Obliterating Sacred Cows: Free Speech
The democratic mythos has always held that the foundation of a free society and a State capable of protecting that freedom is an educated populace; which would serve as a barrier to special interests trying to subvert the political system to their own ends or a ruler attempting to do the same. There’s much that’s inexplicable about Democratic theory, relying on pie in the sky notions such as the good-will of the people being able to overcome the more toxic elements of society without any kind of outside impetus other than encouragement from political leadership. You often hear a similar refrain in modern America. “Our country can be great again if only we return to constitutional values”, or “people should stop listening to the liberal media so they can see the truth.” The common refrain for all of these is a belief that change can almost be accomplished spontaneously, needing nothing more than some encouragement. So amongst its more obvious vices democracy resembles the simplistic, fantasy thinking of a child. Being incapable of intelligently defending a political system which is the outgrowth of an underdeveloped mind, irrational justifications become the rule and the norm.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” – D.O.I.
The notion that free speech even exists is a misnomer. Speech that is intelligible is an outgrowth of social living. The child reflects what he hears from his parents and those around him; this speech is further refined as he grows older, goes to school and diversifies his social interactions. An isolated individual free of social constraints is only capable of articulating sounds intelligible to him alone. His freedom lies in expressing a vocabulary extremely limited in nature to his immediate surroundings. If we express freedom as a capacity for action then what becomes clear in this case is that the disciplined environment which is a component of communal life is a prerequisite of freedom. There are times when restricting a person’s right to speech can actually increase their ability to exercise that skill through a process of self-realization; that some forms of speech are actually destructive and impede the individual’s ability to express himself. The family, Churches, and the State then use their powers of compulsion to set the individual back to the road of clear comprehension.
The modern day movement which seeks to classify freedoms as being separate from compulsion is rooted in the democratic worldview which views freedom as being something anterior and alien to the State; something which fails to serve any kind of visible social utility and exists for its own sake, being derived from a higher authority such as God. The more this idea has taken root in American culture the more we’ve seen the decay of communal bonds. A criticism that used to be thrown around a lot was that people should watch the news more to become more knowledgeable about current events, implying that this is a social obligation,and while you still hear this quite often it’s spoken of with less force than previous times. Ignorant or not to anyone who watches the news it soon becomes apparent that what you’re getting is not and education but a celebration of ignorance and paranoia. Watching MSNBC, Fox and CNN you’ll be fed a slew of hyper sensationalized and false stories designed to sell a product not to enlighten. The news has become a commodity as it tries to exist within a Capitalist structural environment. The competition for viewers to bring in as much money as possible has destroyed the media as having any value whatsoever and yet the allegiance of the American people to this idea of speech being free has prevented any meaningful reforms from being undertaken.
To make a virtue out a vice and return some sanity to not only to the news media but also to the entertainment industry in general it’s imperative to recognize that anything existing in a state of anarchy is doomed to decay, but by adding a disciplined structure and creating filters that decay can be reversed and be socially productive.
What scares most people when discussion arises of restricting speech are visions of tyrannical dictators making decisions on a whim to persecute people for expressing opinion contrary to those held by the dictator, an understandable fear considering human history but completely unwarranted when discussing Fascism.
Central to Fascist thought is the theory of Corporatism; the belief that society should be organized along Occupational lines. A modern revision of the medieval Guild system meant to replace the social atomism inherent in both Capitalism and Socialism. The adversarial structure of both systems and the material self-interests they express would be replaced with a structure which would encourage collaboration amongst classes and different societal groups, reconciling those differences into a higher unity. Corporatism was such an essential feature of Fascism that many Fascist theorists saw the two as inseparable.
While the original theorists of Corporatism envisioned it as primarily combating the evils of industrialism the evolution of society has revealed that the principles underlying it apply equally to today’s technological world. The destructiveness of the media is helping to produce the same atomistic effects which were produced by the Industrial Revolution. Addressing this problem would involve at first confronting the nature of the industry as presently structured and in its place constructing one based upon the principle of cooperation and ethics. Obviously this couldn’t just happen out of thin air. The State would have to take an initially dominant role in setting up the corporate structure that the media would now be comprised of. A charter detailing the purpose of the media and ethical guidelines would have to be created and agreed upon by all willing participants. This would serve much as the American Constitution does to guide the industry as far as content and structure are concerned. Professionalism, truth and honesty would be a condition upon which all news would have to be presented. After initial government assistance most regulatory functions would pass onto the corporation as it would be better able to regulate itself along the guidelines set up by the charter. Only those individuals and groups which are granted licenses by the corporation will be able to use the public airwaves to present their product,whether entertainment or news. Much like the American Medical Association does for its members, those who don’t qualify per the national standards would not be licensed to practice their trade. This would serve the function of eliminating most news outlets currently in existence, as they serve no other function than bringing in dollars to their commercial heads. The reduction in the supply of outlets would reduce the need to sensationalize and distort the news to bring in viewers. Those left would be able to fulfill their purpose of enlightening and informing the public.
The right of people like Alex Jones to create made up stories regarding Sandy Hook, 911, or of Fox News and MSNBC to talk about conspiratorially inspired deaths or fantasies about Russian control of our political system, would not see the light of day under the disciplined structure we’re proposing. It’s important to remember that rights can only exist within a social construct and are only the result of a system built first of all upon a fulfillment of duties and obligations.