An Emergent Cosmopolis
But what should constitute individuality, and its advancement, they never seriously considered. And the idea that they were under obligation also towards beings not included in the Martian system of radiation, proved wholly beyond them. For, though so clever, they were the most naive of self-deceivers, and had no insight to see what it is that is truly desirable.
— Olaf Stapledon
Last and First Men
Multiculturalism is only one aspect of the wider problem to which this book is addressed: social breakdown in liberal democracies. Is there such a thing as society any more? Should there be? And if there should, how can we rebuild the structures of our life together in pursuit of the common good?
The argument I will be making is emphatically not for a return to the way things were in the 1950s. It is the opposite. Western liberal democratic societies are diverse: that is a fact and also a value. This was, after all, Aristotle’s argument against Plato who conceived of the Republic as a tightly-bonded unit guarded against change. Diversity is essential to political life, argued Aristotle. It is also, today, inevitable. The desire to go back to the past—reactionary politics—is always misconceived and often deeply dangerous.
The case outlined in these pages is resolutely future-oriented. We are a diverse society. But we are also a fragmenting one. We are no longer sure what British or Dutch identity is. Politicians, commentators and moralists urge minorities to integrate. But into what? To integrate, there must be something to integrate into. To become socialized, there must . . .
The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students
Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays
Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry: The Hoax of Black Victimization and How We Enable It
The Night is Large: Collected Essays
The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day—How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny
Civilization rise and fall; cultures come and go; and often it is only long after that historians are able to piece together what happened. We have no assurance that our Western culture will survive for very long. Other narratives generated by non-Western civilizations may dominate the logosphere as we pass into the dustbin of history.
This would be a great loss, for the desirability of universality vs. tribal, of intellectual rigor vs. myth-making, of civil law rather than the law of power—even of being presumed innocent until proven guilty—are all gifts our fore-bearers gifted to us.
During times of institutional change, doors are closed but opportunities opened. But it takes people who have the means of controlling meaning that can recognize such changes, avoid blind alleys and take advantage of new . . .