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No Free Speech for Fascists?


“Few topics on the political left arouse more passion and trigger more discord than free speech. One tradition, tracing back to the 1930s, says, “No free speech for fascists.” Today, it would also silence racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes, misogynists, lookists, and homophobes. When protesters at Berkeley prevented a rightwing provocateur from speaking in February of this year, President Trump threatened to cut federal funding of the university. A second tradition traces back to Karl Marx’s credo, De omnibus dubitandum (To doubt everything). It opposes any silencing of opinion on the grounds that, on the one hand, you can never be certain that you possess truth and, on the other hand, the only way to reach truth is by a “standing invitation to the world” to prove you wrong. The last quoted phrase comes from John Stuart Mill’s classic and unrivaled exposition, ON LIBERTY. This 10-week class will be devoted to Mill’s essay. It will not be a lecture class but, instead, will be based on a close, interactive reading and analysis of salient passages in Mill’s text, as it simultaneously engages current controversies. The instructor, Norman G. Finkelstein, himself got embroiled in a high-profile free speech case exactly a decade ago when he was denied tenure in June 2007. The course promises to be a provocative and inspiring occasion, where the heat it generates will, hopefully, be surpassed by the light it sheds.” — Norman Finkelstein


“No Free Speech for Fascists?” was a free ten-week class offered as part of Brooklyn Public Library’s Library School series taught by Norman Finkelstein. Thanks to James Green of Gravesend Films to record and publish the classes.


Class 1: March 6, 2017

Class 2: March 13, 2017

Class 3: March 20, 2017

Class 4: March 27, 2017

Class 5: April 3, 2017

Class 6: April 10, 2017

Class 7: April 17, 2017

Class 8: April 24, 2017

Unfortunately not available.

Class 9: May 1, 2017

Class 10: May 8, 2017

Class 11: May 15, 2017