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In Defence of Free Speech

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By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

So, there I was, at Speakers’ Corner, in Hyde Park, at 3pm, on Sunday the 18th of March, 2018. So what was I doing there? Attempting, in my own small way, to defend that most sacrosanct of English monuments to civilisation, peace, truth, freedom, and property, the concept of freedom of speech, that’s to say, the ability of an individual to say what some other person or group of people may wish to remain unsaid.

The other group of people who usually wish to suppress free speech are, of course, a group who like to call themselves ‘the government’, or even better than that, ‘the authorities’. Where they get this oft-claimed ‘authority’ is one of those things that they would prefer the rest of us never to think about, I suppose.

I personally prefer to call these people, who I regard as nothing more than a jumped-up tenacious mafia gang, ‘the state’.

And I regard that as a short-hand for Professor Hoppe’s words: The state is … “an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots – an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.”

These people, despite their own beliefs about themselves, are nothing special, other than usually being despicable, the kind of people you hated at school for being so selfish, slimy, and degenerate. They’re just people, like you and me. Indeed, in some ways, they are lesser than us, because we can easily survive without them and would probably thrive without them. It is impossible for them to survive, without us. Most of them are parasites and tax-eaters who do nothing but consume the produce of others, usually taken via theft, which they call taxation, or via ‘managing the money supply’, which even they themselves call ‘counterfeiting’ if anyone else engages in it.

Most of them would be useless in a free society. Which is probably why they become parasites.

But they like this special position that they currently enjoy within society, where most of us are prepared to put up with this ridiculous situation, for reasons far too long and complicated to get into here.

But their situation is always precarious. The reality in my view, that they are completely unnecessary and in fact hinder and damage society, is always out there, especially held by people like me and people like us. Hence, they become terrified of tiny blobs of ink on paper and puny vibrations of air said out loud.

Why would they be so terrified if their position was stable and actually beneficial to the rest of us? A strong lithe tree with deep roots can easily endure a few gusts of wind, even a few hurricanes. A dead tree with hollow limbs will often fall in the mildest of cloudbursts.

It is therefore the mark of a fearful tyrannical state that it severely punishes people for reading, writing, or saying things it does not like, whether this is Hitler’s national socialist state, Stalin’s soviet socialist state, or Mao’s communist socialist state.

Books are burned and free speech is suppressed, ultimately, as Mao would have put it, at the end of a gun barrel.

However, the English have a different tradition. Many battles have been fought by the English to ensure that we have retained the rights of freeborn men and women, since time immemorial. To my mind, this goes at least back to the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, in which the early Germanic English were probably involved.

(I also like to think that early Englishmen were at the ‘Battle of Marathon’, and even wrote a novel where I actually placed one there, but that, in the words of Richard Blake, is another story.)

[Sword of Marathon, published under the pseudonym of Jack England.]

Yes, there was that terrible reverse at Hastings, when the Norman-French successfully invaded our Sceptred Isle to create the British state, and we’ve been living with that terrible military disaster ever since. But even the Normans (who were intrinsically a mixture of Norsemen and Frankish Germans) blended eventually into the English fold.

And since then, the English have almost religiously guarded their hard-won freedoms from all subsequent attacks, whether from Napoleon or any other would-be pan-European tyrants.

Alas, however, we’ve suffered from the socialist enemy within, chief amongst them, in the last fifty years, that loathsome snake Tony Blair, who never saw an English freedom or noble tradition that he didn’t want to poison or destroy.

But I do not restrict my ire for this particular disgusting wretch of a man. He was aided and abetted by many other contemptible statists, including Margaret Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron, and now that leaf-in-the-wind Theresa May, and her fascist Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who recently threatened to lock people up for 15 years for ‘viewing’ any materials online that she personally considers against the state’s interest.

No doubt she allows herself and her minions the ‘right’ to view such materials, being as they consider themselves so special and so much better than us.

Again, we have that stigmata of the tyrant state. Use force to prevent people reading, writing, or speaking any words that threaten their power.

And so earlier this month, Amber Rudd decided to deport the Viennese activist, Martin Sellner, who’d brought a speech here to England from the Misesian heartland of Austria, which he’d planned to deliver at Speakers’ Corner, in Hyde Park.

He’d probably wanted to bring it here because he thought we were the home of free speech.

Tommy Robinson, who I’m sure needs no introduction here, decided to deliver this speech himself. He tried a few days before March the 18th, but the police prevented him speaking in Hyde Park. I’m sure they would have deported him too, if they could have, but that’s tricky when he holds a British state passport.

So he organised another attempt, to which he invited all believers in freedom, in the UK, and their attendance. I felt honour-bound to do so, once I knew about this, and so found myself standing there with a few thousand others, defending his right to make Martin Sellner’s speech.

I would like to make it clear at this point that I offer no explicit support for any of Mr Robinson’s other views, whatever they may be. But I do support his right to have them and to speak them.

Now, we’d had a whole two inches of snow overnight, where I live in Oxfordshire, so you can imagine the transport chaos that this created, because in England one inch of snow is a torment. Two inches of snow is a global disaster and probably marks the beginning of the next Ice Age glaciation!

But I made it.

It got quite ugly at times, with various groups which the state has encouraged to oppose free speech, trying to prevent Mr Robinson’s short speech. The police, to be fair to them, this time did not prevent the delivery of Martin Sellner’s words, but instead put themselves between ‘our group’ of believers in free speech, and those other groups, who wish to suppress it.

So in the end, the speech got delivered. However, I fail to believe it would have done, if so many of us had failed to show up. I’m glad I was there for my one small physical part in what I’m now going to eternally call the shield wall of freedom. (Come on, you’ve got to let me poeticise a little. The fish I caught was three yards long! 😊)

I also think that at least one of us there would’ve read this speech, if somehow Tommy Robinson had been prevented from doing so. I like to believe I was ready to do it myself, if the hundred ahead of me had failed to pick up the baton. Perhaps the Home Office realised this too, so let it all go ahead. But one still gets the feeling that they’d probably tried to think of a way of stopping it, but in the end realised that they couldn’t without locking all of us up in quite a large military operation. Though I bet they didn’t rule that out in the planning stages.

Well, what can I say about the speech? I was about twenty-five feet from Mr Robinson when he spoke, in an outer core, surrounded by a further deep mantle of people, fenced off on one side by a police cordon, who tried to control incursions by various bodies of free speech opponents, who at several points became physically violent.

It did get a little hectic at times, but I did not want to be a gentlemen a-bed in England, on that Sunday, to think myself accurs’d that I had not been there.

I just caught the odd glimpse of Mr Robinson’s face behind his inner core of about a hundred supporters. And I only heard the odd word, mostly delivered to his live-stream camera, before he lost most of his voice. A bigger step-ladder and and a megaphone would have really helped.

But that wasn’t really the point. The point was that he got there, he delivered the speech, and then he left, without having to see the inside of a police van sent by the detestable Amber Rudd.

(Is she really a ‘conservative’? Does that really mean anything at all, any more?)

So freedom of speech just about survived on Sunday. Let us pray that it does not come to this again, and that the proto-tyrant May and her appalling incubus, Rudd, are soon slung onto the ash-heap of history, to be replaced by people much more worthy of England’s glorious heritage of freedom.

We few, we happy few, can but hope.

The full text of Martin Sellner’s original speech can be found on

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