Monday, April 27, 2015

On neoliberalism, "hate speech" suppression, Charlie Hebdo, Garry Trudeau

I love/hate Twitter; it's a fine place for me to draft my thoughts, which really annoys people sometimes, and I'm sorry for that. Today, Steve Brust tweeted a link to Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau attacked for criticizing Charlie Hebdo. My first reactions were ones I've discussed before:

1. Free speech is a socialist issue because the traditional goal of socialism, the socialism of Marx and Wilde and Wells and Orwell, is to free people to think and do what they please.

2. Charlie Hebdo may be called anti-religious, but to call them racist, you have to ignore their criticism of Christians and Jews or conclude their racism covers the human race.

3. Charlie Hebdo is a far-left publication, so to say they're supporting a rightwing agenda, you have to ignore the rightwing religious people who think religion should not be criticized and the leftists who support free speech.

4. The Islamists who attacked Charlie Hebdo did not think they were doing anything involving socialism—or if they did, they thought they were attacking it. They were acting in the service of an ideology promoted by tycoons and princes. Calling them the oppressed is like calling soldiers and police officers oppressors—in both cases, they're the tools of rich people who are trying to make the rest of us serve them as they please.

But in that familiar discussion, I realized this:

Neoliberalism accepts the logic of "hate speech" laws for pragmatic reasons. The embrace of social identities supports division in general and conservative religion in particular. The point about conservative religion is especially significant: liberal religions accept criticism. Only conservative religions need to silence their critics.

So I find it very odd when socialists side with Garry Trudeau and other liberals in casting aspersions on Charlie Hebdo.