By Ian Wishart
The French philosopher Voltaire is often misquoted as saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
It’s a cornerstone principle of free speech, but unfortunately there’s no evidence that Voltaire ever uttered such a pithy quote. The line comes from a 1906 book about the man, where author Beatrice Evelyn Hall paraphrased him in her own words, but put those words in quotemarks.
It’s doubtful Voltaire was quite so generous towards those he disagreed with. He was a Freemason who hated the Church with a passion, and a card-carrying member of the Order of Perfectibilists – better known today as “The Illuminati”. He and his fellow believers played key roles in causing the French Revolution and inspiring the American Revolution.
If Voltaire did say those words, it was probably more to set up a potential defence had the tides of history flowed the wrong way and left his revolutionary activities exposed.
Today’s release from the self-titled “Disinformation Project” throws the torchlight once again on humanity’s struggles around the boundaries of free speech. It also shows how naive both sides are.
The Disinfo report finds 12 social media accounts in NZ outgunned the mainstream media in the ratings war over Parliament’s anti vaccine mandates protests. It found not only were the “conspiracy theories and misinformation” more popular than official information released via the media, but that a “tectonic shift” in social cohesion was developing with rapid polarisation.
The problem is stark, and it is real: do taxpaying and voting adults retain the right to have thoughts and beliefs that others regards as wrong?
After all, if true democracy exists, people must have the right to exercise their votes based on their core values, beliefs and worldviews. If those rights are suppressed, then what emerges at each election is a rigged result – not a true representative government elected after a no-holds-barred contest of ideas.
The reality is, however, we have never really had that. Universal suffrage has only existed for about a century, and Voltaire and the other Illuminati barons who overthrew the old order never intended on the emergence of one person, one vote. It escaped on them, and the planet’s real movers and shakers – the people who fund political parties and pull the economic strings – have been struggling to find ways to shut the democracy genie back in the bottle ever since. The move toward global governance, based on a binding international treaty framework controlled by the UN, is a key weapon designed to sideline and marginalise the power of one person, one vote. There will still be “elections”, but the “elected” will have to work within the framework imposed by global treaties. The real power will return to the elites. Public “votes” will be largely meaningless. The Māori co-governance agenda, ushered in under a UN treaty protocol, is a perfect example of democracy’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
Even under democracy’s brief “Prague Spring” in the 20th century, free speech has never been a political absolute. New Zealanders have never been permitted to vote for a Nazi party, because authorities decided in hindsight that the ideology was too dangerous to be let loose again. Yet you would be surprised how widespread Nazi ideas were in the West – even before Hitler ever wrote Mein Kampf. White supremacy was the ideology that inspired Family Planning: to stop poor blacks and working class whites from outbreeding (and therefore eventually outvoting) wealthy white liberals. The overt racism and eugenics were swept under the rug after WW2, like the creepy uncle no one wanted to talk about, but the private thoughts remained.
Which brings us back to that earlier point: does society have the power to dictate to people what they should think?
US President Thomas Jefferson famously declared Government’s powers could not reach that far: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions.
People are tribal. Diverse cultures and societies have emerged in distinct, defendable geographic areas. Each of those cultures has sometimes very different values and beliefs. While people remained largely within their national borders and traveled as ‘guests’ to other countries, the principle of ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ became words to live by. The mass migration and globalisation of the 21st century has changed all that. Competing cultures and ideologies and faiths have been thrown together in a massive social engineering experiment. There is fraying around the edges. There is an expectation now that host cultures must change to accommodate the migrants, rather than have migrants be absorbed into the previously dominant culture.
Around a third of New Zealanders were not born in this country. Back in the 1800s however, it was closer to 75% foreign-born. We are now debating what Māori did in 1840.
With this migration has come political power, and the ability to redefine a country’s values. Everything is in a state of flux.
Mainstream media tell people they are being ‘racist’, or ‘nationalistic’, if they question the rapid transfer of political power caused by importing so many foreign-born voters in such a short time. Suck it up, they say. But that’s too simplistic. The same media are also warning that anti-vax and pro-Russia misinformation being promoted on social media is destroying the social fabric of our country. They might be right, but it’s also the natural corollary of the same globalisation they support: in the modern connected world, ideas move even faster than migrants. The genie remains out of the bottle.
The reality is this:
Humans are tribal, and have always seen the world through lenses of power and beliefs. Groups that believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are being marginalised will ultimately fight back. If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that. One person’s village idiot might be another’s freedom fighting hero. The same mainstream media that call Agenda21 “a conspiracy theory” will at the same time, totally without a trace of irony, happily report that the government has a plan to reduce car usage by 20% within a decade, while also hyping up battery-hen housing and urban design ghettos lifted chapter and verse from the 1992 Agenda21 playbook.
Sadly, hundreds of thousands of kiwis are actively getting exposed to wild misinformation because of mainstream media’s dereliction of duty to objectively report on some of these things. Once trust between media and their audience is broken it’s a bloody hard thing to get back.
Even blind Freddy can see global governance Totalitaria hurtling down the tunnel towards him. The only ones who can’t read the signs are our media bosses and the brainwashed social activists masquerading as reporters coming out of the journalism courses these days.
On Newshub tonight, reporter Juliet Speedy vox-popped people on the street and couldn’t find any who trusted the MSM anymore. Astoundingly, she seemed surprised.
Maybe Voltaire is having the last laugh as the false free speech icon he’s become. The ridiculousness of some of the misinformation out there is bringing Western civilisation to a tipping point where perception now matters more than reality. I was long of the belief that QAnon was a psyop designed to flush opponents of a new global order into the open. The nutty pandemic theories have now multiplied that with bells on. Big Brother now knows who you are, what you believe and who your friends are.
What’s now taking place is a battle for the narrative, both sides like competing schools of tropical reef fish darting at each other and retreating. Facts don’t matter anymore, everyone is mainlining alternative facts to support their narrative like a heroin shot to the arm. Those who get their info from the MSM believe boys and girls are just two of fifty-something different genders you can choose from and they believed that separating themselves from the unvaxxed would protect them from catching omicron – until they discovered omicron just laughed at their vax status. Those who follow alternative media believe the virus is fake, or harmless, and they’ll deny it even though it practically kills them to even walk to the letterbox now. Many have convinced themselves that everyone who’s been vaxxed will be dead by year’s end.
Just like Putin on his mad Nazi-hunting misadventure in Ukraine, reality has been cast to the wayside by both these factions in NZ. Each believes its own mythology and that the other side are evil nutters.
Little wonder some are taking the view, “a plague on both your houses”.
The Herald’s David Fisher is right when he says misinformation must be countered transparently, in public view. There’s a battle for hearts and minds taking place because this stuff was left to fester. Governments can’t stop people from having opinions, and crushing dissent by censorship instead of debate will only hasten the revolution.
NZ is at a crossroads. The country needs to have a free and frank discussion on what modern democracy should look like, before political elites and their media minders try and impose their own agenda as a fait accompli.
This country is turning into a powderkeg, and we will reap the whirlwind if we continue to pretend it isn’t. Look around you at the current state of the world. On the other hand, if news editors want to finally discover the answer to the age-old question – ‘who’ll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes?’ – then they should maintain their current course. Grey Lynn is not heartland NZ.