I once got into an argument with another student at college about the effect of free speech on minorities. Her position was that without some sort of protection, a majority could simply oppress and rule over a minority through its dominance in the culture. Thus, protecting minorities requires prohibitions on certain kinds of speech.
I responded by asking her who — in a society containing an oppressive majority and an oppressed minority — was likely to possess the right to impose those kinds of restrictions, and in whose benefit would they most likely be implemented?
She wasn’t a particularly intelligent person, but for a moment, I thought I could see the wheels turning in her eyes, almost putting together the idea that the very premise of her position required her to believe that her “side” was both in power and not in power simultaneously.
Most people understand what that young woman (who later went on to commit her own false-flag hate-crime on campus) failed to grasp, which is that for the law to be just, it must be objective. It must protect even those who we think of as evil or malicious, up until they break the law, or else we forfeit the protection of the law… for which the law had been instituted in the very first place.
Where freedom of speech is concerned, this means that people must not censor books. We rightly look upon book-burning as a totalitarian phenomenon, and the more sophisticated intellectuals look upon books that they disagree with not as hated objects to be destroyed, but as platforms for demonstrating the truth more clearly. One illustrative personal example: I could not have written Letter to Anwei without having familiarized myself with Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, a book with which I both vehemently disagree, and strongly advise everyone with an interest in philosophy to read.
Among the tech giants — swiftly becoming tech monopolies — Amazon has been among the best. Twitter began shadowbanning over politics a few years ago, and then unverifying, and finally simply kicking people off. YouTube has been putting certain accounts into strange half-hidden states, shutting off comments, and demonetizing. And of course, Facebook has become so notoriously controlling that a new verb has emerged: Zucc’d (to be given a 30-day ban for offensiveness of one form or another).
But today, Amazon removed The White Nationalist Manifesto by Greg Johnson.
As Greg himself points out, this is not just a company consistently following some pre-determined, objective policy:
Not only did Amazon suppress my opinions — which are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution — they deleted the opinions of the customers who reviewed the book.
Amazon does, however, continue to sell the following works:
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto — the manifesto of a movement that murdered more than 100 million people, specifically targeting an entire class of people — the bourgeoisie — for destruction; for sale in many editions from the richest capitalist in the world
- Leon Trotsky’s Terrorism and Communism — a defense of political terrorism
- Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — also available in many editions — which is apparently less threatening to the current world order than my book.
- The Unabomber’s Manifesto — which does seem to create a moral hazard. Want to get your book published? Start mailing out package bombs. Kill three people and injure 23 others, and your book might also be fit to stock at Amazon.com.
- Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto — S.C.U.M. being an acronym for Society to Cut Up Men. Solanas published her manifesto in 1967. In 1968, she attempted to murder Andy Warhol.
- The Anarchist’s Cookbook— corrected and updated to make it extra lethal
- Osama Bin Laden’s Messages to the World — mastermind one of history’s greatest terrorist attacks, and you too might be fit to stock at Amazon.com
- Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah — apparently there’s a whole library of books by Islamist terrorists for sale at Amazon.com
- Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State — the blueprint of the Zionist movement, which spawned the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine through terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and wars that continue to this day
- Black Nationalist Manifestos by such writers as Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad
- Everybody Talks About the Weather . . . We Don’t: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof
- Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare
- Al-Qaida’s Doctrine for Insurgency: Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin’s “a Practical Course for Guerrilla War”
Really, one has to ask: Is there a book written by an honest-to-God terrorist or mass murderer that Amazon.com does not stock?
And let’s not even get into Amazon’s vast selections of pornography, sex toys, and drug paraphernalia.
Some autistic libertarian-types might be inclined to say that economic freedom requires protecting the company’s right to do business with whomever it chooses. Private companies do not answer to the first amendment. If Amazon doesn’t want to sell a certain book, so what? No first amendment violation here.
But this is a self-sabotaging argument, which places a desire to avoid being pigeon-holed with political pariahs over preserving the actual freedoms that such an argument rests upon. Freedom of businesses to discriminate with their customer base on racial, religious, political, or indeed, virtually any arbitrary grounds, ended back in 1964. To uphold that right to a business now would be granting one standard to liberals, and another to conservatives.
Such a move looks considerably more cowardly when we consider just how large Amazon has become, and how much of a monopoly it holds on the book market. Bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Nobles are going under because of its dominance. We put such heavy restrictions on the powers of the state not because the state is some unique and special category of organization, but because it has been given a monopoly on violence. Super-massive international companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have acquired greater power than most states, but wield it without the checks and limitations imposed upon governments.
Beyond legality, Amazon’s action constitutes a breach of cultural etiquette, the unwritten law upon which the written law is based. Freedom of speech cannot exist as a legal doctrine without an underlying culture of respect for the freedom of speech. By attacking the culture, Amazon undermines the basis for the law, and people gradually come to accept politically-selective censorship of their thought from imperious, long-fingered powers that be.
For full disclosure, I am a fan of Greg Johnson’s work. More than a fan, I have spoken with him, written for his site in the past, and have had the pleasure of meeting with him in person on occasion. I even had a small contributing role in his book — the section on Rocky Mountain Locusts in chapter one was my suggestion. That said, I myself am not a White Nationalist. I suppose I am a little skeptical of the premise that whites will go extinct without an explicit politics of White Nationalism, but more fundamentally, I am simply less interested than I used to be in the sphere that White Nationalism exists in: politics. My interest has shifted in the last several years, and is primarily in culture, religion, psychology, and philosophy. I don’t really disagree with White Nationalism for the same reason that I don’t really disagree with quantum physics; it’s just not really my wheelhouse anymore. Someone has to deal with politics, but that someone isn’t me.
My interest in Greg’s work comes from the fact that he is a dissident teacher of philosophy (often in a manner and on subjects which even an ardent progressive could enjoy) who makes fairly compelling arguments, and I would be just as interested in a quality rebuttal to The White Nationalist Manifesto as I have been in the book itself. It is unfortunate that such a rebuttal has not yet been attempted, Fukuyama’s half-hearted failure notwithstanding.
But suppose you (having read and understood his arguments) hate Greg Johnson, and everything he stands for. Perhaps you feel as the Austrians did, and considered it reasonable to jail David Irving for questioning some details about the holocaust… or at least, not to defend his rights too vigorously, for fear of being seen as an ally or a supporter of… “hate.” Perhaps, in your estimation, Greg Johnson deserves a similar fate. Maybe he doesn’t deserve it, but if it happens, it’s just as well.
It’s not a slippery slope fallacy to ask where that will end because we already know. Those people who didn’t stand up for Irving also also didn’t stand up for Salman Rushdie when he was given–as Hitchens put it–a life and a death sentence by the Ayatollah of Iran.
People didn’t seem to mind that much about the physical assault of Richard Spencer. To be totally frank, I actually dislike Richard Spencer, though for slightly different reasons than most. But when Antifa violence comes for “moderates” like Milo, or Ben Shapiro, or Steve Scalise, those who stood by when the assholes were getting abused will have no leg to stand on when “their” people come under the target reticle. Perhaps Bret Weinstein, or Carl Benjamin will be next. Who knows.
Even if you oppose Greg Johnson, White Nationalists, and identity politics in general, it is still important to oppose Amazon’s censorship and stand up at least for the right to publish dissident works on an ostensibly free and open platform. Because ultimately, the problem with censorship isn’t just the time horizon of who gets to play censor. Thought itself suffers as the censors attempt to prohibit words related to their own field of interest, and given the interconnected nature of language, we lose our right to speak safely on all variety of subjects, because suddenly, saying “he” instead of “they” has become a political act, and someone gets rewarded for your head, in the form of publicity and social points. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to talk about engineering, or psychology, or chemistry, or even math. Freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech in any field requires the protection of the means for the freedom of speech even in fields we don’t care about, and for speakers with whom we disagree. If they are as wrong as we believe them to be, then it will be those very means that will destroy them more thoroughly than any government program.
The book is available here.
Are White Nationalists so powerful? Then why trust censorship?
Are they not so powerful? Then whence the narrative of White Supremacism?
Are they wrong? Then why depend on censorship?
Are they right? Then why are you trying to stop them?
This Post Has 4 Comments
Jacob26 Feb 2019
I’m not so sure that amazon banning Johnsons books is all that bad for their cause. Most normies, as a knee jerk reaction, would probably dismiss anything that is tarnished as “racist”, “white supremacist”, etc. without actually reading the material. The genuinely intellectually curious person, who actually reads the dissident thought material, will to their shock find that the SS boogeyman their were expecting, simply (for the most part) don’t exist. Going from this, it is much easier to reconsider some of the more intuitively ‘out-there’ claims that these circles promote, i.e. cultural marxism or white genocide.
Case in point: me – I used to scoff at anything Alex Jones said, dismissing any conspiracy theory he promoted. That changed when every media platforms banned him. Several competing tech thinkfluencing companies going against their market self-interests to, on the same day, ban Alex Jones? – Sounds like a conspiracy to me.
C.B. Robertson26 Feb 2019
True, and a good point. But while the argument might benefit in the long run, the individuals who participate in that conversation are still persecuted, and many are persuaded to simply ditch the conversation entirely. To be honest, it’s one of the reasons (but not the only one) that I’m edging away from politics. The cost is just too high.
The Streissand effect is also a function of will. If people think “oh, they’re banning it, that’s good, nothing to do here,” then it ceases to function.
The reason people censor is that they don’t care about the truth. They care about power. But no one can admit that in public and survive, politically. Power DOES benefit from censorship, if done correctly. So pointing out censorship is to point out a misalignment between power and truth.
Jacob26 Feb 2019
Didn’t know there was a name for it – TIL Streissand Effect. To be sure, I’m still against the censorship – but I think it would be interesting to see if there were any data or study (without Cathedral BS) which could explain which pathways people take to become “red-pilled”, for lack of a better word.
On second thought, my hypothesis is probably incorrect, otherwise they wouldn’t be banning the books.
For me personally, the Streissand effect is real. Have you read it & can you recommend it?
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