by James C. Sherlock
There have been countless articles here on the tyranny of the left on Virginia college campuses. And nationwide.
I need not summarize them here.
But I think it useful on a weekend to consider the origins of that movement to better understand it.
It did not spring up randomly, and it continues to flow from its source, Herbert Marcuse and his book Repressive Tolerance (1965)*.
Marcuse abandoned the working class as a source of subversion of capitalism in 1964’s The One-Dimensional Man. He
put his faith in an alliance between radical intellectuals and those groups not yet integrated into one-dimensional society, the socially marginalized, the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other ethnicities and other colors, the unemployed and the unemployable.
You may recognize that target coalition.
Herbert Marcuse has been the campus left’s philosopher since the 60’s radicals were suckled on his writings and remained in academia. Their students have come now to dominate the heights of the culture, including academia, Hollywood, the media, and teachers’ unions.
What I call the “stupid right,” more useful to the left than to conservatism, seeks to use some of Marcuse’s tactics in an equally destructive way. But they remain a fringe.
They seek a different coalition, most of which utterly rejects them.
Because they are destructive of society.
It is best to let Marcuse speak for himself.
For those of you adventurous enough for more, the link above will take you to Marcuse’s abstract quoted below.
Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, 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 include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc. Moreover, the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions which, by their very methods and concepts, serve to enclose the mind within the established universe of discourse and behavior– thereby precluding a priori a rational evaluation of the alternatives.
Suppression of the regressive (ideas) is a prerequisite for the strengthening of the progressive ones.
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.
true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if 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 ‘philosophies’ 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. In this society, 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. 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. 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, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.
These conditions (in America) impose upon the radical minorities a strategy which is in essence a refusal to allow the continuous functioning of allegedly indiscriminate but in fact discriminate tolerance, for example, a strategy of protesting against the alternate matching of a spokesman for the Right (or Center) with one for the Left. Not ‘equal’ but more representation of the Left would be equalization of the prevailing inequality.
I maintain that there are issues where either there is no ‘other side’ in any more than a formalistic sense, or where ‘the other side’ is demonstrably ‘regressive’ and impedes possible improvement of the human condition. To tolerate propaganda for inhumanity vitiates the goals not only of liberalism but of every progressive political philosophy.
Until there shall have been devised, and until opinion is willing to accept, some mode of plural voting which may assign to education as such the degree of superior influence due to it, and sufficient as a counterpoise to the numerical weight of the least educated class, for so long the benefits of completely universal suffrage cannot be obtained without bringing with them, as it appears to me, more than equivalent evils.
the alternative to the established semi-democratic process is not a dictatorship or elite, no matter how intellectual and intelligent, but the struggle for a real democracy. Part of this struggle is the fight against an ideology of tolerance which, in reality, favors and fortifies the conservation of the status quo of inequality and discrimination. For this struggle, I proposed the practice of discriminating tolerance.
Bottom line. The progressive movement accepts Marcuse dogma for the same reason that most conservatives reject the far right, because it is destructive.
“Discriminating tolerance” is proudly practiced by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) brigades on Virginia’s state campuses.
Something like 1,000 state employees at last count. Repression is their reason for being.
Virginia’s elected leaders suffer them, apparently, by ignoring their existence.
That needs to stop.
*The link is to an abstract of “Repressive Tolerance” by Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, jr., and Herbert Marcuse titled A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969).