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The only thought in the world that is worth anything is free thought. To free thought we owe all past progress and all hope for the future. Since when has any one made it appear that shackled thought could get on better than that which is free? Brains are a great misfortune if one is never to use them.
Naturally, the common people don’t want war … but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Free thought means fearless thought. It is not deterred by legal penalties, nor by spiritual consequences. Dissent from the Bible does not alarm the true investigator, who takes truth for authority not authority for truth. The thinker who is really free, is independent; he is under no dread; he yields to no menace; he is not dismayed by law, nor custom, nor pulpits, nor society-whose opinion appals so many. He who has the manly passion of free thought, has no fear of anything, save the fear of error.
Let’s be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason. What does all of this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can’t be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America’s campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who’re supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression?
Weak logic, inconsistencies and alienation from the people are common features of authoritarianism. The relentless attempts of totalitarian regimes to prevent free thought and new ideas and the persistent assertion of their own rightness bring on them an intellectual stasis which they project on to the nation at large. Intimidation and propaganda work in a duet of oppression, while the people, lapped in fear and distrust, learn to dissemble and to keep silent.