Reckoning with the Liberal Self

In order to understand the current calls for censorship, we must turn to the assumptions that comprise what political philosopher Charles Taylor calls the “social imaginary”, the way in which liberal ideas have shaped the way we think of ourselves. Once we see the explanatory power of these assumptions, we can understand why the call for censorship is voiced in such an urgent and confident manner; but it is also apparent that the confidence is misplaced, as it springs from nothing more than an ideology. To fully understand the rise of this pro-censorship liberal ideology, one must begin with an understanding of liberalism in its pro-speech form. Liberalism, as a political doctrine that seeks to secure a degree of liberty for diverse groups of people, is deeply unstable. We can then see how it gives rise to an authoritarian strain of the doctrine, which aims at homogeneity of belief. It is this doctrine that is implicated in the call for censorship; it prizes liberty in name alone.