There are two takes on the left, both of which are principled and admirable. The first is that of free speech absolutism which opposes all bans on everyone, perhaps especially when it is difficult to do so. The second is that fascism is not taken seriously enough by the liberal class and that censorship of Trump is long overdue. While the opinions seem in contradiction I would argue that the left, even in its disagreement is united in a preoccupation with the ethical question.
That’s why the left needs to forget all seemingly large disparities in answers and instead unite around asking the moral questions. The left need not be divided on the lines of specifics but rather reach solidarity through the common act of care. For every person caring looks different. This is a beautiful thing and the existence of this diversity of opinions is part of the leftist project of anti-hierarchy generally.
To split the difference here I would say that the argument in favor of free speech generally assumes that if we let the powers that be come for the right then they will come for the left next. But this is exactly the opposite of what is going on. If people of color stormed the Capitol there would have been a massacre. The fact that it took inciting a riot for Twitter to ban Trump shows that censorship only reaches the right far after it has already done its damage on the left.
How many peaceful activists are damaged by bullets, sitting in jail, sunk by legal bills or a criminal record for speaking out? This is high stakes censorship.
On the other hand, the leftists who defend free speech at all costs are likely the same leftists who are defending the people on death row right now from Trump’s execution spree. It’s a very useful thing to have principles. That means one won’t fall for propaganda about an individual situation or person. Instead leftists are against violence, so they are against the death penalty. The left, unlike everyone else, doesn’t ask who the person is. They defend their rights no matter what. This is what I see in regards to Trump, not some sort of “horseshoe theory” of politics.
That being said asking the question of Twitter and Trump is a waste of time. If Twitter has come for Trump, that means they already purged peaceful organized leftists. Same goes for the security state generally. What Trump’s censorship presents is an opportunity to move away from social media and Trump at the same time. The left may disagree on Twitter and Trump but the left does agree on the forces of violent capital that got us to this moment of intense confrontation within the halls of power.
The United States after all is supposed to be an Empire, a successful democratic state that causes coups abroad in order to create disorder and exploit the people of the so-called third world. We are supposed to disagree on the little things but agree on Empire, as our corporate duopoly does. Trump’s explicitly confrontational rise proves the faith in this system is crumbling. However all Trump offers is a further “more honest” spiral into nihilism and jingoism.
Trump is the product of a failed state trying to save itself through nostalgic white supremacist xenophobic nationalism, conjuring up a memory of America for a privileged few and a nightmare for the rest. Some long for a return to the America before Trump, a similar dangerous stab in the dark at a mythic past. There is nothing moral in the ruling class seeing Trump has gone too far, for the damage, in so many ways, has already been done. There is something moral in both sides of the left’s response, and a healthy society could have a vibrant debate about free speech, but that is best done off of social media anyways.
For while the ruling class and media may say it’s giving Trump the boot, the real censorship was designing a media monopoly where a few billionaires can control and reduce the narrative, giving Trump the time of day on the public airwaves, while the critical questions of climate, inequality, war and peace and worker’s rights remained off the table.
Funny thing is at the end of four years the only people who benefited from Trump are the billionaires who acted above his antics, which was exactly his appeal. Some have the dumb white luck to swarm the halls of Washington and live to tell the tale, the rest live a life in further environmental degradation, further imprisonment, bomb campaigns, economic precariousness.
But the winners of Trump’s four years were not even so much his bourgeoise supporters, who like the rest of the middle and lower class, see less and less returns on their labor. The winners were the 1% who created a circus that calls itself a genuine conflict while the class war rages on, more brutal and hidden than before. Trump’s censorship may give him the hero status he and his cult think he deserves but the disposable people of this world aren’t up for debate. Their existence, let alone their truth, is inconvenient for the ruling class, and therefore their censorship is violent, much like the actions Trump’s speech inspired.