Three Cheers for Pluralism Over Separatism – Friedman

Friedman on pluralism vs. separatism (or federalism vs separatism):

Why is pluralism such a big advantage today? Two reasons: politics and innovation. Before I explain, though, it’s worth recalling: What is pluralism? I like the definition that the Pluralism Project at Harvard offers on its website: “pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity” because “mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.” A society being “pluralistic” is a reality see Syria and Iraq. A society with pluralism “is an achievement” see America.

Pluralism, it also notes, “does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind. … It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.” And, it posits that real pluralism is built on “dialogue” and “give and take, criticism and self-criticism” — and “dialogue means both speaking and listening.”

Or, as we would say with respect to multiculturalism, integration and accommodation, rather than more Cartesian fixed ideas of how the world should be.

But pluralism, like multiculturalism and interculturalism, have a certain plastic quality and can be interpreted differently, ranging from deep (parallel social institutions like faith-based schools and laws) and shallow (common institutions like public schools and common legal framework).

So the question becomes less the term used, but rather what it means or how it is interpreted (a mistake that most critics of multiculturalism make).

Three Cheers for Pluralism Over Separatism –

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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