Herbert Marcuse coined the expression ‘repressive tolerance’. It took off — as well it might. It’s an important idea, providing one keeps in mind that there are very few situations in which repressive tolerance isn’t better than repressive intolerance! Indeed, showing the motivated impatience so typical of Western intellectuals, Marcuse showed how you can take the idea and retrofit it to — well whatever you like.
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.
Voila! Job done. Bob’s your uncle.
Anyway, this leads me to coin the expression repressive diversity. And I’m not sure it is better than its opposite. As the Sydney Review of Books informs us:
Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian essayist and researcher whose writing explores class, capital, intergenerational trauma and diaspora.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with any of these subjects. But how come they so dominate the discussion of difference? Could that be a kind of cultural dominance itself? Note how the blurb could be about any difference or deviance from what was honoured in the dominant culture whether it was based on sex, gender, race, disfigurement, disablement, neurodiversity and on and on. So really, each of these exercises is primarily about the dominant culture and its endlessly rehearsed inadequacies — though those inadequacies are invariably against some theoretical (and so utopian) standard rather than by comparison with other existing cultures.
Should the dominant culture be more broadminded and inviting? Sure should. But then we should all be kinder. I should have been kinder yesterday. So should you. But what about all the things in a person’s history that might be different that might enrich our lives rather than simply provide a benchmark by which to grade our own culture’s intolerance? They’d be particular things, and having articulated them, one might find connections between them, and between them and the dominant culture. But they wouldn’t be, in the first instance, generic ones.