Tolerance and Liberalism: Studying Government and Governance

AuthorDhananjay Rai
Published date01 June 2019
Date01 June 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Tolerance and
Liberalism: Studying
Government and
Dhananjay Rai1
The article problematises ipso facto existence of tolerance in liberalism and liberal
democracy. The liberalism creates two sets of values. The first set of values
encompasses democracy and unity. Tolerance, inter alia, becomes a part of second
set of values. The article exhibits the outcome of conflict between the first set of
values and the second set of values of liberalism. Besides, tolerance and inequality
are not discussed conjointly due to insufficient attention given to the latter. The
article discusses inequality question in the backdrop of governance discourse for
discerning tolerance. The article suggests that the liberal problematic concerning
tolerance can be overcome only by way of democratised polity.
Tolerance, democracy, unity, inequality, democratised polity, liberalism, the
Washington Consensus, governance
Tolerance has been understood as a sine qua non of liberalism. This article
challenges the postulation of ipso facto existence of tolerance within liberalism by
problematising the idea of democracy and unity in the liberal discourse. For this
purpose, it highlights the creation of two sets of values by liberalism. The rst set
of values are democracy and unity. The second set of values are tolerance, citizen-
ship, human rights, secularism and so on. The outcome of conictual priorities
among the rst set of values (democracy and unity) and between the rst and the
Indian Journal of Public
65(2) 280–297, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556119844584
1 Centre for Gandhian Thought and Peace Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar,
Gujarat, India.
Corresponding author:
Dhananjay Rai, Room No. 13, Block A, Central University of Gujarat, Sector-29, Gandhinagar,
Gujarat 382030, India.
Rai 281
second set of values are outlined. Moreover, the article also underlines the rela-
tionship between governance and inequality, and the role of inequality concerning
tolerance/intolerance which have evaded the substantive attention in the liberal
discourse. In the end, democratised polity is proposed which deals with the
question of tolerance substantially.
Creation of Two Sets of Values
In the bourgeois weltanschauung, there are two sets of values which are crucial
for its cosmos. Democracy, crucial for choices, is a part of the rst set of values.
Three strands of liberalism1 (utilitarianism, welfare liberalism and libertarian
liberalism) differ substantially, but in the end, they converge on a denite point.
In utilitarianism, aggregate pleasures of individuals constitute majority; thus, it is
preferred.2 In welfare liberalism, government’s intervention is actualised for the
promotion of the individual’s choice.3 In libertarian liberalism, the choice is often
reduced further from individuals to individualization.4 Democracy is envisaged
for fullling choices of individuals through different yardsticks. The representa-
tion is a delegation of choices in a liberal democracy. For capitalism, choices are
both for free available goods and inculcating subjectivity. Meaning of choices is
lifeless without the performance of subjectivity. Democracy is guarded for such
values uncompromisingly.
‘Democracy is guarded for such values uncompromisingly’ is a comfortable
epithet in individual domains. ‘Guarding’ makes the relationship complicated
or unsettled between individual and democracy. This brings the significance of
unity in the liberal democracy. The unity is required for protecting individuals and
choices. In the liberal-bourgeois discourse, democracy and unity become or con-
stitute the first set of values. Democracy and unity do not become replaceable or
synonymous. The vantage points create a significant difference (discussed later)
between democracy and unity. Democracy and unity become important signatures
and are placed in the first set of values.
The bourgeois-liberal discourse also creates a second set of values. These
values are human rights, secularism, citizenship, welfare, tolerance and so on.
In liberal democracy and unity, the second set of values become important due
to several reasons. One of the most important reasons is the Promethean value.
On the one hand, these values add originality and creativity to human beings as
to empowering people with the power of rupture which means questioning and
doubting. On the other hand, materialism of being is realised. In other words,
materialism acquires an immense significance for existence and explanation. The
existence of being is not arbitrary, and the explanation of it is temporal and needs
continuous advancement.
Significance of Tolerance
Tolerance is reasonable—ethical non-encroachment of others. This is pre-
encroachment ethics. This is a phenomenon before violation or an act of

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