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The Big Answer

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Making Sense Of Multiculturalism

an article by Alan Wolfe

(our site's article review)

Alan Wolfe reviews David A. Hollinger’s book, Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism. Wolfe defines expansive communitarianism as the belief that people have obligations and duties to as many other people as possible, but he says the expansiveness tends to make such commitments atrophy and wilt. It identifies community as the state. So people more often proclaim limited communitarianism, in which the communities that mean the most to us are those that should have the strongest moral claims on us. It identifies community as not the state but the locality.

Communitarians put themselves on neither side of the multiculturalism issue, since they tend to argue for strong community and national ties.

Wolfe likes the book in that it tries to identify what is valuable in limited versions of community without sacrificing expansiveness. Hollinger calls for an American nation, national citizenship and national obligations—transcending ethnic divisions. We need to be a diverse country unified by a common vision. Amen.