A Critique of Pure Tolerance  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A Critique of Pure Tolerance is a 1965 book on the notion of repressive tolerance by Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse.


The book consists of three papers, "Beyond Tolerance" by Robert Paul Wolff, "Tolerance and the Scientific Outlook" by Barrington Moore, Jr. and "Repressive Tolerance" by Herbert Marcuse. In his contribution, Marcuse argues that the ideal of tolerance belongs to a liberal, democratic tradition that has become exhausted. Liberal society is based on a form of domination so subtle that the majority accept and even will their servitude. Marcuse believes that under such conditions tolerance as traditionally understood serves the cause of domination and that a new kind of tolerance is therefore needed: tolerance of the Left, subversion, and revolutionary violence, combined with intolerance of the Right, existing institutions, and opposition to socialism.

Scholarly reception

Writing in 1970, Maurice Cranston called A Critique of Pure Tolerance Marcuse's most popular and disturbing work to date. Cranston commented that the book was published, "in a peculiar format, bound in black like a prayer book or missal and perhaps designed to compete with The Thoughts of Chairman Mao as devotional reading at student sit-ins."

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