There’s a body on the floor.
“It’s over,” someone remarked in a Facebook discussion of James Taranto’s article which describes the death of free speech in America’s universities. Cause of death, presumed to be gradual. Neo-neocon thinks the illness began in the late 1960s, even though the patient’s vigor enabled survival till at least now. But suppose dear readers that we have got the name of the deceased wrong?
Before proceeding we must look for the murder weapon. Coercion has played a role in Marxism from the earliest days of Marx and Engels. Friederich Engels in his famous tract Anti-Dühring places force at the center of politics because, to him, history is a drama where force is the only form of communication.
For example, in Engel’s view property is theft. Force was what “Christians in Moorish Spain” used to to steal “the highly developed agriculture and horticulture of the Moors.” Force is what capitalism uses to steal labor from the proletariat. Therefore force is what the proletariat will use to build their new world. As he memorably writes “force … is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, that it is the instrument with the aid of which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilised political forms.”
He didn’t mention Free Speech in his tract. Free speech on the Left never played a part beyond functioning as a rhetorical club to beat the down class enemy with own book of rules. The protections of the Constitution were only useful as a means to effect its abolition. What finally mattered was force. “Political power,” as Mao observed, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Or as they put it these days, “I need some muscle over here.”
There is some uncertainty about the name of the victim. The Junior Left may believe that it is Old America and thus “free speech” is no longer necessary. They are strong enough to take what they want the way “Christians in Moorish Spain” appropriated “the highly developed agriculture and horticulture of the Moors.”
The alternate possibility — for those who wish to follow along with this whodunnit — is the body on the pavement is the Leftist future itself. The American campus madman has gone to market too early. God is not yet dead, or worse, it’s the wrong God.
Consider the facts. International Communism died in 1989, a period spanning both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and Deng Xiaoping’s abandonment of socialism, leaving only the True Believers in the West to survive them. It was a setback for the cause but not a fatal blow. In a kind of real-life re-enactment of Orson Welles’ 1946 movie, The Stranger, about a Nazi mastermind who moves to America to rebuild the Third Reich from the vantage of an educator of “America’s ruling elite”and son in law of a Supreme Court Justice, the Left hijacked the victory of Ronald Reagan.
If must have seemed strange to discover themselves so empowered right after world communism fell, but there it was. They were free to pursue the most extreme projects unencumbered by national security objections which for the present, did not exist.
The Strangers in the academy, media and government were in a position of trust and influence in a West which was temporarily the unchallenged master of the world. They used this period to set about constructing the edifice we now know as “political correctness” with all the surplus power and wealth at their command.
However it didn’t work. By the early 2000s elite institutions had squandered most of the design margin. By 2015 a West that had been at its zenith 30 years before was powerless to defend itself against millions of unarmed “migrants” flooding in from the Muslim Middle East. Quite against their expectations the Left was facing defeat again — not in socialist homelands — but in the West they themselves had ruined.
Housing, the Federal Reserve, the academy, healthcare, and even the EU were each in turn transformed into a bubble. To compensate they jettisoned every policy which they could, cutting defense spending to the bone, taxing everything that wasn’t nailed down. Still it was not enough. What we are living through now is the simultaneous collapse or deflation of these bubbles. In an era when even China has rescinded its one child policy, the descendants of the Stranger have bred themselves into extinction.
With this in mind, we are now ready to turn to the identity of the victim.
“If you look very carefully at the deceased, you will see he was in not very great health, his teeth are laced with particles of quinoa. If you do an autopsy of the diseased you will find nothing but argula in his stomach. I think his records will show he has not been able to to see a doctor lately due to the high deductibles in his Bronze Obamacare metal plan.
The victim, I believe you will find, resided in the basement of his parents home, where he spent his days writing a thesis on literary theory. If you notice there protrudes from his back pocket a number of rejection letters for jobs that he is not qualified to hold. This can only have been depressing. In consequence the victim’s last days were spent in a state of acute anxiety that made him oversensitive to every perceived slight, insult or offense.
Look at his fingers. This is a man who lived with the knowledge that his grandfathers bested the baddest men in the world yet realized he could not — worse would not — defend himself. Wouldn’t you seek ‘safe spaces’ if that person were you? Anyone so little and so haunted would need a safe space, not to protect himself from danger as you might think, but from the knowledge of his shame.”
It is over, that’s true.
But it’s not free speech which has died. The pitiful remains you see here and the cries you are hearing in other places is the last wail of what was once a very great secular religion. That god is dead, only spelled with a lower case “g”. Only a hundred years ago this religion thought it could transform the world. Today all it can manage is to turn itself into a spectacle. To paraphrase one of their founders, they intended to convey a tragedy but achieved the effect of farce.
The victim’s death was gradual. It was lingering, painful — and despite everything — sad. In this instance, I believe the coroner will return the finding of suicide. Free speech you find unconscious in that bush over there. He will recover with any luck. Remind him to be more careful in the future.
In Europe however, there may yet be murder. As Engels himself might have warned you: “the Muslims in socialist Europe are on their way to appropriate the highly developed agriculture and horticulture of the socialists.” All they have to tell the socialists to effect the surrender of their gardens is ‘that nobody makes anything’. “All property is theft”. “You didn’t build that.”
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