The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

The Cost of "Free Speech" June 9, 2005 by RedStar2000

It's astonishing when you actually think about it: some people want to have a "free and fair" debate with reactionary bastards who would cheerfully kill them without a second thought or a moment's remorse.

*Shakes head in disbelief*


It's very naive to think that any social order will have or even could have "absolute" freedom of speech.

There are things that may be spoken of and things that may not be spoken of in every social order.

The difference between capitalism and post-capitalist society in this regard is who decides what is permitted and what is prohibited.

The capitalist class makes that decision now; the working class will make that decision after the revolution.

I know what I think it should decide; but the actual decision belongs to the class.

I can guarantee you this -- it will prohibit some kinds of speech. So the only discussion that makes any "real world sense" is what should be permitted and what should not be permitted.
First posted at RevLeft on June 3, 2005


And again like I said in the last debate, most leftist would not stand for any limitation or repeal of freedom of speech, so why should we take a totally opposite stance after the revolution?

Because we want to win.

In addition, it's very naive, as I noted earlier, to think that "freedom of speech" exists now. It most definitely does not.

There is a long history in capitalist countries of revolutionaries being imprisoned or even killed for expressing their views in public.

Whenever the ruling class feels threatened (even if the threat is marginal or nonexistent), "free speech" goes in the trash!

They are serious about staying in power; we must also be serious about keeping them down once we get them down.
First posted at RevLeft on June 4, 2005


So you want to be as bad as the capitalists are now?

Or even worse...if that's what it takes to win!

Do you realize what would happen if the capitalists re-take power? I was reading a little history the other day and discovered something that has probably been almost completely forgotten.

When the Spanish Republic was finally defeated by Franco and his clerical-fascist forces, they went on an unbelievable killing spree (1939-1941) -- as many as 200,000 lefties (of all varieties) were summarily murdered!

No one paid a lot of attention to this; World War II was already underway and that's what people were looking at.

But this is typical...if you look at dozens of examples where insurrections have been defeated, you'll find that "white terror" far exceeds "red terror" in ferocious inhumanity.

Depriving reactionaries of "free speech" is trivial...compared to what they would deprive us of if we let them have the chance.


Again, like I said earlier, we needn't worry, really.

Yeah...what could possibly go wrong?
First posted at RevLeft on June 4, 2005


Suppressing speech is not only immoral, it is also impractical.

Immoral? *laughs*

Impractical? Well, that depends on what particular kind of speech that you want to repress and in what particular medium?

Taking Rush Limbaugh off the air is easy.

Censoring the internet is difficult.

Spying on people's personal conversations is impossible.

So, we do take Rush off the air...along with all his counterparts.

We watch the internet for reactionary sites and, if they become significant, take them down.

And we leave people to have their personal conversations unmolested.

It's perfectly long as you don't go wacko with paranoia.


You know, there's a tone of "class spite" in your words, RedStar2000.

Look what they would do to us, ...well, we'll hit them just as hard...


And I agree, there is definitely a tone of "class spite" in everything I write on this and similar subjects.

I really do hate the capitalist class. I deeply despise them and everything they stand for.

In revolutionary periods, the working class has been inclined to "softness" and even "mercy" when it comes to dealing with the class enemy...and I think that's been a great failure on our part. I suspect it has been a material factor in many of our historical defeats.

Well, I frankly advocate a more "ruthless" and, if you like, "Stalinesque" approach. I don't see any reason to be "nice" to those who would massacre us and then enjoy their breakfasts.


If all goes according to plan, nothing can go wrong in dealing with the minuscule amount of fascists.

In life, nothing goes "according to plan".


But what you propose, redstar, is political suicide.

Well, we disagree...since I think that free speech for reactionaries is an extraordinarily foolish risk that could lead to catastrophe for the new-born revolution.

But the working class will decide...and I certainly hope they will make better decisions about this than they have in the past.
First posted at RevLeft on June 4, 2005


Who's "we"?

Does the entire community get together to decide which radio hosts should be taken off?

What if the radio worker's collective likes DJ-X? Does the "will" of the community take precedence?

What about publishing?

What if the paper collective and the printers collective thinks that "An analysis of post-communist living" is a well-researched thought piece but 61% of the general community thinks it's "reactionary"?

Who "wins"?

And on the internet, who spends their time searching for "reactionary" web pages?

And when found, it there a plebiscite held on each of them?

On each book, broadcast, newspaper, journal, article as well?

Every one!?

Don't you think that, ultimately, someone might be "appointed" to "take care of all that stuff"?

Only temporarily of course, but sooner or later...

Otherwise, now that the precedent of approved censorship is set-up, don't you think that people will quickly tire of the inefficiency of the process (holding a vote every time) and might just "take matters into their own hands"?

You know, kill people, beat them up, and so forth.

Once a society condones suppression, it isn't a big leap to mob suppression, especially if the society itself isn't that quick with the suppressing.

I don't usually reproduce lengthy quotes -- but it struck me how reminiscent this one is of the posts in Opposing Ideologies about the "practical difficulties" of socialism/communism/anarchism.

Yes, working out the details of the best ways to suppress reactionary views will be problematical and fraught with inefficiencies and fuckups. No question about it.

We won't get everything right "the first time". Some things will get suppressed that shouldn't be and some of the crap will get through.

And the authors of some of the crap that gets through might well get beaten up or even killed by an angry mob.

Revolution is "not a dinner party" as someone (correctly) put it.

Since we are a very long way from actually having to work out the practical details of suppressing reactionary ideas, this discussion is really about principles.

Are all opinions "equal"? No.

Do all opinions "deserve to be heard"? No.

Do opinions reflect real class interests (actual or potential)? Yes.

Are they "weapons" in class struggle? Yes.

Will class struggle continue after the revolution? Yes.

Is it legitimate (and even vitally important) for the working class to suppress the views of its class enemies? Yes.

Those are the principles that I think should guide our practice in the post-revolutionary era.

And I think that any commitment to abstract "freedom of speech" for the old ruling class and its lackeys is childish and irresponsible.


In a post-revolutionary society, such emotionalism is only going to make rational decision making harder.

By all means "hate" the capitalists -- use that hate in the fight against them!

But when that fight is over, you must be able to put that hate aside.

When is "that fight over"? You evidently think it's over as soon as the old ruling class is driven from power and their state apparatus destroyed.

I disagree; my estimate is that it will take up to a century after the revolution before we can really say "it's over & we won".

I still remember listening on the radio to a minor-league baseball game a few years ago. The visiting team scored 14 runs in the top-half of the first inning.

A romp? The home team came back with 15 runs in the bottom of the first and went on to win 18-16! *laughs*

As Yogi said, "it ain't over 'til it's over."

That works for proletarian revolution too.
First posted at RevLeft on June 4, 2005


If we can get a socialist government elected...

But we can't do that! If the capitalists thought they were about to lose an election, they'd either cheat or they'd declare a "national emergency" and cancel the "election".


My point was that we won't be able to "get it right" ...ever.

Perfection, alas, is truly unattainable. I'll settle for keeping 99.999% of the crap out of the area of public discourse.


Communist society is intrinsically antithetical to the limitation of free speech.

I don't see why that should be the case.


Full democratic enforcement simply places to unreasonable a work load on the society and haphazard enforcement will lead to resentment and anger.

The only way to enforce "speech codes" is to have people "on it" all the time. Sort of like a committee...

Details...and, yes, I'm sure that reactionaries denied a role in public discourse will indeed be "resentful" and "angry".

Tough shit!


Ultimately, even principles must be sacrificed to reality.

If a principle must be sacrificed to reality, then it's clearly a "bad" that is disconnected from reality.


It's so dangerously naive to not realize that with the suppression of ideas, any ideas, you prevent intellectual progression. Allowing "wrong" and even "reactionary" speech is essential to furthering discussion.

After the revolution, I am no longer interested in "furthering discussion" with reactionaries.

I want them and their ideas entirely removed from public life.

Nor do I think that reactionary ideas have any useful contribution to make to "intellectual progression".


If you truly envisage a really democratic suppression of speech, it would require that everyone in society contribute to the decisions regarding suppression.

Not necessarily. Something so difficult to evaluate would be an extremely rare occurrence. Most of the time, reactionary ideas are plain and obvious and will be suppressed by the media collective to which they are submitted.

A media collective set up for the purpose of spreading reactionary ideas would be denied the resources to operate.

It simply isn't the "big deal" that you make it out to be.

Consider the practice of the New York IndyMedia collective. When people publish reactionary material on that site, the collective moves it into a field called "hidden posts"...they are not truly hidden -- you can still read them if you want. But it's a "pain in the ass" -- involving many mouse-clicks to get to them. Most people don't bother -- they don't want to read reactionary crap.

I would, of course, just delete them.


The moment we start restricting what people can say and write and read and hear is the moment we lose credibility with the masses.

I do not see why that should be the case. Credibility rests on the correspondence between what we say and the material reality that people directly observe.

If we are "fanatically truthful" then our credibility will not be questioned simply because we have suppressed reactionaries.
First posted at RevLeft on June 5, 2005


And, besides, again, the great flaw of any censorship program is that, inevitable, things are censored that should not have been.

That may and even will happen on occasion...but the damage is not "permanent".

An idea that correlates highly with material reality and yet is suppressed because it's incorrectly perceived as "reactionary" will emerge again...and will keep on emerging until it's impossible to suppress. It will "make sense" in a way that's impossible to ignore.

So, on rare occasions, it may slow us down a little...temporarily.

No big deal.


Basically the things that need to be published the most will be the ones that are most liable to be censored in the name of "protecting" the public!

Right. We "know" this asserted it was true.

Very well, I assert the opposite. Progressive critiques of the new revolutionary society will be especially welcomed and collectives will compete with each other to publish and circulate them.


All you'll really accomplish is to make [reactionaries] work harder at cleaning up their ideas and couch their arguments in more rational terms...

I don't think that's within their capabilities; you can't really make unreason "sound reasonable"...unless you obfuscate to the point of incomprehension. Reaction that is so well disguised as to be impenetrable does not concern one would likely publish it and, if someone did, no one would take the trouble to read it.


Can the community "force" that collective to withhold publishing? denying resources. I mentioned this in my last post...if a media collective is formed for the purpose of publicizing reactionary opinion, then the resources it needs to do that will be denied by the community. Up to and including turning off the electricity!


Propaganda doesn't stop being propaganda just because it's true -- and people know that.

If it's true...then why would they care?

Do you think that significant numbers of people will be profoundly disturbed at the fact that we are "not playing fair" with reactionaries?

If so, then you have nothing to worry about. We both agree that any kind of "special" or "official" censorship collective is a bad idea. I'm counting on ordinary class-conscious people to want to remove all the crap from public discourse.

If, as you seem to anticipate, they are really motivated by a "spirit of fairness" towards reaction, then my perspective won't have a prayer.

I hope they will be motivated by a fierce hatred of all forms of reaction...and will be delighted to squash it like a cockroach on the kitchen table.


Are you proposing community-wide suppression or collective-dependent suppression?


Whichever works best, of course.


Don't kill them.

Can we rough them up a little? *laughs*


Holy shit, RedStar is gettin' whipped here, huh?

Nah...just having my usual problems pounding sense into people's skulls.

It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it.
First posted at RevLeft on June 5, 2005


Those writings / broadcasts which challenge the status quo or shake up the ruling paradigm have often historically been labeled as "reactionary" or their local equivalents.


I can't think of a single historical example. I cannot think of a single bourgeois revolution that was labeled "reactionary" by aristocrats or royalty. I cannot think of a single proletarian uprising that was labeled "reactionary" by the bourgeoisie. Even on those rare occasions when fascism tried to appear "progressive", it was always understood to be fundamentally reactionary.

The only ambiguous cases come from Eastern Europe -- East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland 1980-90.

The reason I call them ambiguous is that both progressive and reactionary elements were mixed together -- people who wanted those societies to move towards the left were united with people who wanted those societies to move towards the right.

Looking back now, it's clear to me that the reactionary elements were dominant: nationalist, religious, pro-capitalist, etc.

The Russians were good at shooting people (or threatening to)...what they were not good at was actually fighting reactionary ideologies. They didn't give a damn about progressive change in Eastern Europe...all that was important to them was the continued existence of docile regimes.

Mostly because after 1945, the USSR itself was moving in a reactionary direction.


After a revolution it is fundamental that you trust the people. All the people.

No, that's not "fundamental" to me. I don't trust the former members and lackeys of the old ruling class an inch! I am similarly distrustful of the clergy...all of them.

That's a lot of people...perhaps 25% of the population or even a little more! Most of them will turn out to be harmless enough...but some of them won't.

And I think we have to be ready to fall like "a ton of bricks" on the ones who are not harmless...who are not just nostalgic for their "glory days" but who are very serious about bringing them back!

Attempting to advocate that, of course, is self-evidently counter-revolutionary and reactionary.

That doesn't mean we have to "shoot them" or even "put them in jail" just means we have to deny them an internet connection.

That's easy enough.


Once you set the precedent that workers in a field can refuse basic services to a member of the community because they disagree with him you undermine the entire society.

Happens all the time now...and capitalism doesn't seem to suffer for it.

Why should we?


If you want to bring back oppression "but on the other side", you'd better have a damn good way to do it that doesn't bear any chance of leading to the very thing that the revolution just fought against.

Everything that we do or don't do implies risk -- there are no perfect certainties or risk-free choices.

I think that as long as the power to repress is widely-dispersed and subject to democratic oversight, the risks of despotism are minimal.

I also think that the free circulation of reactionary ideas is an impermissible risk to the revolution itself. Not because it will necessarily lead to a reactionary coup or civil war -- though either or both of those possibilities would exist -- but because reactionary ideas act as an intellectual obstacle to the spread of even more progressive ideas.

We want society to become more and more do ideas that are reactionary even by contemporary bourgeois standards help in that process?

Look at this board. How could we even have the discussion that we're having now if, at the same time, the thread was cluttered with posts about "Jewish control of the media" or "liberal media bias" or "the untouchable sanctity of religious belief", blah, blah, blah.

All your strategy would result in is the proliferation of great heaping mountains of crap...and I see no reason whatsoever to permit that or even the possibility of that.


And they will sooner sprout booster rockets and fly to Saturn then they will become instruments of that oppression themselves.

You're repeating yourself...if in somewhat more colorful terms. I understand that you believe the working class will be so "fair minded" and "compassionate" that they will not dream of depriving a reactionary of his "free speech".

I disagree with that...though I'll admit that you have a lot of historical precedent on your side.

What I and those who agree with me will argue is that the working class has been too kind with its class enemies...and this time, we should not fool around or tolerate their crap for a second.

And the working class will decide between our contrasting views.


For a communist society to function, the people in that society must, fundamentally, trust that the other people in that society are basically rational and decent and trustworthy.

But, in the beginning, some are not "rational" and not "decent" and not trustworthy.

And we are stuck with that...probably for 50-100 years.

You want to trust them anyway...and I don't.

Simple as that.


Wouldn't life be so much easier if you could just deny us "reactionaries" resources?

Us reactionaries?

Now you wish to take this thread in a somewhat different direction. You really want to identify yourself with the "poor suppressed reactionaries"?

Well, it's up to you. But you risk serving as an illustration of the strength of my argument.

You begin with a superstitious reverence for "freedom of speech" as a Platonic ideal that we grubby revolutionaries must not sully with our earthly (and probably bloody) hands. Then you proceed to identify with the "victims" of our repression.

The only remaining step is to join them.

That would be a shame.
First posted at RevLeft on June 5, 2005


...what "happens all the time now"?

People are unable to get electricity because the power workers disagree with their political views!?

Come now.

What "happens now" is that the overwhelming majority of people are deprived of their nominal "freedom of speech" because they are deprived of the resources to exercise that right.

You don't have a television station? Why not? Rupert Murdoch has a whole bunch!

Oh, you don't have the your "freedom of speech" lapses for lack of resources.

And yet the capitalist system functions perfectly well...inspite of the near total absence of "free speech" in reality.

I see no reason why a communist society, even a very young one, cannot function perfectly well by granting the resources to exercise "freedom of speech" to the vast majority of people while denying those resources to reactionaries.

Is that clear?


When the reactionary opinions are trounced in a fair and free debate of ideas, which they, of course, will be, it will be far more convincing than any effort of propaganda. It will truly show which ideas are superior. And that is the only way to defeat ideas.

Since that's never happened, I have no idea if that's "the best way" to defeat ideas or not.

But I know it's not the "only way".

Do you imagine that 4th and 5th century Christians defeated pagan ideas as a consequence of "fair and free debate"?

You know that did not happen; the Christians drove the pagans out of public life. The great library at Alexandria was burned. The schools of philosophy in Greece were shut down and the teachers exiled to Persia. The pagan temples were demolished or converted into Christian churches. The pagan public ceremonies and holy days were abolished or taken over by the Christians.

And, in fact, there was very little direct violence against pagans as such -- it was the disappearance of paganism from public life that caused it to "wither away".

I propose nothing more drastic than the same treatment of reactionary ideas (including religion) by a revolutionary society; we do not need to "shoot people" or "put people in jail" because they disagree with us (although we may shoot some particularly odious figures "on general principles")...all we really need to do is drive reaction out of public life altogether -- and it will "wither away".


The fact that there are people out there writing reactionary pieces in no way stops other people from writing progressive pieces.

It may not "stop them" but it certainly distracts them. I pointed that out with the practical example of this board and this particular discussion.

I reiterate: suppose that every time we were to discuss the shape of communist society, our posts were constantly interrupted with reactionary bullshit.

Would our readers be willing to wade through the crap to see what we had to say? Hell, would we be willing to do it in order that we could reply to each other?

I expect that there will be wide-ranging discussions and heated controversies in the aftermath of a genuine proletarian revolution -- the details of making communism work are bound to be the topic of much debate among workers themselves.

What purpose is served by adding to that discussion great heaping piles of reactionary bullshit?


And that can only come from having a truly unrestricted flow of ideas, even disgusting bigoted insulting ones.

Nope...all you'll achieve with publication of reactionary ideas is to piss off progressive people while encouraging closet reactionaries to come out in the open.


Again, such a society is predicated on every member having intrinsic rights as an individual and contributing to the society.

Even under communism, you don't have an "intrinsic right" to be a reactionary asshole. You may be "tolerated" as long as you don't annoy too many people.

But if you start preaching reaction, expect the worst.


If Bob wants to use paper to publish his hate-filled capitalist rag "the Daily Bourgeois", he should get that paper.

But he won't. You cannot reasonably expect paper workers to deliver paper to someone who wants to re-enslave them.

That's just not going to happen.

Nor should it.
First posted at RevLeft on June 6, 2005


He proposed that any collective or person that published "reactionary" materials would have their flow of essential resources cut [off] by the workers' collective who made that resource...

But the solution he did propose, it's actually worse. To reiterate my earlier point, once you set that precedent, you undermine the entire basis of society.

The "entire basis"?

I don't see why. Unless you assume that workers' collectives are unusually vindictive or spiteful, recourse to denial of resources would probably be a pretty rare wouldn't be done "casually" or on the "spur of the moment".

Consider a group that has formed to publish a "Christian magazine". In order to do this, they need computers, glossy paper, a printing press, building space, a delivery truck, electricity, etc.

To get all this stuff, they have to ask for it. And when they make that request, the producers of all that stuff will want to know what they want it for -- because others are also asking and the producers have to prioritize requests (since they can't produce an infinite supply of whatever they make).

I think it would be self-evident that The Christian Magazine requests would go to the bottom of the list or be rejected outright.

Ok, the Christians, not being dummies, realize that if they tell the truth, that will happen. So they make up a plausible-sounding lie -- saying perhaps that they want to publish a magazine called "The Marxist Philosopher". Ending up somewhere in the middle of the list, their requests are approved and, in six months to a year, they have all the stuff they need to publish.

And The Christian Magazine rolls off the press. But now what do they do? They can't take it to a regular magazine outlet collective...they'd refuse to carry it. (Magazine distributors today refuse to carry left publications and most news dealers won't handle them.) They can mail it to people (in a plain brown envelope)...and hope that the mail-handling machinery doesn't damage that envelope in such a way as to reveal its contents. Or they can hand-deliver it to known Christians...awkward but possible.

Ok, so far, so good. They're spreading reaction and "getting away with it". They're "under the radar" (just as we are with this board).

And then, by chance, a copy falls into the hands of...well, someone like me. *laughs*


So, I yell! Whatever collectives I happen to be a member of, I bring this up. I copy the worst parts and send emails to anyone I think might be in a position to shut those bastards down. Like-minded people also start yelling. Perhaps our complaints make it into the mainstream anti-reactionary media.

Who are those fuckers? Where are they getting the resources to print that crap? Complaints begin to reach the workers' collectives that did and are still supplying the resources to publish The Christian Magazine. Records are checked and re-checked. Perhaps some individual at each of the various paper plants volunteers to track down copies of all the publications that they are supplying paper to...and, at one plant, there's a series of shipments to a magazine called "The Marxist Philosopher" which no one can find a copy of!

Our volunteer reports his findings to the acting "managers" of the paper plant -- and they decide to check out physically the place to where they're shipping the paper (while suspending further shipments, of course).

Now the Christians are in the shit. They can't produce any issues of "The Marxist Philosopher" and they can't explain what they really did with all that paper. Even if they took the precaution of making dummy issues of "The Marxist Philosopher", they are stuck for an answer to the question "which magazine outlet collective carries TMP?".

Not to mention "which bookstores or newsstands carry TMP?"

Now, the paper plant permanently cancels paper shipments to the Christians. And probably warns other paper plants about shipping anything to that particular address.

Sharper consequences could follow; one of the things that's likely to be a "common law crime" in communist society is the appropriation of public resources for reactionary purposes.

In other words, you can't request a load of bricks to build a community center and then secretly use the bricks to build or repair a church. The Christians lied to obtain the resources to publish...which could lead to serious criminal charges against them.

In any event, that's likely the end of The Christian Magazine...and good riddance!

And the "entire basis" of communist society is not "undermined" at all. A reactionary threat emerged and was dealt with.

End of story.
First posted at RevLeft on June 7, 2005


As far as I can tell, the critical area of disagreement between us on this issue is that you feel that paper producers, say, should be able to determine priority based on the political leanings of the publication for to which they ship paper. I do not.

I believe that these workers must decide priority based on entirely objective standard. That is, standards irrespective of political opinion.

Maybe they can determine publication priority based on readership levels, or by periodically surveying members of the community on what they read. However they do it, it cannot be based on politics.

You're assuming that paper workers (and nearly all workers, for that matter) are "disengaged" from the social consequences of their work. They are "like machines" which, not being sentient, do not care about the motives of their operators.

A gun does not care who you shoot, much less why. A car does not care about your destination, much less your reason for going there.

That kind of alienation among workers is so common today that we "take it for granted"...we just "do our job" -- like robots -- and let someone else (the bosses) worry about the consequences.

I do not think communist society will have this kind of attitude...or at least it will be far less common. I think people will care about what is being done with the products of their labor...or at least a lot of people will care far more than they do now.

How will a paper workers collective decide its priorities? What criteria will they use? Well, they know that their bulk newsprint shipments are going to The Daily Comrade and most of their glossy stock is going to Progressive Computer, Gender Liberation, The Revolutionary Artist or whatever. So someone puts in a request for a few cartons of glossy stock and tells the plant that it's for "a new publication" about "such and such".

Will they just "fill the order" and move on? Possibly. Will someone ask an awkward question or two? Maybe, maybe not.

Certainly a title like The Christian Magazine is going to "ring alarm bells"...the most highly conscious workers are going to raise hell about getting involved with that kind of crap.

To avoid the fuss, chances are that the person who takes the order will probably reject it on the spot.

Just as I don't have to ask anyone when I spot an obvious Nazi who has just registered on this board...I know that the people here want Nazis banned -- so I just do it.

Thus reactionaries who want to publish will have to disguise themselves in some fashion in order to acquire the resources to do so. And, sooner or later, that disguise will break down.

(Another thought just occurred to me -- paper plant collectives might maintain a library of publications for which they had supplied the paper -- it would be a point of pride to say they were involved in the making of "good stuff". And, naturally, it would be a point of shame to be, even inadvertently, involved in the making of "bad stuff".)

When we are no longer wage-slaves who dutifully follow the orders of our masters, then the responsibility for our actions in the world fall on us.

We can't use that old German excuse -- "I was just carrying out my orders" -- or its American variant -- "I was just doing my job".

Someone who advocates reactionary ideas is a "bad person". Someone who helps them do that is, at the very least, negligent and irresponsible. As if I saw a Nazi had registered on this board and just "let it slide".

Nobody would even notice it, probably, because some other administrator would ban the Nazi.

But I would know that I had behaved irresponsibly...and that should bother me!

In the first century or so of communist society, I think that communists will have to struggle a good deal to get this idea accepted: each member of society is responsible for the social consequences of her/his actions.

That's what "being free" means.
First posted at RevLeft on June 7, 2005


It is laughable that you would think workers give a damn about what is written on the materials that they make; if I was a paper factory worker, that would be the last thing I would worry about, I would instead care about getting better pay, getting less hours, and so on.

That's because you "are" -- or think you "would be" -- a typical alienated worker in late-capitalist society. Naturally, all that concerns you (or any such worker) is less work and more pay...class interest reduced to its rock-bottom core.

No better, really, than a slave whose greatest hope is being sold to "a kind and undemanding master".

You are so accustomed to this personal degradation that you cannot imagine anything but a "better version" of what we have now!

Real liberation from wage-slavery is "unthinkable" for you.

So, of course, you laugh -- nervously, I suspect. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that you are one of the unfortunates who find the implications of freedom "scary".

Too bad.


What if our own revolutionary comrades want to write something that criticizes this authoritarian measure, will they be banned from getting paper? I wonder, if those who disagree, what will be done about their mouths, because you can take away a person's paper and pen, but their mouth, you can't take away their ability to speak their mind. What will you do?

I imagine the process of driving reactionary ideologies out of public life will arouse a great deal of heated which people opposed to this "authoritarian" policy will speak and write a great deal.

But I expect the time to come when the debate will be effectively "over"...most workers will agree: No Free Speech For Reactionaries!

After that, if you want to publish a magazine called Free Speech for Reactionaries, you probably won't be able to find a paper plant that will supply you with paper.

As to conversations -- a.k.a. Chat -- I don't give a damn, myself. If you become annoying to people with your ceaseless reactionary yap, they may decide to "teach you a lesson" physically.

But I would suggest social ostracism is the better response...just don't have anything to do with such a moron. If necessary, expel him from your workplace collective -- no one should have to be constantly thrown into contact with an asshole.


What if I said "Christian Magazine" is actually a leftist publication?

Oxymoron...religion is always reactionary.


So you would punish paper makers or paper sellers who sell paper to people who want to write ideas outside of the communist norm?

The suppression of reactionary ideologies need not involve any "punishment" whatsoever...I've said that in previous posts in this thread.


Sometimes it appears that you are no better than the fascists and reactionaries, Redstar.

I'm not "better" and do not claim to be...with regard to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class, I am just as fanatical, just as determined, and, I hope, just as nasty as any fascist or reactionary.

After the revolution, I will do all I can to make damn sure that there are no military coups, no civil war, and no organized reactionary resistance to the new society...and I will encourage the same attitude among the whole working class.

Zero tolerance for counter-revolution!

Now, if you find my attitude distressing, ask yourself why.

Do you imagine that we'll have such "an easy win" that my policies will not be necessary? Then you don't have anything to worry about from one will listen to what I have to say -- it won't "connect" to the existing material reality. It will "sound crazy".

Or perhaps you think, like some, that "reactionaries are people too"...a common misconception in the left.

Let's be nice to them and maybe they won't kill and eat us for breakfast.

Get it through your head: reactionaries do not regard us "as people" but rather as domestic animals "gone wild"...that must be put down!

It's astonishing when you actually think about it: some people here want to have a "free and fair" debate with murdering bastards who would cheerfully kill them without a second thought or a moment's remorse.

*Shakes head in disbelief*
First posted at RevLeft on June 8, 2005


If we follow your plan, then we are left with a society in which those workers who work in "lucky" fields have the right to decide whether I live or die based solely on my political opinions!

You live in that kind of society now...does it keep you awake at night?

For example, if you live in a city, the chances are that there is enough food in that city at any given time to last about eight days. A massive strike by truck drivers and railroad workers -- "lucky folks" -- means that you're in deep shit in a very short period of time.

And they don't even give a rat's ass about your "political opinions".

If you have become so infamous that your life is actually threatened by the organized withholding of vital services, maybe it's time for you to move. And perhaps change your name and even keep your head down for a while.

I don't imagine people in a communist society will be so relentlessly vindictive as to "pursue you to the ends of the earth".

It really requires a state apparatus to organize that sort of thing...and we won't have one.

Once you've moved away, you'll probably be quickly forgotten.


You're talking about making this "social consciousness" production the norm. You want it to be the regular way in which production and distribution decisions are made. This means that whether or not I can get essential resources is entirely dependent on me not pissing off the workers in that field.

Yes...but, as I explained, it's not as if those workers are walking around looking for someone to get pissed off at. The "norm" is that your vital resources will be provided "no questions asked" (glossy paper stock is not a "vital resource").

It's only when the ugly head of reaction emerges that the possibility exists of eviction, cutting off electricity or water, etc., arises.

Just cutting off the paper supply put an end to The Christian Magazine...there was never any need to appeal to the power workers or the water workers.

In fact, if things reached that point, it would be part of a "very big struggle" that would be stirring up the whole city.


Don't you see the glaring danger of giving that kind of power to elite groups? Of saying that the paper workers will decide what publications are worthy and what are not?

No, I don't see any "glaring danger" at all. They are reasonable people and, if a controversy with them emerges, one can certainly go to them and attempt to persuade them that your publication is worthy.

And there will probably be a number of paper plants if one rejects you, you can always try another.


What people are worthy and which are not?

Exaggeration does not strengthen your argument.


Some of us value the principle above the emotional response.

Obviously. But it's your principle that I reject.
First posted at RevLeft on June 8, 2005


That principle, fundamentally, is that every human being has the fundamental right to express themselves because expression is the simple extension of human thought.

Well, it's a "noble principle"...but I don't think it applies to the real world. Now or ever.

In fact, I don't "believe" in "fundamental rights" at all...I think that's an idealist concept that has no counter-part in social reality.

All hither-to existing societies have granted some rights and withheld others...and I don't see why communist societies will be any different except for different choices about what constitutes a "human right".

Some rights that exist now won't exist then and some rights will exist then that don't exist now.

That seems to me to just be the way human societies work.

I understand that you think that "absolute freedom of speech" should be such a right in communist society. For reasons I've already explained, I don't think that will happen or should happen.

But, we'll see.
First posted at RevLeft on June 8, 2005
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