Thursday, September 26, 2019

Tolerance is CERTAINLY NOT ONLY a Conservative Value

Today, I want to a recent video Dave Rubin made for PragerU, titled Tolerance is a Conservative Value, a video that I am quite disappointed in. The title itself already looks suspicious: tolerance is a classical liberal value, and in the modern West, it should be a universally shared value of progressives and conservatives alike. Indeed, Rubin gets it right when he says in the video that America itself was built on tolerance. Rubin's angle seems to be that, in the America of 2019, only the right is still tolerant of diversity of thought, because the left has become totally intolerant. I guess that, from here, one could claim that tolerance has therefore become a conservative value.

However, this view is not only factually wrong, but also dangerous for the future of liberty and Western civilization itself. Let me explain. Firstly, while I agree that, on average, the left is less tolerant of diversity of thought compared with the right, this aggregate measure is in large part skewed by the fact that a small minority faction in the left has become very intolerant, due to the strong influence of critical theory and the conflict theory of sociology. However, the rest of the left remains quite tolerant, as Rubin should have found when he was interviewing people like Bret Weinstein, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. To say that the left as a whole is intolerant would be an injustice to these great people and many others. Moreover, to claim that the whole of the right is tolerant would also be inaccurate, as right-wing rejection of classical liberal values is alive and well, as evidenced by thinkers like Sohrab Ahmari and Patrick Deneen.

Furthermore, to claim the value of tolerance solely for the right is to contribute to the elite-led attempt to polarize society, which also plays into the conflict theory of sociology. As history tells us, a polarized society inevitably leads to tribal thinking, and such a society is by definition inhospitable to individual liberty. Right now, Western society is not yet polarized, but there are top-down attempts to make it so. The success of the Yang and Gabbard campaigns have demonstrated that ordinary people are in fact not politically polarized yet. But certain elites on both sides of politics continue to promote the narrative of polarization, in order to create this polarization, which would benefit their agenda in one way or another. For media elites on both the mainstream right and the mainstream left, polarization would mean more loyal audiences and more revenue, healthy political discourse be damned. For those further to the left who subscribe to the conflict theory of sociology, polarization would create the necessary conditions to support a Marxian narrative of society divided between the oppressors and the oppressed, which would be used to justify radical change, including some changes that would trample on individual freedom. In light of this situation, I believe our most important priority as freedom loving people should be to shut down polarization in all its ugly forms, and to encourage the strengthening of the social fabric by bringing people together and emphasizing their commonalities. Sweeping statements like how only conservatives are tolerant and how all progressives are intolerant certainly don't help here.

My point is that, while Rubin has been correct in stating that there is a real threat to classical liberal values, this threat can be minimized by discouraging polarization and strenthening the social fabric. On the other hand, to encourage polarization would be to create the very conditions that would lead to a further erosion of freedom. Therefore, by making a polarizing statement, Rubin has, in my opinion, ironically contributed to the very problem he wants to fight.