The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 20
Repressive Tolerance Series, Part 4 of 4
In this fourth and final part of his four-part lecture series about “Repressive Tolerance,” James Lindsay takes the reader from the darkest point of the essay, which was the exciting climax of Part 3, through the end of Marcuse’s argument. In this part, Marcuse dedicates the rest of the original 1965 essay to explaining why it is him and people like him (that is, Critical Theorists) who get to decide what constitutes good violence and bad violence, truth and falsity, liberating tolerance from the kind that must not be tolerated and must be suppressed. In our own time, it is the Woke and the high-powered elites in government, media, education, and law who have taken up this mantle of being able to decide, in the spirit of Herbert Marcuse, what must be tolerated, no matter how bad it is, and what must be suppressed, no matter how legitimate it is. The parallels to our own time are undeniable, and, as Lindsay has claimed throughout, the unavoidable conclusion is that we live in the asymmetric and totalitarian logic of “Repressive Tolerance” today.
The second half of this episode leaves the essay itself and dives into a postscript to the original essay that Marcuse added three years later, in 1968, after the logic of his essay had already caused innumerable riots and episodes of civil unrest at the end of that tumultuous and transformational decade. In exploring this postscript, we see Marcuse sticking to his guns, but we also see just how blatantly obvious it is that his repressive tolerance has become the monster it sought to slay, which sheds considerable light upon what some people are now calling “the Great Realignment” in our societies, cultures, and politics.
For those who haven’t yet heard it, listen to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 so you can understand the context for this part of the series.
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The nuttiness of this essay, and this line of reasoning that you see more generally when you see it in the wild, is that if you have the power to censor, you are NOT opressed!
Thanks so much. This little podcast project has been the most helpful resource I know of in terms of understanding how we go to where we are today. The philosophy, the logic, and the strategy of that which governs us now can all be found in this work of Marcuse.
Should be “para-logic” or “pseudo logic” rather than “logic,” because it is not logical in reality.
So they know all the tricks, and now that everything is flipped and the modern left authoritarians have the reigns it looks like they are assuming that the modern right will try to use the same tactics they did to gain power. And by doing so become the totalitarians they sought to replace. Except I have this feeling that the real establishment powers are just using “repressive tolerance” and its acolytes to further efforts to squash legitimate dissent to the ever growing central bureaucracy of the USA…it really is brilliant. But then again wokeness infects bureaucracies so this could get interesting to watch the corporate cronies grappling with the true believers…
Marcuse’s claim, the strong desirability of intellectual, elitist leadership, operates in a vacuum. I understand that his views are situated in the 1960’s, so details about the structural oppression of the then conservative hegemony we’re clearer, but as liberal culture, on the ascendancy, bypasses and clamps down on conservative dissent, the frustration of the ‘Deplorables’ will heighten, not unlikely to destructive ends given enough animus and disinformation. If enough of them succumb to the likes of QAnon or further forms extremism, it will heighten the cries of extreme left with activism for stricter (more authoritarian) control.
Equally divisive radicalization of left and right, now, will not mean equal and fair consideration of the meets and bounds of their relative positions. Instead, the left will be heralded and the right will be silenced, justifiably or not. The feedback-loop of that political pressure, unless something unforeseeable to me now comes along, may build-up for many or numbers of conservatives could become disenfranchised with the democratic process, lessening the resistance to the authoritarian control of the Critical Social Justice movement.
The issues are not right or left, Liberal or Conservative. We have the equivalent of the Salem Witch Trials being conducted on social media by the WOKE. This is in violation of the foundational principles of our society as the WOKE intends. They are the ones who want to cast our society aside because it violates the beliefs of their cult. If there is a backlash, and it better happen before it is too late, it will be by people who love freedom no matter where they sit on the Political Spectrum. It will be by reasonable people willing to stare down tyranny yet again!