One of the most powerful and prestigious offices in the ancient Roman Republic was the censor. It was the censor’s duty to conduct the census — an account of all the citizens and their properties, an appraisal of an individual Roman’s qualifications for certain honors and ranks, and a division of the people into distinct social classes. Having the authorities both to assess tax liability and noble rank made the two censors who shared this office inherently powerful. For this reason, the patricians (the ruling class) originally precluded the plebeians (the commoners) from ever obtaining the office. The ruling class was not keen on empowering a commoner to decide who is worthy of being a patrician!
Over time, this duty to conduct an official census expanded to include other substantial powers. Having the sole authority to determine whether a Roman citizen qualified for distinguished ranks and to adjudicate whether that citizen had committed any social infractions rendering him unworthy of retaining those ranks, the censors became de facto wardens of the public morals (the regimen morum).
The jurisdiction to regulate proper Roman character and habits and to judge those Romans found wanting made censors both revered and feared. They were known as castigatores (chastisers) for their power to create and enforce public opinion through their granting or withholding of noble rank. They were, in other words, ancient Rome’s original enforcers of “political correctness.” This authority to regulate both the public and private lives of Roman citizens gave rise to the modern meanings of “censor” and “censorship.”
These immense powers to assess property, tax liability, qualification for noble rank, and general “political correctness” naturally established an additional power: the censors were responsible for administering Rome’s finances and overseeing public works.
As custodians of the public morals and regulators of the public’s taxes, the censors were given broad discretion to decide how to spend public money on roads, aqueducts, bridges, theaters, and temples. They had a say over which Roman businessmen would be awarded lucrative contracts from the State and which kinds of laborers would benefit from new public works projects. By controlling the flow of money and jobs, the censors could choose the “winners” and “losers” in the economy.
If these authoritarian powers sound remarkably familiar to Westerners today, that’s because Western governments have fully embraced the role of the ancient Roman censors — dividing society into deserving and undeserving classes, promulgating and enforcing “woke” public morals, and engaging in partisan tax-and-spend policies that reward certain industries and workforces over others. Just as with Rome’s censors, our censors ostensibly work for the “public good.” Unlike many of the illustrious Roman censors from two and a half millennia ago, though, today’s censors are not known for exhibiting exceptional character or honor.
It is also worth noting how our modern understanding of “censorship” derives from the magisterial duties to keep a record of rank, accumulated wealth, and tax liability. Censors maintainin
When government officials are given the power to know what is in our bank accounts, they are given indirect power to influence what we say. Just ask Nigel Farage or anyone else who has been “de-banked” because of his personal views. Or look at how the U.S. government has rewarded the Internal Revenue Service with a hundred billion extra dollars and a hundred thousand extra agents to intimidate ordinary taxpayers, even after having been caught covering up Biden family corruption, leaking the personal information of conservative Americans, and “losing” the private data of millions of other taxpayers.
Those who control what we may own also control what we may think. Or said another way, regulation of property rights invariably regulates life and liberty, too.
Western governments embrace widespread censorship today because they have gained tremendous leverage over our property. They do not need to conduct a census or inspect our farms to determine the size of our homes or the numbers of our various livestock. They simply conduct warrantless searches of our financial transactions, recorded debts, and digitized savings — while monitoring our movements and business activities.
They do not need to formally assess our qualification for certain honors. They simply conduct warrantless searches of our phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media histories to determine whether we are “worthy” of receiving State-bestowed group privileges or social-credit-score-enabled ranks. They do not need to chastise us for breaching “woke” public morals. They simply “cancel” us from the online public square and deny us access to the digital infrastructure connecting the modern world. Then, after seizing our savings through taxation, regulation, and currency manipulation, those same Western governments reward “green” industries with contracts to build wind and solar farms, while taxing traditional farms and hydrocarbon energy producers out of business.
Until ordinary citizens reclaim control over their private property and wrest control of monetary currencies from overspending governments and their central bank enablers, censorship will only worsen.
Using the pretext of fighting COVID “misinformation,” the European Union passed the Digital Services Act that empowers the EU Commission not only to censor websites owned and operated inside of Europe but also to quarantine “offending” speech from websites run outside of Europe. In effect, European censors will determine what types of “disinformation,” “hate speech,” political dissent, and scientific arguments will be banned and what types of information from beyond Europe’s borders ordinary citizens will be allowed to see. Using the language of freedom while imposing the infrastructure of tyranny, the DSA induces fear over the “dangers” of free speech in order to punish “wrongthink.” Just to add some weight to the Iron Curtain descending around Europe once again, a German court has even sentenced one of its own judges for “ruling against the government’s mask mandates.” How’s that for silencing dissent?
The United Kingdom has the Online Safety Bill, so that it can regulate “truth” and punish “offenders” through the Orwellian Office of Communications.
As we saw with the Freedom Convoy protests against COVID insanity, Canada was quick to freeze truckers’ bank accounts in its efforts to punish dissent.
The Biden administration has established an unconstitutional Disinformatio
In spite of three years of State-sanctioned lies surrounding the origin of COVID, its lethality, the efficacy of masks, the availability of over-the-counter treatments, and the safety of “vaccines,” Australia has proposed a bill to combat “misinformation” and “disinformation” that would categorize all government-supplied information as unquestionably true.
What could possibly go wrong when the same people with the power to collect taxes are the ones who assert a monopoly over “truth”? Propaganda and political persecution flourish. Some of the worst inflation in the last century is simply relabeled as a “right-wing talking point.” Conservative attorney
Two thousand years after their disappearance, Rome’s powerful censors are back. Western citizens must again consign them to history.