Back in January of 2016, I said that I would be voting for Trump for one reason, and that was for the preservation of the culture of free speech.
To his credit, I underestimated just how good of a president he would be. I didn’t expect his navigation of Korean peace talks, the beginning of a border wall and immigration restrictions, his absolute destruction of the mainstream media, his generally strong resistance to the NeoCons and Globalists in the establishment “deep state,” and I certainly didn’t expect him to make such remarkable strides in such a short time. Nevertheless, I hold that the most important success — perhaps the only success that matters — is Trump’s heralding in of a new culture of freedom of speech. In light of Kanye West’s recent coming out as a free-thinker, none other than Scott Adams has come out in support of this view, calling the new era we are experiencing a “Golden Age” for free expression.
A relevant question: why does a culture of free speech matter if we have the First Amendment? If the law already protects an institution, why does preserving cultural support matter?
I present to you exhibit A: the formerly United Kingdom of Londonistan.
Londonistan was once known for, and shaped by, the institution of Common Law. The Common Law is the origin of “the freedom of speech” (meaning the prohibition against prior restraint), and the Common Law arose from a particularly English culture.
That law follows from culture should be obvious to us, from a purely mechanical perspective. How do laws become codified, after all, if they are not first proposed and passed by a legislative body, a democratic initiative? Even the decree of a King or the verdict of a judge requires indirect support from the people. A King is allowed to live and to rule only if he remains within the confines of his people’s cultural world. History is, first and foremost, a library cataloging the violent and painful deaths of kings who failed in this regard, to remind future kings of their place. And judges are chosen from within a tradition by electors representing the interests of the people. They are more akin to avatars of their native legal tradition than they are distinct and independent humans.
England — or more precisely, London, which rules the rest of England — has experienced a dramatic shift in its demographics. White Natives (English/Scottish/Welsh/North Irish) now make up only 44.9% of the capital’s population. The dramatic changes in demographics have led to a similar shift in culture, which in turn, have led to a dramatic shift in law.
What sorts of legal changes would we expect to happen in an increasingly multicultural society? We could expect social trust to diminish, which would necessitate laws aimed at reducing inter-group tension. Perhaps laws against “hate speech,” particularly against members of other groups… and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what they’ve gotten. They’ve gotten so much of it, in fact, that The Spectator is now saying that free speech is dead in Britain.
It’s a terrifyingly hard point to contest. And speech is one object of British insanity.
Law is downstream from culture. Culture is downstream from demographics. There’s certainly some interplay there; culture and law can change demographics, and law can even change culture. But generally speaking, this seems to be how things play out.
Now what has Trump done?
Trump has done exactly what I said he would do:
He led by example in rejecting the establishment and saying what he thought, regardless of the threats, denouncements, and defamation of the would-be “influencers” of conventional metapolitics.
Now we’ve got Kanye speaking out with dragon energy against those trying to tell him what he is and isn’t allowed to think (or else)… because there’s always an (or else) behind the seemingly benevolent calls to decency and empathy, which are usually cloaked attempts to keep certain words or ideas off the table.
That’s the cultural threat to free speech, by the way. It doesn’t matter if it’s legally protected. If your desire to say what you think leads to financial stress, career endangerment, and social ostracism, on top of proactive deplatforming efforts that deny your functional ability to speak anyhow, then the laws won’t help. In such an environment, they probably won’t have long in the books anyhow.
Trump has spear-headed a campaign for a culture of free speech that we badly needed. It was the one reason I supported him, and I am as proud as ever that I did so. The fight isn’t over yet, of course, but it now seems that the battle is not only winnable, but that we appear to be winning.
How to continue the winning?
Have dragon energy, of course.
Have thumos. Have balls. Speak from the heart, and say what you think, and do so openly (not anonymously) and respectfully. Don’t be cowed by people who tell you to fret for your job and to fret for your appearance, to “consider the consequences of your actions.” They’re just afraid of conflict. Fuck them, and fuck their paralytic questions, which they’d never ask if you were to say equally contentious statements but on a track they agree with. Say what you think is true, and say what you think is false. Say when you think others might be wrong, and say when you think others are full of shit. Perhaps most importantly, say when you think you may have been wrong. Help create the culture of free speech that can resolve our disagreements and disputes through debate, negotiation, compromise, and reconciliation. The law is good, but it isn’t sufficient.
If we are bold enough in our speech, and lucky enough on everything else, we just might be able to avoid the real war that’s looming.
I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s possible.