ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: CollectiveActionProblems

So this thought probably isn't going to win me any friends on the left or right.

But here's a thought :

The problem the left has with freedom of speech is tied to the left's valorisation of consensus. (TheLeftTheoryOfDisagreement)

The left believe passionately in trying to get consensus, and getting CollectiveAction through consensus.

Freedom of speech is therefore problematic because it corrodes consensus and ultimately prevents collective action. (TheEndOfConsensus)

In this debate you can see three basic positions :

the right don't care about consensus because they believe / accept that decisions get made by powerful individuals and imposed on everyone else through force they are therefore free to support freedom of speech knowing the rich and powerful will use their wealth and power to enforce their preferred action.
the enlightenment / classical liberal tradition (present today among both some liberals, libertarians, and some self-described left-wing truth tellers) believes that when speech is free, the good ideas will eventually drive out the bad and so consensus can come out of that public debate
the rest of the left (who are not enlightenment / classical liberals) recognise the power of freedom of speech to corrode consensus and forestall collective action are therefore duly suspicious, believing that FoS undermines and attempt at building a consensus-based action

As always, I think it's important to make these explicit, because each side's positions become far more intelligible when considered not as moral failing, but as a theory of action.

And particularly if you are nominally of the left, but inclined towards the liberal ideal, you ought to think hard about what process for finding consensus you believe exists and are willing to defend. Or if you have given up on the principle of collective action through consensus, have you ALSO given up on collective action altogether?

On a personal level while I feel a strong attraction to a liberal possition (see EditorializingIsParallelizable for how I thought 20 years ago), I also feel strongly that the evidence of recent years and the "internet experiment" is that given enough bandwidth, AllLiesSurvive.

Counter Thinking

Here's a LeftWing defence of FreedomOfSpeech :

See also :