MORE ON THE NEW INTOLERANT "TOLERANCE": "You must only tolerate what you're TOLD to tolerate!"
Commentary on "THE LONG TRUCE: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit" by A.J. Conyers
The old virtues have all but disappeared. But there is one "virtue" that has risen to the top of the charts. There is one word that is heard constantly and incessantly: "tolerance". We are to tolerate everyone and everything. All points of view and all lifestyles are to be tolerated. Yet, as this revealing study makes clear, the modern notion of tolerance is far removed from what it traditionally has always meant. The recent concept of tolerance is a perversion of its former self, being the polar opposite to its original meaning.
Today we have managed to turn tolerance into a virtue or a doctrine. It used to be a practice or a habit. It used to be based on the way we treated one another. Today it is a an "ism" promoted by the state for its own ends. It used to be seen as a means to an end. Today it is treated as an end in itself. In the past, you tolerated someone, treated them with respect, even though you might violently disagree with their beliefs or their lifestyle. Today, to tolerate someone means you must also embrace their philosophy, their worldview, their lifestyle. That is a big difference. In this historical and philosophical inquiry, Conyers examines how the concept of tolerance has changed over the last few centuries.
He suggests that its redefinition emerged at the same time as the modern nation state arose. He argues that there is a connection between the rise of the centralisation of power in the modern state, and this redefinition of tolerance. The modern idea of tolerance first arose in the 17th century. Conyers argues that two parallel developments, the rise of the nation state and emergence of the isolated individual, served as a backdrop to the changing concept of tolerance.
As mediating institutions like the church and family began to wane, increasingly isolated and fragmented individuals had to be kept in check by growing state bureaucracies. Indeed, a pressing question for thinkers of this time was, how could a mass of individuals be controlled, when former social glues like religion and community were in decline?
Natural groups like the family and other associations are easily contained. But unnatural groups, like the organised state, need other means to achieve social harmony and conflict resolution. How can individuals live together in peace when natural groupings break down? The state, in order to reduce threats to its centralisation and control, had produced a concept of toleration which minimised absolutes, sought to water down religious and moral conviction, and promoted a fuzzy egalitarianism. Thus questions of ultimate meaning are settled, not by religion or morality, but by the state. The state maintains power by subsuming to itself powers formerly held by family, religion and the church.
Mediating structures between the individual and the state were seen as threats, and the philosophical understanding of tolerance changed to accommodate the centralizing powers of the state. That is why those who today argue that family does not mean any-and-all types of relationships, or those who proclaim that the Christian message is exclusive and absolutely true, are seen as such a threat by the state and its supporters. A watered-down religion, and an amorphous definition of family, are acceptable in today's climate, but an insistence on truth and absolutes is not. Thus relativism rules.
Conyers looks at how modern thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke altered our understanding of tolerance, to make it serve the interests of the rising state powers. He argues that we need to return to the earlier, Christian understanding of tolerance. That understanding was based on humility, not indifference.
Indeed, the modern attempt to disavow absolutes and certainty has made matters worse, not better. Our times are characterised by doubt, fear and distrust. The old verities and certainties have been jettisoned for a hodge-podge of multiculturalism, relativism and apathy. The modern promoters of secularism and tolerance may have won in the halls of power and influence (academia, the media, etc.), but the common person looks for something more sure. A notion of tolerance that waters down all convictions, that squashes dissent, and preaches relativism, is not going to satisfy.
The modern doctrine of toleration promotes isolation, but the practice of real toleration pushes us gently to community. Thus we need to reclaim the lost tradition of real tolerance. The modern hijacking of the concept has served the interests of those seeking economic and political power, but has not been a panacea to the struggling masses.
Australia before multiculturalism was a kind place, not a racist hell
Few Australians know that one of the "intellectual architects of multiculturalism", Jerzy Zubrzycki, said in 1996 that "the clumsy, pompous, polysyllabic noun - `multiculturalism' - adopted from the Canadians and incorrectly (my emphasis) associated in the public mind with the ethnic groups, has outlived its purpose". He said that politicians and self-serving ethnic leaders had made the policy "a metaphor for the entrenchment of minorities. We need another term to describe Australia's national goal as a country that has been immensely successful in integrating a wide number of ethnic communities into the Australian mosaic".
Indeed we do. One of the more bitter slanders that Australians have had to endure under governments which have caved in to the multicultural bigots is that they were, and are, racist and intolerant. It is the received wisdom among those too young to know any better, and those who have swallowed the propaganda of the multicultural revisionists, that Australians were a racist and intolerant people who were only educated out of such sentiments by the introduction of multiculturalism under the Whitlam government. It is a monstrous and insulting lie.
The Whitlam Government was elected in 1972 and the massive post-WW2 migration started in the late 1940s. So what was it like for Australians and for migrants in that more than twenty-year period before the word `multiculturalism' was ever heard of?
When the migrants first arrived, most of them couldn't speak a word of English. It's true that their arrival caused some suspicion and resentment among Australians, particularly working class men. For a start, the migrants looked very different to the Australians who were predominantly of Anglo-Celtic descent. In the main, the migrants had impossible names. The Australian men would have been brain-dead not to have had concerns. Were these strange-looking and sounding people peaceful? Were Australian men's jobs under threat? How did they know?
But as people lived together - with no government interference let alone bureaucratic bullying - the Australian tradition of the fair go ensured tolerance. The migrants belonged to the same demographic group as my parents - mostly married couples with a few young children. They were battlers. My mother would not have been alone when she said to her husband: "The poor buggers, Tom, how would you like to be in their shoes?"
Yes, the Golden Rule that abides in the human heart beats the hell out of the Office of Multicultural Affairs any day as far as establishing good relationships between people goes. Pre-Vatican II Catholicism also helped, as many of the Poles and other Baltic state migrants were Catholics. As the Latin mass was universal, there was a connection between the migrants and the local Catholics.
During those days, there were mean-spirited acts of resentment, and there were acts of great kindness. My Hungarian mother-in-law said she was humiliated by a butcher in Parkes for her poor English. In the same town, a local farmer - a total stranger - kindly paid the difference when a Polish woman was embarrassed by not having enough money for the grocery items she had selected.
Australians didn't know it then, but most Europeans celebrate Christmas on the eve rather than the day. In their first or second Christmas in Australia, our Polish neighbours insisted my parents celebrate with them. They offered vodka and such European delicacies as rollmops (pickled fish) - which my parents had never experienced. Describing the rollmops, my mother later told a sister-in-law, "Cripes, Norma, it looked like bloody snake!"
On another occasion, another migrant neighbour invited my mother and another Australian woman to her house to celebrate the birth of her Australian-born son. (While I'm sure it is not documented being very politically incorrect, many migrant couples deliberately had "one more [child] for Australia" - an act of gratitude and faith in the future). Again spirits were offered - alcohol seemed to make up for language deficiencies - and to this day my mother cannot remember how she got home. That woman's husband worked on Warragamba Dam, and he took our family on a tour of it while it was under construction, leading us through tunnels deep inside the walls.
My mother minded her Polish migrant neighbours' toddler while she worked. The migrant woman was grateful that her child was learning English with my mother, and the two women were hugely amused when my brother, the same age as little Hendryk, started speaking Polish! My parents also helped their migrant neighbours with income tax and other official forms. At school the Old Australian children, greatly outnumbered by the migrants, helped New Australian children learn English.
In this way, with simple goodwill and kindness, people coped, day by day.
But these days it's de rigueur to document the hardships, intolerance and misery that migrants endured at the hand of the callous, racist Australians. So it's very interesting indeed to read a first-hand account, as opposed to the sociological deconstructions of the migration experience by tertiary twits who weren't even there.
For example, in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Bonegilla migrant camp, Sir Arvi Parbo, who arrived in Australia as a penniless 23 year old, described the camp as: "Sheer unadulterated luxury. Here in the middle of the Australian bush, was a camp that embodied all the things I craved. Food. Shelter. Warmth. Clothing. Peace. The very basics of life that people were still struggling for across Europe were available here. Nothing in abundance, mind you, just enough for everybody in sufficient quantity to get your way again. "I went from being a mine worker to owning several myself. The journey went from a quarry to the chief executive's office in 25 years. Australia let me do that and, outside America in the late 19th century, few nations on earth have ever done the same thing for humanity." ....
Multiculturalism is on the nose. The un-euphonious, un-English word itself stinks, and though it might once have had a good meaning, it's now lost all credibility. What it has come to mean is the opposite to the traditional Australian tradition of the fair go. It's time for Australians of all backgrounds to ditch multiculturalism and revert to the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated; walk a mile in another man's shoes.
If fifty years ago, blue-collar workers and Australians of the lowest social class managed to do that unaided by government, surely their social superiors might rise to the occasion and emulate them?
More -- much more -- here