Tag Archives: J.S. Mill

Tolerance, now even for liberals!

Here’s an ad from Cadillac called Poolside.

I think Poolside is a nice piece of work and I said so here. I particularly like how provocative it is.

And, my goodness, was it provocative.   Writing for the Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen recounts several reactions:

Elizabeth Weiss, writing in the New Yorker, said the character seemed “vaguely sociopathic.” In The Washington Post, Brigid Schulte condemned his celebration of a work culture that, she argued, is driving us to be “sick,” “stressed,” and “stupid.” Adam Gopnik, also in the New Yorker, called it, “the single most obnoxious television ad ever made.”

It looks for a moment that Rosen might withhold from this piling on.  But no, in the event, she declares Cadillac man a “crass materialist.”

Is it just the anthropologist in me that find these criticisms distressing?  No, I think it’s the liberal.

As I was laboring to say yesterday, liberals are obliged to tolerate even people they don’t much like.  Shrug with asperity, if they must, but they are obliged to show even disagreeable parties a certain respect.  Or at the very least forgo the scorn

“Vaguely sociopathic”?

A work culture that makes us “sick,” “stressed,” and “stupid”?

“The single most obnoxious television ad ever made”?

We may not like Cadillac man.  But if we are liberals, this has nothing to do with it. As J.S. Mill points out, the idea is not that we should like other people.  This is, he says, entirely unlikely in any case.  The idea is that we respect their right to define themselves as they chose to define themselves.  We must tolerate even those we find obnoxious.

Otherwise, mark you, you are not a liberal.


Thanks to Eric Nehrlich for spotting Rosen’s essay.