>pluralism and tolerance. ALL the opponents of multiculturalism, pluralism
>and tolerance think they are righteous, make no mistake. That's what makes
>them serious enemies.
I come back to my point of a few days ago, borrowing from Vaclav Havel,
about restoring the real meaning of words, to live in truth. And from
Lenin about controlling terminology.
There is a major power struggle in the US, and probably elsewhere, to
redefine terms to our liking and then apply their new meanings
retroactively. This is happening in sustainable agriculture as well,
as for example the legislation before Congress to redefine many
beneficial insects, entomopathogens, and fungal antagonists as "Plant
Pests." I repeat my example about high-herbicide no-till being
redefined as "sustainable" (even when it means the destruction of
native tallgrass prairie).
Thus we face the sorry spectacle of tolerance being redefined from
"indulgence of practices or beliefs different from one's own"
(Merriam-Webster) to active affirmation of and support for those
beliefs. If you don't affirm and support beliefs and practices
different from your own, your are now defined as "intolerant" or even
worse --- such as "serious enemies." In such an environment,
multiculturalism is redefined to mean that all cultures are equal.
They are *not,* as anyone who has spent much time as a visitor to the
White Trash culture will readily attest.
Pluralism is redefined from a free interchange of ideas and evaluation
of their truth claims to a new meaning in which all *ideas* (or even
feelings !) are equally valid. In its extreme forms, pluralism would
hold that "There is no god but Allah, and Ronald McDonald is his
prophet." is a belief of equal value to "There is no god but Allah, and
Muhamet is his prophet." What patent nonsense.
In sustainable agriculture the equivalent is to say that "a nutrient is
a nutrient is a nutrient," and that all forms of fertilizer are equally
valid. Anhydrous ammonia and alfalfa are equally valid sources of
nitrogen, and to suggest that one is actually better than the other is
to be intolerant.
Attempting to compare tolerance (as applied to the Holocaust),
or multi-culturalism (as applied in the Austro-Hungarian empire),
or pluralism of ideas (as applied in discourse, debate, or even the
corner soapbox) to the modern redefinitions thereof is akin to
comparing two temperatures when one is in Celsius and the other in
When we examine these broader issues in light of their agricultural
analogues it becomes clear (to me at least) that the purpose of
examining differences is precisely to evaluate their relative validity
and value. That doesn't mean we run out an exterminate all farmers
using anhydrous and blow up every nurse-tank in the county, but
neither does it mean that we stifle all debate on the matter in the
name of tolerance and pluralism, branding those favoring anhydrous as
Currently, "tolerance" and "pluralism" (redefined versions) are being
used intentionally to stifle debate and discussion of the relative
values of behaviours, belief systems, and cultural values. This
CONTRAPHOBIA (fear of opposition, not a real word, but I think it
fits!) has led to an environment in which one side is doing all in its
power to silence debate by branding any opposition as "hate."
The incredible irony in sustainable agriculture is that it is the
conventional side usually trying to stifle the debate, whereas in the
social arena it is the relativists trying to silence the conventional
side. I would think that if any group of people would be sensitive to
that dynamic, it would be sustainable agriculture folks. Yet many who
rail against it when they are on the receiving end in agriculture seem
to have no hesitation about dishing it out themselves in the social
Am I the only one who finds that sort of Macchievellian inconsistency
somewhat disturbing? And does it not undermine our credibility?
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