Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Just in case some of my friends and foes alike can't figure this out for themselves, here's one of the 20th century's most persuasive philosophers writing against the tide of totalitarian ideologies. In support of capitalism and the freedom to fail or succeed while empowering the individual in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Karl Popper is plainly spoken in his rejection of Plato and his anti-individualist descendents:

UNLIMITED TOLERANCE MUST LEAD to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

—Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

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