Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hot take: actually, socialist censorship would be good


It's unclear to me why someone interested in maximizing freedom would necessarily reject socialist censorship.

Consider private property, for instance. It's absolutely antithetical to freedom. It's nothing more than violence against anyone who dares to exercise their freedom contrary to despotic claims on the commonwealth. This is easily the most ubiquitous and enduring form of tyranny in the modern world - it's such a constant assault on our liberty that we barely even notice it anymore. And it's even rarer still that we actually exercise the freedom it prohibits. Capitalism's looming threat of violent retaliation has traumatized almost everyone into a state of learned helplessness.

Certainly a society without private property is freer than one with private property. But what about a society free from private property - because the advocacy of private property has been banned? This is obviously less free than a society where private property has disappeared spontaneously. But is it also less free than a society where the tyranny of private property remains?

Possibly - but that's a point to be argued for, not just assumed. It seems to me that a ban on private property advocacy would impact our day-to-day lives far less than private property does. The historical record makes this pretty clear. The censorship of bourgeois propaganda in the Soviet Union, for example, was indisputably tragic, as vividly demonstrated by well-known contemporary accounts (and body counts). The violent enforcement of private property rights, meanwhile, has been demonstrably worse. This isn't a subjective judgment: by every metric you can imagine, private property rights are the proximate cause of more death, more suffering, and greater oppression than Soviet censorship ever was. If we're concerned about freedom, the comparison is no contest.

Capitalists, of course, would reject that assessment - but the numbers here are only incidental to my point. If socialist censorship is worse than the alternative, it is worse because it has a worse impact on our freedom than capitalism. It's not enough to simply notice that censorship inhibits our freedom; of course it does. But is that worse than a world with private property?