Monday, June 13, 2016

Toleration and Capitalism

"None of us took this city from the Muslims. No Muslim of the great army coming against us was born when this city was lost. We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. What is Jerusalem? Your holy places lie over the Jewish temple that the Romans pulled down. The Muslim places of worship lie over yours. Which is more holy? The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? No one has claim...All have claim!"
--Balian of Ibelin (Kingdom of Heaven)

Nice article by Jeff Tucker in the wake of the shootings in Orlando this past weekend. He observes that the rise of classical liberalism a few hundred years back can be seen as a rise in the value of toleration.

He notes that it was once believed that society, in order to function properly, required full agreement on nearly all matters--particularly those tied to faith. However, after centuries of religious warfare yielded little in terms of prosperity, a different norm began to emerge. Perhaps we don't need to agree on everything in order to find value in one another and get along, people reasoned. Perhaps society can benefit from diversity more than it can from compliance and sameness.

The emerging social norm was one of toleration. Toleration for different speech, religion, trade, association. The realization was that society benefits far more toleration, exchange, and freedom than it ever could under forced compliance and uniformity.

Capitalism can be seen as the economic expression of tolerance. People are free to peacefully produce and engage in trade with whom they want. Anything done to forcibly restrict this exchange is a matter of intolerance.

As Tucker sees it, that is what occurred in Orlando. The Orlando night club where most people lost their lives happened to cater to gay people. Such as establishment is much more likely in an unhampered market environment. The intolerant mind loathes such freedom of association and exchange and longs to restrict it.

The sad episode this weekend demonstrates that intolerant individuals must resort to aggression in order to stop exchanges that they don't like. And, to keep people from freely pursuing their interests, the intolerant force applied must often be lethal in nature.

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