Totalitarianism, Anarchism and Our Growing Discontents

David Carlin on the rising forces of the American Left: they begin as Democrats, then become anarchists, and, as history proves, will end up as totalitarians.

Given the history of Communism in Russia, China, and elsewhere, we have good reason to fear that political leftism will have totalitarian tendencies, even when the leftists in question happen to be Americans. That’s so, but there’s a further danger beyond the threat of tyranny. Please bear with me as I try to explain.

There’s an odor of totalitarianism in the many efforts being made by leftists nowadays to repress certain manifestations of free speech and freedom of conscience. We are told that “hate speech” doesn’t deserve the protections that are normally given to all other kinds of speech. For hate speech, unlike scientific speech and pornography (allegedly), does harm.

We are also told that when somebody engages in racist hate speech, this does serious harm, both direct and indirect, to African-Americans and other “persons of color.” And this harm is more serious than the harm done by, let’s say, pickpockets.  The same goes for homophobic hate speech. If we can ban pickpocketing, why can’t we ban hate speech?

Our leftists would agree, at least as an abstract proposition, that freedom of conscience is an excellent thing. But if your conscience tells you, a member of the KKK, to beat up a black man, should the rest of us, should the law, respect your freedom of conscience? Of course not.

But if your conscience tells you not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding celebration, is that any different?

Some of us (myself, for example) think we detect embryonic forms of totalitarianism in this leftist crusade against hate speech and freedom of conscience. Others (leftists) think people like me are moral dinosaurs, trying to block a wonderful movement that is “on the right side of history.”

Allow me to suggest, however, that totalitarianism isn’t the ultimate leftist aim. The ultimate aim is anarchism. Totalitarianism is an intermediate step between the dreadful present and the anarchist ideal of total freedom.

Click here to read the rest of Professor Carlin’s column . . .

David Carlin

David Carlin

David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

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