"What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party. Now, I do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid people are generally Conservative." JS Mill
The Liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill MP (1806-1873) was elected MP for the City of Westminster in 1865 on a platform including votes for women.

This is from a speech he gave on May 31st, 1866:
JS MIll is often invoked by Right as well as left-wingers
in discussions about free speech.

In his book 'On Liberty' he makes an impassioned defence of free speech.

Mill argues that free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress.
He argued that we can never be sure that a silenced opinion does not contain at least some element of the truth, but that allowing (STUPID, IGNORANT, UNHINGED, HATEFUL, DOGMATIC or GRIFTING) people to air false opinions is productive for two reasons:
First, individuals are more likely to abandon erroneous beliefs if they are engaged in an open exchange of ideas.

Second, by forcing other individuals to re-examine and re-affirm their beliefs in the process of debate, these beliefs are kept from declining into mere dogma.
It's not enough that one has an unexamined belief that happens to be true; one must understand why the belief in question is true.

Abusive language, on the side of prevailing opinion, deters people from expressing contrary opinions, & from listening to those who express them.
Mill outlines the benefits of 'searching for and discovering the truth' as a way to further knowledge.

He argued that even if an opinion is ENTIRELY FALSE, the truth can be better understood by refuting the error.
But as most opinions are neither *completely* true nor *completely* false, he points out that ALLOWING FREE EXPRESSION & DEBATE allows the airing of competing views as a way to preserve partial truth in various opinions.
Worried about minority views being suppressed, Mill argued in support of freedom of speech on political grounds, stating that it is a critical component for a representative government to have to empower debate over public policy.
He also argued that freedom of expression allows for personal growth & self-realization: that freedom of speech was a vital way to 'develop talents & realise a person's potential & creativity'. He repeatedly said that eccentricity was preferable to 'uniformity & stagnation'.
But the belief that freedom of speech would advance society, naively presupposed a society sufficiently culturally & institutionally advanced to be capable of progressive improvement, that 'the public' were capable judge if an argument was wrong or harmful.
Mill argued that even arguments which are used in justifying murder or REBELLION AGAINST THE GOVT should NOT be POLITICALLY SUPPRESSED or socially persecuted. According to him, IF REBELLION IS NECCESSARY, PEOPLE SHOULD REBEL; if murder is truly proper, it should be allowed.
The way to express those arguments should be in public speech or writing, not in ways that causes actual harm.

Harm principle: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
Nowadays, Mill's argument is generally accepted by many democratic countries, & they have laws at least guided by the harm principle: in both the UK & USA there are limits on free speech such as obscenity, defamation, breach of peace, & libel.

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More from @docrussjackson

21 Feb
The Govt's #Orwellian paper on 'Higher education: free speech & academic freedom' is, imho, one of the most #sinister moves toward a #totalitarian state that Britain has ever experienced, based on an almost total absence of either good sense or evidence.

In section 2: "The case for change - Key aims & principles", the central claim that "There is growing concern within government of a chilling effect on university campuses", is based on pathetically flimsy evidence, taken from opaque free-market think tank, the 'Policy Exchange'.
This, one of just a handful of evidenced claims in the entire document about the so-called 'free speech crisis', is taken from a 2019 report called "Academic freedom in the UK" - which used a sample of just 505 UK university students - about 0.02% of UK students!
Read 9 tweets
21 Feb
EVERYONE should be EXTREMELY CONCERNED about the Govt's sinister #Orwellian attacks on free speech: the CHARITY-SILENCING Lobbying Act; 'Online Harms' legislation will SILENCE FREE SPEECH on social media (regulated by Dacre!); & legislation REGULATING FREE SPEECH in Universities.
Orwell’s name is associated with #totalitarianism & the #manipulation of language.

In #doublespeak, words are used to mask their real meaning, & to refer to their exact opposites: the Govt claims of an 'attack on free speech' conceals THEIR OWN repeated attacks on free speech.
Newspeak involves the simplification & purification of the English language to the extent that it functions purely as a means of maintaining state power & control.

Take back control.

The will of the people.

Enemies of the people.

Free speech is under attack from the woke.
Read 5 tweets
19 Feb
A THREAD about what the culture war is *really* all about, and what the very effective overall strategy of the Right in Britain, America & beyond has been since Steve Bannon’s ideas became widely disseminated with the help of US Libertarian billionaires.
It’s also a THREAD about why the Left may well be losing the culture war, and how we might have to adapt our strategy.
In the 1980s, academics suggested that words have more consequences than we previously thought: that the habitual use of particular words not only described the world, but framed it in particular ways, giving rise to thinking about & understanding the world in particular ways.
Read 34 tweets
16 Feb
There have been many recent HE reviews in the UK considering academic freedom & freedom of expression (free speech).

While occasionally some academics do feel unable to express themselves, Libertarians opportunistically exploit any situation & pour petrol on a faux culture war.
A major inquiry was conducted in 1996-97 by the National Committee of Inquiry into HE.

The Committee referred to three essential principles relating to institutional autonomy, academic freedom and institutional governance:
• institutional autonomy should be respected. While Govt set the policy framework for HE nationally, the strategic direction & management of individual institutions should be vested wholly in the governance & management structure of autonomous universities & colleges;
Read 32 tweets
14 Feb
The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update makes interesting reading.

The survey was conducted between April 15-23, sampling more than 13,200 college-educated respondents in 11 markets: Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, S. Korea, UK & USA.
67% of respondents believe that those with less education, less money & fewer resources are bearing a disproportionate burden of the suffering, risk of illness & need to sacrifice in the pandemic, & more than half are very worried about long-term, #Covid-related job loss.
Revitalizing the economy is important, & health & safety is paramount. 67% of respondents want saving lives prioritized over saving jobs, and 75% say CEOs should be cautious in getting their companies back to normal, even if it means waiting longer to reopen workplaces.
Read 6 tweets
14 Feb
A THREAD about the history of the UK press & journalism, focusing on how the 'radical press' transformed Britain.

I believe we're experiencing something similar now, with outlets like @BylineTimes, @DoubleDownNews & many others challenging the dominant free-market narrative.
A bit of context.

The Guttenberg print press, invented in 1440, changed everything.

Ordinary people now had access to information, ideas & narratives from all sorts of perspectives, thus breaking the stranglehold on the elite's domination.
Gradually at first, there was a profound shift from oral/visual culture toward print culture – kickstart age of reason, & it was transformative, giving birth to the Renaissance & the Enlightenment, & in the17th century gave rise to early #journalism.
Read 55 tweets

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