Tag Archives: Free Speech

Left, Right: Marching In Step With Your Enemy

Beware! Nazis!

Nazi Germany was built in part on fantasy propaganda, of an idillic Europe of kings, knights, glory and honour. They turned a grimy bloody history that makes Game of Thrones look glamorous into a Disney fantasy. They rewrote history in order to give meaning and righteousness to their terrible regime.

Along with the imagery created to invoke that past was the dark side of National Socialism. Like all inflexible ideologies it had to resort to violence to achieve its aims – because, of course, not everyone agrees with your ideology, no matter how good it sounds to you. When you’re an ideologue and you insist people must accept your way or the highway, then by any means necessary starts to sound justifiable.

Immediately after WWII, West Germans and their new friends and allies, Western Europe and the USA, conspired to re-write history once again. The spectre of Nazi Germany was obliterated, buildings demolished, had they survived the war, … and, statues toppled. All was good, and West Germany rose to become a civilised western democracy.

Beware! Fascistic Anti-Fascists

In the 1960s West Germany the new generations started to question their nation’s history, and the roles their parents played in it. Naming and shaming – doxxing today – and divisions among families seemed to be necessary. But it didn’t stop there.

As events continued into the 1970s The Red Army Faction arose as a terrorist group.

These far left activists hated of Nazis, naturally. And they noted that many people running the state were of that Nazi generation. This helped convince them that because the state would not do what they wanted them to do, violence to achieve one’s political goals was entirely justifiable – just as it was for the Nazis in their early days.

Punching Nazis was very popular, and before long, when people still refused to listen, they started to blow up and kill people. The political cause is all that matters, the methods, not so much.

Stefan Aust, author of Der Baader Meinhof Komplex:

World War II was only twenty years earlier. Those in charge of the police, the schools, the government — they were the same people who’d been in charge under Nazism. The chancellor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, had been a Nazi. People started discussing this only in the 60’s. We were the first generation since the war, and we were asking our parents questions. Due to the Nazi past, everything bad was compared to the Third Reich. If you heard about police brutality, that was said to be just like the SS. The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it. You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up.

[my emphasis]

Were all Germans WWII really Nazis? Were Germans, whether Nazis or not, aware of the genocide? What could they have done? The pre-Nazi state was weak. Rule of law was nothing like that of Western Europe today (even as bad as it is today).

Does guilt by association sound familiar? It should do. How many people have you seen labelled as Nazis that are barely right of centre? How many generally left of centre people have you seen labelled ‘far-right’?

The Adam Curtis BBC programme, The Living Dead, 1995 (an almost prescient perspective) [currently here, but may change]:

Screenshot 2017-08-19 14.46.10

 It was complete confrontation. One part of the people against the other. … I had begun to realise, fighting against the state, by armed groups, with this revolutionary strategy in mind, was to bring up the fascistic tendencies, not only of the political class, but the people too. We ourselves became in the same way fascistic as the fascists were. We didn’t realise, our enemies, our opponents, were human beings. This is what is in the heart of fascism. The oppression of other meanings of the political opposition. And oppression means elimination. By killing.

– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction [Adam Curtis film]

[my emphasis]

Now, remind me again what the limits of violence are for Yvette Felarca and By Any Means Necessary. Tell me where the punching of perceived Nazis stops. With a bike lock? Tell me when you decide to become what you oppose.

You might want to think of someone you know when you read Mahler’s words here. Dan Arel came to my mind.

Fascism is a component in all of us. … We have a picture of ourselves. We want to be good. We want to be human creatures. But we are a contradiction, in ourselves. We don’t know how to handle this contradiction. We don’t know how to live with this evil part in ourselves.

– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction 

The words of Horst Mahler should be sounding alarm bells particularly when you realise the direction he went in. Here’s the top of the Wiki page about him:

Horst Mahler (born 23 January 1936) is a German former lawyer and political activist. He once was an extreme-left militant and a founding member of the Red Army Faction, but later became a Maoist before switching to Neo-Nazism. Between 2000 and 2003, he was a member of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany. Since 2003, he has repeatedly been convicted of Volksverhetzung (“incitement of popular hatred”) and Holocaust denial and served much of a twelve-year prison sentence.

[my emphasis]

From far left to far right looks incredible like a sprung switch, a flip-flip, with no hanging around in the centre ground to re-think one’s ideology.

Socialist – Fascist Common Ground

This is the path taken by fascist Mussolini: a member of the Italian Socialist Party, who couldn’t get his way, and moved on to use fascistic means to do so, creating the national Fascist Party, coining the term ‘fascism’ in doing so.

While the ‘left’ v ‘right’ is often thought of in terms of in terms of collectivism v individualism, the German Nazis and Italian Fascists were clearly collectivists in their national ‘socialism’ and their national ‘fasci‘ (bundle).

One main distinction between revolutionary left ideologies like Communists, Anarchism and the Fascists and Nazis amounts to how they see their particular struggle, how they perceive the solution to the problems they see, and who are the people causing the problems.

The ‘left’ collectivism is a class war that divides a nation on class, but can still portray itself as nationalistic when defending a Communist state in face of anti-Communist opposition. Appealing to nationalism, Mother Russia for example, is useful when it works, especially when purging the state of enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.

The ‘right’ is a nationalism that uses socialism to unite the people against the state’s enemies, without or within. Appealing to the socialism of the ‘folk’ and their nation, The Fatherland for example, is useful, especially when purging the state of internal enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.

The Socialists/Communists and the Fascists/Nazis ideologies are very similar politically, and in the way they suppress opposition by the use of violence. [here – h/t @SamWhiteTky]

As are theocracies (*cough* Islam).

The internal enemies often turn out to be the Jews (*cough* Islam) and the Intellectuals – and the intellectual Jews are often right out of luck. Other ‘peoples’ like the Poles were a common target too. And anyone else that gets in the way. Because, of course, when your ideology is right and you know it’s right, killing for it doesn’t seem too much of a problem.

Another issue that distinguishes them is racism, at least superficially. The hyper-nationalism of Nazi Germany, when immigrant populations were much smaller, made it easy to identify other races as a problem. But racism is present in most cultures, if not all, so it can’t be ruled out under Socialism, where again the Jews are still targets.

Isn’t it odd that the left tend to support Palestinians, and the terrorist Hamas, with much anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. For parties like the UK Labour Party, that claim to be egalitarian, where does this racism come from? Perhaps Horst Mahler is right – there’s a bit of the fascist in us all, and even your party’s stated principles can’t erase it in those that can’t help expressing it.

So now, tell me again why you think that the Nazis and AntiFa/BAMN are poles apart. There are simply too many parallels here to dismiss the similarity between the current street violence and the support for the punching of Nazis in the 1960s Germany. The Germans at least had parents who could have been real-deal Nazis.

Berkeley, Charlottesville and Beyond

And here we are. A decade and more of political correct ideological propaganda. The requirement to choose a side, in order to be on the right side of history, is raising its nasty duplicitous head again.

Charlottesville had some neo-Nazis attend a rally, but many of the people there were not genocidal ‘final solution’ people. Or so they say –  but then unless you’re an actual mind reader, you can’t assert they are genocidal: you’re playing rhetorical games, and  you are not in a position to refute their denial of being Nazis, without evidence. And if there are genocidal people there, they aren’t giving you the evidence.

By all means take sides. I certainly do. I’m opposed to all those that marched on the side of the alt-right, even those that don’t consider themselves to be alt-right:

  • Neo-Nazis – Well, obviously. Whatever the political origins of the German Nazis, the Italian Fascists, even if they have similarities with Socialism, they descend into xenophobic hatred that demonises others for who they are, not for what they choose to believe or do.
  • White Supremacists – Well, obviously. White (Black, Brown, …) Supremacy is one of the dumbest ideas still being perpetuated. It’s so stupid it’s on a par with Young Earth Creationism as an intellectually defunct idea. Those that present themselves as White Supremacists are some of the least supreme examples it.
  • White Separatists/Nationalists, Identitarians – This is the supposedly egalitarian version of White Supremacism – though it’s just as dumb. There’s no explicit claim to white supremacy, just some poor reasons for thinking the world would be better if the ‘races’ lived apart. Of course it’s based on the same nonsense as white supremacy, and it’s not clear how many in these groups are not in fact white supremacists looking for an easier ride – but we must avoid mind reading, because we can’t do it … evidence!
  • Poor beleaguered white boys – Yes, I know there’s a current taste for ‘white people’ comments, claims that all white people are racist and non-whites can’t be. This is as dumb as white supremacy and deserves the same treatment: derision, laughter, evidence to the contrary. But come on, do you really need a tiki light vigil?

Yes, alt-right, I know it’s about statues too. But, come on. I get the point. Nobody is tearing down the pyramids because they were built by slaves. But this is closer to home, and the Confederate flag is a bit of a give-away. You’re not doing it for historical reasons.

I’m not on the side of these people when it comes to supporting their ideologies. I oppose them and support criticism of them. I support counter-protests, generally (though more can be said on how to better organise and police that).

What I don’t support is the street violence, of the pre-emptive punching of ‘Nazis’. The AntiFa crowd went to Charlottesville ready for and intent on violence. They, with a little help from the Mayor, provoked the alt-right protesters into violence. Yes, factions of the alt-right came armed too – but what do you expect given AntiFa’s recent history:

Screenshot 2017-08-19 16.12.19

Remember this? At Trump’s inauguration, while other protesters were screaming and crying in over dramatic outrage, the AntiFa thugs were smashing up windows Washington’s businesses, and burning this limo. It was owned by the Nationwide Chauffered Services LLC From Alexandria, VA – run by Muslim Omar Ash. Ooops! AntiFa are racist, by the measure of what they and many others deem to be racism: when a Muslim is a victim of hate or when Islam is criticised.

If you’re still not sure about AntiFa, try this. Not surprisingly they started in Germany.

ANTIFA | Activists or thugs?

Time to Choose

  • “We must choose a side” – If the two sides on offer are in the wrong, then I choose neither of them. I will choose to criticise both.
  • “They are not equivalent – one is worse than the other.” – No, they are not. On the matter of street violence AntiFa have been consistently worse. On political ideas I’m still not in favour of either, but even less so the racist side.

By the way, have you noticed how this comparison of evils is now an OK thing to say, but not when comparing Islam and Christianity?

Watch the Adam Curtis film and consider some of the issues raised there. We may want to choose sides, and we may think we are on the right side. That doesn’t give you licence to engage in the fascistic activities you are claiming to oppose.

Free Speech

The far left don’t want to protect free speech particularly, and the far right only want it for their own purposes.

The problem with Nazi Germany wasn’t the free speech of the Nazis. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.

The problem with Stalinist Russia wasn’t the free speech of the Stalinists. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.

The ideas that these ideologies are based on are simply dumb. They are easy to challenge. That’s why they have to use violence to defend or promote them,
and attack others that oppose them.

They all employ or employed street violence BY their supporters to crush opposition. Whenever they take power they use the state machine to promote propaganda and crush dissent.

A civil society need not fear free speech, if it upholds the law against violence and terrorism that opposes free speech

 

 

Etymology Man! Help!

A post by Jerry Coyne on an XKCD comic strip riminded me of a problem that keeps coming up: how labels are used demonise, ostracise, and even to justify violence against people; and then to excuse the abuse of words for the greater good.

The following is an earlier comic strip from XKCD Comics. My interpretation here may have been covered elsewhere at the time it was published (though isn’t on the ‘explained‘ site), but I offer it now to explain the current related problem of how SJWs abuse words, and then deflect, by complaining of the relative insignificance of the etymology, when it’s their abuse of words that’s causing the problem.

etymology_man

I took the comic to be taking a swipe at any situation where an etymological discussion errupts while the real catastrophy proceeds to engulf the disputants.

This was used, for example, by some SJWs who complained that those citing ‘dictionary atheism’ where hung up on etymology while real social justice needed to be done. The problem was much SJW action is itself hung up on words – their abuse.

The Insanity* of the SJW

(* to abuse a word for effect).

As PZ Myers moved from New Atheist, to Atheism+, to whetever, denouncing each in turn (settling on the useless ‘our movement’) he was clearly, and in earlier guises explicitly, trying to create a movement, based on atheism, or the more general ‘Skepticism’. Of course we already have Humanism. When he started to demonise other atheists, specifically New Atheists, he needed to distinguish them from himself, and yet still make it an ‘atheist movement’. When his detractors pointed out his abuse of the term atheism he had a lot to say about how these ‘dictionary atheists’ were not helping. They were merely pointing out how it was PZ Myers and crew that wasn’t helping. Eventually the identity politics of Social Justice Warriorship started to go through one of its many implosions, until Myers lost it.

Identity politics relies very much on innapropriate use of labels to demonise and ostracise people … and often leads to the phnemenon of ‘eating their own’ … again an allusion from the Mantis that screws and eats its mates in the later  comic?

wrong_superhero

The self-destruction of ‘the movement’ as resulted in a few emissions from the Freethought Blogs community, and this was pretty much down to someone not being on-message, destroying their SJW credentials.

pzmyers-toxicstar

A current incarnation surrounds the tendency of SJWs to label anyone to the right of them as Nazis when they are nothing of the sort – so we have Dan Arel advocating punching those he sees fit to be called Nazis.

Call out the SJWs on their abuse of words to the point of where they diminish all useful meaning in their advocacy of attacks on totally inappropriate targets, and their backlash is yet more of their hate. It’s more important to punch Nazis than to figure out who is actually a Nazi, and much less to question the morality of pre-emtive violence.

Deflection ensues as Dan accuses his critics of ‘supporting Nazis’.

Here’s the problem when you get to decide that Nazis deserve punching and you are the one deciding who the Nazis are:

nazis
h/t someone on Facebook, who may or may not be the originator.

In one sense the XKCD comic is criticising those dusputing the incorrect use of terms, in that they are focusing on useless etymology while the SJWs are doing their good deeds. That’s how SJWs see it.

But the real issue is that the SJWs are indeed in need of Etymology Man, who could have perhaps set them straight so that they don’t go on pre-emptive self-styled vigilante sprees. But, hey, what right has anyone to tell them who they should or should not label as Nazis? Free speech!

The importance of free speech, unencombered by a violent opposition (but opposition with speech is good), is a core issue for many liberals. But not for Dan and his ilk. Violence first, … ask questions later, or not at all. This how it often goes …

nazis-supportingthem

 

Real Advocates of Freedom

Here are some people that get it. And, their concern for the use of words plays an important part in explaining how they understand freedom.

The Secular Detective breaks down terms to get to their meaning and how they are used, and how even Nazis have the right to free speech.

On Punching Nazis and the Justifications of Violence

Maajid Nawaz, acknowedging the freedom of expression due to everyone, including Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

My Open Letter To A Jailed Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Maryam Namazie and Sarah Heider do a great job here in trying to get across how terms like ‘safe space’, ‘no platforming’, ‘protest’ need to be understood in a context that benefits all, rather than letting these terms be used by ideologues to suppress freedom.

There’s a dignity to these writers and speakers, even in moments of frustration and anger, where they will not concede to the oppressive forces that demand that people be shut down, shut up, punched.

They in no way support or advocate for the views of their political opponents.

Sarah makes the point that no matter what your good intentions, shutting down free speech will lead to the most vulnerable being shut down. It’s a weapon that the powerful will use, if you submit to opposing free speech.

This isn’t to say people won’t disagree – they do. Plenty of people have criticsed Maryam on a number of points – her Communism, the removal of all borders, her spat with Sam Harris over something and nothing. But none of that detracts from the great work she does, at great personal risk. And this is part of the point. If on hearing Maryam on Sam’s podcast you were to write her off, you could very easily get carried along with her dishonest detractors and start retweeting things about here that smply are not true.

Words evolve. But if you abuse them by making them fit your own political agenda, and allow them to encompass people they really don’t apply to, the words become meaningless as descriptors and take on a role that is little more than a hate label for an out-group, and that then gives you tacit permission to demonise them and ostracise them,so you never actually get to hear what they say in their own words. Result: you end up spreading lies.

Let Them Speak

My personal feeling is that if you think you disagree with someone, first be sure you disagree with them: check out what they actually say. That means putting in some effort and not merely retweeting a false or out of context quote from years ago, that might not be the targets current position anyway. Letting your actual political opponents expose their views is the only way to find out what they are. The presupposition that you already know their views because someone you trust tweeted how bad they are doesn’t really cut it.

There’s a lot to be gained from letting people speak.

  • It’s not a matter of giving them a platform to spread ideas that you don’t want to spread. You get to point to their actual words that you disagree with.
  • You might find you don’t disagree with them as much as you expected.
  • You will find it exposes the lies of some people you thought were honest allies.

Over the last few weeks since he started his advocacy of violence, Dan Arel’s words have been captured for anyone to see. The hate filled comment columns of PZ Myers’ Pharyngula show him for the mean spirited hate monger he is. But both those characters have good sides too them, and I doubt any of those promoting full free speech would want them shut down.if they actually followed their own advice, they would be the very people meeting the criteria they think should be shut down – if only they had a modicum of self awareness.