We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

There is no right to demand acceptance… but there is indeed a right to demand tolerance

Tolerate v.tr. 1 allow the existence or occurrence of without authoritative interference. 2 leave unmolested 3 endure or permit, esp. with forbearance

Accept v.tr. 3 regard favourably; treat as welcome 4 a believe, receive (an opinion, explanation etc.) as adequate or valid. b be prepared to subscribe to (a belief, philosophy etc.)

The assassination of Dutch cultural nationalist Pim Fortuyn has raised many questions about the nature of tolerance and liberty. Orrin Judd suggests that Fortuyn was not a libertarian as some have claimed and in this I agree. Fortuyn was indeed informed by some very libertarian principles but sought to apply them within a statist context that placed him at least somewhat within the stranger wing of a Euro-conservative fringe with more than a few touches of the ‘classical liberal’ about him.

In truth Fortuyn defied easy categorisation but in some ways his views on immigration were just dealing with the inherent contradictions between distributive statism’s prerequisite of homogeneity (the need for a quantifiable unit called ‘citizen’) and the dis-incentivization for cultural assimilation and social integration inherent in welfare statism. Much of what he said has also been said by Ilana Mercer (who is a top flight pukka libertarian with whom I just happen to disagree regarding the implications of immigration in a free society) as well as many cultural conservatives.

Orrin Judd takes the view that the essence of Fortuyn was just about advocating sexual licence (a word loaded with political meanings I reject) whilst himself not tolerating religious based distaste in others for Fortuyn’s overt homosexuality. Yet having read some of what he said and trying to filter out the political populist crap that all democratic political figures encode their words with, it seems clear to me that what Fortuyn really opposed was the fact within the Muslim community in the Netherlands were elements who wanted to translate their lack of acceptance into intolerance.

Fortuyn was not insisting Muslims or for than matter Christians like Orrin Judd accept, which is to say agree with his sexual predilections, just that they tolerate them and for him this was non-negotiable (and I happen to think he was correct in that view). And therein lies the fatal flaw of all democratic state centred societies rather than classical liberal civil societies with the state just as ‘nightwatchman’… if political manipulation of the state gives the more cohesive sections of that society the ability to back their lack of acceptance with force (i.e. to make the laws of the state reflect their views), then a legitimate lack of acceptance becomes illegitimate intolerance. Fortuyn feared that in a democratic state, a cohesive alien Muslim cultural bloc lead by people for whom society and state were logically one and the same, would start to move the state away from being the guarantor of tolerance for people largely not accepted: of which homosexuals are a classical example being as they are both ubiquitous and always a minority.

Tolerance however is not a value neutral condition, far from it in fact. To tolerate something is to not accept it. One does not tolerate one’s friends, one accepts them. I tolerate people listening to heavy metal music even though I think most of it is drivel, for the simple reason it is none of my damn business what other people listen to. It only becomes my business if they are playing it loudly in the next house at four o’clock in the morning but then it is not a matter of ‘tolerance’ any more, it is a matter of unwillingly imposed real cost regardless of the type of music involved. I tolerate smokers because if they want to kill themselves and smell like ashtrays, that is their business not mine. I do not accept it as a good idea however. What is wrong is to use the violence of the state to prevent people doing what they want to themselves and others of a like mind and there is the problem with some conservative Christians and more or less all radical Muslims: they want to criminalise what they see as sin rather than criminalise the violation of the objective rights of others. Opposing that is not intolerance because tolerance does not mean tolerating intolerance, any more than it is tolerance to tolerate anything which actively seeks to violate your self-ownership. If you believe homosexuality (or eating pork or looking at pictures of naked women) is a sin, well fine, that is up to you, feel free to not engage in gay sex (or pork dinners or Playboy). If that then induces you to vote for people who will use the violence of the state (laws) to discriminate against homosexuals (or ban pork butchers and Playboy magazine), well that is not fine.

Just remember that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. In a democratic state, no one group ever monopolizes power for ever. If the people who, on the basis of religious non-acceptance, want to legally disadvantage (i.e. no longer tolerate) certain people because of their sexual peccadillos… and then use their transitory political clout to actualise that, well don’t be too surprised if one day the object of that discrimination tries to use the state to legally discriminate against the religions which are seen as the source of the intolerance towards them. In a democratic state, any large cohesive voting bloc with intolerant rather than just non-accepting views is a potential threat. The more truly democratic a system is, the greater such threats are.

Comments are closed.