This essay is a reply to a comment by Michael H on an editorial I wrote in August about the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the Tor Project defending the right for the American neo-Nazi online Daily Stormer to be granted hosting and DNS propagation. It started as a reply to the reply, but grew longer than expected, and is therefore presented as an essay in its own right.
Fifteen, twenty years ago I would probably have agreed with all of Michael H’s points. What happened since then included the personal experience of watching Western centre-left parties become conservative, and conservatives become openly, unashamedly corrupt lackeys of short-sighted plutocrats. Short-sighted because they act nihilistically to destroy a consumer base they need to sustain their own profitability over the longer term, and to maintain stable societies in which consumption, not civil strife, is the leitmotif.
Continue reading “Censorship in the most censorious age”
Every day we abstain from considering and making decisions that are rightly ours to consider and make. We defer that engagement with our world to people considered more ‘expert’ in the apparently germane disciplines, but to the exclusion of all others. And so we build the world around us as it is, with all the grandeur and the despair in it, as a deferred potential and responsibility. Nevertheless, we build it in our own images, because we ourselves become a perpetually stalled potential when we choose this as a reflexive response to all contemplation and decisions about matters more complex than immediate self-gratification.
What is it that we really do when we abdicate our own authority and wisdom? Do we actually comprehend what the consequences are, for ourselves and others, even when we think we don’t care enough to want to have a say?
Continue reading “The cult of expertise: surrendering freedom”