The sinister censorship of NatCon Brussels

The technocratic elites are the true menace to liberty.

Tim Black

Tim Black

Topics Free Speech Politics World

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European public life is in real trouble, if today’s goings on in the Belgian capital are anything to go by. This morning, Emir Kir, the mayor of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode in Brussels, sent in the cops to shut down the National Conservatism Brussels conference, a gathering of conservative and right-wing intellectuals, politicians and writers. As Nigel Farage took to the stage, police amassed outside with an order for the event to close, on the grounds it was ‘creating a public disturbance’.

The police initially gave attendees 15 minutes to exit the venue. But they have since decided to allow the speeches to continue while they pursue a slow-motion cancellation instead. They have said that no one else can enter, and anyone who leaves the venue will not be allowed to return. The paper-thin justification for all this seems to be that ‘anti-fascists’ are planning to protest outside the conference later on today.

This dramatic, authoritarian intervention on the part of the Brussels authorities, cheered on by self-styled left-wing activists, is the culmination of a weeks-long campaign to stop this conference – versions of which have taken place in America and across Europe – from ever taking place. Apparently, Tory MPs, German cardinals and Viktor Orban cannot be allowed to express their views in the heart of the EU.

The conference was originally due to be held at Concert Noble in Brussels. But last week, after pressure from the Socialist mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, and something called Belgian Anti-Fascist Coordination, Concert Noble announced it would no longer host the conference. NatCon’s organisers then found another venue at the last minute, the Sofitel Brussels Europe.

But it seems there’s no rest for the pathologically intolerant. It became a game of conservative Whac-A-Mole. Vincent De Wolf, another Brussels mayor, this time of the Etterbeek district, put pressure on the Sofitel to also pull out. Last weekend, Sofitel, no doubt under the threat of legal and police action, finally obliged. Remarkably, the NatConners managed to find a third venue – the location of which they kept secret until the last minute, for obvious reasons. But, as the police moved in today, their efforts proved to be in vain.

There are many on the bourgeois left in Brussels and beyond who are celebrating this astonishing assault on free speech. Cosplaying as ‘anti-fascist’, they have presented this brazen display of authoritarianism as a blow against the ‘far right’, ‘hard right’ and other assorted pejoratives. In their delusions, they miss the blatantly obvious. It is the various mayors of Brussels and those bands of professional left-wingers, it is those who mounted this campaign against NatCon, who have acted like the enemies of freedom and democracy here.

What on Earth are these people afraid of? This wasn’t a 21st-century Nuremberg rally, it was a meeting of European conservatives and right-wingers, ranging from the more mainstream to the more radical, organised by a think-tank called the Edmund Burke Foundation. The likes of French presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour will, to put it lightly, not be to everyone’s tastes. But that’s irrelevant. NatCon is a platform for debate, not insurrection. The campaign to shut it down is an authoritarian tantrum, masquerading as anti-fascism.

The storming of NatCon is a reminder that for all the talk of a resurgent right-wing authoritarianism in Europe, the central threat to liberty and democratic rights comes from the technocratic elites and their stage army of activists. It comes from those who are literally sending in the police to shut down free debate, free assembly and the free exchange of ideas. Whether you’re left-wing, right-wing, conservative or progressive, anyone who believes in liberty, who believes in the best of European values, needs to oppose this sinister censorship.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Politics World


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