epilogue Beyond Tolerance
The bourgeois, however, is tolerant. His love of people as they are stems from his hatred of what
they might be.—Theodor Adorno, minima moralia
In his 1798 The Contest of the Faculties, Kant decries the false republicanism
of the British Parliament. To say that the House of Lords and the House
of Commons limit the power of the British monarchy, Kant argues, is to
dissimulate their true nature. Casting members of Parliament as ‘‘repre-
sentatives of the people’’ flies in the face of what ‘‘everyone knows perfectly
well’’—that ‘‘the monarch’s influence on these representatives is so great
and so certain that nothing is resolved by the Houses except what he wills
and purposes through his minister.’’
If Parliament was no more than a
rubber stamp for the royal will, how was it dissimulated as an organ of
popular sovereignty? The exception, Kant argues, proves the rule. Every so
often the king ‘‘proposes resolutions in connection with which he knows
that he will be contradicted, and even arranges it that way (for example,
with regard to slave-trade) in order to provide a fictitious proof of the free-
dom of Parliament’’ (163). This approach ‘‘has something delusive about
it so that the true constitution, faithful to law, is no longer sought at all;
for a person imagines he has found it in an example already at hand, and
a false publicity [lügendhafte Publicität] deceives the people with the illusion
of a limited monarchy in power by a law which issues from them, while
their representatives, won over by bribery, have secretly subjected them to
an absolute monarchy’’ (163).
Kant’s criticism here occurs in the context of delineating the obstacles to
world progress, specifically those relating to publicity. Interestingly, Kant
warns against investing too much faith in the ability or the interest of the
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