That is ochlocracy in a nutshell. It does not matter what the rules say — or what the law says, either. While private-sector actors such as Google have behaved shamefully in these matters, the much more serious concern in the immediate future is the commandeering of law enforcement by left-wing activists and career-minded Democratic officials who have used both civil and criminal investigations to try to stop political speech with which they disagree, for instance with Democratic prosecutors targeting climate-change skeptics for the “crime” of believing the wrong things and saying so.

Ochlocracy is the how, and streitbare Demokratie is the why. The concept of streitbare Demokratie, or “militant democracy,” is a German idea first articulated by Karl Loewenstein in response to the rise of Nazism and other totalitarian movements through means that were partly formally democratic. Streitbare Demokratie is the idea that liberal democracies must sometimes behave in illiberal and anti-democratic ways in order to preserve liberalism and democracy from much worse threats. “Democracies withstood the ordeal of the World War much better than did autocratic states — by adopting autocratic methods,” Loewenstein wrote. “Few seriously objected to the temporary suspension of constitutional principles for the sake of national self-defense. During the war, observes Léon Blum, legality takes a vacation.” Streitbare Demokratie is the principle under which Germany bans certain kinds of political parties and Austria bans some political books.

This is the thinking behind the current efforts to carefully cultivate a sense of emergency and hysteria (on both the Left and the Right) and the attempt, mainly by progressives, to equate speech and violence.