Don’t Fall for “Free Speech Socialism”

White nationalism is the controversy du jour in the United States, as elements of the alt-right have made headlines for violent rallies and clashes with counter-protesters. While free speech is protected in the United States, a growing list of companies and social media platforms have begun to refuse the business of Nazi sympathizers, drawing criticisms and accusations of squelching free speech. This idea that the right to hateful expression extends beyond government behavior is what I like to call “free speech socialism,” and shouldn’t be tolerated in a free society. No, Facebook doesn’t need to keep Nazis’ accounts active. Here’s why.

“Free speech” as we know it is a government invention

Let’s not forget that the primary purpose of the modern concept of free speech was to keep the government in check. We are all naturally free to speak our minds until someone comes and bashes our head in because they don’t like what we’re saying. The common concept of free speech refers to the gist of the 1st Amendment of the American constitution, that government can’t oppress the people for expressing unpopular or dangerous views. That right to free speech is precious, but remember: it’s about preventing violence from being used to silence you, not giving you a mandatory platform from which to speak freely. That part is your responsibility.

Mandated “free speech” doesn’t apply to private companies

Here’s where we get into some different territory: private property. In your own home or business using your own property, as well as in public, you are free to express whatever views you see fit. However, when you enter someone else’s home, they can kick you out if they see fit, particularly if you’re expressing views they consider to be abhorrent. The same largely applies to businesses with the right to refuse service to anyone, as well as platforms run by for-profit companies which include terms of service. No one is owed a Twitter account, and if you conduct yourself in such a way on that platform that its operators decide to remove you, there’s no room for justified outrage. Free speech hasn’t been abridged, private companies and individuals have simply exercised their choice of customers and associates.

Provocateurs thrive on “speech redistribution”

Here’s where the term “free speech socialism” comes in. Remember, in a truly free society you aren’t entitled to the fruits of someone else’s labor. Companies, including those providing a platform for facilitated speech, are the product of someone’s labor. They do not have customers and users out of some sense of public duty, they have them because they choose to, because such a relationship is mutually beneficial. When that relationship is no longer beneficial to one or more of the parties involved, it tends to get scrapped. Any sense of lasting outrage at being boycotted by a private business over controversial views is, in fact, a sense of entitlement to the fruits of someone else’s labor. Arguing for companies who disagree with you to be forced to provide a platform for your speech is advocating for redistribution of resources, giving you a guaranteed use of something you didn’t work for. There’s a word for that: socialism.

The most provocative elements of modern political discourse (predominantly neo-Nazi groups, though certainly not exclusively) take advantage of free speech sympathy to demand a platform from those they detest. In general, trolls and other undesirables fiercely demand protection from the rules they themselves flaunt, thriving on the wager that other people will follow the restrictions they won’t. Groups advocating for the silencing, removal, and straight up murder of dissidents not only claim the right for their hated point of view to be heard while advocating for the removal of this right for others, but want others to be forced to subsidize their speech for free. This is because they’re weak, their cause is weak, and they know they would never have a platform for their hate if they had to earn it and build it themselves. So instead, they pursue redistribution of resources in their favor. Remember, national socialists remain, at their core, socialists.

The speech debate all too often ignores the public/private divide

The whole argument over whether or not “we” should allow certain kinds of speech blurs the line between public and private policy. “We” as a nation-state should absolutely allow all kinds of abhorrent speech, but we as individuals and businesses should allow what we see fit. This is the best we can do at this point in time, but in a truly free market this issue wouldn’t exist at all. Without hard and fast government-enforced rules, the “free speech” defense wouldn’t apply at all, and people would simply decide for themselves whether or not to humor toxic viewpoints. In the mythical libertarian utopia, Nazis would likely have so few options available to them as far as businesses to patronize and platforms and areas for speech that the philosophy would all but die out. In a way, government involvement is all that’s preventing that from happening currently.

The next time you see a Nazi, Klansman, or other clear-cut undesirable whining about being cut off from using a particular service, remember that this is in no way a threat to free speech, but a threat to involuntarily subsidized speech. And that, in my opinion, deserves to be threatened, if not exterminated entirely.

Herding Cats: Keep the Train Moving

I’ve previously talked about how to motivate libertarians to activism and how to foster relationships to organize a truly powerful community. Now, I’m going to tell you how to keep your movement from crumbling. Here’s how to keep your activist train moving.

1: Find ways of saying thanks

Everyone needs to get paid. Nonprofits and community efforts pay few to none with money, but any organizer worth their salt will recognize the necessity of compensating their activists in one way or another. Because these are volunteers that will be helping you mainly because they believe in the cause, instead think of it as saying “thank you.” Sometimes this is as simple as verbal thanks from you, but it can include a written card, public recognition, a special gift, official titles and responsibilities, and so on. Just make sure you provide some kind of reward mechanism to keep your activists wanting to come back.

2: Maintain a sense of purpose

Humans respond to a sense of struggle against an enemy in defense of their own tribe. Though you might have a non-confrontational mission, remember to keep it framed as fighting for a cause with high stakes and some resistance to overcome. People will help you once or a few times, but without a continuing sense of mission they will fall away. Keep every action tied into the greater narrative of your titanic struggle of good versus evil.

3: Cycle activists to avoid burnout

Though you might have the most happy, hardworking, determined bunch of rabble-rousers out there, you will need to rotate around the workload from time to time. Even the greatest activist will get burned out eventually, either from physical/mental exhaustion, boredom, financial reasons, or a toll on their work/life balance. Have at least three contacts for every one role, so if something comes up for one and another has been relied on too much you still have someone to carry the torch. This means you’ll have to over-recruit for what you need, and occasionally hold back your most energized activists slightly in order to involve others. It’s a lot of work, but few things are worse than building incredible momentum and then having it collapse before your eyes.

4: Keep pushing forward

Alright, so you’ve thanked all your activists, kept them deep in your greater purpose, and made sure none get too burned out. Guess what though, your operation can still stagnate. Why? Lack of forward momentum. Simple maintenance of a task is what jobs are for. Activism thrives on energy, something you can’t maintain by keeping a basic task covered. Keep building, climbing, achieving, outdoing yourselves. A revolution without momentum disbands.

5: Maintain recent personal contact with as many activists as possible

If you’ve done your job and hustled as an activist organizer, your friends should reach far beyond people with whom you’re able to maintain regular contact. That doesn’t, however, mean you shouldn’t make trying a priority. Don’t forget about your loyal liberty warriors on the geographical fringes of your operation. The leader must visit the frontlines regularly, and you can use this opportunity to see if any problems have been cropping up, encourage/energize your activists, and draw from knowledge outside of your centralized bubble. In fact, unless you’re absolutely tied down to one spot for your regular organizing, try to constantly move around your area of influence so you can keep contact as fresh as possible with all activists.

Follow these principles and your merry band of activists will continue on, growing all the time. A movement that doesn’t fizzle is a powerful thing indeed.

This is the third part of a three-article series on organizing activism. Read the first one here and the second one here.

State-Based Escapes from Restrictive National Labor Laws

The free market works. The top safest, most prosperous nations in the world employ some variant of a free market system, and the United States’s success is often held up as symbol of the success made possible by economic liberty. However, there are a few flies in the soup of American prosperity, one of which is federal labor regulation.

What’s wrong with federal labor law?

The regulations surrounding labor enacted in the 1930s before and as part of the New Deal are far too many to summarize here, but include provisions such as wage and overtime requirements. Most importantly, they include a plethora of strict rules regarding collective bargaining and union power. While many of these infringe on the right of employers and employees to make whatever arrangements they see fit, the worst part is mandatory union membership. This is bad for businesses because it limits hiring arrangements that may be necessary for the company’s business model, such as keeping costs low by hiring inexperienced, elderly, or disabled workers in order to keep prices low (Walmart, for example, which actually shut down a store to avoid unionization in order to preserve their model). It can be even worse for workers, who can be forced to pay dues, face layoffs or hiring freezes by an employer no longer able to afford to pay them under new conditions, or be forced to support and contribute to political causes that they may personally find reprehensible.

Unfortunately, if you live in one of 22 US states that have not enacted right-to-work laws, forced unionization passed down from the federal government is a sad reality. Fortunately, there’s a few potential ways of dealing with this issue.

[Read more…]

This Week in Concord – Cannabis Legalization, NH Independence

The author is a New Hampshire state representative committed to advancing the cause of liberty

This week there are a number of bills scheduled for their public hearings that affect many Granite Staters. All of the hearings on these bills are open to the public but the hearings on these bills this week will be the only chance for members of the public to give testimony until the bills crossover to the Senate. I strongly recommend attending any of these committee hearings if you are able. [Read more…]

This Week in Concord – New Hampshire Legislative Review

The author is a New Hampshire state representative committed to advancing the cause of liberty

This week there are a number of bills scheduled for their public hearings that affect many Granite Staters. All of the hearings on these bills are open to the public but the hearings on these bills this week will be the only chance for members of the public to give testimony until the bills crossover to the Senate. I strongly recommend attending any of these committee hearings if you are able. [Read more…]

Getting Your Freedom On Someplace Else

The author currently lives in Chile and admins the group Run Like Hell on Facebook.

My first trip to a really foreign country was in 1993 to the Bahamas. When I arrived my hosts drove to a store, bought a case of beer, opened it up, and started drinking while driving the van. They assured me it was ok, and we drove to a nearby town where we parked in front of a hardware store. When I asked them what I should do with my beer, they just said to bring it in, along with my lit cigarette. So I did. And when we walked in there was a line of people waiting at the counter, all drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That was when I knew that the US had been like that, once upon a time, and that I liked it better that way.

Why should you consider traveling? The standard fool’s response to anyone who questions anything they don’t like about the US is “You should just move to Somalia!” or North Korea, or somewhere equally bad. You’ll never hear anyone one say “If you don’t like it here, move to Monaco!” or “If you don’t like it here, move to Malta!” Do they secretly suspect the truth, that maybe you ARE more free in other countries? [Read more…]