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PerfectSociety wrote (edited )

What is "Free Speech"? The ability to say whatever you want without any consequences? If so, then no. But then again, there's literally no political philosophy in theory or in practice that supports such a thing. So the first and most important thing is to understand that "Free Speech" is a term that inherently begs the question and does not itself provide any clarity as to what is being referred to. It is inherently a propagandist term. In classical liberalism, the idea is that Speech should be unregulated and unrestricted by the State so long as it does not directly threaten public safety or function as a direct call for violence (recall the oft-cited example of yelling "Fire!" in a theater).

The liberal point of view is that private actors who own platforms should be able to restrict other private actors from using that platform to express their thoughts. The only point that liberals make about free expression is that the State should not be able to restrict it (with the aforementioned exceptions in mind). At first glance this sounds nice, but does it actually hold up in practice? No. There are multiple historical examples in which States have restricted the free expression of individuals that it considers a threat or significant nuisance to the Liberal Capitalist political-economic order: The Sedition Act, Cointelpro, etc. So it is quite apparent that Liberalism itself does a poor job of protecting even the Free Speech that it markets itself with.

But the problem with the Liberal notion of Free Speech is itself more fundamental than the practical violations of this theoretical principle. Let's reflect: Is it meaningful for someone to have a "right" that, in practice, they cannot actually utilize in any meaningful fashion? I would say "no". Liberals themselves exclaim that "Free Speech" is about protecting controversial speech, not uncontroversial speech. So by that standard, let's assess if liberalism actually accomplishes that. What would happen if you expressed controversial ideas? Even if we assume the State won't violate it's own oath as it did numerous times in the past about respecting "Free Speech Rights", you'd be fired by your employer, excluded from any number of establishments in the community that take issue with what you've stated (or fear that others who buy their product would be offended), and by and large your life is ruined. So can you genuinely actualize your so-called "Right to Free Speech" into the ability to speak your mind freely? No.

Now, to be clear, I don't necessarily take issue with the fact that people cannot genuinely actualize this so-called "Right to Free Speech". I absolutely oppose any authority or hierarchical repression of my ability to express myself. However, there's no reason why all other individuals in a community should respect your saying and advocating for hateful ideas. What reason is there to be peaceful towards Nazis while they hold a rally? This brings me to my final point of criticism against Liberal notions of "Free Speech". There is no clear benefit derived from protecting the expression of those who would elect to enact genocide and other gross human rights abuses onto others. The liberal objection is something along the lines of "well, but then that becomes a slippery slope where people try to shut each other down whenever there's controversial opinions (even if they aren't genocidal)". This is a terrible argument. What it really is, is an argument that derives from Statist apologia - the idea that people would behave destructively and chaotically without a set of rules imposed from above. In any community, there are a shared set of values and most people are perfectly capable understanding that there are degrees by which ideas can run afoul of those values. There are multiple contemporary and historical examples of communities forming rules in a bottom-up manner, whereby there are agreed-upon consequences for violating the values of that community. In an Anarchic social context, people could freely associate and dissociate as they please. But in a Statist context, people are both forced to interact with those whom they do not share common values so conflict inevitably is more likely to emerge. The other problem is that in a hierarchical context, people have power over one another so not only do have to interact with people you don't share common values with...they might actually have power over you. So in many ways, this entire problem of "people will try to shut each other down whenever they hear controversial opinions - even milder ones than support for genocide" is a Frankenstein's monster created by a hierarchical social context - a context in which people who do not share common values are forced to interact and even hold power over one another. Get rid of that problem and the fear that people will not allow the expression of controversial ideas becomes moot.

In summary: Anarchism offers something far better than "Free Speech", it offers the ability to freely associate and dissociate with others such that people can form intentional communities specifically with those whom they share common values. This makes it so that everyone can have a space to be who they are and express themselves with speech, without it threatening/undermining or causing problems for others.


Pop wrote

This page is gone, what happened?


ziq OP wrote (edited )

I revised my essays because they're being published, so I removed the obsolete versions for now. Will add the new versions when I get around to it.

I also don't think they belong on w/anarchy101, so I need to make a new wiki for them.