In the essay “Repressive Tolerance” (), the Germanborn American critical theorist Herbert Marcuse () of the Franklin School of political theorists . When Herbert Marcuse’s essay entitled “Repressive tolerance” was Keywords: Repressive Tolerance; Herbert Marcuse; Social Organisation of Knowledge. Herbert Marcuse’s resonant and insightful words: “In the contemporary period, the democratic argument for abstract tolerance tends to be.
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Herbert Marcuse and Recent Liberation Philosophies. 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.
Herbert Marcuse: Power of Repressive Tolerance | Economic Sociology and Political Economy
The toleration of free discussion and the equal right of opposites was to define and clarify the different forms of dissent: But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly.
Such a society does not yet exist anywhere. As deterrents against nuclear war, as police action against subversion, as technical aid in the fight against imperialism and communism, as methods of pacification in neo-colonial massacres, violence and suppression are promulgated, practiced, and defended by democratic and authoritarian governments alike, and the people subjected to these governments are educated to sustain such practices as necessary for the preservation of the status quo.
Del Grosso Destreri, L. 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.
This pure toleration of sense and nonsense is justified by the 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.
Tolerance would be restricted with respect to movements of a demonstrably aggressive or destructive character destructive of the prospects for peace, justice, and freedom for all. Other words can be spoken and heard, other ideas can be expressed, but, at the massive scale of the conservative majority outside such enclaves as the intelligentsiathey are immediately ‘evaluated’ i. An essential part of the latter is recognition of the frightening extent to which history is made and recorded by and for the victors, that is, the extent to which history was the development of oppression.
Repressive Tolerance, by Herbert Marcuse ()
And such a majority is all but the opposite of Rousseau’s ‘general will’: John Stuart Mill does not only speak of children and minors; he elaborates: And on the firm foundations of a co-ordinated society all but closed against qualitative change, tolerance itself serves to contain such change rather than to promote it. Oh, you noble Stoics, what reprewsive of words! The real possibilities of human ttolerance are relative to the attained stage of civilization.
Tolerance is turned from an active into a passive state, from practice to non-practice: But this means that the majority is no longer justified in claiming the democratic title of the best guardian of the common interest. Can the indiscriminate guaranty of political rights and liberties be repressive?
Instead, it encourages non-conformity and letting-go in mrcuse which leave the real engines of repression 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. 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.
Frequently brushed aside is the question as to what has to be repressed before one can be a self, oneself. Moreover, I propose a shift in the focus of the discussion: Freud well knew the difference between progressive and regressive, liberating and destructive repression.
But the tolerance shown to them is deceptive and promotes co-ordination. With the actual decline of dissenting forces relressive the society, the opposition is insulated in small and frequently antagonistic groups who, even where tolerated within the narrow limits set by the hierarchical structure of society, are powerless while they keep within these limits. Is the case of India an exception?
To be sure, this is censorship, even precensorship, but openly directed against the more or less hidden censorship that permeates the free media. The authors explain that the book’s title refers to the philosopher Immanuel Kant ‘s Critique of Pure Reasonand suggest that their ideas may resemble those of Kant.
This means that previously neutral, value-free, formal aspects of learning and teaching now become, on their own grounds and in their own right, political: The result is a neutralization of opposites, a neutralization, however, which takes place on the firm grounds of the structural limitation of tolerance and within a preformed mentality. 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’ surpasses these facts and requires the rupture with their appearance.
In other words, it marchse presuppose that which is still to be accomplished: Are there historical conditions in which such toleration impedes liberation and multiplies the victims who are sacrificed to the status quo? However, censorship of art and literature is regressive under all circumstances.
The question, who is qualified to make all these distinctions, definitions, identifications for the society as a whole, has now one logical answer, namely, everyone ‘in the maturity of his faculties’ as a human being, everyone who has learned to think toleranc and autonomously.
All points of view can be heard: In the society at large, the mental space for denial and reflection must first be recreated.