, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 201-206
Date: 22 Apr 2008

Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire

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In this bold, erudite and timely study, political theorist Wendy Brown explores the historical underpinnings of—and the social and political effects provoked by—the rhetorical operation of tolerance as a political and civic ideal. Brown pinpoints the historically distinctive role which discourses of tolerance play in the political culture of late-modern liberal democracies (and, particularly, in contemporary American culture) by inquiring into the genealogy of this ideal. This inquiry traverses from the original coining of this ideal as a plea for defusing violent religious conflicts and alleviating persecution of religious dissidents in early modern Europe, to its current deployments as a putative solution to a wide range of social problems arranged around axes of sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. The crux of Brown’s argument engages a critique of the conventional wisdom which extols tolerance as an unambiguous achievement of Western culture. This view is charged by Br ...