Throughout history, thinking at variance with the mainstream was always unpopular and risky. However, at various times, it has been tolerated to different degrees. Today, it’s less and less acceptable than in the recent past.
Liberals of all colors like to repeat German socialist Rosa Luxembourg’s critical stab at the Bolsheviks: “Freedom is freedom for those who think differently.”
And, to spice it up, they often like to add Voltaire’s maxim: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
That said, does our recent (and not so recent) experience not show that freedom for those who think differently is now acceptable only within the constraints of the predominant social pact?
We can see this clearly, right now, as the unwritten rule which determines the limits of what is acceptable is breaking apart, and different visions compete to impose themselves as hegemonic. Years ago, Noam Chomsky caused a scandal when he followed Voltaire’s maxim to its extreme: he defended the holocaust denier Robert Faurisson’s right to publish his book, and his argumentation even appeared in Faurisson’s book as an afterword.
Today such a gesture would be immediately identified as anti-Semitic.
[Abstract. Appeared in RT on July 11th 2019.]