We’re told that the United States is a bastion of free speech.
We have lots of that, in the same way that the Soviet people had the freedom to vote for Stalin or Stalin.
Perhaps a mild exaggeration. But in practice, enormous quantities of public funds go towards pushing the progressive line. The financial bloodlines of what Mencius Moldbug calls the Cathedral provides enormous advantages to the organized left. These advantages include enormous tax breaks accorded to a dazzling array of ‘nonprofits’ and other foundations, which occupy the position that would otherwise be held by a state religion.
While a man may have freedom to speak, doing so may result in ostracism, unemployment, and all the associated misfortunes that comes with that.
This is all to be expected under a democracy, which must enforce a measure of conformity to ensure political stability, but it isn’t itself conducive to freedom of speech.
The principle justifying freedom of speech is supposed to encourage good-faith civil debate in order to discover the truth behind the natural world, behind human actions, and teasing out which actions are good, and which are bad. Without open debate, falsehoods can remain in place, and catastrophes can creep up upon the civilization long before they can be corrected.
Saying instead that freedom of speech exists to allow everyone to ‘express themselves’ is to ignore the real philosophical basis behind the legal principle, which is that it is supposed to make good government possible. That everyone is free to speak, even to criticize the sovereign, without being imprisoned or tortured for it, is supposed to in turn enhance the legitimacy of that government.
When mobs rather than a star chamber enforce the official narrative, the impact upon the legitimacy of the government is rather similar. The mob would not need to do what it does if exposure of lies and faulty reasoning did not threaten the seat of the state. If the state were secure in this way, it would not need to blot out and intimidate critics.
The more bloated and overweening the state, the more it must stoop to these techniques. What would otherwise be a matter for foreign relations (discussions between people separated by borders) becomes a matter of internal security. An empire frightened of permitting subsidiarity within its territory must blot it out through intimidation, blackmail, the occasional violent act, and the occasional looting of dissenting parties.
Political decentralization makes freedom of speech more feasible. When exit from the polity is easy, and entrance difficult, speech itself becomes less politically dangerous. Mere talking becomes less an occasion for disorder and revolution, and more a case for peaceful discussion, persuasion, and debate.
The suppressive actions are, then, a demonstration of weakness, rather than of strength. If everything might be undone through words alone, then the state is weak, and disorder can become unmanageable among its people — given the right combination of words, spoken in the right order, at the right time, in the right place.