Introduction to Active Tolerance

Who wants a “clash of civilizations” and war between all?

No one, and yet it is unlikely that we are moving toward a peaceful world, where dialogue and fraternity hold sway. We sense that the world is heading more toward tension than tolerance, and yet we aren’t able to stop this infernal course, despite the humanist declarations that are sounding from all quarters.

We wanted to wipe away intolerance with tolerance: but it was tolerance in the weak sense of the word – a passive tolerance, which blends into a comfortable indifference, of the type that says “to each his own”.

Yet the sole force that can oppose intolerance is an active, radical tolerance. A tolerance that doesn’t avoid conflict, that doesn’t “respect” opinions, that doesn’t protect values, but that puts them all in dialogue; that pushes to reveal the quintessential forces that bring about conflict and drama.

Enough laughing masks! Enough superficiality! It’s profundity that we need, so let us not be afraid to delve into the interior of people and their beliefs... It’s the patient and perilous exploration of these abysses, and our own, that shall allow us to unravel conflict and find solutions to global problems.

The challenge to be confronted today is considerable: to create a new mode of relating to the world that is both individual and collective, and that brings open-mindedness ¬– the capacity to truly consider other points of view – together with a pragmatic, problem-solving efficiency.

I propose to assemble – in an intellectual movement without borders – all the free electrons, all those with the dissatisfaction that incites creativity, all the critical or eclectic minds, the individuals who don’t belong. And also those enthusiastic possessors of a truth – a truth they would have tested.

In it is not a question of simply staying on the internet, but of making possible a singular place – one with no known equivalent – a summary of the world and its discordant fragments – where one might meet Muslims and sophrologists, evangelists and partisans of Lucifer, scientists and new-age enthusiasts, urban youths and woman of the world, Trotskyites and Buddhists, troubadours and gays…

But to gather together people of all kinds and creeds is not an end in itself. What goal might such a diverse group of free, unidentified individuals pursue?

The transformative effect of free electrons

In the network’s internal meetings, each participant will be able to propose a discussion on any subject (love, politics, religion, the future of the world…), and also any interesting new experiences, collective trips, meetings with specialists of all sorts, visits to unusual places in new surroundings and social milieus… – and will, more subjectively, be able to explore very personal subjects without fear of judgment or subjection to normative preconceptions.

The network will also be able to organize connections between different currents of ideas, to propose methodical or contradictory debates (see article on methodical debate) in order to explore the entire range of solutions proposed to the big social or philosophical problems.

For more concrete examples, see the article “Why a network of active tolerance?”

Ideally, antennae of the network should exist in numerous cities and countries.

This Network would be a laboratory for the opening of the mind, for dialogue between “adversaries”, and a catalyst of collective change.

Even if they do not involve the masses like football does, I believe in the transformative power of active minorities. Small groups can incite importance collective change, as Serge Moscovici has shown in his work.

The action of a multitude of small networks could be effective and even become the germ of a global movement – to test and initiate an active tolerance before it is too late.

****

Emmanuel Juste DUITS is a 42 years old French author, he teaches Philosophy.

He is engaged in forward-looking research into the new ways people relate and interact in contemporary society.

He has published :

- ‘Man, the System’ (L’Homme Réseau) (Chronique sociale, 1999)

- ‘L’Autre désir’ (Another Desire) (La Musardine, 2000)

These works don’t yet exist in English: if you happen to be an editor or literary agent and are interested, please contact me.