Free Speech Denialism Is Fascism In Action

By   /   July 12, 2018  /   74 Comments

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IT HAS BEEN DISPIRITING, this past week, to learn how little people who consider themselves leftists know about fascism.

IT HAS BEEN DISPIRITING, this past week, to learn how little people who consider themselves leftists know about fascism.

The cause of this ignorance is, I suspect, generational. Those who grew up at a time when fascism was strong, and who later confronted its armies in World War II, are now very few in number. Their children and grandchildren, lacking their elders’ direct experience of fascism and fascists, have allowed the meaning of the word, along with the historical context out of which it grew, to fade and blur. As the recent torrid exchanges between the defenders of free speech and the opponents of right-wing Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have made clear, the word “fascist” now denotes little more than conservative views provocatively expressed.

So torrid did these exchanges become that, by the middle of the week, the opponents of Southern and Molyneux were reduced to making the extraordinary assertion that “there’s no such thing as free speech”.

The argument advanced in support of this profoundly anti-democratic claim is as crude as it is curious.

“[F]reedom of expression … is a mirage. Real freedom is not what you say, it’s how you live. And we do not live free lives. The world is not free from poverty, is not free from climate change, is not free from fear. Most importantly, we are not free of capitalism, which profits handsomely from our enslavement.”

Exactly how a world without poverty, climate change, fear and capitalism could possibly be achieved without freedom of expression defies the imagination. Without the ability to speak, write, publish and broadcast freely, independent political discussion and organisation cease to exist. One certainly does not debate or organise politically in the totalitarian societies where the suppression of free speech holds sway, one simply parrots the party line and obeys without question the orders handed down from politburo or führer.

The most extraordinary (and, frankly, dangerous) claim of the free speech denialist quoted above is that what the members of the Free Speech Coalition (the group set up to raise funds for a judicial review of the Auckland mayor, Phil Goff’s, decision to deny Southern and Molyneux access to council owned meeting halls) actually wanted was “freedom from consequence”. What does that mean? Well, apparently, it means that if you “chat shit” you “get banged”.

No brown-shirted stormtrooper, sinking his jackboot into the ribs of the communist he has just knocked unconscious, could have summed-up the Nazi Party’s attitude to free speech any better!

“Let’s be clear;” continues our denialist, “fascism is not an intellectual exercise. It’s the epitome of evil, a cancer on humanity. My grandparents didn’t debate Nazis, they shot them.”

These sentences are extremely telling. Not on account of their content (which is entirely fallacious) but because of their tone. The denialist’s mode of expression, as anyone who has read the propaganda of Mussolini’s, Hitler’s and Franco’s followers will tell you, is quintessentially fascistic.

On display is the Fascist’s deep hostility towards intellectuality; his fondness for dividing the world into that which is “good” and that which is “evil”; his readiness to characterise the enemy as a form of disease (just as the Nazis likened the Jews to typhus) and, finally, there is the same eagerness to substitute violence for debate.

The most tragic aspect of the denialism quoted above is its author’s apparent ignorance of what his grandparents were actually fighting and dying for.

On the 6 January 1941, in his State of the Union speech to the United States Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt outlined the better world which he was determined to bring into existence when the war against tyranny, then raging, was eventually won:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbour—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium.

It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.”

For a free speech denialist to use the sacrifices made by the millions of men and women who fought and died for these goals, in order to justify and encourage the vitriolic verbal abuse of individuals who continue to stand for Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” is beyond despicable. It does, however, makes dispiritingly clear the sheer scale of the political ignorance and hatred against which all genuine defenders of human rights and freedoms continue to struggle.

Free speech denialism also confirms the observation that as the economic and social climate deteriorates, the normally linear configuration of the political spectrum becomes distorted. In effect, the spectrum curves around until the extremes of left and right are practically touching one another and the middle-ground is further away from them than ever. As the political static increases, the gap between left and right is closed by an arc of white-hot intensity. It is in the baleful brilliance this exchange that the events of the past week have been illuminated.

It has not been pretty.

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74 Comments

  1. john smith says:

    The sheer innocence of it all.
    Trotter, of course, would never see that socialism is State power and in history has always ended with totalitarianism and fascism.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Fine. Cut any and all farm subsidies and bail outs while you’re at it. Just don’t expect business to be bailed out all the time.

      • Jays says:

        Sounds fantastic! The US bailout of the banks was abhorrent.
        Also, reduce welfare payments to a maximum of 5 years of a person’s total lifespan and pay no more for beneficiaries who have children.
        Both of these situations are an anathema to me.

    • Nick J says:

      You have a narrow view of history and socialism John Smith. I agree that authoritarian socialism such as Marxist Leninism leads to a monolithic state with gulags. As does right wing authoritarianism such as fascism and nazism.

      Social democracy doesn’t of it’s own accord mean or necessarily end in statism, nor does a market economy. I’d suggest that the best we can achieve is a balance between these moderate positions versus extreme Left or Right. That requires free speech, and tolerance.

      • Cemetery Jones says:

        Well social democracy isn’t a form of socialism, it’s a form of liberalism. That’s why it doesn’t lead in the authoritarian direction

  2. Michael says:

    For my money some of these people should go out and buy a copy of The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert Paxton and read that.

    Don’t let them get you down Chris.

    There are real dangers out there but if the left in this country cannot mount a defense against a couple of opportunists looking to make a quick buck it is a worry.

    Though I start to wonder if it is easier to for some of your detractors to engage in these almost pre-scripted WWE type conflicts rather than sit down and face the amorphous beast that the is current economic , materialistic and consumerist system.

    • Alex says:

      Great analogy! Just like WWE where the lesser-known pretender deliberately positions themselves in opposition to the reigning champion.

  3. It needed saying. Silencing the expression of selected, repugnant views places the principle of freedom of speech in mortal peril. Human rights and international law have been developed, at tragic cost, through debate and consensus.

    The voicing of views that contradict the universal values that the world has agreed upon provides invaluable opportunity. Such views inspire challenge, which can provide younger generations with the opportunity to learn about the horrors of the past. Suppression of the voicing of opinion has been the requisite first step in the creation of every totalitarian regime. What could be easier than to start with silencing of voices that the majority of us find abhorrent?

  4. cleangreen says:

    Hi Chris,

    I will always support you as a comrade that is fair and a very free speaking invididual.

    For our mind to wander through our years of knpowledge to be recaptured and released again to eager eyes to read and hear the message can only be cultured in a truly free and unhindered mind.

    Once that mind is under control by others it cannot easily be in contact with our semi-conscious inspiration within us all.

    Killing or smoothering our mind and spirit is the end result and then we all become left on a slippery slope to mass loss of our individuaiity, so keep it up as you are a gifted mind.

    “Exactly how a world without poverty, climate change, fear and capitalism could possibly be achieved without freedom of expression defies the imagination.”

  5. Michelle says:

    ‘once that mind is under control by others’, sound like more pie in the sky talk cleangreen you might think he is fair minded but many others don’t and many others don’t have a voice and don’t have a means for their voice to be heard. Instead we have to listen to the dominant ones who control and owns the media and radio.

  6. dialey says:

    While the theory of free speech is all very noble and to be hailed as something to be protected, I have qualms. Like every other freedom, there need to be boundaries – as some wag has commented, your freedom ends at the end of my nose.

    While many on the left in this debate are for the most part honourable and principled, the same cannot necessarily be said of all who espouse unrestrained freedom of speech. As Herbert Hoover (tireless relief worker post WWI, then conservative Republican US president) noted “It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”

    Should freedom of speech override all other social contracts? “That I have the right to express myself freely at all times in all circumstances entails the idea that free speech is a ‘basic human right’ possessed by each individual, and, as such, trumps the interests of the society or group, including my neighbour.” Tom Stoppard

    • Sam Sam says:

      Laws are absolutely a thing, not a principled belief. If you believe something hard enough, it doesn’t change. And they’re based on centuries of case law and precedent, not beliefs. And it’s certainly not an “honourable” question.

      You’re right that it has ideological underpinnings, but the law also exists outside of ideology. It is a tangible object that does not require belief to sustain or to exist. And it does not ask the question of what is “right” or “wrong”; only what is legal.

      As I said in every other thread on this topic: What I’m specifically talking about are people who’s focus is not “Here is what the world is” but rather “Here is how the world should be, and you are evil if you disagree with me.”

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      I think NZ has it about right. Inciting violence against someone, advocating they be harmed, those sorts of things are a step too far. I like robust debate. I like to be able to use rude words. Hyperbole at times too. There’s a fair bit of area to play between being totally milquetoast and engaging in hate speech or advocating harm. But the threshold for banning or censoring should rightly be a very high bar.

    • If the dictators climbed to power on the ladder of free speech, why did they need private armies?
      Perhaps the answer is to grant free speech to anyone not already engaged in the murder of political opponents or not already in control of armies.
      That would rule out Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Isis etc but still leave us with a couple of harmless Canadians.

  7. Historian Pete says:

    In the seventies we fought for freedom of speech against elements that wanted to suppress it. And now those who understand little from whence we came want to suppress it on little more than an unconsidered whim. A great crisis is coming to Western civilization.Progressives will not bring about a new society by suppressing reactionary forces in a way that will then be used against themselves !!

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      Great post, Pete. It does seem to me that the left were the force for free speech in the 70s, and those were the people & events I grew up admiring. But now my generation is failing the test.

  8. dave says:

    This is bullshit Chris.
    Free speech is like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – the privilege of the rich capitalist ruling class.

    Fascists of course demand it, and use the state to back their freedom up.

    Of course they do because their whole existence is to cleanse capitalism of the filthy reds, aliens, queers and sick that they scapegoat as the cause of capitalisms destructive rule.

    The rise of the fascist movement in Europe started when those fearing socialist revolution in Germany mobilized to smash the revolutionary movement.

    They succeeded because workers were divided by social democracy with the illusions of a bourgeois democratic republic which could only offer then death or imprisonment.

    Nowhere in Germany, Italy or Spain did the fascist movement succumb to peaceful debate. They were defeated only by force of arms, unfortunately not the armed workers in the cause of socialism, but rival imperialist states defending their own spheres of influence.

    • Nick J says:

      Amongst the democratic Western powers, fascism was defeated by the workers who made common cause with their middle and upper classes. You will note that at the end of the war elections across Western Europe resulted in social democratic governments who built welfare states.
      Hardly a defeat for the working class, they took the initiative.

      Conversely in Eastern Europe the Soviet soldiers who bore the biggest burden in defeating fascism went back to a repressive state, to the gulag, to building paradise on earth for a nomenklatur of statist bureaucrats and privileged party members. Animal Farm, Orwell.

      It took the bravery of Solzhenitsyn and others to break the spell. Freedom of speech can’t be halted, it gets out. It broke that inhuman murderous system.

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      “They succeeded because workers were divided by social democracy with the illusions of a bourgeois democratic republic which could only offer then death or imprisonment.”

      They’ll never managed to come close to the 20th century Marxists – they managed to offer death, imprisonment, and hunger

    • Richard Christie says:

      “Fascists of course demand it, and use the state to back their freedom up.”

      I’m wondering if you therefore accept the flip side

      “Communists of course deny it and use the state to back their suppression up.”

      Without free speech both paradigms are intolerable.

    • Michael Wynd says:

      Actually, the Spanish fascists were never subdued by force of arms. They defeated the republicans/communists by force of arms and only gave up power when Franco died. The transition was peaceful.

    • dave says:

      Of course imperialist war is a defeat for workers.

      It dragoons them into war to fight one another to see which imperialist power wins. Workers die, bosses grab more profits.

      WW1 ended soon after the Russian revolution to allow the imperialists to gang up to invade and smash the workers state.

      They didn’t succeed but they did isolate Russia and allow a petty bourgeois Stalinist bureaucracy to usurp workers power.

      WW2 was not a war against fascism as all the imperialist powers had fascist movements. It was the German ruling class that was defeated not fascism. But not for long as German imperialism revived quickly.

      Fascism survives as long as capitalism does. Its capitalism ultimate weapon to stop a socialist revolution.

      Social democracy exists to appease workers demands and lock them into the parliamentary dead end. Anyway its paid for by workers labour which makes the profits and taxes which have then been taken back over decades of austerity.

      Now that capitalism is on its last legs and workers refuse to pay the price of going to war to kill one another to rescue it, we may see another socialist revolution, this time based on workers democracy.

      But for that to happen first we have to smash fascism again, and again.

      You obviously want us to sit quietly while our bosses preach peace and war while capitalism rots and the globe burns.

      No chance.

      • Nick J says:

        Dave you might want to consider that capitalism evolved out of human nature, it needed no prophets because it is merely a reflection of how humans operate. It’s not nice but neither are we.

        If you think that’s not nice you want to have a close look at Marxism, a utopian dream clothed in idealistic “logic”, based on victimhood, enmity and resentment. Like Islam it declares jihad on class enemies with no mercy given…sickening slaughter results. You support that? After all the evidence? The gulag? The night raids and shootings, signed off by the Party. Very sick.

  9. John Stroh says:

    I am certainly not eager to substitute violence for debate. But would it be ok to put a spike in the blimp over London?

    • Sam Sam says:

      Can you even reach that high?

      • Andy says:

        Looking at the pictures of the blimp, I would say yes. It is hardly at head height.

        I blame Health and Safety. Can’t even do a proper Trump blimp these days. What is the world coming to? PC gone mad. Our forefathers fought for our rights to make Trump Baby Balloons.

        Make Blimps Great Again!

  10. countryboy says:

    A precise and entirely well thought out observation of a trickster concept penned by an erudite writer with a formidable intelligence. No wonder there are morons here who have no idea what you mean, even though it’s here for careful study.
    Greedy, linear thinking fools like @ jays and john smith must be countenanced, like fascists, if , for no other reason than to be kept in plain sight so as the rest of us can keep on eye on the bastards.
    Right now, in neo liberal NZ/AO, there’s never been more fertile ground to plant ignorant ugliness.

  11. Samwise says:

    So this is what’s taxing the minds of progressives, freedom for bigots from overseas to spout their prejudice? So I gather there are no more social problems here to dwell on then, so we can count how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Great.

    Next time one of the bloggers here demands Israel withdraws it’s embassy, I fully expect people to oppose that suggestion.
    Free speech applies to zionists if it applies to neo-fascists.

  12. Keepcalmcarryon says:

    It is possible to become so self absorbed with ones own ideological purity that one ends up in the ridiculous position of helping those who would cause harm to others, evidently.
    Take a step back Chris.
    A similar curse afflicts those who indulge in identity politics, Puritanism ends up alienating the reasonable many, for an ideological position that may be hard to justify.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Blindly following ideology, like blindly following the war on drugs or paralysis every time rape is mentioned doesn’t satisfy the economics of it all. The results are knee-jerk reactions and policies coming down from ivory towers, where they think they just need to hit the serfs hard enough to make them stop starving. When you can enter New Zealand while being a chief instigator of the global financial crises or a massive fraudster like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ that actually kill and harms people but be denied entry for some utterances that are no where near as sophisticated as the latter, there’s a problem. I’d be fine with the inept interpretation of of finance and immigration law if we had some other option to kick the blame up the chain, offering retraining, promotion, demotion or redundancy in exchange for giving up the next person in the hierarchy. Perhaps we could eventually get someone to sell out the higher-ups and actually damage the autocrats instead of demonising impoverished citizens who are less than a dime-a-dozen to autocrats. There will always be more people poor than rich, and there will always be people desperate or greedy enough to commit illegal acts. But we don’t solve the problem by treating the final symptoms over and over without trying a different cure.

  13. Lee says:

    As Karl Popper pointed out, a tolerant society has no obligation to tolerate the intolerant, especially when the intolerant are in a position to get their own way. Your whole argument falls down because of this, Chris.

    If these idiots were just howling at the moon we wouldn’t care, but the movement they represent has now taken political power in quite a few countries, so it’s not just an academic exercise any more. The rights of law abiding minorities to live their lives unmolested matter more than the rights of neo-nazis to spread hate. End of discussion.

    • Psycho Milt says:

      Given that your argument applies just as well to communists as it does to fascists, you just declared “End of discussion” with a demand to ban the expression of communist beliefs. Did you really intend to do that?

    • Lee, the intolerant in Popper’s day had private armies and murdered political opponents – also, they didn’t answer dissidents at their Q&A sessions but had them beaten up (so were much closer to deplatformers than free speech advocates).

      Free speech, though it may offend, isn’t the right to offend – it’s the listener’s right not to be lied to. If an alt-right speaker reports a fact that our media is too timid to report, then freedom of speech is justified, and we have to ask, why is it necessary to listen to someone who offends us to hear the truth?

  14. Rickoshay says:

    look at all the welfare bashers coming out of the woodwork, on the internet we call THEM all Trolls, communism failed miserably, too much scope for individual abuse from the system, capitalism is in its death throes, too much scope for abuse bye individuals, Socialism has and does work, because its a combination of both systems, voting rights being the key, 1 man or woman one vote, no outside financing of political partys, everybody thinks they are Right and everybody else is wrong, thats the human condition….you should listen to all opposing views, thats how you find out what the enemy is planning

    • Andrea says:

      It’s the frequency of that one vote per person that is a bit problematic.

      Recent NZ history shows why. And the stupidity of continuing with a system that was designed to keep the oiks away from the levers of power aka parliament.

      Parties flash us vague hooha called manifestos. Look good. Vote for them.

      They arrive on the Treasury benches and the manifesto copies are corner-punched, threaded with string like an old-time Sears Roebuck catalogue, and do duty in the loo until the next edition.

      What actually happens – yep. We know that bit. And our ‘one person, one vote’ has expired for the next three years.
      Which is more of a sop and lie than anything like democracy.

      If people want to spend their money and time travelling about to put their views abroad – let them until they start inciting the few who turned up to listen and nod to carry out illegal actions. If that incitement is never offered – leave them alone. They are not the problem. That lies deeper.

      Nor is it free speech that’s the problem. Just words and gone with the passing of time.

      It’s the subsequent actions by people who are already here in OUR midst. Homegrown haters who talk among themselves and to themselves, and no ban on the use of public places is ever going to crack that. The Dark Web connects the abhorent to the unspeakable regardless. Prohibition is merely proof that there IS conspiracy and oppression.

      ‘Whatever you say say nothing when you talk about you know what…’ Word and beliefs and stories get around regardless, for ill or good. (Ask the Kim regime – all those defectors telling of their experiences as an antidote to the home-grown propaganda.)

      Keep going, Chris. See if we can get below the simplistic kneejerks. Long overdue.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Any campaign manager will tell you we’ve never had one vote per person. Some votes are over represented in our legislative frame work.

  15. Archonblatter says:

    Free speech has become a chimera but this does not mean that it shouldn’t be ferociously fought for. Why this is the case is cause for debate as is the question of why the left no longer knows whether it is Arthur or Martha. These are are questions which Te Reo Putake of ‘The Standard’ could contemplate. In our world of neo liberalism, financial globalism and privatisation of all and everything the left and right have also become chimeras. Parts of a shadow play which seeks to polarise populations into camps of invective spewing nincompoops. This is aided by the manipulation of social media and some blog sites.
    ‘The Closing of the American Mind’ was written years ago as was Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals.’ Neither the left nor the right now would have use for such books or the discussion of these any more than either would want a discussion on any book by Alfred McCoy or J.M.N. Jeffries’ ‘Palestine: the Reality. The Inside Story of the Balfour Declaration’ first published in 1939 and never heard of again until last year, or anything by great journalists of the past like the Australian Wilfred G. Burchett or I.F. Stone who wrote ‘The Hidden History of the Korean War.’
    Serious writers these days are published on the internet but no longer in the MSM and newspapers like ‘The Star’ now belong to a distant, forgotten world. Roll on the pig sty of ‘self expression.’

  16. Jenny says:

    Kia ora Chris, In the face of wide criticism, I see that you have doubled down on your support for free speech for fascists. You have arrogantly dismissed Te Reo Putake’s argument as “entirely fallacious”. Did you actually read it? Te Reo Putake’s post on this issue over at The Standard was brilliant. I wanted to tell him myself just how brilliant I thought his post was. But I am on some sort of moderation over there. Which is weird, doubly so because I have had a number of friends on my facebook page telling me that they also have been banned or moderated, and this is the weirdest part, get this, by those making the pitch in support of free speech for fascists. Am I the only one who can see the rich irony in this?

    At first I didn’t read TRP’s post because the headline put me off.

    “There is no such thing as Free Speech”

    Far too edgy a title I thought.

    After all who the hell could really be against free speech?

    But then I read his post and realised the sheer brilliance, of the attention grabbing headline, and how TRP tied up the ends of the point he was trying to in the text. And I came to the realisation that I agree with him wholeheartedly, there can be no real free speech in an unequal society.

    When ever do we get to hear the voices of the Sole parent, or the unemployed, or the homeless, or the working poor, the ripped off migrant worker, the desperate refugee, all those in incarcerated in our prisons, and all of the many others dis-empowered and marginalised in our society? (No wonder so many them don’t vote).

    When do we get to hear the voice of the gay man beaten in an ally by the sort of goons leaving the sort of meeting you want to bring here?

    In particular whenever do we get to hear the voices of those victimised by the fascists that you want to give a hearing to?

    It’s only when the lifeless bodies of their children wash up on the shores of the Medittereum do they get to bear mute testament.

    You might accuse me of being over dramatic, Chris.

    Fascism is real and it stalks our world

    The fascist Lauren Southern that you want to give a platform to has been actively involved in raising money and with other fascist groups has put to sea on the Mediterraneum to attempt to block the humanitarian efforts to rescue those desperately fleeing the real fascists stalking our world right now.

    https://www.goalglobal.org/stories/post/what-are-the-caesar-photographs

    It may be alright for you Chris to lecture the rest of us about free speech, from your privileged position in the media, where you have enjoyed more free speech than the vast majority of the rest of us will ever know, and from where you argue that fascists should have the same rights as you.

    You are like a privileged millionaire lecturing the rest of us on how to spend our money. And like the rich millionaire who can’t understand his privilege, you are so used to your privileged position in the media where your words and opinions are widely broadcast, that you can’t understand how privileged you are and so find yourself lining up with other privileged white men to defend the rights of fascists.

    The kind of freedom you and your new mates champion is the gory freedom of free foxes in a free chicken run.

    • Sam Sam says:

      I’m not sure what subject Chris Trotter is a doctor in but he is one and there for is accredited with knowing a little bit more than you or I. I’v not thought about doctorates having meet many in my life, both academics, political, military and corporate leaders. Having been under several political leaders Chris Trotter authors many blogs and being interested in leadership kiwi style, one day I decided to see what’s this all about. So I looked them up on google where there’s pages and pages, just to review or summarise them would take me an hour if not more so I’ll just try and incapsulate what I think the authors of The Daily Blog think they all mean when they talk about free speech.

      It is the ability the convince and persuade people to follow a course of action which you believe is good for them and will achieve something which they desire. There’s different kinds of free speech. One is when you’re in a hierarchy and have to be supported or elected. That’s a different type of free speech. The other kind of free speech is when you’ve got a really good idea, you’ve thought it over, it’s do able so when you expose others to new ideas people agree and you’ve changed a course of action, hopefully for the better.

      Free speech varies with time and circumstance and the subject I know best is what constitutes your fav colonisation studies book. If you read what’s in present day commercial media you will read that the government has leadership issues and free speech is a problem. There is no Noam Chomsky, there is no Chris Hedges, there is no Hone Harawira. In my life they are great men. As for great woman, well I’d pick there wives. But the most impressionable decisions are made by political and economic leaders who decide the post Treaty Settlement New Zealand.

      So what do they all have in common. They have the ability to communicate, most of all Noam Chomsky. I heard him on RNZ when the Berlin Wall was looking like it was going to come down. I heard him and it was rousing, defiant and nourishing. I think it inspired many listeners and bought political leaders time and inspired Wall Street to even greater heights and so we won the Cold War, bought time, Al Queada attacked the twin towers, bought America back into the Cold War and the rest is history.

      The one I would admire most after Chomsky is Chris Hedges. As the Soviet Union ran down this American stayed to cover it all and would go on to right many insightful books of his long stay as an American Journalist in the Soviet Union. Went to Kosovo, Vietnam, inspired others and broadcast free speech. But he was never an American spook. He is the most difficult, uncontrollable journalist the White House has ever had to deal with.

      In New Zealand I lived through turbulent times. It was sink or swim whether the government budget was balanced or not. But by 2007 when I took off over seas that is not now the issue. The issue is can New Zealand continue to upgrade its people, educate, train, innovate, upgrade its economy, makeover itself and have a leadership that inspire a younger generation no longer deprived, widely traveled, finding comfort in homes, hungry for knowledge of the outside world but we must put fire in there bellies to achieve. That requires a different leadership, it requires free speech, it requires freedoms of expression. As Jordan Peterson famously said “don’t interrupt them while they’re skateboarding.” I can’t do it, it’s up to the next generation.

      So it is with every country as you see in Canada there’s Prime Minister Justine Trudeau Junior getting stung by his own free speech amendments allowing sexual assault allegations to be heard with out evidence. Now Junior has to figure out how to say he didn’t do it. So they’ve decided to be a divided people. Does it reflect the will of the Canadian people, probably yes because I think they’re some what uneasy being 75% dependant on trade with the U.S. and the kind of relationship that will develop between Canada and China as China continues its phenomenal growth and intolerance of small differences and in 20 to 30 years will over take the U.S both technologically and militarily.

      So leadership and free speech depends on time, place, circumstances, the needs of the people and a group of leaders or a leader that is able to articulate what he thinks will be good for them and bring them forward. What you want I don’t know but I think you could apply what I’v said, look at the circumstances, look at the possibilities and say with in this frame work what can be achieved for the maximum benefit of the people of New Zealand.

    • dave says:

      Well spoken Jenny!

    • Andy says:

      The speakers are not fascists.
      Unfortunately, when the talk goes ahead, everyone will realise this and the detractors will look like idiots

    • Psycho Milt says:

      Te Reo Putake’s post on this issue over at The Standard was brilliant.

      Brilliant satire, perhaps. Trotter’s description of the arguments in it as “entirely fallacious” is accurate.

      The arguments made are as follows:

      1. Trotter’s support for free speech allies him with very unpleasant people (Brash et al), therefore he must be wrong. That’s a fallacious argument, built on the logical fallacy guilt by association.

      2. The world isn’t free of poverty and some other bad things, therefore it’s OK if we fail to provide freedom of speech. That’s a fallacious argument, a variation on the logical fallacy Nirvana fallacy.

      3. Fascism is evil; evil must be opposed; therefore we must deny fascists freedom of speech. This is his least-obviously-fallacious argument and is one that’s proven very popular among left-wingers arguing against freedom of speech. However, it is fallacious. I’m reluctant to call it an example of the logical fallacy false premise, because that would suggest I don’t agree fascism is evil, but the argument really is a variety of the false premise fallacy.

      The “false” part is that what’s “evil” isn’t an objective fact, it’s in the eye of the beholder. For example, to the people in Da’Esh, atheists are “evil” and fascists had the right idea when it came to how to deal with Jews. There are many people in NZ who consider communism to be “evil.” It’s a matter of opinion, and if the main premise of your argument is a matter of opinion, it’s not an argument but a rhetorical device. Readers may be sucked in to imagining it’s an argument, but it really isn’t one, just propaganda.

    • Jenny says:

      How can there be equality, or opinion in an unequal society.

      political commentator Chris Trotter, a supporter of Free Speech Coalition, said the group had reached its $50,000 funding target in less than 24 hours.

      Where would environmental, anti-war, beneficiary or workers groups get $50 grand overnight to promote their message?

      No where.

      But the rich will reach into their pockets to support the rights of fascists to spread their filth no question.

      Talk about a false equivalency Chris.

      Just as Hitler received the support of the millionaire class, the rich and privileged know where to give their financial support, and its not to the oppressed and downtrodden that they made their millions out of but the open supporters of oppression and fascism.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/105377682/Free-speech-group-raises-50k-to-challenge-Auckland-Council-over-far-Right-speaker-ban

      • Sam Sam says:

        The deep-state is allowed to hide behind mirrors and be the inquisitor of the state and its people. We can not allow wood be foreigners to hide behind venues and be our inquisitors. last wave of Fijian coups brought about censorship of the media. We are the the best of neighbours and we did not riot and they do not riot when we have troubles so we are resilient enough to be trusted with free speech. But if wood be foreign social media celebrities wish to be our inquisitors and do not abide by standard conditions for entry into and safe travels around New Zealand then they should not be allowed. But as I say. The crowds should be the judge of that and not some higher ups in ivory towers.

  17. esoteric pineapples says:

    I’m with you Chris Trotter, and like you, I feel on the outside and exposed for daring to argue that letting everyone have their say is far less dangerous than some section of society – from the left or the right – deciding what is allowable. With global communication through the Internet, this is one of the great debates of our time. Here are a couple of the things that need to be considered:

    If the left ban the right from speaking, when the right get their turn they will be ten times worse and can thank the left for their empowerment.

    Literally billions of people on this planet right now live in societies where speech is censored and in all cases, they are censored by the government, not by a bunch of individuals with differing views.

  18. […] is back on the agenda with a vengeance. Not merely because two Canadian ‘alt-right’ activists want to spread their message in Aotearoa. Of course ‘alt-right’ is a euphemism for […]

  19. Keepcalmcarryon says:

    “First they came for the fascists”

  20. Andy says:

    Chris Trotter,
    I salute you Sir. The way forward in society is to have an open and frank discussion about all our concerns and our differences

    We need to stop with the labelling and stereotyping (which I am guilty of too, I confess)

    The world isn’t about right vs left. Society isn’t a soccer match

  21. Mjolnir says:

    “Free speech deniers”?

    So that’s how little you think of people who disagree with you, Mr Trotter? You equate others on the Left with climate change deniers because they don’t share your opinions?

    Regrettable, to put it mildly, Mr Trotter.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Some times things don’t come with instructions but have to be assembled anyway. I mean, we are dealing with the magnificence of The Standard here, constantly spewing cancerous levels of fear and outrage for clicks, likes, comments. Difficult having dialogue with users of that platform.

    • LeGrandeFromage says:

      Did it smart as much when you stole it from “holocaust deniers” and plastered it on catastrophic anthropogenic climate change skeptics?

    • Psycho Milt says:

      “Free speech deniers?”

      Er, yes. For example, the post he was responding to is titled “There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech,” which sounds like a pretty unequivocal denial to me. Others haven’t gone that far, but nevertheless argue that freedom of speech shouldn’t be extended to people whose views they find offensive, which amounts to the same thing. The description is accurate.

  22. off white says:

    Well I guess it’s welcome to the ‘alt right’ then Chris. I’ll be looking forward to your next piece. Why I left the left? Hashtag walk away?
    I see auckland peace action has renamed the free speech coalition to the hate speech coalition. What’s that old saying? – in the future the fascists will call themselves anti fascists.

    • Andy says:

      Good point. David Horowitz’s musings on why he left the left and became a conservative make good reading. I recommend Radical Son for starters

      By the way, I am no fan of the Alt Right. They are a toxic blend of racism and ethno-nationalism

      Conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals generally held in low regard by the Alt Right, using derogatory terms like “cuck” and “cuckservative”

  23. Andy says:

    This is Stefan Molyneux on Youtube addressing this very issue.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1bE-seH01k

  24. Andrew says:

    100% Chris – stand by your principles. They’re correct.

    A classic example of the thing you’re talking about is to be found here on the Daily Blog.

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2018/07/14/guest-blog-dave-brownz-how-marxists-fight-fascism-in-aotearoa/

    What on Earth are these little clowns thinking? Do they know so little that they don’t realize they’re mimicking Hitler’s Brown Shirts in the 1930’s?

    Don’t they teach history in school anymore?

    • Andy says:

      I actually think that they are mimicking Dad’s Army.

      Come on guys and gals of the left. Please up your game

    • D'Esterre says:

      Andrew: “Don’t they teach history in school anymore?”

      No. Just – as we used to say many years ago – land rights for gay whales.

      I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised; in that regard, the rot set in long ago. From what I’ve heard, some universities are particularly bad. Probably subjective views, but even so…

      I read most of that post to which you linked: it’s appalling. But in the interests of free speech and all that, the author is within his rights to put it out there.

  25. Janio says:

    Voltaire is said to have said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This was raised in a Political Science tutorial as an important right. Our professor invited us to consider it as a shallow idea compared with ideas of philosophers like Marx who consider the complexities of our society. He was Prof.K.J Scott, not a Marxist just a brilliant political philosopher. What a shame Chris, you didn’t get the benefit of an education under him at Victoria University of Wellington. (I think Jenny & Dave with their deeper understanding of what is at stake in this blog, would have gone to the top of the class.)

    The word ‘facism’ is often used loosely, and many of us don’t understand it. Although Chris can give an historical context for its use, he doesn’t share his definition of it with us. He knows enough to berate those who use it to deny free speech. Hold it, I thought what was at issue was the Canadian pair who are encouraging migrants to drown in the Mediterranean, were denied a council venue NOT entry to NZ. And who is Chris aligned with to sob about free speech in relation to this? – a bunch of business people/capitalists who are using it as an opportunity to attack the left. It’s always important to check who is aligning with who – a telling indication of what’s really going on.

    It irritates me that so many of you hold Chris in high regard because he is learned about history and a doctor as well. He must be right. You must be a lot of dillberries. We all need to think critically and not defer to those we think of as a higher authority on historical and political matters. I have a doctorate but does that automatically make me an expert on what I rant about? No way!

    • Historian Pete says:

      Let’s have a brief look at what is happening with free speech around the Western world:
      1.The Western Alliance/U.S.Empire MSM are marching in lockstep putting out a false narrative about their continuous war activities. Any alternative narratives are under threat.
      2.The MSM represent the interests of the Oligarchs and 1%.
      3.The Democratic Party in the U.S is completely undemocratic and is the Bitch of the 1%.Right wing Antifa battle rightwing Trump supporters.The only difference between them is identify politics : They all support the U.S Fascist Empire.
      4.The BDS movement is being prevented in holding meetings by tactics similar to Phil Geoffs. Security concerns are the favourite , after Zionist neo-fascist elements threaten violence if the meeting goes ahead. To address the security concerns a very large deposit is demanded, beyond the means of the BDS movement.
      5.In N.Z. we have some neo fascist pseudo leftists who think it is smart to forcibly deny right wing elements from speaking.
      6. It does not occur to these cerebally challenged boffins that this is exactly what the right wants the left to do, so they can raise the spectre of the Red guards of Mao’s China, or the Red Terror of the Siberian Gulags.
      7.Violence breeds violence, so it is not surprising that this element has already crossed the line, in attacking other leftwing protesters who deviate from their party line.
      8. I know this to be true because I have personally witnessed it in Auckland on May 2, 2017 at a “peace”rally.
      9.Free speech, which is being massively threatened by the right as we speak, is the lifeblood of any attempt to change course to build a sustainable equitiable new society. Meddle with it at your peril!!!

  26. Jenny says:

    I see Chris the Fascist Speech Coalition you are a member of has managed to raise over $50 thousand within a few days.

    This again emphasises my point that there can be no equal rights in an unequal society. Whenever have Maori or beneficiary of workers rights groups been able to attract this sort of financial backing?

    I can tell you in one word. Never.

    But the rich are happy to empty their pockets to fund a court case to let fascists have a hearing.

    So much for the level playing field that disconnected from reality intellectuals like yourself and Right Wing ‘One Law For All’ Hobsons’ Pledge racists are always banging on about.

  27. Jenny says:

    Hey Chris were you at the Free Speech Rally at Aotea Square yesterday?

    I saw that your name was not on the official speakers list.

    SPEAKERS
    – Jordan William, Free Speech Coalition
    – Stephen Berry, of ACT
    – Elliot Ilikei, deputy leader of New Conservative
    – Donald McKenzie
    – Chris Newman
    – Dieuwe de Boer

    Did they ask you to speak?

    Did you decline?

    Will you be speaking next time?

    Were you even there, or were you there just in thought only?

  28. […] issue has split the left. For example, some emphasise the importance of offering counter-arguments to right wing speech, while others tell […]

  29. Penny Bright says:

    I defy anyone to categorise me as ‘right wing’ or ‘racist’.

    Politically, I’m ferociously independent and work on an ‘issue by issue’ basis.

    The reason why I support the Free Speech Coalition and the Judicial Review, is because I do NOT accept that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has the lawful authority to deny access to Auckland Council facilities.

    WHO IS NEXT?

    Penny Bright

    • SPC says:

      Did the Mayor actually do so?

      His public comment came after the decision was made by those in charge of venues, based on the (existing) rules applying for use of them.

  30. John Stroh says:

    The commentary on this article is as valuable a thought stimulant as the article itself. I must try and explain the yearning I had to put a spike up the blimp that flew over the Houses of Parliament.

    As Madeleine Albright cogently argues, Fascism is a method, a political way of behaving, rather than an ideology. What we are witnessing in America today is the fully-fledged methodical roll-out of Authoritarianism by Fascist means. We cannot say that America and its institutions of Government are Totalitarian – yet; but we can say that the methods deployed by the current US Administration are wholly Fascist – and some people apparently like that.

    Of course, we must continue to uphold the values of free speech around ideology, but we have the ultimately important responsibility to condemn and shut down Fascist behaviour. We also have our own little piles of specimen with fascist inclinations lurking in the Beehave.

  31. stru says:

    Oh please…i think i am grown up enough to decide if i want to hear an ‘extremist’ at either end of the political spectrum, i do NOT need anyone to filter them out for me. A bigot is someone who thinks no one should have an alternative view, so Goff and his cronies are really just a bunch of bigots. I’d like to hear these people and what they have to say thanks…that’s my right.

  32. Jeff Foley Jeff Foley says:

    The trouble with the idea of free speech, is that so few are capable of delivering to the responsibility of it.

    Though we may have a right to our opinions, none of us, no-one has a right to be wrong. Such a right would completely undermine our public education institutions. If people have a right to be wrong, then the role of public education would reduce to nothing more than the moulding of our children into useful cogs for the military, and industry. There could be no greater learning and understanding, no creative achievement, and together we could not make progress towards any improved future.

    No-one has a right to be wrong, … and so no-one has a right to lie and cheat, or mislead and delude, or deceive and con, or to carelessly stir up trouble and strife. Rather, as reasonable and rational members of a healthy society, we each have a civic duty-of-care to stand-up those amongst us who are wrong, those that are false prophets and sowers of discord, and to correct them; and they have a civic duty to stand corrected. The great responsibility of free speech, then, is the reason and rationale necessary in recognising right from wrong in the first place – surely an exercise of our very best intentions and goodwill.

    It is your mistake, Chris Trotter, to equate the civic management of false prophets and sowers of discord, to the undermining of free speech: especially when it is those same liars and cheats and troublemakers that are doing all the damage.

  33. Marc says:

    ‘The left’ busy fighting each other again, about the interpretation of details, as usual. Free speech means just that, yes, there may be caveats, but if you are fearful of hate speech and what else there may be, and insecure or incompetent to reply properly, then you have already lost the battle.

    Maybe you need up-skilling and more education to stand your grounds and argue, rather than blame and attack, while you are mostly so isolated in this crap society, and struggling to get any voice or traction.

    I presume most commenting here are well over their fifties and sixties, not connected to the younger generation anyway, which does not give a flying shit f*** about all this excitement or ‘outrage’.