Discomfort of strangers

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The author of this essay, David Goodhart, analyses the tensions between the values of solidarity and diversity.

According to David Goodhart, a leading liberal intellectual and editor of the Prospect journal, one of the central dilemmas of political life in developed societies is that sharing and solidarity conflict with diversity. He says that this dilemma is especially acute for progressives “who want plenty of both solidarity (high social cohesion and generous welfare paid out of a progressive tax system) and diversity (equal respect for a wide range of peoples, values and ways of life).

M. Goodhart considers that if values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. M. Goodhart believes that the more diverse a society is, the more difficult it is to have a welfare state. He says “This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the United States you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity, but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests.”


The full text of this study is available on theGuardianwebsite.  

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