For Anti-Fascists, Liberals Seem Awfully Eager to Throw the Book at Their Opponents

by Keaton Weiss and Russell Dobular

We on the Left had always assumed that the defense of free speech and freedom of expression were core principles of Leftism, and that the impulse to censor and ban was a right-wing phenomenon.  Boy, were we naïve. Turns out that whoever has institutional power will use that power to try to shut down dissenting voices, no matter where those voices may fall on the ideological spectrum.  For most of the post-war period, the center-right had all the power, which created the false impression that censorship is always coming from a Victorian prudishness, or Russophobia.  But in this new bizarro world where a fringe identarian movement has seized control of academia, the media, and for the moment, the government, we’ve made the mind-blowing discovery that it’s possible to be prudish from the Left, and when you give the Left the power to make that prudishness actionable, all that ACLU stuff goes right out the window.  Strangely, the Russophobia part has carried over unchanged.

What’s really disheartening is that if anything, the New Left seems to be even more enthusiastic about shutting down speech and debate than the Old Right was.   

The New York Times recently ran an article decrying the fact that (Heaven’s Forbid!), the new platform Clubhouse is enabling private conversations (remember those?), that can’t be monitored by its crack team of wokescolds, and there’s growing pressure on Substack to kick writers off its completely subscriber-supported platform. Think about the implications of that for a moment: critics of Substack are saying that people who want to pay to read the writing of certain authors and journalists, should not be allowed to do so. This is a level of madness you have to go back to the McCarthy era to find a right-wing equivalent for.  We’ve replaced the core principle, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” with “I may not agree with what you say, and I may start an online Twitter campaign to shut down your right to say it.”

Censorship and cancellation, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems there’s a growing tendency among liberals to not just want to limit their opponents’ freedom of expression, but to strip them of certain rights and freedoms altogether, even going as far as to cheer on what they hope will be extended prison sentences for the accused Capitol rioters and their enablers. Memes like those listed below have been all over #BlueMAGA Twitter in recent months:

Aside from the Capitol rioters themselves, those who “cast doubt on the integrity of the presidential election” are also apparently deserving of years in “maximum security federal prisons,” according to this liberal meme maker:

Not only do liberals gleefully celebrate the prospect of all of these people rotting in prison for decades, they apparently don’t feel any of these criminal defendants ought to have the right to raise funds for their legal defense. In a recent USA Today article, a team of journalists bragged that they convinced crowdfunding platforms to delete the campaigns of accused Capitol rioters who were using their sites to raise money for their attorneys’ fees. Glenn Greenwald, in his excellent Substack post critiquing the piece, writes:

“The primary target of the Trump-era media has become private citizens and people who wield no power, yet who these media outlets believe must have their lives ruined because they have adopted the wrong political ideology. So many corporate journalists now use their huge megaphones to humiliate and wreck the lives of ordinary private citizens who they judge to have bad political opinions (meaning: opinions that deviate from establishment liberalism orthodoxies which these media outlets exist to enforce).”

For a cohort of political thinkers who gasped in horror at then candidate Donald Trump’s suggestion that perhaps he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton should he defeat her in the 2016 election (a threat that, after he won, he never followed through on), liberals seem awfully eager to see the book thrown at the deplorables for their perceived offenses against decency and democracy. They’re equally excited to use the informal relationship between Big Tech oligarchs and the federal government in order to silence these enemies online, and strip them of their ability to finance their legal defenses. That Barack Obama’s unseated nominee for the Supreme Court, current Attorney General Merrick Garland, is the one who gets to lead these unfortunate Trumpsters to the gallows, is just the icing on the cake.

Maybe it’s just us, but these don’t seem like the attitudes of committed “anti-fascist” actors.

We discuss all of this in further detail in episode 110 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Photo: Tyler Merbler

The Oligarchy’s Assault on Free Speech Has Arrived Ahead of Schedule

The alliance between the liberal establishment and big tech has so been long entrenched that it’s difficult to discern where one ends and the other begins. It became obvious in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory that this amorphous yet coordinated power structure would stop at nothing to ensure that such a thing could not and would not ever happen again. 

The perpetuation of Russiagate, the burying of independent media, and the dragging of Mark Zuckerberg into Congress to try and browbeat him into even further submission, illustrate this strategy. The political party and its media allies, which have spent the past five years parroting each others’ talking points about what a grave threat Trump poses to our constitutional norms, were simultaneously and systematically undermining the First Amendment using every tool at their disposal, from media propaganda, to cultural signaling, to congressional hearings about the need for outlets like Facebook and Twitter to crack down harder upon certain content they deem unfit for dissemination.

Given all of this, it makes sense to assume that the incoming Biden administration would kick these efforts into overdrive in an attempt to revert the public discourse back to its pre-internet era, where only well-established and well-funded outlets could widely propagate news and opinion. However, the events of January 6th have accelerated this mission into, if you will, “warp speed.”

In the days following the riot, we’ve already seen radical action taken by these aforementioned tech platforms against those they deem suspicious and threatening. This of course includes the president himself, who is now permanently suspended from both Facebook and Twitter.

In and of themselves, Trump’s social media bans, as well as his record-breaking second impeachment, make sense. He personally instigated violence by pointing a crowd of people to the Capitol Building and urging them to show “strength,” after his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” (As a side note, Giuliani later offered as an excuse that his choice of words was a Game of Thrones reference, as if a nod to an ultra-violent TV show about the blood-soaked pursuit of ultimate power somehow made his remarks less irresponsible.)

But the purge didn’t end there.

Brandon Straka, architect of the “Walk Away” campaign aimed at convincing people to leave the Democratic Party, tweeted on Friday that Facebook had erased all of his content, including hundreds of thousands of his followers’ testimonial videos, and banned him and his entire team from their platform. Ron Paul was temporarily blocked by Facebook from managing his own page. According to Paul, Facebook went only as far as to notify him of his page’s “repeatedly going against [their] community standards,” offering no further explanation of why disciplinary action was taken against him.

Additionally, employers are now beginning to terminate their employees upon discovery of their mere presence at the rally, whether or not they participated in any of the day’s violent activity. All of the thousands of protestors who showed up are being cavalierly branded as seditionists, insurrectionists, traitors, and domestic terrorists by the mainstream media, as well as by President-Elect Biden. Neither Biden himself nor establishment media outlets seem interested in distinguishing the intentions of those who simply gathered with signs and flags from those who violently stormed the Capitol Building.

The response from the political and media establishment to the Capitol Hill riot has been a show of force intended to communicate that, moving forward, they will be much quicker to crack down upon unsanctioned speech and outside-the-mainstream opinion. The incoming president, giants of social media and big tech, and traditional media behemoths, have all been on this same page.

The goal of all of this goes beyond thwarting further chaotic and violent riots like those of January 6th. It is to control the dissemination of thoughts and ideas so that no political movement that they fear might usher in the set of circumstances that led to the event ever takes shape in the first place. On January 20th, after four tumultuous years of Trump, we will inaugurate the epitome of a lifelong Washington institutionalist in Joe Biden. Along with Biden’s presidency will come an ongoing effort by the establishment to rebuild the Bastille such that it’s never breached again, from the right or the left, by any political figure or movement that comes without their pre-approval.

Rather than being alarmed about this, liberals seem to be cheering on this partnership between the political establishment and major media outlets and tech companies, pushing back on First Amendment concerns by repeating the “private companies” defense.

Of course, the retort that Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google, are private businesses with no obligation to operate within a constitutional framework, is nothing more than a restatement of the very problem that needs solving. After all, the entire purpose of a constitution is to establish a permanent set of governing principles that serves as a check upon the government, and, in our case, to prevent, among other things, violations of individual rights. If private companies grow to the point where they have more direct control over the dissemination of speech than the government itself, then they must either be broken up so that their power is reduced (the anti-trust approach), or regulated so that their power cannot be wielded in violation of people’s free speech rights (broadly speaking, the “public utility” approach).

To argue against either of those proposals is to argue for oligarchy, which is what most liberals, and even some self-described Leftists, are doing right now. In an oligarchy, a small group exercises power over the entire country. In an oligarchy, it doesn’t matter whether that small group is comprised of business elites, public officials, or both. In an oligarchy, power is concentrated in the hands of the few, and is unaccountable to the wants and needs of the many. Whether that power is wielded by private companies or the government itself is neither here nor there.

Therefore, the “private company” defense is a red herring. It’s irrelevant that giant tech companies are privately owned, because anti-trust law and public utility regulations exist to protect the masses against exploitation by any institution of outsized power, especially private companies. That liberals would cheer this power grab is as disgraceful as it is predictable.

We recently hosted a writer, who chose to remain anonymous, for episode 103 of the Due Dissidence podcast in which we discuss these issues in further detail. To hear our full conversation, click the player below:

Subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player!

Photo: Chris Kjobech

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