"...the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements” on the Right, and the aggressively partisan promotion of speech, groups, and progressive movements on the Left" is the central thesis of the 60s' generation's prophet, Herbert Marcuse, in his satanic diatribe, "Repressive Tolerance". He ironically called it "liberating tolerance".
He was the "Father of the New Left": the Messiah of the Anti-Vietnam radical student protesters who gave us the "Summer of Love".
There are few more evil desk murderers than Marcuse, whose goal was to "read Marx into Freud". His booked was banned in multiple countries, he was even condemned in the USSR (of all places), and he was publicly condemned by Pope Paul VI in terms more invective than others have received for far more:
"As one of the marquee names of Marxist thought, Marcuse also remains, I believe, the only past or present Brandeis faculty member ever to be explicitly condemned by the Vatican. In 1969 Pope Paul VI singled out Freud and Marcuse by name, and denounced the “disgusting and unbridled” manifestations of eroticism, the “animal, barbarous and subhuman degradations” that were “cloaked as liberty” and packaged as emancipation “from conventional scruples.”
It is crucial to understand Marcuse in order to understand where we are now. The radical students of 1968 are now our professors and politicians.
"Marcuse instructed his acolytes to sell their totalitarianism as tolerance, “partisan tolerance,” which he introduced in an essay he penned in 1965 as a guide for how to shut down debate and silence the critics of Critical Theory.....According to Marcuse, classic tolerance has failed our societies. Why? Well because it tolerates all ideas, even those that are “wrong.” As a result, tolerance as it has been practiced since the word has had any meaning at all is in fact “repressive tolerance,” since it permits the expression of “unjust” views that perpetuate exploitation and oppression. As a result, we must redefine tolerance in such a way that oppression is removed. Meaning that from now on, one need only tolerate that which does not maintain established societal norms of “oppression.” Tolerance, to be “real” tolerance from now on must be “partisan tolerance."
What we are seeing in 2021 is the fruit of Marcuse's teaching to his disciples.
Who was Marcuse?
Herbert Marcuse was a German Jew born in Berlin who studied ontological Hegellian philosophy under Martin Heidegger after gaining a degree in German literature at Freiburg University. Heidegger, author of "Being and Time", was a member of the Nazi party, who aspired to be the leading philosopher of National Socialism.
As a Jew, Marcuse's career was put to short end with the rise of Hitler's Third Reich in 1933, so he fled to the United States, where he worked for the US Office of War Information and Office of Strategic Services (now the CIA). After the war ended, he worked for the Department of State as an intelligence analyst.
During this time he was a infamous member of the Institute of Social Research, an obscure sociology think-tank which came to be known as the "Frankfurt School".
As the 50s rolled in, Marcuse became a political theorist at Columbia University, then Harvard, then Brandeis, and finally the University of San Diego in California in 1965. He was a regular speaker at student protests, sold out events in the US and Europe, and he carved out a space with himself as the Pope of popular culture; the intellectual force behind the 60s counter-culture.
Ronald Reagan finally got rid of him in 1970.
He died in 1979 at the age of 80. Not soon enough.
His legacy is an obscurantist bibliography of poison:
- Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud
- One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
- An Essay on Liberation
- A Critique of Pure Tolerance
- Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory
- The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics
- Counterrevolution and Revolt
What Were Marcuse's Ideas?
Marcuse was renowned by the class of 1968 as a brilliant intellectual. Everyone else - almost, anyway - thought of him in more simple terms: an extremist pervert.
Marcuse's disastrous ideology was based around a single concept: marrying Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx; two of the most appalling sophist charlatans in modern history. His attempts to father a bastard child even worse than the combination of these unholy frauds succeeded spectacularly in the United States, where his thoughts were reflected on in Playboy, and student bookshelves everywhere.
The book that bought Marcuse to international fame was "Eros and Civilisation", which tried to explain Freud's "libidinal force" idea (Eros) with... drum roll... capitalism.
Life should be about sensuality and play, not reason or production
"[thesis]... to make the human body an instrument of pleasure rather than labor."
History is a political struggle against repression of our sexual instincts
"The very forces that rendered society capable of pacifying the struggle for existence [serve] to repress in the individuals the need for a liberation."
Reason and Capitalism stops us from reaching a non-sexually-repressed society
"reason was defined as an instrument of constraint, of instinctual suppression; the domain of the instincts, sensuousness, was considered as eternally hostile and detrimental to reason. The categories in which philosophy has comprehended the human existence have retained the connection between reason and suppression: whatever belongs to the sphere of sensuousness, pleasure, impulse has the connotation of being antagonistic to reason—something that has to be subjugated, constrained”
Sexual repression in children is dangerous
"The psychoanalytic liberation of memory explodes the rationality of the repressed individual. As cognition gives way to re-cognition, the forbidden images and impulses of childhood begin to tell the truth that reason denies."
People's minds repress themselves trying to follow social norms
"At the present stage, the personality tends toward a standardized reaction pattern established by the hierarchy of power and functions and by its technical, intellectual, and cultural apparatus."
Sex is for only for the workers if it doesn't affect productivity
"The high standard of living in the domain of the great corporations is restrictive in a concrete sociological sense: the goods and services that the individuals buy control their needs and petrify their faculties. In exchange for the commodities that enrich their life, the individuals sell not only their labor but also their free time."
How anyone could read this horseshit with a straight face is unknown. If you were a student and needed a political justification for having sex constantly, it was quite useful. Marcuse's message, dressed up in pretentious, obscurantist drivel, was: sexual morality is a form of capitalist oppression to rebel against.
Marcuse's next vomit was his Magnum Opus, "One-Dimensional Man", which is found as echoes on an innumerable amount of musicians' album covers and interviews. Its thesis compares the US and USSR, and how the industrialisation created, wait for it, more repression.
Man is a zombie instrument of the system
“The slaves of developed industrial Civilization are sublimated slaves, but they are slaves, for slavery is determined "neither by obedience nor by hardness of labour but by the status of being mere instrument, and the reduction of man to the state of a thing.”
Refusal of consumerism in favour of art
“Whether ritualized or not, art contains the rationality of negation. In its advanced positions, it is the Great Refusal—the protest against that which is.”
Consumerism is a form of social control
"Technology serves to institute new, more effective, and more pleasant forms of social control and social cohesion. The totalitarian tendency of these controls seems to assert itself in still another sense—by spreading to the less developed and even to the pre-industrial areas of the world, and by creating similarities in the development of capitalism and communism.”
Shallow materialism condemns people to spiritual poverty
“The reign of such a one-dimensional reality does not mean that materialism rules, and that the spiritual, metaphysical, and bohemian occupations are petering out. On the contrary, there is a great deal of “Worship together this week,” “Why not try God,” Zen, existentialism, and beat ways of life, etc. But such modes of protest and transcendence are no longer contradictory to the status quo and no longer negative. They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviorism, its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as part of its healthy diet.”
Capitalism fosters dependence, not autonomy
"One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypotheses which, incessantly and monopolistically repeated, become hyponotic definitions of dictations.”
Prosperity hides exploitation and promotes domination
"Those who devote their lives to earning a living are incapable of living a human existence.”
Working to live to pay for false needs
“We may distinguish both true and false needs. “False” are those which are superimposed upon the individual by particular social interests in his repression: the needs which perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, misery, and injustice. Their satisfaction might be most gratifying to the individual, but this happiness is not a condition which has to be maintained and protected if it serves to arrest the development of the ability (his own and others) to recognize the disease of the whole and grasp the chances of curing the disease. The result then is euphoria in unhappiness. Most of the prevailing needs to relax, to have fun, to behave and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate, belong to this category of false needs.”
The painful truth was Marcuse himself was the one-dimensional man; a sophist of mastodonic proportions.
These books becoming influential are what happen when dumb, drop-out university students read unreadable books and perceive them to be profound, simply on the basis they are incomprehensible. Philosophy students will rant at you for hours about how nobody truly understands their content.
But that's the problem: if it's so profound, why can't you understand it?
Sociology obscurantism attempts to mimic be a revelation, or as we know it in religious circles, scripture.
Totalitarianism As Just: Repressive Partisan Tolerance
However, of all Marcuse's revolting absurdities comprising his affront to basic common sense was his 1965 essay "Repressive Tolerance". It can be read, in full, here: https://www.marcuse.org/herbert/publications/1960s/1965-repressive-tolerance-fulltext.html
It was published "in a peculiar format, bound in black like a prayer book or missal and perhaps designed to compete with The Thoughts of Chairman Mao as devotional reading at student sit-ins."
Marcuse contends that to be truly tolerant in the Mill sense requires "intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed."
It is in this excrescence we see the genesis of:
- Censorship and suppression (e.g. deplatforming)
- So-called "political correctness"
- Being "intolerant of intolerance"
- The depraved corruption of Western society
- Left-wing militant radicalism
- Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals"
Analyze it all you want, but "Repressive Tolerance" is, for all intents and purposes, a playbook for all-our warfare on anyone who disagrees with those to the right of Comrade Lenin.
Cloaked in his appalling obscurantism was a deeply menacing call-to-arms:
"Marcuse argued that, because of the radical repressiveness of Western society, a tolerance for all viewpoints actually contributed to social oppression. A pervasive network of assumptions and biases implicitly privileges the viewpoint of the powerful, so that seemingly “equal” presentations of opposite opinions actually end up benefiting the viewpoint of the powerful. [snip]
In the light of this situation, Marcuse made a rather cunning inversion (one that has been aped countless times since by cultural organs across the United States): The fact that society is so radically unequal means that we should be intolerant and repressive in the name of tolerance and liberty. He rejected what he termed “indiscriminate tolerance” — a tolerance that accepts all viewpoints — in favor of “liberating tolerance” or “discriminating tolerance.” Unlike many of his disciples, Marcuse was frank about what this intolerance would mean: “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”
Marcuse's idea, put simply, was Western notions of being tolerant, liberal societies were entirely fake. And the cure for that was radical suppression and totalitarianism.
The Wall Street Journal rightly tied this back to so-called "Cancel Culture":
"Herbert Marcuse, of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, published an essay in 1965 with the provocative title “Repressive Tolerance,” in which he argued that “liberating tolerance” would entail “the withdrawal of toleration of groups and assembly from groups and movements” on the right, while encouraging all aggressive movements on the left. His dream, it would seem, has come true.
Use the wrong word, have a political flaw in your past, fail to line up for the next obviously good cause, and the tolerant will be the first to come after you. They may not be able to burn you at the stake, à la the Spanish Inquisition, but they will make sure you don't get the job, promotion, prize or leg up."
Let's go piece by piece.
Liberalism causes inequality so its tolerance is a form of repression
"1. The passive toleration of entrenched and established attitudes and ideas even if their damaging effect on man and nature is evident…
2. the active, official tolerance granted to the Right as well as to the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to the party of humanity I call this non-partisan tolerance ‘abstract’ or ‘pure’ inasmuch as it refrains from taking sides – but in doing so it actually protects the already established machinery of discrimination.”
You can only talk about tolerance in a specific kind of society
"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. Therefore, all contesting opinions must be submitted to ‘the people’ for its deliberation and choice. But I have already suggested that the democratic argument implies a necessary condition, namely, that the people must be capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge, that they must have access to authentic information, and that, on this basis, their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought.”
The media determines reality and prevents 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. Under the rule of monopolistic media–themselves the mere instruments of economic and political power–a mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of the society.“
Democracy allows its own subversion by its majority
"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."
The only way to achieve "true tolerance" is suppression of Right-wing views
"Withdrawal of tolerance from regressive movements before they can become active; intolerance even toward thought, opinion and word, and finally, intolerance…toward the self-styled conservatives, the political Right…."
"When tolerance mainly serves the protection and preservation of a repressive society, when it serves to neutralize opposition and to render men immune against other and better forms of life, then tolerance has been perverted. ... Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”
"Given this situation, I suggested in 'Repressive Tolerance' the practice of discriminating tolerance in an inverse direction, as a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right, thus counteracting the pervasive inequality of freedom (unequal opportunity of access to the means of democratic persuasion) and strengthening the oppressed against the oppressed."
Language should be destabilized to break our sense of meaning
"And if it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning (and the practice enclosed in this universe) in order to enable man to find out what is true and false, this deceptive impartiality would have to be abandoned. "
People must be educated out of false consciousness
“All that we can hope for, [Herbert] Marcuse argued, is that we will be 'reeducated into the truth' by an enlightened minority, 'who are entitled to suppress rival and harmful opinions."
Direct action should be aimed at "harmful" right-wing ideas
"The efforts to counteract this dehumanization must begin at the place of entrance, there where the false consciousness takes form (or rather: is systematically formed—it must begin with stopping the words and images which feed this consciousness)” (Marcuse 1965, p. 111). To be liberated, individuals “would have to get information slanted in the opposite direction” (p. 99). The withdrawal of tolerance would have to be aimed at ideas, 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.”
Education institutions should be halls of radicalism
"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.… Restoration of such freedom would also imply intolerance toward scientific research in the interest of deadly “deterrents,” of abnormal human endurance under inhuman conditions, etc."
Violence is justified as a means
"This violence indeed breeds violence. 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. Non-violence is normally not only preached to but exacted from the weak--it is a necessity rather than a virtue, and normally it does not seriously harm the case of the strong."
Marcuse's conclusion in this repugnant pamphlet is tolerance in liberal societies should be punitively "withdrawn" from a specific part of the political spectrum in order to engender "true" tolerance. "True" tolerance needs to be "liberated" in society by suppressing obnoxious viewpoints which would denounce or obstruct it.
It all sounds rather fluffy until you realise it's the essence of every genocide known to man, and the philosophy of tyrants since the beginning of history. It's pure evil.
Its adherents still claim, of course, it's a profound idea:
"In opposition, Marcuse’s repressive tolerance essay called out in 1965 what is now more widely recognized today as “the free speech fallacy” (Stanley 2016). If we all have a de jure right to express any opinion in public, the de facto condition is that left opinions are usually marginalized and often suppressed, while Right-wing ones, which beneﬁt the ruling class, are given free play. “This pure tolerance of sense and nonsense” practiced under the conditions prevailing in the United States today “cannot fulfill the civilizing function attributed to it by the liberal protagonists of democracy, namely protection of dissent” (Marcuse 1965, 94, 117)."
Left-wing ideas aren't unfairly marginalised. Left-wing thought dominates academia, media, youth, Big Tech, and entire political parties. It's not "marginalised" by any stretch of the word, and when it's rejected, it's largely because it's a) incoherent, b) illogical, c) irrational, d) destructive, or e) likely to end in mass violence, coercive force, or genocide.
The Radical Disciples Who Became Millennial Politicians
Marcuse was California's prophet. He was the 60s prophet. The people in government, academia, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley today were either direct radical disciples of his ideas, or indirectly influenced by them as a form of reified truth. His thoughts appear in music, films, "journalism", so-called "community organising" rhetoric, and are referenced as axiomatic fact.
Marcuse is the scripture of radicals who never, ever know when to stop. He is their poet Laureate, and theological, intellectual basis for their destructive behaviour.
The truth of Marcuse's canon - sorry, "conceptual framework" - is it was the faux intellectual justification for the narcissism, hedonism, irresponsibility, and vulgar degenerative nonsense of two decades of 1950s children who didn't want to be shipped off to war.
They have nothing else inside. Many of them became fundamentalists in the 80s, but a significant proportion learned no other teleological basis for their lives.
A legacy we now suffer in the Information Age which is manifesting in the tyrannical chaos of lazy authoritarians unable to solve our most basic problems.
"Repressive Tolerance" was a textbook for political radicals to justify attacks on their ideological opponents, including the "moral" cover for it.
Marcuse has his endless line of apologists: predominantly dyspeptic university graduates who think both he and Lacan give them an edge in bars when trying to look smarter than anyone else around the table. However, what his verbal diarrhea really illustrates is you can dress up tyrannical horror in ridiculous language for an entire culture and they will buy it if it provides a rationale for their own inner tyranny.
Marcuse's arguments might tend to provoke important questions, one could concede. However, so does dog shit lying on the road, as to whether we need more investment and engagement from local councilors, or what it really says about our society at large.
What gives Marcuse away as the authoritarian maniac he is, like Marx, is the prescription he submits after ten hours of deranging, supercilious bullshit lulling you to sleep: force. "Repressive Tolerance" concludes with the need for undemocratic behaviour prejudicing the will of one group over another, on he pretext of unfairness.
Children know these arguments and don't need to dress it up in the pretentious linguistic salad the Frankfurt School do for their easily-influenced, religious cultists.
Marcuse gave them a bible when they didn't want to do what those church people did, and helped them railroad their parents and teachers with semantic overload to get away with it. It's not complex to understand.
Now those little tyrants are deciding tolerance for half their society needs to be "withdrawn", including the President of the United States, 75 million Americans, intellectuals who disagree, artists who provoke, academics who dissent, and those who don't subscribe to the faith.
The toxic disciples of this cowardly, venomous malcontent - the Tarantulas of Nietzsche's prophecy - have their claws in the liberal society he hated. And you can bet they will do their Master's Will.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”