18 page on-line version has not been checked for accuracy. 2015: thanks to reader x y zed 2 missing paragraphs have been added. This essay is dedicated to my students at Is india a well functioning democracy essay University.
Tolerance is an end in itself. Now in what sense can liberty be for the sake of truth? The telos of tolerance is truth. Savonarola, of the Albigensians, Waldensians, Lollards, and Hussites. Heresy by itself, however, is no token of truth.
Mill judges these movements is the Reformation. Establishment which begins in the. The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized. Rational persuasion, persuasion to the opposite is all but precluded. Orwellian form, the meaning of the word ‘peace’ is stabilized. The question is whether this is the only alternative. Such a society does not yet exist anywhere.
Left against that on the Right. Auschwitz and a World War. Right–these anti-democratic notions respond to the actual development of the democratic society which has destroyed the basis for universal tolerance. The conditions under which tolerance can again become a liberating and humanizing force have still to be created. When tolerance mainly serves the protection and preservation of a repressive society, when it serves to neutralize opposition and to render men immune against other and better forms of life, then tolerance has been perverted.
To be sure, this is censorship, even precensorship, but openly directed against the more or less hidden censorship that permeates the free media. Where the false consciousness has become prevalent in national and popular behavior, it translates itself almost immediately into practice: the safe distance between ideology and reality, repressive thought and repressive action, between the word of destruction and the deed of destruction is dangerously shortened. Thus, the break through the false consciousness may provide the Archimedean point for a larger emancipation–at an infinitesimally small spot, to be sure, but it is on the enlargement of such small spots that the chance of change depends. Equality of tolerance becomes abstract, spurious. These same conditions render the critique of such tolerance abstract and academic, and the proposition that the balance between tolerance toward the Right and toward the Left would have to be radically redressed in order to restore the liberating function of tolerance becomes only an unrealistic speculation. Indeed, such a redressing seems to be tantamount to the establishment of a “right of resistance” to the point of subversion.