While now receding into the background of international outrages, the early January mass shooting of several Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris, purportedly by a cell of jihadists, set off a furor about freedom of speech in the West. Western leaders and social media trendies righteously vowed they would cower in the face of terrorism; rather, they’d boldly utter whatever they fancied, never to be parted from their precious right. European heads of state, including François Hollande, Angela Merkel, and David Cameron, marched in protest to show that they would not cower after this attack on one of modernity’s most sacred values.
But, even a superficial glance reveals something altogether fraudulent and hypocritical in the “Je suis Charlie” antics of the Europe’s great and good. Indeed, the governments of France, Germany, and the UK all spend considerable energies suppressing every manner of speech that doesn’t comport with ruling ideology. Speech is controlled and managed corporate state for the sake of social engineering. As for the Charlie Hebdo shooting, whatever else it might have been, it was not an attack on freedom of speech in any meaningful way, as only the state, and not supposedly rogue terrorist cells, retains the ability to suppress and control speech.
Over the past several decades, France has prosecuted numerous individuals for engaging in state-designated “hate speech.” The French novelist and gadfly Michel Houellebecq, depicted in a satirical cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo the same day of the terrorist attack, was at one time tried, and later acquitted, for making remarks derogatory toward Islam. And a mere few days after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was arrested on the dubious charge of “glorifying terrorism” after decrying his previous persecutions at the hands of the French authorities for alleged “anti-Semitic” comments. If convicted he could spend several years in prison.
Atlanticist Berlin hasn’t proven itself a friend to freedom of speech, either. The German government has long prosecuted and imprisoned individuals for publically promoting heretical narratives concerning the events of World War II. Also, in the days leading up to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel made a point of denouncing those peacefully protesting elite-sponsored mass immigration and enforced multiculturalism. Following the attacks in France, the German police cited the threat of terrorism to ban demonstrations outright.
In Britain even more absurd examples can be found. Not only are there the usual cases of “hate speech” prosecutions, but the British Crown has sunk to monitoring the speech of school children and swiftly punishing any adolescents who would verbalize racially “insensitive” speech. Seemingly using Orwell’s 1984 as a blueprint, the UK has constructed an insidious surveillance state to wield against contrarians who dare step beyond the parameters of correct thought set by ruling elites – the same champions of humanity who launder hundreds of billions in narcotics proceeds, run jihadist operations, and figure into horrific child-abuse scandals.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s examine position of the United States, where freedom of speech is constitutionally guaranteed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently flew to Paris to show his solidarity with the French government, but only a few years prior the presidential administration he now represents imprisoned an Egyptian filmmaker for producing and posting to YouTube a short film mocking Muhammad, the founder of Islam (an act that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were murdered for). Add to that the massive surveillance state deployed to control markets, persecute whistleblowers, and monitor the entire American populace, including their thoughts and expressions. How could Washington’s tough talk about free speech not be perceived with a cynical eye? This is now the land, after all, where young children can be expelled from school for biting a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.
It has become a daily, completely normal occurrence in the West for some individual to be punished by media, corporations, and the state for espousing an outlook divergent from the course set by the arbiters of history. The glaring hypocrisy of Western leaders here should be obvious to all. And what else can be expected of these same opportunists who denounce Russia’s Vladimir Putin as a dictator, while praising the recently deceased Saudi King Abdullah as a revered statesman, even though he presided over a Wahhabist police state and exported jihadist terrorism across the Middle East?
Sadly, the craven unscrupulousness and hypocrisy displayed by politicians is not confined to those in the government. All too many Twitter trendies posting “Je suis Charlie” from the comfort of their coffee shops are prepared to form virtual lynch mobs, egged on by the establishment media, to persecute and punish anyone who speaks out of accord with their proclaimed social justice standards. A growing number of individuals have lost their jobs and even companies at the hands of this postmodern fanaticism. As Nietzsche sighed, “rabble above, rabble below.”
For the heirs of John Milton, Voltaire, and Thomas Jefferson, free speech has evolved beyond just the means for a political or religious dissident to freely express his views without persecution. Rather, the new freedom of speech is one based almost entirely on blasphemy, cultural subversion, and nihilism. Free speech is not for actual dissidents, but rather those who “courageously” pretend to challenge power, all the while bankrolled by the establishment (such as Charlie Hebdo and last year’s favorite, Pussy Riot). Free speech is increasingly the privilege of those who wish to use it to further deconstruct and disembowel traditional religious, ethnic, family, and national identities and loyalties, a form of psychological warfare.
The 20th century Italian traditionalist writer Julius Evola, in his indispensable spiritual manual Ride the Tiger, observed that in our age “every organic unity has been dissolved or is dissolving: caste, stock, nation, homeland, and even family.[i]” Instead of traditional, organic, and religious identities, what exists in the West is a “shifting mass” of individuals, who are “devoid of organic connections.” This mass is “contained by external structures or moved by collective, formless, and unstable currents.” Evola further notes that the only identity Western man now has is that of homo economicus and “the only real hierarchies are those technical ones of the specialists who serve material utility.”
Such reflections fit entirely with the reality that Western man finds himself in. Isolated from almost all that had previously sustained his ancestors, he is adrift in a seemingly ever chaotic flow of fears and distractions as his identity and freedom are whittled away by the oligarchs and their social engineers. At civilization’s twilight never will empty words on free speech save us, but only the Eternal Word begotten before all ages, He Who commands the spiritual sword.
[i] The powerful insights of Evola, both a supporter and critic of interwar Italian fascism, should in no way be taken as an endorsement of that particular ideology, just as one can appreciate philosopher Carl Schmitt’s wisdom while rejecting the execrable National Socialism.