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Categorized | Culture, Politics

Tolerance as hypocrisy and as superstition

Modernists and liberals often deride conservatives for their beliefs in what the liberals often consider to be superstitious fallacies.  After all, to the modernists, if human history is the unbridled march of progress from barbarism to what they call “civilization,” the Far West now represents the summit of that said “civilization,” the past and its mystic beliefs represent something societies must move away from.

The 18th-century movement known as the “Englightenment” set in motion the opposition to the superstitions of the supernatural realm.  During that era, the intellectuals began to attack the Church and Scripture, and these attacks have continued into the modern day.  Of course, never is it considered is the notion that modernity might have superstitions and prejudices of its own, which exist for the sole purpose of propping up modern political and social institutions.

The concepts of democracy, egalitarianism and liberalism (as well as their distant cousin, Marxism) are a few such superstitions.  To question the value of democracy as a social system is regarded as tantamount to an egregious heresy, while to oppose the egalitarian notion that “all men are created equal,” too, would only be conceived as an implausible falsehood.  Although few people could explain why democracy is better than theocracy, aside from the broad notions of “freedom of choice” and “freedom of action,” they still continue to believe in democracy as if it were a sacred notion which could never be wrong.  Such was the spirit of the modern-day “Crusaders,” who raised up arms, not in the name of God, but in the name of this modern idol.

Ali Shariati described the predicament in his book Marxism and Other Western Fallacies:

Humanity…took democracy in place of theocracy as its key to liberation.

Again, humanity became the hapless victim sacrificed to the unchecked powers that brought science, technique, and everyday life into orbit around their maddening and continually growing greed and search for profits.

The desire for equality, for liberation from this dizzying whirl of personal avarice, so horrifyingly accelerated by the machine, led humanity into a revolt that resulted in communism. this communism, however, simply represents the same fanatical and frightening power as the Medieval Church, only without God. It has its popes, but they rule not in the name of the Lord but in the name of the proletariat. These absolute despots and “sole proprietors’’ also claim quasi-prophetic and spiritual honors and pontificate on matters of science, belief, morals, art, and literature.

The irony in this is that, though the Enlightenment sought to view the world in rational terms, it succeeded only partially.  In scientific endeavors, it may have brought about the Scientific Method, but in other areas, it merely replaced one mythos with one more convenient to them.

The mythos of democracy rose to become the mythical foundation for this new “secular theocracy“.  Central to such this mythos was the absolute rejection of the traditional priestly or military castes which had characterized Traditional times, and its replacement with a new class of people directly chosen from their own.  But to perpetrate this myth, newer and newer rules and theologies had to be drawn up.  Thus arose the second mythos of equality and tolerance.

Tolerance, it seems, has become an article of faith among the modernists in the West. Everyone is required to be tolerant of everyone else, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or creed. So prevalent is the notion of tolerance, that it has, for the last 50 years, displaced the traditional notions of morality and ethics; criticizing certain lifestyles, has now become the a grave sin.

Tolerance is not just an outgrowth of the liberal notion of egalitarianism and democracy: it is the idea of those taken to logical extremes. After all, if everyone is equal, why should one man’s lifestyle or creed be better than anyone else’s?  Why should there be an “absolute” truth, if everyone is entitled to their opinion?

Nevertheless, this sort of relativism can only extend so far, because its goal was never to create an environment of free inquiry, but rather to “replace the old with the new”.  Thus, the practice of tolerance in general creates a fundamental contradiction: if tolerance, by default is “good,” then it stands to reason from this logical framework that intolerance is “bad”. The ideologues in the Western world summarize this concept by the maxim, “We must be intolerant of intolerance” – or perhaps, slightly more verbosely, “Intolerance of Intolerance is the Only Intolerance Tolerated“.

While “anti-Semitism” is often decried as intolerant, far fewer people seem concerned with anti-Christian sentiment. Here, Israeli vandals have vandalized a church in Jerusalem with the phrase, “Death to Christianity”.

However, if the Traditional world was intolerant, it was at least forthcoming and honest.  Both the secular governments and religions of old set down in clear writing the letter of the law, so that there would be no mistake about what was permitted and forbidden.  Even though the penalties could have been harsh, and the judges could have been corrupt, there were seldom surprises when it came to the notion of right and wrong itself.  For instance, if one spoke ill of the King, he could be expected to be prosecuted; if one’s behaviors were outside the bounds of decency, it was also clearly written that he would be punished.

Even during the worst of times in the medieval era, kings would offer protection to various peoples passing through their land, or even permit them to settle under royal jurisdiction within the realm.  Under the crusaders, the Knights Templar rarely attacked places of worship, preferring to meet their Muslim opponents on the battlefield, and likewise, Christians in the Holy Land under Muslim rule were given a measure of freedom by the rulers of that era.

The modern world, characterized by its rootlessness and arbitrary definitions of what is tolerant and what is not, is in fact much more tyrannical than even the worst despotism of old.  As hate-speech and hate-crime legislation in many Western nations demonstrates, these laws are in fact far more cryptic and unequally applied than ancient laws applying to the defamation of a monarch.  We need only look towards recent events to recognize that such laws are merely, at best a tyrannical a means to an end.

This near-religious fervor manifests itself in another way as well: ideas inconsistent with the supposed “status-quo” are disqualified on that basis alone.  The liberal totalitarians employ a standard rebuttal when faced with notions which might shatter their worldview, often by associating their enemies with “Nazi Germany,” or some other now-unpopular regime.  Of course, from a dialectical point of view, this is a silly, middle-school rejoinder. 21st Century multi-cultural, post-industrial America is not going to follow the the ethnic Völkisch model of the early 20th century Nazi folk state or pre-industrial, agrarian Soviet model. Indeed, if these two models are the baseline for what constitutes “totalitarianism,” then the West is forever exempt from totalitarianism, even as they impose stiffer penalties for hate-speech or fine women for wearing certain clothing.

From another perspective, we might even say that the so-called democracies of the West are more of a threat to us than any dictatorship, past or present.  Those states labeled as “authoritarian regimes” or “Communist dictatorships,” really only sought an outward conformity for the sake of social stability.  Even during the height of anti-Christian persecutions in communist nations, if one managed to worship without the knowledge of the authorities, the state would let them be.  The “tolerant” American liberal-democratic system is, in fact, the opposite, because it projects an air of individuality while demanding a subconscious conformity from its citizens, imposing the belief that ideas such as tolerance and democracy are the genesis of all legitimate thought, and that anything outside this is heresy which need not even be considered.

Evola noted that in his time, Europe’s brush with Bolshevism was a dangerous one, but that in general, the worst that Bolshevism had to offer was a sort of physical slavery.  Today’s notions of “tolerance,” “democracy,” and “equality,” then, as ideas of spiritual enslavement — borne from an illegitimate love-affair with between Americanism and the lack of culture and morality — are far more toxic than any “authoritarian” regime would devise.

About William van Nostrand

William van Nostrand is a native of Chicago, Illinois and is currently the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of He holds a B.A. in Economics as well as a minor in cultural anthropology. His interests are highly varied and include late medieval European architecture, German romantic classical music, and travel.
  • Ray Wilson

    I’d say that also multiculturalism and tolerance in ancient regimes was a far different creature in that while tolerance was extended in say, Rome, Persia, the Caliphate, it was a limited tolerance. the concept of citizenship did not exist as it does today. For example there was a latin trading community in Constantinople, and a muslim population, and while these were tolerated they certainly were never viewed as “citizens” or “byzantines” by the Imperial authorities but a foreign population. Ptolemaic Alexandria is another example of a “multicultural” city, but infact it was a city with a specific hierarchy and separation, with the Greeks cleary on top and the other peoples occupying lesser stations. This led to violence at times but even when it worked there was no doubt who the Ptolemies counted as”their own” vs. outsiders. In the west today citizenship is available without national consideration- a “french citizen” could be from any number of places, yet legally be french. This would have been a concept entirely foreign to a French man only a few centuries ago. Likewise for the UK in the news referring to a particular “british” athlete who is black or indian. This would have been unheard of in the past. This isn’t because there were no indians or blacks in London, but there was an understading that they simply weren’t anymore english than an englishman living in Tanzania was Tanzanian in the same sense as the natives.