Unionists the world over have been victims of the lack of free speech in societies run by and for the wealthy 1%.
Establishment forces dedicated to protecting this elite have been able to use their domination of the media and control over governments to target unions and left-wing movements often associated with the union movement for attack or, in worst case scenarios, their complete destruction.
Right-wing political forces, use any division in society they can to undermine and destroy our movements.
This includes all forms of racism, sexism, national chauvinism, or other forms of bigotry. These forces want us to hate and fear “others” rather than link arms to fights against all forms of inequality and
This is clearly true today in many parts of the world. These are dangerous trends and should be combatted.
Working people need to unite in our millions to mobilise political and social movements to combat and defeat these forces.
We cannot do that by asking our own elite establishment and the governments that represent them to ban the right to speak of bigots and racists.
This is a foolish and naive demand. The most cursory examination of history shows that trade unionists and political radicals in nearly all progressive struggles have had their right to public expression curtailed, and have fought strenuously, courageously and ingeniously to exercise that right. The proposition we should consent to the state having to censor at will is fundamentally flawed, relying on the liberal assumption that governments only become more progressive over time. To think the precedent to censor and suppress wouldn’t be ruthlessly used against progressive and radical voices on the left in the future is extremely naive.
State and institutional suppression of speech is also self-defeating. Right wing provocateurs rely on, with great success currently, official attempts to ban their events and propaganda. The resulting
publicity greatly magnifies their reach to a wider population generating, often sympathetic exposure in mainstream media that would simply not otherwise be available to them. Challenging and opposing
political views and movements is very different from suppressing them.
Challenging works if done successfully and can be harnessed to build progressive movements. Suppression, on the other hand, usually results in a false sense of achievement from the establishment as communication is driven underground and through new channels.
States, governments and ruling classes that exist in class-divided societies will always defend their social and political power against the interests of the big majority of humanity. They inevitable create
and defend the inequality that breeds the hate and fear that right-wing, racists and other bigots take their inspiration from.
Ultimately, in some societies that have reached crisis point, the elites will encourage fascist forces to take arms against the majority and physically destroy the labour movement and all democratic
institutions in society. If the labour movement has previously consented and even demanded the state have and use the power of censorship and suppression, it will be a devastating weapon for such a
The labour movement will need to take up that challenge with political, social and physical force on our part to defend democratic rights and social institutions like unions and political parties.
Being ready for that challenge is undermined by naive and miseducating demands for this state to do this job for us today or in the future when the danger could be multiplied many times over.