One of the key takeaways from reading The Aristotle Adventure is that people tend to suppress ideas that they find threatening. And the forms that the threats take vary in subtlety and violence.
- Direct physical threats to books are rare.
- Physical threats to people by mobs, assassins, and inquisitors was much more common
- Other forms of threats included: ostracism, ex-communication, denial of access to books (this is back before public libraries) and other scholars, loss of income, banishment, and intereference with careers.
In the 1800 years that the works of Aristotle had to survive, they had to be copied by hand again and again in order to do so. The printing press was not invented by Johannes Gutenberg until 1450. Before this, copying was a tedius, error-prone, and expensive process. As a result, the subtle challenges listed above present severe existential threats to a body of work.
Many of the tactics listed above are archaic. The Catholic church of current day doesn't have the pervasive influence on government that in the days of monarchy based on the "divine right of kings," following fall of the Roman empire through the Renaissance and the Scientific revolution.
Of the subtler tactics listed in the final bullet, many of these can still be employed in our current day and age in university settings, and government research institutions, and the think tanks funded by the government. (I'd say they could also be employed in corporations, but most corporations are pragmatic rather than ideological). Ostracism, loss of income, and intereference with career are all real threats that can be used against a person that a bully wants to silence. This helps to silence one speaker but The Internet has made it harder than ever to silence someone completely. Although I suspect that most of us feel pretty frustrated with how to make oneself heard in all of the noise.
In spite of how hard it is to be silenced completely, the work to maintain the current state of liberty is still crucial. We must fight to keep what we have attained by aggressively exposing and denouncing those who would hack at the support pillars of free speech.
We can also fight by choosing better stewards for the machinery which protects our liberty. The source of many attacks on freedom of speech come directly from government.
The administrators of government have unique privileges to arrest people, tax them, and drag them down with legal or regulatory procedures. They have many levers of intimidation. They can do so for seemingly arbitrary reasons. This is why we want the most long-sighted stewards that are willing to take the job making leadership decisions in our governments.
Government shouldn't just be a job with prestige. It should be a sacred trust.
This is also why we do not want anyone with a tactical ideological agenda in power. A tactical ideological agenda can come from religious sources but can also originate from any kind of pseudo-scientific notion that attempts to survive challenge by any means other than reason. For the latter, imagine a new economic order or social justice agenda.
(side note: I'm all for efforts to connect people and foster acts of kindness, but I prefer these to be organized independent of the government and without government funding)
What I'm saying in short is that to vote "on the issues", for a candidate whom will do whatever it takes to get some thing done is to play a dangerous game with a system of safeguards which is responsible for protecting us all from the ugliest and most opportunistic power mongers.
We should be voting on fundamentals. This will do the most to protect the foundation of our liberty: the freedom to hold an idea, to express it, and to act upon it so long as you do not violate the rights of another.
Here is the guidance from the founding fathers as I understand it in simple fundamentals: Limit the exercise of government power to ensure the maxiumum liberty of choice and action to each person.
Although NONE of the top 3 Presidential candidates are exponents of this kind of restraint, this is what we need to look for and support even if they belong to a third party. It's time to fire the two largest political parties in the USA. They do not care about liberty.
Many of these notes are from The Aristotle Adventure, by Burgess Laughlin.