Leftist Destruction of our Culture: Tolerism and Virtue Signalling Transform Into Masochism

by Howard Rotberg

Violence and looting, burning down stores, churches and small businesses, destroying statues and monuments, antagonism to the American Constitution and Bill of Rights, re-writing History and educational curricula to make America an immoral presence in world history, rather than one of the most successful syntheses of liberty, Justice and capitalism and constitutional checks and balances, people fired for saying “All Lives Matter” instead of just “Black Lives Matter, the sad adoption of anti-Semitism by Black groups and universities – these are the main elements of what we might initially have thought was just a tolerance gone crazy, but might now seem to be a way for “woke” progressives to signal their virtue. Moreover,, now we see these events as reflecting an increasing destruction of Good (and God) and a turning towards evil, in an orgy of masochism driving a Culture War.

The field of philosophy has dealt for many years with a concept it calls “toleration”. Professor Andrew Fiala, writing on the concept in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, states that for a person to practice Toleration he or she must accept three conditions:

(1) He must hold a negative judgment about this thing; (2) He must have the power to negate this thing; and (3) He must deliberately refrain from negation of this thing.

Sir Karl Popper, the great Austrian/British philosopher lived through the cataclysmic events of Stalinism and Naziism and argued that these totalitarian movements created a paradox for philosophical toleration. He put it this way:

“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. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

Philosopher John Rawls devoted a section of his influential book A Theory of Justice to this problem: whether a just society should or should not tolerate the intolerant. He also addressed the related issue of whether or not the intolerant have any right to complain when they are not tolerated, within their society.

Rawls concluded that a just society must be tolerant; therefore, the intolerant must be tolerated, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust. However, Rawls qualified this conclusion by insisting, like Popper, that society and its social institutions have a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance. Hence, the intolerant must be tolerated but only insofar as they do not endanger the tolerant society and its institutions.

Indeed, Popper himself wrote in 1981’s “Toleration and Intellectual Responsibility” that we should tolerate intolerant minorities who wish to simply publish their theories as rational proposals, and that we should simply bring to their attention that tolerance is based or mutuality and reciprocity, and that our duty to tolerate a minority ends when they resort to violence.

I use the term “tolerism” for the ideology of excessive toleration, that supplants the ideals of justice, liberty and personal responsibility with the embrace of tolerance as the most important value.

And so, a key element of toleration, is again that we must hold a negative judgment about something and we have the power to negate this thing, yet we deliberately refrain from negation of this thing. What might that reason be? These days we seem to be awfully tolerant of people in the name of anti-racism, behaving in a most violent and intolerant fashion. I suggest that the reason for not negating this thing on which we have a negative judgment is that too many in western civilization now are paralyzed from action by a certain self-hatred, a certain masochism.

From a position of just tolerating evil, we now see the Democratic Party controlled by radical Leftists who embrace evil with all the self-hatred that this entails. This self-hatred is far more dangerous than simple toleration of evil in others; it constitutes an embrace of the pain of masochism out of a sense of guilt, now often called White Guilt. We see an abject surrender to those who are evil because that surrender seems to discharge the obligation of personal responsibility and moral goodness.

One evening, I was browsing through the channels on television and I was surprised to find a television show, called “Kink”, and it was glorifying what I consider to be the deviant psycho-sexual practices of “sado-masochism”.

Perhaps when there is nothing more that can be said of other sexual matters, this is the final frontier.  It seems that sado-masochism, once only spoken of in whispers, is now appearing on our televisions.   Does this indicate a higher prevalence of this behaviour than in the past?

I spent many years as a long distance runner, and I can tell you, it is a border-line masochistic activity;  the difference is that long distance running is all about overcoming the body’s limitations, and strengthening yourself, to achieve improved times over a course of the long distance run.   Erotic masochism, however, seems to be more about submission in sexually dominant power relationships and the willingness to submit to pain, sometimes from a complete stranger. Strange, indeed.

A lot of what I see going on in Britain today, where one of the world’s great liberal civilizations is giving up willingly power over fundamental freedoms to Islamists who are illiberal, seem to involve a self-defeating psychological condition akin to masochism.

A new book, selling well in Britain, is Anita Phillips’  A Defense of Masochism.

Is it just a coincidence that both sexual and non-sexual masochism are more prevalent in societies suffering from Tolerism?

Here, from the British website, PsychNet, is a summary of the Masochistic (Self-Defeating) Personality Disorder:

Self-defeating Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which he or she will suffer, and prevent others from helping him or her, as indicated by at least five of the following:

Mark Steyn has written about the masochism which underlies much of recent multiculturalist thought.   From a movement that sought to accept diversity as long as diverse cultures accepted and assimilated to fundamental Western values and freedoms, it has morphed into a kind of cultural masochism, where we must encourage those who seek most dramatically to undermine all that we have accomplished in our liberal democracies.

Read this from Mr. Steyn:

Radical Islam is what multiculturalism has been waiting for all along.
In The Survival of Culture, I quoted the eminent British barrister
Helena Kennedy, QC. Shortly after September 11, Baroness Kennedy
argued on a BBC show that it was too easy to disparage ‘Islamic
fundamentalists.’   ‘We as western liberals too often are fundamentalist
ourselves,’ she complained. ‘We don’t look at our own

Well, said the interviewer, what exactly would those western liberal
fundamentalisms be?  ‘One of the things that we are too ready to insist
upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is
something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I’m not sure
that’s true.’

Hmm. Lady Kennedy was arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance
is making us intolerant of other people’s intolerance, which is
intolerable. And, unlikely as it sounds, this has now become the
highest, most rarefied form of multiculturalism. So you’re nice to
gays and the Inuit? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of fellows like
that, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson
of pleasure to the multiculti masochists. In other words, just as the
AIDS pandemic greatly facilitated societal surrender to the gay
agenda, so 9/11 is greatly facilitating our surrender to the most
extreme aspects of the multicultural agenda.”

According to Mark Steyn, we have then “multicultural masochism”.   According to me, we have “masochism as a product of tolerism”.   We are saying much the same thing.    When Steyn wrote about radical Islam in Canada’s Macleans magazine, Canadian Islamists got the thought police in the Human Rights Commissions to prosecute.   It is very chilling – to those of us who want nothing to do with “masochism”.   I hope we stay in the majority.

If one thinks about the definition of tolerance, it relates to enduring or being lenient to things that are negative, not positive. Hence, we say a person tolerates pain, not that a person tolerates pleasure. Those who assert the desirability of tolerance as our highest cultural value, have not, I believe, sufficiently considered that tolerance relates to negative acts. They do not sufficiently give regard to the degree of negativity that such acts must reflect, before tolerance should be withdrawn. The masochistic stream in Tolerism would seem to say that the more painful the act, the more the Tolerists embrace it. Those who deny the masochism imply that the all acts of others are no more negative than our acts are positive and that everything is morally equivalent, and all truth is relative to its social situation. 

Tolerism can be manifested in “virtue signalling” and is a moderate danger to western civilization. Masochism however as a product of disturbed thinking by elements of our wealthy, our educated and our bureaucrats, embraces destruction. That is why the looting and violence was so severe after the George Floyd death.

Not only are we tolerant of the looters and the Black Lives Matter crowd with their explicit anti-Semitism and allegations that all whites must apologize and be subservient to Black interests, but we are clearly masochistic in our desire to “take the knee” and grovel in front of the BLM and their supporters in what I call the “Leftist-Islamist-Globalist” alliance.

Tolerism is accompanied by “virtue signalling”. This is the term meaning, according to Dictionary.com, “the sharing of one’s point of view on a social or political issue, often on social media, in order to garner praise or acknowledgment of one’s righteousness from others who share that point of view, or to passively rebuke those who do not”. It also is said to mean the act of accusing someone of “trying to win praise for showing support for a social cause without actually doing anything meaningful to advance it. This charge is often used against people for being self-righteously “woke” on social media.” The Oxford Dictionary terms it a “pejorative neologism for the conspicuous expression of moral values”, suggesting that it is most often used pejoratively outside of academia.

Masochism takes over one’s soul. No longer does one have the inclination to study broad issues of policy or genocide taking place in parts of the world today. One becomes obsessed with “white guilt” and this is dangerous. Here is an example to see where all this is leading.

The New York Times recently ran an exchange in its “Sweet Spot” advice column from an apparently anguished reader who could be the poster child for contemporary masochism.

The letter, signed Whitey, reflects how Leftism, once the domain of tolerists and virtue-signallers has now become a masochism destroying the U.S.A. from within:

I’m riddled with shame. White shame. This isn’t helpful to me or to anyone, especially people of color. I feel like there is no “me” outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity. I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else.

I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself. What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it?”


Howard Rotberg is the founding president of Canada’s sole conservative values and pro-Israel publishing house, Mantua Books, and writes on political culture, values and ideologies. His two most recent books are Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed and The Ideological Path to Submission … and what we can do about it. See www.mantuabooks.com. This is an up-dated version of one of the chapters of Tolerism.