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Speaking Freely of Freely Speaking Sedition

Given that free speech is one of the most harmful ideas of the past several centuries (it may just take the number one spot, for all I can tell), hammering this point repeatedly has some value, especially given that the framing of today's culture wars converges around this pro/anti-speech axis where the side which poses the greatest existential threat also happens to be quite correct on the subject of dealing with dissent. It's also a good opportunity to sample more Bourbonist opinions, which is always a treat.

The American right's cultural milieu has inherited them with some ideés fixes -- a passionate commitment to "freedom of association" and an unwavering opposition to regulation of so-called "hate speech." Indeed, any support of the latter is pretty much treated as an ultimate expression of cuckoldry.

To a continental conservative, these fixations appear very strange. "Freedom of association" reeks of bourgeois civil society and Lockean freeholder ethics. To some extent, the term is simply employed as a euphemism for the right to discriminate in hiring, recruiting, etc., but it still frames the subject around the idea that limitations of contractual obligations on basis of promoting interests of certain social classes are intrinsically illegitimate (which excludes all possibility of privileges and immunities, and thus presupposes equality before the law).

The idea that you should inflame communal passions at will without repercussions from a magistrate is also strange. The American rightist is quite naturally, indeed extraordinarily, sensitive to the need for racial boundaries, but can seldom fathom a genuinely paternalistic outlook. His antipathy for social constructionism has led him to a point where he can barely think about social phenomena at all without buttressing everything in the framework of resource competition between fixed hereditary groups (and treating all demographic data as carrying this Weltanschauung) -- itself a sociological theory, and a Jewish one.

Since social boundaries are antithetical to the type of constitutional rights-state/Rechtsstaat which is conventionally held to be the apex of civilization, the average American rightist struggles with conceiving of a patrimonial order of rights, duties, and franchises that can actually achieve workable racial separation. All of his demands and identitarian argumentation end up boiling down to economic preferences for living in restrictive covenants. "Leave me alone and get off my lawn, darkie!" -- the refrain of the eternal conservadad. Now since leaving things to simply sort themselves out by the natural vagaries of the biological process doesn't make for anything stable, the conservadad is stuck contemplating negro colonization programmes, "slow cleanses," or the settlement of some hypothetical homogeneous Whitopia.

America did have paternalists, however, and a fine example was Charles Brantley Aycock, who served as Governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905. This is how he envisioned segregation:

If we fail to administer equal and exact justice to the negro whom we deprive of suffrage, we shall in the fulness of time lose power ourselves, for we must know that the God, who is love, trusts no people with authority for the purpose of enabling them to do injustice to the weak.** We do well to rejoice in our strength and to take delight in our power, but we will do better still when we come fully to know that our right to rule has been transmitted to us by our fathers through centuries of toil and sacrifice, suffering and death, and their work through all these centuries has been a striving to execute judgment in righteousness. That must likewise be our aim, that our labor.

Aycock's sense of justice shows that he does not treat his ancestry as "given," but as being attached to a pastoral obligation. Disenfranchisement is a must, and in context of a universal manhood suffrage democracy, it is the closest thing to an act of depoliticization, but for this to happen Aycock also advises that after disenfranchisement "let him alone, quit writing about him; quit talking about him, quit making him 'the white man’s burden,' let him 'tote his own skillet'; quit coddling him."

Which, if one thinks about it, is precisely what is necessary to the completeness of proper boundaries. Not to let them wallow in filth, to arbitrarily terrorize them, but to treat them as one would a ward or minor -- a state of gentle but clearly noticeable subordination.

How can then one avoid the quite natural necessity of speech codes between classes of differing authority? The inferior must not resist on whim alone, but neither must the superior grow complacent or derive his legitimacy from a mere feeling of supremacy. This is especially important when maintaining racial boundaries because you do not want poor whites imagining themselves to be higher on the ladder than they are simply because of their contentment at being higher than negroes. This gives them an unwarranted sense of being interpreters of justice, and hence to the path of defying coethnic superiors. "Hate speech laws," then, are just the tools of maintaining social status boundaries.

The most predictable objection is one of pragmatic concern that the enforcement of such laws will simply be used as a vehicle for majority dispossession and not applied impartially. The abuse of authority is no argument against authority, however.

People who think in overly Darwinian ways have a tendency toward amoral consequentialism, coupled with a skill at justifying modern vices by presenting them as serendipitous byproducts of some selection process. Europeans have executed enough criminals and broken up enough clans throughout the years, so the story goes, that they have higher frequencies of certain serotonin transporter polymorphisms (or whatever), giving them a unique ability to create cultures based on free expression, the rule of law, and constitutional rights.

We cannot under any circumstances make ethical judgments regarding this outcome, for this would be a manifestation of the dreaded "universalism," and a denial of the ethnic relativism of cultural experience. At the same time, this (alleged) hereditary predisposition to liberalism is added to the definition of our "birthright" and "ancestry," and we are implored to defend our ethnic genetic interests against competitors -- which as it turns out, involves our ethnic genetic interests in spreading liberalism. This is who we essentially are, it is said, and in this manner perverse ideology transmits itself under the guise of "amoral realism."

Steve Sailer quotes Audacious Epigone on one of his many GSS data minings to reveal an amazing discovery: support for free speech correlates with results on a vocabulary test, itself a proxy for IQ.

What a horrid thing it is to find out that the fool becomes the wise in this crucial instance. The fool instinctively realizes that toleration of heretics is a bad idea, but the "wise" is so blinded by enlightened sophisms that he treats his ability to "hear out" the case of those committed to destroying him, as a badge of honor and sign of his more advanced development. Ah, but religious toleration is something whites do, hence it is "our" trait that we must preserve.

Today's author is François Chéron (1764-1829), a man of letters with a change of heart -- and his pamphlet Sur la liberté de la presse (1814).

Now for some strange reason, his Wikipedia pages (both English and French) list him as an anti-Bonapartist advocate of press freedom. The former is correct, the latter isn't. The pamphlet's preface quite unambiguously opens it as a reply to an article in the Journal des Debats which spoke "en faveur de la liberté illimitée de la presse." Now for Chéron, opposing "unlimited press freedom" goes further than a moderate observer might assume. He further goes on to positively cite a 1764 pamphlet by M. Morellet also critical of free speech. He does try to present himself as occupying a position in the center between what he calls "unlimited liberty of the press" and "unlimited liability of the government," but his sympathies are clear.

Objection: "What if censors err?"


When you advance so boldly that the dangers of this liberty are not as formidable as people say, could I not retort your argument, and say to you: Is it true that censorship is as dangerous as it is supposed to be? Especially with the court of appeals that is proposed to be established? The King has been too generous in the concessions he makes by the constitutional charter, so that we can imagine that the King or his delegates will reject the lights that they would be offered for the betterment of the people. The censor who would be guilty of such an offense would be punished, first by the superior court which would judge the censure itself; but it would be much more surely and more effectively punished by the ridicule and contempt which always attaches to foolishness and incapacity.

Cheron later defends Jacob Grimm from M. Morellet's fiery indictment regarding his opinions on press liberty, by in large part conceding to the case for censorship:

He did not foresee that there would come a time when these scribblers would make ten thousand laws in a year. He did not foresee that the license would hatch a hundred newspapers rivaling each other in impiety, extravagance, and perversity. He did not foresee that the French would suffer for twenty-five years all these scourges, born of the progress of enlightenment, that, after having been saved by a miracle of Providence, they would suddenly lose their memory, and that after having recovered their legitimate king, they would still sigh after the liberal ideas that had wrested the scepter from the hands of the best monarchs. He did not foresee, finally, when he pointed out the dangers of publishing, only books on administrative matters, he would find himself, after twenty-five years of the most terrible calamities, enough fools to maintain that "such freedom" should be extended to brochures, pamphlets and a multitude of daily newspapers, free from surveillance and censorship.

Objection: "What about people who dodge censorship?" (raised by Benjamin Constant, well-known French liberal publicist)


Such reasoning can not withstand examination for a moment. Will the clandestine writing be printed and debited freely with ten or twenty thousand copies? Will it be spread throughout France by the convenient way of the post office? No, no doubt. Consequently, the evil will not have been done, and the greatest dangers will have been prevented.

(The existence of the Internet does not substantially alter this as much as one may think, especially given the tendency to Metcalfe-style network effects, platform centralization, segregation of content demographics, etc.)

Cheron is by far at his strongest when answering Constant how government is supposed to measure public opinion. Further entwined is the epistemic question of how truths are to be arrived in governance without use of open debate:

You will see that the acts of a high policy have been adopted, only after consulting the majority! You will see that it is this majority that wanted the suspension of the habeas corpus act, the Spanish expedition, the war with the United States, etc. And where is this majority? Can the government know it? **By the newspapers, but then it would not be the majority of the people, it would be the majority of journalists,** and could M. de Constant show me that with every question agitated in the parliaments, the ministers make an enumeration of the opinions of all the inhabitants of England to know whether it is quite true that the majority approves such or such a bill. In England, as everywhere, this majority is unknown. The wisdom of the government presumes it, does its good without it meddling in it; never does it consult it, and it does well; for, I ask, what would be the use of a government, and how could it work, if it were necessary for it to make a sort of appeal to the people for every measure which it would consider fit to take? M. Benjamin de Constant, who, in his system of relative perfection, judges everything else, can not refrain from groaning over the delay which censorship would bring to such great advantages. I think I have proved that these benefits are nothing less than real. But let's talk a bit about this delay.
It would seem, in truth, that the whole thinking part of the nation, to use the expressions of M. de Constant, stifles an abundance of truths; rather, fear that it is a plethora of evil and contagious moods. When I hear these patients, whom I fear to see incurable, exclaim in their transport: "My opinion! My opinion! What! I will be forbidden to make known my opinion! All is lost if my opinion is published too late!" I would be tempted to say to most of them: Why on earth do you have an opinion? But since it is possible that, in everything, there is a good opinion, seems to me that, having a representative Government, it would be easy to entrust a member this; an opinion which seems so precious, and it would be possible even to find the means of preserving the property of its author. But even if these means are not found, I would still maintain that the loss of an opinion would not be a motive for changing or altering the foundations of a representative Government. In such a Government, it must be supposed, although this is not always true, that the representatives are the elite of the nation. If it is not, it is a misfortune, but much less great than that which would exist, if all those who are not representatives were occupied in discrediting those who are, and in sending them every day reproaches.

It's remarkable that Cheron still held the historical consciousness that representative government is meant to be an aristocracy of sorts when this view was losing ground to that of it being a popular tribunal for grievances.

Newspapers, by his estimate, are not to "complain of being compelled to communicate the acts of authority, to report on the discussions of the Chamber of Deputies," while generally being free to review non-obscene art, novels, plays, etc.

Royal prerogative must exist, else "if the monarch did not have the power to prevent or suppress what seemed to him detrimental to society, to individuals, to the internal order of the State or to the interests of his foreign policy, the power of the journalist would be superior to that of the King himself, the charter would be annihilated, the Government would again be the toy and soon the victim of the innovators, and France would be lost" -- a basic consequence of personal sovereignty, but an important and logically accurate one nonetheless.

One can forget all this at one's own peril. Though, one must ask, will the Anglo swallow his pride and do what is necessary for reasons of state? It is a sad scene when the same people who howl for restoration of patriarchy and subordination of women cannot get themselves to decisively reject all commitment to free speech, and indeed try to make contemptible defenses about it being part of their inborn heritage.

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