The Article that Made 16,000 Ideologues Go Wild

Portland State University scholar Bruce Gilley drew a lot of attention with his August 29 article on Minding the Campus, “Why I’m leaving the Political Science Association.” A week or so later, he provoked an even greater controversy by telling readers of the Third World Quarterly what they don’t want to hear.

The Case for Colonialism” was by ordinary academic standards a straightforward opinion essay: well-reasoned, well-informed, and cognizant of conflicting views. It had passed peer review and the judgment of the journal’s editor.  A contemporary scholar arguing the case in favor of a positive judgment of the history of Western colonialism, however, was clearly venturing into territory that carried the risk of adverse reaction among his peers.  It wasn’t long before that reaction arrived.

Bruce Gilley happens to be the head of the National Association of Scholars’ Oregon affiliate. I know him through that connection and have seen him take strong stands in defense of academic and intellectual freedom on several previous occasions.

The Onslaught

Professor Gilley’s cordiality, however, proved of little avail in the weeks that followed the publication of “The Case for Colonialism.”  Both the article and the author came under ferocious attack. Soon the journal that published the article also came under attack.  Opponents:

  • Demanded that the journal retract the article.
  • Insisted Bruce Gilley apologize for writing it.
  • Circulated a petition, drafted by Jenny Heijun Wills (associate professor of English and Director of the Critical Race Network, University of Winnipeg) and signed by 6,884 others, which begins, “We insist that you, Third World Quarterly, retract and apologize for the publication of Professor Bruce Gilley’s appalling article…”
  • Circulated another petition, drafted by Maxine Horne (a dancer who has a master’s degree in project management from the University of Salford in the U.K.) which garnered 10,693 signatures.
  • Attacked Gilley ad hominem, in the words of Farhana Sultana (associate professor of Geography & Research Director for Environmental Conflicts and Collaborations, Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University) claiming the article promotes “white supremacy,” purveys “shoddy scholarship,” is based on “racist or violent ideologies,” and caricaturing Gilley for publishing “drivel.” Sultana also co-signed Horne’s petition.
  • Wished for Princeton University to revoke Gilley’s Ph.D.

Fifteen members of the 34-member editorial board of Third World Quarterly resigned in protest of its publication of Gilley’s article.

A Limp Reaction from Academia

The publisher Taylor and Francis responded to the furor by issuing a document where it recounted step by step the review of Gilley’s article before it was accepted for publication.  The accusation that the article was not peer-reviewed or properly vetted by qualified scholars proved to be without foundation.

The Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Portland State University, Margaret Everett, responding to calls from recent graduates that Gilley be fired, issued a bland statement declaring, “Academic freedom is critical to the open debate and free exchange of knowledge and argument. Because of Portland State University’s commitment to academic freedom, we acknowledge the right of all our faculty to explore scholarship and to speak, write and publish a variety of viewpoints and conclusions. The university also respects the rights of others to express counterviews and to engage in vigorous and constructive debate about the faculty’s work.” The retiring president of the university, Wim Wiewel, likewise declared that “The bedrock principles embedded in our educational mission as a public university are to value robust debate of ideas and to protect academic freedom,” but took no action to defend Gilley from the personal and professional attacks. Those attacks included death threats.

The temporizing defense of Professor Gilley as the rhetoric and threats escalated, apparently left Professor Gilley to decide that the better part of valor was to withdraw the article and mouth the apology that his critics demanded.  He did so under what he calls the “onslaught,” but now regrets it. He is back in the fight.

The Cork

I’m not eager to turn dissenting professors into martyrs. I understand the considerable pressures that can be brought to bear on nonconformists in academe, including those like Professor Gilley who have tenure.  But there is nothing in the article either in its substance or its tone that warranted its withdrawal. Professor Gilley retracted it in the hope of quieting a destructive tempest.  It didn’t.

It wasn’t enough for the “critics”—though calling them critics is to cheapen the term. What has emerged is a clique of radicals who are ready to resort to violence to silence views they don’t like.  The editor of Third World Quarterly, Shahid Qadir, who stood by his judgment of the value of Gilley’s article, has been met with death threats from Indian nationalists.  After Gilley “withdrew” it, the publisher left it available in electronic form. That infuriates those who would like the article to disappear entirely.

Because of the controversy, “The Case for Colonialism” has surely garnered far more readers than anything else that Third World Quarterly has ever published, and far more readers than it would have absent the controversy.  We need not lament that Professor Gilley’s views on the merits of colonialism will be buried in obscurity.  The problem lies elsewhere.

It lies in the successful deployment of professional opprobrium and actual threats of murder to kill the article. That success was ultimately aimed at ensuring that other scholars who dissent from the contemporary orthodoxy of anti-colonialism will keep their mouths shut. It is further aimed at ensuring that generations of students will see no whisper of dissent from this orthodoxy in the published literature, and hear no hint of it from their instructors.

The desire of the anti-colonialist faction to reach beyond Gilley to intimidate other scholars who might pick up his thread is a backhanded acknowledgment of Gilley’s credibility and the force of his argument.  Numerous scholars in the field are saying things to the effect that recognition of the positive effects of colonialism is long overdue. Such accolades are circulating widely but not—or not yet—openly.  The anti-colonialist faction knows this and is desperate to keep the cork in the bottle.

Feckless College Presidents

One way the cork is kept in place is by intimidating college and university authorities. If the dean, provost, and presidents were living up to their responsibilities, they would be opening misconduct investigations in instances where faculty members have sought to intimidate, threaten, or censor views they disagree with.  If academic freedom is to mean anything at all, it has to be enforced. We are in a period where college authorities frequently do nothing in the face of shout-downs of invited speakers and actual campus riots.  Mizzou, Yale, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna, and Evergreen stand out in the public eye as the exemplars of such nonfeasance on the part of college presidents.

The whip of public scorn was enough to convince the presidents of Middlebury, Claremont McKenna, and Evergreen to take token actions against a handful of the student rioters—and no action at all against the faculty members who instigated them. But the general picture remains that college authorities do as little as they possibly can to maintain public order on campus when that order is threatened or violated by progressive activists.

And they do even less when it comes to faculty activists who engage in behavior wholly at odds with academic freedom. More often than not, college presidents offer a false equivalence between the right of a faculty member to say something “controversial” and the spurious “right” of other faculty members to threaten and intimidate that person.  There is no such right.  In the context of higher education, disagreement must be grounded in arguments and evidence, not in menace.

The framing of these issues as matters of “controversy” is itself misleading.  Academic freedom exists to give knowledgeable individuals scope to pursue the truth. It is not a license to pursue controversy for its own sake. Professor Gilley’s arguments about colonialism are presented entirely in the framework of promoting “human flourishing” and respecting “the consent of the colonized.”  His essay says something unexpected—that, in some circumstances, Western colonialism was good and might still be considered a viable choice—but Gilley’s aim is morally serious and ought not to be trivialized as merely seeking after controversy.

Thus the Gilley affair is yet another reminder of the hollowness of the university’s leaders. Confronted with a straightforward example of academic thuggery, they stand perplexed, unwilling to draw a meaningful line anywhere between legitimate expression of ideas and mob rule.


Will the publisher Taylor and Francis give in to the threat that the editor of Third World Quarterly will be murdered if Gilley’s article is not made to disappear?  At this writing, we don’t know.  I’ll assume that the publisher will summon the courage to stand its ground.

But the academics who made such a threat deserve our outrage, and so too the numerous academics who did not themselves make the threat but who escalated the rhetoric and the abuse to the point where the threat was but a small step further in the direction of academic thuggery.

But outrage at the follies in higher education is a devalued currency these days.  Professor Gilley, in fact, has found many who support his right to publish his views, regardless of whether they agree with his points.  Notably, Noam Chomsky has come to his defense.  Many others see the sense of Gilley’s main arguments:  that Western colonialism eventuated in better conditions in many parts of the world and that anti-colonial ideology in many cases ruined newly independent nations.  The record of health, education, and welfare in the Third World testifies to these theses to anyone who is not constrained by radical anti-Western beliefs to ignore the facts.

No one denies that colonialism sometimes had dire costs, including the sense of humiliation that often was inflicted on the colonized.  The colonizers themselves paid a stiff price as well, not least in their unearned sense of superiority.  Yet there is plainly a strong argument to be made that, on balance, the legacy of colonialism has been positive.  Agree or disagree with that view; it ought to be well within the compass of ideas that can be debated in academic journals and on campus.

What then ought to be the path forward for those who truly support academic and intellectual freedom—and who want to do more than mouth the piety that these are “critical” to the university?

The answer isn’t a single action but a single determination.  The Gilley affair is, of course, only one of many instances in the last few years in which the progressive left has shown its willingness to bully, to censor, and sometimes physically attack those it designates as its enemies. College presidents and trustees must cease to pretend that this is a matter of competing forms of free speech.  The freedom of one side to be vilified and the freedom of the other side to launch outrageous personal attacks are not moral equivalents.  No university can long survive this kind of intellectual dissipation, no matter how eagerly it masks itself as protection of the weak and marginal.  It has become its own form of tyranny, and the public will not long stand for it.

Public universities such as Portland State have vulnerabilities in the form of state and federal funding as well as enrollment. In time, politicians and the public will act in default of campus authorities who do not act. And perhaps we should not forget the names of those thousands who signed the petitions.  It might be a good exercise for deans and provosts who have received from academic search committee recommendations to appoint candidates for academic positions to match those names against the list of signatories. Signing such petitions, after all, is a public declaration of hostility to the very principles that the university say are “bedrock.” A candidate’s name on such a petition at least raises a question of whether such a person is to be relied on to uphold the standards of a free intellectual community.

What can be done?  At the minimum, Portland State University should call on Taylor and Francis to keep the article and defend the editor, Shahid Qadir.


  • Peter Wood

    Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars and author of “1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.”

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46 thoughts on “The Article that Made 16,000 Ideologues Go Wild

  1. The writer who has tried to censor my comments says “In time, politicians and the public will act in default of campus authorities who do not act. And perhaps we should not forget the names of those thousands who signed the petitions”

    Go ahead and bring it on!
    This will validate de jury what is a well known de facto truth! That will formally label and expose the American state as a White supremacist tyranny! By doing so the white eurotypical majoritaitan state will formally and de jury accept that the White American state is a tyrannical neonazi facistorcracy!

    The giley requires as much courage or bravery in white majority america as Himmler needed courage and valour to be white supremacist in nazi germany!

    1. Hmm, full of big scare words. Giley is a hero of the academic world, currently dominated by precious nostrums of what can and cannot be said, and the comment is an example of the tripe that is thrown when someone makes a case. List the ‘successful’ nations…the top of the list are ex British colonies. Perhaps we need to say British colonialism! Otherwise the standard for nation-state performance is….what? Yemen?

  2. Did he just use the word academic thuggery? Did they steal his money? Thugs were thieves and robbers not vociferous freedom loving Democrats, the writer should consult a hindi dictionary before making illiterate statements like calling freedom loving Democrats as thugs or robbers, did they steal the author’s phone or some money?

    Some thugs used to take from the rich and give to the poor when the colonial tyrants were imposing unjust laws that allowed the confiscation of a farmers basic harvest, thugs decided to loot or steal some food grains from the colonialists and were hence labelled thugs!

    1. Better a noble thug than an Academic Neonazi! It’s better to be a noble thug than an ignoble tyrannical, anti Democratic neonazi, freedom loving Democratic academic thuggery is certainly better than Academic Neonazism!

  3. We need a freedom and democracy day to commemorate brave freedom loving Democratic hero’s like Udham Singh , why not call declare his birthday as free democracy day!?

    Whites talking about freedom and democracy is like a prostitute championing moral chastity or a slave trader who champions emancipation! This is only yo be expected as German EUmericans constitute the largest white majority in the US which should now be called the 4th Reich!

    People of gileys ilk have an absolute contempt and hatred of freedom and democracy as they were the twin swords of mahatma gandhi and mandela which were used to slay white british empire that was the mother of tyranny and oppression! and so wish to use freedom and democracy to destroy freedom and democracy,

    White eurotypical EUmerican majority are like slave traders who own a slave ship by the name of Emancipation and when freedom loving anti slavery activists attack the slave ship to save the slaves, the whites go like “emancipation was attacked and emancipation will be defended” what the world dosent know is that it’s a slave trader defending his slave ship by the name emancipation and not the idea of Emancipation!

    1. “the consent of the colonized” implies that the Author wishes to exploit,promote and use a selfish and corrupt few divide and rule stooges like warring tribes of africa, kurds of iraq or mir jaffars, at the expense of the many with the sole selfish and despotic objective and desire to increase white eurotypical neonazi power, wealth and hegemony!

      There were serval non Ashkenazi Jews too who wished to suppprt the Nazis , imperialism was the mother of Nazism and both colonialism and Nazism are but species of white supremacist eurotypicalism

  4. Wood, you are inciting violence and calling for a McCarthyist witch-hunt against people who were trying to uphold academic publishing standards. Gilley’s piece failed peer review three times but the journal still published it for click-bait traffic. The publisher is making dubious claims to alleged threats, which should be investigated by the authorities, and not lead to the retraction. THe retraction should have been done on the basis of publishing a poor opinion piece. See the statement from the editorial board members today: So please stop linking to dubious sources like College Fix that make up material. Also, feel free to educate yourself from the dozens of rebuttals that already exist on Gilley’s piece, from my earlier comment.

    1. Please stop making the social sciences into a joke.

      > So please stop linking to dubious sources like College Fix that make up material.

      Well if it isn’t NY or LA Times …

    2. I read dozens of the pieces you refer me to, and I have followed the anticolonialist literature since reading How Europe Underdeveloped Africa in 1974. Gilley was under no obligation to recapitulate some 75 years of political diatribes, ideological pronouncements, and programmatic scholarship to make his points. He and all the readers of the journal are plainly familiar with that. Demanding that he reference it more detail is simply an evasion of the points he does make. The unwillingness of his critics to face those points with anything other than denunciation speaks volumes.

      The rejections that Gilley faced on his earlier submission are par for the course for anyone who breaks ranks with today’s orthodoxy. You know that as well as I. You are being, at best, disingenuous about academic standards. They cease to apply the moment someone disagrees with an opinion favored by the progressive left.

      1. Ignoring an entire body of literature over a century in several academic disciplines, including, I might add, political science – literature that is well argued and empirically established, by well established thinkers under the dismissive rhetoric of it being “political diatribes, ideological pronouncements, and programmatic scholarship” – is a disingenuous move. You might as well then reduce all academic writing to a bunch of opinions and points of view.

        As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of literature in decolonial studies grounded in both historical and present fact, and not mere opinion or speculation, that does address exactly the propositions that Gilley makes, something that he either does not seem to be aware of, or chooses to ignore, in his piece.

        As for the arguments for “breaking orthodoxy”, anti-coloniality is not simply “another academic position, one of many, and equally valid as any”. European colonialism is a historical fact. That it condoned and perpetuated genocide, in some cases ethnocide, slavery, theft, rape, ontological and epistemological displacement etc. are all historical, well recorded facts. Should we also argue that enslaving African Americans was good for them in the long run because, eventually, they became free citizens in the US, with a better quality of life on average than they would have had had they stayed in Africa? Should we also argue for Nazism, given that Germany pre-wartime under the Reich had almost eliminated unemployment and made significant economic gains? Should we, as academics who are responsible for educating future generations and for laying the foundations of future societies, champion a repetition of such history? Have we shed all sense of ethical and moral responsibility for our work?

        Gilley’s arguments are shoddy precisely because they are based on selective reading and interpretation and relying mostly on futural speculation, reframing contemporary statistics to support his argument, and ignoring historical, empirically grounded research that speaks to the contrary – as developmental economists like Amartya Sen and decolonial scholars like Walter Mignolo have shown, countries that are considered highly poor today are so because of, not in spite of, colonialism. If there are any “political diatribes, ideological pronouncements, and programmatic scholarship”, they come from those few academics who still continue to champion selective, narrow interpretations of fact that fit their skewed ideological worldviews.

    3. Your reply perfectly accounts for why dissenting from orthodoxy in any discipline including climate science is met with a hail of fury

    4. Paul Warrior
      Some documentation of your clearly bogus accusations promoting the usual leftist derangement and mental incompetence. Your link to the fleebaggers EX-board members is a pathetic joke evidencing typical deceitful lying leftist bigotry that doesn’t fool those who are educated, only useful idiots; Lenin would be laughing hysterically.

    5. Failed peer review? What does that mean? I’ve peer reviewed articles and recommended against publication, but the publisher had a different view. One doesn’t ‘fail’ peer review. All the PR does is give the editor cross views of a paper. It remains to the editor to publish or not. If the editor thinks a paper has merit for whatever reason: promoting discussion, providing a view of a topic (preferably a challenging one), opening up a research area…as long as it is cogent in its own terms, deals with the contemporary state of the field and has no solicisms its good to go. The fact that a lot of people will not ‘like’ it, even better.

  5. And so George Orwell’s long, strange trip from socialist to conservative to white supremacist continues. In “Shooting an Elephant,” he confesses:

    “I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East. I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it. All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. “

  6. Sounds like these intolerant ingrate academics want a civil war. I find their request regrettable but acceptable. When do we want to start this thing?

  7. If so-called scholars cannot deal with well-researched yet controversial matters with some degree of decorum, of what use is the academic enterprise other than to use it as an example of isolated tribes treating members poorly?

    This is a serious matter, but I could not help but remember how Monty Python dealt with the matter of colonialism in the “Life of Brian:” What have the Romans ever done for us?

  8. As I note at AcademeBlog, the end of Wood’s essay is very disturbing. Calling for a literal hiring blacklist against scholars who merely signed a petition is an alarming attack on academic freedom.

    1. Dear John,

      You extrapolate into sheer nonsense. I made no call for a blacklist. I recommended that responsible college authorities pay attention to the on-the-record statements of candidates for academic appointment. Yes, that might lead to some tough questioning and some non-appointments, but that’s not a blacklist. It is wise stewardship. Your word “blacklist” is just the proverbial dog whistle that leftists like to accuse conservatives of using.

      1. You say that administrators should literally consult a list of people who signed a petition in order to deny them jobs. That’s the actual definition of a “blacklist,” not a dog whistle. It’s not clear if you want all of them blacklisted or just a percentage. Professors (conservative or liberal) should be hired based on their academic merit, not their political opinions or the petitions they sign, whether you support or oppose those opinions.

      2. Peter Wood wants to blacklist thousands of people who stood up to journal failures and colonial nostalgia. Colonial nostalgia is akin to Holocaust denialism. By supporting colonialism, he is supporting slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, subjugations, etc. For those who have suffered colonial brutality, they don’t need white men to tell us that colonization was good or that it’s still a topic of academic debate.

  9. Taylor & Francis is notorious for buying up small journals and jacking up the prices in order to bleed library budgets dry. There is a fair amount of suspicion out there that this article was click-bait rather than a serious attempt to engage in an exchange of ideas, and that Professor Gilley has decided he is the new Milo. This doesn’t excuse the fits thrown by the scholarly left, most of whom need to take a chill pill or ten, but when you chum the water, it tends to attract the sharks.

  10. I went to read the article in question. I was interested only as a lay student of history. Sadly it is no longer available for viewing- even online. We live in very strange times.

    Sadly this is also the way that anyone questioning nearly any controversial social or physical phenomenon is treated….just ask any global warming questioner.

  11. Those who initiated the petitions (not the signatories, though probably them, too) are by their own standards singularly “unqualified” to criticize or even critique an article by a Political Scientist on a topic that has little to do with geography and even less to do with English and project management. These same “academics” would not listen to a Political Scientist expound on whatever passes for their academic contribution to human thought and progress. They would find him “unqualified” to do so, and my guess is that he would agree, since he doesn’t have a degree or experience or expertise in their fields. It’s all Kabuki, or better to use today’s definition: virtue-signaling. I hate to give Kabuki a bad name.

  12. Here is a working link. I downloaded it to be safe.

    I’ve often said it seems like Africa and South America want to be colonized as they are traveling to get some civilization. We could export our culture as opposed to importing millions of illiterates that resent us and don’t assimilate. Call it colonialism without mercantilism.

    1. Ryan. Thanks lots for your URL help in opposing bigoted leftist censorship/suppression. Ironic that their very idiotic attempts at grossly hypocritical censorship/suppression have only increased the readership.

  13. One precept when dealing with these sorts of attacks is never to apologize. An apology does not calm the tempest, but confirms in the attackers’ minds that the attack was valid. An apology energizes them

  14. I couldn’t help but notice that apparently, as they are not cited, none of those scandalized by the article thought to offer a reasoned written reply to be published.

    Not even something as playful as the 1921 article below written in rebuttal of an novelist’s recommendation on teaching grammar. There was a time when “scholars” used rhetoric to toy with their opponents, now they can only make death threats. Sad.

    “My Dear modern Novelist:
    You have recently given pleasure to the public by picturing what you would do if you were a teacher of English. Your sketch is racy, persuasive and true to life.

    “Yet your patent truthfulness will be misunderstood in the strangest way–a way which a novelist, unaccustomed to the perverting power of literal minds, would never suspect. Some thousands of teachers and superintendents and pedagogical experts will apply your merriment to the whole body of actual teachers in actual schools; they will pass on to one another the glad message that M. N. advises all teachers to discard grammar in all schools.”

      1. Paul Warrior
        No one reading so laughably bigoted list will be educated, a list fit only for useful idiots.
        Cato’s hypocrisy is delicious: “Handpicking arguments that fit into your own theory is bad methodology.” But of course that’s lefty stock in trade. And if they don’t listen, use death threats. And such foolishness actually wonders why this turns off intelligent people.

  15. Well, it appears the publisher has caved. The above link to the online “The Case for Colonialism” goes to a page that states the paper has gone down the memory hole. I hope that it survives somewhere, it sounds like it might be an interesting article.

    1. If people have it, it will be passed around as an electronic samizdat, as the publisher (I assume) still owns the copyright, and could supress the the republications on rights grounds.

  16. What remains unsaid in all of these cases is that governing boards have solemn responsibilities in these situations — responsibilities to protect their institutions as well as those who work and study in those institutions. I have come to expect academic administrators, right up to college presidents, to turn and run. But board members have “day jobs” and do not depend upon colleges for their living. They do public service by serving on boards of trustees. It is time for them to step in and be heard.

    1. To defend and then be run out of their “day jobs”? They have far more to lose than administrators. And progressives have complete control of the conversation.

      No, we can’t reconcile as a nation. It’s time to break up.

  17. How can one understand the new level of hysteria and venom that academic orthodoxy has reached? Compare what Peter Wood describes in this essay to another notorious case, nearly thirty years old: the censorious and inflamed reaction to an article published in PMLA by Richard Levin criticizing feminist readings of Shakespeare. Compared to today’s ideological warriors, Levin’s work was attacked by a collective letter to PMLA signed by (merely) two dozen indignant feminist critics. The typical moves were made (ad hominem attacks on the author and also on the journal for having published his work, while failing to engage with his actual arguments), and the debate went on for months.
    But what have we today? Thousands of irate ideologues declaring their values, among which civil debate and free inquiry are notably absent. Death threats? Demands for firing the offending professor? Could it be that the more equality and opportunity actually exist in academe (and beyond), the more frantic the reaction of comfy academics to anything that challenges their pet ideas? Have decades of thralldom to ersatz and risk-free politics in the academy created a logjam of self-righteousness and passion that seek ever more extreme outlets?
    Where are the anti-fa forces when one needs them? Oh, I forgot: they’re on the other side.

    1. No one is asking for Gilley to be fired. A facebook post taken out of context and mischaracterized is your source? Seriously, do some research! Calling for recolonization of the third world is inciting violence, as well as Wood’s calling for the witch hunt of 16K people who were signatories to two petitions calling for the journal to do it’s job in not publishing a thrice-rejected piece.

      1. Mr. Gilley does not call for recolonization of the third world. He merely suggests that initiatives like chartered cities be given serious consideration.

        In any case: visit Guinea-Bissau and then you might start to believe that any approach, how ever policitically incorrect, is a better alternative for the people there.

  18. “Those who value the life of the mind know that coercion undermines the processes of consent, rationality, and decency which alone make needed changes possible and enduring”

    Historian Richard C. Wade, University of Chicago, 1969.

    1. “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. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
      – Karl Popper, ‘The Open Society & It’s Enemies’, 1945

      If, in any plural society, we give a group that wants to shut down and eliminate or oppress any other group in that society free reign to do so in the name of free speech, then we risk not only losing that very plurality, but the very freedom that enabled that free society in the first place. Freedom is all very well and good as long as there is also mutual respect and coexistence – we all have a responsibility to one another to ensure that a pluralist society’s very existence does not come under threat and that no group is persecuted.

      Intolerant people are the opposite of this: they are selfish and seek only the interests of their own group to the detriment and oppression of other groups. They can only structure their own identity in an antagonistic relation to an opponent, an ‘Other’. Such people don’t want to live in a pluralist society, only one where they call the shots and have freedom while others freedoms are restricted. Gilley’s article advocates for a non-pluralist, non-equal global society in just such this vein. He champions the argument for a new global hierarchy where some highly developed Western nations will dictate the interests of other, less developed non-Western nations. This is against the precepts of a just, fair, and equal globe, and as such, a position that can be rightly dismissed as intolerant ideological diatribe. The opposition is right in not tolerating the intolerant.

      1. Adam, please note that in your excellent quote Karl Popper specifies that those not to be tolerated “are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.”

        If you believe Dr. Gilley’s article so qualifies, may I respectfully suggest you reread it? I can find no rejection of rational argument, only its embrace. And he makes clear “Colonialism can return…only with the consent of the colonized.” In what way, then, does he want to “shut down and eliminate or oppress [another] group? “

      2. Can you point out where in his article Mr. Gilley
        “advocates for a non-pluralist, non-equal global society in just such this vein.”

        Idem where he champions
        “the argument for a new global hierarchy where some highly developed Western nations will dictate the interests of other, less developed non-Western nations.”

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