Peace Is A Delicate Flower!

Walking the razor-thin line dividing tolerance from intolerance

Derek London
8 min readAug 2, 2021
Image from https://veritas5777.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/further-thoughts-on-tolerance/

“I know the value of negotiation and compromise, but sometimes, I just can’t be diplomatic.”

A concept I am fascinated with is something that has been called ‘the liberal paradox’ or ‘the tolerance paradox’. Stated simply, this is where tolerance and the democratization of competing interests run into a contradiction. You might have heard the old saw, “I cannot tolerate the intolerant!”

The inconvenient and frustrating truth is that tolerance can really only be understood against a backdrop of intolerance. The opposite is also true. A despot, a bully, an autocrat, a dictator or any other strongman can only flourish or find support through a form of pre-existing liberalism which gives him permission.

And, of course, as history has taught us time and again, such ones frequently have their way undermining those liberal institutions that allow a space for them. So, there is a point where tolerance must impose limits. But this limit is now an instance of what?

…Intolerance.

When you become keenly sensitive to this balance, you will see it everywhere. I once interviewed the highly distinguished Professor Fish…

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Derek London

Editor for Diogenes Lounge. Writer for ILLUMINATION and a YouTube personality. Subscribe to my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHBpAoID8i6tqz6ksLSY8ow