There’s been some concern over the last months about the potential for greater censorship policies, like those that exist in the UK, Germany, Canada, and other European countries to come to the US. Typically this has been more challenging to enact in the US because of the stronger constitutional protections for free speech, although those protections have been traditionally suspended during times of major war.
Because there is no real war going on, there are not all that many strong precedents for suppressing political speech directly, rather than through the usual indirect methods.
A lot of people in the alt-right have expressed their fear about this. I don’t think it’s something to be too nervous about, even if it goes into effect.
First of all, censorship is an admission that the official ideas are weak, and unable to survive scrutiny and opposition.
Second, it radicalizes moderates.
Third, it makes the official opinion organs less trustworthy, and less able to get accurate information about public opinion (because the information gathering methods are then impeded).
Fourth, it adds more risk and more reward to routing around the censorship.
Fifth, it creates an appearance of hypocrisy among liberals who have argued for untrammeled free speech for centuries.
Sixth, it creates a black market in samizdata, even for ordinary information.
A big part of the legitimacy of the modern arrangement is the claim that it provides both economic and political liberty to its citizens. Neither of those things are really true for any sensible understanding of the word ‘liberty,’ but whenever the state makes a decision that undermines that claim, it loses the loyalty of a large portion of its followers. We’ve seen this dynamic with the news about the NSA in the last couple years. It makes it very difficult for these states to make claims to moral authority. It has had politically significant impacts, especially, in Germany, as PEGIDA gains a lot of its moral force from the failings of the German state and its subordination to the US.
Further, the rising tide of anti-US opinion in Germany is one of the reasons why NATO has been incapable of supporting Ukraine effectively in its war with Russia. So these sorts of shifts in public opinion have major downstream political impacts.
So, my general response to calls for censorship, whether performed by the goverinnment or by private companies, is to encourage them to pull the trigger.
How lucky do they feel?
This is entirely different in countries with no tradition of freedom of thought and inquiry, in which the people have no expectation of enjoying those things. In the West, increasingly, you have freedom of thought if you are a leftist, but not if you are not. A path towards greater formalization of the existing lines is to be applauded rather than decried.
So, when an enemy is about to make a mistake, get out of the way, or otherwise cheer them on as they stumble into a pit.
DArin Hendershot says
My only argument against this is the obviously pessimistic one. How likely is it that the state that begins repressing speech openly will end there?How long & how horrible will it be?
It will likely endure for centuries. I’m selfish. I’d rather this cup were to pass before me.
Every year since I was a kid I’ve thought this madness can’t go on much longer. Every year I find out I’m wrong.
Also if this republic were to fall I’m not sure there’s an Octavian in sight. There seems to be plenty of Commoduses & Caligulas around.
I’m reactionary because I think it’s right, but I dread the coming trials & tribulations.
That’d be pretty surprising. The US is not half as impressive nor as long-lived as Rome was in a relative or absolute sense.
Circa Fall Semester ’59, my first semester in college, my Liberal Democrat History professor of Western Civilization. offhandedly said that NO Democracy lasts more than 200 years. When questioned by a student as to the USA he opined that he expected the two hundred year point for America reaching it would be between 2005 and 2030 as the Republic was mortally injured between 1803 (Marbury vs. Madison) and 1828 (Jacksonian Democracy), events he championed. Well Henry we are in or nearing that cusp and it is all down from there so enjoy the ride.
Sounds about right, Dan.
Worse Faster More = Change.
Free markets in real information will mean John Williams goes underground (off the net) and starts selling xerox copy newsletters hand-to-hand for silver coin. Drones run by free market (but honest) gangs deliver the genuine pharma you need to save your child from weaponized MRSA picked up at the playground, after the clinic at the depopulation ministry sends you home to “watch and wait”.
Living in a regime with formal censorship sucks. We need as much time as possible before censorship becomes formalized.
Rearguard actions against the collapse of the liberal regime are unromantic, but I think they offer us the best chance of having enough time to build something endurable before the coming dark age.
What we need is focus.
Except when the censorship DOES ruthlessly silence opposition through extra-harsh and extra-careful means. And it does.
We like to romanticize the underground Soviets or East Germans or the French resistance but remember:
Castro was ruthless in his suppression and held onto power.
The North Koreans are ruthless in their suppression and have held onto power for generations.
Franco and Pinochet were ruthless in their suppression and held onto power.
Mao was ruthless in his suppression and held onto power.
And Soviets and East Germans were ruthless in their suppression and held onto power for 70 and 50 years, respectively, and many people were born, lived, and died in those suppressions.
And those are just the 20th century.
Don’t think the left hasn’t paid attention. Just look at the soft suppression in Universities and in the media. And the hard suppressions (look what the CPUSA physically did to the ROAR peaceful protesters of the 1970s in Boston).
Remember: it could always happen here. And it doesn’t matter the will of the suppressed, it matters the techniques of the suppressors.
Don’t go to a “peaceful protest” without good weapons concealed and multiple-angle overwatch ready.
Comm & documentary video is cheap. If it goes wrong, it’s a court witness against the cops and agitators. If it goes well, it’s pro-peace propaganda.
Peace and luv, brutha. Ain’t gonna be nuntin’, less-un you start sumptin. Protestors gotta protest, or sit home bored smokin’ the now-legal cheap weed.
Adam Selene says
Of course censorship works. It works because of the failure of memory and education. Look at the belt and shoes off, body scanning and groping that goes on in our airports. I have told my kids that the first time I flew, it was legal for people to bring weapons on a plane. Since they have never known a time when it was legal, they were surprised. I even reminded them that the first time they flew, they only went through scanners, no searches etc. Run a web search for the date that weapons were prohibited and you will find more people asking if they were ever allowed than an answer to what date they were banned. The current generation knows what is lost, the second generation vaguely remembers that something is different, the third believes that the way it is today is the way it has always been. Add in propaganda and you have today’s educational system. Most kids know nothing of the past and are blissful in their ignorance. Censorship works over time with the knowledge of the truth gradually being lost.
The TSA is quite unpopular. It has damaged the legitimacy of the Federal government quite a lot, especially in the minds of educated professionals who need to travel frequently — exactly the sort of citizen that any sane government wants to retain and attract.
Our ignorance comes less from censorship (nothing in Moldbug’s reading was officially censored), but in the mass-manufacture of junk culture and junk taste-formation in the schools.
Obama is the defacto Ruler of the USSA for the next 2 years. Con-gress can not pass any laws over Obama’s 2/3 vote veto wall.
Soooo, Comrades, Obama is all that’s limiting Obama.
The “cavalry” isn’t coming to your rescue, and if you see the “troopers” remember it’s “how they see you” that matters. Renegades aren’t invited to the reservation; Why would they be interested anyway?
Our public education system is the best mechanism of censorship ever devised, NORKs have nothing on it.