Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn on Reversing Voltaire

 

I know it’s controversial whether Voltaire ever wrote this, but Steyn has a way with words:

As always, there are local factors at play (Catalonia) but, also as always, there is a trend, stretching from the True Finns to Trump. I first formulated it seventeen years ago in The National Post:

“Europe’s ruling class has effortlessly refined Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it. You might disapprove of what Le Pen says on immigration, but to declare that the subject cannot even be raised is profoundly unhealthy for a democracy. The problem with the old one-party states of Africa and Latin America was that they criminalized dissent: You could no longer criticize the President, you could only kill him. In the two-party one-party states of Europe, a similar process is under way: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable politicians — as they’re doing in France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere. Le Pen is not an aberration but the logical consequence.”

We’ve seen many variations on this theme. The Left cries racism in order to shut people up. Twitter adheres to the transgender lunacy and will ban you for using the proper pronoun for a person. Dims and the Chamber of Commerce favor open borders so the adverse consequences must be downplayed or censored. Orwell in one his essays wrote about the totalitarian tendency to eliminate unwanted words to limit thought. We’re seeing this on many fronts today.

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There are 3 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    Richard Easton: In the two-party one-party states of Europe, a similar process is under way: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable politicians

    Considering Mark Steyn wrote this 17 years ago, I’ve been racking my brain on the last Presidential election where both politicians were respectable. When I was old enough (21 years at that time) in 1976, I voted for Ford, although I thought Carter was “respectable,” and didn’t much care who won. Since then, Carter has shown that he is a Communist.

    Reagan-Mondale ended up being a landslide, much like it was for Nixon-McGovern. I disliked Mondale, but I don’t regard him as a Communist, unlike the Democrats since then.


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    • #1
    • May 3, 2019, at 9:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. drlorentz Member

    The main point of elections and of letting the people have a voice in their governance is to avoid the alternative: torches and pitchforks. If free expression is stifled, if the decisive results of free elections are ignored by the political class (cf., Brexit), or if there are serious attempt to undermine a legally elected government (cf., the 2016 US election), people will look to alternative approaches to having their voices heard. This never ends well. Nicolae Ceaușescu’s demise is a helpful example of how it can go: everything seemed fine until it suddenly wasn’t.

    Plugging up the pressure-relief valves is a sure way to guarantee that explosions will follow. Our rulers might want to consider that before banning any more conservatives from Twitter and Facebook. They may feel safe today in their gated communities but should realize that those fences and walls will be of little use against an angry mob, especially when those who man the gates join in the fray.

    • #2
    • May 3, 2019, at 11:58 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Barfly Member

    Richard Easton: … many variations on this theme. … racism … transgender lunacy … open borders … the totalitarian tendency to eliminate unwanted words to limit thought.

    We’re seeing this on many fronts today.

    It’s Friday, hail Eris, so I’m going to choose optimism today. I take your observation that “we’re seeing this … today” as my focus.

    I think they’ve always been this loony and ugly. Face facts: half the human race is below average by any measure. That’s just for starters. Then we grow them on softness, ease, and lies (especially lies), so we get what we sew – the “totalitarian tendency to eliminate.” (Perhaps that’s why they’re such little shiteheads, but that’s a topic for a Monday.)

    The left have always been like this. It turns out talk radio and then bloggers in pajamas were the greatest political event since Watergate, maybe since WWII, because now their lies are open and exposed. Most of the left lacks the wit to know what’s happened, but they know they’re in a fight.

    People of the left cannot produce wealth or earn status or power; they are disadvantaged by openness. A mind in that fallen position can either reform or double down on the fantasy; most choose the latter. That’s why the extreme positions make more inroads in times like these.

    All we have to do is hold the course, and they’ll mostly self destruct like that waddling fool Nadler. Hapless fatboy. Watch his committee session from yesterday, and be of good cheer.

    [Richard, permit me the casual reformatting; I did it to put focus on the insanity instead of the insane. It’s optimism – one can do something about insanity, but you can’t fix stupid.]

    • #3
    • May 3, 2019, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes