We live in an age of idiocy and lunacy. We live in an age of intellectual effeminates and artistic prostitutes. We live in an age where medicine and science have become ideologies. The highest doctor in the land has taken on the hybrid position of new-age god and dictator-at-will. We live in a world run by a generation who, when they were young, got offended when told to cover up their breasts in public, but now rather get offended when they see someone who doesn’t have his face covered in public. And I am inclined to believe that “question authority” has come to mean, “question authority only until your man is in charge”.
But this is not an article about questioning authority or new-age gods; this is an article about free speech, and why it is being taken away. Speech in the form of the spoken word and the written word and speech in the form of practical action: each and all of these forms are being limited and censored. If there were any proof that we live under a dictatorship (political and technocratic and scientific and artistic), it is that free speech is now anathema to those in power in all places. There is only and always one reason why speech is suppressed among the general populace: to reduce the humanity of people. Is that an odd definition? Perhaps. But in the course of this article, I hope to make it more concrete. I have read many times that rationality is what distinguishes humans from other animals—it is our unique species trait. I am disinclined to agree, for the history of humanity that is being made every second suggests that hardly any of humanity ever uses rationality. I would almost say speech differentiates humans, but even animals engage in speech. I would rather suggest that it is free speech which differentiates humans from the rest of animal life. And by free speech I do not mean the capacity to make sounds, or even intelligible sounds, whenever you desire. I mean the capacity to create unique meaning behind sounds, the ability to create poetry and music and equations, the ability to learn other languages and create other languages, and the ability to organize our thoughts which echo inside our skulls both for ourselves and for other people, the ability to engage your mind with experience and organize your experience competently. These phenomena have no parallel in the animal universe. (Some people would say that I am going in circles with such a definition, for the act of free speech seems to require rationality. I would disagree with them and take up my disagreement at length if I had the time, which I do not here).
Now, in a dictatorship, one ambition of the dictator really must be to control a large portion of the people; he must become a herder of men. Herding sheep is difficult enough, but herding humans as humans is impossible. So, the ambition of the dictator must become to make the people minimally human; to make them as sheep-like, or as animal-like, as possible, so that they are easier to herd. I mentioned above that the activity of free speech, the power of free speech, incorporates the ability of one to create poetry (I really should have said the ability to create literature). Have you yet noticed that literature is being censored? Authors are being cancelled? Shakespeare and Williams and O’Connor and Jefferson and Twain, etc? Have you yet noticed that these are the classics of this country and of the Western world? So, we must rhetorically pose another question: Why does the dictatorship of academia begin now to assassinate the ideas and the works of such eminent geniuses, such foundational thinkers to the tradition of our culture? The dictatorship of academia (and the other institutions) assassinates these authors for two specific reasons, for which reasons we need to understand what role the literature of the classics plays in the life of this culture and those who live in it.
Classics are classics precisely because they played a formative role in the founding or developing of this culture. If I wanted to destroy the foundation of a culture, or redirect its development, I would do away with the old classics and establish a new set of classics. Indeed, this is the first reason why the classics are being cancelled and systemically replaced. The Classics also offer, as all literature of the past does, an opportunity to engage with the past and make it your own living experience. The danger of engaging with the past as living experience (through the classics) is that it tends to make you less hateful of the past. You may realize that the past is complicated and resists the crude binaries of modern ideological dogmatism. You may also realize the people of the past are complicated and likewise resist the crude binaries of modern ideological dogmatism. Well, if you get enough people walking about who have sympathy with the past, and therefore who have sympathy with the foundation and development of their culture through the ages, the task of destroying the foundation of the culture and redirecting its development becomes exponentially harder. Academia does want you to engage in the past very limitedley, and always under the direction of an author who hates the foundations and the past development of this culture: this is the second reason for doing away with the old classics and instating new classics (Morrison, Day, Angelou, Baldwin, Atwood, etc.)
Even science and medicine are no longer hospitable to different opinions. If a doctor posted a tweet that hydroxychloroquine saves lives, his account would be suspended or at least corrected for spreading disinformation. America never knew, apparently, that Anthony Fauci called the same drug a “miracle drug. . . .a cure and a vaccine” for all corona viruses. He made that statement a mere decade ago. If a doctor were to say that masks are ineffective, he would be called perhaps irresponsible, or perhaps he would be called inhumane. It seems Americans are not aware that the Covid-19 particle is .125 microns; they do not know that their masks (cloth, surgical, bandana) cannot even filter particles 2x that size. They do not seem to know that an average person has 99% chance of surviving the virus. (To illustrate, if someone told you that you have, empirically, a 99% chance of winning the lottery, would you enter? Yes, you would.) Science has already become ideologically intolerant (in Covid and in many other matters such as transgenderism); my prediction is that mathematics will fall very shortly. California schools, for instance, are already concerning themselves with an effort to “eliminate” racism in mathematics.
I wrote that the activity of free speech also includes the ability to engage your mind with your experience, and to organize your thoughts in a comprehensible fashion. Really, to organize your experience you must organize your thoughts, for a thought is simply the product of the mind when it is engaged with experience. And here I must begin to use unpleasant names such as leftism and rightism (and give a brief history of the world) because the control of thought as it is practiced in contemporary society cannot be understood non-politically (as FDR wisely observed). The difference between rightism and leftism is this: leftism dedicates itself to artificial hierarchies and rightism dedicates itself to natural hierarchies. I myself am a liberal, and liberalism reconciles the two former philosophies, for which reason I call it “progressive conservatism”. (And may I note that the Democrat Party calling itself the party of liberals is a travesty and a mind-trick on the American people. None of the people who call themselves liberal nowadays are liberals. They are leftists.) For reasons as myriad as the stars, leftism has always been more popular in human society: slavery, the longest lasting institution in civilization, which is always built upon and prolongs artificial hierarchy, is the most lasting example of leftism in history.
The contemporary pervasiveness of leftism in culture is easily noticeable in the social hierarchies which are everywhere present: the idea of groups of oppressed people (blacks, gays, immigrants) set against groups of privileged people (whites, heteros, natives) is the creation of various artificial hierarchies, which, for instance, are based upon levels of oppression of a certain individual, and these levels of oppression are further qualified by arbitrary characteristics such as skin color. These hierarchies are utilized by dictatorial institutions so that these same institutions might organize society better and control its citizenry more comprehensively. Identity Politics is nicely representative of modern leftism; Mussolini famously said about the fascistic model of government, “all inside the state, nothing outside the state”. This slogan can be re-appropriated and applied vigorously to any identity group-model (black, gay, hetero, immigrant): “all inside the group, nothing outside the group”. Indeed, modern identity politics is the crude child of a procreation between new Marxism and classic fascism.
Which leads us now to the essential fact of dictatorships and dictators: dictators want to control your experience, not only your thoughts. This is not an entirely original premise. Nietzsche, for instance, predicted the rise of world dictatorship when he confessed the death of God; in that same vein, James Madison suggested that American self-government was fit only for a religious people. I am inclined to believe that Madison was observing the fact that religious virtue is the best and sole way of imposing order from within. Nietzsche’s point in predicting the rise of dictatorships in the absence of God was particularly illuminating because Nietzsche was an atheist; he saw though that when God is expurgated as a principle of order, government is the next biggest entity to replace Him. Unfortunately, government, unlike God, does not know the “innermost thoughts of man”. If government did know the innermost thoughts of man, it would be undeniably irresistible in its efforts of oppression and authoritarianism.
Government’s solution to its ignorance of man’s innermost thoughts is to wipe the minds of its citizens clean and begin anew to create its citizens’ innermost thoughts. Think—get rid of the old history and the old statues and the old books (classics) and replace them with the new history and the new statues and the new books (classics). The recent righteous indignation over racist monuments and books was far less righteous than many imagine. Anyway, If the dictator is the author of your innermost thoughts, he certainly knows your innermost thoughts; experience-control and manipulation is an ingenious solution to a dauntingly difficult problem, and this solution was practiced by all of the prominent dictators of the twentieth century. I already said that thoughts result from engaging your mind with your experience; if the government (or whatever entity is acting as dictator) creates your experience and guides your perception of it, you are hopelessly caught in the strings of authoritarian puppetry.
Unpleasant as it may be, let us now return to the twenty-first century. Have you ever heard of the black experience? How about the gay experience? And the immigrant experience? In other words, this is the concept of a uniform experience for many people, each of whom belongs to one identity group. It is a painful observation that the more uniform the experience of many people, the more uniform will be the thinking of these many people. (That is, incidentally, the utilitarian persona of literature: it allows you to live many different experiences even while sitting in one place. Wide reading makes your thinking more nuanced and less uniform, less simplistic. It gives you a wide perspective; when one is said to possess a wide perspective, I think it is merely meant that he has engaged his mind with many different aspects of reality.) These many identity experiences are meant to inform the behavior of the members of the various identities—if you are gay and you vote Republican, you are a traitor to your experience. If you are black, and you vote Republican, you are a traitor to your experience—an Uncle Tom.
I have a proposition to make: if the government (or any dictatorial entity) has the opportunity, it will not only attempt to convince any number of people that their experience is such-and-such, the government (or any dictatorial entity) will strive its utmost to provide any number of people with that such-and-such experience in real time. The black experience is real, but primarily because the government (that is, the party which has controlled the government in every major urban center for 70 years) has made its best effort to actualize that experience in the black community. Forty years ago, a certain political party began promising a war on poverty and a war on racism, but it seems to me that racism and poverty are more rabid in the black community than ever before. James Baldwin said that wherever skin color is valued, it is a delusion. Now, illustrious black academics say that “the only way to fight discrimination is with more discrimination”—discrimination against white people. Two wrongs make a right, you see.
Of course, totalitarianism must ultimately attempt to make the experience of all citizens the same (the lumpenproletariat). Our esteemed Madame Vice President said shortly before the 2020 election that America must struggle to implement equity rather than equality. She then defined equity as the phenomenon of everyone “ending up in the same place”—Uniform Experience. If you have read Marx or Lenin or any influential socialist or communist thinker, the very fact that Kamala Harris spoke those words should scare the fucking pants off you, and please do not tell me that she was simply speaking of fairness. Ignore it, weep over it, but do not defend it.
And while we’re talking of totalitarianism, let us examine the censorship of art which is rising to an evermore important position (the Hollywood Academy will shortly require films to have a certain percentage of minorities in them in order to be considered for Academy Awards.) At the basis of every perception is an image, because at the basis of every experience is an image; furthermore, since art is the creation and recreation of experience, art is the true influencer of social thought. From the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany to the CCP, totalitarians have understood that art must be subjugated to the dictator’s ideology. Free creation of images means free interpretation of experience and therefore free thought in the citizenry. Free thinkers are free actors, and free actors are impossible to control; if there are too many free thinkers in society, the project of authoritarianism, the control of the masses, explodes.
Oh, and remember how viciously the Left hates stereotypes because they are limiting images, of certain peoples? The Left though uses archetypes, the mother of stereotypes, instead of stereotypes. And what is “the black experience” but the most visceral and expansive of all stereotypes. The creation of a uniform experience (mainly the falsely peddled experience of oppression) for each identity group is an actualized stereotype. The current pseudo-religion of social justice (which is not real social justice at all) proposes that people not of the black skin cannot speak about social issues of racism and white supremacy. In other words, in its hateful tendency to archetype all people, social justice is built upon the premise that all black people should think about and experience life in exactly the same way, which is why each black person may speak for every other black person (and this same truth is applicable to every identity group in society). Not one of the rioters this past summer cared about George Floyd, nor did they know him. He was made an archetype of all Black people. That is how the Left used him. The officer who killed him became the archetype of all police officers. George Floyd had a black face; he had “the black face” (see my article A Thousand Ponds for Narcissus). He had suffered the “black experience”. And everybody who identified with a black face had been suffocated and killed. There had to be justice. Justice for George. Justice for the Black face. At the finish then, the Left sent these groups, these faces, flying at each other’s throats. The Left built many different armies and sent them to war with each other. From out the chaos of that war, the Left, with its own face, Joseph Biden, ascended. The world order ascended. Leftism thrives only out of chaos. This is the reason that the Left will always have a war and chaos and always demand its citizens make wartime sacrifices.
During World War II, there were curfews because we were at war. During the Coronavirus epoch, there are curfews, because we are at war. With the Coronavirus. During World War II, Britons had to carry around masks because Britain was at war. During the Coronavirus epoch, Britons must carry around masks on their faces because Britain is at war. With the Coronavirus. During War, freedom of speech is more restricted lest provocative speech prove to kill patriotism and harm the war effort. During our war against racism, freedom of speech will be restricted, lest provocative speech prove to kill inclusivity and harm the war effort. This is the world order. Be an enemy to the world order. Be an enemy to those who make art and science ideologies. Be an enemy to those who question authority only until their man is in charge. Be an enemy to those who reject the precariousness of freedom by constant scapegoating. Be an enemy, above all, to those who are willing to be unexceptional in the name of safety.