The massive means of communication, the Internet, instant access to information, Google, academic bodies around the world, the media, millions of journalists, hundreds of countries, and on top of that, we live in the age of free speech – which is a distinct feature of the western democracies, all of these give the impression that nothing can stop a person from saying the truth or entertaining ideas.
With regard to speaking the truth and entertaining ideas, we have to look at the reality objectively. If someone speaks the truth, what happens? Can people speak the truth? What about ideas? Are there consequences? Are we living under special governments that for the first time in human history don’t mind to hear the truth while the power by its very nature is not inclined to do so?
In my view, the biggest hindrance to the entertaining of ideas and the pursuit of the truth is the lack of independent income. At the end of the day, all of us need to feed ourselves and our families, if we have one. It is near impossible for a person to have ideas, to have the academic training, to have the tools of research, to have his or her own platform to express or publish the ideas and thoughts, and at the same time to have a completely independent income from the government or an institution.
In order to become a scientist, academic, professor, PhD researcher, scholar, journalist, or an intellectual, one has to be part of an academic institution, for example, which is recognized by the government, which has established a way of research and has adopted an official truth. In the end, the salary is not guaranteed. That’s the problem.
Of course, no professor’s contract is terminated, for instance, because he or she speaks the truth or because he or she entertains interesting ideas about history, science, the political system and the likes. On the contrary, free speech (which is very ambiguous anyway), lies at the foundation of the western democracies. It is free speech, they would argue, which developed the West. However, what is the definition of the truth, the same people would argue. What one considers something true, it might be considered by the system as conspiracy theory and unscientific, not “befitting” a professor.
Therefore, in theory it seems that there is so much freedom for science and ideas, but as long as there is no independent income, there is no free science and no free expression of ideas. Governments preach so confidently about free speech because they know that they control the resources: universities, donations, farms, land, businesses, jobs, and all forms of employment. This is the biggest drama of our time, which, I am afraid, it will harm humanity. There is much more censorship than we think.
In countries where people support each other independently, such as in the Middle East, governments operate accordingly: arresting whoever speaks the truth.