Imperialism promotes censorship,
but intense repression
creates intense reactions.
Individualism promotes freedom of expression,
but extremism, when expressed by individuals,
leads to extreme reactions from society.
Even the Emperor is bound.
~inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
Look back at the history of great empires. In Imperial Rome and China, the Emperor ruled with absolute authority. He could punish any form of expression which displeased him. If dissent grew among the populace, due to unpleasant news or a result of his declarations, he could execute accused perpetrators for any reason whatsoever. Today, we live in a world where empires have become economic and democratic, but do we possess real freedom? Rulers still seek to punish dissent, manipulate the truth, foster disinformation, and they do so before our very eyes. Certain artists are selected for promotion, while others are castigated for their views; some are even imprisoned for speaking out.
Those in power should be careful; if the people are pushed up against the wall, they will fight. Rebellion is inevitable in this situation. According to the sages, once a ruler has lost the mandate of Heaven, usurpation is the natural result.
Artists must be wary, if they decide to push the limits of their expression. Driven by an intense urge to create, the artist seeks to eliminate the boundaries constricting the creation of a masterpiece. If the artist attempts this in a social setting, care must be taken to avoid overwhelming the audience. Those who create, beware: Challenge the people too much, and they may strike back.
The extremes between the powerful and the powerless have existed forever. The powerful people have long since felt censorship to be just, and simply a tool of government, nothing more. The powerless, tending towards creativity, see censorship as a unjustly-imposed stumbling block to social advancement- limiting their very freedom of expression. Those who follow Tao know to avoid either extreme. They will not seek to become a great ruler - for the honest Taoist realizes such a position is invariably tied to hypocrisy, danger, and disappointment. Neither will they become a garish, pompous artist, grandstanding to arouse the anger of the masses for personal gain or enjoyment. If rule is thrust upon them, an honest Taoist exercises compassion as the principle tool. If they create, they find sincere satisfaction through self-expression. Above all, they consciously strive against falling towards either extreme, and thus, stay as close to Tao as humanly possible.