"net.terrorist"/free speech

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at marx.econ.utah.edu
Sun Jun 2 19:24:47 MDT 1996

Hans Ehrbar here: I am glad "Ang" is continuing the thread on free speech.
Here are some thoughts, not very organized:

Ang's characterization of it as the "right to *ineffective* free
speech" is very much to the point, but it needs clarification.  Is it
ineffective because those in power have more resources, or also
because the right to any serious *action* to change the status quo is
taken away from us, we have to go through the "democratic" channels,
or also because of point (2) which comes next?

(2) We are trained to consider theories as mere personal "opinions"
which have no general validity.  Perhaps we tend give up too early
in our quest to find theoretical unity, since we are taught that
theory is relative?

(3) The rule of laws must be criticized because it tries to make
a catalogue of all possible eventualities which can then be
applied schematically.  The first thing law students learn is:
don't try to judge the case by its merits; you have to find out
what the laws are and who breaks which law.  Perhaps this gives
a certain protection from the powers that be, but along with the
withering away of social power structures, socialist justice must
establish a legal apparatus which is more a conflict resolution
process which tries to come to a decision based on the inner merit
of the case.  Case law and jury trials seem to go in the right
direction.  Dialectical thinking must be applied.

(4) Whenever someone uses his right of free speech to criticize the
capitalist system, one is subject to the attack:  in the Soviet Union
you would not have been allowed to say this; you are benefitting from
the protection of the system you are attacking.  What is the right
answer to this?

P.S.  Since I also have been thinking about economic planning, I see a
connection between point (3) above and the "cognitive triumphalism"
which permeated planned economies, which tried to plan everything.
Some things simply cannot be planned, and we should be aware of this
and not try to plan them.  Perhaps this is what Kevin means with his
objections to planning.  (By the way, the term "cognitive
triumphalism" and the idea that in certain situations, rational
thinking cannot help, is due to Bhaskar, in his "Dialectic: The Pulse
of Freedom".  Some of the other thoughts about the rule of law I have
learned from the "Marxistische Gruppe" in Germany.)

Hans Ehrbar.

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