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Liberalism and Tolerance

Intolerance in a tolerant world
I used to think I was an all-out liberal.

I had all the makings of one. I was (or I wanted to be) a writer, I was all for equal rights, I was all about kindness and justice. I liked drinking, living the free life, staying up late, burning the candle from both ends. It was a free world, and people were free to live as they dreamed. After all, your dreams are what make you, and if you can't indulge in your creativity, then it's a very dull world indeed.

Nowadays, I'm not so sure. I'm still a drinker, I still write for a living. I believe in justice, but not so much in kindness. I still stay up late, and I still think that creativity is important in keeping the world a great, happy place.

But I don't think that it should just be a great, happy place. Not when people who are exactly like how I was back a decade ago are calling the shots. That's because no matter how well-meaning liberals are, they make the one single mistake that shows the dark side of that political theory: they think that people are genuinely good and trustworthy.

Does that mean I don't think people are genuinely good? No, I think that people are brought into this world as blank slates. What they're exposed to growing up, as well as their own personal dispositions, are what make them good or bad folks. With the amount of media that's been readily available since the start of the late 20th century, and with how people left and right are fighting over one thing or the other, then it's easy to see just where along that spectrum the adults of today, and the young adults of tomorrow, are.

And personally, I don't really find everybody trustworthy. I guess I trust a handful of folks, but that's about it. Everybody else is suspsect.

Why is this a bad thing though?!

Well, that's because it sets them up for intense disappointment when they're proven wrong. You let your neighbor borrow a tool for some time, and when they don't give it back right after they're done using it - they might need it for other projects - you get pissed off, and that sours your relationship with said neighbor. A lady dresses provocatively - well within her rights - and then they get raped by men.

And when people start showing some apprehension over what's slowly becoming the new normal - appreciation of gender neutrality, attacking doctors who tell fat people to lose weight becase they're fat-shaming, et cetera - they get attacked for being too conservative, and for infringing on the other person's rights.

I understand that it is the duty of the guy who borrowed your tool to return it to you. I also understand that the woman should be allowed to dress any way she wants to. But you have the responsibility to yourself to remind the neighbor to return the tool. And the woman has the responsibility to be aware that not all men are sophisticated animals, and that she should be ready to protect herself should she need to.

But, you'll probably say "But these people (the neighbor and the rapist) should know better!" That's right. They should. But the reality is, they don't. That's my entire problem with liberalism. They put too much emphasis on what people should do without thinking of what they actually do. And when these people disappoint them in that very basic facet of their belief, they start going up the path of persecuting that person. Because they're not doing the right thing.

I get it. People who don't do the right thing should be punished. This is one of the reasons I was intrigued by Duterte as president, because of the promise that he'll punish people who do bad things. But what liberals don't see is that when they start persecuting other people from their high roads, they start acting as prejudiced as these people are. And they feel that they're right, because they're pushing for the right thing.

I came upon this interesting comic portraying philosopher Karl Popper's Paradox of Tolerance:

That's pretty horrifying to me. I mean, I get it. Intolerance is terrible. But it's terrible no matter who's practicing it - whether you're a stoic tolerant liberal, or an intolerant white supremacist. I believe that everybody - even right-wing, macho neo-Nazis - has something to contribute to the planet. Take one segment of society out, and the ecosystem will eventually balance itself out, but you still lost one segment.

I mean, we freak out over one lost specie of fish. How is this much different? Oh right, fish don't step on your rights. Unless you're a fisherman, and the fish in question is a predator of your main catch. See what I did there? It's all about how you look at things.

John Rawls further sheds light on the paradox by saying that the tolerant has the mandate to practice self-preservation; the intolerant can (and will, given the chance) silence the tolerant. But that street goes both ways. The intolerant also does have a mandate to practice self-preservation.

So I guess what I'm saying is that with the world we are in today, conflict is unavoidable. And this time around, it's not just the intolerants who are at fault. Even the liberals have some fault.

Everybody's fighting for their own rights, and the way things are going, nobody's going to get what they want. Either the tolerants are going to win by wiping out the intolerants, or the latter will stay in power, and whatever happens, the status quo will remain the same. Only the guys in power will be any different.

Here's to the next millennium guys. May you live in interesting times.


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