Freedom ends in tiny steps

Seemingly small incidents sometimes take on a much greater significance with the passage of time.

A decade ago, Australia banned its citizens from travelling to Syria in order to prevent lumpen Muslims from Western Sydney joining ISIS. Those that made it anyway were stripped of their citizenship in order to block their return.

I vaguely recall civil rights groups kicking up a fuss at the time but most people were untroubled. Who cares if some people wanted to travel to Syria for innocent reasons, i.e. to work as civilian medics? Do-gooders have no right to go get themselves killed in some hellhole. Who cares if some ‘Australians’ are not allowed back after fighting? They’re citizens of Islamic State now and if they don’t like it, tough titties.

Then in 2020, Australians were banned from travelling anywhere in the world without permission and those stuck in India were threatened with jail if they tried to come back. This would have been politically harder without the Syrian precedent. Before that, Australians were free to go anywhere including Cuba, North Korea and Iran.

The border controls illustrate two vital principles of WEIRD nations:

1. We must defend the rights of people we disagree with, even in extreme situations, or else the whole, universalist edifice of liberalism comes tumbling down.

2. We must be wary of allowing non-WEIRD people into our societies in great numbers because they’ll take the piss, we’ll abandon our liberal principles to deal with them, then we’ll all lose our ancestral rights as we revert to the lowest common denominator. Or we’ll stand up for their rights and be trampled.

Local anti-WEIRD ideologies pose the same risk.

The Australian example described above is not unique.

Consider those without criminal convictions placed on US no-fly lists in 2001. Now political dissidents are being placed on those lists.

Consider the Australian ‘no jab, no play’ rules for unvaccinated kids in preschools. It seemed fair enough given outbreaks of measles and so on. Now adults will not be allowed to work or go shopping unless they’ve taken an unnecessary (for most), experimental vaccine.

Remember when Alex Jones got banned from everywhere after claiming a school shooting was a hoax? Most of us shrugged. He was a ridiculous grifter and everyone expected him to get kicked off eventually. Now we get banned for disputing an election result, a non-medical intervention or the origin of a virus.

Recall the early days of the War on Terror. Anyone who dared questioned any aspect of it, from breaking international law to breaching the Constitution, was branded a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. Opposing the invasion of Iraq was conflated with loving Saddam and all his crimes. Normal people reacted like this, though they will deny it today.

We now exist in a state of permanent crisis where anyone publishing anything that goes against the elite narrative is declared a ‘dangerous extremist’ and risks being banished to the darkest and least profitable corners of the internet.

Aussies might be aware that there was a referendum to allow the banning of the Communist Party in 1951. It failed. Had it succeeded, One Nation probably would have been banned in 1996.

There’s no easy path forward for the West. Our countries are now home to so many non-WEIRD groups that we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. We can either support the right of maniacal Islamic preachers to scream at their giant congregations about how evil we are, or restrict their freedom and also restrict our own.

I’m all for civil liberties but I also know when I’m beat. At this point we’re probably better off trying to put Our Guys in charge of this increasingly autocratic system than turning back the clock to restore liberal principles.

But Our Guys are not in charge. Right now we have both screaming Imams and a lack of free speech for us.

Nevertheless, there are technological tools for samizdat that were unavailable to previous malcontents. Nothing lasts forever and the present anarcho-tyrannical state will fall sooner or later. Perhaps future generations will try out this WEIRD idea of freedom again, but more cautiously given the lessons of history.


  1. SnapperTrx · December 28

    I’ve said before and I’ll say it here too: Liberals are skilled at incrementalism. They trudge forward at a snails pace, certain that, in the end, they will win, and for the most part they have been right. The last time I talked about this was over the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Despite the fact that 99% of abortions will continue across the US, the liberals can’t stand being pushed a step back, but it will be a blip on the radar because they will just continue to push forward. Push forward an inch, let a generation grow up with “the new normal”, then push forward another inch when nobody but old people remember the first push! As an example: Abortion would be safe and rare, then over the decades, inch by inch, they moved until now women are told to celebrate their abortions! Apply this same method to anything and the slowly creeping hand of authoritarianism wraps around the globe, while those of us who complain are called looney and conspiracy theorists. Unfortunately, Conservatives conserve nothing while the majority of modern citizens are far too comfortable to even consider fighting back. I mean REALLY fighting back, which is the only cure. We may be past the point of no return, where the option of fighting back to win is taken off the table, and the only solution left is to let everything rot until it collapses, only to be built anew. If humanity is lucky.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Gunner Q · December 29

    They would have done this anyway. Whenever there aren’t any useful precedents, they just lie one into existence.

    Technology such as high-speed migration and universal communications are changing the world faster than most people can keep up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Like patching a computer operating system, it’s very hard to see the vulnerabilities before they get exploited.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Deacon Blues · December 29

    I suspect that technology has helped in one way: governments really cannot do anything without someone noticing, or bury events that contradict the Narrative. Take the Waukesha Parade massacre. If that had happened in the 70s, it would be easily buried, like most of what the SLA or Weather Underground did. The MSM is ignoring this, and also the skin colour of the “alleged” driver of the SUV involved in the “casualties”, but they’ve been unable to bury it.

    I also suspect this is why we’ve seen so much doubling down on the propaganda of the regimes. They’ve been bullshitting us as long as I have been alive. When that facade starts to crumble, you have no choice but to bullshit harder. And I know I’m not the first to say it looks like social media was invented to distract us all in echo chambers so the bullshit keeps working.

    Liked by 1 person

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