Right- thinking people oppose proposals to criminalize "glorifying" terrorism. But it's not sufficiently appreciated that New Labour's keenness to criminalize speech - be it glorifying terrorism or inciting religious hatred - arises from a key part of its managerialist ideology.
Think of it this way. Most of us believe there's a sharp distinction between words and deeds, speech and facts, consciousness and reality. So we're relaxed about inflammatory speech, believing there's a big distance between this and the acts correlated with it.
Managerialism, however, doesn't accept this dualism. It attaches greater importance to speech and language. Whether this is because it lives in a Baudrillard world in which language is the only reality, or because it believes language determines reality is a secondary consideration.
Robert Protherough and John Pick, in this superb book, are good on this. They express the managerialist view thus:
Change the accepted language...and you change how people think and behave, even what they become.
They give the example of brand names. It used to be that strong brands - Shipham's Paste, Coleman's mustard, Marmite - emerged over time as customers recognized their quality and distinctiveness. Facts created brands, not words. Today, though, managers believe brands - Consignia, Dasani - can be created out of nothing by smart marketing - by words, not facts. Protherough and Pick say:
When managers are 'creating a range' they are pursuing a conceptual notion rather than producing things which meet real needs.
And policies are just another product, in which the marketing determines the content, rather than vice versa. Peter Mandelson captured this when he once said:
If a government policy cannot be presented in a simple and attractive way, it is more likely than not to contain fundamental flaws and turn out to be the wrong policy.
Alan Finlayson in this book picks up the lesson here:
Media management and presentational policy is not simply about maintaining a government and continutring to ensure that it is successful in the opinion polls. It is, itself, a way in which government takes place...Policy is not policy if it cannot be disseminated to good effect. This gesture, regardless of the content is central to governance in the capitalist-media-liberal-democracies.
Now, the point here is not a "left-right" one: FInlayson and Protherough and Pick are from different ends of the spectrum. It's about the role of language in politics and culture. In New Labour's managerialist ideology, words matter far more than they do in our conventional empiricist ideology.
It's no surprise, therefore, that New Labour is keen to criminalize speech. It thinks speech has more powerful effects than we do - to New Labour, speech can create reality. Is it really an accident that the empricist philosophy of Locke and Hume is associated with liberty, whilst post-modern philosophies are less so?
But let's be clear. New Labour's anti-libertarian attitude is no mere accident. It's a part of its managerialist ideology.