A CRITIQUE OF

PURE TOLERANCE
ROBERT PAUL WOLFF
BARRINGTON MOORE, JR.
HERBERT MARCUSE
BEACON PRESS BOSTON
"Beyond Tolerance" copyright © 1965
by Robert Paul Wolff
"Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook"
copyright © 1965
by Barrington Moore, Jr.
"Repressive Tolerance" copyright© 1965
by Herbert Marcuse
Library of Congress catalogue card number 65-207 88
Published simultaneously in Canada by Saunders of
Toronto, Ltd.
A II rights reseT'I.Jed
Beacon Press books are published under the auspices
of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Printed in the United States of America
Robert Paul Wolff gratefully acknowledges permission
to reprint a passage from The Loyal and the Disloyal by
Morton Grodzins, copyright © 1956 by the University
of Chicago.
CONTENTS
Foreword
Beyond Tolerance
BY ROBERT PAUL WOLFF
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
BY BARRINGTON MOORE, JR.
Repressive Tolerance
BY HERBERT MARCUS£
A Note on the Authors
VII
3
53
81
119
FOREWORD
THE authors apologize for the title which
they have lightly yet respectfully plagiarized.
Their small book may contain some ideas that
are not alien to Kant. More than modesty makes
us refer to a footnote in the Critique of Pure
Reason: "the 'I think' expresses the act of deter-
mining my existence." We like to apply this sen-
tence not as Kant did here to the transcendental
subject only, but also to the empirical one.
The first essay is by a philosopher steeped in
the analytical tradition, an authority on Kant,
and, if interested in social theory and history, al-
lergic to any emanations from the spirit of Hegel.
The last essay is also by a philosopher, an authori-
ty on Hegel, who considers the contemporary
analytical tradition dangerous, where it is not
nonsense. The author of the middle essay is a
sociologist trained in a tradition that regarded all
philosophy as absurd and dangerous. That we
have managed to produce a book together is in
itself some small tribute to the spirit of toleration.
Inhabitants of the larger Cambridge academic
community, we often met and as friends passion-
ately argued some of the issues discussed in the
following pages. Some time ago we agreed to set
down our thoughts about tolerance and its place
Vlll Foreword
in the prevailing political climate. Though we
have read and pondered one another's writings,
and modified our own v i e ~ s according to our
respective degrees of stubbornness, we have not
sought in any way to merge them. The reader
will have no difficulty in finding where we dis-
agree.
On the other hand, from very different start-
ing points and by very different routes, we ar-
rived at just about the same destination. For each
of us the prevailing theory and practice of toler-
ance turned out on examination to be in varying
degrees hypocritical masks to cover appalling
political realities. The tone of indignation rises
sharply from essay to essay. Perhaps vainly, we
hope that readers will follow the steps in the
reasoning that produced this result. There is,
after all, a sense of outrage that arises in the head
as well as the heart.
R.P. W.
B. M.
H.M.
A CRITIQUE OF PURE TOLERANCE
BEYOND TOLERANCE
BY ROBERT PAUL WOLFF
ruE virtue of a thing, Plato tells us ill t_he
Republic, is that state which e_n-
a6Ies it to perfonn its proper function well. The
··v-Irtiie of a knife is its sharpness, the virtue of a
racehorse its fleetness of foot. So too the cardinal
virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and
justice are excellences of the soul which enable
a man to do well what he is meant to do, viz., to
live.
As each artifact or living creature has its char-
acteristic virtue, so too we may say that each
fonn of political society has an ideal condition, in
which its guiding principle is fully realized. For
Plato, the good society is an aristoZ:racy of merit
in which the wise and good rule those who are
inferior in talents and accomplishment. The prop-
er distribution of functions and authority is called
by Plato "justice," and so the virtue of the Pla-
tonic utopia is justice.
Extending this notion, we might say, for ex-
ample, that the virtue of a monarchy is loyalty,
for the state is gathered into the person of the
king, and the society is bound together by each
subject's personal duty to him. The virtue of a
4
Beyond Tolerance
military dictatorship is honor; that of a bureau-
cratic dictatorship is efficiency. The virtue of
traditional liberal democracy is equality, while
the virtue of a socialist democracy is fraternity.
The ideal nationalist democracy exhibits the vir-
tue of patriotism, which is distinguished from
loyalty by having the state itself as its object
rather than the king.
Finally, the virtue of the modern pluralist
democracy which has emerged in contemporary
America is TOLERANCE. Political tolerance is that
state of mind and condition
ables tofunction w.elland
to. _the ideal of For that reason,
if we wish to understand tolerance as a political
virtue, we must study it not through a psycholog-
ical or moral investigation of prejudice, but by
means of an analysis of the theory and practice of
democratic pluralism.
My purpose in this essay is to understand the
philosophy of tolerance as well as to subject it
to criticism. I have therefore devoted the first
section entirely to an exposition of the concept
as it is related to the theory of pluralism. In the
second section, I explore several possible argu-
ments for tolerance, and try to exhibit the theory
of democratic pluralism as the product of a union
of opposed conceptions of society and human
nature. Only in the final section is the theory sub-
jected to the criticisms which, in my opinion,
make it ultimately indefensible in the contem-
porary age. This may at first seem a needlessly
roundabout way of proceeding. I have adopted
it because I see pluralism not as a thoroughly
Robert Paul Wolff 5
mistaken theory, but rather as a theory which
played a valuable role during one stage in Amer-
ica's development and which has now lost its
value either as description or prescription. In
that sense, the present essay urges that we tran-
scend tolerance, and as Hegel reminds us, the
process of transcendence is as much an incorpo-
ration as it is a rejection.
Like most political theories, democratic plu-
ralism has both descriptive and prescriptive vari-
ants. As a description, it purports to tell how
modern industrial democracy-and particularly
American democracy-really works. As a.· pre-
scription, it sketches an ideal picture of industrial
democracy as it could and should be. Both forms
of the theory grew out of nineteenth century
attacks on the methodological individualism of
the classical liberal tradition. - . .iJ, ,/ . -' ·'
According to that tradition, political society is
(or ought to be-liberalism is similarly ambigu-
ous) an association of self-determining individu-
als who concert their wills and collect their pow-
er in the state for mutually self-interested ends.
The state is the locus of supreme power and
authority in the community. Its commands are
legitimated by a democratic process of decision
and control, which ensures-when it functions
properly-that the subject has a hand in making
the laws to which he submits. The theory focus-
es exclusively on the relationship between the in-
dividual citizen and the sovereign state. Associa-
6 Beyond Tolerance
tions other than the state are viewed as secondary
in importance and dependent for their existence
on the pleasure of the state. Some liberal philos-
ophers counsel a minimum of state interference
with private associations; others argue for active
state intervention. In either case, non-govern-
mental bodies are relegated to a subsidiary place
in the theory of the state. The line of dependence
is traced from the people, taken as an aggregate
of unaffiliated individuals, to the state, conceived
as the embodiment and representative of their
collective will, to the private associations, com-
posed of smaller groupings of those same indi-
viduals but authorized by the will of the state.
Whatever the virtues of classical liberalism as
a theory of the ideal political community, it was
very quickly recognized to be inadequate as a
portrait of the industrial democracy which
emerged in the nineteenth century. The progres-
sively greater divergence of fact from theory
could be traced to two features of the new order.
The first was the effective political enfranchise-
ment of the entire adult populations of the great
nation-states; the second was the growth of an
elaborate industrial system in the private sphere
of society, which gave rise to a new "pluralistic"
structure within the political framework of rep-
resentative government.
Traditional democratic theory presupposed an
immediate and evident relation between the in-
dividual citizen and the government. Whether
in the form of "direct democracy," as Rousseau
desired, or by means of the representative mech-
anism described by Locke, the state was to con-
Robert Paul Wolff
7
front the citizen directly as both servant and
master. The issues debated in the legislature
would be comprehensible to every educated sub-
ject, and their relevance to his interests easily
understood. With the emergence of mass poli-
tics, however, all hope of this immediacy and
comprehensibility was irrevocably lost. The
ideal of a small, self-governing, autonomous po-
litical society retained its appeal, finding expres-
sion in the utopian communities which sprang up
in Europe and America throughout the nine-
teenth century. As a standard by which to judge
the great industrial democracies of the new era,
however, it suffered from the greatest possible
failing-irrelevance. Permanent, complex institu-
tional arrangements became necessary in order
to transmit the "will of the people" to the elected
governors.
At the same time, great industrial corporations
appeared in the economic world and began to
take the place of the old family firms. As labor
unions and trade associations were organized, the
classical picture of a market economy composed
of many small, independent firms and a large,
atomized labor supply, became less and less use-
ful as a guide to economic reality. Individuals
entered the marketplace and came in contact
with one another through their associations in
groups of some sort. The state in its turn brought
its authority to bear on the individual only in-
directly, through the medium of laws governing
the behavior of those groups. It became neces-
sary to recognize that, both politically and eco-
nomically, the individual's relation to the state
8
Beyond Tolerance
was mediated by a system of "middle-size" insti-
tutional associations.
The size and industrial organization alone of
the modern state destroy any possibility of clas-
sical liberal democracy, for the intermediating
bureaucratic organizations are necessary whether
the economy is private and capitalist or public
and socialist in structure. In addition, however,
. factors historically more specific to the
American experience have combined to
the characteristic form which we call pluralism.
The first factor, in importance as well as in
time, is the federal structure of the American sys-
tem. From the birth of the nation, a hierarchy of
local governments, formerly sovereign and au-
tonomous, interposed itself between the individ-
ual and the supreme power of the state. The
United States, as its name implied, was an asso-
ciation of political communities rather than of
individuals. The natural ties of tradition and
emotion binding each citizen to his native colony
were reinforced by a division of powers which
left many of the functions of sovereign authority
to the several states. Hence the relation of the
individual to the federal government was from
the beginning, and even in theory, indirect and
mediated by intervening bodies. Furthermore, as
the eighteenth century debates over unification
reveal, the constitution took form as a series of
compromises among competing interests-large
states versus small, agriculture versus commerce,
slave-holding versus free labor. The structure of
the union was designed to balance these interests,
giving each a voice but none command. The
Robert Ptml Wolff 9
conception of politics as a conflict of more or
less permanent groups was thus introduced into
the foundation of our government. By implica-
tion, an individual entered the political arena
principally as a member of one of those groups,
rather than as an isolated agent. Conversely, the
government made demands upon the individual
and responded to his needs, through the inter-
cession of local authorities. As the volume of
government activity grew throughout the nine-
teenth and twentieth centuries, this federal struc-
ture embedded itself in countless judicial and ex-
ecutive bodies. In America today, it is impossible
to understand the organization of education, the
regulation of commerce, or the precise allocation
of responsibility for law enforcement without
acknowledging the historically special relation-
ship of the states to the federal government.
A second factor which has shaped the charac-
ter of American democracy is our oft-chronicled
eenchant for dealing with social problems by
means of voluntary associations. This phenome-
non was made much of by Tocqueville and has
since been portrayed by students of American
'politics as our peculiar contribution to the rep-
ertory of democratic techniques. It seems that
whereas some peoples turn to God when a prob-
lem looms on the social horizon, and others turn
to the state, Americans instinctively form a com-
mittee, elect a president and secretary-treasurer,
and set about finding a solution on their own.
The picture is idealized and more than a trifle
self-congratulatory; it evokes images of the
prairie or a New England town meeting, rather
10
Beyond Tolerance
than a dirty industrial slum. Nevertheless, it is a
fact that a remarkable variety of social needs are
met in America by private and voluntary institu-
tions, needs which in other countries would be
attended to by the state. Religion, for example,
is entirely a non-governmental matter because of
the prohibition of an established church. The
burdens of primary and secondary education are
borne jointly by local governments and private
institutions; higher education is dominated by
the great private universities and colleges with
state institutions of any sort only recently play-
ing a significant role. The subsidy and encourage-
ment of the arts and letters has been managed by
the great charitable foundations, and until the
advent of military research and development, the
natural sciences found their home solely in the
laboratories of universities and private industry.
In addition to industry, agriculture, religion, ed-
ucation, art, and science, countless other dimen-
sions of social activity have been organized on
the basis of voluntary, non-governmental asso-
ciations.
In order to clarify the relationship between
the government and this network of private as-
sociations, we must first observe that while some
groups perform their function and achieve their
goal directly, others are organized as pressure
groups to influence the national (or local) gov:-
eliUilent and thus achieve their end indirectly.
Needless to say, most associations of the first sort
engage in political lobbying as well. Neverthe-
less, the distinction is useful, for it enables us to
Robert Paul Wolff 11
the two principal "pluralist" theories..9f
between group and government.
The first, or "referee" theory, asserts that the
role of the central government is to lay down
ground rules for conflict and competition among
private associations and to employ its power to
make sure that no major interest in the nation
abuses its influence or gains an unchecked mas-
tery over some sector of social life. The most ob-
vious instance is in the economic sphere, where
firms compete for markets and labor competes
with capital. But according to the theory a simi-
lar competition takes place among the various
religions, between private and public forms of
education, among different geographic regions,
and even among the arts, sports, and the enter-
tainment world for the attention and interest of
the people.
The second theory might be called the "vec-
tor-sum" or "give-and-take" theory of govern-
ment. <;:ongress is seen as the focal point for
pressures .. which are exerted by interest
groups throughout the nation, either by way of
the two great parties or directly through lobbies.
The laws issuing from the government are
shaped by the manifold forces brought to bear
upon the legislators. Ideally! congress merdy
these forces, combining them-or "re-
solving" them, as the say-into a single
social decision. As the strength and direction of
private interests alters, there is a corresponding
alteration in the composition and activity of the
great interest groups-labor, big business, agri-
12 Beyond Tolerance
culture. Slowly, the great weathervane of gov-
ernment swings about to meet the shifting winds
of opinion.
J\1ore important than federalism. or interest-
group politics in fostering the ideology of plural-
ism has been the impact on the American_CQP.-
~ i o u s n e s s of religious, ethnic, and racial hete.ro.-
geneity. Many of the original colonies were
religiously orthodox communities, deliberately
created in order to achieve an internal purity
which was unattainable in the hostile political
climate of England. The Reformation split Eu-
rope first into two, then into many, warring
camps, and it was quite natural to view the na-
tion as an association of religious communities
rather than of individuals. Where some compro-
mise could be achieved among the several sects,
as eventually occurred in England, political so-
ciety became in a sense a community of com-
munities. In the United States, the deliberate
prohibition of an established church made it nec-
essary to acknowledge a diversity of religious
communities within the nation. Eventually, this
acceptance of heterogeneity was extended to the
Roman Catholic community, and then even to
the jews.
The ethnic diversity brought about by the
great immigrations of the nineteenth century
produced a comparable effect in American life.
The big cities especially came to be seen as ag-
glomerations of national enclaves. Little Italics,
Chinatowns, Polish ghettos, German communi-
ties, grew and flourished. America became a na-
tion of minorities, until even the descendants
Robert Paul Wolff
13
of the original settlers acquired an identifying
acronym, WASP.
The ethnic and religious communities in
American society encountered one another
through the pluralistic mechanisms of politics
and private associations which already existed.
The typical "hyphenated" community (Italian-
American, Polish-American, etc.) had its own
churches, in which the religious practices of the
old country-special saints, holy days, rituals-
were kept up. There were newspapers in the
mother tongue, men's clubs, folk societies, busi-
nessmen's associations, trade union branches, all
based on the ethnic or religious unity of the lo-
cal community.
The religious and ethnic groups entered the
political system at the precinct, city, or county
level, using the unified mass of their voting pop-
ulations as a weight to be thrown on the politi-
cal scales. The decentralized, hierarchical federal
structure of American government was perfect-
ly suited to ethnic politics. The first matters of
social importance which impinged on the con-
sciousness of the group were, typically, of a sort
that could be decided at the level of city gov-
ernment, where only a rudimentary organiza-
tion and political knowledge was necessary. As
Italian, Irish, Polish, or Jewish politicians
ascended the ladder of elective office, they en-
countered the larger, multi-ethnic and multi-re-
ligious community. There they acted first as
spokesmen for their own kind, and later as
statesmen capable of acknowledging the greater
public good.
14 · Beyond Tolermce
1
If we draw together all these descriptive frag-
ments, we have a portrait of pluralist democracy.
America, according to this account, is a complex
interlocking of ethnic, religious, racial, regional,
and economic groups, whose members pursue
their diverse interests through the medium of
private associations, which in tum are coordi-
nated, regulated, contained, encouraged, and
guided by a federal system of representative de-
mocracy. Individual citizens confront the .:en-
teal government and one another as well through
the intermediation of the voluntary and invol-
groups to which they belong. !!!this way,
jn
of the liberal model;
curiously like feudal society, in which the in-
4Ivi(hial played a political role solely mem-
ber • of a guild! inc:orpo_rated town, or
than as a subject simpliciter. As in
medieval political society, so in pluralist democ-
racy, guiding principle is not "one man-
<:>.ne vote" but rather, "every legitimate group its
In modem America, it is taken for grant-
ed that a rough equality should be maintained
between labor and business or among Catholics,
Protestants, and Jews. The fact that "labor" con-
stitutes the overwhelming majority of the pop-
ulation or that there are ten times as many Cath-
olics as Jews is rarely seen as a reason for allot-
ting influence in those proportions.
Pluralism is a theory of the way modem in-
dustrial democracies work, with particular ap-
plicability to the United States; it is also an ideal
model of the way political society ought to be
Robert Paul Wolff 15
organized, whether in fact it is or not. As:l_de-
.... theory, plur;}l_iSI11 reqy.ires _ empi_ri<:;aJ
\Terific;ItiQn, of the sort which hosts of political
scientists have sought to provide in recent dec-
ades. As a nonnative however, pluralism
must be defended by appeal to some principle of
virtue or ideal of the good society. _!!_l __
Q_f the discussion of pluralism three distinct sorts
gf justification have been offered.
The earliest argument, dating from the pre-i
industrial period of religious conflict between
Catholics and Protestants, Nonconformists and
Anglicans, _ the toleration of diver-
gent religious practices is a necessary evil, forced
asociety which either cannot suppress dis-
or_ else finds the social cost of suppres-
too high. Orthodoxy on this view is the
ideal condition, intolerance of heresy even a duty
in principle. It is now an historical common-
place that the great Anglo-American tradition
of religious liberty can be traced to just such a
grudging of de facto heterodoxy
and not to early Protestant devotion to the free-
dom of individual conscience.
The second argument for pluralism presents-
it as a morally neutral means for pursuing politi-
c.:al ends which cannot be achieved through.tra-
ditional representative democracy. In this view,
the ideal of democracy is a citizen-state, in which
each man both makes the laws and submits to
them. The political order is just and the people
are free to the extent that each individual plays
a significant and not simply symbolic role in the
political process of decision. But for all the rea-
16 Beyond Tolerance
sons catalogued above, genuine self-government
is impossible in a large industrial society organ-
ized along classic democratic lines. The gulf is
so broad between the rulers and the ruled that
active citizen participation in the affairs of gov-
ernment evaporates. Even the periodic election
becomes a ritual in which voters select a presi-
dent whom they have not nominated to decide
issues which have not even been discussed on
the basis of facts which cannot be published.
The result is a politics of style, of image, of faith,
which is repugnant to free men and incompatible
with the ideal of democracy.
But decisions will be taken, whether by dem-
ocratic means or not, and so some other way
than elections must be found to submit the rulers
to the will of the ruled. Pluralism is offered as
the answer. Fithin the interest groups w..h!£.!?.
up the social order,
mating democracy takes place. These groups, in
turn, through pressure upon the elected repre-
sentatives, can make felt the will of their mem-
bers and work out the compromises with op-
posed interests which would have been accom-
plished by debate and deliberation in a classical
democracy. The government confronts not a
mass of indistinguishable and ineffectual private
citizens, but an articulated system of organized
groups. Immediacy, effectiveness, involvement,
and thus democratic participation are assured to
the individual in his economic, religious or ethnic
associations-in the union local, the church, the
chapter of the American Legion. Control over
legislation and national policy is in turn assured
Robert Paul Wolff 17
to the associations through their ability to de-
liver votes to the legislator in an election. The
politician, according to this defense of pluralism,
is a middleman in the power transactions of the
society. He absorbs the pressures brought to bear
upon him by his organized constituents, strikes a
balance among them on the basis of their relative
voting strength, and then goes onto the floor of
the Congress to work out legislative compro-
mises with his colleagues, who have suffered dif-
ferent compositions of pressures and hence are
seeking different adjustments of the competing
social interests. If all goes well, every significant
interest abroad in the nation will find expression,
and to each will go a measure of satisfaction
roughly proportional to its size and intensity.
The democratic ideal of citizen-politics is pre-
served, for each interested party can know that
through participation in voluntary; private as-
sociations, he has made his wishes felt to some
small degree in the decisions of his government.
To paraphrase Rousseau, the citizen is a free man
since he is at least partially the author of the
laws to which he submits.
The first defense of pluralism views it as a
distasteful but unavoidable evil; the second por-
trays it as a useful means for preserving some
measure of democracy under the unpromising
conditions of mass industrial society. The last
defense goes far beyond these in its enthusiasm
for pluralism; it holds that a pluralistic society
is natural and good and an end to be sought in
itself.
The argument begins from an insight into the
18
Beyond Tolerance
relationship between personality and society.
Put simply, _t:he idea is that the hu111an
ality, in its development, structure, and
func_tioning. is dependent upon _
_group of which it is a significant member. The
influence of society upon the individual is pri-
marily positive, . formative, supportive-indeed,
indispensably so. The child who grows to man-
hood outside a social group becomes an animal,
without language, knowledge, the capacity to
reason, or even the ability to love and hate as
other men do. As the infant is reared, he inter-
nalizes the behavior patterns and evaluative atti-
tudes of that immediate circle of adults whom
the sociologists call his primary group. A boy
becomes a man by imitating the men around him,
and in so doing he irrevocably shapes himself
in their image. The way he speaks and carries his
body, how he responds to pain or pleasure, the
pattern of his behavior toward women, old men,
children, the internal psychic economy of his
hopes and fears and deepest desires, all are pri-
marily imitative in origin. Throughout life, the
individual seeks approval from his "significant
others," willing to submit even to death rather
than violate the mores he has learned. The stand-
ards and judgment of his society echo within
him as guilt or shame.
Those philosophers are therefore deeply mis-
taken who suppose that the social inheritance
is a burden to be cast off, a spell from which we
must be awakened. Without that inheritance, the
individual is exactly nothing-he has no organ-
ized core of personality into which his culture
Robert Paul Wolff
19
has not penetrated. The most thorough radical
is the merest reflection of the society against
which he rebels. So we are all naturally, irre-
mediably, beneficially, bound up with the social
groups in which we locate ourselves and live
out our lives.
Since man is by nature an animal that lives in
a group;· it. is folly to set before ourselves as a
political ideal a state whose members owe their
5'?le_ to the state. A fusion of group
foyalty with political obligation is possible only
when the primary group is identical with the
total society-in short, only in a utopian com-
munity like New Lanark or an Israeli kibbutz.
In a l:Kge society, loyalty to the state must be
built upon loyalty to a multiplicity of intra-
social groups in which men can find the face-to-
face contacts which sustain their personalities
and reinforce their value-attitudes.
Morton Grodzins summarizes this theory of
"multiple loyalties" in his book, The Loyal and
the Disloyal:
The non-national groups, large and small,
play a crucial, independent role in the trans-
ference of allegiance to the nation. For one
thing, they are the means which citi-
zens are brought to participate m civic affairs
and national ceremony .... In theory, at least,
the chain is an endless one. For if the dictates
of government are enforced by the sanctions
of the smaller groups, the smaller in
tum establish the governmental policies they
enforce. This is one hallmark of democracy:
populations effectuating the policies they de-
termine. Where population groups believe-
20
Beyond Tolerance
or understand-this dual role, their patriotic
performance is all the stronger .... Individ-
uals, in short, act for the nation in response
to the smaller groups with which they identify
themselves. The larger group, the nation, need
only establish the goaL The citizen may or
may not participate in this goal definition, may
or may not agree with it. Except in rare cases,
he will nevertheless supply the force through
which its achievement is attempted. His loy-
alty to smaller groups insures his doing it.
They perforce must support its causes, espe-
cially when, as during war, the very existence
of the nation is at stake. So it is that mothers
tearfully send their unwilling sons to war. So
it is that loyalties to smaller groups supply the
guts of national endeavor, even when that en-
deavor has no meaning to the individual con-
cerned. (pp. 65-67)
To each defense of pluralism, there corre-
sponds a defense of tolerance. In the would-be
orthodox society, tolerance of diversity is a nec-
essary evil, urged by the voices of reason against
the passion of intolerant faith. So the politiques
of France avoided a mortal civil war by the
Edict of Nantes; so too modern Russia counte-
nances Titoism in eastern European territories
which it can no longer completely control. Such
tolerance is not a virtue-a strength of the body
politic-but a desperate remedy for a sickness
which threatens to be fatal.
To the champion of pluralism as an instru-
ment of democracy, is the
let-live moderation of the marketplace. Eco-
nomic competition is a form of human struggle
Robert Paul Wolff 21
(medieval warfare was another) in which each
combatant simultaneously acknowledges the
legitimacy of his opponent's demands and yet
gives no quarter in the battle. A tension exists
between implacable opposition on the one hand
and mutual acceptance on the other. If either
is lost, the relationship degenerates into cooper-
ation in one case, into unconditional warfare in
the other. The capacity to accept competing
claims as legitimate is the necessary pre-condi-
tion of compromise. Insofar as I view my oppo-
nents as morally wrong, compromise becomes
appeasement; if my own claims are unjust, I can
press them only out of unwarranted self-interest.
Tolerance in a society of competing interest
groups is precisely the ungrudging acknowledg-
ment of the right of opposed interests to exist
and be pursued. This economic conception of
tolerance goes quite naturally with the view of
human action as motivated by interests rather
than principles or norms. It is much easier to
accept a compromise between competing inter-
ests-particularly when they are expressible in
terms of a numerical scale like money-than be-
tween opposed principles which purport to be
objectively valid. The genius of American poli-
tics is its ability to treat even matters of prin-
ciple as though they were conflicts of interest.
(It has been remarked that the genius of French
politics is its ability to treat even conflicts of
interest as matters of principle.)
Tolerance plays an even more important role
in the third defense of pluralism, the one based
upon a group theory of society and personality.
22 Beyond Tolerance
In a large society, a multiplicity of groups is
essential to the healthy development of the indi-
vidual, but there is a danger in the emotional
commitment which one must make to his pri-
mary group. In the jargon of the sociologists,
out-group hostility is the natural accompaniment
of in-group loyalty. The more warmly a man
says "we," the more coldly will he say "they."
Out of the individual strength which each draws
from his group will come the social weakness
of parochial hatred, which is to say, intolerance.
One solution to the problem of intolerance.,
of course, is to loosen the ties which bind ,the.
to his ethnic, religious, or economic
groups. We are all brothers under the skin, is the
message of the humanist; which means the ways
in which we are alike matter more than the ways
in which we are unlike. But the danger of dis-
solving parochial loyalties is that without them
man cannot live. If the personality needs there-
inforcement of immediate response, the face-to-
face confirmation of expectations and values, in
order to be strong, and if-as this theory claims-
no man can truly take a whole nation as his pri-
mary group, then it is disastrous to weaken the
primary ties even in the name of brotherhood.
To do so is to court the evils of "mass
unaffiliated, faceless member of the lonely
crowd.
The alternative to the indiscriminate levelling
of differences in a universal brotherhood is tol-
erance, a willing
<_:)f group diversity. If men can be
brought to believe that it is positively good for
Robert Paul Wolff 23
society to contain many faiths, many races, many
styles of living, then the healthy consequences
of pluralism can be preserved without the sick-
ness of prejudice and civil strife. To draw once
again on Plato's way of talking, pluralism is the
'v.hich a modern industrial democracy
must possess to function at all; but tolerance is
the state of mind which enables it to perform
function well. Hence, on the group theory
of society, tolerance is truly the virtue of a plu-
ralist democracy.
II
Thus far, I have simply been expounding the
concept of tolerance, exhibiting its place in the
theory of democratic pluralism. As we have
seen, there are two distinct theories of plural-
ism, the first emerging from traditional liberal
and the second from a social-
of the group basis of per-
sonality and culture. With each is associated a
different notion of tolerance. In the first instance,
tolerance is equated with the acceptance of in-
dividual idiosyncrasy and interpersonal conflict;
in the second instance, tolerance is interpreted
as the celebration of primary group diversity.
!_want now to raise the more difficult question,
pluralism and tolerance in any of their
ideals of democratic s.ociety
simply useful analytical models for
scribing contemporary America ..
The first, or instrumental, theory of pluralism
is dependent for its justification on the earlier
24 Beyond Tolerance
liberal philosophy from which it derives. If we
wish to evaluate its fundamental principles,
therefore, and not simply its effectiveness as a
means for realizing them, we must go back to the
doctrine of individualism and liberty, as ex-
pressed for example by John Stuart Mill, and
consider whether it can be defended as an ideal of
political society. In his famous and influential
essay On Liberty, Mill defends the sanctity of
the individual against what he sees as the unjusti-
fied interferences of society and the state. Mill
portrays the individual Englishman in much the
way that the tradition of English law portrays his
home-as a sanctuary within which he may think
as he wishes and act as he chooses, so long as his
thoughts and actions do not invade the sanctu-
aries of his fellow citizens. In a classic statement
of the liberal conception of the individual, Mill
undertakes to distinguish between the private
and public realms of action. He writes:
There is a sphere of action in which society,
as distinguished from the individual, has, if
any, only an indirect interest: comprehending
all that portion of a person's life and conduct
which affects only himself or, if it also affects
others, only with their free, voluntary, and
undeceived consent and participation .... This,
then, is the appropriate region of human lib-
erty. It comprises, first, the inward domain
of consciousness, demanding liberty of con-
science in the most comprehensive sense, lib-
erty of thought and feeling, absolute freedom
of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, prac-
tical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theo-
logical. ... Secondly, the principle requires
Robert Paul Wolff 25
libeny of taste and pursuits, of framing the
plan of our life to suit our own character, of
doing as we like, subject to such consequences
as may follow, without impediment from our
fellow creatures, so long as what we do does
not harm them, even though they should think
our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong.
Thirdly, from this libeny of each individual
follows the libeny, within the same limits, of
combination among individuals; freedom to
unite for any purpose not involving harm to
others: the persons combining being supposed
to be of full age and not forced or deceived.
Mill goes on to argue that even in the sphere
of public-regarding actions, which fall outside
this privileged inner sanctuary, society has a
right to interfere with the individual only for
the purpose of advancing the welfare of the so-
ciety as a whole. That is to say, within the pri-
vate sector, society has no right at all of inter-
ference; within the public sector, it still has only
the possibility of such a right, conditional upon
the existence of a utilitarian justification. For
Mill and the classical libertarian philosophy,
then, tolerance is the readiness to respect the in-
violability of the private sphere of the individ-
ual's existence. A man may choose to wear
strange clothes, grow a beard (or shave one off,
if others wear them), practice unfamiliar reli-
gions, deviate from the sexual norms of his com-
munity, or in any other way reject the tastes and
habits of society. The liberal philosophy de-
mands that society 'refrain from interfering with
his practices, either by legal or by informal so-
26 Beyond Tolerance
cial sanctions. What thus begins as a grudging
acceptance of idiosyncrasy may hopefully flour-
ish as the encouragement of individuality and
the positive enjoyment of diversity.
In his public or other-regarding actions, the
individual is of course held accountable by Mill,
but it does not follow that he must completely
bury his personal interests in the interest of
society. Quite to the contrary, society itself, as
the intersection of the public spheres of all the
individuals who make it up, is a marketplace or
battleground in which each individual pursues
his private goals to the greatest extent compati-
ble with the analogous pursuits by others. The
only difference is that whereas in the private sec-
tor, society has no right at all to interfere with
the individual's pursuit, because his actions have
no influence upon the lives of others, in the com-
mon public sphere society imposes a rule of
equity upon its members. Insofar as the mecha-
nism of the marketplace functions efficiently, it
will automatically achieve the mutual restrictions
and limitations which justice and liberty require.
Where the market fails, or in the case of non-
economic matters, the state will step in and legis-
late the necessary regulation.
If we try to imagine a society in which the
ideal of liberal tolerance is achieved in practice,
what springs to mind is a large, cosmopolitan,
industrial city, such as London or New York or
Paris. The size, functional differentiation, speed
of movement, fragmentation of social groupings,
and density of population all cooperate to cre-
ate a congenial setting for an attitude of easy
Robert Paul Wolff 27
tolerance toward diversity of beliefs and prac-
tices. It is a commonplace that in the anonymity
of the big city one can more easily assemble the
precise combination of tastes, habits, and beliefs
which satisfy one's personal desires and then
find a circle of friends with whom to share them.
In the small town or suburb it is impossible to
escape from the sort of social interference in
private affairs which Mill condemned. But mere
size is not sufficient; the true liberation of the
individual requires that the city be diverse as
well. So of tolerance, as expound-
leads naturally to an active en-
of cultural, religious, social. .. and
political variety in an urban setting.
Like all political philosophies, the liberal the-
ory of the state bases itself upon a conception
of human nature. In its most primitive form-
and it is thus that a philosophy often reveals it-
self best-liberalism views man as a rationally
calculating maximizer of pleasure and minimizer
of pain. The term "good," says Bentham, means
"pleasant," and the term "bad" means "painful."
In all our actions, we seek the first and avoid the
second. Rationality thus reduces to a calculating
prudence; its highest point is reached when we
deliberately shun the present pleasure for fear
of the future pain. It is of course a commonplace
that this bookkeeping attitude toward sensation
is the direct reflection of the bourgeois mer-
chant's attitude toward profit and loss. Equally
important, however, is the implication of the the-
ory for the relations between one man and an-
other. If the simple psychological egoism of lib-
28 Beyond Tolerance
era] theory is correct, then each individual must
view others as mere instruments in the pursuit
of his private ends. As I formulate my desires
and weigh the most prudent means for satisfy-
ing them, I discover that the actions of other
persons, bent upon similar lonely quests, may
affect the outcome of my enterprise. In some
cases, they threaten me; in others, the possibility
exists of a mutually beneficial cooperation. I ad-
just my plans accordingly, perhaps even enter-
ing into quite intricate and enduring alliances
with other individuals. But always I seek my own
pleasure (or happiness-the shift from one to the
other is not of very great significance in liberal
theory, although Mill makes much of it). For
me, other persons are obstacles to be overcome
or resources to be exploited-always means, that
is to say, and never ends in themselves. To speak
fancifully, it is as though society were an en-
closed space in which float a number of spheri-
cal balloons filled with an expanding gas. Each
balloon increases in size until its surface meets
the surface of the other balloons; then it stops
growing and adjusts to its surroundings. Justice
in such a society could only mean the protection
of each balloon's interior (Mill's private sphere)
and the equal apportionment of space to all.
What took place within an individual would be
no business of the others.
In the more sophisticated versions of liberal
philosophy, the crude picture of man as a pleas-
ure maximizer is softened somewhat. Mill rec-
ognizes that men may pursue higher ends than
pleasure, at least as that feeling or sensation is
Robert Paul W oltf 29
usually understood, and he even recognizes the
possibility of altruistic or other-regarding feel-
ings of sympathy and compassion. Nevertheless,
society continues to be viewed as a system of
independent centers of consciousness, each pur-
suing its own gratification and confronting the
others as beings standing-over-against the self,
which is to say, as objects. The condition of the
individual in such a state of affairs is what a dif-
ferent tradition of social philosophy would call
"alienation."
Dialectically opposed to the liberal philosophy
and speaking for the values of an earlier, pre-
1iidl1strial, age is the conservative philosophy of
The involvement of each with all,
\.Vhich to Mill was a threat and an impositi9n,
is to such critics of liberalism as Burke or Durk-
a strength and an opportunity. It is
the greatest virtue of society, which supports
and enfolds the individual in a warm, affective
community stretching backwards and forwards
in time and bearing within itself the accumulated
wisdom and values of generations of human ex-
perience.
The fundamental insight of the conservative
philosophy is that man is by nature a social be-
TJI· This is not simply to say that he is gregar-
ious, that he enjoys the company of his fellows,
although that is true of man, as it is also of mon-
keys and otters. Rather, man is social in the sense
his essence, his true being, lies in his involve-
__ <! }:lutpan_ community. Aristotle, in the
opening pages of the Politics, says that man is
by nature a being intended to live in a political
30 Beyond Tolerance
community. Those men who, by choice, live out-
side such a community are, he says, either lower
or higher than other men-that is, either animals
or angels. Now man is like the animals in re-
spect of his bodily desires, and he is like the
angels in respect of his reason. In a sense, there-
fore, liberalism has made the mistake of suppos-
ing that man is no more than a combination of
the bestial and the angelic, the passionate and
the rational. From such an assumption it follows
naturally that man, like both beasts and angels,
is essentially a lonely creature.
But, Aristotle tells us, man has a mode of ex-
istence peculiar to his species, based on the spe-
cifically human faculty for communication.
That mode of existence is society, which is a
human community bound together by rational
discourse and shared values. Prudence and pas-
sion combine to make a rational pleasure calcu-
lator, but they do not make a man.
figure whose W()rk contrasts
!JlOSt sharply with Mill's is. the French sociologist
Emile Durkheim. In a seminal study of social in-
tegration entitled Suicide, Durkheim undenook
to expose the foundations of the individual's in-
volvement with his society by examining the
conditions under which that involvement
down in the most dramatic way. Durkheim dis-
covered that proneness to suicide was associated,
in contemporary western society, with one of
two sorts of conditions, both of which are parts
of what Mill calls "liberty." The loosening of the
constraints of traditional and group values cre-
ates in some individuals a condition of lawless-
Robert Paul Wolff
31
ness, an absence of limits on desire and ambition.
Since there is no intrinsic limit to the quantity
of satisfaction which the self can seek, it finds
itself drawn into an endless and frustrating pur-
suit of pleasure. The infinitude of the objective
universe is unconstrained for the individual with-
in social or subjective limits, and the self is sim-
ply dissipated in the vacuum which it strives to
fill. When this lack of internal limitation saps
the strength and organization of the personality
beyond bearable limits, suicide is liable to result;
Durkheim labels this form of suicide "anomie"
in order to indicate the lawlessness which causes
it.
Freedom from the constraint of traditional and
. with it a loss . of limits and
!he abyss_ of a,nomie, according to Durkheim.
(Note that the term "anomie," as originally de-
fined by Durkheim, does not mean loneliness,
loss of a sense of identity, or anonymity in a
mass. It means quite precisely a-nomie, or lack
of law.) Freedom from the constricting bonds
of an intimate social involvement brings with it
a second form of psychic derangement, called
by Durkheim "egoism," which also leads in ex-
treme cases to suicide. Durkheim sees the human
c«;mdition as inherently tragic. The individual is
launched upon an infinite expanse, condemned
to seek a security which must always pass away
in death and to project meaning into a valueless
void. The only hope is for men to huddle to-
gether and collectively create the warm world of
meaning and coherence which impersonal nature
cannot offer. Each of us sees himself reflected in
32 Beyond Tolerance
the other selves of his society, and together we
manage to forget for a time the reality beyond
the walls. Erik Erikson captures this sense of the
besieged community in his discussion of the Rus-
sian character, in Childhood and Society. Erik-
son is portraying the traditional Russian peas-
ant community ~ s it appears in the opening
scenes of a moving picture of Maxim Gorky's
youth. Erikson writes:
At the beginning there is the Russian trini-
ty: empty plains, Volga, balalaika. The vast
horizons of central Russia reveal their vast
emptinesses; and immediately balalaika tunes
rise to compassionate crescendos, as if they
were saying, "You are not alone, we are all
here." Somewhere along the Volga broad river
boats deliver bundled-up people into isolated
villages and crowded towns.
The vastness of the land and the refuge of
the small, gay community thus are the initial
theme. One is reminded of the fact that 'mir',
the word for village, also means world, and
of the saying, "Even death is good if you are
in the mir." A thousand years ago the Vikings
called the Russians 'the people of the stock-
ades' because they had found them huddling
together in their compact towns, thus sur-
viving winters, beasts, and invaders-and en-
joying themselves in their own rough ways.
(p. 318)
Durkheim marshalls statistics to show that
where the intensity of the collective life of a
community diminishes-as their "freedom," in
Mill's sense, increases, therefore-the rate of sui-
cide rises. Thus Protestant communities exhibit
Robert Paul Wolff
33
higher rates than Catholic communities, which
in turn surpass the inward-turning Jewish com-
munities. So too, education is "positively" corre-
lated with suicide, for although knowledge in
itself is not harmful to the human personality,
the independence of group norms and isolation
which higher education carries with it quite defi-
nitely is inimical. One might almost see in the
varying suicide rates a warning which society
issues to those of its number who foolishly ven-
ture through the walls of the town into the lim-
itless and lonely wastes beyond.
It seems, if Durkheim is correct, that the very
liberty and individuality which Mill celebrates
are deadly threats to the integrity and health of
the personality. _So far from being superfluous
'\Vhich thwart the free development
self, social norms protect us from the dan-
of anomie; and that invasive intimacy of
·····-- ....... T . . .
with each which Mill felt as suffocating js
actually our principal protection agaip.st . tl}.e
evil of isolation.
Needless to say, the dark vision of Durkheim
was not shared by all of the conservative critics
of liberal society, though more often than not
the inexorable advance of industrialism provoked
in them an extreme pessimism. In those who
wrote early in the century or even at the close
of the eighteenth century, there still lived a hope
that the traditional society of the preceding age
could be preserved. So we find Burke singing the
praises of the continuing community of values
and institutions which was England and damn-
ing the French revolution as an anarchic and
34
Beyond Tolerance
destructive deviation which could hopefully be
corrected. "'\Y_lJ.ether the critics of
i!s advance as inevitable or as reversible, t!\e
among them i1.1jts
tolerance the principal threat t9 Jhe
society of shared vah1es and coqunQ:-
integration. The very essence of social con-
straint is that one feels it as objective, external,
unavoidable, and hence genuinely a ymit beyond
which one's desires may not extend. As soon as
one enunciates the doctrine of the liberty of the
internal life, those constraints become no more
than suggestions-or, when backed by force,
threats. But the individual is not capable of the
self-regulation which Mill's doctrine of liberty
presupposes. He is like a little child who ventures
forth bravely to explore the playground but
looks back every few moments to reassure him-
self that his mother is still there. So, we might
say, evoking the images of traditional society,
the adult ventures forth to explore life, secure
in the knowledge that mother church and a pa-
ternal monarch will guide and support him. The
recurrent use of familial metaphors in the de-
scription of social institutions expresses the de-
pendent relationship which all men bear to their
human community. Mill assures us in a number
of passages that his principles of individual liber-
ty are not meant to apply to children, who of
course are not yet ready to assume the burden of
freedom. What he fails to grasp, his conservative
opponents seem to be telling us, is that men are
the children of their societies throughout their
lives. Absolute tolerance therefore has the saJl1e_
Robert Paul Wolff 35
9is:a.strous effects on the adult l!.s eJ&-
.. on the gJ;ovvin.g. <,;P,i_l9,. In
that sense, "progressive" theories of child-rearing
are the true reflections of the liberal philosophy.
In the conflict between liberalism and conser-
vatism, neither side can claim a monopoly of
valid arguments or legitimate insights. The lib-
eral apologists are surely correct in seeing tradi-
ti.qjlal . constraints as fetters which prevent the
of human potentialities and tie
. of What is
!_!l()re, at least are prepared to accept
the burden of lost innocence which men bear in
th.e ·age. To embrace traditions after
their authority has been undermined is to retreat
into an antiquarian refuge. It is absurd to decide
on rational grounds that one will accept non-
rational authority. There can be no turning back
from the "liberation" of modern society, what-
ever one thinks of its desirability.
time, the liberal assurance that
the burdens of freedom can easily be borne is
. by the facts of .. contemporary
!,!_fe, as the conservative sociologists so clearly
perceived. The elimination of superstition,
Oilwhich the eighteenth-century philosopbes
counted so heavily and the liberation from social
constraints for which Mill had such hopes are at
best ambiguous accomplishments. .P!oblem
which forces itself upon the . unillusioned sup:-
principles is to formulate a social
philosophy wl1!ch achieves some cop.sistency be-
tween the ideals of justice and individual free-
dom on the one hand and the facts of the social
36
Beyond Tolerance
CJ.ljgi_n nature of on the oth_c:r.
Durkheim himself rejected any easy nostalgia
for the communal glories of a past age. After
demonstrating the correlation between educa-
tion and suicide, he warned:
Far from knowledge being the source of the
evil, it is its remedy, the only remedy we have.
Once established beliefs have been carried
away by the current of affairs, they cannot be
artificially reestablished; only reflection can
guide us in life, after this. Once the social in-
stinct is blunted, intelligence is the only guide
left us and we have to reconstruct a conscience
by its means. Dangerous as is the undertaking
there can be no hesitation, for we have no
choice. Let those who view anxiously and sad-
ly the ruins of ancient beliefs, who feel all the
difficulties of these critical times, not ascribe
to science an evil it has not caused but rather
which it tries to cure! ... The authority of
vanished traditions will never be restored by
silencing it; we shall only be more powerless
to replace them .... If minds cannot be made
to lose the desire for freedom by artificially
enslaving them, neither can they recover their
equilibrium by mere freedom. They must use
this freedom fittingly. (p. 169)
pluralism, as it developed in the
context of American life and politics during the
iate nineteenth and early twentieth century, pur:-
e_orts to achieve just the required union of "lib-
principles and "conservative" sociology.
As we saw in the first part of this essay, plural-
ism espouses a tolerance and non-interference
in the private sphere which is precisely analo-
Robert Paul Wolff 37
gous to the classical liberal doctrine; •
the units of society between which tolerance and
mutual acceptance are to be exerciseq not
individuals but human groups, specifi-
cally religious, ethnic, and racial groups. All the
arguments which Mill advanced in defense of
the individual's right to differ from the sur-
rounding society are taken over in pluralistic de-
mocracy as arguments for the right of a social
group to d.Hfer from other soc.ia:I groups. At the
same time, it is assumed that the individual will
belong to some group or other-which is to say,
that he will identify with and internalize the
values of an existing infra-national community.
We thus can see the implicit rationale for what
is otherwise most peculiar characteristic of
democracy, namely the combination
of tolerance. for the most diverse social groups
an(f extreme intolerance for the idiosyncratic in-
diVidual One might expect, for example, that a
society which urges its citizens to "attend the
church or synagogue of your choice" would be
undismayed by an individual who chose to at-
tend no religious service at all. Similarly, it
would seem natural-at least on traditional prin-
ciples of individual liberty-to extend to the
bearded and be-sandaled "beat" the same gener-
ous tolerance which Americans are accustomed
to grant to the Amish, or orthodox Jews, or any
other groups whose dress and manner deviates
from the norm. \Ve find a strange mix-
ture of the greatest tolerance for what we might
call established groups and an equally great in-
for the deviant individual. The justi-
38
Beyond Tolerance
fication for this attitude, which would be
straightforwardly contradictory on traditional
liberal grounds, is the doctrine of pluralistic de-
mocracy. If it is good for each individual to con-
form to some social group and good as well that
a diversity of social groups be welcomed in the
community at large, then one can consistently
urge group tolerance and individual intoler-
ance.
On this analysis, the "conservative
of contemporary American-politics is more than
merely a ritual for the middle of any
road. It is a coherent social philosophy wl).i.ch
combines the ideals of classical liberalism with
t;!te
pluralistic society. In America, this hybrid
doctrine serves a number of social purposes si-
multaneously, as I tried to indicate in my pre-
liminary discussion of the origins of pluralism.
It eases the conflicts among antagonistic groups
of immigrants, achieves a working harmony
among the several great religions, diminishes
the intensity of regional oppositions, and inte-
grates the whole into the hierarchical federal po-
litical structure inherited from the founding fa-
thers, while at the same time encouraging and
preserving the psychologically desirable forces
of social integration which traditional liberalism
tended to weaken.
III
Democratic pluralism and its attendant prin-
ciple of tolerance are considerably more defen-
sible than either of the traditions out of which
Robert Paul Wolff 39
they grow; nevertheless, they are open to .a.!lum:-
which are, in my opin-
fatal to l!S 11
!de:;tl ()( policy. The weaknesses of plural-
ism lie not so much in its theoretical formulation
as in covert ideological consequences of its
to .. the reality .of cop._tempor!).ry
The sense of "ideological" which I in-
tend is that adopted by Karl Mannheim in his
classic study Ideology and Utopia, Mannheim
defines ideology as follows:
The concept 'ideology' reflects the one dis-
covery which emerged from political conflict,
namely, that ruling groups can in their think-
ing become so intensively interest-bound to
a situation that they are simply no longer able
to see certain facts which would undermine
their sense of domination. There is implicit in
the word "ideology" the insight that in certain
situations the collective unconscious of certain
groups obscures the real condition of society
both to itself and to others and thereby stabi-
lizes it. (p. 40)
Ideology is thus systematically self-serving
thought, in two senses. First, and most simply,
it is the refusal to recognize unpleasant facts
which might require a less flattering evaluation
of a policy or institution or which might under-
mine one's claim to a right of domination. For
example, slave-owners in the ante-bellum South
refused to acknowledge that the slaves them-
selves were unhappy. The implication was that
if they were, then slavery would be harder to
justify. Secondly, ideological thinking is a denial
40
Beyond Tolerance
of unsettling or revolutionary factors in society
on the principle of the self-confirming prophecy
that the more stable everyone believes the sit-
uation to be, the more stable it actually becomes.
One might think that whatever faults the the-
ory of pluralism possessed, at least it would be
free of the dangers of ideological distortion.
Does it not accord a legitimate place to all groups
in society? How then can it be used to justify
or preserve the dominance of one group over
another? In fact, I shall try to show that Jhl!
application of pluralist theory to Allle_rican sg-
ciety involves . ideological distortion in at I _ ! : ~ ! l t
fr\ree different ways. The first stems from the
"vector:5um" or "balance-of-power" interpre-
tation of pluralism; the second arises from the
application of the "referee" version of the the-
ory; and the third is inherent in the abstract the-
ory itself.
According to the vector-sum theory of plu-
ralism, the major groups in society compete
through the electoral process for control over
the actions of the government. Politicians are
forced to accommodate themselves to a number
of opposed interests and in so doing achieve a
rough distributive justice. What are the major
groups which, according to pluralism, comprise
American society today? First, there are the he-
reditary groups which are summarized by that
catch-phrase of tolerance, "without regard to
race, creed, color, or national origin." In addi-
tion there are the major economic interest
groups among which-so the theory goes, a
healthy balance is maintained: labor, business,
Robert Paul w' olff
41
agriculture, and-a residual category, this-the
consumer. Finally, there are a number of volun-
tary associations whose size, permanence, and in-
fluence entitle them to a place in any group-anal-
ysis of America, groups such as the veterans' or-
ganizations and the American Medical Associa-
tion.
At one time, this may have been an accurate
account of American society. But once con-
th_e picture becomes frozen, and when
<;_h:mges take place in the patterns of social or
grouping, they tend not to be ac-
because they deviate_ from that pi.c-
ture. application of the theory of plural-
ism always fav_ors the groups in against
£hose In process of formation. For example, at
any given time the major religious, racial, and
ethnic groups are viewed as permanent and ex-
haustive categories into which every American
can conveniently be pigeonholed. Individuals
who fall outside any major social group-the
non-religious, say-are treated as exceptions and
relegated in practice to a second-class status.
Thus agnostic conscientious objectors are re-
quired to serve in the armed forces, while those
who claim even the most bizarre religious basis
for their refusal are treated with ritual tolerance
and excused by the courts. Similarly, orphanages
in America are so completely dominated by the
three major faiths that a non-religious or reli-
giously-mixed couple simply cannot adopt a
child in many states. The net effect is to preserve
the official three-great-religions image of Amer-
ican society long after it has ceased to corre-
42 Beyond Tolerance
spond to social reality and to discourage individ-
uals from officially breaking their religious ties.
A revealing example of the mechanism of toler-
ance is the ubiquitous joke about "the priest, the
minister, and the rabbi." A world of insight into
the psychology -.,f tolerance can be had simply
from observing the mixture of emotions with
which an audience greets such a joke, as told by
George Jesse} or some other apostle of "inter-
faith understanding." One senses embarrassment,
nervousness, and finally an explosion of self-con-
gratulatory laughter as though everyone were
relieved at a difficult moment got through with-
out incident. The gentle ribbing nicely distrib-
uted in the story among the three men of the
cloth gives each member of the audience a
chance to express his hostility safely and accept-
ably, and in the end to reaffirm the principle of
tolerance by joining in the applause. Only a
bigot, one feels, could refuse to crack a smile!
Rather more serious in its conservative falsi-
fying of social reality is the established image of
the major economic groups of American society.
The emergence of a rough parity between big
industry and organized labor has been paralleled
by the rise of a philosophy of moderation and
cooperation between them, based on mutual un-
derstanding and respect, which is precisely simi-
lar to the achievement of interfaith and ethnic
tolerance. What has been overlooked or sup-
pressed is the fact that there are tens of millions
of Americans-businessmen and workers alike-
whose interests are completely ignored by this
genial give-and-take. Non-unionized workers
Robert Ptml Wolff 43
are worse off after each price-wage increase, as
are the thousands of small businessmen who can-
not survive in the competition against great na-
tionwide firms. The theory of pluralism does not
espouse the interests of the unionized against
the non-unionized, or of large against small busi-
ness; but by presenting a picture of the Ameri-
can economy in which those disadvantaged ele-
ments do not appear, it tends to perpetuate the
inequality by ignoring rather than justifying it.
The case here is the same as with much ideo-
logical thinking. Once pluralists acknowledge
__ exist:ence of groups whose interests are not
weighed in the labor-business balance, then their
?Wn theory requires them to call for an altera-
£on 9( system. If migrant workers, or white-
collar workers, or !>mall businessmen are genu-
ine groups, then they have a legitimate place in
the system of group-adjustments. Thus, plural-
ism is not explicitly a philosophy of privilege or
a philosophy of equality and jus-
cqncrete application supports in-
equality by ignoring the existence of certain
__
This ideological function of pluralism helps
to explain one of the peculiarities of American
politics. There is a very sharp distinction in the
public domain between legitimate interests and
those which are absolutely beyond the pale. If
a group or interest is within the framework of
acceptability, then it can be sure of winning
some measure of what it seeks, for the process
of national politics· is distributive and compro-
mising. On the other hand, if an interest falls
44
Beyond Tolerance
outside the circle of the acceptable, it receives
no attention whatsoever and its proponents are
treated as _crackpots, extremists, or foreign
agents. With bewildering speed, an interest can
move from "outside" to "inside" and its parti-
sans, who have been scorned by the solid and
established in the community, become presiden-
tial advisers and newspaper columnists.
A vivid example from recent political history
is the sudden legitimation of the problem of
poverty in America. In the post-war years, tens
of millions of poor Americans were left behind
by the sustained growth of the economy. The
facts were known and discussed for years by
fringe critics whose attempts to call attention to
these forgotten Americans were greeted with
either silence or contempt. Suddenly, poverty
was "discovered" by Presidents Kennedy and
Johnson, and articles were published in Look
and Time which a year earlier would have been
more at home in the radical journals which in-
habit political limbo in America. A social group
whose very existence had long been denied was
now the object of a national crusade.
A similar elevation from obscurity to relative
prominence was experienced by the peace move-
ment, a "group" of a rather different nature.
For years, the partisans of disarmament labored
to gain a hearing for their view that nuclear war
could not be a reasonable instrument of national
policy. Sober politicians and serious columnists
treated such ideas as the naive fantasies of beard-
ed peaceniks, communist sympathizers, and well-
meaning but hopelessly muddled clerics. Then
Robert Paul Wolff 45
suddenly the Soviet Union achieved the nuclear
parity which had been long forecast, the pros-
pect of which had convinced disarmers of the
insanity of nuclear war. Sober reevaluations ap-
peared in the columns of Walter Lippmann, and
some even found their way into the speeches of
President Kennedy-what had been unthinkable,
absurd, naive, dangerous, even subversive, six
months before, was now plausible, sound,
thoughtful, and-within another six months-
official American policy.
The explanation for these rapid shifts in the
political winds lies, I suggest, in the logic of
pluralism. to pluralist theory, _exery
genuine soci11! a..: _r:ight. to a voice _in
of policy and a share in the benefits.
Any policy urged by a group in the system must
be given respectful attention, no matter how
bizarre. By the a policy or principle
which lacks legitimate representation has no
place in the society, no matter how reasonable
or fl1ll)'. be. Consequently, the line be-
tween acceptable and unacceptable alternatives
is very sharp, so that the territory of American
politics is like a plateau with steep cliffs on all
sides rather than like a pyramid. On the plateau
are all the interest groups which are recognized
as legitimate; in the deep valley all around lie
the outsiders, the fringe groups which are
scorned as "extremist." The most important bat-
tle waged by any group in American politics is
the struggle to climb onto the plateau. Once
there, it can count on some measure of what it
seeks. No group ever gets all of what it wants,
46
Beyond Tolerance
and no legitimate group is completely frustrated
in its efforts.
Thus, the "vector-sum" version of
functions ideologically by tending . to
deny new groups or interests access to the p.q_-
l.i.ticarplateau. It does this by ignoring their ex-
i_stence in practice, not by denying their cla_im
theory. The result is that pluralism has a brak-
i.ng effect on social change; it slows down trans-
formation in the system of group adjustments
but does not set up an absolute barrier to change.
this reason, as well as because of its originli
as a fusion of two conflicting social philosophi(:s,
'It deserves the title "conservative liberalism."
According to the second, or version
·of the role of the government is to
oversee and regulate the competition among
interest groups in the society. Out of the appli-
cations of this theory have grown not only
countless laws, such as the antitrust bills, pure
food and drug acts, and Taft-Hartley Law, but
also the complex system of quasi-judicial regu-
latory agencies in the executive branch of gov-
ernment. Ka!it:l
1
in a powerful _and _£_(1.Q.-
book_ entitled The Decline of Amerjcan
Pluralism, has shown that this referee function
government, as it actually works out in p.rac.-
§ce, systematically favors the interests of the
stronger against the weaker party in interest-
group conflicts and tends to solidify the power
of those who already hold it. The government,
therefore, plays a conservative, rather than a neu-
tral, role in the society.
Kariel details the ways in which this discrimi-
Robert Ptml Wolff
47
natory influence is exercised. In the field of reg-
ulation of labor unions, for example, the federal
agencies deal with the established leadership of
the unions. In such matters as the overseeing of
union elections, the settlement of jurisdictional
disputes, or the setting up of mediation boards,
it is the interests of those leaders rather than the
competing interests of rank-and-file dissidents
which are favored. In the regulation of agricul-
ture, again, the locally most influential farmers
or leaders of farmers' organizations draw up the
guidelines for control which are then adopted by
the federal inspectors. In each case, ironically,
the unwillingness of the government to impose
its own standards or rules results not in a free
play of competing groups, but in the enforce-
ment of the preferences of the existing predomi-
nant interests.
In a sense, these unhappy consequences of gov-
ernment regulation stem from a confusion be-
tween a theory of interest-conflict and a theory
of power-conflict. The gove.m01ent quite suc-
cessflilly referees the conflict among competing
pqwers-any group which has already managed
to· accumulate a significant quantum of power
find its claims attended to by the federal
But in(eres_ts which have
l:>_een_ ig11ore_d, suppressed, defeated, or which
succeeded in organizing the:p1selves
for effective action, will find their disadvanta-
through the decisions
of the government. It is as though an umpire
were to come upon a baseball game in progress
between big boys and little boys, in which the
48
Beyond.Tolerance
big boys cheated, broke the rules, claimed hits
that were outs, and made the little boys accept
the injustice by brute force. If the umpire under-
takes to "regulate" the game by simply enforcing
the "rules" actually being practiced, he does not
thereby make the game a fair one. Indeed, he
may actually make matters worse, because if the
little boys get up their courage, band together,
and decide to fight it out, the umpire will accuse
them of breaking the rules and throw his weight
against them! Precisely the same sort of thing
happens in pluralist politics. For example, the
American Medical Association exercises a stran-
glehold over American medicine through its in-
fluence over the government's licensing regula-
tions. Doctors who are opposed to the A.M.A.'s
political positions, or even to its medical policies,
do not merely have to buck the entrenched au-
thority of the organization's leaders. They must
also risk the loss of hospital affiliations, speciality
accreditation, and so forth, all of which powers
have been placed in the hands of the medical es-
tablishment by state and federal laws. Those laws
are written by the government in cooperation
with the very same A.M.A. leaders; not surpris-
ingly, the interests of dissenting doctors do not
receive favorable attention.
The net effect of government action is thus to
weaken, rather than strengthen, the play of con-
flicting interests in the society. The theory of
pluralism here has a crippling effect Qpon the
government, for it warns against positive federal
intervention in the name of independent princi-
ples of justice, equality, or fairness. The theory
Robert Paul Wolff 49
says justice will emerge from the free interplay
of opposed groups; the practice tends to destroy
that interplay.
Finally, the theory of pluralism in all its forms
1
llas the effect in American thought and politics
of .llc:>t only against_ certai11_social
or interests, but also against certain sorts
of proposals for the solution of social problems.
According to pluralist theory, politics is a con-
test among social groups for control of the pow-
er and decision of the government. Each group
is motivated by some interest or cluster of inter-
ests and seeks to sway the government toward
action in its favor.
.tQ pl:qralism is therefore &<>.me
of t()P
an()ther too little, of the available re-
sources. In accord with its modification of tradi-
tional liberalism, pluralism's goal is a rough pari-
ty among competing groups rather than among
competing individuals. Characteristically, new
proposals originate with a group which feels that
its legitimate interests have been slighted, and the
legislative outcome is a measure which corrects
the social imbalance to a degree commensurate
with the size and political power of the initiat-
ing group.
But there are some social ills in America whose
do not lie in a maldistribution of wealtJl,
and which cannot be cured therefore by the
techniques of pluralist politics. For example,
America is growing uglier, more dangerous, and
less pleasant to live in, as its citizens grow richer.
The reason is that natural beauty, public order,
50
Beyond Tolerance
the cultivation of the arts, are not the special in-
terest of any identifiable social group. Conse-
quently, evils and inadequacies in those areas
cannot be remedied by shifting the distribution
of wealth and power among existing social
groups. 'I_o_ be __ crime _ __ hu_r._t;
poor more than the rich, Negro. ffiQ.L1:
t.han the white-but fundamentally they are
p!oblems of the society as a whole, not of any
particular group. That is to say, they concern
the general good, not merely the aggregate of
private goods. To deal with
SOIJ1_e_ way of constituting the whole so-
a group purp9se and
a conception of the common good.
out in the()ry by portraying society as
an aggregate of human communities rather than
as itself a human community; and )t _
!:!_I_les out a c;oncern for the general g
0
od iq_p_r:J,c-
tice by encouraging a politics of interest:group
presS\lres in which there is no mechanism for the
discovery and expression of the common good.
The theory and practice of pluralism first
came to dominate American politics during the
depression, when the Democratic party put to-
gether an electoral majority of minority groups.
It is not at all surprising that the same period
saw the demise of an active socialist movement.
For socialism, both in its diagnosis of the ills of
industrial capitalism and in its proposed reme-
dies, focuses on the structure of the economy
and society as a whole and advances programs in
the name of the general good. _!'lu!"_a.JiS.f11
1
_ _Qot_h_;l_S
theory and as practice, simply does not acknowl-
Robert Paul Wolff 51
edge the possibility of reorganization
<?(!lle society. By insisting on the group nature
of society,
!nt_erests-save the purely procedural interest in
preserving the system of group pressures-and
the possibility of communal action in pursuit of
the general good.
A proof of this charge can be found in the
commissions, committees, institutes, and confer-
ences which are convened from time to time to
ponder the "national interest." The membership
of these assemblies always includes an enlight-
ened business executive, a labor leader, an edu-
cator, several clergymen of various faiths, a
woman, a literate general or admiral, and a few
public figures of unquestioned sobriety and
predictable views. The whole is a microcosm of
the interest groups and hereditary groups which,
according to pluralism, constitute American so-
ciety. Any vision of the national interest which
emerges from such a group will inevitably be a
standard pluralist picture of a harmonious, co-
operative, distributively just, tolerant America.
One could hardly expect a committee of group
representatives to decide that the pluralist sys-
tem of social groups is an obstacle to the general
good!
IV
Pluralist democracy, with its virtue, tolerance,
constitutes the highest stage in the political de-
velopment of industrial capitalism. It transcends
the crude "limitations" of early individualistic
52 Beyond Tolerance
liberalism and makes a place for the communi-
tarian features of social life, as well as for the
interest-group politics which emerged as a do-
mesticated version of the class struggle. Pluralism
is humane, benevolent, accommodating, and far
more responsive to the evils of social injustice
than either the egoistic liberalism or the tradi-
tionalistic conservatism from which it grew. But
pluralism is fatally blind to the evils which afflict
the entire body politic, and as a theory of society
it obstructs consideration of precisely the sorts
of thoroughgoing social revisions which may be
needed to remedy those evils. Like all great
theories, pluralism answered a genuine social
need during a significant period of history. Now,
ho'":'ever, new problems confront
problems not of distributive injustice but of the
£!lmmo1:1 good. We must give up the image of so-
ciety as a battleground of competing groups and
formulate an ideal of society more exalted than
the mere acceptance of opposed interests and di-
verse customs. There is need for a new p!t_iloso-
of. community, beyond pluralism and be-
yond tolerance.
TOLERANCE
AND THE SCIENTIFIC OUTLOOK
BY BARRINGTON MOORE, JR.
Die W ahrheit ist so wenig bescheiden
als das Licht .... Bildet die Bescheidenheit
den Charakter der Untersuchung, so ist
sie eher ein Kennzeichen der Scheu vor
der W ahrheit als vor der U nwahrheit. Sie
ist eine der Untersuchung vorgeschrie-
bene Angst, das Resultat zu finden, ein
Praservativmittel vor der Wahrheit.
-KARL MARX
I did not foresee, not having the cour-
age of my own thought: the growing
murderousness of the world ....
The best lack all conviction while the
worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
-WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
In this essay I shall try to argue a thesis that
once upon a time was taken for granted without
much thought about its justification and which
Presentation of an earlier version to a faculty seminar
at Columbia University, presided over by my good friend
Professor Otto Kirchheimer, disturbed my composure
and produced some revisions. I also wish to thank Har-
vard's Russian ~ e s e a r c h Center for material support.
54
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
nowadays seems a bit old-fashioned and naive.
Very briefly it is that the secular and scientific
cmtlook is adequate for ·both understanding and
evaluating human affairs because it is able in
and frequently in practice, to yield
clear-cut answers to. if!Iportant question.s. Prop-
erly used and understood, the secular and sci-
entific outlook leads neither to flaccid acceptance
of the world as it is, watery toleration of every
doctrine because there might be some contribu-
tion somewhere, nor to the fanatical single-mind-
edness of the doctrinaire, willing that a thousand
may perish in order that one shall be saved. In-
stead of paralyzing the will and the intellect the
rational and secular outlook can nerve men for
mortal combat when the situation calls for it and
prevent them from fighting. or simply being
foolish when the situation calls for rational dis-
cussion or some other behavior. It can tell us
when to be tolerant and when tolerance becomes
intellectual cowardice and evasion.
To defend these large claims adequately is far
beyond the capabilities of a short essay and very
likely my own as well. In the first two parts of
this essay I shall try to show that some of the
more familiar intellectual objections do not nec-
essarily hold. In the concluding section I will
discuss certain political obstacles that seem much
more serious.
Obviously a great deal depends on what one
means by the scientific outlook. o begin with I
should like to reject any intellectual approach to
of the modern world that takes the
fOrm of a veiled plea for a return to some variety
Barrington Moore, Jr.
55
?( the traditional humanistic some-
separate from and opposed to science. To
pose the issue in terms of Sir Charles Snow's
"two cultures" seems to me to miss the main
point, since both technicist science and academic
humanism seem to me fundamentally similar
ways of dodging the big problems and encapsu-
lating the intellect in a cocoon of professional
esteem. The conception of science used here will
a. broad one: whatever is established by sound
reasoning and evidence may belong to science.
insights from literature and philosophy become
part of science as they become established. Their
gropings and explorations are part of the whole
rational enterprise. Only when such thinkers re-
fuse to submit themselves to verification do they
separate themselves from science. f P.J:
()f science, I would suggest, is simply the refusal
believe on the basis of hope.
Certain widespread notions about the sup-
posed limitations of the secular and rational out-
look (terms I shall use interchangeably with sci-
entific) are part of the effort to grow such com-
forting cocoons and promote a form of pseudo-
toleration common in scholarly debate, especial-
ly in Anglo-Saxon countries. One such alleged
limitation is the proposition that objective
knowledge about human affairs is at bottom an
illusion and an impossibility. Two historians, a
Marxist and a conservative, so the argument runs,
can agree only on trivial and superficial facts,
such as the dates when the Peloponnesian War
began and ended. They cannot agree on the sig-
nificant aspects of the war, the meaning and in-
56
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
terconnection of events, because their signifi-
cance comes from the different and irreconcil-
able values with which the two historians begin
their task. To make the case more concrete let us
suppose that the Marxist attributes the origins of
the war to commercial rivalry between Athens
and Sparta, while the conservative in effect re-
plies "nonsense" and explains the outbreak in
terms of a series of diplomatic maneuvers and
countermaneuvers.
Now as a purely practical matter we may
agree at once that the task of reaching firm con-
clusions on even such questions as this one, where
passions do not run very high, is extraordinarily
difficult due to the inaccessibility of much of the
relevant evidence and to natural human limita-
tions such as vanity and stubbornness. The one
generalization in social science that I have en-
countered, and which seems to me thoroughly
supported by the evidence, is the remark of a
vexed colleague: "No one ever convinces any-
body of anything." But the question at issue here
is one of principle and does not concern personal
limitations or those in the evidence. In regard to
the principle it is possible, indeed necessary, to
agree that all knowledge contains a subjective
component without accepting the conclusion
that agreement is impossible about important
questions.
A subjective component is a necessary in-
gredient in any knowledge because the number
of questions it is possible to ask about any seg-
ment of reality is quite literally infinite. Only a
few of them are worth answering. No classical
Barrington Moore, Jr. 57
scholar in his right mind would seriously con-
sider counting the number of dust spots on a
modern text of Plato. Some sense of relevance to
human needs and purposes is always part of any
worthwhile search for truth. One need not
agree with Oscar Wilde that the truth is seldom
pure and never simple. But the notion of truth
pure and simple is useless because it provides no
way to distinguish significance from triviality.
The distinction between significant and trivial
truth is nevertheless an objective one, independ-
ent of the whims and prejudices of any given in-
vestigator. Two criteria, it seems to me, neces-
sarily govern all serious intellectual inquiry. One
is simultaneously pragmatic and political. Men
seek truths that will contribute to their own ad-
vantage in the contest with nature and other
men. There is often a strong destructive com-
ponent in this search. Let those who urge that
"the truth" or "true" philosophy is always life-
enhancing, in order to criticize the destructive
consequences of modern physical science, recall
that even Archimedes worked for the war in-
dustry of his day. This destructive component
may or may not be unavoidable, a situation that
varies from case to case. We must not allow it to
disappear from sight simply because of alleged
or even real benefits.
guishing significant from trivial truth is there- •
of benefit or hariT1 that co.l!les
from rus<;:overy.
· ' By itself the pragmatic political criterion is in-
adequate, even for descriptive purposes. There
is also an aesthetic criterion. The seeker after
58 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
truth often searches for beauty, order, and sym-
metry in the area he has chosen to investigate,
with no concern for further consequences. To-
day such a remark may seem a trifle naive. Any
competent psychologist can show how the search
for beauty and order arises from the most ta-
booed psychological origins; any competent his-
torian can point to equally repulsive political
and social consequences. Quite so. There is no
need here to attack these propositions, which
are in the main probably correct. They do not,
however, contradict the main point, nor are they
even relevant to it. Th_t:_ _9f. an aesthetic
criterion merely implies that aestheticcorisider-
ations are valid in distinguishing between trivial
significant truths.
In the evaluation of significant inquiry both
criteria often occur. For example, there is some
tendency to look down on forms of inquiry that
have purely pragmatic-political ends, even if the
end is the benefit of all humanity. Perhaps this
attitude is partly a legacy of Greek aristocratic
prejudice. Yet there are stronger reasons for
sensing a trace of provincialism in such inquiry.
How are we to know that our conceptions of
what is good for humanity reflect more than the
prejudices of our age and epoch? Hence we try
to escape to a more universal realm of discourse,
the one glimpsed for example in Plato's theory
of Forms. Yet aesthetic criteria • of significance
• Aesthetic criteria, it should be plain, do not distin-
guish truth from falsehood. Many beautiful theories
are wrong. And the scientific conception of beauty or
aesthetic satisfaction is narrower than the artistic one.
Barrington Moore, Jr. 59
too can become sterile and futile if pursued with-
out regard for other concerns. Order, pattern,
and symmetry can by themselves be quite trivi-
al. I at any rate find little enlightenment in the
fact that the behavior of motorists in obeying a
traffic signal and statements of Catholic men
about belief in the deity can both be plotted on a
graph in such a way as to resemble one another
as examples of conformance to and deviation
from a norm in large groups of people. t The
reasons for the similarity are sufficiently different
to make the expression of similarity in mathe-
matical terms seem no more than a tour de force.
On the other hand, at the highest level of achieve-
ment, in the work of let us say a Darwin or a
Pasteur, where the reasons for symmetry apply
over a wide area in a genuinely novel way, both
the pragmatic-political and the aesthetic criteria
find a satisfactory reconciliation. So far social
scientists have not yet produced equally impos-
ing structures that have withstood the test of ask-
ing, "Is this theory true?"
Perhaps that is impossible in this area of in-
quiry. Without going into the problem further
we may remark that the kinds of truth we seek
in different fields of inquiry may show substan-
tial variations and that crit;e_rion may .. there-
fore be much more important th._ao.. t;he other in

It is important to recognize that both the prag-
t See F. H. Allport, "The j-Curve Hypothesis of Con-
forming Behavior," in T. M. Newcomb and E. L. Hart-
ley, editors, Readings in Social Psychology (New York,
1947)' 55-68.
60 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
matic-political and the aesthetic criteria are
themselves subject to rational criticism and re-
vision. Both have certainly changed in the course
of history, though there is an important under-
current of continuity and resemblance among
different civilizations and intellectual traditions.
There is also room in the scholarly and scientific
enterprise for a wide variety of questions and
answers, even within the same subject matter or
discipline. But to the extent that the answers are
correct, they are compatible and congruent.
The Marxist interpretation of the Pelopon-
nesian War will be very different from one writ-
ten by a traditional diplomatic historian. As long
as neither historian makes a mistake or suppresses
relevant evidence, the accounts do not con-
tradict but supplement each other. There are at
the same time likely to be features of the inter-
pretation that do conflict. These have to be set-
tled by appeal to evidence. The old-fashioned
diplomatic historian might point out that Sparta
was a self-contained agrarian society and that
even in Athens commercial activities played a
secondary role. If he demonstrated these points
with satisfactory reasoning and factual evidence,
he would succeed in proving that the Marxist
was just plain wrong. _for different
"interpretations" based different W eltans-
chauungen merely befuddles the issue.
- All this amounts to the position that social
reality past and present has a structure and mean-
ing of its own that the scholar discovers in the
same way an explorer discovers an ocean or a
lake. The structure is there to begin with. The-
Barrington Moore, Jr. 61
help us to see it and prevent us from !!ee-
do not create the structure .. Notions
about the constitutive role of reason seem to me
to be one source of the befuddlement here. An-
other is confusion between the meanings of ob-
jective and non-partisan. In the social sciences
and history, significant facts are bound to be
partisan in the sense that they upset somebody's
cherished pre-conceptions. There is a greater
likelihood that the truth will be subversive of the
established order than the other way around sim-
ply because all establishments have a vested inter-
est in hiding some of the sources of their privi-
leged position. But this is no more than a prob-
ability. There is no guarantee whatever that a
critical conception of society is a correct one.
The honest investigator has to be prepared for
the possibility that his findings and political pre-
conceptions fail to match. That few of us suc-
ceed in facing such discrepancies is paihfully
obvious.
Certain further conclusions about the role of
tolerance in serious intellectual discussions and
scholarly research derive from this position.
While we may accept some of the modernschol-
:-elf-imposed limitations as at times due
magnitude of the task and the frailty of the

out of charity erect
general principles of. research. And
there are good grounds for caution in dispens-
ing even this form of charity. Very often a prob-
lem looks overwhelmingly complicated because
the simple answer that will organize the details
carries with it implications that are disagreeable
62 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
to the investigator for other reasons. Facts can
and have been used to conceal the truth as well
as to reveal it. Marx's warning about the real
meaning of intellectual modesty, chosen as the
epigraph for this essay, probably cannot be used
as a universal epistemological principle. Yet it is
a good working rule to be on the lookout for
this possibility.
It would be an error to construe these obser-
vations as a general sneer at the specialist. There
are specialists and specialists. The burden of the
argument so far has been that such notions as
"important," "interesting," "significant," "fu-
tile," and "trivial" have a strong objective com-
ponent. They are not merely epithets that reflect
the subjective whims of an individual critic, even
though the words would make no sense if there
were no human beings in the world to whose
aspirations and problems the terms refer. Obvi-
ously the work of the specialist, when it sheds
light on a significant problem, is in itself signifi-
cant. Such a conception merely helps to distin-
guish between the indispensable specialization
necessary to advances in knowledge and that
which arises out of careerist concerns, intellec-
tual fads, or sheer lack of talent. Similarly it
should be obvious that objective standards apply
to the work of synthesis and general explanation.
The dilettante who has "perceptive" but incor-
rect notions about a hodgepodge of books de-
serves as much condemnation as the narrow tech-
nician creeping up some ladder of promotion by
keeping his mouth shut on every issue that mat-
ters. __
Barrington Moore, Jr. 63
demnation because the technician can under ap-


light, __ that is an accident;
On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary
to keep the door open for the chance of a favor-
able accident, and, much more important, for
those truths endeavoring to gain acceptance in
the teeth of established orthodoxies. f.\.ccording
to the scientific outlook, every idea, including
the most dangerous and apparently absurd ones,
deserves- to--have its credentials examined. Still,
examining credentials means exactly that. It does
not mean accepting the idea. Toleration implies
t.9-e existence of a distinctive procedure for test-
ing ideas, resembling due process in the realm
o.f law. No . one holds that under due process
accused person must be
ing .. __ testiE.g_ of
at me of any conceEtion of tgJ-
tteaiOtlle scientific outlook. That is gen-
uine tolerance. It-naSiiOt'FiiOg-to do with a ca-
cophony of screaming fakers marketing political
nostrums in the public square. Nor does the real
article exist where various nuances of orthodoxy
pass for academic freedom.
II
In the area of serious political concerns, the
scientific outlook seems to many thoughtful peo-
ple today to have demonstrated its ultimate fu-
tility and failure. Explanations of political be-
havior remain feasible within this framework,
64 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
some of its critics might concede. Rational criti-
cism, on the other hand, appears impossible, ex-
cept at the technical level of asserting that certain
means are unlikely to bring about the desired re-
sults, i.e., concentration camps may not be the
most efficient way to eliminate the Jews. If the
purpose of the state is eliminating Jews, there
is nothing more to be said from this conception
of a scientific standpoint. The goals of the state
are for the political scientist brute facts to be
entered in his calculations the way a physicist
enters gravity, friction, and the character of
metals in his computations. According to this
viewpoint, . the moment the scientist
out of his professional role to assert that
Jews is morally bad, he enters the realm
of "values," loses his aura of professional com-
petence, and becomes no more qualified to give
authoritative guidance than any of the rest of us.
For one set of "values" is supposedly as valid
other.
Such seems to have been the outcome of the
spirit of rational and scientific inquiry into politi-
cal affairs. To at least a minority of contempo-
rary thinkers the result seems both paradoxical
and monstrous. Detachment and tolerance seem
to have run riot "and turned upside down,. T.nere
has been a variety of attempts to escape from the
_paradox and restore to rational criticism the
!egitimacy that seemed to vanish with the decline
of religion and metaphysics.
- Most of these involve in some degree a sur-
render of rationality and a return to religious or
-quasi-religious conceptions. Even neo-Marxist or
Ba"ington Moore, Jr. 65
secular Hegelian efforts do not seem to me alto-
gether free of this surrender. these efforts
the fundamental feature is an attempt. to derive
of purpose for human life and society
it somehow w.ith _structure of
or the universe. Even if we could agree
on the existence of certain historical trends, such
as ever-increasing control over the physical
world, this fact in and by itself carries no obliga-
tion that we should approve it or disapprove it,
fight for it or against it. to_ d_erive
for any set of values from some
S;QUrce to living human.c;-and history is
external insofar as the past confronts us with a
world we never made-seems to me l;>_()t:_h_doomed
frustration and unnecessary.
It is doomed to frustration because no alter-
native to rationality, no call to faith no matter
how disguised, can in the end withstand the cor-
rosive effects of rational inquiry. This is true
even if the secular outlook suffers a more than
partial eclipse for many long years to come. Fur-
thermore is it not time to throw away the meta-
physical crutch and walk on our own two legs?
Rather than attempt to revive a dubious ontology
and epistemology I would urge that we recog-
ruze that God and his metaphysic:t! surrogates
dead
1
and learn to take the
If men wish to make others suffer or even to
destroy civilization itself, there is nothing outside
of man himself to which one can appeal in order
to assert that such actions deserve condemnation.
Hence the problem of evaluation, like that of
objective knowledge, becomes one of trying to
66 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
discover if there are some aspects of what is
loosely called the human situation that might
provide a suitable point from which to argue.
Again, as in the case of knowledge, it is a prob-
lem of trying to demonstrate that the introduc-
tion of a subjective component does not lead to
purely arbitrary results.
In conversation about values one frequently
encounters people who will assert for the sake
of argument that they want to make human be-
ings suffer. It is difficult to know whether one
should take this argument seriously. As far as I
am aware, no human group has ever seriously
held that pain and suffering were desirable in
themselves. That they have been regarded as a
means to an end in many cultures is of course
obvious. On the other hand, it is clear that there
is pleasure to be had in making people suffer,
indeed in watching them suffer. Hence we will
do well to take the argument seriously.
There seem to be only two observations to
make in reply to such an argument. The first is
that if one is serious, one must be prepared to
take the consequences. The second is that the
consequences if pushed very far are likely to be
the disintegration of human society, including
that sector to which the believer in cruelty be-
longs. Those who do believe at all seriously in
cruelty usually exclude the victims from "real"
humanity. As a supreme value cruelty is prob-
ably incompatible with the continued existence
of humanity. The fact that large amounts of
cruelty are perfectly compatible with the con-
tinued existence of human society does not nee-
Barrington Moore, Jr.
67
essarily affect this thesis. Such cruelty is gener-
ally instrumental, and not an end in itself.
Even if this argument were watertight, it
would not be very satisfactory. It tells us very
little about the huge masses of cruelty that are
everywhere around us, and to which we would
like to find a reasoned objection. Perhaps it will
be possible to make better progress by taking
a concrete example, that of Nazi Germany.
What would be a tenable argument that consti-
of Hitlerite Germany?
<;>ne reply, for which I have considerable re-
spect, asserts in effect that the mere search for
ground on which to base the
constitutes a survival of the religious and
physical outlook. Hence the query is foolish.
One has to take a stand for or against Nazism
and, accepting the consequences, fight to estab-
lish the ultimate premises of society. This seems
to be the core of the existentialist position. Born
into a world we did not make, there is no possi-
bility of escaping this terrible ambiguity.
But is the situation as ambiguous as all that?
There are grounds for holding that it is not and
that f?r ca._1:_1 t:>e_ derived
of humaJJ. existence. If we
are to live at all, we have to live in society. And
50dety.it be wiili
pain as possible. • The suffering that is
• Against the notion that a minimum of suffering might
provide a sound criterion for evaluating forms of society,
there is the objection that varieties of suffering and hap-
piness are incommensurable. To a sociologist the objec-
tion carries little weight. Certainly there are enormous
68
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
unavoidable will differ under differing circum-
stances and certainly is not the same at all stages
of history. To establish what this minimum may
be is no easy task. general intellectual pro-
cedures, to be specified in a moment, are reason-
l!_bly_clear a_(ld well known. They seem to me to
deserve the label "scientific."
- If an unambiguous starting point is to be
found, it is through the analysis of the prerequi-
sites of human existence along the lines just sug-
gested. In other words, values are huma11.de-
mands Pl!t upon the human To
establish them is no task to be performed once
It changes with changing
conditions. This much of the existentialist stress
on permanent ambiguity has a firm foundation.
But if we return to the Nazi case and certain
types of criticism, mainly Marxist, that actually
have been made of this society, it may be possi-
ble to discern the constant and recurring features
of rational social criticism. My intention here is
varieties of each. Yet it is not too difficult to determine
when the happiness of some people depends on the
misery of others. The criterion of minimal suffering
implies that such situations ought to be changed when it
is possible to do so. This possibility may not exist. The
notion that freely accepted rational authority constitutes
freedom and happiness is absurd as a universal generali-
zation. Accepted burdens are still burdens. A much more
serious difficulty arises from the introduction of the time
element. How much should present generations suffer
for the sake of those to come? How much of the horrors
of the industrial revolution and of the construction of
socialism in Russia are justifiable from this standpoint?
I try to discuss these difficulties in the final section.
Barrington Moore, Jr. 69
not to consider specific factual theses about Na-
tional Socialist Germany but rather to exhibit
very briefly the characteristic structure of a cer-
tain type of argument.
First, there is the premise, whose basis has just
to the effect that unnecessary
_ by an historically_
.«>.! _go_vernment or society. is bad and that
th_e social order ought to be changed. To dem-
onstrate the existence of this suffering and its
historical causes is the most important and in
practice the most difficult part of the argument.
Secondly, it is necessary, and indeed part of .the
task, to break the illusion that the present is
inevitable and permanent. Showing its historical
roots performs part of this task. Demonstrating
who gains and who suffers, and what concrete
interests are at work to preserve the prevailing
system are also part of this task. finally, and this
is often more difficult, it is necessary to show
grounds exist for holding that the so-
c:_iety could be arranged in such a way as to pro-
suffering. In the case of Nazi Germany
it would be necessary, for example, to show that
unemployment could have been eliminated in
other ways than by a program of armaments and
foreign conquest. Essentially the procedure
amounts to demonstrating that existing social
facts contain the potentiality of becoming some-
thing different from what they are.
This is more or less the common working pro-
cedure of a number of social scientists, though
perhaps only a minority. The last point about
demonstrating the potentiality of less suffering
70 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
may seem to some Hegelians to require intellec-
tual procedures fundamentally different from
those of secular science as conceived here. I do
not think that this is so. Potentiality is as much
an empirical fact as any other and has to be dis-
c:.overed in the same way. To show that German
society could work with less suffering, one
would have to discuss the high level of technolo-
gy, education, and similar factors, as well as the
forces opposing change. The conclusion might
well be that only military defeat could change
the situation. Now it is true that this could never
be proved, any more than one could prove that
capitalism or socialism would work, before they
had been tried. Some thinkers seize on this point
to argue that social science is qualitatively differ-
ent from other forms of rational thought. Does it
come to any more than the fact that experiment
is impossible in such matters? The potentiality
of new chemical forms out of old is demonstra-
ble by experiment, that of new social forms out
of old perhaps fortunately remains impossible.
If the argument up to this point is correct,
there are no absolute barriers to objective knowl-
edge and objective evaluation of human institu-
tions. Qbjective here means simply C(}rrect
and unambiguous answers, independent of in,di-
and preferences, are in principle
possible. A real distinction exists, in other words,
between scientific humility and the vagueness
that comes from moral and intellectual coward-
ice. There are situations, to be discussed shortly,
where judiciousness becomes the last refuge of
the scoundrel.
Barrington Moore, Jr. 71
III
Barriers there are to the use of rational
thought, even if they are not necessarily located
in the reahn of philosophy. They are formidable
enough and could well overwhelm it.
The possibility of debating political issues in a
rational manner arises only in some version of a
free society. So much is this the case that we are
inclined today to measure the extent of freedom
in a society by the amount of public controversy
that exists. Though this conception is inadequate
by itself because it ignores the ch2racter of the
issues in the debate and the quality of its con-
duct, it does draw attention to an important part
of the truth. One characteristic of a free
society is the ;bseil"ce of a single overriding "na-
The attempts, never completely
to impose such a purpose are the stig-
ma of the modern totalitarian state.
· Within very broad limits diversity of taste and
opinion is a positive good in its own right, ac-
<:9rding to the democratic creed, and not merely
a means to an end. Without this diversity human
beings cannot hope ·to develop their varying
qualities. The usual limitation posed is that in
cultivating such tastes they must not injure oth-
ers. There are difficulties in this conception: how
does one distinguish real injury from outraged
prejudice? The hints given in the preceding sec-
tion must suffice to suggest that the problem is
not altogether insoluble. At any rate a society
with the maximum amount of freedom possible
could not allow its members to gratify every
72
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
whim and impulse: to kill a parent, child, spouse,
or colleague in a fit of exasperation has to be
tabu. Even so a free society, as democratic the-
orists to a great extent recognize, requires rather
extraordinary people to make it run. Its members
must be remarkably intelligent and well-in-
formed, as well as sufficiently self-restrained to
be able to give way in a passionate argument that
goes against their interests.
These remarks suffice to recall the main fea-
tures and some of the problems of the democratic
political model. The place of tolerance and ra-
tionality are sufficiently familiar to enable us to
dispense with any special discussion of them.
real problems lie elsewhere. How is the
democratic model, especially in the second half
of the twentieth century amid conditions of rev:
?lutionary and international conflict? If it is un-
realistic, what are we to do with the ideal of free
and rational discussion? Shall we be "realistic"
and junk it in -our actual practices, while saving
it to decorate those increasingly solemn occa-
sions when we reaffirm our national solidarity in
times of crisis? By and large this seems to be the
direction in which events are moving in the
West. Still it remains possible to find at least a
small public audience for highly critical notions
as long as the critic constitutes no obstacle to
"serious" policy. If the situation becomes more
tense it may be necessary to get rid of the critics.
Rough methods may not be needed. Much of
what passes for criticism turns out on examina-
tion to be a different note in the chorus of praise
for western "freedom," and for the acceptance of
Barrington Moore, Jr. 73
the Cold War and the destructive civilization de-
who accuse the of
merely trying to opt out of the struggle are, I
believe, largely correct. With a few distin-
guished exceptions those who try to frighten us
with the horrors of war avoid analyzing the so-
cial and political costs of peace, which might
well be catastrophic. CJ-.!!-!...h:.C?. outlook
a11ything about the prospects for tolerant
rational discussion, or the conditions under
of place? It .is my
here that it can.
-.. A.:r:nong the conditions that make possible im-
provement within the prevailing political system
are these. First and foremost there has to be a
substantial group of people with a material in-
terest in change. On the other side, the rich and
powerful have to be able and willing to make
concessions. Three sets of factors are significant
in this connection. The upper classes have to
possess a sufficient economic margin to feel that
the concessions will not crucially damage its
position. The emergence of new sources of
wealth can be important in this connection. Sec-
ondly, the existence of diverse interests among
the upper classes, all of them more or less flour-
ishing, helps to prevent the formation of a solid
block of privilege against the claims of the lower
classes. Finally, the existence of political institu-
tions, such as a parliament and a judiciary with
traditional roots in the past and yet workable
with new men and new problems, helps the func-
tioning of an open society. This complex of con-
ditions was present during the transition to mod-
74 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
em industrial society in England; they were ab-
sent in Gennany and Russia.
These conditions themselves, however, were
the consequence of revolution. All the major
democracies, England, France, and the United
States passed through a period of civil war or
revolutionary violence (the difference is mainly
one of tenninology) which by destroying or
crippling certain features of the old order-royal
absolutism in England, the landed aristocracy in
France, plantation slavery in the United States-
made possible long periods of social struggle
within the democratic framework.
Revolutionary violence, including dictator-
ship, has been the precursor of periods of ex-
tended freedom at several points in his-
fotj. It is simply impossible to put violence,
and fanaticism in one category;
freedom, constitutionalism, and civil liberties in
aiioti:1er:' The first has played a part in the devel-
opment of the second. To deny the connection
Is no more than a partisan trick. It becomes a
hollow partisan trick when in the name of
democracy one condones saturation bombing
against peasant revolutionaries; hollower still if
one chooses to condone such violence and then
criticize a Robespierre for shedding blood in the
name of future liberty.• Liberal rhetoric can be
• The argument connecting terrorism with a specific
philosophy of history may be mainly myth. There is a
good deal of evidence to show that Robespierre was a
political trimmer; furthermore, that the main victims of
revolutionary terror were in plain fact enemies of the
revolution. We associate Stalin, correctly in my view,
Barrington Moore, Jr. 75
as full of nauseating hypocrisy as any other. Even
so, it is a disastrous error to junk the whole of
liberalism. There are grounds in historical experi-
ence for the liberal suspicion of those who
preach some version of the doctrine that the his-
torical end justifies present blood-letting-usu-
ally somebody else's blood too. Our shudder at
violence, when we still have these shudcle.J;S,is not
... \VOJ#l\\'.hile
gyi_!lK_!o_ some of the conditions u11der
':Yhich the resort to violence is justified in the
name of freedom.
considerations may be advanced
t;_o refusal to work_ within the preyail-
i!Jg_ __ a,doption of a revoh,J.tion!lry
Qne is that the prevailing regime is un-
I}_ec::e!)Sarily repressive, i.e., that the essential work
of continue with le!)S suffering and
constraint. The upholders of the prevailing or-
der will almost certainly define the essential tasks
of society differently from its opponents. To
find some basis for a rational decision on this
point is far from easy if one insists on logical
rigor. Nevertheless, as pointed out before, nega-
tive evaluations are considerably easier to reach.
Whatever positive values we commit ourselves
to, in addition to freedom, we do not want cruel-
ty, injustice, waste and misuse of resources for
destructive purposes. to be
evidence that a revolutionary situa-
with some of the worst terrors in human history. But he
treated Marxist theory contempruously when it suited
his purpose. The :whole question deserves fresh and
skeptical scrutiny.
76 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
tion is ripening. Ripeness means not only that
the destructive aspects of the revolution will en-
joy enough support to carry them out, but, more
importantly, that there are realisti<:: foJ;_
i?troducing a system: that the level of po-
tential economic production is high enough to
permit a more rational organization and also that
the human skills are available (or will be shortly)
in order to operate the whole society with less
pain, suffering, and self-generated stupidity. __ Fi-
there has to be a rough calculus of xeyolu-
tionary € Before the resort to revolution
is justifiable, there has to be good reason to be-
lieve that the costs in human suffering and deg-
radation inherent in the continuation of the
status quo really outweigh those to be incurred
in the revolution and its aftermath. 'J'o put_ the
point with appalling crudeness, one has. to w:eigb
casualties of a reign of terror against those of
the prevailing situation to
which may include a high death rate due to dis-
ease, ignorance-or at the other end of the scale,
failure to control the use of powerful technical
devices. (The 40,000 deaths a year in the United
States due to automobile accidents come to mind
here. What would we think of a political regime
that executed 40,000 people a year?)
Miscalculation on all of these points _consti-
tutes one of the mairi reasons for the horrors of
the Bolshevik Revolution and the Stalinist era.
The miscalcuiation is. the more significant be-
cause many of the forerunners and leaders of
Russian Marxism were keenly aware of the issues
posed here and debated them hotly among them-
Barrington Moore, Jr. 77
selves. Does the fate of the Bolshevik Revolution
then indicate the futility of raising the issues and
considerations discussed here? Is there not some-
thing presumptuous and silly in the attempt to
pass judgment on revolutions?
the forf!I_Of apologetics for the ancien regime
or for its revolutionary successor (an exercise
which constitutes the bulk of run-of-the-mill his-
tory) does seem futile. Qn the other hand, the
t<;> discover what might have been ration-
al, in the sense of obtaining the maximum result
with a minin:mm of suffering, is not wholly a
of time. Hypotheses about present and fu-
ture events are not like the hypotheses of the his-
torian. By making such hypotheses, important
historical actors also contribute, within limits, to
the shaping of events. These limits vary from
situation to situation. But there seems to be an
principle of ambiguli:y-ln the flow of
a!fairs, a point that Merleau-Ponty has
argued at great length. The implication increases
the burden of responsibility on anyone who
ch<,>o.ses to step outside the current framework
of peaceful debate to advocate an extreme
course. Even if the revolutionary course suc-
ceeds, one can never be sure that it was absolutely
necessary. On the other side too, endless Hamlet-
like waiting. for fuller information and exactly
tE.C right moment may mean letting the crucial
moment pass by default. Ultimately there is no
avoiding this frightening dilemma. Perhaps there
is an encouraging aspect to the fact that human
beings are endowed with a strong dose of irra-
tional passion. Otherwise all our struggles would
78
Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
have come to naught, and we would still be in
the Stone Age.
Fortunately the task of the professional intel-
lectual, with whom we are mainly concerned in
this essay, is in some respects easier than that of
the political leader. TJtt: of the intellec-
t.'}l!!_i!;__7l(Jt t9 be committed to any political doc-
or ideal, not to be an agitator or a fighter,
to find and speak the truth, whatever _the. p.o-
may be. Even if, as we have
said, political concerns help to determine what
truths intellectuals look for, the truths they un-
cover may often be and actually are extremely
damaging to exactly these concerns. To be more
concrete and immediate, if the intellectual finds
that the current situation is one of sham debate
and unnecessary repression, yet without any seri-
ous prospect for change, he has the task of re-
lentless, critical exposure-destructive criticism
of a destructive reality. His commitment to po-
litically significant truth carries with it the obli-
gation to point out the illusions, equivocations,
ambiguities, and hypocrisies of those who raise
the banner of freedom in order to perpetuate
brutality, be they Communist or anti-Commu-
nist.
Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner is one
of those catchy phrases that often enough turn
out to be sloppy half-truths. For a dear under-
standing of how any society really works is likely
to be the first step toward condemnation because
it enables men to see not only the seamy side, to
penetrate behind the glorifications and equivo-
cations, but also to' realize possibilities for im-
Barrington Moore, Jr. 79
provement. The notion that a scientific attitude
toward human society necessarily induces a
tolerance of the existing order, or
it deprives thinkers of insight into the im-
portant issues of the past and the present seems
to me totally absurd. These things do happen
and on a very wide scale, but constitute a failure
to live up to the requirements and implications of
the scientific outlook.
To this one might object that the attitude
toward science advocated here is like that of the
Mahometan toward the Koran: since what is
not in the Koran is not true and not necessary for
salvation, and since the Koran contains every-
thing valuable in other books, the rest may be
cast on the flames. To the extent that the concep-
tion of science suggested here is a very broad
one, the comparison holds. The thrust of the ar-
been that the necessity for a subjec-
... ill understanding and evaluating
does not automatically introduce
an irreducible arbitrary element into such judg-
ri_ients, difficult though it may be to eliminate this
fqr ot.her reasons. Still the comparison is
false for one crucial reason. Unlike the Koran,
no part of science, no conception of science and
its methods, and least of all the present one, is
permanently above and beyond investigation,
criticism, and if need be, fundamental change.
is tolera_nt of reason; intoler-
and sham. A flickering light in
our darkness it is, as Morris Cohen once said, but
the only one we have, and woe to him who
would put it out.
REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE
BY HERBERT MARCUSE
THis essay examines the idea of tolerance
in our advanced industrial society. J.he conclu-
sion reached is that the realization of the objec-
tive of tolerance would call for intolerance
toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions,
and the extension of tolerance to policies, atti-
tUdes, and opinions which are outlawed or sup-
pressed. In other words, today tolerance appears
again as what it was in its origins, at the begin-
ning of the modem period-a partisan goal, a sub-
versive liberating notion and practice. ConverSe-
ly, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance
today, is in many of its most effective manifesta-
tions serving the cause of oppression.
The author is fully aware that, at present, no
power, no authority, no government exists which
would translate liberating tolerance into prac-
tice, but he believes that it is the task and duty of
the intellectual to recall and preserve historical
possibilities which seem to have become utopian
possibilities-that it is his task to break the con-
creteness of oppression in order to open the men-
This essay is dedicated to my students at Brandeis
University. ·
82
Repressive Tolerance
tal space in which this society can be recognized
as what it is and does.
Tolerance is an end in itself. The elimination
of violence, and the reduction of suppression to
the extent required for protecting man and ani-
mals from cruelty and aggression are precondi-
tions for the creation of a humane society. Such
a society does not yet exist; progress toward it is
perhaps more than before arrested by violence
and suppression on a global scale. As deterrents
against nuclear war, as police action against sub-
version, as technical aid in the fight against im-
perialism and communism, as methods of pacifi-
cation in neo-colonial massacres, yiolence and
suppression are promulgated, practiced, and de-
by democratic and authoritarian govern-
ments alike, and the people subjected to these
g()vernments are educated to sustain such prac-
tices as necessary for the preservation of the
status quo. Tolerance is extended to policies,
conditions, and modes of behavior which should
be tolerated. because they are impeding, if
_not 'destroying, the chances of cr!!ating an exist-
without fear and misery.
This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny
of the majority against which authentic liberals
protested. The political locus of tolerance has
changed: while it is more or less quietly and con-
stitutionally withdrawn from the opposition, it
is made compulsory behavior with respect to
established policies. Tolerance is turned from an
active into a passive state, from practice to non-
practice: laissez-faire the constituted authorities.
flerbert Afarcuse 83
It is the people who tolerate the government,
which in tum tolerates opposition within the
framework determined by the constituted
authorities.
that whicll is radically evil
.as good because it serves
¥!9!!. 9Lt.he wl}_qJe .. on the road. to
The toleration of the systematic
moronization of children and adults alike by
publicity and propaganda, the release of destruc-
tiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment
for and training of special forces, the impotent
and benevolent tolerance toward outright decep-
tion in merchandising, waste, and planned ob-
solescence are not distortions and aberrations,
they are the essence of a system which fosters
tolerance as a means for perpetuating the strug-
gle for existence and suppressing the alternatives.
The authorities in education, morals, and psy-
chology are vociferous against the increase in
juvenile delinquency; they are less vociferous
against the proud presentation, in word and deed
and pictures, of ever more powerful missiles,
rockets, bombs--the mature delinquency of a
whole civilization .
. .According t() a dialectical proposition
the whole which determines the truth-not in
sense that the whole is prior or superior
to its parts, but in the sense that its structure
and function determine every particular con-
dition and relation. Thus, within a repressive
society, even progressive movements threaten
to tum into their opposite to the degree to
which they accept the rules of the game. To take
84 Repressive Tolerance
a most controversial case: the exercise of politi-
cal rights (such as voting, letter-writing to the
press, to Senators, etc., protest-demonstrations
with a priori renunciation of counterviolence)
in a society of total administration serves to
strengthen this administration by tesrifying t9
the existence of democratic liberties in
reality, have changed their content and lost
their effectiveness. In such a case, freedom (of
opinion, of assembly, of speech) becomes an in-
strument for absolving servitude.· And yet (and
only here the dialectical proposition shows its
full intent) the existence and practice of these
liberties remain a precondition for the restoration
of their original oppositional function, provided
that the effort to transcend their (often self-im-
posed) limitations is intensified. Generally, the
function and value of tolerance depend on the
equality prevalent in the society in which toler-
ance is practiced. Tolerance itself stands subject
to overriding criteria: its range and its limits can-
not be defined in terms of the respective society.
In other words, tolerance is an end in itself only
when it is truly universal, practiCed. by the rulers
as well as by the ruled, by the lords as well as by
the peasants, by the sheriffs as well as by their
victims. And such universal tolerance is possible
only when no real or alleged enemy requires in
the national interest the education and training
of people in military violence and destruction. As
long as these conditions do not prevail, the con-
ditions of tolerance are "loaded": duw.are deter-
mined and defined by the in-
(which is certainly compatible with
Herbert Marcuse 85
constitutional equality), i.e., by the class struc-
ture of society. In such a society, tolerance is
de facto limited on the dual ground of legalized
violence or suppression (police, armed forces,
guards of all sorts) and of the privileged position
held by the predominant interests and their "con-
nections."
These background limitations of tolerance are
normally prior to the explicit and judicial limi-
tations as defined by the courts, custom, govern-
ments, etc. (for example, "clear and present
danger," threat to national security, heresy).
Within the framework of such a social structure,
tolerance can be safely practiced and proclaimed.
It is of two kinds: ( 1) the passive toleration of
entrenched and established attitudes and ideas
even if their damaging effect on man and nature
is evident; and ( 2) the active, official tolerance
granted to the Right as well as to. the Left, to
movements of aggression as well as to movements
of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of
humanity. I call this non-partisan tolerance "ab-
or '-'pure" inasmuch as it refrains from
in doing so it actually protects
r.he already established machinery of discrimina-
tion.
The tolerance which enlarged the range and
content of freedom was always partisan-intol-
erant toward the protagonists of the repressive
status quo. The issue was only the degree and
extent of intolerance. In the firmly established
liberal society of England and the United States,
freedom of speech.· and assembly was granted
even to the radical enemies of society, provided
86
Repressive Tolerance
they did not make the transition from word to
deed, from speech to action.
Relying on the .. effective background limita-
tions imposed by its class structure, the society
seemed to practice general tolerance. But
alist theory had already placed an important con-
dttiori. ori "it was . "to apply only to
human beings in the maturity of their faculties."
John Stuart Mill does not only speak of children
and minors; he elaborates: "Liberty, as a princi-
ple, has no application to any state of things
anterior to the time when mankind have become
capable of being improved by free and equal
discussion." Anterior to that time, men may
still be barbarians, and "despotism is a legitimate
mode of government in dealing with barbarians,
provided the end be their improvement, and the
means justified by actually effecting that end."
Mill's often-quoted words have a less familiar
implication on which their meaning depends:
the internal connection between liberty and
truth. There is a sense in which truth is the end
of liberty, and liberty must be defined and con-
fined by truth. Now in what sense can liberty
be for the sake of truth? Liberty is self-deter-
mipation, autonomy-this is almost a tautology,
but a tautology which results from a whole series
of synthetic judgments. Jt stipulates the ability
to determine one's own life: to be able to deter-
mine what to do and what not to do, what to
suffer and what not. But the subject of this au-
tonomy is never the contingent, private individ-
ual as that which he actually is or happens to be;
Herbert Marcuse 87
it is rather the individual as a human being who is
capable of being free with the others. And the
problem of making possible such a harmony be-
tween every individual liberty and the other is
not that of finding a compromise between com-
petitors, or between freedom and law, between
general and individual interest, common and pri-
vate welfare in an established society, but of
creating the society in which man is no longer
enslaved by institutions which vitiate self-deter-
mination from the beginning. In other words,
freedom is still to be created even for the freest
if-i!le- societies. And the direction in
which it must be sought, and the institutional
and cultural changes which may help to attain
the goal are, at least in developed civilization,
comprehensible, that is to say, they can be iden-
tified and projected, on the basis of experience,
by human reason.
In the interplay of theory and practice, true
and false solutions become distinguishable-
never with the evidence of necessity, never as
the positive, only with the cenainty of a rea-
soned and reasonable chance, and with the per-
suasive force of the negative. For the true posi-
tive is the society of the future and therefore
beyond definition and determination, while the
existing positive is that which must be surmount-
ed. But t!te and. of the
existent society may well be capable of identify-
frig what is not conducive to a free and rational
society, what impedes and distons the possibili-
ties of its creation. Freedom is liberation, a spe-
88 Repressive Tolerance
cific historical process in theory and practice,
and as such it has its right and wrong, its truth
and falsehood.
The uncertainty of chance in this distinction
does not cancel the historical objectivity, but it
necessitates freedom of thought and expression
as preconditions of finding the way to freedom-
it necessitates tolerance. this tolerance
be indiscriminate and equal with respect
the contents of expression, neither in word
nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and
deeds which demonstrate that they con-
tradict and counteract the possibilities of libera-
tiqn.. Such indiscriminate tolerance is justified in
harmless debates, in conversation, in academic
discussion; it is indispensable in the scientific en-
terprise, in private religion. But society cannot
be indiscriminate where the pacification of exist-
ence, where freedom and happiness themselves
are at stake: here, cenain things cannot be said,
cenain ideas cannot be expressed, cenain policies
cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be
permitted without making tolerance an instru-
ment for the continuation of servitude.
The danger of "destructive tolerance" (Bau-
delaire), of "benevolent neutrality" toward art
has been recognized: the market, which absorbs
equally well (although with often quite sudden
fluctuations) art, anti-an, and non-art, all possi-
ble conflicting styles, schools, forms, provides a
"complacent receptacle, a friendly abyss" (Ed-
gar Wind, Art and Anarchy (New York:
Knopf, 1964), p. 101) in which the radical im-
pact of art, the protest of art against the estab-
Herbert Marcuse 89
lished reality is swallowed up. However, censor-
ship of art and literature is regressive under all
circumstances. The authentic oeuvre is not and
cannot be a prop of oppression, and pseudo-art
(which can be such a prop) is not art. Art stands
against history, withstands history which has
been the history of oppression, for art subjects
reality to laws other than the established ones: to
the laws of the Form which creates a different
reality-negation of the established one even
where art depicts the established reality. But in
its struggle with history, art subjects itself to
history: history enters the definition of art and
enters into the distinction between art and
pseudo-art. Thus it happens that what was once
art becomes pseudo-art. Previous forms, styles,
and qualities, previous modes of protest and re-
fusal cannot be recaptured in or against a differ-
ent society. There are cases where an authentic
oeuvre carries a regressive political message-
Dostoevski is a case in point. But then, the mes-
sage is canceled by the oeuvre itself: the regres-
sive political content is absorbed, aufgehoben in
the artistic form: in the work as literature.
Tolerance of free speech is the way of im-
_P-ro_yement, of progress in liberation, not because
there is no objective truth, and improvement
must necessarily be a compromise between a
variety of opinions, but is o?-
jective truth which can be discovered, ascer-
tained 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 man-
kind. This common and historical "ought" is not
90 Repressive Tolerance
immediately evident, at hand: it has to be un-
covered by "cutting through," "splitting,"
"breaking asunder" ( dis-cutio) the given materi-
al-separating right and wrong, good and bad,
correct and incorrect. The subject whose "im-
provement" depends on a progressive historical
practice is each man as man, and this universality
is reflected in that of the discussion, which a
priori does not exclude any group or individual.
But even the all-inclusive character of liberalist
tolerance was, at least in theory, based on the
proposition that men were (potential) individu-
als who could learn to hear and see and feel by
themselves, to develop their own thoughts, to
grasp their true interests and rights and capabili-
ties, also against established authority and opin-
ion. This was the rationale of free speech and as-
sembly. Universal toleration becomes question-
able when its rationale no longer prevails, when
tolerance is administered to manipulated and in-
doctrinated individuals who parrot, as their own,
~ h e opinion of their masters, for whom heterono-
my has become autonomy.
The telos of tolerance is truth. It is clear from
the historical record that the authentic spokes-
men of tolerance had more and other truth in
mind than that of propositional logic and aca-
demic theory. John Stuart Mill speaks of the
truth which is persecuted in history and which
does not triumph over persecution by virtue of
its "inherent power," which in fact has no inher-
ent power "against the dungeon and the stake."
And he enumerates the "truths" which were
cruelly and successfully liquidated in the dun-
Herbert Marcuse
91
geons and at the stake: that of Arnold of Brescia,
of Fra Dolcino, of Savonarola, of the Albigensi-
ans, Waldensians, Lollards, and Hussites. Toler-
ance is first and foremost for the sake of the
heretics-the historical road toward bumanitas
appears as heresy: target of persecution by the
powers that be. Heresy by itself, however, is no
token of truth.
The criterion of progress in freedom accord-
ing to which Mill judges these movements is the
Refonnation. The evaluation is ex post, and his
list includes opposites (Savonarola too would
have burned Fra Dolcino). Even the ex post
evaluation is contestable as to its truth: history
corrects the judgment-too late. The correction
does not help the victims and does not absolve
their executioners. However, the lesson is clear:
has delayed progress and has pro-
longed the slaughter and torture of innocents for
of years. Poes this clinch the case for
indiscriminate, "pure" tolerance? Are there his-
torical conditions in which such toleration im-
pedes liberation and multiplies the victims who
sacrificed to the status quo? Can the indis-
criminate guaranty of political rights and liber-
ties be repressive? Can such tolerance serve to
contain qualitative social change?
I shall discuss this question only with refer-
ence to political movements, attitudes, schools of
thought, philosophies which are "political" in
the widest sense-affecting the society as a whole,
demonstrably transcending the sphere of priva-
cy. Moreover, I propose a shift in the focus of
the discussion: it will be concerned not only, and
92 Repressive Tolerance
not primarily, with tolerance toward radical ex-
tremes, minorities, subversives, etc., but rather
with tolerance toward majorities, toward official
and public opinion, toward the established pro-
tectors of freedom. In this case, the discussion
can have as a frame of reference only a demo-
cratic society, in which the people, as individuals
and as members of political and other organiza-
tions, participate in the making, sustaining, and
changing policies. In an authoritarian system, the
people do not tolerate-they suffer established
policies.
Under a system of constitutionally guaranteed
and (generally and without too many and too
glaring exceptions) practiced civil rights and
liberties, opposition and dissent are tolerated un-
less they issue in violence and/ or in exhortation
to and organization of violent subversion. The
underlying assumption is that the established so-
ciety is free, and that any improvement, even a
change in the social structure and social values,
would come about in the normal course of
events, prepared, defined, and tested in free and
equal discussion, on the open marketplace of
ideas and goods.• Now in recalling John Stuart
• I wish to reiterate for the following discussion that,
de facto, tolerance is not indiscriminate and "pure" even
in the most democratic society. The "background limita-
tions" stated on page 85 restrict tolerance before it be-
gins to operate. The antagonistic structure of society
rigs the rules of the game. Those who stand against the
established system are a priori at a disadvantage, which
is not removed by the toleration of their ideas, speeches,
and newspapers.
Herbert Marcuse
93
Mill's passage, I drew attention to the premise
hidden in this assumption: free and equal
can fulfill the function attributed to it only
if it is rational-expression and development of
independent thinking, free from indoctrination,
extraneous authority. The notion
of pluralism and countervailing powers is no sub-
stitute for this requirement. One might in theory
construct a state in which a multitude of differ-
ent pressures, interests, and authorities balance
each other out and result in a truly general and
rational interest. However, such a construct bad-
ly fits a society in which powers are and remain
unequal and even increase their unequal weight
when they run their own course. It fits even
worse when the variety of pressures unifies and
coagulates into an overwhelming whole, inte-
grating the panicular countervailing powers by
vinue of an increasing standard of living and an
increasing concentration of power. Then, the
laborer, whose real interest conflicts with that
of management, the common consumer whose
real interest conflicts with that of the producer,
the intellectual whose vocation conflicts with
that of his employer find themselves submitting
to a system against which they are powerless and
appear unreasonable. The ideas of the available
alternatives evaporates into an utterly utopian
dimension in which it is at home, for a free so-
ciety is indeed unrealistically and undefinably
different from the existing ones. Under these
circumstances, whatever improvement may oc-
cur "in the normal course of events" and with-
94
Repressive Tolerance
out subversion is likely to be improvement in
the direction determined by the particular inter-
ests which control the whole.
By the same token, those minorities which
strive for a change of the-whole itself will, under
optimal conditions which rarely prevail, be left
free to deliberate and discuss, to speak and to
aSsemble-and will be left harmless and helpless
in the face of the overwhelming majority, which
militates against qualitative social change. This
majority is firmly grounded in the increasing
satisfaction of needs, and technological and men-
tal coordination, which testify to the general
helplessness of radical groups in a well-function-
ing social system.
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: the Communist and
the Fascist, the Left and the Right, the white
and the Negro, the crusaders for armament and
for Moreover, in endlessly drag-
ging debates over the media, the stupid opinion
is treated with the same respect as the intelligent
one, the misinformed may talk as long as the in-
formed, and propaganda rides along with edu-
cation, truth with falsehood. tolera-
tion of sense at:td nonsense is justified by tile
democratic argument that nobody, neither group
nor individual, is in possession of the truth and
capable of defining what is right and wrong,
good and bad. Therefore, all contesting opinions
must be submitted to "the people" for its deliber-
ation and choice. But I have already suggested
Herbert Marcuse 95
democratic argument implies a necessary
condition, namely, that the people must be capa-
i?.!e of deliberating and choosing on the of
that they must have access to au-
thentic information, and that, on this basis, their
evaluation must be the result of autonomous
thought.
In the contemporary period, the democratic
argument for abstract tolerance tends to be in-
validated by the invalidation of the democratic
process itself. The liberating force of democracy
was the chance it gave to effective dissent, on the
individual as well as social scale, its openness to
qualitatively different forms of government, of
culture, education, work-of the human exist-
ence in general. The toleration of free discussion
and the equal right of opposites was to define
and clarify the different forii)S o\ dissent: their
direction, content, prospect. But the con-
centration of economic and political power and
the integration of opposites in a society which
uses technology as an instrument of domination,
effectiye dissent is blocked where it could freely
emerge: in the formation of opinion, in informa-
tion and communication, in speech and assembly.
Under nde of monopolistic
selves the mere instruments of economic and po-
mentality is created for which
righta!ld wrong, true and false ar_e
they affect the vital interests of the so-
ciety .lfhis is, prior to _ all expression and com-
muni&.tion, a matter of semantics: the blocking
of effective of the recognition of that
which is not of the Establishment which begins
96
Repressive Tolerance
in the language that is publicized and adminis-
tered. The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized.
Rational persuasion, persuasion to the opposite is
all but precluded. of entrance are
closed to the meaning of words and ideas other
the established one-established by the pub-
licity of the powers that be, and verified in their
practices. <;lther words can be spoken and heard,
()ther ideas can be expressed, but, at the massive
scale of the conservative majority (outside such
enclaves as the intelligentsia), they are immedi-
ately "evaluated" (i.e. automatically understood)
.. language-a
.:which determines '_'a . the direction in
\Vhich the thought _nio'yes. )Thus the
process of reflection ends where it started: in
the given conditions and relations. Self-validat-
ing, the argument of the discussion repels the
contradiction because the antithesis is redefined
in terms of the thesis. For example, thesis: we
work for peace; antithesis: we prepare for war
(or even: we wage war); unification of oppo-
sites: preparing for war is working for peace.
..

ill. the P!.e.:vaJ!-
ing situati_on, including preparatio'! _for. war (or
even war) .a11d in, QJ:Wc;:llianform, the mean-
ing of the word "peace" is stabilized. Thus, the
basic vocabulary of the Orwellian language op-
erates as a priori categories of understanding:
preforming all content. These conditions invali-
date the logic of tolerance which involves the
rational development of meaning and precludes
the closing of meaning. Consequently, persua-
sion through discussion and the equal presenta-
Herbert Marcuse
97
tion of opposites (even where it is really equal)
easily lose their liberating force as factors of un-
derstanding and learning; they are far more
likely to strengthen the established thesis and to
repel the alternatives.
Impartiality to the utmost, equal treatment of
competing and conflicting issues is indeed a basic
:equirement for decision-making in the demo-
C!atic process-it is an equally basic requirement
for defining the limits of tolerance. But in a de-
n.tocracy with totalitarian organization, objec-
tivity may fulfill a very different function, name-
ly, to foster a mental attitude which tends to ob-
literate the difference between true and false,
information and indoctrination, right and wrong.
In fact, the decision between opposed opinions
has been made before the presentation and dis-
cussion get under way-made, not by a conspir-
acy or a sponsor or a publisher, not by any dic-
tatorship, but rather by the "normal course of
events," which is the course of administered
events, and by the mentality shaped in this
course. Here, too, it is the whole which deter-
mines the truth. Then the decision asserts itself,
without any open violation of objectivity, in
such things as the make-up of a newspaper (with
the breaking up of vital information into bits
interspersed between extraneous material, irrele-
vant items, relegating of some radically negative
news to an obscure place), in the juxtaposition of
gorgeous ads with unmitigated horrors, in the
introduction and interruption of the broadcast-
ing of facts by overwhelming commercials. fhe
result is a neutralization of opposites, .a
98
Repressive Tolerance
zation, however, 'Yhi<::h takes place on the firm
grounds of the structural limitation of tolerance
and within a preformed mentality. When a mag-
azine prints side by side a negative and a positive
report on the FBI, it fulfills honestly the require-
ments of objectivity: however, the chances are
that the positive wins because the image of the
institution is deeply engraved in the mind of the
people. Or, if a newscaster reports the torture
and murder of civil rights workers in the same
unemotional tone he uses to describe the stock-
market or the weather, or with the same great
emotion with which he says his commercials,
then such objectivity is spurious-more, it of-
fends against humanity and truth by being calm
where one should be enraged, by refraining from
accusation where accusation is in the facts them-
selves. The tolerance expressed in such impar-
tjality serves to minimize or even absolve pre-
vailing intolerance and suppression. If objectivi-
ty has anything to do with truth, an(riftruthls
"iiiore tfian: a matter of logic and science, then this
kind of objectivity is false, and this kind of toler-
a,.nce inhuman. And if it is necessary to break the
established universe of meaning (and the prac-
tice enclosed in this universe) in order to enable
man to find out what is true and false, this de-
ceptive impartiality would have to be abandoned.
The people exposed to this impartiality are no
tabulae rasae, they are indoctrinated by the con-
ditions under which they live and think and
which they do not transcend. To enable them to
become autonomous, to find by themselves what
is true and what is false for man in the existing
Herbert Marcuse
99
society, they would have to be freed from the
prevailing indoctrination (which is no longer
recognized as indoctrination). But this means
that the trend would have to be reversed: they
would have to get information slanted in the op-
posite direction. For the facts are never given
immediately .and never accessible immediately;
they are established, "mediated" by those who
made them; the truth, "the whole truth" sur-
passes these facts and requires the rupture with
their appearance. This rupture-prerequisite and
token of all freedom of thought and of speech-
cannot be accomplished within the established
framework of abstract tolerance and spurious ob-
jectivity because these are precisely the factors
which precondition the mind against the rupture.
The factual barriers which totalitarian de-
:r:nocracy erects against the efficacy of qualitative
dissent are weak and pleasant enough compared
with the practices of a dictatorship which claims
to educate the people in the truth. With all its
limitations and distortions, democratic tolerance
is under all circumstances more humane than an
institutionalized intolerance which sacrifices the
rights and liberties of the living generations for
the sake of future generations. The question is
whether this is the only alternative. I shall pres-
ently try to suggest the direction in which an
answer may be sought. In any case, the contrast
is not between democracy in the abstract and
?Jctatorship 1n the abstract.
Democracy is a form of government which fits
very different types of society( this holds true
100 Repressive Tolerance
even for a democracy with universal suffrage
and equality before the law), and the human
costs of a democracy are always and everywhere
those exacted by the society whose government
it is. Their range extends all the way from nor-
mal exploitation, poverty, and insecurity to the
victims of wars, police actions, military aid, etc.,
in which the society is engaged-and not only to
the victims within its own frontiers. These con-
siderations can never justify the exacting of dif-
ferent sacrifices and different victims on behalf
of a future better society, but they do allow
weighing the costs involved in the perpetuation
of an existing society against the risk of promot-
ing alternatives which offer a reasonable chance
of pacification and liberation. Surely, no gov-
ernment can be expected to foster its own sub-
version, but in a democracy such a right is vested
in the people (i.e. in the majority of the people).
This means that the ways should not be blocked
on which a subversive majority could develop,
and if they are blocked by organized repression
and indoctrination, their reopening may require
apparently undemocratic means. They would in-
clude the withdrawal of toleration of speech and
assembly from groups and movements which
promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvin-
ism, discrimination on the grounds of race and
religion, or which oppose the extension of public
services, social security, medical care, etc. More-
over, the restoration of freedom of thought may
necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teach-
ings and practices in the educational institutions
which, by their very methods and concepts, serve
Herbert Marcuse 101
to enclose the mind within the established uni-
verse of discourse and behavior-thereby pre-
cluding a priori a rational evaluation of the al-
ternatives. And to the degree to which freedom
of thought involves the struggle against inhu-
manity, restoration of such freedom would also
imply intolerance toward scientific research in
the interest of deadly "deterrents," of abnonnal
human endurance under inhuman conditions,
etc. I shall presently discuss the question as to
who is to decide on the distinction between lib-
erating and repressive, human and inhuman
teachings and practices; I have already suggested
that this distinction is not a matter of value-pref-
erence but of rational criteria.
While the reversal of the trend in the educa-
tional enterprise at least could conceivably be
enforced . by the students and teachers them-
selves, and thus be self-imposed, the systematic
withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and
repressive opinions and movements could only
be envisaged as results of large-scale pressure
which would amount to an upheaval. In other
words, it would presuppose that which is still to
be accomplished: the reversal of the trend. How-
ever, resistance at particular occasions, boycott,
non-participation at the local and small-group
level may perhaps prepare the ground. }lle sub-
versive character of the restoration of freedom
: p p ~ a r s most clearly in that dimension of society
whert: false tolerance and free enterprise do per-
!iaps the most serious and lasting damage, name-
ly, in business and publicity. Against the em-
phatic insistence on the part of spokesmen for
102
Repressive Tolerance
labor, I maintain that practices such as planned
obsolescence, collusion between union leadership
and management, slanted publicity are not sim-
ply imposed from above on a powerless rank and
file, but are tolerated by them-and by the con-
sumer at large. However, it would be ridiculous
to speak of a possible withdrawal of tolerance
with respect to these practices and to the ide-
ologies promoted by them. For they pertain to
the basis on which the repressive affluent society
rests and reproduces itself and its vital defenses
-their removal would be that total revolution
which this society so effectively repels.
To discuss .. me.ans
the issue of violence and the tra-
distinction between and non-
action. The discussion should not, from
the beginning, be clouded by ideologies which
serve the perpetuation of violence. Even in the
=!dvanced centers of civilization, violence actual-
ly prevails: it is practiced by the police, in the
prisons and mental institutions, in the fight
against racial minorities; it is carried, by the de-
fenders of metropolitan freedom, into the back-
ward countries. This violence indeed breeds vio-
lence. But to refrain from violence in the face of
vastly superior violence is one thing, to renounce
a priori violence against violence, on ethical or
psychological grounds (because it may atago-
nize sympathizers) is another. Non-violence is
normally not only preached to but exacted from
the weak-it is a necesSity rather than a virtue,
and normally it does not seriously harm the case
of the strong. (Is the case of India an exception?
Herbert Marcuse 103
There, passive resistance was carried through on
a massive scale, which disrupted, or threatened
to disrupt, the economic life of the country.
Quantity turns into quality: on such a scale, pas-
sive resistance is no longer passive-it ceases to
be non-violent. The same holds true for the Gen-
eral Strike.) Robespierre's distinction between
the terror of liberty and the terror of despotism,
and his moral glorification of the former belongs
to the most convincingly condemned aberra-
tions, even if the white terror was more bloody
than the red terror. The comparative evaluation
in terms of the number of victims is the quanti-
fying approach which reveals the man-made hor-
ror throughout history that made violence a
necessity. In terms of historical function, there is
aAifference between revolutionary and reaction-
violence, between violence practiced by the
and by the oppressors .. In terms of
ethics, both forms of violence are inhuman and
evil-but since when is history made in accord-
with ethical standards? To start applying
them at the point where the oppressed rebel
against the oppressors, the have-nots against the
haves is serving the cause of actual violence by
weakening the protest against it.
Comprenez enfin ceci: si Ia violence a com-
mence ce soir, si !'exploitation ni !'oppression
n'ont jamais existe sur terre, peut-etre la non-
violence affiichee\ peut apaiser la querelle. Mais
si le regime entier et jusqu'a vos non-
violentes pensees 1 sont conditionnees par une
oppression milleriaire, votre passivite ne sert
104
Repressive Tolerance
qu'a vous ranger du cote des oppresseurs.
(Sartre, Preface to Frantz Fanon, Les Damnes
de Ia Terre, Paris: Maspero, 1961, p. 22) .
the dis-
and limitations on
_tolerance, between progressive and regreSsive
revolutio11#Y · _;tQq _.reactionary
violence demand the statement of criteria for its
These standards
ever constitutional and legal criteria are set up
·and applied in an existing s<>ciety-(such as "dear
and present danger," and other established defini-
tions of civil rights and liberties), for such defi-
nitions themselves presuppose standards of free-
dom and repression as applicable or not applica-
ble in the respective society: they are specifica-
tions of more general concepts. By whom, and
according to what standards, can the political
dist:inction between true and false, progressive
regressive (for in this sphere, these pairs are
be made and its validity be justified?
At the outset, I propose that the question cannot
be answered in terms of the alternative between
democracy and dictatorship, according to which,
in the latter, one individual or group, without
any effective control from below, arrogate to
themselves the decision. Historically, even in the
most democratic democracies, the vital and final
decisions affecting the society as a whole have
been made, constitutionally or in fact, by one or
several groups without effective control by the
people themselves. The ironical question: who
educates the educators (i.e. the political leaders)
Herbert Marcuse 105
also applies to democracy. The only authentic
alternative and negation of dictatorship (with
respect to this question) would be a society in
which "the people" have become autonomous in-
dividuals, freed from the repressive requirements
of a struggle for existence in the interest of dom-
ination, and as such human beings choosing their
government and determining their life. Such a
society does not yet exist anywhere. In the mean-
time, the question must be treated in abstracto-
abstraction, not from the historical possibilities,
but from the realities of the prevailing societies.
!.._suggested that the distinction between true
and false tolerance, between progress and regres-
can be made rationally on empirical
grounds. The real possibilities of human freedom
are relative to the attained stage of civilization.
'they depend on the material and intellectual re-
available at the respective stage, and they
are quantifiable and calculable to a high degree.
So are, at the stage of advanced industrial socie-
ty, the most rational ways of using these re-
sources and distributing the social product with
priority on the satisfaction of vital needs and
with a minimum of toil and injustice. In other
words, it is possible to define the direction in
which prevailing institutions, policies, opinions
would have to be changed in order to improve
the chance of a peace which is not identical with
cold war and a little hot war, and a satisfaction
of needs which does not feed on poverty, op-
pression, and exploitation. Consequently, it is al-
so possible to identify policies, opinions, move-
ments which would promote this chance, and
106 Repressive Tolerance
those which would do the opposite.
the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the
of the progressive ones.
The question, is qualified to make all
these distinctions, definitions, identifications for
the society as a whole, has now one logical an-
swer, namely, everyone "in the maturity of his
faculties" as a human being, everyone who has
learned to think· rationally and autonomously.
The answer to Plato's educational dictatorship
is the democratic educational dictatorship of free
men. John Stuart Mill's conception of the res
publica is not the opposite of Plato's: the liberal
too demands the authority of Reason not only
as an intellectual but also as a political power. In
Plato, rationality is confined to the small num-
ber of philosopher-kings; in Mill, every rational
human being participates in the discussion and
decision-but only as a rational being. Where so-
ciety has entered the phase of total administra-
tion and indoctrination, this would be a small
number indeed, and not necessarily that of the
elected representatives of the people. The prob-
lemis not that of an educational dictatorship, but
that of breaking the tyranny of public opinion
and its makers in the closed society.
However, granted the empirical rationality of
the distinction between progress and regression,
and granted that it may be applicable to toler-
ance, and may justify strongly discriminatory
tolerance on political grounds (cancellation of
the liberal creed of free and equal discussion),
another impossible consequence would follow. I
said that,
Herbert Marcuse 107
regressive movements, and dis-
tolerance in favor of progressive
tendencies would be tantamount to the "official"
The historical calculus
of progress (which is actually the calculus of the
prospective reduction of cruelty, misery, sup-
pression) seems to involve the calculated choice
between two forms of political violence: that on
the pan of the legally constituted powers (by
their legitimate action, or by their tacit consent,
or by their inability to prevent violence), and
that on the pan of potentially subversive move-
ments. Moreover, with respect to the latter, a
policy of unequal treatment would protect radi-
calism on the Left against that on the Right. Can
the historical calculus be reasonably extended to
the justification of one form of violence as
against another? Or better (since "justification"
carries a moral connotation), is there historical
evidence to the effect that the social origin and
impetus of violence (from among the ruled or
the ruling classes, the have or the have-nots, the
Left or the Right) is in a demonstrable relation
to progress (as defined above)?
With all the qualifications of a hypothesis
based on an "open" historical record, it seems
that the violence emanating from the rebellion of
the oppressed classes broke the historical con-
tinuum of injustice, cruelty, and silence for a
brief moment, brief but explosive enough to
achieve an increase in the scope of freedom and
justice, and a better and more equitable distri-
bution of misery and oppression in a new social
system-in on(! word: progress in civilization.
108
Repressive Tolerance
The English civil wars, the French Revolution,
the Chinese and the Cuban Revolutions may
illustrate the hypothesis. th«! one his-
torical change from one social system to another,
marking the beginning of a new period in civili-
.zation, which was not sparked and drive1.1 by an
effective movement "from below," namely, the
of the Roman Empire in the West,
b.rought about a long period of regression for
long centuries, until a new, higher period of
civllization was painfully born in the violence of
the heretic revolts of the thirteenth century and
in the peasant and laborer revolts of the four-
teenth century.
1
With respect to historical violence emanating
from among ruling classes, no such relation to
progress seems to obtain. The long series of dy-
nastic and imperialist wars, the liquidation of
Spartacus in Germany in 1919, Fascism and Na-
zism did not break but rather tightened and
streamlined the continuum of suppression. I said
emanating "from among ruling classes": to be
sure, there is hardly any organized violence from
above that does not mobilize and activate mass
suppoit from below; the decisive question is, on
_!Jehalf of and in the interest of which groups and
institutions is such violence released? And the
answer is not necessarily ex post: in the historical
examples just mentioned, it could be and was
anticipated whether the movement would serve
1
In modern times, fascism has been a consequence of
the transition to industrial society without a revolution.
See Barrington Moore's forthcoming book Social Origins
of Dictatorship and Democracy.
Herbert Marcuse 109
the revamping of the old order or the emergence
of the new.
tl:len, . mean in-
_ mpvements fxom the :Right,
and toleration of movements from the Left. As
.... . - ... ' . ' . . ....
to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance:
... it would extend to the stage of action as well
as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well
as of word. The traditional criterion of clear and
present danger seems no longer adequate to a
stage where the whole society is in the situation
of the theater audience when somebody cries:
"fire." It is a situation in which the total catastro-
phy could be triggered off any moment, not on-
ly by a technical error, but also by a rational
miscalculation of risks, or by a rash speech of
one of the leaders. In past and different circum-
stances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi
leaders were the immediate prologue to the J.llaS-
sacre. The distance between the propaganda and
the action, between the organization and its re-
lease on the people had become too short. But
the spreading of the word could have been
stopped before it was too late: if democratic
had_ been withdrawn when the future
leade!s started . their campaign, mankind would
a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a
World War.
period is one of clear
present danger. Consequently, true pacifica-
tion requires the withdrawal of tolerance before
the deed, at the stage of communication in word,
print, and picture. Such ext:r.eme .. suspension of
!he right of speech aiid free assembly is in-
110 Repressive Tolerance
the whole of society is
in extreme danger. I. maintain that our society
is in such an emergency situation, and that it has
become the normal state of affairs. Different
opinions and "philosaphies" can no longer com-
pete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on
rational grounds: the "marketplace of ideas" is
organized and delimited by those who determine
the national and the individual interest. In this
society, for which the ideologists have pro-
claimed the "end of ideology," the false con-
sciousness has become the general consciousness
-from the government down to its last objects.
The small and powerless minorities which strug-
gle against the false consciousness and its bene-
ficiaries must be helped: their continued exist-
ence is more important than the preservation of
abused rights and liberties which grant constitu-
tional powers to those who oppress these minori-
ties. It should be evident by now that the exercise
of civil rights by those who don't have them pre-
supposes the withdrawal of civil rights from
those who prevent their exercise, and that libera-
tion of the Damned of the Earth presupposes
suppression not only of their old but also of their
new masters.
Withdrawal of tolerance from regressive
"before they can become active; in-
tolerance even toward thought; opinion, and
and finally, intolerance in the opposite di-
rection, that is, toward the self-styled conserva-
tives, to the political Right-these anti-democrat-
ic notions respond to the actual development of
the democratic society which has destroyed the
Herbert Marcuse 111
basis for universal tolerance. The conditions un-
der which tolerance can again become a liberat-
ing and humanizing force have still to be created.
When tolerance __ se,r.:yes the protection
preservation pf a represi:ve .. soCiety, when it
. ..!? ..... to render
men immune against other and better fonns of
·then-- tolerance 'bas been perverted. And
when this perversion starts in the mind of the
individual, in his consciousness, his needs, when
heteronomous interests occupy him before he
can experience his servitude, then the efforts to
counteract his dehumanization must begin at the
place of entrance, there where the false con-
sciousness takes form( or rather: is systematically
formed)-it must begin with stopping the words
and images which feed this consciousness. To
be sure, this is censorship, even precensorship,
but openly directed against the more or less hid-
den censorship that permeates the free media.
Where the false consciousness has become prev-
alent in national and popular behavior, it trans-
lates itself almost immediately into practice:
the safe distance between ideology and reality,
repressive thought and repressive action, be-
tween the word of destruction and the deed of
destruction is dangerously shortened. Thus, the
break through the false consciousness may pro-
vide the Archimedean point for a larger emanci-
pation-at an infinitesimally small spot, to be
sure, but it is on the enlargement of such small
spots that the chance of change depends.
The forces of emancipation cannot be identi-
fied with any social class which, by virtue of its
112 Repressive Tolerance
material condition, is free from false conscious-
ness. Today, they are hopelessly dispersed
throughout the society, and the fighting minori-
ties and isolated groups are often in opposition
to their own leadership. In the society at large,
the mental space for denial and reflection must
first be recreated. Repulsed by the concreteness
of the administered society; the effoit ofeirian-
cipation becomes ''abstract";. it }s redticecr"f(J
recognition of what is going oii,
freeing language from the tyranny ofi:he Ot:::'
syntax and logic, to developing the con-
cepts that comprehend reality. More than ever,
the proposition holds true that progress in free-
dom demands progress in the consciousness of
freedom. Where the mind has been made into a
subject-object of politics and policies, intellectu-
al autonomy, the realm of "pure" thought has
become a matter of political education (or rath-
er: counter-education).
This means that previously neutral, value-free,
formal aspects of learning and teaching now be-
come, on their own grounds and in their own
right, political: learning to know the facts, the
whole truth, and to comprehend it is radical crit-
icism throughout, intellectual subversion. In a
world in which the human faculties and needs
are arrested or pervened, autonomous thinking
leads into a "pervened world": contradiction
and counter-image of the established world of
repression. And this contradiction is not simply
stipulated, is not simply the product of confused
thinking or phantasy, but is the logical develop-
ment of the given, the existing world. To the
Herbert Marcuse 113
degree to which this development is actually
impeded by the sheer weight of a repressive so-
ciety and the necessity of making a living in it,
repression invades the academic enterprise itself,
even prior to all restrictions on academic free-
dom. The pre-empting of the mind vitiates im-
partiality and objectivity: unless the student
learns to think in the opposite direction, he will
be inclined to place the facts into the predomi-
nant framework of values. Scholarship, i.e. the
acquisition and communication of knowledge,
prohibits the purification and isolation of facts
from the context of the whole truth. An essential
part of the latter is recognition of the frightening
extent to which history was made and recorded
by and for the victors, that is, the extent to
which history was the development of oppres-
sion. And this oppression is in the facts them-
selves which it establishes; thus they themselves
carry a negative value as part and aspect of their
facticity. To treat the great crusades against hu-
manity (like that against the Albigensians) with
the same impartiality as the desperate struggles
for humanity means neutralizing their opposite
historical function, reconciling the executioners
with their victims, distorting the record. Such
spurious neutrality serves to reproduce accept-
ance of the dominion of the victors in the con-
sciousness of man. Here, too, in the education of
those who are not yet maturely integrated, in the
mind of the young, the ground for liberating
tolerance is still to be created.
.. still another example of
abst!_a,<;t in the guise of con-
114
Repressive Tolerance
.. tmtb..:_it. is. epitomized in the con-
cept of From the permissive-
ness of all sorts of license to the child, to the con-
stant psychological concern with the personal
problems of the student, _ _ll_ movement
the evils of repress1on.··ano
for
aside is the as to what has to be re-
-pressed b.efore one ca.n .a oneself. The in-
dividual potential is first a negative one, a portion
of the potential of his society: of aggression,
guilt feeling, ignorance, resentment, cruelty
which vitiate his life instincts. If the identity of
the self is to be more than the immediate realiza-
tion of this potential (undesirable for the indi-
vidual as human being), then it requires repres-
sion and sublimation, conscious transformation.
This process involves at each stage (to use the
ridiculed terms which here reveal their succinct
concreteness) the negation of the negation,
mediation of the immediate, and identity is no
more and no less than this process. "Alienation"
a,nd essential element of' identity,
the objective side of the subject-and not, as it
is made to appear today, a disease, a psychologi-
cal condition. Freud well knew the difference·
between progressive and regressive, liberating
and destructive repression. The publicity of self-
actualization promotes the removal of the one
and the other, it promotes existence in that im-
mediacy which, in a repressive society, is (to use
another Hegelian term) bad immediacy
(schlechte Unmittelbarkeit). It isolates the indi-
vidual from the one dimension where he could
Herbert Marcuse
115
"find himself": from his political existence,
which is at the core of his entire existence. In-
stead, it encourages non-conformity and letting-
go in ways which leave the real engines of re-
pression in the society entirely intact, which
even strengthen these engines by substituting the
satisfactions of private and personal rebellion for
a more than private and personal, and therefore
more authentic, opposition. The desublimation
involved in this son of self-actualization is itself
repressive inasmuch as it weakens the necessity
and the power of the intellect, the catalytic
force of that unhappy consciousness which does
not revel in the archetypal personal release of
frustration-hopeless resurgence of the ld which
will sooner or later succumb to the omnipresent
rationality of the administered world-but which
recognizes the horror of the whole in the most
private frustration and actualizes itself in this
recognition.
I have tried to show how the changes in ad-
yanced democratic societies, which have under-
the basis of economic and political liberal-
ism, have also altered the liberal function of tol-
The tolerance which was the great
achievement of the liberal era is still professed
and (with strong qualifications) practiced, while
the economic and political process is subjected
to an ubiquitous and effective administration in
accordance with the predominant interests. The
result is an objective contradiction between the
economic and political structure on the one side,
and the theory and practice of toleration on the
other. The altered social structure tends to weak-
116 Repressive Tolerance
en the effectiveness of tolerance toward dis-
senting and oppositional movements and to
strengthen conservative and reactionary forces.
Equality of tolerance becomes abstract, spurious.
. the actual decline of dissenting forces in
the society, the opposition is insulated in small
frequer1tly groups who, even
where tolerated within the narrow limits set by
the hierarchical structure of society, are power-
less while they keep within these limits. But the
tolerance shown to them is deceptive and pro-
motes coordination. And on the finn foundations
of a coordinated society all but closed against
qualitative change, tolerance itself serves to con-
tain such change rather than to promote it.
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
ihe lib':!:fating function of tolerance becomes
only an unrealistic speculation. Indeed, such a re-
dressing seems to be tantamount to the establish-
ment of a "right of resistance" to the point of
subversion. There is not, there cannot be any
such right for any group or individual against a
constitutional government sustained by a majori-
ty of the population. But I believe that there is a
"natural right" of resistance for oppressed and
. mii1orities to use extralegal means
if the legal ones have proved to be inadequate.
'Law and order are always and everywhere the
law and order which protect the established
hierarchy; it is nonsensical to invoke the abso-
Herbert Marcuse 117
lute authority of this law and this order against
those who suffer from it and struggle against it
-not for personal advantages and revenge, but
for their share of humanity. There is no other
judge over them than the constituted authorities,
the police, and their own conscience. If they use
they do not. start a new chiiin of vio-
but try to all. one. Since
!hey will be punished, they know the risk, and
en. they are wiillng to· take it, no third person,
and least of all the educator and intellectual, has
the right to preach them abstention.
A NOTE ON THE AUTHORS
RoBERT PAuL WoLFF is a member of the
philosophy department of Columbia University
and the author of Kant's Theory of Mental
Activity.
BARRINGTON MooRE, jR. is a member of
the Russian Research Center at Harvard and the
author of Political Power and Social Theory and
other books.
HERBERT MARCUSE is a member of the
philosophy department of the University of
California. Among the books he has written are
Eros and Civilization and One-Dimensional Man.

"Beyond Tolerance" copyright © 1965 by Robert Paul Wolff "Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook" copyright © 1965 by Barrington Moore, Jr. "Repressive Tolerance" copyright© 1965 by Herbert Marcuse Library of Congress catalogue card number 65-207 88 Published simultaneously in Canada by Saunders of Toronto, Ltd. A II rights reseT'I.Jed Beacon Press books are published under the auspices of the Unitarian Universalist Association Printed in the United States of America Robert Paul Wolff gratefully acknowledges permission to reprint a passage from The Loyal and the Disloyal by Morton Grodzins, copyright © 1956 by the University of Chicago.

CONTENTS Foreword Beyond Tolerance
BY ROBERT PAUL WOLFF VII

3

Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook
BY BARRINGTON MOORE, JR.

53

Repressive Tolerance
BY HERBERT MARCUS£

81
119

A Note on the Authors

.

The author of the middle essay is a sociologist trained in a tradition that regarded all philosophy as absurd and dangerous. allergic to any emanations from the spirit of Hegel. More than modesty makes us refer to a footnote in the Critique of Pure Reason: "the 'I think' expresses the act of determining my existence. we often met and as friends passionately argued some of the issues discussed in the following pages. an authority on Kant. but also to the empirical one. where it is not nonsense. if interested in social theory and history.FOREWORD THE authors apologize for the title which they have lightly yet respectfully plagiarized. Inhabitants of the larger Cambridge academic community. an authority on Hegel. Their small book may contain some ideas that are not alien to Kant. Some time ago we agreed to set down our thoughts about tolerance and its place . The last essay is also by a philosopher. who considers the contemporary analytical tradition dangerous. and." We like to apply this sentence not as Kant did here to the transcendental subject only. That we have managed to produce a book together is in itself some small tribute to the spirit of toleration. The first essay is by a philosopher steeped in the analytical tradition.

R. we hope that readers will follow the steps in the reasoning that produced this result.Vlll Foreword in the prevailing political climate. Though we have read and pondered one another's writings. . For each of us the prevailing theory and practice of tolerance turned out on examination to be in varying degrees hypocritical masks to cover appalling political realities. and modified our own vie~s according to our respective degrees of stubbornness.M. On the other hand. from very different starting points and by very different routes. after all. The reader will have no difficulty in finding where we disagree. W. Perhaps vainly. M. There is. The tone of indignation rises sharply from essay to essay. B.P. we have not sought in any way to merge them. we arrived at just about the same destination. a sense of outrage that arises in the head as well as the heart. H.

A CRITIQUE OF PURE TOLERANCE .

.

For Plato. that the virtue of a monarchy is loyalty. and justice are excellences of the soul which enable a man to do well what he is meant to do.BEYOND TOLERANCE BY ROBERT PAUL WOLFF virtue of a thing.." and so the virtue of the Platonic utopia is justice. Plato tells us ill t_he Republic. so too we may say that each fonn of political society has an ideal condition. we might say. temperance. courage. the virtue of a racehorse its fleetness of foot. to live. Extending this notion. for the state is gathered into the person of the king. viz. As each artifact or living creature has its characteristic virtue. The ··v-Irtiie of a knife is its sharpness._ which e_na6Ies it to perfonn its proper function well.o_Q. So too the cardinal virtues of wisdom. in which its guiding principle is fully realized. is that state o~ con_d~_tj. and the society is bound together by each subject's personal duty to him. for example. The virtue of a ruE . the good society is an aristoZ:racy of merit in which the wise and good rule those who are inferior in talents and accomplishment. The proper distribution of functions and authority is called by Plato "justice.

and try to exhibit the theory of democratic pluralism as the product of a union of opposed conceptions of society and human nature. make it ultimately indefensible in the contemporary age. Finally. My purpose in this essay is to understand the philosophy of tolerance as well as to subject it to criticism. I have therefore devoted the first section entirely to an exposition of the concept as it is related to the theory of pluralism. I have adopted it because I see pluralism not as a thoroughly . In the second section.P. in my opinion. if we wish to understand tolerance as a political virtue. Political tolerance is that state of mind and condition of. that of a bureaucratic dictatorship is efficiency. we must study it not through a psychological or moral investigation of prejudice. the virtue of the modern pluralist democracy which has emerged in contemporary America is TOLERANCE. but by means of an analysis of the theory and practice of democratic pluralism. The ideal nationalist democracy exhibits the virtue of patriotism. The virtue of traditional liberal democracy is equality.elland to. For that reason. Only in the final section is the theory subjected to the criticisms which.4 Beyond Tolerance military dictatorship is honor. I explore several possible arguments for tolerance.l\l~alist_de~oc.S"Q~!~iy~~hl«:~_:_~n­ ables a_.:ra~y tofunction w. while the virtue of a socialist democracy is fraternity. reali~e _the ideal of plural~SJ!l. which is distinguished from loyalty by having the state itself as its object rather than the king. This may at first seem a needlessly roundabout way of proceeding.

Both forms of the theory grew out of nineteenth century attacks on the methodological individualism of the classical liberal tradition. . Like most political theories. political society is (or ought to be-liberalism is similarly ambiguous) an association of self-determining individuals who concert their wills and collect their power in the state for mutually self-interested ends. the present essay urges that we transcend tolerance. it purports to tell how modern industrial democracy-and particularly American democracy-really works. and as Hegel reminds us.. As a. Its commands are legitimated by a democratic process of decision and control. but rather as a theory which played a valuable role during one stage in America's development and which has now lost its value either as description or prescription. .Robert Paul Wolff 5 mistaken theory.iJ. The theory focuses exclusively on the relationship between the individual citizen and the sovereign state. Associa- . The state is the locus of supreme power and authority in the community. democratic pluralism has both descriptive and prescriptive variants./ .· prescription. which ensures-when it functions properly-that the subject has a hand in making the laws to which he submits. In that sense. the process of transcendence is as much an incorporation as it is a rejection. . As a description. it sketches an ideal picture of industrial democracy as it could and should be. -' ·' According to that tradition.

the state was to con- . the second was the growth of an elaborate industrial system in the private sphere of society. taken as an aggregate of unaffiliated individuals. composed of smaller groupings of those same individuals but authorized by the will of the state. others argue for active state intervention. which gave rise to a new "pluralistic" structure within the political framework of representative government. Some liberal philosophers counsel a minimum of state interference with private associations." as Rousseau desired. Whether in the form of "direct democracy. to the state. In either case. or by means of the representative mechanism described by Locke. The progressively greater divergence of fact from theory could be traced to two features of the new order. it was very quickly recognized to be inadequate as a portrait of the industrial democracy which emerged in the nineteenth century. non-governmental bodies are relegated to a subsidiary place in the theory of the state. Whatever the virtues of classical liberalism as a theory of the ideal political community. The line of dependence is traced from the people. to the private associations. Traditional democratic theory presupposed an immediate and evident relation between the individual citizen and the government. The first was the effective political enfranchisement of the entire adult populations of the great nation-states.6 Beyond Tolerance tions other than the state are viewed as secondary in importance and dependent for their existence on the pleasure of the state. conceived as the embodiment and representative of their collective will.

the classical picture of a market economy composed of many small. complex institutional arrangements became necessary in order to transmit the "will of the people" to the elected governors. Permanent. atomized labor supply. It became necessary to recognize that. Individuals entered the marketplace and came in contact with one another through their associations in groups of some sort. With the emergence of mass politics. and their relevance to his interests easily understood. As labor unions and trade associations were organized. finding expression in the utopian communities which sprang up in Europe and America throughout the nineteenth century. The ideal of a small. however. The issues debated in the legislature would be comprehensible to every educated subject. the individual's relation to the state . through the medium of laws governing the behavior of those groups. great industrial corporations appeared in the economic world and began to take the place of the old family firms. however.Robert Paul Wolff 7 front the citizen directly as both servant and master. autonomous political society retained its appeal. it suffered from the greatest possible failing-irrelevance. At the same time. both politically and economically. became less and less useful as a guide to economic reality. all hope of this immediacy and comprehensibility was irrevocably lost. self-governing. As a standard by which to judge the great industrial democracies of the new era. independent firms and a large. The state in its turn brought its authority to bear on the individual only indirectly.

The structure of the union was designed to balance these interests. The natural ties of tradition and emotion binding each citizen to his native colony were reinforced by a division of powers which left many of the functions of sovereign authority to the several states. in importance as well as in time. The size and industrial organization alone of the modern state destroy any possibility of classical liberal democracy. The United States. t~ree . for the intermediating bureaucratic organizations are necessary whether the economy is private and capitalist or public and socialist in structure. as the eighteenth century debates over unification reveal. The . From the birth of the nation. The first factor. slave-holding versus free labor. and even in theory. the constitution took form as a series of compromises among competing interests-large states versus small. giving each a voice but none command. agriculture versus commerce.8 Beyond Tolerance was mediated by a system of "middle-size" institutional associations. In addition. was an association of political communities rather than of individuals. interposed itself between the individual and the supreme power of the state. a hierarchy of local governments. is the federal structure of the American system. as its name implied. Furthermore.factors historically more specific to the American experience have combined to produc~ the characteristic form which we call pluralism. formerly sovereign and autonomous. however. indirect and mediated by intervening bodies. Hence the relation of the individual to the federal government was from the beginning.

rather than as an isolated agent. By implication. an individual entered the political arena principally as a member of one of those groups. It seems that whereas some peoples turn to God when a problem looms on the social horizon. this federal structure embedded itself in countless judicial and executive bodies. elect a president and secretary-treasurer. it evokes images of the prairie or a New England town meeting. Americans instinctively form a committee. As the volume of government activity grew throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. the government made demands upon the individual and responded to his needs. the regulation of commerce. rather . This phenomenon was made much of by Tocqueville and has since been portrayed by students of American 'politics as our peculiar contribution to the repertory of democratic techniques. and others turn to the state. A second factor which has shaped the character of American democracy is our oft-chronicled eenchant for dealing with social problems by means of voluntary associations. it is impossible to understand the organization of education. and set about finding a solution on their own. through the intercession of local authorities. or the precise allocation of responsibility for law enforcement without acknowledging the historically special relationship of the states to the federal government. The picture is idealized and more than a trifle self-congratulatory. In America today.Robert Ptml Wolff 9 conception of politics as a conflict of more or less permanent groups was thus introduced into the foundation of our government. Conversely.

Nevertheless. needs which in other countries would be attended to by the state. The burdens of primary and secondary education are borne jointly by local governments and private institutions. art. higher education is dominated by the great private universities and colleges with state institutions of any sort only recently playing a significant role. we must first observe that while some groups perform their function and achieve their goal directly. In order to clarify the relationship between the government and this network of private associations. for example. religion. is entirely a non-governmental matter because of the prohibition of an established church. agriculture. most associations of the first sort engage in political lobbying as well. In addition to industry. it is a fact that a remarkable variety of social needs are met in America by private and voluntary institutions. Nevertheless. the distinction is useful. The subsidy and encouragement of the arts and letters has been managed by the great charitable foundations. Religion. the natural sciences found their home solely in the laboratories of universities and private industry. for it enables us to . others are organized as pressure groups to influence the national (or local) gov:eliUilent and thus achieve their end indirectly. and until the advent of military research and development.10 Beyond Tolerance than a dirty industrial slum. countless other dimensions of social activity have been organized on the basis of voluntary. Needless to say. non-governmental associations. and science. education.

<. The first. agri- . The laws issuing from the government are shaped by the manifold forces brought to bear upon the legislators. combining them-or "resolving" them.Robert Paul Wolff i~entify ili~.. The most obvious instance is in the economic sphere. and even among the arts. asserts that the role of the central government is to lay down ground rules for conflict and competition among private associations and to employ its power to make sure that no major interest in the nation abuses its influence or gains an unchecked mastery over some sector of social life. between private and public forms of education. as the physi~ts say-into a single social decision.relationship 11 the two principal "pluralist" theories. there is a corresponding alteration in the composition and activity of the great interest groups-labor. As the strength and direction of private interests alters. The second theory might be called the "vector-sum" or "give-and-take" theory of government. or "referee" theory.:ongress is seen as the focal point for ~he pressures . either by way of the two great parties or directly through lobbies.9f between group and government. where firms compete for markets and labor competes with capital. and the entertainment world for the attention and interest of the people. But according to the theory a similar competition takes place among the various religions. which are exerted by interest groups throughout the nation. sports. Ideally! congress merdy r~flects these forces. among different geographic regions. big business.

Eventually. The ethnic diversity brought about by the great immigrations of the nineteenth century produced a comparable effect in American life. until even the descendants . and racial hete. the deliberate prohibition of an established church made it necessary to acknowledge a diversity of religious communities within the nation. as eventually occurred in England. Chinatowns. political society became in a sense a community of communities. Polish ghettos. then into many. or interestgroup politics in fostering the ideology of pluralism has been the impact on the American_CQP.12 Beyond Tolerance culture. The Reformation split Europe first into two.~iousness of religious. the great weathervane of government swings about to meet the shifting winds of opinion. grew and flourished. Where some compromise could be achieved among the several sects. and then even to the jews. Many of the original colonies were religiously orthodox communities. Slowly. J\1ore important than federalism. warring camps. Little Italics. America became a nation of minorities. ethnic. In the United States. this acceptance of heterogeneity was extended to the Roman Catholic community.ro. deliberately created in order to achieve an internal purity which was unattainable in the hostile political climate of England. The big cities especially came to be seen as agglomerations of national enclaves. and it was quite natural to view the nation as an association of religious communities rather than of individuals.geneity. German communities.

men's clubs. trade union branches. holy days. There they acted first as spokesmen for their own kind. city. folk societies. ritualswere kept up. businessmen's associations. in which the religious practices of the old country-special saints. and later as statesmen capable of acknowledging the greater public good. or Jewish politicians ascended the ladder of elective office. or county level. The decentralized. they encountered the larger. . multi-ethnic and multi-religious community. using the unified mass of their voting populations as a weight to be thrown on the political scales. where only a rudimentary organization and political knowledge was necessary. all based on the ethnic or religious unity of the local community. The typical "hyphenated" community (ItalianAmerican. The first matters of social importance which impinged on the consciousness of the group were. As Italian. The ethnic and religious communities in American society encountered one another through the pluralistic mechanisms of politics and private associations which already existed.Robert Paul Wolff 13 of the original settlers acquired an identifying acronym. of a sort that could be decided at the level of city government. There were newspapers in the mother tongue. etc. The religious and ethnic groups entered the political system at the precinct. Irish.) had its own churches. WASP. typically. hierarchical federal structure of American government was perfectly suited to ethnic politics. Polish. Polish-American.

racial. it is also an ideal model of the way political society ought to be a . Protestants. and Jews. !!!this way. Individual citizens confront the . ell!!". whose members pursue their diverse interests through the medium of private associations. ing~~~. or ~!aterather than as a subject simpliciter. according to this account. and economic groups.ast_~-~~lassical ~emocracy of the liberal model. which in tum are coordinated. in which the in4Ivi(hial played political role solely as~ member •of a guild! inc:orpo_rated town. encouraged. regional. we have a portrait of pluralist democracy. religious.E curiously like feudal society. regulated.ne vote" but rather. America. contained._~. is a complex interlocking of ethnic. so in pluralist democracy. As in medieval political society." In modem America. ~e guiding principle is not "one man<:>. "every legitimate group its ~h:ue.14 · Beyond Tolermce 1 If we draw together all these descriptive frag- ments.. ~h!Jrch. and guided by a federal system of representative democracy.~!ist_democracy ~tands jn contr. it is taken for granted that a rough equality should be maintained between labor and business or among Catholics. with particular applicability to the United States.:enteal government and one another as well through the intermediation of the voluntary and involl_~ntary groups to which they belong. The fact that "labor" constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population or that there are ten times as many Catholics as Jews is rarely seen as a reason for allotting influence in those proportions. Pluralism is a theory of the way modem industrial democracies work.

}l_iSI11 reqy.ires _ empi_ri<:. The earliest argument. As:l_de~criptive .traditional representative democracy. however. In this view. theory. a~se.aJ \Terific. The second argument for pluralism presentsit as a morally neutral means for pursuing politic. _!!_l__the_!li~£_~ry Q_f the discussion of pluralism three distinct sorts gf justification have been offered.Robert Paul Wolff 15 organized. intolerance of heresy even a duty in principle. The political order is just and the people are free to the extent that each individual plays a significant and not simply symbolic role in the political process of decision. of the sort which hosts of political scientists have sought to provide in recent decades. It is now an historical commonplace that the great Anglo-American tradition of religious liberty can be traced to just such a grudging ak. Orthodoxy on this view is the ideal condition. the ideal of democracy is a citizen-state.G~ptance of de facto heterodoxy and not to early Protestant devotion to the freedom of individual conscience.rts _ gent religious practices is a necessary evil. Nonconformists and th~t the toleration of diverAnglicans. plur. pluralism must be defended by appeal to some principle of virtue or ideal of the good society. dating from the pre-i industrial period of religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. . whether in fact it is or not. in which each man both makes the laws and submits to them.:al ends which cannot be achieved through. But for all the rea- .ItiQn. As a nonnative the~ry. forced -~~n asociety which either cannot suppress dis~dence or_ else finds the social cost of suppres~ion too high.

religious or ethnic associations-in the union local. which is repugnant to free men and incompatible with the ideal of democracy. ~ake up the social order. Even the periodic election becomes a ritual in which voters select a president whom they have not nominated to decide issues which have not even been discussed on the basis of facts which cannot be published.. Immediacy. through pressure upon the elected representatives. the chapter of the American Legion. whether by democratic means or not. The government confronts not a mass of indistinguishable and ineffectual private citizens. somet~in_g apE_!~~j­ mating democracy takes place. involvement.h!£. genuine self-government is impossible in a large industrial society organized along classic democratic lines. Pluralism is offered as the answer. effectiveness.!?. and so some other way than elections must be found to submit the rulers to the will of the ruled. and thus democratic participation are assured to the individual in his economic. the church.16 Beyond Tolerance sons catalogued above. of image. of faith. The result is a politics of style. The gulf is so broad between the rulers and the ruled that active citizen participation in the affairs of government evaporates. in turn. These groups. Fithin the interest groups w. but an articulated system of organized groups. Control over legislation and national policy is in turn assured . can make felt the will of their members and work out the compromises with opposed interests which would have been accomplished by debate and deliberation in a classical democracy. But decisions will be taken.

The last defense goes far beyond these in its enthusiasm for pluralism. and to each will go a measure of satisfaction roughly proportional to its size and intensity. for each interested party can know that through participation in voluntary. private associations. is a middleman in the power transactions of the society. who have suffered different compositions of pressures and hence are seeking different adjustments of the competing social interests. strikes a balance among them on the basis of their relative voting strength. If all goes well. the citizen is a free man since he is at least partially the author of the laws to which he submits. The democratic ideal of citizen-politics is preserved. The politician. The argument begins from an insight into the . The first defense of pluralism views it as a distasteful but unavoidable evil. the second portrays it as a useful means for preserving some measure of democracy under the unpromising conditions of mass industrial society. he has made his wishes felt to some small degree in the decisions of his government.Robert Paul Wolff 17 to the associations through their ability to deliver votes to the legislator in an election. it holds that a pluralistic society is natural and good and an end to be sought in itself. To paraphrase Rousseau. and then goes onto the floor of the Congress to work out legislative compromises with his colleagues. according to this defense of pluralism. He absorbs the pressures brought to bear upon him by his organized constituents. every significant interest abroad in the nation will find expression.

18 Beyond Tolerance relationship between personality and society. is dependent upon th~.jal _ _group of which it is a significant member. children. the individual is exactly nothing-he has no organized core of personality into which his culture . Put simply. old men.--~g_c. without language. all are primarily imitative in origin. a spell from which we must be awakened. knowledge. As the infant is reared.­ ality. or even the ability to love and hate as other men do. Throughout life. Without that inheritance. how he responds to pain or pleasure. Those philosophers are therefore deeply mistaken who suppose that the social inheritance is a burden to be cast off. structure. the internal psychic economy of his hopes and fears and deepest desires. indispensably so. formative. The way he speaks and carries his body. the pattern of his behavior toward women. _t:he idea is that the hu111an p~~g." willing to submit even to death rather than violate the mores he has learned. the capacity to reason. The standards and judgment of his society echo within him as guilt or shame. The child who grows to manhood outside a social group becomes an animal. the individual seeks approval from his "significant others.n~in­ ~~. and ~o.~· func_tioning. and in so doing he irrevocably shapes himself in their image. supportive-indeed. A boy becomes a man by imitating the men around him. . in its development. The influence of society upon the individual is primarily positive. he internalizes the behavior patterns and evaluative attitudes of that immediate circle of adults whom the sociologists call his primary group.

they are the means throu~h which citizens are brought to participate m civic affairs and national ceremony.. A fusion of group foyalty with political obligation is possible only when the primary group is identical with the total society-in short. Since man is by nature an animal that lives in a group. Morton Grodzins summarizes this theory of "multiple loyalties" in his book. at least. The most thorough radical is the merest reflection of the society against which he rebels. beneficially. The Loyal and the Disloyal: The non-national groups. Where population groups believe- . bound up with the social groups in which we locate ourselves and live out our lives. independent role in the transference of allegiance to the nation.· it. For if the dictates of government are enforced by the sanctions of the smaller groups.. the smaller ~roups in tum establish the governmental policies they enforce. So we are all naturally. For one thing. large and small. In theory.. This is one hallmark of democracy: populations effectuating the policies they determine. only in a utopian community like New Lanark or an Israeli kibbutz. is folly to set before ourselves as a political ideal a state whose members owe their 5'?le_ al~_(!gi~nce to the state. play a crucial. the chain is an endless one. In a l:Kge society. irremediably. loyalty to the state must be built upon loyalty to a multiplicity of intrasocial groups in which men can find the face-toface contacts which sustain their personalities and reinforce their value-attitudes.Robert Paul Wolff 19 has not penetrated.

in short. the nation. the very existence of the nation is at stake. 65-67) To each defense of pluralism. there corresponds a defense of tolerance. So it is that loyalties to smaller groups supply the guts of national endeavor. ~lerance is the live-an~­ let-live moderation of the marketplace. so too modern Russia countenances Titoism in eastern European territories which it can no longer completely control.. act for the nation in response to the smaller groups with which they identify themselves. To the champion of pluralism as an instrument of democracy.20 Beyond Tolerance or understand-this dual role. The larger group. may or may not agree with it.. Individuals. as during war. their patriotic performance is all the stronger. His loyalty to smaller groups insures his doing it.. So it is that mothers tearfully send their unwilling sons to war. urged by the voices of reason against the passion of intolerant faith. Economic competition is a form of human struggle . Except in rare cases. need only establish the goaL The citizen may or may not participate in this goal definition. even when that endeavor has no meaning to the individual concerned. (pp. They perforce must support its causes. he will nevertheless supply the force through which its achievement is attempted. especially when. tolerance of diversity is a necessary evil. Such tolerance is not a virtue-a strength of the body politic-but a desperate remedy for a sickness which threatens to be fatal. So the politiques of France avoided a mortal civil war by the Edict of Nantes. In the would-be orthodox society.

if my own claims are unjust. . into unconditional warfare in the other. the relationship degenerates into cooperation in one case. I can press them only out of unwarranted self-interest. A tension exists between implacable opposition on the one hand and mutual acceptance on the other.Robert Paul Wolff 21 (medieval warfare was another) in which each combatant simultaneously acknowledges the legitimacy of his opponent's demands and yet gives no quarter in the battle. Tolerance in a society of competing interest groups is precisely the ungrudging acknowledgment of the right of opposed interests to exist and be pursued. This economic conception of tolerance goes quite naturally with the view of human action as motivated by interests rather than principles or norms. The capacity to accept competing claims as legitimate is the necessary pre-condition of compromise.) Tolerance plays an even more important role in the third defense of pluralism. Insofar as I view my opponents as morally wrong. the one based upon a group theory of society and personality. The genius of American politics is its ability to treat even matters of principle as though they were conflicts of interest. It is much easier to accept a compromise between competing interests-particularly when they are expressible in terms of a numerical scale like money-than between opposed principles which purport to be objectively valid. compromise becomes appeasement. If either is lost. (It has been remarked that the genius of French politics is its ability to treat even conflicts of interest as matters of principle.

of course. is the message of the humanist.ind~~d. We are all brothers under the skin. faceless member of the lonely crowd. religious. !ll~ unaffiliated. the face-toface confirmation of expectations and values." the more coldly will he say "they. in order to be strong. a willing a-~~~~!l_se. But the danger of dissolving parochial loyalties is that without them man cannot live. or economic groups.the. e_ncou~~g-~­ men~! <_:)f prim:~.. is to loosen the ties which bind . a multiplicity of groups is essential to the healthy development of the individual. In the jargon of the sociologists.. The alternative to the indiscriminate levelling of differences in a universal brotherhood is tolerance.~'. If men can be brought to believe that it is positively good for . which means the ways in which we are alike matter more than the ways in which we are unlike. intolerance.22 Beyond Tolerance In a large society. ~':ldividual to his ethnic.. The more warmly a man says "we. which is to say. out-group hostility is the natural accompaniment of in-group loyalty. then it is disastrous to weaken the primary ties even in the name of brotherhood. but there is a danger in the emotional commitment which one must make to his primary group. One solution to the problem of intolerance. If the personality needs thereinforcement of immediate response. To do so is to court the evils of "mass maJ!.ry group diversity." Out of the individual strength which each draws from his group will come the social weakness of parochial hatred. and if-as this theory claimsno man can truly take a whole nation as his primary group.

As we have seen. there are two distinct theories of pluralism. II Thus far. ~hether.~~~~.. but tolerance is the state of mind which enables it to perform ~_!s function well. !_want now to raise the more difficult question. The first. tolerance is truly the virtue of a pluralist democracy. the first emerging from traditional liberal gemocr~~ic. many races. tolerance is equated with the acceptance of individual idiosyncrasy and interpersonal conflict. pluralism and tolerance in any of their fu. tolerance is interpreted as the celebration of primary group diversity.ociety ~~d no~ simply useful analytical models for d~­ scribing contemporary America. exhibiting its place in the theory of democratic pluralism. Hence. in the second instance. then the healthy consequences of pluralism can be preserved without the sickness of prejudice and civil strife. To draw once again on Plato's way of talking. In the first instance.:l_l_ ~nalysis of the group basis of personality and culture. t~eory and the second from a social£syc~~l()gil::. on the group theory of society.kfensible ideals of democratic s. I have simply been expounding the concept of tolerance.Robert Paul Wolff 23 society to contain many faiths. or instrumental. many styles of living.hich a modern industrial democracy must possess to function at all. pluralism is the '=ondi~ion 'v. theory of pluralism is dependent for its justification on the earlier .r:~_c. With each is associated a different notion of tolerance.

. . only with their free. In his famous and influential essay On Liberty. and not simply its effectiveness as a means for realizing them. He writes: There is a sphere of action in which society. only an indirect interest: comprehending all that portion of a person's life and conduct which affects only himself or.. Mill undertakes to distinguish between the private and public realms of action. If we wish to evaluate its fundamental principles. or theological. the principle requires . absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects. Mill portrays the individual Englishman in much the way that the tradition of English law portrays his home-as a sanctuary within which he may think as he wishes and act as he chooses. demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense. In a classic statement of the liberal conception of the individual. This. as distinguished from the individual. if any. Secondly. we must go back to the doctrine of individualism and liberty. It comprises. scientific. and undeceived consent and participation.. voluntary. practical or speculative. so long as his thoughts and actions do not invade the sanctuaries of his fellow citizens. Mill defends the sanctity of the individual against what he sees as the unjustified interferences of society and the state... first. then. liberty of thought and feeling. has. is the appropriate region of human liberty.24 Beyond Tolerance liberal philosophy from which it derives. therefore. if it also affects others. moral. as expressed for example by John Stuart Mill. and consider whether it can be defended as an ideal of political society. the inward domain of consciousness.

For Mill and the classical libertarian philosophy. which fall outside this privileged inner sanctuary. of doing as we like. society has a right to interfere with the individual only for the purpose of advancing the welfare of the society as a whole. if others wear them). A man may choose to wear strange clothes. of combination among individuals. of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character. subject to such consequences as may follow. within the same limits. either by legal or by informal so- . deviate from the sexual norms of his community. so long as what we do does not harm them. grow a beard (or shave one off. conditional upon the existence of a utilitarian justification. That is to say. society has no right at all of interference. tolerance is the readiness to respect the inviolability of the private sphere of the individual's existence. practice unfamiliar religions. even though they should think our conduct foolish. then. it still has only the possibility of such a right. Thirdly. or in any other way reject the tastes and habits of society. from this libeny of each individual follows the libeny.Robert Paul Wolff 25 libeny of taste and pursuits. or wrong. within the public sector. The liberal philosophy demands that society 'refrain from interfering with his practices. freedom to unite for any purpose not involving harm to others: the persons combining being supposed to be of full age and not forced or deceived. without impediment from our fellow creatures. within the private sector. perverse. Mill goes on to argue that even in the sphere of public-regarding actions.

in the common public sphere society imposes a rule of equity upon its members. society has no right at all to interfere with the individual's pursuit. What thus begins as a grudging acceptance of idiosyncrasy may hopefully flourish as the encouragement of individuality and the positive enjoyment of diversity. Where the market fails. Quite to the contrary. The size. If we try to imagine a society in which the ideal of liberal tolerance is achieved in practice. and density of population all cooperate to create a congenial setting for an attitude of easy . cosmopolitan. society itself. fragmentation of social groupings. what springs to mind is a large. is a marketplace or battleground in which each individual pursues his private goals to the greatest extent compatible with the analogous pursuits by others. as the intersection of the public spheres of all the individuals who make it up. In his public or other-regarding actions. the individual is of course held accountable by Mill. or in the case of noneconomic matters. The only difference is that whereas in the private sector. industrial city. the state will step in and legislate the necessary regulation. speed of movement. such as London or New York or Paris. it will automatically achieve the mutual restrictions and limitations which justice and liberty require. because his actions have no influence upon the lives of others.26 Beyond Tolerance cial sanctions. functional differentiation. but it does not follow that he must completely bury his personal interests in the interest of society. Insofar as the mechanism of the marketplace functions efficiently.

Robert Paul Wolff

27

tolerance toward diversity of beliefs and practices. It is a commonplace that in the anonymity of the big city one can more easily assemble the precise combination of tastes, habits, and beliefs which satisfy one's personal desires and then find a circle of friends with whom to share them. In the small town or suburb it is impossible to escape from the sort of social interference in private affairs which Mill condemned. But mere size is not sufficient; the true liberation of the individual requires that the city be diverse as well. So t~~_philos_ophy of tolerance, as expound_e.~J>y_Iiberalism, leads naturally to an active en~«?.uragement of cultural, religious, social. ..and political variety in an urban setting. Like all political philosophies, the liberal theory of the state bases itself upon a conception of human nature. In its most primitive formand it is thus that a philosophy often reveals itself best-liberalism views man as a rationally calculating maximizer of pleasure and minimizer of pain. The term "good," says Bentham, means "pleasant," and the term "bad" means "painful." In all our actions, we seek the first and avoid the second. Rationality thus reduces to a calculating prudence; its highest point is reached when we deliberately shun the present pleasure for fear of the future pain. It is of course a commonplace that this bookkeeping attitude toward sensation is the direct reflection of the bourgeois merchant's attitude toward profit and loss. Equally important, however, is the implication of the theory for the relations between one man and another. If the simple psychological egoism of lib-

28

Beyond Tolerance

era] theory is correct, then each individual must view others as mere instruments in the pursuit of his private ends. As I formulate my desires and weigh the most prudent means for satisfying them, I discover that the actions of other persons, bent upon similar lonely quests, may affect the outcome of my enterprise. In some cases, they threaten me; in others, the possibility exists of a mutually beneficial cooperation. I adjust my plans accordingly, perhaps even entering into quite intricate and enduring alliances with other individuals. But always I seek my own pleasure (or happiness-the shift from one to the other is not of very great significance in liberal theory, although Mill makes much of it). For me, other persons are obstacles to be overcome or resources to be exploited-always means, that is to say, and never ends in themselves. To speak fancifully, it is as though society were an enclosed space in which float a number of spherical balloons filled with an expanding gas. Each balloon increases in size until its surface meets the surface of the other balloons; then it stops growing and adjusts to its surroundings. Justice in such a society could only mean the protection of each balloon's interior (Mill's private sphere) and the equal apportionment of space to all. What took place within an individual would be no business of the others. In the more sophisticated versions of liberal philosophy, the crude picture of man as a pleasure maximizer is softened somewhat. Mill recognizes that men may pursue higher ends than pleasure, at least as that feeling or sensation is

Robert Paul W oltf

29

usually understood, and he even recognizes the possibility of altruistic or other-regarding feelings of sympathy and compassion. Nevertheless, society continues to be viewed as a system of independent centers of consciousness, each pursuing its own gratification and confronting the others as beings standing-over-against the self, which is to say, as objects. The condition of the individual in such a state of affairs is what a different tradition of social philosophy would call "alienation." Dialectically opposed to the liberal philosophy and speaking for the values of an earlier, pre1iidl1strial, age is the conservative philosophy of ~9"mmunity. The involvement of each with all, \.Vhich to Mill was a threat and an impositi9n, is to such critics of liberalism as Burke or Durkhei~ a strength and an opportunity. It is inde~d the greatest virtue of society, which supports and enfolds the individual in a warm, affective community stretching backwards and forwards in time and bearing within itself the accumulated wisdom and values of generations of human experience. The fundamental insight of the conservative philosophy is that man is by nature a social beTJI· This is not simply to say that he is gregarious, that he enjoys the company of his fellows, although that is true of man, as it is also of monkeys and otters. Rather, man is social in the sense ~hat his essence, his true being, lies in his involve~~f1t_i_l). __<! }:lutpan_ community. Aristotle, in the opening pages of the Politics, says that man is by nature a being intended to live in a political

either lower or higher than other men-that is. liberalism has made the mistake of supposing that man is no more than a combination of the bestial and the angelic. he says. But.30 Beyond Tolerance community. by choice. man has a mode of existence peculiar to his species. Aristotle tells us. T-~~ ~on_serv:1tive figure whose W()rk contrasts !JlOSt sharply with Mill's is. based on the specifically human faculty for communication. That mode of existence is society. but they do not make a man. Prudence and passion combine to make a rational pleasure calculator. which is a human community bound together by rational discourse and shared values. with one of two sorts of conditions. both of which are parts of what Mill calls "liberty. Those men who. In a sense. In a seminal study of social integration entitled Suicide. and he is like the angels in respect of his reason. the French sociologist Emile Durkheim. Now man is like the animals in respect of his bodily desires. either animals or angels. live outside such a community are." The loosening of the constraints of traditional and group values creates in some individuals a condition of lawless- . From such an assumption it follows naturally that man. like both beasts and angels. Durkheim discovered that proneness to suicide was associated. is essentially a lonely creature. Durkheim undenook to expose the foundations of the individual's involvement with his society by examining the conditions under which that involvement bro~e down in the most dramatic way. therefore. the passionate and the rational. in contemporary western society.

When this lack of internal limitation saps the strength and organization of the personality beyond bearable limits. The infinitude of the objective universe is unconstrained for the individual within social or subjective limits. or anonymity in a mass.Robert Paul Wolff 31 ness. it finds itself drawn into an endless and frustrating pursuit of pleasure. The only hope is for men to huddle together and collectively create the warm world of meaning and coherence which impersonal nature cannot offer.nomie.mdition as inherently tragic. suicide is liable to result. or lack of law." which also leads in extreme cases to suicide. Freedom from the constraint of traditional and ~~iues:-brlngs . Since there is no intrinsic limit to the quantity of satisfaction which the self can seek. according to Durkheim. The individual is launched upon an infinite expanse.of limits and !he abyss_ of a. loss of a sense of identity. an absence of limits on desire and ambition. Durkheim sees the human c«." as originally defined by Durkheim. Durkheim labels this form of suicide "anomie" in order to indicate the lawlessness which causes it.with it a loss . does not mean loneliness.) Freedom from the constricting bonds of an intimate social involvement brings with it a second form of psychic derangement. and the self is simply dissipated in the vacuum which it strives to fill. It means quite precisely a-nomie. called by Durkheim "egoism. Each of us sees himself reflected in . condemned to seek a security which must always pass away in death and to project meaning into a valueless void. (Note that the term "anomie.

"Even death is good if you are in the mir. and invaders-and enjoying themselves in their own rough ways. Erikson writes: At the beginning there is the Russian trinity: empty plains.32 Beyond Tolerance the other selves of his society. and of the saying." A thousand years ago the Vikings called the Russians 'the people of the stockades' because they had found them huddling together in their compact towns. therefore-the rate of suicide rises. Thus Protestant communities exhibit . Volga." in Mill's sense. thus surviving winters. Erikson is portraying the traditional Russian peasant community ~s it appears in the opening scenes of a moving picture of Maxim Gorky's youth. as if they were saying. "You are not alone. Erik Erikson captures this sense of the besieged community in his discussion of the Russian character. The vast horizons of central Russia reveal their vast emptinesses. we are all here. 318) Durkheim marshalls statistics to show that where the intensity of the collective life of a community diminishes-as their "freedom. (p. One is reminded of the fact that 'mir'. increases. and together we manage to forget for a time the reality beyond the walls. gay community thus are the initial theme. also means world." Somewhere along the Volga broad river boats deliver bundled-up people into isolated villages and crowded towns. the word for village. beasts. balalaika. in Childhood and Society. and immediately balalaika tunes rise to compassionate crescendos. The vastness of the land and the refuge of the small.

_So far from being superfluous ~-~_!:raints '\Vhich thwart the free development . though more often than not the inexorable advance of industrialism provoked in them an extreme pessimism.~L~~e self. Needless to say. for although knowledge in itself is not harmful to the human personality.. . T .. the dark vision of Durkheim was not shared by all of the conservative critics of liberal society. the independence of group norms and isolation which higher education carries with it quite definitely is inimical. ..st . there still lived a hope that the traditional society of the preceding age could be preserved.. education is "positively" correlated with suicide.. One might almost see in the varying suicide rates a warning which society issues to those of its number who foolishly venture through the walls of the town into the limitless and lonely wastes beyond. So we find Burke singing the praises of the continuing community of values and institutions which was England and damning the French revolution as an anarchic and . social norms protect us from the dan~ers of anomie. that the very liberty and individuality which Mill celebrates are deadly threats to the integrity and health of the personality.. It seems.Robert Paul Wolff 33 higher rates than Catholic communities. which in turn surpass the inward-turning Jewish communities. and that invasive intimacy of ·····-. So too. if Durkheim is correct.. ~~c!I with each which Mill felt as suffocating js actually our principal protection agaip.e sm~l~~~t!?Y:ing evil of isolation.tl}. In those who wrote early in the century or even at the close of the eighteenth century.

external. threats.W i!s advance as inevitable or as reversible. we might say. evoking the images of traditional society. So.~ percepti~e_ among them recog11i~ed i1. the adult ventures forth to explore life.1jts ~_spc~nisaJ ~f_ tolerance the principal threat t9 Jhe ~~aditional society of shared vah1es and coqunQ:~al integration. The very essence of social constraint is that one feels it as objective.34 Beyond Tolerance destructive deviation which could hopefully be corrected. "'\Y_lJ. his conservative opponents seem to be telling us. Mill assures us in a number of passages that his principles of individual liberty are not meant to apply to children. those constraints become no more than suggestions-or. and hence genuinely a ymit beyond which one's desires may not extend. The recurrent use of familial metaphors in the description of social institutions expresses the dependent relationship which all men bear to their human community. But the individual is not capable of the self-regulation which Mill's doctrine of liberty presupposes. t!\e ~?C. when backed by force. who of course are not yet ready to assume the burden of freedom. is that men are the children of their societies throughout their lives. What he fails to grasp.ether the critics of liberalis~_Sli. As soon as one enunciates the doctrine of the liberty of the internal life. secure in the knowledge that mother church and a paternal monarch will guide and support him. Absolute tolerance therefore has the saJl1e_ . He is like a little child who ventures forth bravely to explore the playground but looks back every few moments to reassure himself that his mother is still there. unavoidable.

Robert Paul Wolff ~-~~~ . ~-~-~he sa~e time. The elimination of superstition.n~J. whatever one thinks of its desirability.. In the conflict between liberalism and conservatism.velQp:vwnt of human potentialities and tie ~e!LtQ .e --~<>d-~r~ ·age.P~ri11i~iveness 35 9is:a.!:!!!il:l. ~~e_li?~rals at least are prepared to accept the burden of lost innocence which men bear in th. "progressive" theories of child-rearing are the true reflections of the liberal philosophy. the liberal assurance that the burdens of freedom can easily be borne is ~~_n_t~!!djc~~d_ . as the conservative sociologists so clearly perceived.P!oblem which forces itself upon the .1:~! ~f_liberal principles is to formulate a social philosophy wl1!ch achieves some cop.y. In that sense.s~ p~ttterns of domin~ttion.qjlal .unillusioned sup:~'::.P. <. constraints as fetters which prevent the f.g.. by the facts of . There can be no turning back from the "liberation" of modern society.i_l9.sistency between the ideals of justice and individual freedom on the one hand and the facts of the social .U_~e.. Oilwhich the eighteenth-century philosopbes counted so heavily and the liberation from social constraints for which Mill had such hopes are at best ambiguous accomplishments.Uty l!. The liberal apologists are surely correct in seeing traditi. !h~ .. neither side can claim a monopoly of valid arguments or legitimate insights. contemporary !. What is !_!l()re.ovvin..strous effects on the adult pers<>.s eJ&on the gJ. To embrace traditions after their authority has been undermined is to retreat into an antiquarian refuge.!_fe. It is absurd to decide on rational grounds that one will accept nonrational authority..

.36 Beyond Tolerance ~n~ nature of perso~lity on the oth_c:r. 169) I?~9cratic pluralism. pur:e_orts to achieve just the required union of "lib~al" principles and "conservative" sociology.. After demonstrating the correlation between education and suicide. pluralism espouses a tolerance and non-interference in the private sphere which is precisely analo- . they cannot be artificially reestablished. the only remedy we have. Once established beliefs have been carried away by the current of affairs. They must use this freedom fittingly. Let those who view anxiously and sadly the ruins of ancient beliefs. If minds cannot be made to lose the desire for freedom by artificially enslaving them. neither can they recover their equilibrium by mere freedom. as it developed in the context of American life and politics during the iate nineteenth and early twentieth century. it is its remedy. intelligence is the only guide left us and we have to reconstruct a conscience by its means. only reflection can guide us in life. Durkheim himself rejected any easy nostalgia for the communal glories of a past age. he warned: CJ. The authority of vanished traditions will never be restored by silencing it. we shall only be more powerless to replace them. (p. after this.ljgi_n Far from knowledge being the source of the evil. Once the social instinct is blunted.. for we have no choice. Dangerous as is the undertaking there can be no hesitation. who feel all the difficulties of these critical times. As we saw in the first part of this essay... not ascribe to science an evil it has not caused but rather which it tries to cure! .

namely the combination of tolerance. it is assumed that the individual will belong to some group or other-which is to say. or any other groups whose dress and manner deviates from the norm. that a society which urges its citizens to "attend the church or synagogue of your choice" would be undismayed by an individual who chose to attend no religious service at all. and racial groups. or orthodox Jews. specifically religious. individuals but human groups.Hfer from other soc. All the arguments which Mill advanced in defense of the individual's right to differ from the surrounding society are taken over in pluralistic democracy as arguments for the right of a social group to d.t:!• the units of society between which tolerance and mutual acceptance are to be exerciseq --~I"e not ~~olat~d. ethnic. At the same time. that he will identify with and internalize the values of an existing infra-national community.ia:I groups. Similarly. We thus can see the implicit rationale for what is otherwise ~ most peculiar characteristic of pJura)i~tic::: democracy. ~J!St~~~-! \Ve find a strange mixture of the greatest tolerance for what we might call established groups and an equally great in~olerance for the deviant individual. _hg)V~Y. The justi- . it would seem natural-at least on traditional principles of individual liberty-to extend to the bearded and be-sandaled "beat" the same generous tolerance which Americans are accustomed to grant to the Amish. for the most diverse social groups an(f extreme intolerance for the idiosyncratic indiVidual One might expect. for example.Robert Paul Wolff 37 gous to the classical liberal doctrine.

i. as I tried to indicate in my preliminary discussion of the origins of pluralism. is the doctrine of pluralistic democracy. while at the same time encouraging and preserving the psychologically desirable forces of social integration which traditional liberalism tended to weaken. and integrates the whole into the hierarchical federal political structure inherited from the founding fathers. On this analysis. III Democratic pluralism and its attendant principle of tolerance are considerably more defensible than either of the traditions out of which . this hybrid doctrine serves a number of social purposes simultaneously. It eases the conflicts among antagonistic groups of immigrants. then one can consistently urge group tolerance and individual intolerance.ch combines the ideals of classical liberalism with t. It is a coherent social philosophy wl). which would be straightforwardly contradictory on traditional liberal grounds. achieves a working harmony among the several great religions. the "conservative liberali~" of contemporary American-politics is more than merely a ritual prefer~nce for the middle of any road. diminishes the intensity of regional oppositions.38 Beyond Tolerance fication for this attitude.<!­ ~rn pluralistic society. In America. If it is good for each individual to conform to some social group and good as well that a diversity of social groups be welcomed in the community at large.!te psychol~gical a~d p~lltical reali~t:~ -~f m~.

40) Ideology is thus systematically self-serving thought.tl ()( ~cial policy. that ruling groups can in their thinking become so intensively interest-bound to a situation that they are simply no longer able to see certain facts which would undermine their sense of domination. it is the refusal to recognize unpleasant facts which might require a less flattering evaluation of a policy or institution or which might undermine one's claim to a right of domination. in my opin~~. then slavery would be harder to justify. namely. ideological thinking is a denial .~riticiS1lls which are. and most simply.!!L~_l!!I1lll~C:lY fatal to plura~sm l!S 11 .a.n to . For example.d~f~~~J:>J~ !de:.of cop._tempor!).!lum:~~--~f serio~~ . The weaknesses of pluralism lie not so much in its theoretical formulation as in th~ covert ideological consequences of its ~pplicatio. First. in two senses.the reality . nevertheless.. Secondly.Robert Paul Wolff 39 they grow. Mannheim defines ideology as follows: The concept 'ideology' reflects the one discovery which emerged from political conflict. There is implicit in the word "ideology" the insight that in certain situations the collective unconscious of certain groups obscures the real condition of society both to itself and to others and thereby stabilizes it. slave-owners in the ante-bellum South refused to acknowledge that the slaves themselves were unhappy. (p. they are open to . The implication was that if they were.ry ~~~!i£:L· The sense of "ideological" which I intend is that adopted by Karl Mannheim in his classic study Ideology and Utopia.

. I shall try to show that Jhl! application of pluralist theory to Allle_rican sgciety involves .40 Beyond Tolerance of unsettling or revolutionary factors in society on the principle of the self-confirming prophecy that the more stable everyone believes the situation to be. the major groups in society compete through the electoral process for control over the actions of the government. According to the vector-sum theory of pluralism. there are the hereditary groups which are summarized by that catch-phrase of tolerance. according to pluralism. color. business. and the third is inherent in the abstract theory itself.ideological distortion in at I_!:~!lt fr\ree different ways. Politicians are forced to accommodate themselves to a number of opposed interests and in so doing achieve a rough distributive justice. Does it not accord a legitimate place to all groups in society? How then can it be used to justify or preserve the dominance of one group over another? In fact. The first stems from the "vector:5um" or "balance-of-power" interpretation of pluralism. comprise American society today? First. the more stable it actually becomes. One might think that whatever faults the theory of pluralism possessed. a healthy balance is maintained: labor. "without regard to race. What are the major groups which. or national origin." In addition there are the major economic interest groups among which-so the theory goes. the second arises from the application of the "referee" version of the theory. at least it would be free of the dangers of ideological distortion. creed.

Finally. The net effect is to preserve the official three-great-religions image of American society long after it has ceased to corre- . groups such as the veterans' organizations and the American Medical Association. At one time. Sp_~h~ application of the theory of pluralism always fav_ors the groups in exist~nce against £hose In process of formation. and-a residual category. and when <. say-are treated as exceptions and relegated in practice to a second-class status. they tend not to be ac~!lo~le~ged because they deviate_ from that pi. Thus agnostic conscientious objectors are required to serve in the armed forces._h:mges take place in the patterns of social or ~~()nolllic grouping. and ethnic groups are viewed as permanent and exhaustive categories into which every American can conveniently be pigeonholed. But once conS!_~<?~~-~· th_e picture becomes frozen. Similarly. and influence entitle them to a place in any group-analysis of America. this-the consumer. this may have been an accurate account of American society. permanence. Individuals who fall outside any major social group-the non-religious. racial. at any given time the major religious. there are a number of voluntary associations whose size.Robert Paul w'olff 41 agriculture.cture. orphanages in America are so completely dominated by the three major faiths that a non-religious or religiously-mixed couple simply cannot adopt a child in many states. while those who claim even the most bizarre religious basis for their refusal are treated with ritual tolerance and excused by the courts. For example.

Only a bigot. What has been overlooked or suppressed is the fact that there are tens of millions of Americans-businessmen and workers alikewhose interests are completely ignored by this genial give-and-take. as told by George Jesse} or some other apostle of "interfaith understanding. which is precisely similar to the achievement of interfaith and ethnic tolerance. the minister.. nervousness. and finally an explosion of self-congratulatory laughter as though everyone were relieved at a difficult moment got through without incident. based on mutual understanding and respect." A world of insight into the psychology -. A revealing example of the mechanism of tolerance is the ubiquitous joke about "the priest. Non-unionized workers . could refuse to crack a smile! Rather more serious in its conservative falsifying of social reality is the established image of the major economic groups of American society." One senses embarrassment.f tolerance can be had simply from observing the mixture of emotions with which an audience greets such a joke. and in the end to reaffirm the principle of tolerance by joining in the applause. and the rabbi. one feels. The emergence of a rough parity between big industry and organized labor has been paralleled by the rise of a philosophy of moderation and cooperation between them. The gentle ribbing nicely distributed in the story among the three men of the cloth gives each member of the audience a chance to express his hostility safely and acceptably.42 Beyond Tolerance spond to social reality and to discourage individuals from officially breaking their religious ties.

Thus. On the other hand. or of large against small business.l~t~ S()<. Once pluralists acknowledge ~«? __exist:ence of groups whose interests are not weighed in the labor-business balance. if an interest falls . then they have a legitimate place in the system of group-adjustments. If a group or interest is within the framework of acceptability. pluralism is not explicitly a philosophy of privilege or injustice-i~.~al __g~()ups. If migrant workers. The theory of pluralism does not espouse the interests of the unionized against the non-unionized. as are the thousands of small businessmen who cannot survive in the competition against great nationwide firms.s_i!~I_!. then it can be sure of winning some measure of what it seeks. it tends to perpetuate the inequality by ignoring rather than justifying it. The case here is the same as with much ideological thinking. then their ?Wn theory requires them to call for an altera£on 9( t~~ system.Robert Ptml Wolff 43 are worse off after each price-wage increase. but by presenting a picture of the American economy in which those disadvantaged elements do not appear. This ideological function of pluralism helps to explain one of the peculiarities of American politics. for the process of national politics· is distributive and compromising. There is a very sharp distinction in the public domain between legitimate interests and those which are absolutely beyond the pale. or whitecollar workers. or !>mall businessmen are genuine groups. ~s a philosophy of equality and jus~_i_c~ -~!t<>se cqncrete application supports inequality by ignoring the existence of certain l.

Then . and articles were published in Look and Time which a year earlier would have been more at home in the radical journals which inhabit political limbo in America. poverty was "discovered" by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. A vivid example from recent political history is the sudden legitimation of the problem of poverty in America. The facts were known and discussed for years by fringe critics whose attempts to call attention to these forgotten Americans were greeted with either silence or contempt.44 Beyond Tolerance outside the circle of the acceptable. In the post-war years. and wellmeaning but hopelessly muddled clerics. Suddenly. the partisans of disarmament labored to gain a hearing for their view that nuclear war could not be a reasonable instrument of national policy. A similar elevation from obscurity to relative prominence was experienced by the peace movement. become presidential advisers and newspaper columnists. For years. or foreign agents. it receives no attention whatsoever and its proponents are treated as _crackpots. who have been scorned by the solid and established in the community. extremists. tens of millions of poor Americans were left behind by the sustained growth of the economy. A social group whose very existence had long been denied was now the object of a national crusade. With bewildering speed. an interest can move from "outside" to "inside" and its partisans. communist sympathizers. Sober politicians and serious columnists treated such ideas as the naive fantasies of bearded peaceniks. a "group" of a rather different nature.

and-within another six monthsofficial American policy. By the .~IIle t~ken.Robert Paul Wolff 45 suddenly the Soviet Union achieved the nuclear parity which had been long forecast. a policy or principle which lacks legitimate representation has no place in the society. dangerous. in the deep valley all around lie the outsiders. so that the territory of American politics is like a plateau with steep cliffs on all sides rather than like a pyramid. even subversive. naive. . Any policy urged by a group in the system must be given respectful attention. J\~f:?~ding to pluralist theory. the prospect of which had convinced disarmers of the insanity of nuclear war. be. to a voice _in tE:~ !'la~in.: _r:ight. no matter how reasonable or r~tt~)t fl1ll)'. Sober reevaluations appeared in the columns of Walter Lippmann. the fringe groups which are scorned as "extremist. no matter how bizarre. Once there. No group ever gets all of what it wants." The most important battle waged by any group in American politics is the struggle to climb onto the plateau. the line between acceptable and unacceptable alternatives is very sharp. Consequently.. On the plateau are all the interest groups which are recognized as legitimate. was now plausible. _exery genuine soci11! _gt.g_ of policy and a share in the benefits. six months before. The explanation for these rapid shifts in the political winds lies. and some even found their way into the speeches of President Kennedy-what had been unthinkable. absurd. I suggest. sound.~up_ -~~s a. in the logic of pluralism. thoughtful. it can count on some measure of what it seeks.

fo~ this reason. The result is that pluralism has a braki. as well as because of its originli as a fusion of two conflicting social philosophi(:s. the "vector-sum" version of pluralis~ -~heory functions ideologically by tending . The government. it slows down transformation in the system of group adjustments but does not set up an absolute barrier to change. and Taft-Hartley Law. the role of the government is to oversee and regulate the competition among interest groups in the society.§ce. as it actually works out in p.to deny new groups or interests access to the p. but also the complex system of quasi-judicial regulatory agencies in the executive branch of government. Out of the applications of this theory have grown not only countless laws.rac.i. rather than a neutral.V. role in the society. systematically favors the interests of the stronger against the weaker party in interestgroup conflicts and tends to solidify the power of those who already hold it. Kariel details the ways in which this discrimi- . 'It deserves the title "conservative liberalism.:~I1cing book_ entitled The Decline of Amerjcan Pluralism. therefore. or "~feree.ticarplateau.46 Beyond Tolerance and no legitimate group is completely frustrated in its efforts. It does this by ignoring their exi_stence in practice.Q. plays a conservative." According to the second. has shown that this referee function ~f government.q_l. pure food and drug acts.ng effect on social change.Ka!it:l1 in a powerful _and _£_(1.~n theory. such as the antitrust bills. Thus. not by denying their cla_im ." version ·of _pl:u_r~li~. I:f~~.

In the field of regulation of labor unions. or the setting up of mediation boards. suppressed. for example. will find their disadvantag~~\. the locally most influential farmers or leaders of farmers' organizations draw up the guidelines for control which are then adopted by the federal inspectors.~. again. these unhappy consequences of government regulation stem from a confusion between a theory of interest-conflict and a theory of power-conflict. In such matters as the overseeing of union elections. In the regulation of agriculture.r:!9_t_yet succeeded in organizing the:p1selves for effective action.Robert Ptml Wolff 47 natory influence is exercised. the federal agencies deal with the established leadership of the unions. In a sense. it is the interests of those leaders rather than the competing interests of rank-and-file dissidents which are favored. but in the enforcement of the preferences of the existing predominant interests. In each case. The gove.. ironically. or which ~Y.m01ent quite successflilly referees the conflict among competing pqwers-any group which has already managed to· accumulate a significant quantum of power ~ill find its claims attended to by the federal ~g_~~£!~§· But legitiml!t~ in(eres_ts which have l:>_een_ ig11ore_d. the unwillingness of the government to impose its own standards or rules results not in a free play of competing groups. in which the . defeated.~~-p~~itionperpetuated through the decisions of the government. the settlement of jurisdictional disputes. It is as though an umpire were to come upon a baseball game in progress between big boys and little boys.

Doctors who are opposed to the A. If the umpire undertakes to "regulate" the game by simply enforcing the "rules" actually being practiced.48 Beyond. claimed hits that were outs. and made the little boys accept the injustice by brute force. broke the rules. rather than strengthen. the play of conflicting interests in the society. and decide to fight it out. leaders. the interests of dissenting doctors do not receive favorable attention. he may actually make matters worse. he does not thereby make the game a fair one.Tolerance big boys cheated. For example. speciality accreditation. band together. The net effect of government action is thus to weaken. and so forth.A.'s political positions.M.M. Those laws are written by the government in cooperation with the very same A.A. or fairness. The theory of pluralism here has a crippling effect Qpon the government. or even to its medical policies. the American Medical Association exercises a stranglehold over American medicine through its influence over the government's licensing regulations. The theory . not surprisingly. for it warns against positive federal intervention in the name of independent principles of justice. They must also risk the loss of hospital affiliations. because if the little boys get up their courage. all of which powers have been placed in the hands of the medical establishment by state and federal laws. the umpire will accuse them of breaking the rules and throw his weight against them! Precisely the same sort of thing happens in pluralist politics. Indeed. equality. do not merely have to buck the entrenched authority of the organization's leaders.

pluralism's goal is a rough parity among competing groups rather than among competing individuals. politics is a contest among social groups for control of the power and decision of the government. as its citizens grow richer. For example. According to pluralist theory.c::.tQ pl:qralism is therefore &<>. In accord with its modification of traditional liberalism.me inst~n. QJ). the theory of pluralism in all its forms llas the effect in American thought and politics of di~!:~mi~ti~g . but also against certain sorts of proposals for the solution of social problems. Characteristically.g t()P JE~C~. ~llj\lsti~e.l ~(:~~rgi11g .llc:>t only against_ certai11_social gro~ps or interests. more dangerous.Robert Paul Wolff 49 says justice will emerge from the free interplay of opposed groups. '[~~YP~~L~~Jalprc:>J?. and which cannot be cured therefore by the techniques of pluralist politics. The reason is that natural beauty. an()ther too little.P i~ ge_~p. America is growing uglier.ce of ~_i~g!~~iY. Each group is motivated by some interest or cluster of interests and seeks to sway the government toward action in its favor.I~Jl. the practice tends to destroy that interplay. 1 . Finally. new proposals originate with a group which feels that its legitimate interests have been slighted. public order.~. and less pleasant to live in. and the legislative outcome is a measure which corrects the social imbalance to a degree commensurate with the size and political power of the initiating group. of the available resources. But there are some social ills in America whose ~ati"ses do not lie in a maldistribution of wealtJl.g_t:~U.

L1: t. not merely the aggregate of private goods. evils and inadequacies in those areas cannot be remedied by shifting the distribution of wealth and power among existing social groups. To deal with suchproblem!i. It is not at all surprising that the same period saw the demise of an active socialist movement.f111 __Qot_h_. Consequently. both in its diagnosis of the ills of industrial capitalism and in its proposed remedies. ffiQ.JiS. are not the special interest of any identifiable social group.l-~!1-~r~ ~nust_ge SOIJ1_e_ way of constituting the whole so':=~ety ~_gen~ine g~o1lp ~i!~ a group purp9se and a conception of the common good.l_S theory and as practice. t~e Negro. focuses on the structure of the economy and society as a whole and advances programs in the name of the general good. For socialism.oncern for the general g 0od iq_p_r:J. t~e poor more than the rich. and )t _ _egu~lly !:!_I_les out a c. The theory and practice of pluralism first came to dominate American politics during the depression. 'I_o_ be su~e. simply does not acknowl- . Plu_r~J!sm ~le~this out in the()ry by portraying society as an aggregate of human communities rather than as itself a human community. That is to say.ctice by encouraging a politics of interest:group presS\lres in which there is no mechanism for the discovery and expression of the common good.han the white-but fundamentally they are p!oblems of the society as a whole.50 Beyond Tolerance the cultivation of the arts. when the Democratic party put together an electoral majority of minority groups.__crime ~I1d _ ur~:~:n__s!1l. they concern the general good.':ll~ hu_r. not of any particular group._t. _!'lu!"_a.

several clergymen of various faiths. distributively just. ~Qj~-~-~h_e~:l(:j_~em::e_ofsp~iety-wide !nt_erests-save the purely procedural interest in preserving the system of group pressures-and the possibility of communal action in pursuit of the general good. It transcends the crude "limitations" of early individualistic . a labor leader. cooperative. and a few public figures of unquestioned sobriety and predictable views. constitute American society. an educator. a literate general or admiral. One could hardly expect a committee of group representatives to decide that the pluralist system of social groups is an obstacle to the general good! IV Pluralist democracy. according to pluralism. tolerant America. A proof of this charge can be found in the commissions. The whole is a microcosm of the interest groups and hereditary groups which. By insisting on the group nature of society. institutes. a woman. Any vision of the national interest which emerges from such a group will inevitably be a standard pluralist picture of a harmonious. committees." The membership of these assemblies always includes an enlightened business executive.Robert Paul Wolff 51 edge the possibility of w~olesale reorganization <?(!lle society. tolerance. and conferences which are convened from time to time to ponder the "national interest. constitutes the highest stage in the political development of industrial capitalism. with its virtue.

accommodating.52 Beyond Tolerance liberalism and makes a place for the communitarian features of social life. But pluralism is fatally blind to the evils which afflict the entire body politic. ho'":'ever. pluralism answered a genuine social need during a significant period of history. Now. beyond pluralism and beyond tolerance. as well as for the interest-group politics which emerged as a domesticated version of the class struggle. problems not of distributive injustice but of the £!lmmo1:1 good. benevolent. . of. Like all great ~:­ ~ial theories. Pluralism is humane. community. new problems confront A:m~rica. There is need for a new p!t_ilosoP~l'". and as a theory of society it obstructs consideration of precisely the sorts of thoroughgoing social revisions which may be needed to remedy those evils. and far more responsive to the evils of social injustice than either the egoistic liberalism or the traditionalistic conservatism from which it grew. We must give up the image of society as a battleground of competing groups and formulate an ideal of society more exalted than the mere acceptance of opposed interests and diverse customs.

-KARL MARX I did not foresee.TOLERANCE AND THE SCIENTIFIC OUTLOOK BY BARRINGTON MOORE. Die W ahrheit ist so wenig bescheiden als das Licht... so ist sie eher ein Kennzeichen der Scheu vor der W ahrheit als vor der U nwahrheit. Sie ist eine der Untersuchung vorgeschriebene Angst. I also wish to thank Harvard's Russian ~esearch Center for material support.. disturbed my composure and produced some revisions. ein Praservativmittel vor der Wahrheit. . The best lack all conviction while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.... JR. not having the courage of my own thought: the growing murderousness of the world . das Resultat zu finden. Bildet die Bescheidenheit den Charakter der Untersuchung. -WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS In this essay I shall try to argue a thesis that once upon a time was taken for granted without much thought about its justification and which Presentation of an earlier version to a faculty seminar at Columbia University. presided over by my good friend Professor Otto Kirchheimer.

To defend these large claims adequately is far beyond the capabilities of a short essay and very likely my own as well. Properly used and understood. Obviously a great deal depends on what one means by the scientific outlook. and ~ess frequently in practice. watery toleration of every doctrine because there might be some contribution somewhere. ~o begin with I should like to reject any intellectual approach to th~__pr:()~lems of the modern world that takes the fOrm of a veiled plea for a return to some variety .s. In the first two parts of this essay I shall try to show that some of the more familiar intellectual objections do not necessarily hold. nor to the fanatical single-mindedness of the doctrinaire. or simply being foolish when the situation calls for rational discussion or some other behavior. Very briefly it is that the secular and scientific cmtlook is adequate for ·both understanding and evaluating human affairs because it is able in e_r~n~!ple. Instead of paralyzing the will and the intellect the rational and secular outlook can nerve men for mortal combat when the situation calls for it and prevent them from fighting. to yield clear-cut answers to.54 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook nowadays seems a bit old-fashioned and naive. It can tell us when to be tolerant and when tolerance becomes intellectual cowardice and evasion. willing that a thousand may perish in order that one shall be saved. if!Iportant question. In the concluding section I will discuss certain political obstacles that seem much more serious. the secular and scientific outlook leads neither to flaccid acceptance of the world as it is.

especially in Anglo-Saxon countries. broad one: whatever is established by sound reasoning and evidence may belong to science.~. since both technicist science and academic humanism seem to me fundamentally similar ways of dodging the big problems and encapsulating the intellect in a cocoon of professional esteem. the meaning and in- ?( the traditional humanistic ~hing . so the argument runs. f P. The conception of science used here will ~ a. insights from literature and philosophy become part of science as they become established. To pose the issue in terms of Sir Charles Snow's "two cultures" seems to me to miss the main point. is simply the refusal ~ believe on the basis of hope.Barrington Moore. Two historians.:oach a~ someseparate from and opposed to science. 55 app. a Marxist and a conservative. such as the dates when the Peloponnesian War began and ended. can agree only on trivial and superficial facts. Only when such thinkers refuse to submit themselves to verification do they separate themselves from science. One such alleged limitation is the proposition that objective knowledge about human affairs is at bottom an illusion and an impossibility. I would suggest. Jr. Their gropings and explorations are part of the whole rational enterprise. Certain widespread notions about the supposed limitations of the secular and rational outlook (terms I shall use interchangeably with scientific) are part of the effort to grow such comforting cocoons and promote a form of pseudotoleration common in scholarly debate.J: _t~e ~-sseJ1ce ()f science. They cannot agree on the significant aspects of the war.

because their significance comes from the different and irreconcilable values with which the two historians begin their task. Only a few of them are worth answering. is extraordinarily difficult due to the inaccessibility of much of the relevant evidence and to natural human limitations such as vanity and stubbornness. indeed necessary. where passions do not run very high. is the remark of a vexed colleague: "No one ever convinces anybody of anything. A subjective component is a necessary ingredient in any knowledge because the number of questions it is possible to ask about any segment of reality is quite literally infinite. to agree that all knowledge contains a subjective component without accepting the conclusion that agreement is impossible about important questions." But the question at issue here is one of principle and does not concern personal limitations or those in the evidence. while the conservative in effect replies "nonsense" and explains the outbreak in terms of a series of diplomatic maneuvers and countermaneuvers. No classical . To make the case more concrete let us suppose that the Marxist attributes the origins of the war to commercial rivalry between Athens and Sparta. and which seems to me thoroughly supported by the evidence. The one generalization in social science that I have encountered.56 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook terconnection of events. In regard to the principle it is possible. Now as a purely practical matter we may agree at once that the task of reaching firm conclusions on even such questions as this one.

Barrington Moore. Two criteria. independent of the whims and prejudices of any given investigator. This destructive component may or may not be unavoidable. But the notion of truth pure and simple is useless because it provides no way to distinguish significance from triviality.ilistin­ guishing significant from trivial truth is there.:overy. in order to criticize the destructive consequences of modern physical science. itself the pragmatic political criterion is inadequate.~!te ~mount of benefit or hariT1 that co. it seems to me. The distinction between significant and trivial truth is nevertheless an objective one. 57 · 'By scholar in his right mind would seriously consider counting the number of dust spots on a modern text of Plato. We must not allow it to disappear from sight simply because of alleged or even real benefits. There is also an aesthetic criterion. a situation that varies from case to case.l!les from it~ rus<. Men seek truths that will contribute to their own advantage in the contest with nature and other men. Let those who urge that "the truth" or "true" philosophy is always lifeenhancing. Some sense of relevance to human needs and purposes is always part of any worthwhile search for truth. recall that even Archimedes worked for the war industry of his day.-. Jr. even for descriptive purposes. ~J.i1. The seeker after . necessarily govern all serious intellectual inquiry.ecion-JG£. There is often a strong destructive component in this search.• f?~C:. One need not agree with Oscar Wilde that the truth is seldom pure and never simple. One is simultaneously pragmatic and political.

. it should be plain. For example. They do not. Any competent psychologist can show how the search for beauty and order arises from the most tabooed psychological origins. Many beautiful theories are wrong. do not distinguish truth from falsehood. Perhaps this attitude is partly a legacy of Greek aristocratic prejudice. even if the end is the benefit of all humanity. nor are they even relevant to it. which are in the main probably correct. however. And the scientific conception of beauty or aesthetic satisfaction is narrower than the artistic one. order. any competent historian can point to equally repulsive political and social consequences. contradict the main point. the one glimpsed for example in Plato's theory of Forms. There is no need here to attack these propositions. Th_t:_ ~~is. an aesthetic criterion merely implies that aestheticcorisiderations are valid in distinguishing between trivial a~d significant truths. and symmetry in the area he has chosen to investigate. In the evaluation of significant inquiry both criteria often occur. there is some tendency to look down on forms of inquiry that have purely pragmatic-political ends. Today such a remark may seem a trifle naive. Yet aesthetic criteria • of significance • Aesthetic criteria.ten~e _9f. with no concern for further consequences. Yet there are stronger reasons for sensing a trace of provincialism in such inquiry. How are we to know that our conceptions of what is good for humanity reflect more than the prejudices of our age and epoch? Hence we try to escape to a more universal realm of discourse.58 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook truth often searches for beauty. Quite so.

Barrington Moore, Jr.

59

too can become sterile and futile if pursued without regard for other concerns. Order, pattern, and symmetry can by themselves be quite trivial. I at any rate find little enlightenment in the fact that the behavior of motorists in obeying a traffic signal and statements of Catholic men about belief in the deity can both be plotted on a graph in such a way as to resemble one another as examples of conformance to and deviation from a norm in large groups of people. t The reasons for the similarity are sufficiently different to make the expression of similarity in mathematical terms seem no more than a tour de force. On the other hand, at the highest level of achievement, in the work of let us say a Darwin or a Pasteur, where the reasons for symmetry apply over a wide area in a genuinely novel way, both the pragmatic-political and the aesthetic criteria find a satisfactory reconciliation. So far social scientists have not yet produced equally imposing structures that have withstood the test of asking, "Is this theory true?" Perhaps that is impossible in this area of inquiry. Without going into the problem further we may remark that the kinds of truth we seek in different fields of inquiry may show substantial variations and that ~~~ crit;e_rion may . therefore be much more important th._ao.. t;he other in
diffet:er:t_~ fu:1<!~..Qf..k.nvwledge.

It is important to recognize that both the pragt See F. H. Allport, "The j-Curve Hypothesis of Conforming Behavior," in T. M. Newcomb and E. L. Hartley, editors, Readings in Social Psychology (New York, 1947)' 55-68.

60

Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook

matic-political and the aesthetic criteria are themselves subject to rational criticism and revision. Both have certainly changed in the course of history, though there is an important undercurrent of continuity and resemblance among different civilizations and intellectual traditions. There is also room in the scholarly and scientific enterprise for a wide variety of questions and answers, even within the same subject matter or discipline. But to the extent that the answers are correct, they are compatible and congruent. The Marxist interpretation of the Peloponnesian War will be very different from one written by a traditional diplomatic historian. As long as neither historian makes a mistake or suppresses relevant evidence, the accounts do not contradict but supplement each other. There are at the same time likely to be features of the interpretation that do conflict. These have to be settled by appeal to evidence. The old-fashioned diplomatic historian might point out that Sparta was a self-contained agrarian society and that even in Athens commercial activities played a secondary role. If he demonstrated these points with satisfactory reasoning and factual evidence, he would succeed in proving that the Marxist was just plain wrong. Tolera~ce _for different "interpretations" based ~on different W eltanschauungen merely befuddles the issue. - All this amounts to the position that social reality past and present has a structure and meaning of its own that the scholar discovers in the same way an explorer discovers an ocean or a lake. The structure is there to begin with. The-

Barrington Moore, Jr.
~ri~_s

61

help us to see it and prevent us from !!eei~git.l1ley do not create the structure. Notions about the constitutive role of reason seem to me to be one source of the befuddlement here. Another is confusion between the meanings of objective and non-partisan. In the social sciences and history, significant facts are bound to be partisan in the sense that they upset somebody's cherished pre-conceptions. There is a greater likelihood that the truth will be subversive of the established order than the other way around simply because all establishments have a vested interest in hiding some of the sources of their privileged position. But this is no more than a probability. There is no guarantee whatever that a critical conception of society is a correct one. The honest investigator has to be prepared for the possibility that his findings and political preconceptions fail to match. That few of us succeed in facing such discrepancies is paihfully obvious. Certain further conclusions about the role of tolerance in serious intellectual discussions and scholarly research derive from this position. While we may accept some of the modernschol~~·s_ :-elf-imposed limitations as at times due ~o t~.e magnitude of the task and the frailty of the ~"~?1 .-~~-~ap.!\ot out of charity erect th~s~J~~i­ ~tion.s)nto general principles of. research. And there are good grounds for caution in dispensing even this form of charity. Very often a problem looks overwhelmingly complicated because the simple answer that will organize the details carries with it implications that are disagreeable

dile~an~~ d~rves_g~~ateJ:'__ ~on- .62 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook to the investigator for other reasons." "futile. intellectual fads. They are not merely epithets that reflect the subjective whims of an individual critic. There are specialists and specialists. when it sheds light on a significant problem. is in itself significant. chosen as the epigraph for this essay. ~!he. or sheer lack of talent. Similarly it should be obvious that objective standards apply to the work of synthesis and general explanation. It would be an error to construe these observations as a general sneer at the specialist. Yet it is a good working rule to be on the lookout for this possibility." and "trivial" have a strong objective component. even though the words would make no sense if there were no human beings in the world to whose aspirations and problems the terms refer. The burden of the argument so far has been that such notions as "important. probably cannot be used as a universal epistemological principle. Facts can and have been used to conceal the truth as well as to reveal it." "interesting. Marx's warning about the real meaning of intellectual modesty. The dilettante who has "perceptive" but incorrect notions about a hodgepodge of books deserves as much condemnation as the narrow technician creeping up some ladder of promotion by keeping his mouth shut on every issue that matters." "significant. Such a conception merely helps to distinguish between the indispensable specialization necessary to advances in knowledge and that which arises out of careerist concerns. Obviously the work of the specialist.

much more important.one holds that under due process e~~Y accused person must be acquitted. __that is pur~ly an accident. it is absolutely necessary to keep the door open for the chance of a favorable accident.g.~JY. That is genuine tolerance. examining credentials means exactly that.ccording to the scientific outlook. f. the scientific outlook seems to many thoughtful people today to have demonstrated its ultimate futility and failure.f law. Jr. It-naSiiOt'FiiOg-to do with a cacophony of screaming fakers marketing political nostrums in the public square._h~!. deserves. Explanations of political behavior remain feasible within this framework.ce tteaiOtlle scientific outlook. every idea. Still. 63 propr1ate-c1rcum~~~~ej}~lp-_~_i~~@s.\.. and. resembling due process in the realm o.L~ testiE. me II In the area of serious political concerns.!!..!:_ang~ __ p_:o~~u_r_~fQ.to--have its credentials examined.c.Barrington Moore.l-E§£Udo-b~f!~~!!_eds light. No .g_ of ~~e~~l~~ at ~e3rt of any conceEtion of tgJ-~!~.h~~<irih­ demnation because the technician can under ap- w~~!e knowleg. Nor does the real article exist where various nuances of orthodoxy pass for academic freedom.. On the other hand. including the most dangerous and apparently absurd ones. Toleration implies t. It does not mean accepting the idea.9-e existence of a distinctive procedure for testing ideas._AJQ"2_~­ ing an~ . for those truths endeavoring to gain acceptance in the teeth of established orthodoxies. .

To at least a minority of contemporary thinkers the result seems both paradoxical and monstrous. If the purpose of the state is eliminating Jews. concentration camps may not be the most efficient way to eliminate the Jews. appears impossible.Most of these involve in some degree a surrender of rationality and a return to religious or -quasi-religious conceptions.~ ~ny other. he enters the realm of "values. i. there is nothing more to be said from this conception of a scientific standpoint. on the other hand. The goals of the state are for the political scientist brute facts to be entered in his calculations the way a physicist enters gravity.the moment the politi~al scientist ~!eps out of his professional role to assert that ~illing Jews is morally bad." loses his aura of professional competence. For one set of "values" is supposedly as valid a. and becomes no more qualified to give authoritative guidance than any of the rest of us. Even neo-Marxist or . and the character of metals in his computations. Such seems to have been the outcome of the spirit of rational and scientific inquiry into political affairs.64 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook some of its critics might concede. except at the technical level of asserting that certain means are unlikely to bring about the desired results. T. Detachment and tolerance seem to have run riot "and turned upside down. friction.e. Rational criticism..nere has been a variety of attempts to escape from the _paradox and restore to rational criticism the !egitimacy that seemed to vanish with the decline of religion and metaphysics. .. According to this viewpoint. .

ith ~h«? _structure of ~istory or the universe. no call to faith no matter how disguised. to derive ~~-O. If men wish to make others suffer or even to destroy civilization itself.lll~cy for any set of values from some S. l~ ~Il these efforts the fundamental feature is an attempt. Jr. becomes one of trying to . It is doomed to frustration because no alternative to rationality. can in the end withstand the corrosive effects of rational inquiry. Even if we could agree on the existence of certain historical trends.>_()t:_h_doomed ~0 frustration and unnecessary.-and history is external insofar as the past confronts us with a world we never made-seems to me l.rnal to living human. Th~_!!ttempt to_ d_erive l~giti. This is true even if the secular outlook suffers a more than partial eclipse for many long years to come.~tloii of purpose for human life and society ~c~n':lt:<:ting it somehow w.QUrce ext~. Furthermore is it not time to throw away the metaphysical crutch and walk on our own two legs? Rather than attempt to revive a dubious ontology and epistemology I would urge that we recogruze that God and his metaphysic:t! surrogates ~r_e dead 1 and learn to take the consequen~es. this fact in and by itself carries no obligation that we should approve it or disapprove it.Ba"ington Moore. like that of objective knowledge. fight for it or against it. Hence the problem of evaluation.c. there is nothing outside of man himself to which one can appeal in order to assert that such actions deserve condemnation. such as ever-increasing control over the physical world. 65 secular Hegelian efforts do not seem to me altogether free of this surrender.

The fact that large amounts of cruelty are perfectly compatible with the continued existence of human society does not nee- . That they have been regarded as a means to an end in many cultures is of course obvious. As far as I am aware. On the other hand. The second is that the consequences if pushed very far are likely to be the disintegration of human society. In conversation about values one frequently encounters people who will assert for the sake of argument that they want to make human beings suffer.66 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook discover if there are some aspects of what is loosely called the human situation that might provide a suitable point from which to argue. as in the case of knowledge. no human group has ever seriously held that pain and suffering were desirable in themselves. As a supreme value cruelty is probably incompatible with the continued existence of humanity. It is difficult to know whether one should take this argument seriously. The first is that if one is serious. it is a problem of trying to demonstrate that the introduction of a subjective component does not lead to purely arbitrary results. There seem to be only two observations to make in reply to such an argument. one must be prepared to take the consequences. Those who do believe at all seriously in cruelty usually exclude the victims from "real" humanity. indeed in watching them suffer. Again. it is clear that there is pleasure to be had in making people suffer. Hence we will do well to take the argument seriously. including that sector to which the believer in cruelty belongs.

. • The suffering that is • Against the notion that a minimum of suffering might provide a sound criterion for evaluating forms of society. and to which we would like to find a reasoned objection. But is the situation as ambiguous as all that? There are grounds for holding that it is not and that w:~rrants f?r judgrtle~! ca.Barrington Moore. Certainly there are enormous . and not an end in itself. And frweaie·_~:. 67 essarily affect this thesis.>ne reply. existence. 50dety. Such cruelty is generally instrumental.·w~e-10. accepting the consequences. To a sociologist the objection carries little weight. that of Nazi Germany. asserts in effect that the mere search for ~me ground on which to base the indictn)~l_lt constitutes a survival of the religious and ~et!J:­ physical outlook.it ~ay as-~eli be wiili ~-1tttle pain as possible. It tells us very little about the huge masses of cruelty that are everywhere around us. This seems to be the core of the existentialist position. there is no possibility of escaping this terrible ambiguity._1:_1 t:>e_ derived f~om ~r:taJ. it would not be very satisfactory. What would be a tenable argument that consti~~~~-~~ in~ictment of Hitlerite Germany? <. Born into a world we did not make. we have to live in society. One has to take a stand for or against Nazism and. for which I have considerable respect. Even if this argument were watertight. there is the objection that varieties of suffering and happiness are incommensurable.~ _f~ctu~l aspect~ of humaJJ. If we are to live at all. fight to establish the ultimate premises of society. Hence the query is foolish. Perhaps it will be possible to make better progress by taking a concrete example. Jr.

The notion that freely accepted rational authority constitutes freedom and happiness is absurd as a universal generalization. mainly Marxist. In other words. Accepted burdens are still burdens. How much should present generations suffer for the sake of those to come? How much of the horrors of the industrial revolution and of the construction of socialism in Russia are justifiable from this standpoint? I try to discuss these difficulties in the final section. . values are huma11. 1:~e general intellectual procedures.~ To establish them is no task to be performed once ~d f~t:_all~ It changes with changing hi~tQri. Yet it is not too difficult to determine when the happiness of some people depends on the misery of others.If an unambiguous starting point is to be found. This possibility may not exist. My intention here is varieties of each. that actually have been made of this society.68 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook on unavoidable will differ under differing circumstances and certainly is not the same at all stages of history. A much more serious difficulty arises from the introduction of the time element." . to be specified in a moment.c. The criterion of minimal suffering implies that such situations ought to be changed when it is possible to do so. are reasonl!_bly_clear a_(ld well known.al conditions.demands Pl!t upon the human environment. But if we return to the Nazi case and certain types of criticism. it may be possible to discern the constant and recurring features of rational social criticism. To establish what this minimum may be is no easy task. it is through the analysis of the prerequisites of human existence along the lines just suggested. They seem to me to deserve the label "scientific. This much of the existentialist stress permanent ambiguity has a firm foundation.

and indeed part of . is bad and that th_e social order ought to be changed. it is necessary to show ~ai-goo(f grounds exist for holding that the soc:_iety could be arranged in such a way as to pro~\)C~less suffering. Secondly. Demonstrating who gains and who suffers. To demonstrate the existence of this suffering and its historical causes is the most important and in practice the most difficult part of the argument. Showing its historical roots performs part of this task. there is the premise. for example.?d\lced by an historically_ ~P-~~ific !~~. and this is often more difficult. to show that unemployment could have been eliminated in other ways than by a program of armaments and foreign conquest. Jr. to the effect that unnecessary ~!f_e_t:ip. finally..the ~~me task. First.! _go_vernment or society. whose basis has just ~e~-~~(li~~~ed. and what concrete interests are at work to preserve the prevailing system are also part of this task._g__p~<. Essentially the procedure amounts to demonstrating that existing social facts contain the potentiality of becoming something different from what they are. though perhaps only a minority.«>.Barrington Moore. 69 not to consider specific factual theses about National Socialist Germany but rather to exhibit very briefly the characteristic structure of a certain type of argument. The last point about demonstrating the potentiality of less suffering . In the case of Nazi Germany it would be necessary. it is necessary. to break the illusion that the present is inevitable and permanent. This is more or less the common working procedure of a number of social scientists.

. to be discussed shortly. If the argument up to this point is correct. To show that German society could work with less suffering. are in principle possible. any more than one could prove that capitalism or socialism would work. Qbjective here means simply tha~ C(}rrect and unambiguous answers. independent of in. and similar factors.~ual ~hims and preferences. A real distinction exists. I do not think that this is so. that of new social forms out of old perhaps fortunately remains impossible. as well as the forces opposing change. before they had been tried. There are situations. Does it come to any more than the fact that experiment is impossible in such matters? The potentiality of new chemical forms out of old is demonstrable by experiment. there are no absolute barriers to objective knowledge and objective evaluation of human institutions. in other words. between scientific humility and the vagueness that comes from moral and intellectual cowardice.overed in the same way.di~. Potentiality is as much an empirical fact as any other and has to be disc:. one would have to discuss the high level of technology. where judiciousness becomes the last refuge of the scoundrel. education. Some thinkers seize on this point to argue that social science is qualitatively different from other forms of rational thought.70 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook may seem to some Hegelians to require intellectual procedures fundamentally different from those of secular science as conceived here. The conclusion might well be that only military defeat could change the situation. Now it is true that this could never be proved.

ac<:9rding to the democratic creed. Jr. They are formidable enough and could well overwhelm it. So much is this the case that we are inclined today to measure the extent of freedom in a society by the amount of public controversy that exists. it does draw attention to an important part of the truth. III 71 Barriers there are to the use of rational thought. never completely ~ccessful. At any rate a society with the maximum amount of freedom possible could not allow its members to gratify every .bseil"ce of a single overriding "na!!~lll1~_purpose. Though this conception is inadequate by itself because it ignores the ch2racter of the issues in the debate and the quality of its conduct.Barrington Moore. There are difficulties in this conception: how does one distinguish real injury from outraged prejudice? The hints given in the preceding section must suffice to suggest that the problem is not altogether insoluble. and not merely a means to an end. even if they are not necessarily located in the reahn of philosophy. The usual limitation posed is that in cultivating such tastes they must not injure others. The possibility of debating political issues in a rational manner arises only in some version of a free society." The attempts. to impose such a purpose are the stigma of the modern totalitarian state. One cruc~al_ characteristic of a free society is the . Without this diversity human beings cannot hope ·to develop their varying qualities. · Within very broad limits diversity of taste and opinion is a positive good in its own right.

72 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook whim and impulse: to kill a parent. If the situation becomes more tense it may be necessary to get rid of the critics. These remarks suffice to recall the main features and some of the problems of the democratic political model.~. !h. spouse." and for the acceptance of . The place of tolerance and rationality are sufficiently familiar to enable us to dispense with any special discussion of them. How re~. as democratic theorists to a great extent recognize. while saving it to decorate those increasingly solemn occasions when we reaffirm our national solidarity in times of crisis? By and large this seems to be the direction in which events are moving in the West.listic is the democratic model. child. Much of what passes for criticism turns out on examination to be a different note in the chorus of praise for western "freedom. Still it remains possible to find at least a small public audience for highly critical notions as long as the critic constitutes no obstacle to "serious" policy. requires rather extraordinary people to make it run. especially in the second half of the twentieth century amid conditions of rev: ?lutionary and international conflict? If it is unrealistic. Even so a free society. real problems lie elsewhere. Rough methods may not be needed. as well as sufficiently self-restrained to be able to give way in a passionate argument that goes against their interests. Its members must be remarkably intelligent and well-informed. what are we to do with the ideal of free and rational discussion? Shall we be "realistic" and junk it in -our actual practices. or colleague in a fit of exasperation has to be tabu.

:r:nong the conditions that make possible improvement within the prevailing political system are these. First and foremost there has to be a substantial group of people with a material interest in change. the rich and powerful have to be able and willing to make concessions. 73 the Cold War and the destructive civilization deE!t:l~~E:~:~~--i~~"fh~se who accuse the p~cifists of merely trying to opt out of the struggle are. outlook ~~llus a11ything about the prospects for tolerant rational discussion. ~~ientifi~. the existence of diverse interests among the upper classes. This complex of conditions was present during the transition to mod- . A. I believe. the existence of political institutions. Secondly. Finally. such as a parliament and a judiciary with traditional roots in the past and yet workable with new men and new problems. -.h:..C?. which might well be catastrophic.is my co~te-ntion here that it can. or the conditions under wh~~i_!:i!{aybe-out of place? It . helps to prevent the formation of a solid block of privilege against the claims of the lower classes. The emergence of new sources of wealth can be important in this connection. CJ-.Barrington Moore. On the other side. The upper classes have to possess a sufficient economic margin to feel that the concessions will not crucially damage its position. Three sets of factors are significant in this connection.!!-!. largely correct. Jr.. With a few distinguished exceptions those who try to frighten us with the horrors of war avoid analyzing the social and political costs of peace. helps the functioning of an open society. all of them more or less flourishing..

We associate Stalin. and the United States passed through a period of civil war or revolutionary violence (the difference is mainly one of tenninology) which by destroying or crippling certain features of the old order-royal absolutism in England. however. To deny the connection no more than a partisan trick. France. ~ictatorship. All the major democracies.• Liberal rhetoric can be aiioti:1er:' Is • The argument connecting terrorism with a specific philosophy of history may be mainly myth. plantation slavery in the United Statesmade possible long periods of social struggle within the democratic framework. These conditions themselves. and civil liberties in The first has played a part in the development of the second. It becomes a hollow partisan trick when in the name of democracy one condones saturation bombing against peasant revolutionaries. they were absent in Gennany and Russia. It is simply impossible to put violence. were the consequence of revolution. England. has been the precursor of periods of extended freedom at several points in we~f. freedom. constitutionalism. the landed aristocracy in France. There is a good deal of evidence to show that Robespierre was a political trimmer.74 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook em industrial society in England. furthermore. correctly in my view.m hisfotj. that the main victims of revolutionary terror were in plain fact enemies of the revolution. hollower still if one chooses to condone such violence and then criticize a Robespierre for shedding blood in the name of future liberty. including dictatorship. Revolutionary violence. . and fanaticism in one category.

injustice.e. Even so. Our shudder at violence. that the essential work of S?~i~ty_col)ld continue with le!)S suffering and constraint..~fy some of the conditions u11der ':Yhich the resort to violence is justified in the name of freedom.is not iE~i-~~~!. negative evaluations are considerably easier to reach.hile gyi_!lK_!o_ spe<. when we still have these shudcle. --~~. in addition to freedom.i~?_is p):ejudic~·.S. i. ~econdly. ~~~re ~as to be ~bstantial evidence that a revolutionary situawith some of the worst terrors in human history.doption of a revoh. The :whole question deserves fresh and skeptical scrutiny.tion!lry ~tEi~~e.Barrington Moore.J. Qne is that the prevailing regime is unI}_ec::e!)Sarily repressive. The upholders of the prevailing order will almost certainly define the essential tasks of society differently from its opponents. Jr. 75 as full of nauseating hypocrisy as any other.J. Nevertheless. it is a disastrous error to junk the whole of liberalism. Whatever positive values we commit ourselves to. we do not want cruelty. as pointed out before. . There are grounds in historical experience for the liberal suspicion of those who preach some version of the doctrine that the historical end justifies present blood-letting-usually somebody else's blood too. waste and misuse of resources for destructive purposes._o just~ty}fie refusal to work_ within the preyaili!Jg_ system_~nd _ ~he a..tJenc~ i~_is \VOJ#l\\'. To find some basis for a rational decision on this point is far from easy if one insists on logical rigor. But he treated Marxist theory contempruously when it suited his purpose.m~i~ considerations may be advanced t..

'J'o put_ the point with appalling crudeness. and self-generated stupidity. (The 40.76 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook tion is ripening. more importantly. but.nce. one has. the more significant because many of the forerunners and leaders of Russian Marxism were keenly aware of the issues posed here and debated them hotly among them- . to w:eigb ~~e casualties of a reign of terror against those of ~llowing the prevailing situation to C<:>~tin_u. failure to control the use of powerful technical devices. which may include a high death rate due to disease. there has to be a rough calculus of xeyolutionary y~ol€. Ripeness means not only that the destructive aspects of the revolution will enjoy enough support to carry them out. What would we think of a political regime that executed 40. ignorance-or at the other end of the scale. there has to be good reason to believe that the costs in human suffering and degradation inherent in the continuation of the status quo really outweigh those to be incurred in the revolution and its aftermath. Before the resort to revolution is justifiable._ i?troducing a ~~tte~ system: that the level of potential economic production is high enough to permit a more rational organization and also that the human skills are available (or will be shortly) in order to operate the whole society with less pain. that there are realisti<:: pro_~p~cts foJ.000 deaths a year in the United States due to automobile accidents come to mind here. __Fi~lly.000 people a year?) Miscalculation on all of these points _constitutes one of the mairi reasons for the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Stalinist era. The miscalcuiation is. suffering.e.

Even if the revolutionary course succeeds. principle of ambiguli:y-ln the flow of hu_n. These limits vary from situation to situation. for fuller information and exactly tE. to the shaping of events.:t~. But there seems to be an ~~~ere~t.ses to step outside the current framework of peaceful debate to advocate an extreme course. the at~~ElP~ t<. is not wholly a ~aste of time.> discover what might have been rational. endless Hamletlike waiting. The implication increases the burden of responsibility on anyone who ch<. a point that Merleau-Ponty has argued at great length. By making such hypotheses. within limits. Perhaps there is an encouraging aspect to the fact that human beings are endowed with a strong dose of irrational passion.C right moment may mean letting the crucial moment pass by default. On the other side too. important historical actors also contribute. Hypotheses about present and future events are not like the hypotheses of the historian. 77 selves. Ultimately there is no avoiding this frightening dilemma.n a!fairs. Does the fate of the Bolshevik Revolution then indicate the futility of raising the issues and considerations discussed here? Is there not something presumptuous and silly in the attempt to pass judgment on revolutions? :passingju~gment ~Il the forf!I_Of apologetics for the ancien regime or for its revolutionary successor (an exercise which constitutes the bulk of run-of-the-mill history) does seem futile. Jr.>o. in the sense of obtaining the maximum result with a minin:mm of suffering. Qn the other hand. one can never be sure that it was absolutely necessary.Barrington Moore. Otherwise all our struggles would .

TJtt: !~~1-~ask of the intellect. To be more concrete and immediate. p. the truths they uncover may often be and actually are extremely damaging to exactly these concerns. critical exposure-destructive criticism of a destructive reality.ol_!~ic:tl~ol}. political concerns help to determine what truths intellectuals look for. ~ut to find and speak the truth. with whom we are mainly concerned in this essay. yet without any serious prospect for change. if the intellectual finds that the current situation is one of sham debate and unnecessary repression. not to be an agitator or a fighter.'}l!!_i!. is in some respects easier than that of the political leader. as we have said. whatever _the. he has the task of relentless.s~quences may be. and hypocrisies of those who raise the banner of freedom in order to perpetuate brutality. equivocations. ambiguities. Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner is one of those catchy phrases that often enough turn out to be sloppy half-truths.78 Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook have come to naught.__7l(Jt t9 be committed to any political doc~ine or ideal. Even if. to penetrate behind the glorifications and equivocations. Fortunately the task of the professional intellectual. For a dear understanding of how any society really works is likely to be the first step toward condemnation because it enables men to see not only the seamy side. and we would still be in the Stone Age. but also to' realize possibilities for im- . His commitment to politically significant truth carries with it the obligation to point out the illusions. be they Communist or anti-Communist.

difficult though it may be to eliminate this ~lement fqr ot. the comparison holds. and least of all the present one. Jr. no conception of science and its methods. and woe to him who would put it out. ill understanding and evaluating ~uman affai~ does not automatically introduce an irreducible arbitrary element into such judgri_ients. is permanently above and beyond investigation. _un_r~as()n and sham.. or ~~at it deprives thinkers of insight into the important issues of the past and the present seems to me totally absurd. To the extent that the conception of science suggested here is a very broad one. the rest may be cast on the flames.-~llt )"!~~ been that the necessity for a subjec!~~-e _e_!~I_I_lellt . but the only one we have. Unlike the Koran.. as Morris Cohen once said. 79 provement. Still the comparison is false for one crucial reason..her reasons. and if need be. The notion that a scientific attitude toward human society necessarily induces a ~nservatiye tolerance of the existing order. rel~ntle~ly intoler~t. fundamental change. but constitute a failure to live up to the requirements and implications of the scientific outlook. These things do happen and on a very wide scale. The thrust of the arg~!n. and since the Koran contains everything valuable in other books. A flickering light in our darkness it is. o~. ~J:}C_~ is tolera_nt of reason. criticism. . no part of science.Barrington Moore. To this one might object that the attitude toward science advocated here is like that of the Mahometan toward the Koran: since what is not in the Koran is not true and not necessary for salvation.

.

at present. no power. no authority. attitUdes. at the beginning of the modem period-a partisan goal. · . what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today.he conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies. is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression. ConverSely. but he believes that it is the task and duty of the intellectual to recall and preserve historical possibilities which seem to have become utopian possibilities-that it is his task to break the concreteness of oppression in order to open the menThis essay is dedicated to my students at Brandeis University. attitudes. opinions. today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins. The author is fully aware that. In other words. a subversive liberating notion and practice. no government exists which would translate liberating tolerance into practice. and the extension of tolerance to policies. and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed.REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE BY HERBERT MARCUSE THis essay examines the idea of tolerance in our advanced industrial society. J.

~nded by democratic and authoritarian governments alike. and modes of behavior which should ~()t be tolerated. and def. progress toward it is perhaps more than before arrested by violence and suppression on a global scale. Tolerance is extended to policies. and the reduction of suppression to the extent required for protecting man and animals from cruelty and aggression are preconditions for the creation of a humane society. The political locus of tolerance has changed: while it is more or less quietly and constitutionally withdrawn from the opposition. Such a society does not yet exist. The elimination of violence. it is made compulsory behavior with respect to established policies. as technical aid in the fight against imperialism and communism. . yiolence and suppression are promulgated. as methods of pacification in neo-colonial massacres. As deterrents against nuclear war. if _not 'destroying. from practice to nonpractice: laissez-faire the constituted authorities. as police action against subversion.82 Repressive Tolerance tal space in which this society can be recognized as what it is and does. because they are impeding. Tolerance is an end in itself. This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested. practiced. Tolerance is turned from an active into a passive state. the chances of cr!!ating an exist~nce without fear and misery. and the people subjected to these g()vernments are educated to sustain such practices as necessary for the preservation of the status quo. conditions.

uence.According t() a dialectical proposition ~t_is the whole which determines the truth-not in th~·. which in tum tolerates opposition within the framework determined by the constituted authorities.he wl}_qJe . The authorities in education. morals. . waste. sense that the whole is prior or superior to its parts. rockets. the impotent and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandising. on the road. To take . and psychology are vociferous against the increase in juvenile delinquency. to a£Huen£e~Qr !!!~~~ ~ffi. the recruitment for and training of special forces.a. but in the sense that its structure and function determine every particular condition and relation. within a repressive society. in word and deed and pictures. and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations. Thus. 9Lt.1:qward that whicll is radically evil no~_.flerbert Afarcuse 83 It is the people who tolerate the government. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda. even progressive movements threaten to tum into their opposite to the degree to which they accept the rules of the game. bombs--the mature delinquency of a whole civilization.as good because it serves t~e so. they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives. the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving. they are less vociferous against the proud presentation.pp_~ars .. of ever more powerful missiles. I_ol~r:tnce.h~::­ ¥!9!!.

etc. In such a case.84 Repressive Tolerance a most controversial case: the exercise of political rights (such as voting. practiCed. of speech) becomes an instrument for absolving servitude. have changed their content and lost their effectiveness. As long as these conditions do not prevail. by the rulers as well as by the ruled. to Senators.are determined and defined by the instituti~~lized in~quality (which is certainly compatible with . And such universal tolerance is possible only when no real or alleged enemy requires in the national interest the education and training of people in military violence and destruction. of assembly. provided that the effort to transcend their (often self-imposed) limitations is intensified. protest-demonstrations with a priori renunciation of counterviolence) in a society of total administration serves to strengthen this administration by tesrifying t9 the existence of democratic liberties "\Vh~ch. the function and value of tolerance depend on the equality prevalent in the society in which tolerance is practiced.· And yet (and only here the dialectical proposition shows its full intent) the existence and practice of these liberties remain a precondition for the restoration of their original oppositional function. Tolerance itself stands subject to overriding criteria: its range and its limits cannot be defined in terms of the respective society. by the sheriffs as well as by their victims. the conditions of tolerance are "loaded": duw. tolerance is an end in itself only when it is truly universal. freedom (of opinion. by the lords as well as by the peasants. In other words. in reality.. Generally. letter-writing to the press.

"clear and present danger. armed forces. by the class structure of society. I call this non-partisan tolerance "ab~ract" or '-'pure" inasmuch as it refrains from taki~g_ ~i~ei-:-but in doing so it actually protects r. i.e.· and assembly was granted even to the radical enemies of society. to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity. The tolerance which enlarged the range and content of freedom was always partisan-intolerant toward the protagonists of the repressive status quo. official tolerance granted to the Right as well as to. the Left. The issue was only the degree and extent of intolerance. It is of two kinds: ( 1) the passive toleration of entrenched and established attitudes and ideas even if their damaging effect on man and nature is evident. custom.he already established machinery of discrimination." threat to national security..Herbert Marcuse 85 constitutional equality). heresy). tolerance can be safely practiced and proclaimed. and ( 2) the active. In such a society. to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace. Within the framework of such a social structure. provided . freedom of speech. tolerance is de facto limited on the dual ground of legalized violence or suppression (police." These background limitations of tolerance are normally prior to the explicit and judicial limitations as defined by the courts. governments. In the firmly established liberal society of England and the United States. (for example. guards of all sorts) and of the privileged position held by the predominant interests and their "connections. etc.

Relying on the . effective background limitations imposed by its class structure. as a principle." Anterior to that time. and the means justified by actually effecting that end. and liberty must be defined and confined by truth. men may still be barbarians." Mill's often-quoted words have a less familiar implication on which their meaning depends: the internal connection between liberty and truth. the society seemed to practice general tolerance. what to suffer and what not. and "despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians. autonomy-this is almost a tautology. but a tautology which results from a whole series of synthetic judgments. ori -toleranc~:·. from speech to action. provided the end be their improvement. .86 Repressive Tolerance they did not make the transition from word to deed. But li~~~~ alist theory had already placed an important condttiori. private individual as that which he actually is or happens to be. There is a sense in which truth is the end of liberty."to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. Jt stipulates the ability to determine one's own life: to be able to determine what to do and what not to do. has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion."it was . Now in what sense can liberty be for the sake of truth? Liberty is self-determipation." John Stuart Mill does not only speak of children and minors. But the subject of this autonomy is never the contingent. he elaborates: "Liberty.

that is to say.~xisniig societies. between general and individual interest. and the institutional and cultural changes which may help to attain the goal are. by human reason. Freedom is liberation. And the direction in which it must be sought. what impedes and distons the possibiliof its creation. but of creating the society in which man is no longer enslaved by institutions which vitiate self-determination from the beginning. while the existing positive is that which must be surmounted. they can be identified and projected. only with the cenainty of a reasoned and reasonable chance. true and false solutions become distinguishablenever with the evidence of necessity. unde~standing of the existent society may well be capable of identifyfrig what is not conducive to a free and rational society. And the problem of making possible such a harmony between every individual liberty and the other is not that of finding a compromise between competitors.r~~n<?~ and. at least in developed civilization. In the interplay of theory and practice. or between freedom and law. a spe- ties . common and private welfare in an established society. But t!te e!p_e. on the basis of experience. and with the persuasive force of the negative. comprehensible. freedom is still to be created even for the freest if-i!le.Herbert Marcuse 87 it is rather the individual as a human being who is capable of being free with the others. In other words. never as the positive. For the true positive is the society of the future and therefore beyond definition and determination.

its truth and falsehood. the protest of art against the estab- . p. in academic discussion. cenain ideas cannot be expressed. Ii~:vever.. this tolerance -~annot be indiscriminate and equal with respect t~. Art and Anarchy (New York: Knopf. where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here. But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence. 101) in which the radical impact of art. The uncertainty of chance in this distinction does not cancel the historical objectivity. the contents of expression. but it necessitates freedom of thought and expression as preconditions of finding the way to freedomit necessitates tolerance. cenain things cannot be said. neither in word nor in deed. anti-an. in conversation. schools. cenain policies cannot be proposed. Such indiscriminate tolerance is justified in harmless debates. forms. in private religion. of "benevolent neutrality" toward art has been recognized: the market. and non-art. The danger of "destructive tolerance" (Baudelaire). certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude. and as such it has its right and wrong. a friendly abyss" (Edgar Wind. 1964). it cannot protect false words and ~~ong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the possibilities of liberatiqn. which absorbs equally well (although with often quite sudden fluctuations) art. it is indispensable in the scientific enterprise. provides a "complacent receptacle. all possible conflicting styles.88 Repressive Tolerance cific historical process in theory and practice.

and improvement must necessarily be a compromise between a variety of opinions. The authentic oeuvre is not and cannot be a prop of oppression. But then. the message is canceled by the oeuvre itself: the regressive political content is absorbed. withstands history which has been the history of oppression. aufgehoben in the artistic form: in the work as literature. But in its struggle with history. previous modes of protest and refusal cannot be recaptured in or against a different society. not because there is no objective truth. Previous forms. but ~~cause ther~ is -~n o?jective truth which can be discovered. of progress in liberation. censorship of art and literature is regressive under all circumstances. 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. However. and qualities. Art stands against history. There are cases where an authentic oeuvre carries a regressive political messageDostoevski is a case in point. for art subjects reality to laws other than the established ones: to the laws of the Form which creates a different reality-negation of the established one even where art depicts the established reality. Tolerance of free speech is the way of im_P-ro_yement. and pseudo-art (which can be such a prop) is not art.Herbert Marcuse 89 lished reality is swallowed up. This common and historical "ought" is not . styles. art subjects itself to history: history enters the definition of art and enters into the distinction between art and pseudo-art. Thus it happens that what was once art becomes pseudo-art.

for whom heteronomy has become autonomy." And he enumerates the "truths" which were cruelly and successfully liquidated in the dun- . as their own. and this universality is reflected in that of the discussion. correct and incorrect.90 Repressive Tolerance immediately evident. at least in theory." which in fact has no inherent power "against the dungeon and the stake. This was the rationale of free speech and assembly. which a priori does not exclude any group or individual. good and bad. It is clear from the historical record that the authentic spokesmen of tolerance had more and other truth in mind than that of propositional logic and academic theory. Universal toleration becomes questionable when its rationale no longer prevails. to grasp their true interests and rights and capabilities. at hand: it has to be uncovered by "cutting through. when tolerance is administered to manipulated and indoctrinated individuals who parrot." "splitting. John Stuart Mill speaks of the truth which is persecuted in history and which does not triumph over persecution by virtue of its "inherent power. based on the proposition that men were (potential) individuals who could learn to hear and see and feel by themselves. also against established authority and opinion." "breaking asunder" ( dis-cutio) the given material-separating right and wrong. to develop their own thoughts. ~he opinion of their masters. The telos of tolerance is truth. The subject whose "improvement" depends on a progressive historical practice is each man as man. But even the all-inclusive character of liberalist tolerance was.

attitudes. schools of thought. philosophies which are "political" in the widest sense-affecting the society as a whole. The criterion of progress in freedom according to which Mill judges these movements is the Refonnation.Herbert Marcuse 91 geons and at the stake: that of Arnold of Brescia. and Hussites. Even the ex post evaluation is contestable as to its truth: history corrects the judgment-too late. of Savonarola. is no token of truth. I propose a shift in the focus of the discussion: it will be concerned not only. and . Lollards. The evaluation is ex post. of the Albigensians. Heresy by itself. Waldensians. However. and his list includes opposites (Savonarola too would have burned Fra Dolcino). however. Tolerance is first and foremost for the sake of the heretics-the historical road toward bumanitas appears as heresy: target of persecution by the powers that be. demonstrably transcending the sphere of privacy. of Fra Dolcino. Poes this clinch the case for indiscriminate. Moreover. "pure" tolerance? Are there historical conditions in which such toleration impedes liberation and multiplies the victims who ~re sacrificed to the status quo? Can the indiscriminate guaranty of political rights and liberties be repressive? Can such tolerance serve to contain qualitative social change? I shall discuss this question only with reference to political movements. The correction does not help the victims and does not absolve their executioners. the lesson is clear: ~ntolerance has delayed progress and has prolonged the slaughter and torture of innocents for ~undreds of years.

. Those who stand against the established system are a priori at a disadvantage. speeches. sustaining. subversives. The "background limitations" stated on page 85 restrict tolerance before it begins to operate. participate in the making. even a change in the social structure and social values. etc. prepared. on the open marketplace of ideas and goods. The underlying assumption is that the established society is free. the people do not tolerate-they suffer established policies. toward the established protectors of freedom. which is not removed by the toleration of their ideas. de facto. in which the people. defined. with tolerance toward radical extremes. as individuals and as members of political and other organizations. would come about in the normal course of events. and that any improvement.• Now in recalling John Stuart • I wish to reiterate for the following discussion that. and changing policies. but rather with tolerance toward majorities. In an authoritarian system.. The antagonistic structure of society rigs the rules of the game. toward official and public opinion. and tested in free and equal discussion. and newspapers.92 Repressive Tolerance not primarily. the discussion can have as a frame of reference only a democratic society. opposition and dissent are tolerated unless they issue in violence and/ or in exhortation to and organization of violent subversion. tolerance is not indiscriminate and "pure" even in the most democratic society. minorities. In this case. Under a system of constitutionally guaranteed and (generally and without too many and too glaring exceptions) practiced civil rights and liberties.

the common consumer whose real interest conflicts with that of the producer.Herbert Marcuse 93 Mill's passage. extraneous authority. whatever improvement may occur "in the normal course of events" and with- . free from indoctrination. interests. for a free society is indeed unrealistically and undefinably different from the existing ones. such a construct badly fits a society in which powers are and remain unequal and even increase their unequal weight when they run their own course. Then. the intellectual whose vocation conflicts with that of his employer find themselves submitting to a system against which they are powerless and appear unreasonable. integrating the panicular countervailing powers by vinue of an increasing standard of living and an increasing concentration of power. whose real interest conflicts with that of management. The ideas of the available alternatives evaporates into an utterly utopian dimension in which it is at home. It fits even worse when the variety of pressures unifies and coagulates into an overwhelming whole. Under these circumstances. However. and authorities balance each other out and result in a truly general and rational interest. the laborer. I drew attention to the premise hidden in this assumption: free and equal disc~s­ ~ion can fulfill the function attributed to it only if it is rational-expression and development of independent thinking. ~an~pulation. The notion of pluralism and countervailing powers is no substitute for this requirement. One might in theory construct a state in which a multitude of different pressures.

which testify to the general helplessness of radical groups in a well-functioning social system. all contesting opinions must be submitted to "the people" for its deliberation and choice. Within the affluent democracy. in endlessly dragging debates over the media. is in possession of the truth and capable of defining what is right and wrong. to speak and to aSsemble-and will be left harmless and helpless in the face of the overwhelming majority. truth with falsehood.94 Repressive Tolerance out subversion is likely to be improvement in the direction determined by the particular interests which control the whole. neither group nor individual. Moreover. the crusaders for armament and for disarm_. and technological and mental coordination.~ment. be left free to deliberate and discuss. good and bad. the Left and the Right. This~pure toleration of sense at:td nonsense is justified by tile democratic argument that nobody. it is tolerant to a large extent. under optimal conditions which rarely prevail. and within the established framework. the white and the Negro. But I have already suggested . Therefore. All points of view can be heard: the Communist and the Fascist. the affluent discussion prevails. those minorities which strive for a change of the-whole itself will. the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one. which militates against qualitative social change. By the same token. the misinformed may talk as long as the informed. This majority is firmly grounded in the increasing satisfaction of needs. and propaganda rides along with education.

true and false ar_e p~. in speech and assembly. on the individual as well as social scale. of culture. The liberating force of democracy was the chance it gave to effective dissent. content. education. prospect. a matter of semantics: the blocking of effective dissen~ of the recognition of that which is not of the Establishment which begins . prior to _ expression and comall muni&. that they must have access to authentic information. Under t~~ nde of monopolistic media~them­ selves the mere instruments of economic and poJiEic~~ p~wer-a mentality is created for which righta!ld wrong. namely. the democratic argument for abstract tolerance tends to be invalidated by the invalidation of the democratic process itself. their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought. effectiye dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge: in the formation of opinion.tion.Herbert Marcuse t. its openness to qualitatively different forms of government.lfhis is. work-of the human existence in general. in information and communication. The toleration of free discussion and the equal right of opposites was to define and clarify the different forii)S o\ dissent: their direction. that the people must be capai?.~at !~e 95 democratic argument implies a necessary condition. on this basis.!e of deliberating and choosing on the basi~ of ~!lowledge.edefined ~herev~r they affect the vital interests of the society . and that. But ~ith the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination. In the contemporary period.

96

Repressive Tolerance

in the language that is publicized and administered. The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized. Rational persuasion, persuasion to the opposite is all but precluded. T~e a':'enue~ of entrance are closed to the meaning of words and ideas other ~han the established one-established by the publicity of the powers that be, and verified in their practices. <;lther words can be spoken and heard, ()ther ideas can be expressed, but, at the massive scale of the conservative majority (outside such enclaves as the intelligentsia), they are immediately "evaluated" (i.e. automatically understood) ~~.~~---~f.-~):te .P!!~Ji~.. language-a ~~11guage .:which determines '_'a .P~?ri" . the direction in \Vhich the thought pro~ess _nio'yes. )Thus the process of reflection ends where it started: in the given conditions and relations. Self-validating, the argument of the discussion repels the contradiction because the antithesis is redefined in terms of the thesis. For example, thesis: we work for peace; antithesis: we prepare for war (or even: we wage war); unification of opposites: preparing for war is working for peace. ~~~c~--~~..!e~efill~d.as nece~ario/1 ill. the P!.e.:vaJ!ing situati_on, including preparatio'! _for. war (or even war) .a11d in, ~his QJ:Wc;:llianform, the meaning of the word "peace" is stabilized. Thus, the basic vocabulary of the Orwellian language operates as a priori categories of understanding: preforming all content. These conditions invalidate the logic of tolerance which involves the rational development of meaning and precludes the closing of meaning. Consequently, persuasion through discussion and the equal presenta-

Herbert Marcuse

97

tion of opposites (even where it is really equal) easily lose their liberating force as factors of understanding and learning; they are far more likely to strengthen the established thesis and to repel the alternatives. Impartiality to the utmost, equal treatment of competing and conflicting issues is indeed a basic :equirement for decision-making in the demoC!atic process-it is an equally basic requirement for defining the limits of tolerance. But in a den.tocracy with totalitarian organization, objectivity may fulfill a very different function, namely, to foster a mental attitude which tends to obliterate the difference between true and false, information and indoctrination, right and wrong. 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. Here, too, it is the whole which determines the truth. Then the decision asserts itself, without any open violation of objectivity, in such things as the make-up of a newspaper (with the breaking up of vital information into bits interspersed between extraneous material, irrelevant items, relegating of some radically negative news to an obscure place), in the juxtaposition of gorgeous ads with unmitigated horrors, in the introduction and interruption of the broadcasting of facts by overwhelming commercials. fhe result is a neutralization of opposites, .a neutr~li-

98

Repressive Tolerance

zation, however, 'Yhi<::h takes place on the firm grounds of the structural limitation of tolerance and within a preformed mentality. When a magazine prints side by side a negative and a positive report on the FBI, it fulfills honestly the requirements of objectivity: however, the chances are that the positive wins because the image of the institution is deeply engraved in the mind of the people. Or, if a newscaster reports the torture and murder of civil rights workers in the same unemotional tone he uses to describe the stockmarket or the weather, or with the same great emotion with which he says his commercials, then such objectivity is spurious-more, it offends against humanity and truth by being calm where one should be enraged, by refraining from accusation where accusation is in the facts themselves. The tolerance expressed in such impartjality serves to minimize or even absolve prevailing intolerance and suppression. If objectivity has anything to do with truth, an(riftruthls "iiiore tfian: a matter of logic and science, then this kind of objectivity is false, and this kind of tolera,.nce inhuman. And if it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning (and the practice enclosed in this universe) in order to enable man to find out what is true and false, this deceptive impartiality would have to be abandoned. The people exposed to this impartiality are no tabulae rasae, they are indoctrinated by the conditions under which they live and think and which they do not transcend. To enable them to become autonomous, to find by themselves what is true and what is false for man in the existing

The question is whether this is the only alternative. they are established. Democracy is a form of government which fits very different types of society( this holds true . But this means that the trend would have to be reversed: they would have to get information slanted in the opposite direction. the truth. I shall presently try to suggest the direction in which an answer may be sought. "mediated" by those who made them. For the facts are never given immediately . the contrast is not between democracy in the abstract and ?Jctatorship 1n the abstract. "the whole truth" surpasses these facts and requires the rupture with their appearance.and never accessible immediately. The factual barriers which totalitarian de:r:nocracy erects against the efficacy of qualitative dissent are weak and pleasant enough compared with the practices of a dictatorship which claims to educate the people in the truth. This rupture-prerequisite and token of all freedom of thought and of speechcannot be accomplished within the established framework of abstract tolerance and spurious objectivity because these are precisely the factors which precondition the mind against the rupture. democratic tolerance is under all circumstances more humane than an institutionalized intolerance which sacrifices the rights and liberties of the living generations for the sake of future generations. In any case. With all its limitations and distortions.Herbert Marcuse 99 society. they would have to be freed from the prevailing indoctrination (which is no longer recognized as indoctrination).

by their very methods and concepts. in the majority of the people). These considerations can never justify the exacting of different sacrifices and different victims on behalf of a future better society. armament. poverty.. Their range extends all the way from normal exploitation. their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination. Moreover. Surely. chauvinism. This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop. police actions. or which oppose the extension of public services. medical care. and insecurity to the victims of wars. social security. etc. discrimination on the grounds of race and religion. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies. and the human costs of a democracy are always and everywhere those exacted by the society whose government it is.e. the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions which. serve .100 Repressive Tolerance even for a democracy with universal suffrage and equality before the law). but they do allow weighing the costs involved in the perpetuation of an existing society against the risk of promoting alternatives which offer a reasonable chance of pacification and liberation. but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people (i. no government can be expected to foster its own subversion. military aid. in which the society is engaged-and not only to the victims within its own frontiers. etc.

" of abnonnal human endurance under inhuman conditions.Herbert Marcuse 101 to enclose the mind within the established universe of discourse and behavior-thereby precluding a priori a rational evaluation of the alternatives. I have already suggested that this distinction is not a matter of value-preference but of rational criteria. namely. it would presuppose that which is still to be accomplished: the reversal of the trend. Against the emphatic insistence on the part of spokesmen for . While the reversal of the trend in the educational enterprise at least could conceivably be enforced . and thus be self-imposed. restoration of such freedom would also imply intolerance toward scientific research in the interest of deadly "deterrents. non-participation at the local and small-group level may perhaps prepare the ground. human and inhuman teachings and practices. I shall presently discuss the question as to who is to decide on the distinction between liberating and repressive. And to the degree to which freedom of thought involves the struggle against inhumanity. in business and publicity. }lle subversive character of the restoration of freedom :pp~ars most clearly in that dimension of society whert: false tolerance and free enterprise do per!iaps the most serious and lasting damage. boycott. In other words. However. the systematic withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and repressive opinions and movements could only be envisaged as results of large-scale pressure which would amount to an upheaval. resistance at particular occasions. etc.by the students and teachers themselves.

102 Repressive Tolerance labor.. it would be ridiculous to speak of a possible withdrawal of tolerance with respect to these practices and to the ideologies promoted by them. by the defenders of metropolitan freedom. I maintain that practices such as planned obsolescence.L~Q£i~ty. For they pertain to the basis on which the repressive affluent society rests and reproduces itself and its vital defenses -their removal would be that total revolution which this society so effectively repels. Even in the =!dvanced centers of civilization.. be clouded by ideologies which serve the perpetuation of violence. (Is the case of India an exception? . Non-violence is normally not only preached to but exacted from the weak-it is a necesSity rather than a virtue.~-t:X!lm_ine the issue of violence and the tra~!~ional distinction between vi()J~q. but are tolerated by them-and by the consumer at large. slanted publicity are not simply imposed from above on a powerless rank and file. However. it is carried.t.me. To discuss toJ~!~Il~e . This violence indeed breeds violence. collusion between union leadership and management. into the backward countries. in the fight against racial minorities. from the beginning. on ethical or psychological grounds (because it may atagonize sympathizers) is another.!<>.~J. violence actually prevails: it is practiced by the police. to renounce a priori violence against violence. The discussion should not.ans ~-E~. and normally it does not seriously harm the case of the strong. and nonY. in the prisons and mental institutions.!!}..~<:nt action.!~h.:. But to refrain from violence in the face of vastly superior violence is one thing.

the have-nots against the haves is serving the cause of actual violence by weakening the protest against it.. passive resistance is no longer passive-it ceases to be non-violent.) Robespierre's distinction between the terror of liberty and the terror of despotism. si !'exploitation ni !'oppression n'ont jamais existe sur terre. and his moral glorification of the former belongs to the most convincingly condemned aberrations. which disrupted. the economic life of the country. The comparative evaluation in terms of the number of victims is the quantifying approach which reveals the man-made horror throughout history that made violence a necessity. In terms of historical function. In terms of ethics. Mais si le regime tou~ entier et jusqu'a vos nonviolentes pensees 1sont conditionnees par une oppression milleriaire. or threatened to disrupt. votre passivite ne sert . passive resistance was carried through on a massive scale. even if the white terror was more bloody than the red terror. both forms of violence are inhuman and evil-but since when is history made in accord~~ce with ethical standards? To start applying them at the point where the oppressed rebel against the oppressors. Quantity turns into quality: on such a scale. Comprenez enfin ceci: si Ia violence a commence ce soir. The same holds true for the General Strike.Herbert Marcuse 103 There. there is aAifference between revolutionary and reaction~ violence. peut-etre la nonviolence affiichee\ peut apaiser la querelle. between violence practiced by the ~ppressed and by the oppressors.

Paris: Maspero.~. even in the most democratic democracies.false toleranc~. Les Damnes de Ia Terre. I propose that the question cannot be answered in terms of the alternative between democracy and dictatorship._d the dis. and according to what standards. can the political dist:inction between true and false. according to which.e.l?!~P~---~o ~~at­ ever constitutional and legal criteria are set up ·and applied in an existing s<>ciety-(such as "dear and present danger. constitutionally or in fact. By whom.-~!J. without any effective control from below. arrogate to themselves the decision. for such definitions themselves presuppose standards of freedom and repression as applicable or not applicable in the respective society: they are specifications of more general concepts." and other established definitions of civil rights and liberties).. Preface to Frantz Fanon. These standards -fitu_s~. (Sartre. these pairs are ~uivalent) be made and its validity be justified? At the outset. revolutio11#Y · _. the political leaders) and .l be~~~ll ~g)lt and \V~<?. !?. in the latter. 1961. by one or several groups without effective control by the people themselves.. Historically. ~~!Y 119-~~_onof. between progressive indoct~ination.reactionary violence demand the statement of criteria for its ~. progressive ~nd regressive (for in this sphere.fidity. . 22) .!~e. The ironical question: who educates the educators (i. p.tQq _.104 Repressive Tolerance qu'a vous ranger du cote des oppresseurs.E~!)<:!i()I. the vital and final decisions affecting the society as a whole have been made.~g limitations on regreSsive _tolerance. one individual or group.

but from the realities of the prevailing societies. Consequently._suggested that the distinction between true and false tolerance. and a satisfaction of needs which does not feed on poverty. it is possible to define the direction in which prevailing institutions. The real possibilities of human freedom are relative to the attained stage of civilization. Such a society does not yet exist anywhere. oppression. not from the historical possibilities. the most rational ways of using these resources and distributing the social product with priority on the satisfaction of vital needs and with minimum of toil and injustice. In other words. freed from the repressive requirements of a struggle for existence in the interest of domination.Herbert Marcuse 105 also applies to democracy. and as such human beings choosing their government and determining their life. In the meantime. the question must be treated in abstractoabstraction. between progress and regresSl_~n can be made rationally on empirical grounds. opinions would have to be changed in order to improve the chance of a peace which is not identical with cold war and a little hot war. 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. 'they depend on the material and intellectual re~urces available at the respective stage. policies. it is also possible to identify policies. and a . opinions. movements which would promote this chance. at the stage of advanced industrial society. and they are quantifiable and calculable to a high degree. and exploitation.. So are. !.

withci. The problemis not that of an educational dictatorship. ~-yirtue ()JitsjQn~l". The answer to Plato's educational dictatorship is the democratic educational dictatorship of free men. this would be a small number indeed.~~a. John Stuart Mill's conception of the res publica is not the opposite of Plato's: the liberal too demands the authority of Reason not only as an intellectual but also as a political power.l2gic.J.P!. Where society has entered the phase of total administration and indoctrination. but that of breaking the tyranny of public opinion and its makers in the closed society. every rational human being participates in the discussion and decision-but only as a rational being. identifications for the society as a whole. granted the empirical rationality of the distinction between progress and regression. definitions. and may justify strongly discriminatory tolerance on political grounds (cancellation of the liberal creed of free and equal discussion). everyone who has learned to think· rationally and autonomously. w~o is qualified to make all these distinctions. has now one logical answer. In Plato. everyone "in the maturity of his faculties" as a human being. ~~P. The question. .106 Repressive Tolerance those which would do the opposite.ession ~f the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the ~trengthening of the progressive ones. rationality is confined to the small number of philosopher-kings. namely. in Mill. and granted that it may be applicable to tolerance. I said that. However. another impossible consequence would follow. and not necessarily that of the elected representatives of the people.

it seems that the violence emanating from the rebellion of the oppressed classes broke the historical continuum of injustice. and a better and more equitable distribution of misery and oppression in a new social system-in on(! word: progress in civilization. brief but explosive enough to achieve an increase in the scope of freedom and justice. cruelty.e!S~<?~~ The historical calculus of progress (which is actually the calculus of the prospective reduction of cruelty. a policy of unequal treatment would protect radicalism on the Left against that on the Right. suppression) seems to involve the calculated choice between two forms of political violence: that on the pan of the legally constituted powers (by their legitimate action. misery. and that on the pan of potentially subversive movements. Can the historical calculus be reasonably extended to the justification of one form of violence as against another? Or better (since "justification" carries a moral connotation). the Left or the Right) is in a demonstrable relation to progress (as defined above)? With all the qualifications of a hypothesis based on an "open" historical record. the have or the have-nots.Herbert Marcuse 107 ~~ ~?lt:~~I_l:c_~f~C)-~ regressive movements. and silence for a brief moment. or by their inability to prevent violence). . is there historical evidence to the effect that the social origin and impetus of violence (from among the ruled or the ruling classes. or by their tacit consent. and dis~riminatory tolerance in favor of progressive tendencies would be tantamount to the "official" P!()f:IIO!~<?-~_gf ~':l~Y. with respect to the latter. Moreover.

See Barrington Moore's forthcoming book Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. fascism has been a consequence of the transition to industrial society without a revolution. on _!Jehalf of and in the interest of which groups and institutions is such violence released? And the answer is not necessarily ex post: in the historical examples just mentioned.1 by an effective movement "from below. which was not sparked and drive1. it could be and was anticipated whether the movement would serve 1 In modern times. the liquidation of Spartacus in Germany in 1919. higher period of civllization was painfully born in the violence of the heretic revolts of the thirteenth century and in the peasant and laborer revolts of the fourteenth century. the French Revolution. I said emanating "from among ruling classes": to be sure. marking the beginning of a new period in civili. The long series of dynastic and imperialist wars.zation. the Chinese and the Cuban Revolutions may illustrate the hypothesis. b. no such relation to progress seems to obtain.108 Repressive Tolerance The English civil wars. L~_contrast.rought about a long period of regression for long centuries. 1 With respect to historical violence emanating from among ruling classes. the ~olhlpse of the Roman Empire in the West. th«! one historical change from one social system to another. Fascism and Nazism did not break but rather tightened and streamlined the continuum of suppression. the decisive question is. until a new." namely. . there is hardly any organized violence from above that does not mobilize and activate mass suppoit from below.

As ..Herbert Marcuse 109 the revamping of the old order or the emergence of the new.. In past and different circumstances.. print... to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: . tl:len.. but also by a rational miscalculation of risks.mean in!()I_e. suspension of !he right of Jre~ speech aiid free assembly is in~· - ' ~. of deed as well as of word.. it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda. _woul~ . The traditional criterion of clear and present danger seems no longer adequate to a stage where the whole society is in the situation of the theater audience when somebody cries: "fire.. mpvements fxom the :Right. true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed. between the organization and its release on the people had become too short.." It is a situation in which the total catastrophy could be triggered off any moment.llaSsacre. . ' . at the stage of communication in word. . But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic t_Qlera~ce had_ been withdrawn when the future leade!s started . present danger... toleration of movements . not only by a technical error. Li~~mtt!!g ~~-lt:~!!~~.. or by a rash speech of one of the leaders.~!l!lce. _ -~gainst. .eme . and.their campaign. IJ:l~ W~()le post-f. from the Left. mankind would ~~had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War. Such ext:r. the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the J. and picture. Consequently.~~ciS! period is one of clear ~d. The distance between the propaganda and the action.

maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation. Withdrawal of tolerance from regressive ~ovements "before they can become active. I. opinion. to the political Right-these anti-democratic notions respond to the actual development of the democratic society which has destroyed the . and finally. intolerance in the opposite direction. intolerance even toward thought. toward the self-styled conservatives. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don't have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters. for which the ideologists have proclaimed the "end of ideology." the false consciousness has become the general consciousness -from the government down to its last objects.. that is.l}Jyif the whole of society is in extreme danger. In this society.110 Repressive Tolerance dee~_justi~~~--<?. and ~ord. Different opinions and "philosaphies" can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the "marketplace of ideas" is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest. and that it has become the normal state of affairs.

.~~-~!r~!_!z. The conditions under which tolerance can again become a liberating and humanizing force have still to be created. ~_!l. there where the false consciousness takes form( or rather: is systematically formed)-it must begin with stopping the words and images which feed this consciousness. when heteronomous interests occupy him before he can experience his servitude. Thus.e OPP.tolerance 'bas been perverted. it translates itself almost immediately into practice: the safe distance between ideology and reality... When tolerance__ ~~!~Iy se. but it is on the enlargement of such small spots that the chance of change depends. then the efforts to counteract his dehumanization must begin at the place of entrance.· ·then-.. repressive thought and repressive action.. to be sure. the break through the false consciousness may provide the Archimedean point for a larger emancipation-at an infinitesimally small spot. The forces of emancipation cannot be identified with any social class which. And when this perversion starts in the mind of the individual. even precensorship.. his needs..soCiety. when it ~<:~.~~~?.!?.d to render men immune against other and better fonns of "!Jf~. in his consciousness.r.~M preservation pf a represi:ve . this is censorship. by virtue of its .n. but openly directed against the more or less hidden censorship that permeates the free media.:yes the protection .Herbert Marcuse 111 basis for universal tolerance. Where the false consciousness has become prevalent in national and popular behavior. between the word of destruction and the deed of destruction is dangerously shortened.?. To be sure.

the mental space for denial and reflection must first be recreated. Today. Where the mind has been made into a subject-object of politics and policies.g_ t~~ recognition of what is going oii.. Repulsed by the concreteness of the administered society. the effoit ofeiriancipation becomes ''abstract". value-free. they are hopelessly dispersed throughout the society. autonomous thinking leads into a "pervened world": contradiction and counter-image of the established world of repression. In the society at large. To the . and the fighting minorities and isolated groups are often in opposition to their own leadership. the existing world. the realm of "pure" thought has become a matter of political education (or rather: counter-education). the whole truth. on their own grounds and in their own right. In a world in which the human faculties and needs are arrested or pervened. This means that previously neutral. it }s redticecr"f(J facilita~il).112 Repressive Tolerance material condition. intellectual subversion. formal aspects of learning and teaching now become. to developing the concepts that comprehend reality. intellectual autonomy. And this contradiction is not simply stipulated. More than ever. is free from false consciousness. ~o freeing language from the tyranny ofi:he Ot:::' ~~llian syntax and logic. but is the logical development of the given. is not simply the product of confused thinking or phantasy. and to comprehend it is radical criticism throughout. political: learning to know the facts. the proposition holds true that progress in freedom demands progress in the consciousness of freedom.

Herbert Marcuse 113 degree to which this development is actually impeded by the sheer weight of a repressive society and the necessity of making a living in it. abst!_a. in the education of those who are not yet maturely integrated.l~. in the mind of the young.<. Such spurious neutrality serves to reproduce acceptance of the dominion of the victors in the consciousness of man. he will be inclined to place the facts into the predominant framework of values.oJ. the acquisition and communication of knowledge. The pre-empting of the mind vitiates impartiality and objectivity: unless the student learns to think in the opposite direction. still another example of ~purious. prohibits the purification and isolation of facts from the context of the whole truth. An essential part of the latter is recognition of the frightening extent to which history was made and recorded by and for the victors. Scholarship. even prior to all restrictions on academic freedom. the extent to which history was the development of oppression. i. distorting the record. repression invades the academic enterprise itself.t tq..n~e in the guise of con- ._~P~.e. Ed~catiQf. thus they themselves carry a negative value as part and aspect of their facticity.f. that is. Here.rlJ. And this oppression is in the facts themselves which it establishes. To treat the great crusades against humanity (like that against the Albigensians) with the same impartiality as the desperate struggles for humanity means neutralizing their opposite historical function. too. the ground for liberating tolerance is still to be created.l . reconciling the executioners with their victims.

th~_~c.114 Repressive Tolerance ~ret~ness..efore one ca.>m!ant a. a psychological condition. If the identity of the self is to be more than the immediate realization of this potential (undesirable for the individual as human being).a s.~Jf. _ l_~rg_e--~~~J. mediation of the immediate.n b~ .hed aside is the ql1e~t!9n as to what has to be reb.t:jon. It isolates the individual from the one dimension where he could -pressed .!J. liberating and destructive repression.nd essential element of' identity. and identity is no more and no less than this process. ignorance. This process involves at each stage (to use the ridiculed terms which here reveal their succinct concreteness) the negation of the negation. to the constant psychological concern with the personal _ll_ problems of the student. The individual potential is first a negative one. epitomized in the concept of .tmtb. "Alienation" ~. The publicity of selfactualization promotes the removal of the one and the other. From the permissiveness of all sorts of license to the child. the objective side of the subject-and not.~n. resentment. oneself. then it requires repression and sublimation.. as it is made to appear today.e movement i~ 1!:~~~! ~-~y-~ga~~~ the evils of repress1on. is. guilt feeling. conscious transformation.eself:Xt:e!qu~ntly_brus. is (to use another Hegelian term) bad immediacy (schlechte Unmittelbarkeit).self-actuaU~. a portion of the potential of his society: of aggression. it promotes existence in that immediacy which.:_it. cruelty which vitiate his life instincts. Freud well knew the difference· between progressive and regressive.a. in a repressive society.··ano ~~-need for ~~il_lg <>n. a disease.

which is at the core of his entire existence. The result is an objective contradiction between the economic and political structure on the one side. The tolerance which was the great achievement of the liberal era is still professed and (with strong qualifications) practiced. have also altered the liberal function of tol~rance. opposition. Instead. the catalytic force of that unhappy consciousness which does not revel in the archetypal personal release of frustration-hopeless resurgence of the ld which will sooner or later succumb to the omnipresent rationality of the administered world-but which recognizes the horror of the whole in the most private frustration and actualizes itself in this recognition. and therefore more authentic.Herbert Marcuse 115 "find himself": from his political existence. I have tried to show how the changes in adyanced democratic societies. The altered social structure tends to weak- . it encourages non-conformity and lettinggo in ways which leave the real engines of repression in the society entirely intact. The desublimation involved in this son of self-actualization is itself repressive inasmuch as it weakens the necessity and the power of the intellect. and the theory and practice of toleration on the other. which even strengthen these engines by substituting the satisfactions of private and personal rebellion for a more than private and personal. while the economic and political process is subjected to an ubiquitous and effective administration in accordance with the predominant interests. which have under~ined the basis of economic and political liberalism.

116 Repressive Tolerance en the effectiveness of tolerance toward dissenting and oppositional movements and to strengthen conservative and reactionary forces. tolerance itself serves to contain such change rather than to promote it. Equality of tolerance becomes abstract. But I believe that there is a "natural right" of resistance for oppressed and . it is nonsensical to invoke the abso- . the opposition is insulated in small ~nd frequer1tly ~n~ag()~istic groups who. There is not. are powerless while they keep within these limits. Indeed. But the tolerance shown to them is deceptive and promotes coordination. 'Law and order are always and everywhere the law and order which protect the established hierarchy. such a redressing seems to be tantamount to the establishment of a "right of resistance" to the point of subversion. ~ith . And on the finn foundations of a coordinated society all but closed against qualitative change. spurious. 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 ihe lib':!:fating function of tolerance becomes only an unrealistic speculation. These same conditions render the critique of ·such tolerance abstract and academic. even where tolerated within the narrow limits set by the hierarchical structure of society.the actual decline of dissenting forces in the society. ~ve~powered mii1orities to use extralegal means if the legal ones have proved to be inadequate. there cannot be any such right for any group or individual against a constitutional government sustained by a majority of the population.

and least of all the educator and intellectual. e~~lis.hed one. start a new chiiin of viol~n.en. and their own conscience. .ce but try to b~ea~ all. has the right to preach them abstention. they know the risk. no third person. There is no other judge over them than the constituted authorities. If they use Yi<?l~nce.Herbert Marcuse 117 lute authority of this law and this order against those who suffer from it and struggle against it -not for personal advantages and revenge. Since !hey will be punished. the police. they do not. but for their share of humanity. they are wiillng to· take it. and ~E.

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BARRINGTON MooRE. jR.A NOTE ON THE AUTHORS RoBERT PAuL WoLFF is a member of the philosophy department of Columbia University and the author of Kant's Theory of Mental Activity. HERBERT MARCUSE is a member of the philosophy department of the University of California. Among the books he has written are Eros and Civilization and One-Dimensional Man. . is a member of the Russian Research Center at Harvard and the author of Political Power and Social Theory and other books.

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