Conference 2023: Free Speech and the Left

Plebity is in the early stages of planning a virtual conference to take place in June 2023. Plebity is co-hosting this week long event with New Zealand site Redline.

The conference will consist of pre-recorded presentations, a series of panel discussions and several livestream events.

Reason for this conference

The left has really been silent and allowed the traditional leftist commitment to free speech to erode and even fall out of favor. This has had an effect on a whole range of leftist issues, from journalism to environmental activism, worker’s rights, animal rights, etc.

In our opinion, reconnecting over the issue of free speech and reclaiming it as a core principle is an existential issue for the left.

We hope people will leave this experience with a renewed understanding of why free speech is so important, why there has been an historical attachment to free speech on the left, and the need to reclaim that connection.

As an organization, Plebity is hoping the conference will lead to some form of loose coalition of leftist organizations and individuals who share a commitment to free speech as a core value. The first step is that we find each other and speak out.

This conference is not meant to be a cheerleader rally for leftist ideology, but rather a provocative demonstration of the importance of free speech and the open exchange of ideas.

We are not limiting the conference to voices on the left. We hope for and expect real debate on the issues.

If you would like to be on our mailing list for occasional conference-only updates send us a note to: [email protected]


Keynote Speaker: Nadine Strossen, former President of the American Civil Liberties Union, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE)


  • What is the left? Is the traditional left that held free speech to be a core value still relevant today? Is heterodox thinking a replacement for left ideology?
  • What is hate speech? Does hate speech exist? If we could agree on a definition, should it be allowed?
  • Should there be limits to free speech? If so, what should they be?
  • Present realities and future prospects for leftist political parties in a world of growing right wing populism
  • Media Censorship and Self-Censorship—particularly during times of war or crisis
  • Historical connections of the left to free speech—workers rights, civil rights, minority groups in general
  • Worker’s rights and current organizing at Amazon, Starbucks and elsewhere
  • Empire and forever wars.
  • Animal rights and free speech, what are ‘ag gag’ laws?
  • Why does current left identity politics reject free speech?
  • Free speech and antiwar dissent, Eugene Debs to Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.
  • Israel-Palestine BDS, antisemitism, zionism. Is it possible to reject mutual cancellation and engage on the issues?
  • Free speech and book banning. Is book banning real? Is it disproportionately deployed against liberals or conservatives?
  • Free speech vs censorship by tech companies. Our online lives, private ownership of our public square and are there any solutions to surveillance capitalism?
  • Workplace democracy: How does the issue of free speech impact activism for workers rights?