All the great totalitarian regimes of the last century, both real and in fiction, recognised the power of ideas and sought to deny their citizens access to people, books, theories, thoughts, etc., etc. that they believed might undermine the authority of the state. The methods used were twofold: ruthless censorship and punishment. In the 1930s the Nazis burned books and sent communists to concentration camps. Anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, sometimes called counter-revolutionary agitation, could be punished by death in the Soviet Union. In China, in the notorious system called Loagai, reform through labour, one of the crimes that labour was supposed to reform was incorrect thought. In Orwell’s fictional nightmare state, it was not even clear what thoughtcrime was: if one does not know what one can and cannot think, it is prudent not to think at all.
Our Prime Minister is on record today saying that he wants to ban certain ideologies of hate (thought not Alan Jones’). He wants to change the law. He wants to outlaw those who “campaign against Australian values and interests”. Of course our system of government is superior to those of full-blown totalitarian states, but laws that prohibit criticism of our ‘values and interests’ look to me to be yet another step down the slippery path to a regime that decent people will not be at all happy with, one in which our ideas will be regulated by the state.
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