As in Mussolini’s Italy, there is in Putin’s Russia what the Economist calls a “culture of cruelty” where “domestic abuse is no longer a crime” and “nearly 30% of Russians say torture should be allowed.”
As the Economist notes, Alexander Yakovlev, a democratic reformer who worked under Mikhail Gorbachev, warned us in the late 1990s: “The danger of fascism in Russia is real because since 1917 we have become used to living in a criminal world with a criminal state in charge. Banditry, sanctified by ideology — this wording suits both communists and fascists.”
That view has increasingly made her an outlier on the left. “The trope you hear over and over and over again is that free speech is a tool of the powerful,” Ms. Strossen says, “that it’s only benefiting white supremacists like the people in Charlottesville, or Donald Trump on Jan. 6, or antilabor crusaders, big, bad corporations … or fat cats.”
She points to a 2018 dissent in which Justice Elena Kagan accused five of her colleagues of “weaponizing the First Amendment.” The majority in Janus v. Afscme held that labor-union “agency fees”—mandatory payments exacted from nonmembers in lieu of dues—violated the free-speech rights of government employees who declined to join the union. “So according to Justice Kagan, it was ‘weaponizing’ free speech, to subvert the liberal cause or the progressive cause of labor,” Ms. Strossen says. Although she’s grown inured to this sort of rhetoric, “it was disheartening to hear it from the Supreme Court.”
Contrast that with another free-speech landmark, Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). The liberal Warren court held unanimously that the First Amendment protects speech advocating violent or unlawful conduct, except when the speaker intends to incite “imminent lawless action” and the speech is “likely” to have that effect.
She elaborates in her 2018 book, “Hate: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship,” and in our interview when we turn to higher education. Campus authorities frequently justify the suppression of “so-called hate speech”—Ms. Strossen is punctilious about including that dismissive qualifier—with what she calls the “false and dangerous equation between free expression and physical violence.”
“When people hear the term ‘hate speech,” she says, “they usually envision the most heinous examples—a racial epithet; spitting in the face of Dr. Martin Luther King. But in fact, when you see what’s been attacked as so-called hate speech on campus, it’s opposing the idea of defund the police, opposing the idea of open borders.” Any questioning of transgender ideology or identity is cast as “denying the humanity of trans people, or transphobic.” Ms. Strossen hastens to add that “I completely support full and equal rights for trans people,” but she says critics are “raising concerns that I think deserve to be raised and deserve to be discussed.”
Pierre Lemieux is correct: “‘Buy local’ is one of the most simplistic political slogans. It obliterates complex analytical ideas such as the division of labor and comparative advantage.”  Here’s his conclusion:
The injunction “buy local” is only meant to elicit political emotions or, as Hayek would have likely said , tribal emotions.
No, we are in this mess because, for most of the twenty-first century, we have ignored economic reality in pursuit of theatrical decarbonisation. Actually, no, that understates our foolishness. Decarbonisation will happen eventually , as alternative energy sources become cheaper than fossil fuels. It is proper for governments to seek to speed that process up. But this goes well beyond emitting less CO2. Our intellectual and cultural leaders – TV producers, novelists, bishops, the lot – see fuel consumption itself as a problem. What they want is not green growth, but less growth.
As Amory Lovins, perhaps the most distinguished writer to have been involved in the move away from fossil fuels, put it in 1970:
“If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.”
The idea that cheaper energy is a positive good – that it reduces poverty and gives people more leisure time – has been almost wholly lost. We have convinced ourselves that if it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working. The reason we slip so easily into talk of banning and rationing is not just that the lockdown has left us readier to be bossed about. It is that we have come to regard the use of power [DBx: i.e., energy] as a sinful indulgence.
Government and private-sector responses to the pandemic created new reasons to move. Remote work weakened connections to offices in California, Illinois and New York. Those same states stuck to oppressive Covid-19 mandates, softened their crime policies, and pushed woke indoctrination in schools. Gov. Ron DeSantis went in the opposite direction, defying what he called the “woke mob,” reopening quickly, and declaring Florida “the freest state in these United States.”
California’s Medical Board, has been extorting MDs not to speak out against actual COVID misinformation by labeling what we say as misinformation and threatening licenses to practice. Docs just sued the medical board. Read the suit. Brilliant!