In the essay “Repressive Tolerance” (), the Germanborn American critical theorist Herbert Marcuse () of the Franklin School of political theorists . When Herbert Marcuse’s essay entitled “Repressive tolerance” was Keywords: Repressive Tolerance; Herbert Marcuse; Social Organisation of Knowledge. Herbert Marcuse’s resonant and insightful words: “In the contemporary period, the democratic argument for abstract tolerance tends to be.

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Herbert Marcuse on Tolerance | Guided History

Within the affluent democracy, the affluent discussion prevails, and within the established framework, it is tolerant to a large extent. All points of view can be heard: Tolerance Freedom of speech.

These standards must be prior to whatever constitutional and legal criteria are set up and applied in an existing society such as ‘clear tollerance present danger’, and other established definitions of civil rights and libertiesfor such definitions themselves presuppose standards of freedom and repression as applicable or not applicable in the respective society: Del Grosso Destreri, L.

The tolerancce evaluation in terms of the number of victims is the quantifying approach which reveals rwpressive man-made horror throughout history that made violence a necessity. In a world in which the human faculties and needs are arrested or perverted, autonomous thinking leads into a ‘perverted world’: The same holds true for the General Strike.

Repressice are, at the stage of advanced industrial society, the most rational ways of using these resources and distributing the social product with priority on the satisfaction of vital needs and with a minimum of toil and injustice. Hegelhowever, Marcuse insisted that the meaning and logic of ideas, concepts, and principles cannot be determined abstractly, but instead are dialectically conditioned by the totality of the historical epoch in which they are practiced.

But democracy does not prevail. From this Marcuse concludes:. This means that previously neutral, value-free, hebrert aspects of learning and teaching now become, on their own grounds and in their own right, political: The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed.

As such, they have lost their capacity to pursue truth through the free exercise of their individual reason, and, in turn, to create a just and humane society. In such a case, freedom of opinion, of assembly, of speech becomes an instrument for absolving servitude.

In any case, John Stuart Mill, not exactly an enemy of liberal and representative government, was not so allergic to the political leadership of the intelligentsia as the contemporary guardians of semi-democracy are. To take a most controversial case: Hrbert are some examp The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyrewriting in Marcuseargued that Marcuse’s theory of the right of revolutionary minorities to suppress opinions is dangerous both because it is false and because it is “a doctrine which if it were widely held would be an effective barrier to any rational progress and liberation”.

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The only authentic alternative and negation of dictatorship with respect to this question would be a society in which ‘the people’ have become autonomous individuals, freed from the repressive requirements of a struggle for existence in the interest of domination, and as such human beings choosing their government and determining their life.

Moreover, the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new berbert rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions which, by their very methods and concepts, serve to enclose the mind within the established universe of discourse and behavior–thereby precluding a priori a rational evaluation of the alternatives. You can help by adding to it. The individual potential is first a negative one, a portion of the potential of his society: Within the solid framework of pre-established inequality and power, tolerance is practiced indeed.

For this reason, affirmative, partisan steps slanted to the Left are needed to liberate individuals and to restore their ability to reason. Herbert Marcuse official homepage. Moreover, with respect to the latter, a policy of unequal treatment would protect radicalism on the Left against that on the Right. If objectivity has anything to do with truth, and if truth is more than a matter of logic and science, then this kind of objectivity is false, and this kind of tolerance inhuman.

Heresy by itself, however, is no token of truth. In other words, it would presuppose that which is still to be accomplished: In fact, the decision between opposed opinions has been made before the presentation and discussion get under way–made, not by a conspiracy or a sponsor or a publisher, not by any dictatorship, but rather by the ‘normal course of events’, which is the course of administered events, and by the mentality shaped in this course.

The progressive historical force of tolerance lies in its extension to those modes and forms of dissent which are not committed to the status quo of society, and not confined to the institutional framework of the established society. Such a society does not yet exist anywhere.

Just because I have a stinking job that I hate? The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized.

Repressive Tolerance

Tolerance of free speech is the way of improvement, of progress in liberation, not because there is no objective truth, and improvement must necessarily be a compromise between a variety of opinions, but because there is an objective truth which can be discovered, ascertained only in learning and comprehending that which is and that which can be and ought to be done for the sake of improving the lot of mankind.


Recently I witnessed strike action which consisted of a dozen people holding signs and shuffling in a circle under the rather bored gaze of a police officer. Thus it happens that what was once art becomes pseudo-art. Even outrageous opinions are expressed, outrageous incidents are televised; and the critics of established policies are interrupted by the same number of commercials as the conservative advocates.

As comes to an end, I rounded up the top 10 most-read posts of the year on the Economic Sociology and Political Economy community blog. But the experience and understanding of the existent society may well be capable of identifying what is not conducive to a free and rational society, what impedes and distorts the possibilities of its creation.

This would be the case not only in a totalitarian society, under a dictatorship, in one-party states, but also in a democracy representative, parliamentary, or ‘direct’ where the majority does not result from the development of independent thought and opinion but rather from the monopolistic or oligopolistic administration of public opinion, without terror and normally without censorship.

UNDER the conditions prevailing in this country, tolerance does not, and cannot, fulfill the civilizing function attributed to it by the liberal protagonists of democracy, namely, protection of dissent.

Politics as Radical Creation: To enable them to become autonomous, to find by themselves what is true and what is false for man in the existing society, they would have to be freed from the prevailing indoctrination which is no longer recognized as indoctrination.

I said that, by virtue of its inner logic, withdrawal of tolerance from regressive movements, and discriminatory tolerance in favor of progressive tendencies would be tantamount to the ‘official’ promotion of subversion.

And this contradiction is not simply stipulated, is not simply the product of confused thinking or fantasy, but is the logical development of the given, the existing world. A Critique of Pure Tolerance Cover of the first edition. The danger of ‘destructive tolerance’ Baudelaireof ‘benevolent neutrality’ toward art has been recognized: The McCall Publishing Company,