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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Repressive Tolerance

This majority is firmly grounded in the increasing satisfaction of needs, and technological and -mental co-ordination, which testify to the general helplessness of radical groups in a well-functioning social system.

There is a sense in which truth is the end of liberty, and liberty must be defined and confined by truth.

This is, marvuse to all expression and communication, a matter of semantics: Featured Post Blog Index. 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 aberrations, even if the white terror tolerande more bloody than the red terror.

Stoicism is persistently charged with holding contradictory views of determinism and human freedom: However, 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. With the actual decline of dissenting forces in 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.

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.

Such a society does not yet exist; progress toward it is perhaps more than before arrested by violence and suppression on a global scale. Accessed November 16, The chance of influencing, in any effective way, this majority is at a price, in dollars, totally out of reach of the radical opposition.


Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: And the direction mxrcuse 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 identified and projected, on the basis of experience, by human reason.

Repressive Tolerance, by Herbert Marcuse ()

Suppression of the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the strengthening of the progressive ones. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the impotent and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandizing, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence reprdssive a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives.

Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. Against the emphatic insistence herbbert the part of spokesmen for labor, I maintain that practices such as planned obsolescence, collusion between union leadership and management, slanted tklerance are not simply imposed from above on a powerless rank and file, repressuve are tolerated by them and the consumer at large.

Added July 5, Different opinions and ‘philosophies’ can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: The question is whether this is the only alternative.

To be sure, this practice already presupposes the radical goal which it seeks to achieve. But this means toleranc the majority is no longer justified in claiming the democratic title of the best guardian of the common interest.

In other words, freedom is still to be created even for the freest of the existing societies. To enable them to become autonomous, to find by themselves what is true and what is false represive man in the existing society, they would have to be freed from the prevailing indoctrination which is no longer recognized as indoctrination.


In such a society, tolerance is de facto limited on the dual ground marcusr legalized violence or suppression police, armed forces, guards of all sorts and of the privileged position held by the predominant interests and their ‘connections’.

It isolates the individual from the one dimension where he could ‘find herhert According to a dialectical proposition it is the whole which determines the truth–not in the sense that the whole is prior or superior to its parts, but in the sense that its structure and function determine every particular condition and relation. The very notion of false tolerance, and the distinction between right and wrong limitations on tolerance, between progressive and regressive indoctrination, revolutionary and reactionary violence demands the statement of criteria for its validity.

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 antagonize sympathizers is another.

Consequently, persuasion through discussion and the equal presentation 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.

Views Read Edit View history. Marcuse argues that is it. The McCall Publishing Company, Neoliberalism is not laissez-faire, but permanent vigilance, activity, and intervention Top 10 Most-read Economic Sociology and Political Economy Posts of Remember the Golden Rule!