Free Speech

China has no interest in your free speech nonsense:

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, ran a commentary by its Paris bureau chief in which he said: “Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation and free speech are not acceptable.”

A commentary posted on the Xinhua website also warns that we now live in “a reality that demands basic respect and prudence be exercised in mass communication so as to reduce inter-culture and inter-religion misunderstanding and distrust, which can easily be exploited by terrorists.”

Good governance and peaceful domestic relations are two things neoreactionaries are supposed to value. So what is the neoreactionary theory of free speech?

It seems to me like a binary choice, at least in terms of sound policy. Either a society embraces free speech for all (as a principle) or it rejects free speech for all. Either might work. In contrast, a speech policy based on positionality rather than principle is bound to create more resentment than one in which anyone is allowed to say anything without legal or fiscal consequence. Unfortunately, this is precisely the policy in the West: whether or not something “can be said” depends on the positions of the people speaking and of the people being spoken about. Chris Hedges and others have pointed this out. In most of Europe, it is perfectly legal to mock Mohammed but illegal to deny the Holocaust or to write Nazi tracts. I would not lose my academic job for writing about high IQs in East Asia, but I could very well lose it for writing about low IQs in Africa.

There can be no denying that the Chinese are partially right. If, as a matter of free speech, one group of people is allowed to mock and humiliate another group of people, domestic relations are assured to be turbulent, perhaps even violent. If, on the other hand, no one is allowed to mock or humiliate anyone else, on pain of imprisonment, then people will keep their opinions behind closed doors and play nice in public, thereby ensuring general domestic tranquility.

Of course, any NRx theory of free speech must take into consideration the historical contingency of this Western, secular value. Expecting all non-Western immigrants to immediately and eagerly accept this value is an exercise in progressive retardation, and it is a lesson that, unfortunately, the French writers of Charlie Hebdo had to learn the hard way.

10 responses

  1. Pingback: Free Speech | Neoreactive

  2. It seems to me like a binary choice, at least in terms of sound policy. Either a society embraces free speech for all (as a principle) or it rejects free speech for all.

    I couldn’t disagree more. Those are not the only two options. Framing the question this way, in fact, suggests that “fairness” (a species of equality, an Enlightenment illusion), qua positive rights, is the only way to look at the question. It presumes pluralism, which I think NRx rejects crack out of the box. Which PRC rejects crack out of the box. PRC judges speech on it’s content and whether that content is deemed dangerous to the civic order. And I think NRx would view the question in almost precisely the same way.

    Pluralism is actually impossible and it is stupid to try it. It only creates the sort of quazi-religious monster about which you write. Speech can be used to destabilize a regime, and especially a pluralistic one. Once you have that out of the way, then it seems the problem of free speech solves itself.

    January 13, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    • I agree with this, although I would still say that, de facto, re-framing the question as “does this speech pose a danger to civic order?” means answering “no” to free speech. But you’re probably right that the NRx answer to free speech is to reject the concept outright. Information and ideas can circulate relatively freely in a society without resort to any notion of “free speech.”

      January 14, 2015 at 7:08 pm

  3. the above is binary choice non sequitur. there is no free speech in europe, nor was there at the satirical magazine

    Charlie Hebdo fired cartoonist for anti-Semitism in 2009

    As mocking young Mr Sarkozy converted to Judaism for money, Sine was accused of being Anti-Semitic and faced many preassures leading him to be fired from the weekly magazine

    France’s First Free-Speech Challenge After Charlie Hebdo
    Provocateur and “comedian” Dieudonné could face charges after posting a controversial statement on his Facebook account.

    Days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the ensuing violent hostage situations, Dieudonné is back in the news. On Monday, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced that it will investigate a (since-deleted) Facebook post in which Dieudonné wrote a short missive about the solidarity march in Paris, ending it with the words “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.”

    “Charlie Coulibaly” appears to be a mash-up referring to Charlie Hedbo, the satirical magazine targeted last week, and Amedy Coulibaly, the shooter who killed a policewoman last Thursday and died during a stand-off in a kosher supermarket in which four Jewish hostages were killed.

    January 13, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    • Right, but I was speaking hypothetically. It is a good question, whether or not human history provides any examples of a society which embraced a policy of truly free speech. Probably not, but I still think that Western Europe and America come close.

      January 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm

  4. Pingback: Free Speech | Reaction Times

  5. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2014/01/16) | The Reactivity Place

  6. It would seem that whatever NRx answer is made to free spech, it should not involve “rights”. Only the truth has rights. Everything else is *tolerated* to greater or lesser degrees. But these tolerations can and will shift.

    What I am espcially interested in developing is the idea that because of the internet, no one can truly complain that they lack free speech. Therefore, there is less need to maintain public square free speech as the framers envisioned being necessary. Thus, no-go zones should be created, by dividing up the polities, or by the existing too-large polity sanctioning these zones. Sort of a cultural apartheid.

    January 19, 2015 at 2:34 am

  7. Xopher Halftongue

    If you are in the King’s employ and enforcing the King’s Laws, you must tow the line of the Official Religion (to avoid entryism). For the regular citizen (especially the jesters), he should say anything he wants short of threatening other citizens or advocating the King’s overthrow (the purpose of this unfettered information flow is to minimize the danger of the Out-of-Context-Problem).

    As for non-Western immigrants having problems with Western Traditions, deport them. If they resist, shoot them.

    February 12, 2015 at 1:07 am

  8. viking

    Id guess DENRX free speech policy is free speech till we take over then -are you kidding?
    but Im noticing a pattern in your posts. Youre wanting universal truths, Ive lived my life thinking this way . maybe its the Jesuit education what little I had. but I always assumed reason was like physics if you thought hard enough you got the puzzle solved and could be sure of it. So though reason has led me to reaction from the right Im stunned when some reactionaries tell me that reason is leftist- as i said yeah i get the enlightenment thread but without reason we have no argument against liberalism modern or classical. but thats not to say that systems to manage HBD will conform to reason or consistency. we didnt evolve reasonably we evolved well reactivly and like all good conservatives we evolve slower than environments change. so while im sure you already get not every culture is suited to every race of people this would apply to free speech. as i said in an earlier post there once was a system of winks and nods. it wasnt only that one person may get away with more freedom of speech than another depending what he was saying but that speech was free except when it wasnt. The methods were various the right of kings, the discretion of prosecutors, the power of public opprobrium, the absolute property rights of employers landlords etc etc Englishman had free speech sort of. rigid rules allow for clever campaigns

    April 12, 2015 at 6:01 pm

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