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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – the awkward truth about free speech

Is it ever possible to take a neutral position on the importance of free speech? The task certainly seems quite difficult. As Vogue’s favourite philosopher, Amia Srinivasan, notes this month in the London Review of Books, many Right-wingers seem to assert the value of free speech, mainly or even only to make room for political views the Left would prefer smothered at birth. Occasionally, someone on the Right will complain about the suppression of a position or person they don’t agree with, but usually more to avoid complaints of inconsistency than anything else.

The Left, however, also has its blind spots — many of which are apparent in Srinivasan’s essay. Scathing about the new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act’s attempt to create a culture which promotes academic freedom in UK universities, she barely acknowledges the problems diagnosed by its authors and defenders. Instead, as many a defensive-sounding progressive has implied before her, real cancellation almost never happens in academia — except, of course, where it happens to exactly those people who deserve it (cough).

Kathleen Stock

7 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the awkward truth about free speech

  • Kirk

    Shutting down free speech is the equivalent of painting over the pressure gauge for the boiler, and then closing off the pressure relief valve and whistle for it.

    It’s just stupid; you shut down free speech, you’re not changing anyone’s mind. All you’re managing is a delay while the effect of what you are doing will not get the feedback it deserves, and it makes the inevitable crash far worse when it comes.

    Nicolai Ceaucescu controlled speech, quite effectively. Until that morning in Timisoara, when the Romanian crowd looked around and realized that there wasn’t anyone still buying his line of BS, to include the secret police. He and his wife were shot by those same secret police just a few days later.

    All you do by shutting down speech is delay the impact from what you’re doing, if what you’re doing isn’t actually meeting with approval. Fact of life, that. One that all too many totalitarians and wannabe totalitarians don’t seem to grasp.

    Indeed, the very act of trying to shut it all down just makes things all that much worse, in the end.

  • bobby b

    “If you evil right-wingers wouldn’t insist on saying things that are wrong and hateful, we wouldn’t need to cancel anyone. It’s your fault!”

  • Stonyground

    No need to shut them down, just point out that they are wrong and explain why they are wrong. That is only a problem for you if it is you that is wrong.

  • Paul Marks.

    “The left also has its blind spots”

    It is the left, the Marxists and other socialist Collectivists (followers of Technocracy – or whatever) who are the main attacks of Freedom of Speech and all the rest of individual liberty.

    Nor is this recent – after all Richard Ely (the founder of the Orwellian named academic freedom movement in the United States in the early 1900s- whose main aim was always to push a big government agenda and to get rid of any academic who opposed Progressivism) did not want anti big government people to be allowed to teach – or to be allowed into professional bodies.

    None of this is recent.

    Try speaking in favour of monarchy or in favour of the Catholic Church during the French Revolution – and what the left really thinks about Freedom of Speech would become very clear to you.

    It is like saying “the left has blind spots about freedom of contract”.

    It is not “blind spots” – the left hates freedom of contract and wishes to exterminate it, hence price controls, wage edicts, and on-and-on (ask Robespierre).

    Or “the left has blind spots about private property rights” – again not “blind spots”, the left wants to exterminate private property rights. The left is about Plundering (“Social Justice” as they call such organised theft).

    Freedom of Speech is the same – the left does not have “blind spots” about it, they want to exterminate it.

  • Paul Marks.

    “But Paul – if that is true, we can not have a dialogue with the left”.

    Bingo! Got it in one. And it is true – and that is why (for example) employing leftists at GBNews and trying to have conversations with them, is a waste of time (indeed much worse than that).

    There can be no dialogue with the left – they want to wipe us out.

  • Paul Marks.

    J.S. Mill argued (in “On Liberty”) that economic liberty was a “different principle” than Civil Liberties – not that he did not support economic liberty, but that it was a different principle – Mr Mill was mistaken as it is NOT a different principle.

    The principle of liberty (economic or other) is “hands off” – the non aggression principle.

    The left utterly reject that principle. They reject it in regards of freedom of contract – for example Oxfam (a “charity”) and Wikipedia (a “neutral reference source”) denounce the following in far off Paraguay – “peasants are offered more money than they have ever seen before for their land – they go to the city and spend the money in a few months and then become poor” – this is presented as injustice, but it is in no way unjust. It would be like saying that the Prodigal Son in the parable was a victim of injustice – when he was really a victim of himself – his own freely chosen actions.

    But then the left, at least the modern left, reject free will (moral responsibility) – for them there are no freely chosen actions, just “social forces of exploitation and oppression”.

    The left reject private property rights – they prefer plundering, “Social Justice” (looting).

    And the left reject Freedom of Speech – which, according to them, is “Hate Speech” which “harms disadvantaged and marginalised groups”.

    Lastly the left, at least the modern left, support the sexual mutilation of children – the position of Mr Biden in the 2020 election, not all those “81 million votes” were fake, millions of them were real. There are millions of leftists who support the sexual mutilation of children – as they chant “we are coming for your children” (and they mean it).

    “Dialogue” with the left is nonstarter as an idea.

    Nor can one “share institutions” with them – as, if let in, the left take over and drive out the non left.

    The existing institutions are lost to the left, so the right (for want of a better term) must build new institutions, including new universities, and NOT let the left into them.

    In the United States the lying cry of “academic freedom” was used to drive non leftists out from almost all universities – and is still being deployed against the few conservative universities, such as Hillsdale, that still exist.

    Let the left have their cultural institutions – and let us have ours.

    We can not share cultural institutions, of any sort, with the left – because we have no shared principles with them, none.

    What we consider good they consider evil – and vice versa.

  • Paul Marks.

    As for universities in Britain – the agenda of the left is very clear.

    Subjects, for example…. history, economics, and (yes) the natural sciences – are to be dominated by lies, and anyone who challenges the lies with the truth, is to be forced out (or not let in – in the first place) by “professional standards” which are set and enforced by the liars.