Civil War for Truth: Political Division
Changing Power Dynamics – Left and Right
Politics have changed over the last 30+ years and people haven’t updated their model. In the 20th century, the conservatives tend to be the people calling for censorship, on topics of sex, comedy, or profanity. While comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested and persecuted in the 1960s for his comedy, George Carlin broke this wall with his Seven Dirty Words in the 1970s. But censorship is still prominent in American television.
But the sides of power changed. Today, authoritarian censorship comes from the extreme left. Now, that they have cultural control, they apply censorship on books or standup comedy. The sad part is that they believe they are the good ones.
Four years of bombing kids in the middle east while hollowing out America’s economy for the benefit of weapons contractors, Wall Street, and predatory transnational corporations. All hail the resistance. Just a hunch, but if your political consensus is shared and amplified by every major cultural institution, establishment media empire, and billionaire tech oligarch in the world, maybe, just maybe, call me crazy but, maybe you’re not the resistance?1
I, personally, don’t like either side censoring content or name-calling critics. I want neither religion nor CRT taught in school. I don’t want conservatives to censor porn or progressives to remove books critical of gender dysphoria. But should I decide which side does more harm, I would choose the progressive left. If conservatives go uncontrolled, stagnation is the result. This is bad, but not harmful. If progressives go uncontrolled, society-destroying things can happen.
Not just has the power switched, but the terms for the Left and the Right don’t fit more to their original meanings. The origins of these terms lie in the French Revolution of 1798. Supporters of the king at the National Assembly stood to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution stood to his left.2 Those terms were used to describe the Right as people who stand for tradition, order, hierarchy, or conservative values and the Left as people who want liberty, equality, liberalism, or progressivism.
The classical definition of a left person 20 years ago was a person fighting for workers’ rights, unions, equality, and similar goals. The Left of today couldn’t be further away from these values, which is the reason they get called Progressives or Leftists. Today the Left is the upper-middle-class and upper-class, the people in power, the notebook elites, who are called Gauche caviar (“Caviar left”) in France. This can be observed in how the different economic classes vote in Western countries. Because the Left abandoned the middle and lower class, they tend to vote more for populist parties if there is no alternative.
Most parties in Germany moved further left in the last 15 years, leaving a new spot for the populist party AfD (Alternative for Germany). For classic liberals, there is barely an option to vote for. The Christian party CDU/CSU couldn’t have moved further away from Christian values, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the green party get mostly voted by progressives. At the last election, the winning party SPD barely reached 25% of the votes and no longer represents the majority of the people. Even together with the Green party, they didn’t reach an electoral majority, and they needed the support of the economic liberal party FDP. The coalition nearly broke at the vote for mandatory vaccinations, and many experts don’t think it will last the legislative period. The SPD and Green party were strongly in favor of mandatory vaccination, but the liberal party remembered that this would violate their liberal values and voted against the bill.
And it doesn’t look better in other European countries. Emmanuel Macron faces a serious crisis of legitimacy, the voter turnout for the first round of parliamentary elections was just 47%. People despise his authoritarian leadership.
Macron’s electoral support is dwindling. He has been deserted by the young and professionals who have voted for the left, the workers who have voted for the far right, and the traditionalists who cling on to the old right. His electorate now mainly comprises the retired and the wealthy.3
People stop following their leaders and will bring their opinions to the streets rather than the ballot box. This is what Mary Woods was talking about in her speech at Davos.
By a classical definition of left/right, the sides have switched on many issues in reality. But even historically, the definition doesn’t make any sense. Being right is used as a derogatory term, comparable with being a Nazi and not a conservative. But even that is debatable, as the Nazi Party, the NSDAP, which is usually termed a far-right party is called “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei“ (National Socialist German Party). And looking at their agenda in detail, it wasn’t that different from the Communist party except for the definition of the “In-Group”. In reality,
Fascism is a form of Socialism. (…) Fascists are Socialists with a national identity.4
Even the better idea of the Political Compass which defines two-axis, an economic left/right axis, and a social authoritarian/libertarian axis, is still a simplification. Many political parties in Western Democracies find themselves in the Authoritarian right sector, which is a tragedy for somebody like me in the Libertarian left sector.
I think, really, Socialism comes from the heart, right? We all wanna be Socialists. Capitalism comes from the head because there are always cheaters in any system, and there is an incentive in any system. So, when you’re young, if you’re not Socialist, you have no heart, when you’re older and you’re not a capitalist you have no head, right? You haven’t thought it through. So, I understand where it comes from.
I always liked Nassim Taleb’s take on this:With my family, I’m a Communist. With my close friends, I’m a Socialist. At the state level of politics, I’m a Democrat. At higher levels, I’m a Republican, and at the federal levels, I’m a Libertarian.
So, basically, the larger the group of people you have massed together, who have different interests, the less trust there is, the more cheating there is, the better the incentives have to be aligned, the better the system has to work, the more you are towards capitalism. The smaller the group you’re in, you’re in a Kibbutz, you are in a commune, you’re in your house, you’re in your tribe, by all means, be a Socialist.
With my aunts, with my brother, with my cousins, with my uncles, my mom, my family … I’m a Socialist. That’s the right way to live a loving, happy, integrated life. But when you’re dealing with strangers, you wanna be a real Socialist? Great, open all your doors and windows tomorrow. Please, everybody, come and take what you want. See how that works out.5
I wish more people would take over Nassim Taleb’s ideas and be less binary in their political choices.
I think it is time to dismiss those terms as oversimplified labels to discredit ideas you don’t like and instead look at each topic individually and then define a standpoint as conservative/traditional or progressive/modern. You need both sides to negotiate a contract, or society will tumble into tyranny and chaos.
I’m a free speech absolutist as far as possible, following the definition of free speech by John Stuart Mill. I live in Germany, which means we have more limited speech than the USA due to our history, but even free speech in the USA has exceptions.
But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.6
Freedom of speech can only be applied to everybody with the same rules. Just because you don’t like some person’s speech or think it’s hateful, is not a reason. Hate is, as truth, not objective and what one person finds hateful, doesn’t bother the other. And the exceptions we have in most Western countries are already good enough.
If you are only for free speech, if it’s your speech, you are not for free speech. Every dictator in history allowed speech he liked. The African dictator Idi Amin said:
You have freedom of speech. It is freedom after speech that I cannot guarantee.
If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.
There is no need for the protection of free speech for mainstream views. Because, as Mick Hume writes,
in the end, it is only those views deemed too extreme or offensive that need defending on free-speech grounds.7
Without free speech there is no possibility to find common ground, there is no discussion, and conflicts can’t be resolved without violence. Free speech is the only tool we have to stay on a balanced ground between tradition and progress. There is an evolutionary reason people come with different temperaments, and it is no accident people tend to get more conservative with age. Old people have lived a long life and learned what works and what does not, and want to preserve these learnings for the next generation. Progressive new ideas are also needed, to prevent society to stagnate or dying out, if the external conditions change. But every new idea needs to be checked and tested. That is what free speech is for.
If freedom of speech is taken away, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you need to listen. This is the most ridiculous counterargument which always comes up to attack free speech advocates that block impolite people. If I mute or block your speech for me, I don’t prevent you from reaching others. Free speech is not made to make the most extreme ends change their mind, but to allow the silent majority to listen and make up their minds.
Freedom of Speech is equivalent to “Freedom of Reach”. If you prevent a person from speaking on famous social media platforms with the argument, you can do this somewhere else, it is violating free speech. This doesn’t mean anybody needs to listen.
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay define four rules of free speech.8
- The Freedom to Speak – Every person can utter all their ideas without obstruction or punishment.
- The Freedom to Listen – Every person can listen to all ideas without obstruction or punishment.
- The Freedom not to Speak – No person can be forced to share their ideas or to talk to any person.
- The Freedom not to Listen – No person can be forced to listen to ideas or any person.
The freedom to speak without obstruction includes all things used by social media to limit the reach of people, be it throttling, de-ranking, shadow-banning, deplatforming, or similar tactics. It means nobody needs to worry somebody is coming for their job, friends, or life when they speak up.
The freedom to listen includes that ideas don’t get hidden or the access to them get obstructed in any matter, be it with warning labels, hiding the ideas, or making them “adult-only” (even though they don’t violate any youth law).
The freedom not to speak includes that people can stay silent if they wish, and nobody can force you to take positions. Nobody has to tell you to put gender pronouns in your email or profile, nobody has to tell you to “bow a knee” or proclaim “silence is violence.”
The freedom not to listen includes that a person can mute or block any person they want to avoid interacting with.
Bad ideas can be defeated only with good ideas, blocking them doesn’t make them go away, they go somewhere else, somewhere hidden. The result might be more extreme ideas if they go unchallenged in echo chambers. We want bad ideas out in the open to expose them to the light of truth. If they can’t defend their position, they lose and go away. Blocking them makes them more attractive.
The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.9
If we don’t apply Freedom of Speech equally, we need an arbiter of truth. But there is no such thing as objective truth, and the last thing we want is to give this power to the state. Things change quickly and the regulations and censorship you cheered for because they benefited your side, might be used against you in the next election cycle.
This realization came as a surprise to many people when Elon Musk recently tried to buy Twitter. The whining was huge. For weeks, all progressive media outlets wrote hit pieces on Musk. The idea that a funny, libertarian centrist, that stands for free speech, wants to open source the ranking algorithm of Twitter to make the company more transparent, and introduce encryption for direct messages scared the heck out of these authoritarians.
For years conservatives and centrists had to listen to the argument
It’s a private company, if you don’t like it, build your own. After removing Donald Trump from Twitter, people moved to Parler. Then Google and Apple removed the app from their stores.
If you don’t like it, build your own app store. People started using the app on the web. Amazon decided to remove the AWS web servers the platform was hosted on.
If you don’t like it, build your own servers.
Nobody ever complained that billionaires are buying media companies to steer public opinion in their favor.
(…) people are worried about a billionaire having so much influence, but billionaires own pretty much all of the media. Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post, John Henry bought The Boston Globe, Sheldon Adelson bought The Las Vegas [Review-]Journal, Laurene Powell Jobs bought The Atlantic, Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the L.A. Times, Mark Benioff bought Time, even the supposedly independent Guardian is funded by Bill Gates and the people who own social media companies like Mike Zuckerberg are billionaires with political agendas.
The problem seems to be that Elon Musk has the wrong political agenda by not really having a political agenda. He’s a centrist who donates to both the republican and the democratic parties instead of just slavishly following the woke leftist agenda. This balance is a threat to the woke establishment.10
Suddenly, the authoritarians realized they opened Pandora’s box with the introduction of biased algorithms, deplatforming, and censorship. The next midterm election is coming up soon, and it doesn’t look good for the Democrats. There is a realistic chance that a Republican, possibly even Trump, will move into the White House and starts using all those weapons against the other side. Now they cry for regulation.
Probably the funniest effort along those lines was this passage:
We need regulation… to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication.
That was Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, railing against Musk in the pages of… the Washington Post! A newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos complaining about rich people controlling “channels of communication” just might be the never-released punchline of Monty Python’s classic “Funniest Joke in the World” skit.
Many detractors went the Pao route, suddenly getting religious about concentrated wealth having control over the public discourse. In a world that had not yet gone completely nuts, that is probably where the outrage campaign would have ended, since the oligarchical control issue could at least be a legitimate one, if printed in a newspaper not owned by Jeff Bezos.11
One would hope they learned out of this that it is not a good idea to give the state and companies more power, powers that might be used against themselves.
On the contrary, the Biden administration announced a week later the introduction of a new “Disinformation Governance Board” (aka “Ministry of Truth”) inside of Homeland Security.12 The same department that recently declared misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation to domestic terrorism.13 14
- Misinformation is false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm. - Disinformation is deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country. - Malinformation is based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.15
Malinformation is insidious because it defines a fact that is the truth, but
causes you to distrust the government which means to the extent that your government is not trustworthy, and you discuss it, you are guilty of terrorism.16
Anyone who thinks that this is only a problem in the USA is far from it. In Germany, the Federal Ministry of the Interior led by Nancy Faeser, introduced this year a new category of extremism: Delegitimization of the state relevant to the protection of the constitution (Verfassungsschutzrelevante Delegitimierung des Staates). It categorizes any form of criticism of lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures, retail store closures, and closures of cultural institutions, as a form of right-wing extremism.17
This form of delegitimization usually does not take place through direct questioning of democracy as such, but through constant agitation against and contempt for democratically legitimized representatives and state institutions and their decisions. This can shake trust in the state system as a whole and impair its ability to function.18
This is a new form of undermining a Democracy because it puts any criticism and mentioning of undemocratic, authoritarian, or totalitarian tendencies in a category of enemies of the state. They would rather not be exposed. Writing this sentence makes me technically a domestic extremist.
But even the former Federal Judge Hans-Jürgen Papier criticizes for example the Asylum and refugee policy of the German government as a breach of law19 and the measurements of the COVID-19 crisis as a danger to freedom.20
The doctor and podcast host Paul Brandenburg was raided and (temporarily) arrested by a special task force in May 2022. The Federal Ministry of the Interior had tried in the months before the incident to charge him because his opinions would delegitimize the state.21
Germany didn’t learn anything from the Third Reich and the DDR, something similar to the STASI is slowly introduced again in Germany. The similarity in Authoritarian reaction in different Western countries at least suggests that there is some global coordination or playbook (Operation Lockstep) politicians follow along.
It’s only a question of when the state will start the hunt on regular people for the “War on Truth.”
And their chances of getting things right don’t look good. They censored the “Lab Leak Hypothesis,” now regarded as the most probable reason for the COVID-19 pandemic. They censored the “Hunter Biden Laptop” story, critical information for the US presidential election, now known to be true and even admitted by the most left newspapers. A study found out that 16% of Biden voters wouldn’t have voted for him, would they had known the story, which would have resulted in Trump staying the president.22
The European Union doesn’t look better, they plan a similar task force to fight fake news, and they recently announced to increase their efforts to fight disinformation (that is “the information we don’t like you to know”).23
The Gated Institutions want to make sure their narrative doesn’t get questioned because informed people ask questions, challenge decisions, and hold politicians and companies accountable.
All of the most critical factors determining what people’s lives are like are invisible now. Most people don’t even know they’re happening. Oligarchy. Neoliberalism. Imperialism. Used to be you knew who the king was, and he’d openly do anything he wanted. Now that’s all kept carefully hidden.24
The reason most people have no clue how bad the state of the world is the result of the breakdown of another pillar of our Gated Institutions: Media and Journalism.
Madeleine Carlisle (2019): What to Know About the Origins of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ in Politics, From the French Revolution to the 2020 Presidential Race, https://time.com/5673239/left-right-politics-origins/. ↩
Charles Devellennes (2022): Macron’s crown is already slipping, https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/06/16/macrons-crown-is-already-slipping/. ↩
Gad Saad (2020): The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense, Regnery Publishing. ↩
Mick Hume (2020): A good year for free-speech haters, https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/12/23/a-good-year-for-free-speech-haters/. ↩
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay (2020): Freedom of Speech and the Fallacy of Demanding to be Heard, https://newdiscourses.com/2020/01/freedom-of-speech-fallacy-demanding-heard/. ↩
(Hrsg.) (2020): A Letter on Justice and Open Debate, https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/. ↩
Matt Taibbi (2022): Twitter’s Chickens Come Home to Roost, https://taibbi.substack.com/p/twitters-chickens-come-home-to-roost. ↩
Caitlin Johnstone (2022): Oh God It’s Going To Get SO Much Worse, https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/04/30/oh-god-its-going-to-get-so-much-worse/. ↩
Homeland Security (2022): DHS Issues National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/02/07/dhs-issues-national-terrorism-advisory-system-ntas-bulletin. ↩
Bret Weinstein and Robert Malone (2022): If a Fiberglass Tree Falls in a Forest… Bret Speaks with Dr. Robert Malone, https://odysee.com/Bret-Malone2:27eda26764c7244b1f703dc58c9932f93e382951. ↩
Vera Lengsfeld (2022): Der Verfassungsschutz wird zur Staatssicherheit, https://reitschuster.de/post/der-verfassungsschutz-wird-zur-staatssicherheit/. ↩
Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat (2022): Verfassungsschutzbericht 2021 vorgestellt: Steigende Zahl von Extremisten in fast allen Phänomenbereichen, https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/pressemitteilungen/DE/2022/06/verfassungsschutzbericht2021.html. ↩
Göran Schattauer (2020): Ex-Bundesrichter Papier rügt deutsche Asylpolitik: “Mitgefühl ersetzt kein Recht”, https://www.focus.de/politik/gerichte-in-deutschland/deutschlands-hoechster-richter-a-d-klagt-an-ex-bundesrichter-papier-ruegt-deutsche-asylpolitik-mitgefuehl-ersetzt-kein-recht_id_11580201.html. ↩
Alexander Schmalz (2021): Ex-Verfassungsrichter: Corona-Politik war irrational und kopflos, https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/news/ex-verfassungsrichter-corona-politik-war-irrational-und-kopflos-li.186983. ↩
Holger Douglas (2022): Überfallartige Hausdurchsuchungen bei Medizinern, https://www.tichyseinblick.de/daili-es-sentials/hausdurchsuchungen-paul-brandenburg-und-stefan-hockertz/. ↩
Jacob Palmieri (2022): Here’s How The Hunter Biden Story Would Have Changed The 2020 Election, https://thepalmierireport.com/heres-how-the-hunter-biden-story-would-have-changed-the-2020-election/. ↩
Tom Parker (2019): Europe wants to create a Digital Media Observatory to fight fake news, https://reclaimthenet.org/european-commission-disinformation-initiative/. ↩
Caitlin Johnstone (2021): Patriot Act 2, Censorship, And Other Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/patriot-act-2-censorship-and-other. ↩