions that came into being precisely to uphold the principles of free enquiry painfully won back from the tyranny of the church, have become ideological play-parks on lockdown, full of safe spaces, free-speech gazebos, warnings against micro-aggression, speaker-banning, finger-wagging, anti-white privilege, occupy the syllabus, intellectual no-go zones. The Nietzsche Society is banned at UCL. Philosophy is derided as being the work of too many dead white men (that hated species). Professors walk on egg-shells unless their tenured area of expertise is a state-approved variance on Grievance Studies. All this was predicted in the 1980s in Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind. When will the book burning begin?
The contemporary Left is increasingly declaring itself the enemy of free speech, and if those broadly of the Right don’t push back soon, the midnight knocks on the door are going to start again because of that disrespectful Tweet. So, if you are a creature of the Left, pretty soon now you’re going to have to decide whether you are for free speech, or whether you and your friends are those people who say, well, I believe in freedom of speech, but… There’s no ‘but’.
Flemming Rose writes in his book on the Mohammed cartoons, The Tyranny of Silence, that;
“As societies become multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multireligious, if we accept that people have a right not to be offended, we will end up with a tyranny of silence, for almost any speech may be deemed offensive.”
Part-way there, but I don’t think the white Left cares very much for ethnic minorities. I think they are using them as a proxy for their own agenda, which would not include their erstwhile ethnic chums. For now, they, the Progressivists, can weaken the West by playing off post-colonial guilt against fear of giving offence (the two elements being obviously linked psychologically; classic Freudian displacement). There is no such thing as offence in any event. Offence is just annoyance in a party frock.
What the Progressivists care about is control. This is why the Left has got on so famously with Islam; ideological lockstep meets fierce anti-Zionism. Islam. How wonderful, thinks the Leftist, simply to invent a word – ‘Islamophobia’ – as The Muslim Brotherhood did, and have it come to rule the West with an ideological scimitar just a few decades later. Why can’t we do that?
But, in the midst of the fog, there is a beacon. There still remains freedom of expression, and it has the biggest ally since Gutenberg invented the printing-press. As Nick Cohen writes in You Can’t Read This Book, “If the Web has a soul, then a loathing for censorship stirs it.” A weblog is a far more effective tool of democracy than a vote. Which is why the Western elites will be coming for the internet any day now. Obama, who despises free speech as much as he idolises Islam (and for structurally related reasons) is already trying. Read about ‘net neutrality’, as weaselly a Fascist coinage as you’ll read.
Michael Pachar’s 1480 picture Satan Showing St. Augustine the Book of Vices (above) would make a perfect symbol of the modern world of unsanctioned censorship with one small change of mise en scene. Now, it is the sainted Left showing the Satanic Right the book of what it may not say or think or write. There is a new index prohibitorum to replace the old Catholic list of banned books.
So, if anyone of the Left wants to live in the world of ‘free speech, but…’, then go. If anyone of the Left wants to live in a world where cartoonists can draw caricatures of any person save one, then go. If they want to live in a world where James Watson, the co-discoverer of the genetic code, can’t find work in the scientific community because he suggested that IQ differences between races may be genetic, then go. If they want to live in a world where the white British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has to grovel on TV because he called black people ‘coloured’ – when there exists an organisation called The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People – then go. Go. And good luck. If you expect your children to show you gratitude for the rather onerous world you are creating for them, you may wait a long time.