Just as sure as the existence of Yin and Yang, the existence of left and right goes on. And seemingly, it is only getting worse in modern politics. Both sides of Western politics have become increasingly reactionary. The far right is fueled with hatred of far left-wing culture, going after all things “degenerate.” The far left is merely the other side of the exact same coin, hating all things “traditional.” They are both reactionary groups, and the result of these two reactionary groups reacting to one another is obvious: increased political polarization. Yet, while the far right has many issues, the far left may be more responsible for the destruction of contemporary politics.
When dealing with any social phenomenon, one thing is for sure: nothing is going to be perfect. The human mind has clear limitations, and because of this, it develops heuristics so as to save on thought processing. These heuristics act as mental shortcuts, so when the brain perceives something, it can quickly draw conclusions based on prior thoughts. These mental heuristics extend to politics.
When working in the political space, one must take mental shortcuts so as to reach conclusions, and these mental shortcuts are ideologies. We both self-identify and identify others using these ideological markers so as to easily signal to our potential friends and opponents where we stand ideologically. These take the forms of libertarian, conservative, liberal, capitalist, communist, leftist, etc.
We identify ourselves and others to the same time and mental energy. It is far easier to understand where someone stands politically if they simply label themselves as a “conservative,” rather than explaining the nuances of each and every political view that they have. As the economist F.A. Hayek explained when discussing knowledge surrounding social phenomena: “we group their actions, and the objects of their actions, into classes or categories which we know solely from the knowledge of our own mind.”
When anyone self-identifies politically towards us, the prior knowledge that we have comes instantly to mind. Someone who calls themselves conservative means that we assume they are probably pro-life, pro-gun, and against groups like Black Lives Matter. We then go further to adjust our mental representation of them based on further information that we are given, such as “I am actually a pro-choice conservative.” But from the get-go, political stereotyping is necessary and is usually very beneficial because it gives us a starting point for framing our political friend or foe in our own mind.
But this stereotyping can have a bad side. As Hayek continued, “the trouble is that we can never be sure.” These heuristics are simply heuristics – they will almost never be perfect representations. And more often then we would like, they can be far off from the target. As a 2012 study co-authored by Jonathan Haidt explained, everyone is pretty bad at getting these heuristics right, but the left is especially bad.
By looking at five moral foundations, the study was able to estimate approximately what values political groups hold as a priority. They found that:
Liberals endorsed the individualizing foundations (Harm, Fairness) more than conservatives did, whereas conservatives endorsed the binding foundations (Ingroup, Authority, Purity) more than liberals did. This pattern has been observed across a variety of samples and methods, including self-report measures of (un)willingness to violate the foundations for money, text analyses of sermons in liberal and conservative churches, content coding of life narratives, and facial muscle movements.
The study showed that:
Conservatives were most accurate about the individual-focused moral concerns of either side, and liberals were least accurate. Compared to actual group means of either data set, moral stereotypes about the typical conservative showed substantial underestimation of conservatives’ Harm and Fairness concerns.
Left-leaning individuals are not as capable as constructing and accurate heuristic of their political opponents. This has become increasingly problematic in 2017 and 2018, years after this study was done and published. The majority of the broader left tends to label anyone to the right of them as a “Nazi” and Donald Trump as “Hitler.” This stereotype is expected of a group that underestimates how much their opponents value harm and fairness. If one sees conservatives as fairness-hating empathy-lacking psychopaths against minority rights, then, of course, they would be seen as a Nazi.
Yet these stereotypes are obviously inaccurate. One could compare Trump to Hitler if they made the exception of mass murder of innocents and hatred of Jews. Yet in that case, and charismatic leader is just another Hitler. Trump is pretty far from Hitler, seeing as that there are few similarities. In somewhat ironic contrast, though, the left’s political hero FDR was adored by Mussolini and Hitler just prior to World War 2.
The problem becomes worse when the left decides how one should treat a Nazi. A real Nazi is a problem, clearly, because they are either advocating violent action or engaging in it. A Nazi pattern of behavior should be met with a strong response. Yet left-wingers want to treat right-wingers as they would treat a Nazi, even though the right by-and-large does not follow the same pattern of behavior.
This treatment of right-wingers through a totally inaccurate stereotype has become an epidemic. The left (as well as the right, but for different reasons) needs a reality check. Just as they would tell a straight white male to check their privilege and adjust for unconscious actions, they need to check their own mental heuristics and adjust for unconscious phenomenally inaccurate stereotyping.
We stereotype one another politically because it is impossible to give each and every political character their own fully fleshed out identity in our mind. We need to fix our political heuristics, though, if any meaningful and beneficial political dialogue is ever to come.
71 Republic prides itself on distinctly independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon. We appreciate your support.
Fascism is a pejorative in society, but does society truly understand what it means to be a fascist? The socialists have deceived the public into believing that fascism is the most grotesque evolution of capitalism, but this simply is not the case. This article will cut through the societal definitions of the fascists, giving the true meaning of national socialism, paying attention to the philosophical, political, and economic roots of fascism. As the article lays out the totalitarian, anti-property, and subjectivist nature of fascism, it will transition into the development of a true antifascist strategy, which will include advocacy for decentralization, private property, free trade, lower taxes, the right of association and disassociation, the removal of the State from private life and the physical removal of those who would implement such an authoritarian system upon our communities.
What the Nazis have to say about Fascism
On February 24, 1920, the Nazis released their party platform. Among their 25 planks are policies such as old age pensions, the territorial expansion of the State (imperialism), universal employment (public works), the abolition of income without “labor,” the end of interest and rent, the nationalization of industry, wealth redistribution, a dedication to the common good, the provision of free higher education, and the prohibition of child labor.
Looking at the Nazi Party Platform, we can see that capitalism and small government has nothing to do with fascism. To partake in understatement, the free market, personal liberty, and self-ownership does not exist within a national socialist state. The Nazis believed that classical liberalism had failed the world, and that the State was the remedy to whatever illness the world could ever face. As the Nazi Platform shows, adherents to national socialism had no concern for the basic laws of economics (this article will soon show that the Nazis did not even believe in the laws of economics).
Perhaps most damaging is the Nazis’ dedication to the common good. As individuals become just a part of a whole, they become expendable. This dedication to violent, state-sponsored collectivism is exactly what allowed Hitler to demonize the Jews and other minorities so that he could commit the horrific acts of genocide within the Holocaust.
Fascism opposes Economics.
In a 1937 speech, Hitler stated the following:
I am not going to tell you That in place of these economic theories Of the others I am now going to put it a national Socialist economic theory. I would like to avoid the term theory altogether. Yes I would even like to say that what I am going to tell you today Is not intended to be a theory at all. Because if I recognize any dogma at all in the economic sector, then it is only the one dogma that there is no dogma in this sector, no theory at all.
In the statement, Hitler rejects the very concept of economics. He rejects supply and demand, the law of diminishing marginal returns, the socialist calculation problem, and every other insight economics has provided humanity.
This rejection of economics, however, is not original to Hitler. It largely originates from the German Historical School, spear-headed by Gustav von Schmoller. The German Historical School was of the persuasion that economic law was a sham. Rather than looking at economics as a set of universal propositions, advocates of the Historical School saw economics as a series of empirical incidents that will vary across time and place. To these individuals, there are no laws of economics that could hold back an omnipotent government.
In “The Historical Setting of the Austrian School of Economics,” Ludwig von Mises shows how Hitler was largely inspired by the German Historical School. It makes sense that he would be, after all. Economic law inherently limits a dictator. Hitler needed to find a way to get past the basic economic laws which confine humanity, and he found a theory that rejects these limitations in the Historical School. For more information on the German Historical School, please see Dr. David Gordon’s “The Philosphical Origins of Austrian Economics.”
In Human Action, Mises discussed this anti-capitalistic mentality that intoxicated Hitler, and still continue to intoxicate the masses today:
The issue has been obfuscated by the endeavors of governments and powerful pressure groups to disparage economics and to defame the economists. Despots and democratic majorities are drunk with power. They must reluctantly admit that they are subject to the laws of nature. But they reject the very notion of economic law. Are they not the supreme legislators? Don’t they have the power to crush every opponent? No war lord is prone to acknowledge any limits other than those imposed on him by a superior armed force. Servile scribblers are always ready to foster such complacency by expounding the appropriate doctrines. They call their garbled presumptions “historical economics.” In fact, economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.
It is impossible to understand the history of economic thought if one does not pay attention to the fact that economics as such is a challenge to the conceit of those in power. An economist can never be a favorite of autocrats and demagogues. With them he is always the mischief-maker, and the more they are inwardly convinced that his objections are well founded, the more they hate him.
If one tries to refute the devastating, criticism leveled by economics against the suitability of all these interventionist schemes, one is forced to deny the very existence—not to mention the epistemological claims—of a science of economics, and of praxeology as well. This is what all the champions of authoritarianism, government omnipotence, and “welfare” policies have always done. They blame economics for being “abstract” and advocate a “visualizing” (anschaulich) mode of dealing with the problems involved. They emphasize that matters in this field are too complicated to be described in formulas and theorems. They assert that the various nations and races are so different from one another that their actions cannot be comprehended by a uniform theory; there are as many economic theories required as there are nations and races. Others add that even within the same nation or race, economic action is different in various epochs of history. These and similar objections, often incompatible with one another, are advanced in order to discredit economics as such….
To summarize Mises, it is the ego of a dictator and a democratic mass that endangers the public. Their blatant disregard for economic law sets a society on a path to destruction and ruin, and the history of government resoundingly proves this. Hitler’s deliberate ignorance of economics only adds to the anti-human nature of national socialism.
National Socialism Needs a Centrally Planned Economy
Hitler, when addressing the concept of economic freedom versus state planning, made the following statement:
If Germany intends to live, then it must run its whole economy in a manner that is clear and planned. We cannot manage without a plan. If we were to let things run on according to the principle that everyone may do as he likes, then in a very short time this freedom would end upIn a terrible famine. No, we have to conduct our business and run our economy according to plan. Therefore the National Socialist government cannot be dependent on any individual interests. It cannot be dependent on the city or the country, not on workers and not on employers. It cannot be dependent on industry, on the crafts, on trade or on finance. It can only accept one obligation…. The nation alone is our master, and we serve this nation to the best of our knowledge and belief.
What the following statement demonstrates is that Hitler did not see the market as the means to prosperity. Rather, he believed that the State can plan a society to create prosperity. If it was economic, Hitler believed the government could do it better than the maket could. Simply put, Hitler did not believe in economic freedom. He believed in the State.
The National Socialists Reject Honest Money
In 1939, Hitler gave his position on the gold standard:
Today we smile about a time when our political economists actually did believe that the value of a currency depended on the amount of gold and foreign currency reserves piled up in the safes of the state banks, and that it was guaranteed by these. We have learned instead of of the value of a currency lies in the production capacity of a nation, that increasing production is what holds up a currency, even revalues it under certain circumstances, whereas any declining production results must sooner or later lead to an automatic devaluation of the currency. And at a time when the financial and economic theologists in the other countries prophesied our collapse every 3 to 6 months, the National Socialist state stabilized the value of its currency by increasing production most extraordinarily. An actual relationship was created between increasing German production and the currency in circulation.
Hitler saw fiat currency as an incredible moral virtue. Such a currency would give the State massive influence over the population, which is the true defining characteristic of National Socialism. It is with all this in mind that we can see that Hitler and the Nazis clearly rejected capitalism. They did not see the free market, private property, or self-ownership as a path to prosperity. They only valued omnipotent government.
Fascism: The State Above All Else
While one may simply dismiss Hitler and the Nazis’ economic ignorance as the ramblings of a mad man, but it makes sense when you understand the philosophical aim of fascism: the State having complete and total control. Fascism placed the power of the State above all else, which explains their disregard for economic law, their admiration for central planning, and their dedication to fiat currency.
But the national socialists did not just place the State above economics. They placed the State above you.
Fascism is another Color of Socialism
In Omnipotent Government, Mises pointed out that fascism was a “third way” between capitalism and communism. While the national socialists were not communists, they were socialists. Mises expounds on German National socialism in the following:
The German pattern differs from the Russian one in that it (seemingly and nominally) manintains private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary prices, wages, and markets. There are, however, no longer entrepreneurs but only shop managers (Betriebsfuhrer). These shop managers do the buying and selling, pay the workers, the contract debts, and pay interest and amortization. There is no labor market; wages and salaries are fixed by the government. The government tells the shop managers what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell.
So, while the people owned private property according to German Law, the ownership of private property was in name and in name only.
Fascist Rejection of Private Property
Mises was not the only person to identify the lack of private property in Nazi Germany. In fact, the Nazis openly embraced this, and it crippled German Business. Hitler elaborated upon his views on private property here:
Our socialism reaches much deeper. It does not change the external order of things. It orders solely the relationship of man to the state. Then what does property and income count for? Why should we need to socialize the banks and the factories? We are socializing the people.
So, the businesses can have property by decree, but it doesn’t matter. The people are owned by the State in a National Socialist economy. In truth, Hitler’s socialism runs deeper than the socialism of the Soviet Union. It doesn’t matter if you own “private property” in a fascist state (or a state in general), for the State owns you.
Doing Business under Fascism
If the socialist lie that fascism is late stage capitalism was true, then the ease of doing business must certainly be irrefutable. This, however, is not the case. In The Vampire Economy, Gunter Reimann described what it was like to do business under the Nazis. To put it shortly, business owners did not own their businesses. Workers did not own their bargaining rights. No one but the State owned anything.
Things became so bad for the businessman in Nazi Germany, that they were described as “white Jews” in a letter Reimann retrieved from a German businessman. In that same letter, the businessman laments the lack of price flexibility, the increase in regulations, the increase in taxation, the confiscation of private property, and the complete revocation of the right to use your profit as you see fit.
Matters weren’t any better for the German worker either. Whereas the Nazis demanded a “fair wage,” the workers’ hours drastically increased. The workers who worked just six hours per day were forced to work anywhere from eleven to twelve hours per week. The Nazis would also force women and children into employment to make family income look even better.
Just like all socialists, fascists reject private property.
As alluded to before, the fascist’s reverence for the State led to the destruction of private property. Reimann points this out by telling the story of a German landowner known as Herr V, who was forced to even quarter German troops in his home. After having enough, Herr V decided to go to a bank to invest his funds in something the State cannot touch by purchasing a farm in West Africa. The banker informed him that the State will not allow you to leave with your property. One can “own” property in Nazi Germany, but we all know the State is the true owner under fascism.
With businesses, it was just as bad. The State had the authority to go through the books of businesses. Any errors would lead to a fine of millions of Marks. These regulations were just another means of expropriating private property from the people. In fact, the Nazi regime repealed the right to private property on February 28, 1933, with the abolition of article 153 of the Weimar Constitution.
The business owners were replaced with Betriebsführer, or business managers. Since you did not truly own your property, you were just a tenant of this “fiat” property. In other words, in order to keep “your” property, you must not only follow the law. You must be completely servile to the State. In fascism, the State owns you.
The Reality of Fascism in America
This article would seem irrelevant if we believed the only fascist regimes were those of Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Franco’s Spain. But that simply is not the case. We must accept the reality that the United States has become a fascist government.
The US has been a fascist country since FDR ushered in the administrative state through the New Deal. Under Roosevelt’s policies, businesses were directed to produce for “the common good” instead of individual profit. The welfare state grew exponentially to compel dependence upon the State from the people.
Economic law has been entirely rejected. The central banks and the bureaucracy have the authority to regulate as they see fit. Private property is a sham. The government taxes and regulated everything. On top of the welfare state is a massive warfare state. The private sector has been cartelized, production has been heavily subsidized. The people revere the police state as the source of peace. Our rights are denied in the name of security.
Another indicator is the US’s worship of its leaders. Paul Craig Roberts identified this by saying, “Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy.” the Left has adopted this as well. Any criticism of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is seen as treason. If the people are sensitive of criticisms of Trump and Obama, they are intolerable to criticisms of individuals such as Lincoln or FDR. But if this isn’t enough, consider John Flynn’s Eight Marks of Fascist Policy.
Government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no restraint on its power.
Government is a de facto dictatorship based on the Leadership Principle.
Government administers a “capitalist” system with an immense bureaucracy.
Producers are organized into cartels in the way of syndicalism.
Economic planning based on the principle of Autarky.
Government sustains economic life by spending and borrowing.
Militarism is a mainstay of government spending.
The military has imperialist aims.
Toward an Antifascist Alliance
As Lew Rockwell points out in Fascism vs. Capitalism, the federal government has turned the US into a fascist nation, and therefore we must fight fascism in America. Rockwell did give us a brief word on anti-fascist strategy. In essence, we must be capitalists to fight fascism.
“I can think of no greater priority today than a serious and effective antifascist alliance. In many ways, one is already forming. It is not a formal alliance. It is made up of those who protest the Fed, those who refuse to go along with mainstream fascist politics, those who seek decentralization, those who demand lower taxes and free trade, those who seek the right to associate with anyone they want and buy and sell on terms of their own choosing, those who insist they can educate their children on their own, the investors and savers who make economic growth possible, those who do not want to be felt up at airports, and those who have become expatriates.
It is also made of the millions of independent entrepreneurs who are discovering that the number one threat to their ability to serve others through the commercial marketplace is the institution that claims to be our biggest benefactor: the government.” Lew Rockwell, Fascism vs. Capitalism.
In other words, to fight against fascism, we must fight for freedom. One of the top flaws of fascism is its reactionary nature. It was built to stop communism but ultimately became just as bad, with an even deeper socialism in which the people become socialized. We cannot continue with negative activism. We must have a positive goal. Being in favor of freedom first inherently makes one against communism, fascism, and all other forms of statism. This is how to fight American fascism.
In the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia lies the city of Newnan. The city has no major influence in politics and social issues, but it was used as a site for the hit TV show, The Walking Dead. On April 21st, however, things may change for the worst, as white nationalists and national socialists prepare to hold a rally in the city.
The National Socialist Movement, a political party that aligns itself with Neo-Nazism and is self-proclaimed as the largest one of its kind, is the organization responsible for the planning of this rally, and their chairman, Jeff Schoep, made an agreement with the City of Newnan for a $50 pavilion to be rented on April 21st.
The far-right organization plans on meeting from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M., although it is possible that could change if something breaks out. Other events will be occurring in the city on that day, like the “Champion For Children” Superhero 5K.
A local resident, who wished to stay anonymous, commented on the situation.
Our town is a beautiful place and I’ve never noticed any type of racial or political issues at all. There’s no reason for this march to be held here. The local newspaper, “The Newnan Times Herald” is covering this as well as one in Atlanta, so far… 11 Alive (NBC). I’m simply shocked and saddened this would happen here.
Local business owners in the area are planning on shutting down their operations for the day. The local police department contacted many business owners to assure them that proper security would be provided.
According to The Newnan Times-Herald, Chief of Police D.L. “Buster” Meadows and his fellow officers are “preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.” Around two dozen different agencies are coordinating with the Newnan Police Department in preparation for this event.
Local groups of ANTIFA are planning on counter-protesting the event. Chief Meadows and his department seem to be prepared for this, with water barricades being provided. They hope to control the events on that day and keep them confined to the Greenville Street Park region of the city, in an attempt to stop the rally and counter-protests from devouring the city.
The costs of the rally on the city are unknown. Some may wonder if this would a repetition of the Charlottesville events, but Chairman Schoep plans on around 50-100 people attending the rally, which is smaller than the number of people that attended the Charlottesville rally.
A petition has been made by local residents to prevent the rally, which can be found here.
Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote For Chaos, clinical psychologist, and king of archetypes has been across the internet and back again. Doctor Peterson seems to be on a new podcast, interview show, or news station every single week, if not every day. The man is reportedly very busy, which is expected as you become the rock star of modern academia.
The Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto was the most recent organization to host such an event. They allowed Jordan Peterson, atheist philosopher Rebecca Goldstein, and Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, to all sit-down and have a discussion on the existence of meaning, God, and the like of abstract concepts that pertain to the actions of everyone looking for truth. The but that pertains most to me is the one that follows:
Starting off, Craig discusses Peterson’s view about objective morality. This stems from the Piagetian ideas of moral development and an equilibrated state of cooperation. Craig urges Peterson to accept that there is inherently a transcendent being behind this and then repeats it a couple of more times. His argument does not have a warrant, but Dr. Peterson responds anyway.
He explains that yes, we discover morality and that it is very possible that the moral truth we discover through action has transcendent properties.
Goldstein then chimes in, explaining why she rejects Craig’s argument and posing various religious questions on him. In response to Peterson, she heavily implies that he should not bring it up, and that is the extent of her “argument” against Jordan. The viewer is now forced to sit through an atheist and a Christian rehash the exact same talking points of religious debate we have all heard time and time again. The strange new psychological view of Peterson is not much taken into account.
The moderator then decides to intrude, and thank goodness. She asks why we “struggle with the meaning of life?”
Dr. Peterson explains the same thing he is so listened-to for. We live a finite existence, and it is pretty hard. Bad things can happen to us and we are capable of doing some pretty bad things, so the option we have is to aim for a nobility.
After explaining, the Jungian moves on to respond to one of Goldstein’s comments, and with a dream. Within his dream, kings of the past fight one another, yet all end up bowing to the figure of Christ. Many times throughout the Bible Christ is referred to as “The King of Kings,” and Dr. Peterson explains what this actually means. If we took the best qualities of each of the kings and put them in one, we have Christ. Whether or not Christ is a real historical figure within the situation matters not, because this is what is above the rulers of the earth. Christ provides an ideal for them to strive to get close to and remain humble in comparison.
When tyrannical kings rule the earth, who will rule the kings?
Peterson explains that “you inevitably do [have to speak of such things at a religious level].” There is no other way for our minds to make sense of anything like this.
“It’s a psychological necessity. It’s a sociological necessity.”
Goldstein seems to realize that the atheist position will be lagging behind when it comes to this psychological argument, so she goes off for a little bit, showing her body of barely related knowledge. She makes sure to tell everyone that “as a woman, as a Jew,” she has reaped benefits from the enlightenment. After a bit of a rabbit hole, she finally comes back around to the argument and compares the idea that kings should have an ideal that keeps them in check to the Nazis wanting to genocide those who are not “perfect” in their eyes.
She thinks that just because Peterson’s idea of a Christ supersedes the individual, it will allow for another Holocaust. We should try to transcend to art in her eyes, and not get caught up in larger symbolism and going past mere humanity.
These modern intellectuals represent roughly the two most prominent views in western society: religion and no religion. We all fell into this sort of dichotomy, even if there is some grey area in the middle. A modern intellectual espousing Jungian psychology, Biblical archetypes, and its connection to cleaning your room is very far from this base societal view. The two in discussion within this video do not know how to react to Peterson’s view, which is clear because of their poor responses (or no responses, in the case of Craig who seems somewhat satisfied), and because of their focus on one another.
The Austrian economic Ludwig von Mises discussed the role of ideas in society and history. If we want to see change, we need idea creators. Something new, refreshing, and out of place, that will be so disruptive the present intellectual arena will burn to the ground. This, in Mises’ view, is what brings about revolutionary progress.
From these ashes, we may build from the ground up. It allows us to embody the Phoenix archetype, and that of dying and being born again, better and new. Modern intellectuals are not ready for Peterson’s broad worldview. In the left media Op-Eds, it is always a bad strawman. Face-to-face, the opposition will always beat around the bush. People are incapable of telling Doctor Jordan Peterson why he is wrong. That is why I believe Peterson’s views will cause a large shift in the way our society is organized. They already are.
The topic of free speech has once again reentered the public debate arena. However, it is not a debate that operates on an established consensus of natural rights. Groups on the right and the left have devolved into using their identity as a means of achieving their respective goals. Those that don’t utilize their immutable characteristics to advance their positions are then concerned about the motivations hidden within these identitarian movements. Rational people ought to remain concerned with the preservation of individual liberty because it will ensure that everyone is free from coercion. Negative rights are contingent on the notion that individuals own themselves. Humans have negative rights because all people have contrasting ideas and unique desires. Individuals are sovereign and not tools for an arbitrary greater good.
Governments throughout history have attempted to legislate against ideas they found distasteful. The printing press was first invented in China, and then the famous Gutenberg printing press was introduced in Europe in the 15th century. Consequently, the proliferation of knowledge and ideas resulted in an explosion of scientific discovery. Institutions such as the church would seek to utilize the state to ensure their ideas remained infallible, and they prohibited the use of the printing press by those not approved by the state. Subsequently, philosophers and thinkers published their work in countries that had liberal speech and printing regulations. Rene Descartes had his philosophical writings published in Holland anonymously to ensure his own safety. The ideas of the enlightenment influenced governments across Europe to finally ensure the protection of speech because the consequences of doing otherwise resulted in anguish and stagnation.
Freedom of the press was prohibited in Germany until the early 20th century, and it seems to be evident that this inhibited their ability to have a civil discussion. The national socialists and the communists frequently engaged in street fighting prior to Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Thus, this marked the beginning of the “anti-fascists,” and their violent tactics are still utilized today in order to silence those that they disagree with. They justify violence by obfuscating the political identity of their dissenters and claiming that they are fascists.
European countries are again legislating against speech that is abhorrent. In Britain, saying something the government determines to be offensive can result in a six-month prison term or a fine of up to £5000. China’s communist party has maintained its hegemonyover the media since it assumed power. State officials are contemplating implementing a system that monitors an individual’s social development and removes or adds points depending on what course of action was chosen. The state then becomes the arbiter of morality and enforces it with the threat of social ostracization.
Once prominent universities and institutions were committed to engendering critical thinking and promoting free and open dialogue between competing ideas. UC Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. In a rather ironic twist, the hostility towards freedom of expression erupted there when the conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak. Members of Antifa and other leftist students organized to protest the speaker. Their intentions were not to debate or have civil discourse, but to create a volatile environment where it was not safe to have an open dialogue. Antifa uses “whatever means necessary” to achieve their collective goals even if the “means” are violating rights of individuals. They form what they call “black blocks” where they shroud their personal identities with black clothes and masks. They act as a collective unit in order to cause enough destruction to render the environment too dangerous for an event to take place. They feel that debate can be won by simply shouting louder than the opposition, and people have to be protected from certain ideas as if they are infectious diseases.
There is a strong correlation between a thriving society and individual liberty. When certain ideas warrant a use of violence or state sanction then any idea that someone finds atrocious can be prohibited if the power to do so is available. Arguments compete in a peaceful and productive manner to benefit humanity with the truth. If you introduce force into the process, truth becomes irrelevant. Ideas do not have to be right; they just have to have power over the opposition.