Our society worships the freedom of the individual. But how much freedom do we, as individuals, really have? For we live in a society which ‘cancels’ anyone who has a view of their own, so much so that we imagine the only people who are cancelled are those who express views synonymous with twentieth-century totalitarianism. We have become incapable of seeing outside the echo chamber of our own collective system of values, which fetishise and exploit the individual at the same time. Liberalism is not the triumph of the individual. It is its own form totalitarianism — which, as Orwell describes, involves the human face being stamped out by the powers of coercion and manipulation, for all eternity.
Liberalism involves freedom of speech, but even this is a faint and fading freedom. I am not sure how much longer it will last. So long as it lasts, we should make every use of it. There is no answer to totalitarianism but the negative. To concede anything to a fallen system is unacceptable. We must build anew what was lost. We must make a better world. We must go our own way — and face the consequences, whatever they may be. Freedom is worth a fight. So, let there be light …
2 thoughts on “Going your own way: A choice worth the consequences”
You’ve seemingly suggested here that ‘cancel culture’ can be its own form of Totalitarianism, and I may be overly fixated on the current situation right now but to me, it seems as if cancel culture is much weaker currently than you think. We see many individuals who are famous and were problematic return to the limelight with minimal if any punishment. For instance, James Gunn was cancelled in 2018 and removed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet will be returning later this year and next year.
Of course a lot of the people I refer to are often people who have the power to fight against cancel culture through masses of wealth and public support. But until cancel culture becomes overwhelmingly violent towards its targets, I don’t think it can overly stop people from being alive. Whilst they may be publicly and socially denigrated, anybody can reject society and be a pariah, requiring no change in their values or any admission of guilt or shame.
Thanks for this. I may caution that the death of Socrates is evidence of the danger of ostracism, even in democracies. Otherwise I’d broadly agree cancellation has not become violent, but the seeds of violence have sadly been sown. We may not have much time left, and that is the motivation behind my admittedly alarming post.