TW Viewpoint | Freedom From Thought

October 23, 2019 | Stuart Wachowicz

There was a time, not all that long ago, when society assumed and expected that universities, and especially disciplines within the humanities, would expose a student to a deep pool of knowledge, and encourage the learner to think, debate and defend ideas, even if those ideas might have been at variance from popular notions of the day.

Alas, post-secondary institutions in the Western nations have allowed radical elements within society to end the practice of free expression on campus a little more than a decade ago.


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English author and astute analyst of modern western education, Melanie Phillips, recently wrote a piece entitled “The Secular Inquisition”. In it she quotes philosopher John Gray:

Anyone who departs from the prevailing progressive consensus is not just mistaken but malevolent. When enforced in universities, this is a prescription for censorship and conformism. What is being inculcated is not freedom of the mind, but freedom from thought. "The Secular Inquisition, Sept 1, 2019"

Freedom from thought seems to be the goal which the new far left wishes to impose upon students throughout most of the English-speaking world. In both public schools and universities, spoken and written expression must now adhere to pre-set standards dictating politically-correct terminology, and articulate views which agree with the popular social and political perspectives, whether it be climate change, immigration, abortion, issues of gender or any number of other positions that support a departure from the near universal views of society a decade ago.

Today respected meteorologists may be dismissed from their offices for expressing a scientific opinion that does not adhere to the notion that climate change is humanly caused. Students may be failed in university classes, not because they do not know their material, but because they have expressed an opinion disagreeing with the enforced application of gender-neutral pronouns. Politicians are castigated in the media or by opponents because they are found to have religious perspectives.

The representatives of the far left, who by the way label any idea or person who even mildly disagrees with them as “far right”, believe themselves to be the sole proclaimers of truth, and will spare no effort to brutally suppress anyone who dares express another opinion. They, with their supporters in the media, will use coercion, bullying and any form of intimidation to crush the expression of a variant opinion.

As Phillips quotes from “The World Turned Upside-Down”:

The principal characteristic of Western modernity is freedom of thought and expression and the ability to express dissent.

The distinguishing attribute of the modern West, largely arising as a result of the principles of Anglo-Saxon democratic development commencing in the 17th century, is the right to express a polite but dissenting opinion, and to promote that opinion freely and without fear of oppression.

Today however the Anglo-Saxon world has become the breeding ground for a cultural totalitarianism that threatens the very heart and fabric of Western freedoms. Phillips continues :

Now, with both communism and fascism defeated, the West has fallen victim to a third variation on the theme of totalitarianism: not religious or political this time, but cultural. It is what J. L. Talmon identified back in 1952 as “totalitarian democracy,”…

This new totalitarianism strikes at the heart of a free society, and threatens not only freedom of thought and expression, but the administration of justice. The quasi-judicial Human Rights Tribunals that have been established in most Canadian provinces are a case in point. Here one must defend oneself against charges without knowing the identity of one’s accuser, and pay for one’s own defence as well as the costs incurred by the accuser. These pseudo courts can administer penalties and enforce orders which can include fines and imprisonment, all in violation of the principles of the Magna Carta.

Freedom of speech, and even freedom of religious expression is absolutely at risk, and along with it everything that made our lands at one time so desirable, all done in the name of liberation. It reminds one of a statement made 2000 years ago:

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. - 2 Peter 2:19 NKJV

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