Libertarian History/Philosophy

Brendan O'Neill: 'The Real Threat To Free Speech Now Is Conformism and Cowardice'

Spiked's Brendan O'Neill on free expression, environmentalism as "an apology for poverty" and why he is "a Marxist libertarian."

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"The real threat to free speech now is conformism and cowardice," says Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked and a columnist for Reason.com (read his archive here).

The 41-year-old Londoner has similarly blunt and outspoken views about "left-wing environmentalism," which he calls "an apology for poverty" and simply the latest iteration of religious "end-of-worldism" in which "we will be judged for our sins."

O'Neill is also a critic of European policies that he says marginalize religious and ethnic minorities even as they "protect" immigrants by passing hate-speech laws and banning burqas. "In their efforts to enforce Enlightenment values," he says, policymakers "actually undercut them."

O'Neill got his start at the defunct Living Marxism, the publication of Britain's Revolutionary Communist Party, and these days he sometimes calls himself a "Marxist libertarian." "It seems like a contradiction in terms," he acknowledges, "but that's because people haven't read the original Marx and Engels, the early stuff…if you read the early stuff it's all about liberating humanity from poverty and from state diktat and allowing them to have as free a life as possible."

In this lively, wide-ranging interview with Nick Gillespie, O'Neill also defends consumerism and explains that Spiked's mission is to deliver on Trotsky's belief that "we want to increase the power of man over nature and decrease the power of man over man."

About 12 minutes.

Edited by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Todd Krainin.

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