The Limits of Liberal Tolerance
by Thomas Mulligan
A central challenge for liberalism is to provide a satisfying account of tolerance.
Such an account is practically necessary as liberal states search for solid
theoretical footing in their relations with illiberal states. The illiberality of these
states, of course, comes in degrees. North Korea provides virtually no social or
political rights for its citizens and regularly uses kidnapping, torture, and murder
to enforce the people's compliance. Turkey, on the other hand, has established a
range of substantial, constitutionally protected liberal rights.
The liberal must explain why the conduct of North Korea is intolerable and
how the international liberal community ought to express its intolerance. The
liberal must also decide if Turkey's much less pernicious conduct is intolerable
as well—and, if so, how that intolerance ought to be expressed (presumably in a
far more modest way than the expressions of intolerance against North Korea).