Saturday, March 19, 2011

Karl du Fresne: Free speech means putting up with exhibitionists

ONE OF the prices we pay for free speech is that we have to put up with people who use it to draw attention to themselves.

I include in this category the two Wanganui students who painted a sign saying Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Makes You Free” – the cruelly cynical slogan displayed above the gateway to Auschwitz – over the front door of their rented central city house.

The Wanganui Chronicle reported that the students professed to have white supremacist beliefs. That’s another penalty we must accept for living in a free society: people are entitled to proclaim beliefs that they know others find repugnant. We put up with this because the alternative is a society in which we’re told what to say and think.

The irony is that the Nazi state, which the Wanganui students appear to have some admiration for, was brutal in its suppression of views it didn’t approve of. If we were to operate by the same rules, the offensive sign would have been torn down quick-smart and the two students carted off in an unmarked vehicle and possibly never heard from again.

A necessary but sometimes irritating aspect of democracy is that it allows people the luxury of adopting positions that would not be permitted in the societies they profess to admire, because they would be seen as a threat to those in power.

I also include in this category the academics who use their sinecured positions in New Zealand universities to propagate Marxism. They are free to do so because a democratic state allows them that right.

What’s more, they can do it in the comfortable assurance that their beliefs will never be put to the test. It’s easy to pose as a champion of the proletariat when you live in a fashionable inner-suburban villa, drive a smart little European car, eat at the best cafes and have a nose for a good pinot noir. Probably not so easy if you lived in a crumbling East Berlin-style apartment block, drove a wheezing Trabant (if you’re one of the lucky few) and had to queue for bread.

Even more to the point, it’s easy to call yourself a Marxist in a free country because you know there will be no state security enforcers hammering your door down in the pre-dawn hours. In that respect, our Marxist academics have much more in common with neo-fascists like the Wanganui students than they might suppose.

First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, March 15.


Anonymous said...

I entirely agree.

Anonymous said...

I would have thought that was obvious; Marxism and Nazism are both ideologies of the "extreme" and democratic societies in general consign followers of extremism to a truly comfortable place for them: the nut house

James said...

Please don't confuse a democracy with a free society...they are very different things.Democracy is mob rule,totalitarianism with a collar and tie on.A free society enshrines the rights of the individual over the will of the mob...a democracy does the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Please do some research into the history of fascism. Marxism and fascism are competing Leftist ideologies! Because of that 'competition' they became enemies, but enemies within the Left of the political spectrum, not at opposing ends of the political spectrum as is commonly taught and believed. The political spectrum is more accurately represented as a circle, where extremes meet and merge, than in linear fashion.

We must also understand when reading/listening historically that words can change their meanings over time, or the common interpretations change. When Mussolini, a former Marxist, spoke against (classical) liberalism, he was speaking against what today would commonly be labelled conservatism or libertarianism. In today's terminology, Mussolini was, in fact, to a large extent a modern liberal/progressive! Nazism was somewhat more syncretic, but still predominantly Leftist. Marxism and Fascism are essentially opposite sides of the very same coin. It is more a matter of different style than substance. In the extreme, think of the totalitarian Marxist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics versus the totalitarian Fascist National Socialist Workers' Greater German Reich.

Today, we can witness increasing collaboration between groups loosely labelled Marxists and fascists/neo-Nazis. They are increasingly realizing their commonalities and many shared values/hatreds, and are increasingly banding and demonstrating together for common causes. The lines are increasingly blurred. Furthermore, the mainstream political spectrum has shifted significantly leftward over the past quarter of a century, and (once) radical leftism is increasingly mainstreaming.

Western anti-hate-speech laws had pushed most expressions of hatred underground, producing societies with a false veneer, and creating a false sense of security for many people. However, veiled hate-speech has become increasingly accepted in the mainstream and the veils have to a large extent been lifted, as long as those targeted are disapproved of by the champions of (selective) political correctness. It’s all part of well-engineered Big Lies, which is why, for example, anti-Semitism in the West has arguably risen to pre-WWII levels, largely veiled as anti-Zionism in the mainstream, but if one examines the statistics of antisemitic attacks in Western countries, and read many of the talkbacks to mainstream media stories, the reality of classic antisemitism is plain for all to see.

The main drivers of the ‘acceptability’ of such are not typical neo-Nazis (although it is noteworthy that the Green movement is deeply rooted in Nazi ideology), but Marxists, such as the Marxist-majority academic elite (and followers, which includes many in the media and political elites). However, one wouldn’t be surprised if one knew the backgrounds of leading 20th century fascists, including social reformers, like leading suffragettes, many of whom later founded and/or assumed leadership roles in the fascist movement. When it comes to hatred and scapegoating they are all the same type.