Who is this ‘we’ other than a generalization?
John Hopkins
11

Merely believing in something isn’t a virtue; a belief is something that might have to be tolerated, but it doesn’t have to be legitimized as worthwhile. Someone can believe that slavery is just — they are wrong. They can believe it, but their belief has no inherent value to it. So the “we” in the reference is both the generalized ‘we’ but also ‘we’ as a collective society. We have determined that certain things are beyond the pale and won’t be tolerated. The moral relativism of “someone somewhere believes something and, therefore, it should be accepted” is, at its core, antithetical to the ideas of self-governance, to science, and to intellectualism itself.

The quasi-social contract argument being put forward in the second paragraph has, laced within it, the solution you seek. Human beings don’t live in a state of anarchy; we never have. We are unintelligible without our families, tribes, and political associations; this may not extend to the modern notion of the ‘state’ but it certainly has to include all associations drawn from our bloodlines. This correlates to the point you raise about animals. And I think the point is an apt one, given the position you are presenting. Anarchy in its etymology means without a leader or without a principle. It’s certainly come to mean something else, frequently derived from the intellectual tradition beginning with people like Rousseau who have a kind of fetish for a ‘non-political’ man. But such a condition is inherently ruled only by barbarism: rule by force. Their is no recourse of a zebra against a lion beyond force — it’s inherently defined by its barbarism. Why would this be any different for human beings in a state defined by anarchy? The only way out is through an appeal to natural law or natural right — both of which presuppose a guiding principle and a correct way for people to behave. Therefore, even living outside the bounds of the state, we would never live in anarchy for there would always be some kind of law in application over us. If this isn’t the case, then all politics is merely just an exercise of force (as so argued by the post-modernists) and everything that we do is an illegitimate beyond consent; that every form of obligation, every limitation, every law we don’t agree to antecedent to the event is barbaric, merely an enforcement of power. This is only true if one doesn’t believe in justice beyond social convention. If one doesn’t, then Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Imperial Japan, colonial Europeans, and the wars between the indigenous peoples of North America, are all on the same scale of moral depravity; their differences are merely ones of degree, not of kind. One is free to take such a position, but there must be an acknowledgement of this foundation of moral relativism.

I suppose the best attack against anarchy I can conceive of is the same Lincoln uses against slavery — no one would choose slavery for himself, so how can he choose it for another. In this instance, if anarchy was the better solution for human beings, where are those willing to give up civilization to live in a better state? By use of the technology to engage in this debate with me, you are displaying your desire to live in an association with others, with the benefits derived from that association, and utilizing the products so conceived and constructed from that association. If anarchy was the better system, why continue to live within the confines of civilization? Why not become liberated and live a life dedicated to anarchy, in isolation away from civilization? My assumption, and please correct me if I am wrong, is you don’t want to for reasons of personal affection, lifestyle comfort, and habituation. All of which are going to be derived, to greater and lesser degrees, from the natural human tendency to associate in political systems.

As for the final point that free speech is equal to utterance, my rebuttal is this: Free speech (libre vox) is the liberty to speak, at its most basic; that’s correct. But collapsing the capacity to make sound with the purpose of sound production is the problem. No one would claim that smacking the keys on a piano is the same as playing it; the first produces noise, the second produces music. Both are engaging in a physical interaction with the piano but the functions are fundamentally different. With speech, we have the capacity to make a large range of sounds and to say a broad range of things. But verbalizing isn’t the same as speech. Speech is intended for a particular purpose, namely, the expression of an idea. This expression is designed to interact with other expressions of ideas, the purposes of which are quite varied. But since we are the only animals capable of moving beyond utterance of desire to reflection and contemplation, our speech is going to reflect both experiences. What’s the purpose of reflection and contemplation? To make better decisions toward a particular end. What’s the purpose of politics? To live a better life than would be possible in isolation; for if this wasn’t true, politics would not exist unless one fundamentally believes that human beings are profoundly stupid at which point, free speech is the same as the barking of a dog. If we grant that the purpose of politics is living a better life than living in isolation, and that reflection and contemplation are aimed at making better decisions, the way we express our reflections and contemplation about politics is in service of living a better life. Free speech’s purpose is to facilitate a debate on the nature of what is good, what policies are tethered to the nature of the good, and what is the best way to live. If you don’t believe in those parameters, there is nothing wrong with fake news, misinformation, or lies. They are merely expressions of a different points of view and, as expressions, should not be condemned as corrupting public discourse for there is no inherent value in a public discourse.

We have to tolerate speech that fails the function of free speech (and you won’t hear me say otherwise), but we cannot confuse the toleration of such deviation as being the inherent virtue.

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