In his "Introduction" to The Retreat from Tolerance, A Snapshot of Australian Society, Philip Adams questions the limits and reality of tolerance in Australian society. This essay will critically analyse Adams' discourse on tolerance/intolerance in Australia and attempt to answer the following question: is tolerance by its very nature conditioned and limited
The implication here is that irrespective of racial or ethnic affiliation, all Australians are equal members of society and are accepted as such. According to Adams (1997), this supposition is little more than a myth or an exercise in politically correct, wistful, thinking. Not only has the dominant, Anglo-Saxon, group only recently embraced the principle of tolerance but have displayed a persistent proclivity for continued backtracking.
To fully comprehend Adams' argument on the status of tolerance in Australian society, an explanation of his conceptualisation of the term is important. Tolerance is the acceptance of the other,' accompanied by recognition of the inherent value and equality of social/ethnic/racial groups. Tolerance is characterised by the embrace of moderation and the absence of ethnic/racial arrogance (Adams, 1997). It most certainly has its limitations and these limitations are reached when one's rights are transgressed upon or one's space is violated (Adams, 1997). The violation of one's place/space/rights generates fear which is, in turn, outwardly expressed through intolerance towards the others. In other words, there exists a fine line between tolerance and intolerance according to Adams' definition.
Operating from within ...