Liberal and tolerant oppose multicultural by definition

liberal tolerant multicultural

It is worth to check etymology from time to time.

While contemporary Cambridge dictionary states for “liberal”:

respecting and allowing many different types of beliefs or behaviour:

and all others go into the same direction, quite a different story happens if you search for what was a meaning of “liberal” over time. Apart from the connotation of being generous, which persists from 14th century on, initial points of being liberal were quite different up to 18th century. Main meanings of liberal were:

free from restraint in speech or action

coming from Latin liberalis (noble, gracious, munificent, generous) pertaining to or befitting a free person; coming from liber (free, unrestricted, unimpeded; unbridled, unchecked, licentious).

While it is true that most probably the concept of liberal emerged as a result of  liberation from religious restraints in Renaissance, it would be more than necessary to understand liberal in opposition to all forces that impede freedom of an individual.

So to be liberal should mean (if we follow origins) to put individual freedom before any other freedoms. Any kind of statism, ideologies that prophet collective rights as above or more important than individual rights should be thus considered as anti-liberal.

But how then to be liberal and tolerant at the same time? It looks like that one should understand a collective values as dominant to be liberal. Well, it does not go so easy.

What does really mean to be tolerant. Already Cambridge dictionary point in the right direction:

Willing to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them:

The problem of this definition lies in equalisation of “tolerate” with “accept”. We can again find some help in etymology. What to be tolerant originally meant was “to allow without interference” and “able to (bear) something without being affected“.

One should focus on “without being affected”. Why so? Let us check the meaning of tolerance in engineering and machinery (Wikipedia):

  1. in engineering and safety, a physical distance or space (tolerance), as in a truck (lorry), train or boat under abridge as well as a train in a tunnel (see structure gauge and loading gauge).

  2. in mechanical engineering the space between a bolt and a nut or a hole, etc..

Tolerance is in fact a distance! It is true that normally science and technology search for smallest possible distance, but it is still a distance. To be tolerant means to keep a distance from another object so that that object does not interfere with you, if I skip directly to the correct meaning of tolerance in human dimensions, social studies, memetic environment.

As we can clearly see such meaning of tolerance perfectly fit to already explained liberal. Individual freedom can only be safeguard if a proper tolerance, a distance to other equally free individuals is in place. Only then such an individual in safe distance can exhibit his or her unique identity, meaning her or his freedom. And only as such (free individual) can anyone “accept” all other free individuals. Such acceptance does not mean “to merge” or to take in, like it is meant in famous “melting pot” totalitarian ideology or latest global replacement for it: multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism is based on presupposition of melting different cultures into one big global pot. That can not be achieved without without removal of distance/tolerance. Until tolerance still holds, there is no multi, but only plethora of individual freedoms, individual identities. Only when tolerance is removed, when distances disappear, we can really have multicultural society. So multicultural society can by definition not be tolerant and thus also not liberal.

This is not only quite a surprising result in regard to prevailing ideologies where we clearly see why democrats are not necessarily liberal neither tolerant, but also in regard to dictionaries. Dictionaries are in fact serving same ideology as all prophets of “one world ideology” and are as such far from being neutral tools to master language.


Andrej Drapal