Political Limits to Free Speech

Some restrictions to free speech might be considered necessary in relation to national security, particularly in times of conflict.  A spy cannot use freedom of speech to justify passing official secrets to a potential enemy, for example.

It can be argued that incitement to revolution, to overthrow a government, is so dangerous that it should be banned.  The Chinese government, mindful of the millions of lives lost in past rebellions, has severely restricted dissent – as described later (

The Chinese government is authoritarian so there is, by definition, no opposition party.  Opposition is an essential feature of a democracy though, so suppression of dissent undermines the legitimacy of the government in power.

Any government needs to be able to hear criticism.  Political freedom of speech is therefore valued, especially in democracies, and banning it signals a slide into oppression.



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5452a.htm