Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News by Eric Berkowitz (Beacon Press, £15.45). “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” were the words of Karl Marx in his monograph, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. His theory of historical recurrence has never rung true more than in today’s assault on freedom of expression and forms the basis for Eric Berkowitz’s latest book, Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News. Berkowitz, an American human rights lawyer, describes his book as a “fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture”. More than that, Dangerous Ideas is a warning to those who censor those wanting to speak freely. After all, “what is venomous for one class of people is often nourishment for another”. Beginning with the Athenian empire and finishing with the “brave and cowardly new world” of conformism and hate crimes, Berkowitz examines the base impulses driving today’s acts of suppression and the forms it takes.
Whether in war-torn Ukraine, Laos or Spain, a lot can be learnt from the art created by kids living in war-torn regions across place and time.