CIVILIZATION MEANS And REQUIRES DEBATE, Not Censorship


Yes, as simple as that: the very concept of censorship, that is, that some authorities know what can be communicated beyond what has been determined by democratic law to be reprehensible, is the enemy of civilization. The enemy of debate is censorship. Civilization was created because it enables better debate. Reciprocally, for ecological reasons, civilization can’t keep on existing without advancing understanding brought by debate. So censorship in the end kills civilization. 

Authoritative thinking is the enemy of creative thinking. Creative thinking comes from debate. Creative thinking, civilization cannot do without because civilization cannot be static as it exhausts the resources which made it possible. There have been no static civilization since cities appeared. Entire sites once enjoying thriving metropolises, in the Mediterranean, Asia, or the Americas, are now wilderness.

Democracy is strongest and best, because democracy fosters the most intelligent debates. Debates are not just logical, they are emotional, because emotions help forge new logic, as needed. However the passion for logic has to restrain hate and the passion for outrageous simplification. 

Inappropriate and excessive passions must be moderated intelligently by debate. 

Now to conduct maximally intelligent public debate, parrhesia, not fearing to speak one’s mind, and isegoria, equal right of speech to public assemblies, are necessary

The Greeks viewed parrhesia and isegoria as pillars of democracy  

Censoring content privately and secretly, as Twitter and some other social media, and old fashion media do, block parrhesia and isegoria. Not just by direct action, but by creating a mood. 

Particularly so by censoring famous celebrities and heads of states.

Censorship makes it impossible to say what one really thinks. In censored media, I limit my thoughts and emotions and I am careful to say little. 

A view of history shows that censors were overwhelmingly in general wrong and constituted the major brakes on the progress of civilization for the better. 

Social media controllers also practice “trending”, to divert from authors whom they often have interest to block the ideas of, in their defense of the oligarchies…

Patrice Ayme

***

Objections or kudos were raised by several interlocutors. They will be addressed in a follwin post.

P/S: Elon Musk just bought Twitter, and fired its perverse leadership, including a young lawyer, an immigrant from India, who banned Donald Trump… And made more than 20 million dollars a year. OK, she is cute and travelled with Dorsey, the hacker who help found Twitter and was its CEO, saying stuoid things about how great censorship was…. Twitter, like Facebook, Google are public utility monopolies…

16 Responses to “CIVILIZATION MEANS And REQUIRES DEBATE, Not Censorship”

  1. Lovell Says:

    Here is one very recent example of stifling contrarian expression happening in a “democracy forum”, ironically enough.

    The moderator very egregiously interrupted Professor Sachs from delivering an important point which might have been deemed offensive by the moderator’s political bias because he works for the New York Times – the propagandist of American imperialism.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      San Francisco chronical basically said today ago that to consider “woke people are racist hiding behind their progressive speeches”… basically one of my theme, was itself racist and “hate” and thus WordPress was right to cancel such writers…

      Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Lovell for this. Indeed! For some reason I had not picked that video up until a month later, after weeks of savage demonstrations in China against dictator for life Xi Xiping. This is excellent! We in the “West” don’t understand the word “democracy”. “WE” she said, speaking of the “PARTY”… the tyranny in China… “Fascinating” the moderator said…
      There are two aspects to US empire, and they are in conflict below the surface (as made evident by MAGA): the PLUTOCRATIC US empire, examplidfied by the guys financing Lenin (of whom Lenin himself spoke… favorably), and later all the fascists dictators they could find….
      And the then the imperium of the republic and its allies, something instrumantalized by the preceding… while rather opposed to it…

      Like

  2. nigelsouthway Says:

    No question…. Any form of censorship is anti-democracy or anti-civilization.
    It also gets in the way of solid policy making and grows organized discontent.
    But it’s a spectrum from negative communication called censorship all the way to the other end which is full engaged participative communication.
    Its clear that we have not only over extended censorship but have suppressed fully engaged participation in how we communicate .. so no wonder our citizens don’t believe their vote is important and disengage from the practice of democratic voting.. shame and dangerous… the outcome a political environment that does not represent the citizens.. sound familiar.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      You are right: the disenagement of civility is deliberate. I can see it in the NYT.
      ;;; If you don’t vote right (that is “left”) on Nov8, cvilization will end… Says NYT….

      My solution is to focus on ideas themselves, and fosters them through debates…
      APPRECIATION, NOT JUST MODERATION!
      Maybe that can be pulled though with Twitter. Right now Musl is talking the talk…

      Like

  3. z, fl Says:

    A rather naive “rationalist” viewpoint that fails to understand that humans are not rational actors and are easily manipulated. The human brain was not designed to cope with algorithm manipulated social media.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the reply. My viewpoint is all but naive. Cynical would be more like it.

      Rational comes from “reason”. Only debate establishes more advanced reasons than the ones previously known. It has been like that for three million years, and it can’t be any different. “Algorithms manipulating social media” could well be outlawed, after proper debate (as other manipulations, such as enticing people to commit crimes, are already outlawed, see RICO, etc…).

      The alternative to “debate” is authoritative oligarchic pronouncements as happened in Twitter where a young super wealthy lawyer, an Indian immigrant paid more than twenty million dollars a year, decided what correct thinking was, and could be authorized to have access to public assembly (isegoria). Musk fired her yesterday. Oligarchic thinking is in full view in the Kremlin.

      An example: Twice the most well known social media tried to ban me, simply for relating some Nazi activities of the second world war. I am anti-Nazi and my family paid a heavy price figthing the Nazis, yet that media assimilated the message and the messenger. This sort of censorship prevents individuals from fully expressing themselves (that operator has recognized its error and left my historical considerations alone since, but I had to engage twice in hefty debates to get reinstated).

      Like

  4. gus ny Says:

    @Patrice Ayme: you make some good points. As a social media user myself, I constantly self-edit what I write so that it’s unobjectionable. However, since the main currency online is reputation, this won’t stop even if there is no more censorship…

    Without censorship and content moderation, the famous “Twitter Firestorms” will get even worse in the future, which will increase the amount of self-censorship on the platform, not decrease it…

    Also, it might turn out that the only people who’ll literally say whatever garbage is on their mind without any self-editing or self-censorship are people none of us want to hear about (ignorant loudmouths, nazis, idiots of all stripes, including political pundits…)

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      One could establish reputation systems. Primitive ones already exist in some scientific and intellectual social media. They are attached to the authors, I propose to attach them also to statements themselves: so that statements (and thus potential new truths) can achieve reputation, not just their authors (as is the case in existing systems).

      Algorithms could consider not just the truth of statements, or set of statements, but also many other dimensions of truth and putative truths, and attribute stars (human operators could be added to algorithms, as is already routinely done).

      Consider for example statelements in physics or history. Such statements can be evaluated as true or false facts… But such statements can also be evaluated as potential hypotheses of more or less great significance and themselves of more or less great potential validity.

      In this perspective, publication would not be censored, but qualified by multiple star systems according to the cognitive dimensions considered. Caveat emptor: buyer beware.

      In the present censorship systems individuals who are rather ignorant are left in charge of deciding whether they like a post, or not… But their knowledge base, or bias, is not a matter of debate. However all new truths have all, in the beginning started with one, and were generally considered to be unbalanced or outrageous. Especially by the oligarchies in power. History shows that censorship first serves oligarchies, which are the ones with the vested interest to leave lies alone and prosperous.

      Like

  5. Jeff Whiting Says:

    I generally agree, but there are some limits, especially concerning ideas which are proven to be wrong and/or dangerous. Honestly, how many times must we litigate Holocaust denialism?

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      We all agree that there are limits to free speech. “Fighting words” and threats can be punished by law. It is true that genocides should be recognized by law, so we don’t have to keep on litigating them ad vitam eternam.
      There are laws to establish the limits of free speech.
      Those laws vary, for example to insult a “holder of public authority ” is unlawful in France, whereas the opposite is true in the USA, where celebrities are less protected than normal citizens. (I agree with the US, not the French law, BTW… As public authority is often a veneer for oligarchic power…)
      In France, later imitated by other countries such as Germany, denying there was a genocide against Jews by Nazis in WW2 is severely punished (and the law is itself sometimes abused…. For example calling the Shoah a “detail” of WW2, which it was, has been punishable with judicial harassement in France).
      Germany just passed out recognizing the just as nasty “Holodomor” as a genocide (6 million dead Ukrainians at the Kremlin’s hand). France also recognized the Armenian genocide (at the hands of the Turkish governments)….

      Like

  6. Grzegorz Ochman Says:

    “Almost certainly we are moving into an age of totalitarian dictatorships – an age in which freedom of thought will be at first a deadly sin and later on a meaningless abstraction. The autonomous individual is going to be stamped out of existence.”
    -George Orwell, Inside the Whale
    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been re-written, every picture has been re-painted, every statue and street and building has been re-named, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
    -George Orwell, 1984
    In 1984, for example, the Ministry of Plenty put out a bulletin that they were increasing the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. Orwell writes:
    “And only yesterday, [Winston] reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that [the citizens] could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it…Was he, then, alone in the possession of a memory?”
    -George Orwell, 1984
    Am I?
    “He could not fight against the Party any longer. Besides, the Party was in the right…It was merely a question of learning to think as they thought…The pencil felt thick and awkward in [Winston’s] fingers. He began to write down the thoughts that came into his head. He wrote first in large clumsy capitals: FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. Then almost without a pause he wrote beneath it: TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE…the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
    -George Orwell, 1984
    Do you?

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Debate is the opposite of dictatorial rule. Civilization always arises from debate. More or less implicit in the idea of civilization steered by debate is that debate should RULE. Until the less wrong conclusions are reached.

      Like

  7. Grzegorz Ochman Says:

    Patrice Ayme
    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
    -Chomsky

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Chomsky himself, from his pulpit at a top plutocratic university, and his rants implicitly against what he is perched upon, while being perched upon, for decades, is an excellent example of hopeless distraction, because he excoriates the very machine which gives him power… BTW, some of Chomsky’s theories on language are not just specieist, but outright racist…. https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/…/plutocratic…/

      Like

  8. Grzegorz Ochman Says:

    @Patrice Ayme
    “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”
    -Propaganda, Edward Bernays

    Like

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