“The neo-inquisition”, 21st century censorship

Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso

Carlos Rodríguez Braun reviews the book The Neo-Inquisition: Persecution, Censorship and Cultural Decadence in the XXI Century by Axel Kaiser.

CATO – If we are asked about times, places or systems that constitute symbols of persecution, censorship and cultural decadence, we would hasten to underline the savage repression of people and ideas, hallmarks of communism, Nazism and Islamic fundamentalism. This book by Chilean thinker Axel Kaiser (Santiago de Chile, 1981) brings us disturbing news: evil is closer than we think. In fact, it is here and now among us.

We do not suffer today, of course, thanks to God and the freedom that animated and succeeded the crises of totalitarianisms, genocidal tyrannies like those that bloodied the 20th century. But Kaiser invites us to reflect on political correctness, which we can call contemporary vegetarian totalitarianism. Specifically, he calls us “to become aware of the results to which the processes of hypermoralization, collapse of rationality in the public space and politicization of virtue can lead.”

It has been especially concentrated in the United States and Europe in recent years, where a striking narcissism prevails: hegemonic ideas encourage us to be self-satisfied with the great achievements achieved thanks to democracy, but the pages of the book reel one sample after another that the Pleasantries are unfounded.

Indeed, many assure that today, finally, the critical spirit prevails, while rejecting all criticism; they boast of pluralism and diversity who are really implacable uniforms; their worst enemies for the defense of freedom of expression; not to discriminate those who discriminate incessantly; from inclusive to exclusive; and intolerant tolerance.

And the most chilling thing is that this does not happen in North Korea but in Harvard. The devastating examples of “emocracy”, the government of emotions, take place in envied temples of knowledge, due to “a self-flagellating discourse that, exploiting guilt and resentment at sometimes pathological levels, has taken over the humanities and of the social sciences in many of the best universities in the world ”.

Your pages against unrestricted immigration have not convinced me at all. I am aware that it is incompatible with the current Welfare State, and that prominent liberals have made a reasonable case for limiting immigration. But the liberal ideal is not to be limited by the state, which in fact encourages it through the welfare state and other regulations and interventions. It should be limited by the freedom and property rights of the natives, that is, the market. But that does not mean, as Rothbard says, I think wrongly, that in a world without a state and with respect to property there could never be open borders. On the other hand, the book’s criticism of multiculturalism is correct, and the idea that immigrants must not only be helped but also demanded is revealing. Of course: that is the free society.

And the threat that political correctness represents for that society is clear in this volume. Axel Kaiser points to the suffocating environment of the culture of victimhood, illiberal feminism, and so-called hate crimes, blatantly used to suppress and silence discordant voices in academia, culture, politics, and the media.

The new inquisitors, who are fundamentally on the left, are exposed in these pages, who rightly denounce their fallacies, traps and outrages. They are not champions of justice but of injustice, they are not champions of progress but of reaction. But they could never have come how far they have come if a large part of the population had not previously surrendered to illiberal ideas. Axel Kaiser points out: “Europeans hope that the state will solve everything.” The current inquisitors would never have made their august otherwise.

This article was originally published in El Cultural (Spain) on December 8, 2020.