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Everyone Thinks Their Cause Is Righteous
The Devil is in the Certainty
Rauch responds to critics who might say that censorship is just if it is censoring incorrect or unjust or hateful ideas. He points out that there is a word for a practice where ideas cannot be challenged—that’s dogmatism. And it is counter to liberal democracies. Because, as Rauch tells the tale, liberal democracies are a corrections from theocratic and autocratic governments where the dogmatists, who believed they posessed the absolute truth, forced everyone else to adhere to their view of absolute truth.
Rauch imagines his critics thinking, “This time, it’s different. This time my side really is right. This time our dogma is irrefutable. This time, what we believe has exactly zero problems and no one could even conceive of doubting it unless they were unjust or a fool.” But Rauch simply calls a spade a spade. That’s dogmatism. It’s authoritarianism. And he hopes his critics’ sense of history will wake them up.
He writes further: “Given everything the past couple of millennia have taught about the abuses committed by well-intentioned speech police… [censorious] activists’ confidence that they can be trusted to decide what others can say and hear is a sad display of ignorance and hubris.”