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Anti-Racism and Unlimited Freedom of Speech: An Untenable Dualism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Marvin Glass*
Carleton University


Perhaps it is best to begin on a semi-autobiographical note. In my liberal days, Mill's arguments in On Liberty for freedom of speech struck me as a paradigm of rationality: the force and eloquence of his presentation, I then thought, could not fail to impress themselves on any mature member of our species. But I am a Marxist now, and more and more of my former political beliefs now strike me as less and less tenable. It was considerations such as the one that follows which have recently led me to modify drastically, and in some cases abandon entirely, my former political views vis à vis the question of freedom of speech.

Whenever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emenates from its class interests and its feelings of class superiority. The morality between Spartans and Helots, between planters and negroes, between princes and subjects, between nobles and returiers, between men and women, has been for the most part the creation of these class interests and feelings ….

Research Article
Copyright © The Authors 1978

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1 Mill, J.S. On Liberty,ed. A. Castell (New York, 1947), p. 6.Google Scholar

2 Ibid., pp. 10–11.

3 Dworkin, GeraldPaternalism,” in Morality and the Law, ed. Wasserstrom, Richard (Belmont, 1971), p. 113.Google Scholar

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Mill, op. cit., p. 35.

7 Monro, D.H.Liberty of Expression: Its Grounds and Limits (II),” Inquiry 13, (1970), pp. 238-53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 Ibid., pp. 239–40.

9 “Nuisance” and “mischief” as here used by Mill refer to actions more serious in their consequences that those which merely cause an individual or group some bother. What Mill had in mind here was “nuisance” and “mischief” in the sense of “criminal nuisance or mischief”. I thank Professor Dan Goldstick for bringing this point to my attention.

10 The concept of race, it should be remembered, has often been attacked as biologically unsound, socially invalid and prejudicial. See The Concept of Race, ed. Montagu, Ashley (New York, 1964).Google Scholar

11 It has recently been argued that that view that some nations or groups are innately intellectually inferior to others is a view which was rarely entertained and never seriously advocated by the Greeks. See Dover, K.J. Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle (Oxford, 1976), pp. 8388.Google Scholar

12 Kenneth Little, Race and Science, pp. 61–62; quoted in Lightfoot, Claude Racism and Human Survival (New York, 1972), p. 26.Google Scholar

13 Juan Comas, Race and Science, p. 15; quoted in Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 26.

14 Clarke D. Moore, A Survey of the Past, p. 117; quoted in Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 30.

15 Ashley Montagu, Man's Most Dangerous Myth, The Fallacy of Race pp. 34–35; quoted by Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 54.

16 Many liberals argue that theories of innate racial inferiority persist today primarily because of events which occurred three hundred years ago. This explanation is as reasonable as the hypothesis that my hangover this morning is primarily the result of a wild night on the town ten years ago.

17 Golo Mann, The History of Germany Since 1789, p. 446; quoted in Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 54.

18 R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, p. 290; quoted in Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 54.

19 The relationship between the Nazis and big business is a complex one, and it is indeed simplistic to characterize National Socialism, as some Marxists have done, as the invention and creation of monopoly capitalism. Nevertheless, that corporate support of the Nazi party was a necessary condition of its success is a claim supported by many non-Marxist commentators on the rise of fascism in Germany. One such commentator, after noting the early financial support for Hitler by industrialists, concludes: “Hitler's sensational ventures of 1922 and 1923 could not have been undertaken without it. … ” (Bracher, Karl Dietrich The German Dictatorship (New York, 1970), pp. 101-2.)Google Scholar Another historian maintains that “Hitler would never have succeeded without the help of German heavy industry.” (Tenenbaum, Joseph Race and Reich (New York, 1956), p. 115).Google Scholar And another commentator on the role and motives of industrial support for Naziism maintains: “All were anti-Communist and anti-Social Democratic and therefore interested in any political movement promising the destruction of Marxism. All had an obvious interest in weakening or, if possible, destroying the collective bargaining power of German labour, to which they had been obliged to make many grudging concessions. For this they were prepared to pay a price: the price of subsidizing the NSDAP and the price of submitting to extensive governmental control in a fascist state in which strikes would be forbidden, the proletariat would be impotent and Marxism would be annihilated.” (Schuman, Frederick L. The Nazi Dictatorship (New York, 1936), p. 90).Google Scholar For a Marxist analysis of German and Italian fascism, see Guerin, Daniel Fascism and Big Business (New York, 1973), especially pp. 21–40.Google Scholar As to the role of international corporations in support of Hitler, it was I.T.T. and General Motors, for example, which produced planes for the Nazi war machine. Both G.M. and I.T.T. were later permitted by the U.S. government to deduct from their income tax losses due to damages suffered from allied bombers. See Snell, BradfordG.M. and the Nazis,” Ramparts, June 1974, pp. 1416Google Scholar, and Sampson, Anthony The Sovereign State of I. T. T. (New York, 1973), pp. 27–47.Google Scholar

20 For a masterful historical account of the university-government axis with regard to I.Q. theories and public policy in the 1920's see Kamin, Leon J. The Science and Politics of I.Q. (Potomic, 1974).Google ScholarPubMed Kamin also produces a devastating critique of the twin studies which Sir Cyril Burt and others have claimed provides the strongest evidence for the heritability of I.Q.

21 Shockley, William “Dysgenics, Geneticity, and Raciology,” Phi Delta Kappan, 1972, p. 307.Google Scholar

22 Herrnstein, Richard I.Q. in the Meritocracy (Boston, 1973), p. 59.Google Scholar

23 Yerkes, RobertPsychological Examining in the U.S. Army,” Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 15, (1921), pp. 790-91.Google Scholar

24 Arthur Jensen, “How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement,” Harvard Educational Review, 1969, p. 82.

25 New York Times, July 4, 1974.

26 Block, N.J. and Dworkin, GeraldI.Q., Heritability and Inequality,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 3 (1974)Google Scholar and 4 (1974).

27 Ibid., p. 75.

28 Ibid., pp. 98–99.

29 In Shockley's case this would be poetic justice in that he contributed to the invention of the transistor.

30 Arthur Jensen, Genetics and Education, p. 327; quoted in Block and Dworkin, op. cit., p. 96.

31 Block and Dworkin, op. cit., p. 96.

32 This new found freedom is not, however, primarily attributable to increased tolerance on the part of opponents of Marxism, but rather to the increase in class consciousness of the North American working class and the increase in their proportional representation at the university.