Communist origins of modern American free speech

(I’m not one for saving republics, but there’s always exceptions.)

Anti-communism is just a trojan horse by which liberals try to assault Mother Russia, the one true hope of Christian civilization, the Third Rome in the making!

So says Alex Nicholson.

Not an uncommon opinion.

Anti-anti-communism used to be a mainstay of left-liberal opinion. Even the nominally “anti-communistic” faction of social democrats and socialists from the DSA and Dissent magazine camps — the Irving Howes, the Michael Harringtons, the Tom Kahns — expressed their anti-communism to the extent that they denounced “totalitarian” encroachments on liberal values of some sort.

However, anti-anti-communism is now a part of the political right also. Bolsheviks didn’t like homos, either! Stalin outlawed abortion! The Cold War is over, so get over it, National Cuckview readers! Neoliberalism is the real totalitarianism! Well, depends on how you date “now.” It’s always been there, but it was isolated to Third Positionist and geopolitical cranks. Now that a Third Positionist geopolitical crank like Dugin has become a cult figure, though, things are different.

The subject of this essay is freedom of speech in America, and why you are the Manchurian candidate of a communist plot if you champion it as an absolute. Not a common opinion among Cold Warriors. Well, not this bluntly, perhaps.

Many will accuse me of making the genetic fallacy. To which I ask: how can a hereditarian believe in the genetic fallacy as a fallacy? I’m not a hereditarian, but I’m just asking. It so happens that the germplasm of communist subversion through free speech and civil rights activism has been a smashing success in terms of reproductive fitness (Many on the right have the habit of looking at civil rights from the purely racial angle, and forgetting it was a much broader movement that expanded [or outright invented] what many Americans, far-left and far-right alike, consider to be their natural “constitutional freedoms” as Americans.)

John Birchers, where are you? Your brethren on the right are now pink right down to their underwear — whether they come from Commentary, or from American Renaissance. Exactly as you foresaw it.

And because they talk like pinkos, it should come as no surprise they’re aping the pinko tactics of old that served to displace their predecessors, thinking that if it worked for Carol Weiss King defending foreign radicals, it’ll work for them.

The Anglo is a law-abiding man, he is.

Only a race as pristine and advanced as the English race could have given us the rule of law, and only so perfectly as in America.

For the Anglo-American is so law-abiding that he retconned the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment onto the entire practice of constitutional law, incorporating the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights into all state constitutions, thus completely destroying the federalist system that he so proudly and smugly held up as evidence of his higher evolution. Federalism in 1833 and federalism in 1925 (or even federalism in 1873) — what a difference!

And so, Chateau Heartiste writes that “The First Amendment is the left’s thermal exhaust port” last month, which I must quote in-depth:

It’s perfectly reasonable to accuse the shitliberal establishment of anti-Americanism and label them heirs to the Orwellian Big Brother nightmare, because their actions prove they don’t believe a word of the First Amendment. Deep in their BPA-saturated hearts, the saner shitlibs feel a twinge of discomfort about the anti-free speech direction their rule has taken of late. This is the fissure into which smart maul-righters can drive a sharp wedge fracturing the Anti-White Leftoid Alliance, peeling off some of the red-blue mixed Purple Pilled White libs from the nonwhites and (((whites))) who don’t give a flying fuck about the principles of Anglo governance and the racial temperament from which those principles derive. The White libs who still harbor a quaint respect for the First Amendment won’t convert, but they’ll “retire” from politics and take their competence with them.

Alt-Righters should be hitting this free speech angle HARD. Every rally should feature the defense of free speech and assembly as its unifying theme, because free speech permits the expression and exposure of every other theme that energizes the pro-White counterculture. Freedom to express ideas without getting fired or purged or blacklisted means that there’s a chance those ideas percolate into mass consciousness and the needle moves away from the Lies and Ugliness of Equalism and toward Truth and Beauty.

Free speech is the first right enunciated in the Bill of Rights for a reason. Without it, all other rights are effectively voided. Given its importance to a republic, the default defense of free speech should always err on the side of absolutism.

Codified free speech is uniquely American. It’s what sets us apart from the rest of the benighted world, and from our ancestral homelands in Europe. It’s why when we’re kids learning about the Bill of Rights, we feel pride in our 1A heritage. It’s as American as apple pie and imported chinese junk. The Wild-Right needs to own free speech and assembly, and hang the smelly albatross of speech criminalization on the Leftoid Fuggernaut. Champion 1A, and the rest of your revolutionary pro-White agenda starts to look more A-1 to normies.

The statements above are powerful, persuasive… and wholly wrong.

It was odd for me to find that such a bastion of extreme right thought as CH was promoting communist propaganda of an absolutist Holmes-(((Brandeis))) definition of free speech, and of the evils of “speech criminalization” to go with it. Why, that’s something only “leftoid fuggernauts” do! Like the Russian tsar, that goddamned shitlib.

(Okay, obviously, it was not odd at all. Manosphere blogs are all about talking off the cuff and emulating thuggish mannerisms in writing. The result is the occasional gem of street smarts buried in lots of nonsense.)

Nevertheless, let us hear from a man who actually had to deal with the consequences of free speech.

This man, sadly, did not have the racial temperament to truly grok the principles of Anglo governance. As such, being an inferior, his words ought to be taken with a grain of salt against the real experts, like executive secretary of the patriotic American Student Union, Joseph P. Lash (but more on him later).

Pierre-Denis, comte de Peyronnet (a.k.a. Charles-Ignace) – a prime figure among the ultra-royalist deputies of the Restoration, who spent 6 years in prison after the July Revolution. In 1834, while in the slammer, he penned some Thoughts of a Prisoner [Pensées d’un Prisonnier]. On the press:

The great vice and the most dangerous disadvantage of the press is that it excites perpetually to change, and that, when one has escaped an unfortunate state, it brings one back to it.

But in every constitution founded on the principle of popular sovereignty, as it is the right of the people to speak there, it is also right that anyone who is of the people should be able to speak.

In other constitutions, this freedom may be granted, favored, and suffered; in that one, it can not be refused.

It is not transferable or alienable. It is not conceded; it simply belongs. It would not be revoked without changing the constitution. It is of the constitution itself, and of its substance.

One could not even alter it; for to alter it is to reduce it; and which reduces it, the other fact; and which causes it to be destroyed.

If it is not his right to be fully free, he has nothing to say. But if it is his right, what will you say to him?

Peyronnet is pointing out an issue with the very same Anglo governance. The freedom of the press is not a unitary grant from a superior lord, nor even a contract with stipulations, but an endowed and inalienable right intrinsically belonging to all Americans (whether you define them to end at Englishmen or end at Somalis). No transferability, no alienability, no possibility of telling the public-minded, authority-questioning reporters at McClure’s to tone it down. No possibility of stopping the reds crawling out from under the bed to slit your throat as you sleep. Or throwing you in jail like Peyronnet, of course.

Even worse when those reds don the court robes and declare your Anglo governance null and void in order to expand those inalienable rights.

And it is no lie, expanding your rights they do!

For a long time, few disputed the rights of states to enforce obscenity laws. They still remain on the books, but have been mostly eroded throughout the years.

Indeed, there is a solid case to be made that the “free speech absolutist” theory is wrong under constitutional law even by current vague standards. Furthermore: “Workable statewide obscenity laws exist in 40 states. In some states, cities and counties can also enact obscenity laws. These laws can encompass both obscene materials and performances. The prosecuting attorney of each county or judicial district enforces these laws. State and local police may make arrests,” as the article mentions.

The age of comstockery (or, should I say, Pure Fucking Comstockery), is the most (in)famous of all, when Post Inspector Anthony Comstock under the auspices of the feds whacked pornographers, abortionists, suffragettes and a host of other figures. The Comstock Law, a perfectly legal force in the land, until it was progressively rendered impotent by judicial review.

Say what you will about Comstock the man, how about one of his most passionate enemies? Like Ida Craddock, author of bizarre occultic sex magick manuals, admired by Aleister Crowley.

Now, Craddock’s biggest fan, Theodore Schroeder, founder of the Free Speech League in 1902, was among the pioneers of free speech absolutism in America, though not the most influential. It started off as an organization to fight comstockery before moving on to provide legal counsel for anarchists, and sponsor Margaret Sanger’s drive for legalizing birth control. Schroeder himself was a sexual crank, declaring: “With the development of healthy mindedness through sexual education in our schools all morbidity of curiosity would disappear in one generation.”

However, the single most influential scholar of the modern free speech doctrine was, with little doubt, Zechariah Chafee, and his book Free Speech (1920).

Unlike many others before him, Chafee was no iconoclast. His book was written in response to the Palmer raids and the crackdowns on anti-war activists of WWI. His chief strength lay in presenting himself as a centrist and a moderate, and in his very conventional background.

Chafee cites the conservative legal opinion of Scotch judges who prosecuted the radicals of their day during the treason trials of the 1790s, in order to dismiss it:

The right of universal suffrage, the subjects of this country never enjoyed; and were they to enjoy it, they would not long enjoy either liberty or a free constitution. You will, therefore, consider whether telling the people that they have a just right to what would unquestionably be tantamount to a total subversion of this constitution, is such a writing as any person is entitled to compose, to print, and to publish.

Oh look, it’s the other type of Anglo governance.

The one that’s dead.

Nominally, Chafee stated that the true boundary line of the First Amendment boils down to the balancing of two interests: public safety, and the search for truth. Again, a seemingly moderate statement. His true sympathies, however, are revealed by the fact that he consistently dismisses just about all the practical cases of speech suppression in Chapter IV (anarchist exclusion, sedition laws, anti-syndicalist laws, banning of radical imagery, etc.) by either minimizing the problem and arguing that emergency measures simply aren’t warranted, by adopting overly individualistic arguments when convenient, or by claiming that “free discussion will expose the lies and fallacies of propaganda, while in a country where opinion is suppressed propaganda finds subterranean channels where it cannot be attacked by its opponents.”

(One truly wonders what these “subterranean channels” are supposed to be. They sure as hell ain’t in Aunt Sally’s house. Could they be in… the “free and responsible press” itself?)

Chafee’s name and influence were ubiquitous, as we shall see.

One quick example before the rest: Chafee served as vice-chairman of the Hutchins Commission, assembled in the University of Chicago under request of Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life magazines. The subject: the proper role of the press, and how to regulate it (or how it can regulate itself).

The final report, A Free and Responsible Press (1947), at once stroking its ego and correctly recognizing its great power, also contains the absolutely legendary quote (p.7) “The freedom of the press illustrates the commonplace that if we are to live progressively we must live dangerously” (no fucking kidding).

However, the report also advocated such measures as “mutual self-criticism of the press” to keep it responsible. The result was journalists (save a few, like Walter Lippmann) reacting with great indignation over the idea that their rights come with responsibilities. Not much has changed since.

We haven’t yet entered specifically communist territory, but we’re about to. First, a note on the MO of the primary carrier of the free speech and civil rights virus: the communist lawyer.

HUAC kindly gives us a good summary of how the communist lawyer operates, from 1959:

1. Capitalized on their membership in the legal profession to recruit fellow lawyers into the Communist Party.
2. Misapplied their legal training by assisting Communist operatives in circumventing the law in order to carry out party objectives.
3. Served in secret Communist cells aimed at espionage and influencing United States policy toward Communist objectives, while holding responsible legal positions in the United States Government.
4. Carried out important duties as a functionary of the Communist Party organization itself.
5. Served as attorneys for both Communist-dominated trade unions and those not under Communist control.
6. Acted as legal advisers to, and accepted leadership roles in, organizations which posed as legitimate non-Communist enterprises although they were, in fact, operated under Communist control for party purposes — for example, the party front organizations built around “civil rights” and other popular themes.
7. Exploited the prestige of their profession in the course of running for public office.

Example of point 6: the highly prolific International Labor Defense, from its Labor Defense manifesto in 1930: “The International Labor Defense will organize and lead nation-wide campaigns for the release of all class war prisoners, conduct a relentless struggle against anti-labor legislation, and fight for the repeal of all criminal syndicalism, criminal anarchy and sedition laws — exceptional measures designed to give a legal covering to the attacks of the ruling class upon militant workers and the whole labor movement.”

Very well, what about a salient example of an individual lawyer?

O. John Rogge — veteran of the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild and Civil Rights Congress, Progressive Party supporter, lifelong fascist hunter and enemy of obscenity legislation. His New York times obituary calls him an “Anti-Nazi activist.”

His book Our Vanishing Civil Liberties (1949), was an early denunciation of congressional investigations of communist subversion and trials of communist leaders. In retrospect, he is flat out wrong in many instances, like his strong insistence that Harry Dexter White was not a spy, and that the accusation was fabricated by fascist elements.

Particularly interesting is his early evolution. Guess which book he found most captivating?:

The book which made the greatest impact on me in law school was an extra-curricular one, Zachariah Chafee’s “Freedom of Speech.” This book described the Palmer Raids after the first World War. It put me in touch with the writings of John Milton, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, and the great opinions of Holmes and Brandeis.

Of course.

Rogge spent his entire life under the impression that he was fighting a fascist conspiracy to destroy civil liberties. He wrote in OVCL that the HUAC was pushing America into the direction of a “fascist police state.” (p.37) In 1946, he declared in a memorandum:

In my opinion, international fascism, though defeated in battle, is not dead. The enemies of democracy did not all lay down their weapons on VE or VJ Day; and the deaths of Hitler and Mussolini, the execution of Quislings in collaborationist or vassal states, and the arrest and conviction of Japanese militarists have not brought an end to the fascist threat to democracy.

No, fascism is not dead in the United States. On the contrary, it is now in the process of postwar reconversion, a reconversion uncomplicated by strikes, price ceilings, or shortages. The old familiar fascist faces are once again spouting the old familiar fascist lies.

At the same time, of course, he was a passionate New Dealer (the New Deal being no stranger to communist infiltration), seemingly oblivious to the fact that Hugh S. Johnson, head of the National Recovery Administration, was an admirer of Mussolini who carried a copy of Raffaello Viglione’s The Corporate State with him. Nor was he the only fashy goy in those circles. The fash and the pink mingled together without much trouble.

Rogge cites some other figures he had respect for: James Wechsler (p.26) and I.F. Stone (p.32).

James Wechsler — communist in his youth (the 1930s), moving on to become one of the eminent left-liberals of his day as editor-in-chief of the New York Post. This was before the Murdoch acquisition, of course. Note one of the organizations Wechsler was a part of: the American Student Union (ASU).

The ASU was part of an understudied student radical movement that swept the 1930s contemporaneously (and sometimes in conjunction) with the New Deal.

The executive secretary of the ASU, Joseph P. Lash, was quite a figure. Besides his long and intricate career in the upper echelons of the elite (including being one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s BFFs), one of the ASU pamphlets he wrote merits attention. Its title: The Campus: A Fortress of Democracy (1937). Yes, really.

One of the first things we notice: a signed letter of approval from the White House itself. Mind you, this was when Lash hadn’t even formally renounced communism yet.

Why did FDR approve of him?

Around p.16 it becomes clear why. In a chapter titled “Campus Militarism is Campus Toryism,” Lash rips into the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps on college campuses:

We are concerned with the aggressiveness of fascism, but we are also concerned with the militaristic policies of our government. The fight against the R.O.T.C. must be continued. The fight against the war budget must be continued. The fight against M-Day must be continued. The role of the military apparatus in America is reactionary and fascist. When the editor of the Vassar Miscellany spoke at the Armistice Day meeting in Poughkeepsie she met opposition from the Reserve Officers Association. At Purdue the R.O.T.C. supplied the information to a campus newspaper in order to attack falsely your national secretary and the A.S.U. as communist. The Tories favor the maintenance and extension of the military apparatus because tbe philosophy of the latter is antidemocratic and anti-egalitarian. The philosophy of our military is one of defence of privilege and caste and, in the end, of fascism and war.

Yes, it’s that venerable proxy war between DoD and the State Department, here illustrated very beautifully by a surrogate.

I.F. Stone — the great liberal muckraker of the 20th century, wrote this gem of an article on December 8, 1958: “An Open Soviet Society Would Be an Aid to Peace“:

We believe that in the long run greater freedom will prove a better risk than greater repression. The struggle for a more open Soviet society is a struggle for conditions in which peaceful transition to a less rigid-minded socialism may be possible in Eastern Europe without new convulsions. Slowly to graft First Amendment freedoms onto the Soviet system would really be to check the evils of what Krushchev [sic] once called “the cult of personality.”

Here we see the free speech bug in an advanced stage. The men of letters, having carved out their “rights” in their host country, move on to agitate for the expansion of the network. Principles of Anglo government, alright. The tried and true English principle of being on the right side of history!

Carey McWilliams, another pinko journalist who among other things was a leader of modern anti-racism, and helped Hunter S. Thompson launch his career, was also one of the first to use the witch hunt metaphor for McCarthy’s deeds. In comical detail. But one of the most revealing quotes from Witch Hunt (1950) is the following, in reference to six professors, at least five of whom were in the CPUSA and who were “unjustly red-baited,” supposedly:

Most of these men were either graduates of the University of Washington (Phillips, Eby, Gundlach) or products of its liberal tradition. A protege of Vernon Parrington, Eby had edited the third volume of “Main Currents in American Thought.” The liberalism of men like Phillips, Eby, and Gundlach, therefore, can be easily understood. It is part of the tradition of the university in which they were trained; it is part, so to speak, of their intellectual inheritance.

The anti-anti-communist liberal gambit. Always a good one.

Howard Fast, American novelist, wrote in defense of the Fifth Amendment by, in a similar note to McWilliams, comparing McCarthy’s activities to the persecution of Puritans:

I have described some of the circumstances of the origin of the privilege guaranteed to us by the Fifth Amendment. As precious as any of their possessions, ideals or beliefs, this concept of the privilege was brought to America by the Puritans, and became a living part of New England common law–later to be incorporated in our Bill of Rights. This is not a protection for criminals against justice. It was never intended as such. The privilege against self-incrimination was intended specifically to protect people against torture, against being forced to incriminate themselves by either their voice or their silence, in the very manner that they are being so forced by our congressional committees today. The Star Chamber of old England, which haled before it every manner of dissenter, is duplicated today in the Senate and the House office building in Washington.

Civil Rights Congress, Workers Defense Union (an early ally of the ACLU, and in fact Roger Baldwin instructed WDU leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn to consult for the Sacco-Vanzetti case with none other than… Zechariah Chafee), National Federation for Constitutional Liberties, and don’t forget the immediate predecessor to the National Lawyers Guild, the International Juridical Association — the trail of the commie is all over.

This has been our tour of the reds behind your freedoms. Rather than whining about anti-white shitlibs trying to take away your racial heritage embodied in the law (which it turns out was actually an invention of radicals, often Jewish ones too) of spewing bile without consequence — the suppression of which is simply government doing its necessary work of enforcing orthodoxy, how about you instead #MakeMcCarthyismGreatAgain? While you still can, of course. The chickens are coming home to roost, and your window of opportunity is quickly closing.


14 thoughts on “Communist origins of modern American free speech

  1. Pingback: Communist origins of modern American free speech | Reaction Times

  2. Heartiste’s main point there was the use of free speech absolutism as a rhetorical hammer to strike the Left, to be quickly discarded (one would presume) after the final victory.

    Certainly if he ran the country, advocating for communism, social pathology, etc. would be illegal. Or at least ensure low status, which is effectively the same thing.

    Ultimately, he does believe in the ideal of republicanism- in the Aristotelian sense. The problem is that republics only work well at first, when its citizens are coasting on the mores and habits instilled by centuries of absolutism


    • He clearly went beyond advocating it as a rhetorical tool. He interpreted anti-1A absolutism as an assault on the racial heritage and traditions of White Americans that makes them unique, to which I respond that it wasn’t (entirely) their heritage, nor traditional.

      Not to mention the tactic is simply laughable. Such tactics worked against ministers of the ancien regime, because they were gentlemen who at times gave their subjects the benefit of doubt — before regretting it. But now that the left has successfully destroyed sedition and obscenity laws and moving in for the kill, your advocacy for free speech absolutism is, firstly, not even a major threat (at best it’s a return to a status quo ante bellum again with left-wing ascendancy) and, secondly, going to fall on deaf ears because you’re taking on a sociopathic enemy which openly rejects any etiquette. Whatever public support you might attract, you’re going to end up as the next John Birch Society — a subject for jokes at cocktail parties, at best.

      (The hilarious thing is that the left would be fully justified in this instance. A liberal state cannot tolerate illiberal elements, even though many liberals have tried to square that circle. I can even see the poz selectively deploying some Comstock-like arguments, which would immediately make them more-right-wing-than-the-right on that subject at least.)


  3. “Many will accuse me of making the genetic fallacy. To which I ask: how can a hereditarian believe in the genetic fallacy as a fallacy? I’m not a hereditarian, but I’m just asking.”

    This sounds strange. In which sense are you not a hereditarian?


  4. “It’s always been there, but it was isolated to Third Positionist and geopolitical cranks. Now that a Third Positionist geopolitical crank like Dugin has become a cult figure, though, things are different.”

    Heh, any time I see someone using the word “geopolitics,” my bullshit sensors start lighting up.


  5. Even Moldbug wrote more clearly than this. Now that we’re here, why don’t you give us all a tour of your gaping asshole.


  6. By now Thermidor (a blog fanzine) is a bad joke. Everyone contributing to and reading it is a young fogey so arch it’s starting to look like one of those exclusive gay orgies the Oliver Stone hinged the plot of JFK on. “Carlsbad” and company are affecting an attitude far harder than Heartiste, one that’s familiar to anyone who has been near right wing politics in the past 60 or 70 years. It boils down to fake erudition, selective obsessive history, and verbosity with a touch of simper. It’s a form of retreat from reality.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Pman. Or whoever you are.

      I will grant you that my style of writing can be verbose and overly aphoristic. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out this “obsessive history” (which you say is too selective in this case).

      The fact remains that most Americans had no problem with obscenity, sedition and criminal anarchy laws. Now they’re anathema. These are some of the people responsible. In fact, I seem to recall you making a similar point on MPC. You, or one of MPC’s regulars, mentioned that the reason the ACLU defended Nazis was to tear down local restraints on offensive and obscene speech, paving the way for easier normalization of pornography, among other things. I wholeheartedly agree. Hence my judgment that free speech absolutism is a bankrupt and self-defeating tactic. The same players will simply return to the same end point they are now at.


  7. By Holmes, do you mean Oliver Wendell? He was certainly nothing close to a free speech absolutist.

    His “clear and present danger” test for criminalizing speech may sound like a near-absolutist criterion, but in practice, in several of his WW1-era opinions he deemed that this allows for speech restrictions that Americans would think of as draconian nowadays. He affirmed a ten-year sentence against Schenck for distributing pamphlets arguing that the draft is unconstitutional. The he went still further and affirmed another one against Debs, who carefully chose his words in an anti-war speech to avoid any direct offence, on the theory that such speech is liable as well on the grounds of intent and implication.


  8. Pingback: Electoral violence in America, or: Why your country had to be pozzed | Carlsbad 1819

  9. Pingback: Some ironies and curiosities of right-wing history | Carlsbad 1819

  10. Pingback: Quelques ironies et curiosités de l’histoire de la « droite » – Christus Imperat

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