Necessity for a Modern Definition of Right to Free Speech

In their desperation to stay afloat, U.S. President Biden and the Canadian ruling elite speak about the need to protect "a free and independent media." At the "Democracy Summit" Biden convoked on December 9-10 in Washington, DC, he claimed a free and independent media is the "bedrock of democracy," which guarantees that the public stays informed and "how governments are held accountable." All of it merely serves to provide a justification for the use of ever more executive police powers to keep media which owe their allegiance to the presidency in place and suppress the voices of others they cannot control.

Accountability is one of the most important concerns being raised by people in Canada, the U.S. and all over the world as people contend with the reality that there are no means to hold governments said to be representative to account. In the U.S., the president cannot be charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity. Even current efforts to charge the government with genocide have to first be accepted as legitimate by the existing courts whose existence has the same source as the presidency and the system itself. So too in Canada, the Prime Minister can issue endless apologies for crimes committed against Indigenous peoples in the past without any means to hold him to account for the recurrence of such crimes in the present. The role of the high courts is to interpret and defend the Constitution which is not an instrument of the people but of the ruling class.

Meanwhile, the people are divided by inciting passions based on false ideological beliefs and notions of conscience, rights and speech defined in the past which no longer apply to the conditions today.

Against the promotion of false ideological beliefs to divide the people, divert them and make sure their movement for empowerment cannot coalesce, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) will continue to pay first-rate attention to providing a modern definition of freedom of speech and involve people in forming their own political opinion.

Speech is a human quality. Freedom of speech exists to the extent that people fight for it. It is always being limited, such as through limits imposed on rights in the name of security and opposition to hate speech, or in the form of free speech zones at demonstrations as one example. We have to look at these things by connecting them to the human right to conscience, which does not know a social system. Today a lot is spoken about conscience by civil libertarians as well as by what are called the extreme right-wing and the liberal left. They do not know that conscience does not recognize any social system or that rights are inviolable by virtue of their holder being human, whatever the social system. We cannot recognize these rights and act on the necessity for change without freedom of speech. The Canadian Constitution has the notion of reasonable limits to protect rights. The U.S. Constitution gives rights as a way to have the popular will oppose the coercive machine of government. It stipulates that Congress is to make no laws against these rights, against public opinion. However, the idea that rights can be given, taken away and forfeited remains.

Today, once again, in contention with competitors on the world scale, we see the U.S. imperialists' final recourse to settle all the problems facing the democracy and U.S. hegemony around the world with the threat that the U.S. President has the power to launch nuclear weapons. It is not just an issue of nuclear weapons being one technique of warfare. It is a way of wiping out freedom of speech, or at least claiming that it can be done. On that basis, secrecy, espionage and treason are established and the demand is to express loyalty to a Commander-in-Chief or head of state instead of having fidelity to the ensemble of human relations and what they reveal.

When we speak of freedom of speech, we do so by keeping in mind not only culture in ideological and social form but material form as well. The conditions reveal the necessity for modern definitions to affirm rights by having fidelity to the ensemble of human relations, the relations between humans and humans and humans and nature, which reveal the need for people's empowerment and permit us to delineate and embark on the path which advances this aim.

Articles in this issue of TML Monthly also take up these issues.

(Photos: TML, S. Leigh)

This article was published in

Volume 52 Number 1 - January 9, 2022

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