by Barry A. Liebling
In the beginning of 2021 there is an avalanche of Big Tech communication companies doing all they can to prevent their users from expressing views that contradict the narrative of the leftist cabal. And, as a corollary, these corporate giants are attempting to prevent people from being exposed to information, interpretations, or opinions that are at odds with woke leftism.
Of course, they do not describe their actions in a straightforward honest manner. Instead they proclaim they are expunging content that encourages violence, or promotes hate, or is part of a conspiracy theory, or is “disinformation and misinformation.” But an outside observer can easily see that conservatives and libertarians are systematically targeted by the Big Tech gatekeepers. At the same time it is apparent that Big Tech praises, protects, ignores, or downplays vicious behavior and communications of their leftist allies (because it promotes “social justice”).
For those of us who value liberty the solution is not easy. Ideally, new companies should be formed to compete with the leftist giants and offer services that are not exclusively catering to the woke hive. However, developing alternatives to the major players is expensive, and some tech firms have already moved to obliterate potential rivals (Note that Amazon Web Services has expelled Parler as a paying customer). Still, the way forward is to encourage private alternatives to the major players. It is a mistake to assume that additional government regulation would result in a good outcome. Government agencies are almost exclusively progressive leftist and behave accordingly. Do not jump from the frying pan to the fire.
If you understand and appreciate the value of liberty you recognize that free thinking and free expression is valuable and is a necessary condition for human flourishing. Note that human beings can deal with each other in one of two ways – by persuasion or by force. A civilized society encourages persuasion and bans the initiation of force.
Observe how this plays out. If all viewpoints can be displayed, each person has to decide what is true and what is not, who to trust and who to suspect, what arguments make sense and which are essentially nonsense. In the long run the truth is revealed, and fallacious narratives are exposed. In the short run, some people will arrive at correct conclusions quickly, some will take a long time, and there are always people who fail to see things accurately. And if free communication is maintained as a policy, people will be able to correct their errors in judgement and change their minds.
A feature of the free-expression policy is that there is no guarantee that everyone will come to an agreement. In fact, in most subjects – political or scientific – you can expect there will generally be multiple opposing points of view that are at odds. That is fine as far as liberty enthusiasts are concerned. But to a committed leftist dissent is unacceptable.
Consider three possible rationales that leftists use to squelch free expression. First, they may be aware that their theories and arguments do not hold up to scrutiny. In a fair examination of leftist collectivism (think inevitable conflicts centered around class, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, and more to be invented) compared to Enlightenment Individualism (where each person is judged according his or her own actions), leftism comes up short. Leftists are intent on winning the cultural war, so they have to ban material that successfully challenges their vision.
Second, leftists may think that they really have all the correct answers. But people are too stupid to recognize it. If members of the general public are exposed to “wrong think” (content opposed to progressive leftism) they are likely to be seduced into accepting “reactionary ideas.” The foolish proletariat has to be shielded against dangerous messages. Notice the degree to which this belief displays contempt for ordinary people. Also, observe that the philosophy of individualism respects the right of every person to exercise judgment.
Third, some leftists may not be concerned with evaluating the validity of any particular facts or points of view. Instead, they (members of the ruling elite) seek complete obedience and conformity from all citizens. That means there is one way of looking at things and everything else should be banned. This is the classic policy of totalitarian dictators throughout history.
The principles that support free expression have been articulated by enlightened intellectuals for several hundred years. But people have to be reminded, especially in this turbulent time where woke collectivism is being force-fed by the incumbent cultural bosses. Those of us who cherish liberty have a lot of persuading to do.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***