Freedom Matters

“Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently”, as one political thinker noted. That thinker also said “Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.”

It seems to me that many ideas these days are not allowed to be expressed. I am an environmentalist  but would not prevent (either directly or indirectly or by public policy) a disbeliever in climate change from expressing his or her views. I would not prevent is a pro-life or a pro-abortion thinker expressing his or her views and neither would I prevent a similar censorship on the ideas and opinions about whether being  L or G or B or T is morally right or wrong or is supported or prohibited by scripture or holy writings.

The importance of our being different and being able to express that difference relates directly to our being able to enjoy freedom: the prevention of the dissemination of what are now unfashionable views but once were traditional and accepted opinions does reduce us to rule by bureaucracy; the inability to hold meaningful general elections (such as is the case of the European Union) degrades our freedom further and ends up with life not being what it should be.

So I would defend the right of Mr Assange to publish what he has published just as strongly as I would defend the right for someone to disbelieve in climate change, or in abortion or in the immorality of LGBT practices. My personal opinions on these topics are less important than freedom to express opinions. Thus I abhor the censorship  (usually at present by liberals against conservatives but previous the other way around) of views expressed on social media. As long as the views do not encourage or promote criminal actions those views should be published.

At one time people thought the earth was flat. Pythagoras showed it was spherical but it took more than a millennium for most people to accept that the earth was not flat. Eventually beliefs and opinions become accepted or rejected by scientific facts.

The quotations that I gave at the start of this essay were not the words of  a free thinking liberal, but of a Marxist theorist and revolutionary socialist who died just over a hundred years ago.  They were the words of Rosa Luxemburg  who was regarded by the former hard line East German communist regime as a martyr. Her words and writings caused her to be executed without trial and her body thrown into the Landwher canal in Berlin. She now lies buried  in the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin, but her ideas about freedom live on.

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