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Superficially, it does sound quite reasonable. The problem is that the quote itself is a call for people to abandon rational debate and use violence, not just against targets who have themselves eschewed debate for violence but against "any movement preaching intolerance". Whilst his justification is that those movements might themselves eschew debate for violence, he very specifically does not restrict this to movements which have done so or even threatened to do so.

So for instance, Poppler's paradox is easily used to justify violent intolerance of anyone who opposes unchecked immigration. Not only are they preaching intolerance, but people with very similar-sounding views are actually violently attacking immigrants so it's easy to justify the claim that those ones might as well.




The reason I offered Popper's entire quote is because while I do think many people use it as are you suggesting, his quote makes it quite clear that is not what he is suggesting. He is speaking of an intolerant view as one that is intolerant of alternative views. In other words a view that:

- refuses to debate or discuss its merits and values

- refuses to meaningfully consider or discuss alternatives

- responds to discussion with aggression

The book which includes his quote was published in 1945, Popper was of Jewish ancestry, and the book was speaking primarily about avoiding totalitarianism. His philosophy should be taken in that context. People are manipulating his quote to try to justify intolerance of anything except their own world view, but it is this exact sort of totalitarianism he was suggesting that may imperil an open and free society. In particular he also defined an open society as one "in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions" as opposed to a "magical or tribal or collectivist society."

Intolerance trends towards a closed society where you believe what you are supposed to believe, or face the consequences. Tolerance trends towards an open society where individuals may not agree, but are free to express themselves and challenge one another on any view or value.


I think the key mitigation is:

  >  "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"
But I understand your point. To that end, attacking illegal immigrants would be "intolerant". But what about advocating their arrest and deportation?




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