The Blanket

Intense Winters

Miguel Castells Artetxe • Published in the Basque daily Egin

Freedom of speech or expression is the freedom to express thoughts or ideas. Thus it is a consequence of freedom of thought and ideological freedom, which result from freedom to think and freedom to have one's own ideas.

In human evolution, the political demand and struggle for freedom of thought--for often one is not even allowed to think--and for ideological freedom precedes the struggle for freedom of speech. Freedom of thought is not possible if there isn't a thought to be expressed. And there is no ideological freedom either without such previous thought. There is no ideological freedom if there isn't a body of ideas about the world and things. But freedom means being able to choose among different things. There is no freedom when one cannot opt for a thought that is different from the official thought, different from official doctrine.

The problem stems from the fact that loyalty to the thought takes people to action. Thus dissidence of thought moves people to disobedience and rebellion. That's a problem, of course, for those in power. Undoubtedly, ideological imposition of thought has been throughout history the basis for the maintenance of the "status quo".

Dissident thought is repressed and individuals are thus protected against themselves, that is, against the dangerous temptation of engaging in independent thought. The idea is to get people used to the false security that derives from not thinking, from living in a society with uniform thoughts, while it is left up to others to do the thinking for them, what today is done by television, and the media in general.

But history shows that regimes fall and that thoughts and ideas end up being triumphant. Hemlock wasn't successful against Socrates' philosophy, nor was the state successful against Servet's discoveries, nor prison against Quevedo's satire, nor execution against the work of Garcia Lorca, nor did his being ignored obliterate Bergamin's thought.

And today, right here and now, there are people who refuse to behave like meek sheep of the herd. People who have their own ideas about reason and about justice. People who constantly exercise their human right to become themselves and to continue being themselves despite the personality manipulating techniques of mass psychology employed by the structures of power.

Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are not something that is ever finished. Freedom of expression and all other freedoms are but one freedom: FREEDOM with capital letters, subversive flag of times past, as well as of today and tomorrow, a utopia towards which we are compelled to continue striving for. Freedom of speech can only be conceived as having a critical character and an alternative content, the goals of which are to change society.








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A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

8 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Billy Mitchell


Frances McAuley - Resisting the Loyal Sons of Hate

Anthony McIntyre


Intense Winters
Miguel Castells Artetxe


Modernising Republicanism
Davy Carlin


Another Death in Turkish Prison Hunger Strike


4 August 2002



Davy Carlin


Sectarians For Peace?
Sean Smyth


Nuff Said
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain


Saol Nua

Sean O'Lubaigh


Stake Knife Runs the Rafia
Brian Mór


The Death of Cú Chulainn
Brian Mór


SAS Stake Knife
Brian Mór


No Punishment Too Great

Anthony McIntyre


Foul Shots

Karen Cox


Insanity or Security?
John Chuckman




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The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
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