Friday, March 9, 2018

When is it time to dogmatically reject dogma and exercise intolerance of tolerance?

Allegedly we are a nation based on fixed principles that are articulated in The Constitution, and reinforced by moral beliefs (mostly Christian). Without realizing, we have become dogmatically oriented, unwilling to yield or negotiate our unswerving positions, even though many policies are clearly in need of yielding. The word dogma (δόγμα) is rooted in ancient Greek and was considered a fixed belief, or set of beliefs, that people were expected to accept without question. The concept was first applied in a religious context and was taken as a given by those who took the Bible literally. This framework, however, has invaded our political realm where one can be either conservatively, or liberally, dogmatic, and if we are to continue as a democratic nation, this must change. 

Closely associated with dogma is the principle of tolerance (the flip side of dogma). Thus these two—dogma and tolerance—frame our notions of liberality (and I don’t mean being a liberal). British philosopher and scientist Karl Popper had observed significant flaws in the historical and economic practices of Karl Marx, yet the followers of Marx seemed to cling to his theories dogmatically or cobble together new interpretations.

In 1945 Popper published  his book The Open Society and Its Enemies, in which he identified the Paradox of tolerance saying, “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.”

Seventy-three years later his warning is being ignored, in our nation and throughout the world. We are tolerating the intolerant and it is beyond time to dogmatically reject dogmas. The most insidious of all attachments is when reason becomes dogmatic.
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