The Spirit of Marcuse

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

Yesterday, in the comments to this post, I linked to a progressive’s call for censoring “intolerant” speech, something I’ve been hearing increasingly over the past year or so. Although the post quotes Karl Popper, it reminded me of OSS operative Herbert Marcuse’s essay “Repressive Tolerance”:

In his contribution, Marcuse argues that the ideal of tolerance belongs to a liberal, democratic tradition that has become exhausted. Liberal society is based on a form of domination so subtle that the majority accept and even will their servitude. Marcuse believes that under such conditions tolerance as traditionally understood serves the cause of domination and that a new kind of tolerance is therefore needed: tolerance of the Left, subversion, and revolutionary violence, combined with intolerance of the Right, of existing institutions of civil society, and of any opposition to socialism.[1]Marcuse claims that tolerance shown to minority views in industrial societies is a deceit because such expressions cannot be effective. Freedom of speech is not a good in itself because it allows for the propagation of error; Marcuse believes that “The telos of tolerance is truth”. Revolutionary minorities hold the truth and the majority has to be liberated from error by being re-educated in the truth by this minority. The revolutionary minority are entitled, Marcuse claims, to suppress rival and harmful opinions.[2]

That’s the Wikipedia summary, but you can read the complete essay here. Isn’t Marcuse’s idea pretty much the order of the day?

About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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