The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
—Achilles’s Shield, W. H. Auden
The meaning of dissent is implicated in the meaning of tolerance. We dissent when something is intolerable—“I just can’t take this anymore…enough is enough”. No one has the power of infinite tolerance. The liberal doctrine of politics expects these two concepts, dissent and tolerance, to lead parallel lives such that they never encounter one another. But it is imperative that we introduce them to one another through the theological lessons of M.K. Gandhi
Gandhi allows us to ask if it is necessary to assent to and obey all that passes for “law”. Is it our obligation to receive all that the rulers give us: imprisonment (Yeravada jail), illegal occupation (of India), banning of books (of Hind Swaraj), mass murder (Jallianwala Bagh), and economic catastrophes (the Bengal famine)? Gandhi had something of an answer: But there come occasions,...