The question of violence

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Wed Jun 14 14:43:18 MDT 1995

At the risk on confirming my credentials as a sentimental bourgeois
liberal, which on matters of free expression I am, I will stand by the
right of the Nazis and other scumballs to enjoy full and unrestricted
rights of expression, even if they are advocating their abrogation.
Hypocrisy doesn't mean you waive your rights, and you have them even if
you think you don't or even if you want to deny them to others. Of course
I also insist on the rights of anti-Nazi protestors to make our position
on Nazism quite clear.

If one wants left wing-credentials for these views, you can try Luxemburg:
"Freedomn is everywhere and always for the one who thinks differently"
(even loathsomely). Or the young Marx againbst the Prussian censorship laws.

But basically leftwingers should support a near-absolute right of free

1. because freedom is a central value which we seek to enhance, and
expression is a vital part of it;


2. because in bourgeeois society any restrictions will be used against us
by the state.

Obviously there are limits to free expression, since all rights are
presumptive. No Nazis has the right to yell "Lynch the nigger!" to a
howling mob about to set on a hapless Black victim. Holmes' "Cleara nd
present danger" rule is a good one. But it doesn't rule out, e.g., Nazis
marching in Skokie (which, by the way, they didn't do).

--Justinb Schwartz (card carrying ACLU member)

On Wed, 14 Jun 1995, jwalker wrote:

> On Tue, 13 Jun 1995 glevy at wrote:
> > A question occurs to me which would link two topics that we have been
> > discussing -- violence and fascism.  The question is: when is it
> > legitimate, morally acceptable, and/or practical for anti-fascists to use
> > violence against fascists?
> >
> > This is a question which has been addressed by Marxists before.  There
> > are those who favor "nipping fascism in the bud" and those who defend
> > fascists' democratic rights to free speech, assembly. etc. and concentrate
> > on "educating" the masses about the nature of fascism.
> >
> Shades of Skokie!
> In my view the answer will depend in part on what's meant by "fascism".
> But I've always been impressed by the idea that those who would use
> their free speech, or other freedoms, to gain power and then take those
> very freedoms away from others, can't appeal to the principle of free
> speech for protection.
> At any rate, can't fascism be "nipped", and the populace educated about
> its evils, simultaneously?
> John D. Walker
>      --- from list marxism at ---

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