The Diversity Within Unity Platform
of the DWU platform
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We, the undersigned, have come together from many different social backgrounds,
countries, and viewpoints to address our fellow citizens about the place of
immigrants, and more generally minorities, in our diversifying societies.
I. OUR BASIC ORIENTATION
We note with growing concern that very large segments of the people of free societies(1) sense that
they are threatened by massive immigration and by the growing minorities within their borders that
hail from different cultures, follow different practices, and have separate institutions and loyalties.
We are troubled by street violence, verbal outbursts of hate, and growing support for various extremist
parties. These are unwholesome reactions to threats people feel to their sense of identity, self-determination,
and culture, which come on top of concerns evoked by globalization, new communications technologies, and a
gradual loss of national sovereignty. To throw the feelings of many millions of people in their faces,
calling them "discriminatory," "exclusionary," "hypocritical," and worse, is an easy politics, but not
one truly committed to resolution. People's anxieties and concerns should not be dismissed out of hand,
nor can they be effectively treated by labeling them racist or xenophobic. Furthermore, telling people
that they "need" immigrants because of economic reasons or demographic shortfalls makes a valid and useful
argument, but does not address their profoundest misgivings. The challenge before us is to find legitimate
and empirically sound ways to constructively address these concerns. At the same time, we should ensure
that these sentiments do not find antisocial, hateful, let alone violent expressions.
Two approaches are to be avoided: promoting assimilation and unbounded multiculturalism. Assimilation-which
entails requiring minorities to abandon all of their distinct institutions, cultures, values, habits, and
connections to other societies in order to fully mesh into the prevailing culture-is sociologically
difficult to achieve and unnecessary for dealing with the issues at hand, as we shall see. It is morally
unjustified because of our respect for some normative differences, such as to which gods we pray.
Unbounded multiculturalism-which entails giving up the concept of shared values, loyalties, and identity
in order to privilege ethnic and religious differences, presuming that nations can be replaced by a large
number of diverse minorities-is also unnecessary. It is likely to evoke undemocratic backlashes, ranging
from support for extremist, right-wing parties and populist leaders to anti-minority policies. It is
normatively unjustified because it fails to recognize the values and institutions undergirded by the society
at large, such as those that protect women's and gay rights.
The basic approach we favor is diversity within unity. It presumes that all members of a given society
will fully respect and adhere to those basic values and institutions that are considered part of the
basic shared framework of the society. At the same time, every group in society is free to maintain its
distinct subculture-those policies, habits, and institutions that do not conflict with the shared core-and
a strong measure of loyalty to its country of origin, as long as this does not trump loyalty to the society
in which it lives if these loyalties come into conflict. Respect for the whole and respect for all is at the
essence of our position.
We observe that such diversity within unity enriches rather than threatens the society at large and its
culture, as is evident in matters ranging from music to cuisine, and most notably it greatly enhances the
realm of ideas to which we are exposed and expands our understanding of the diverse world around us. We
further note that, in each society, the basic shared core of identity and culture has changed over time
and will continue to do so in the future. Hence minorities that hold that this core does not reflect
values dear to them are free to act to seek to change it-via the democratic and social processes available
for this purpose in all free societies.
The unity of which we speak is not one imposed by government orders or regulations, not to mention by
police agents, but one that grows out of civic education, commitment to the common good, the nation's
history, shared values, common experiences, robust public institutions, and dialogues about the commonalities
and requirements of a people living together and facing the same challenges in the same corner of the earth.
Such diversity within unity allows one to fully respect basic rights, the democratic way of life, and core
values, as well as those minority values that do not conflict with it.
Which elements belong in which category-the realm of unity or of diversity-is a matter that can be readily
decided about many key items. Basic rights must be respected by one and all. For instance, discrimination
against women cannot be tolerated, whatever a group's cultural or religious values. Respect for law and
order is essential. Democratic institutions are not one option among several. No one who seeks citizenship
in a given country, and membership in a given society, can buy out of the collective responsibilities that
society has for its past actions and toward other societies, assumed by treaty or otherwise.
At the same time, little deliberation is required to recognize that there is no reason to object if
minorities are keen to maintain their language as a second one, close ties with another country
(as long as they do not trump loyalty to the current country, as already indicated), and special
knowledge and practice of their culture. All of this is not to deny that much deliberation and public
dialogue are called for on contested issues such as how "law and order" is to be interpreted and how strong
and how deep-down liberal-democratic approval should go. Deliberation and public dialogue are also crucial
before one can conclude whether certain other items belong in the realm of unity or diversity, as is
In short, we ought not to sacrifice unity or diversity to the other part of the equation, but ought to
recognize that we can learn both to live with more diversity and to protect well legitimate unity.
II. ISSUES AND POLICIES
1. The law: variances, basic rights, and compelling public interest
Assimilationist models favor maintaining universal laws-those that apply to all citizens and other
people within a given jurisdiction. They tolerate some variations and exemptions, but those are to
be based on individual needs (e.g., mental illness) or demographic categories (e.g., minors), not on
ethnic or racial groupings. Group rights are not recognized.
Unbounded diversity favors allowing each community to follow its traditions, even if they conflict with
prevailing laws (for instance, allowing for forced marriages and female circumcision), although most
pro-diversity approaches recognize that some universal laws must be observed. According to this approach,
ethnic and racial groups should be granted a great measure of autonomy to set and enforce their own laws,
either by being accorded considerable territorial autonomy or community-based autonomy-for instance by
religious authorities such as imams or rabbis. Also, by this approach, people are viewed as imbued with
strong rights just by being members of a protected group, such as native Canadians or Americans.
The diversity-within-unity (DWU) model favors a bifocal approach: it sharply distinguishes between those
laws that all must abide by and those for which various group-based variances and exemptions are to be
provided. Although there is room for disagreement on what falls within these two categories, several
criteria suggest themselves as principled guides to which laws and policies must be universal, and which
can be group-particular.
Leading the universal category are basic human rights, as defined by the country's constitution, basic
laws, the laws of regional communities such as the European Union and the United Nations Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Thus no one can be legally bought and sold, detained without due process, refused the right
to vote, and so on, by any member group of any society. Leading feminists are correctly opposed to several
group variances because they fear that these would entail "losing whatever we gained in terms of gender
Compelling public interest provides another universal criterion. If carrying guns is considered a major
safety hazard, no group should be exempted from this rule. The same holds for violations of public
health, such as a refusal to immunize children. (Many states in the United States, and other countries
such as the Netherlands, exempt parents who claim religious objections from this requirement, a policy
that deeply troubles public health officials.)
Whatever is not encompassed in such policies should be considered legitimate subjects for variation.
These might well include variances regarding laws, such as those concerning closing days (e.g., laws
might require shops to be closed one day a week, but not necessarily Sunday) and those concerning animal
rights (to allow ritual slaughter); variances on zoning regulations (e.g., to allow building Mosques);
exemptions to allow the use of controlled substances during religious services; and some limited exemptions
from various occupational safety, food preparation, and related regulations to help newly established
ethnic businesses. (Some of these variances might be limited to a transition period and combined with
helping immigrants and minorities in general to adapt to the prevailing laws.)
Arguments that territorial groups or the home-born have a higher level of rights than immigrants are
incompatible with the DWU model. Indeed, groups that are territorially concentrated are more inclined
than others to push diversity to the point that it may endanger unity, as we witness with groups that
are concentrated in one given area, which are much more likely to secede than dispersed groups. Some
minority groups may have legitimate reasons to seek to secede, but this constitutes the death knell
of unity. While in the past struggles for self-determination were usually involved in the break-up
of empires and hence as a rule enhanced democratic representation, regions that now break away from
democratic societies are unlikely to enhance self-government and may well weaken it.
Our focus is on practices, not on speech. Thus, it is acceptable for a given group to advocate illiberal
practices, but until the laws or constitution are changed, the group should not be allowed to practice
them, and surely not impose them on others. Extreme followers of one religion or another may argue
that banning some of their practices undermines their whole distinct culture; however, being a member
of a free society entails avoiding practices that treat any members in ways that violate their basic
There are no reasons to oppose compromises-if they meet the criteria just articulated. Thus, if Sikhs
are willing to wear their daggers but modify them so they cannot be unsheathed, that might bridge the
difference between subculture and basic laws.
Whatever position one holds regarding economic equality and social rights, we assume that everyone has
the same moral worth bestowed upon them just by being human, whether or not they are citizens, and that
discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, or gender is illegal. (Whether this applies to private
organizations, such as social clubs that receive no public support or tax exemptions, is an open question.)
Rights carry with them corollary responsibilities. This principle can be fully applied to member groups.
Thus if a nation is engaged in war with another nation, minority members who have historical and cultural
ties to that other nation must serve in the army of the new homeland, like other citizens. If fight we must,
no one is exempt on the basis of being a member of a specific racial or ethnic group. (People who are
conscientious objectors on religious or secular ethical grounds, assuming their commitments are verified
and they are willing to engage in alternative national service, may well be exempt.) The same holds for
attending to one's children, paying taxes, Good Samaritan acts, and so on.
2. State and religion
Most of the states here under discussion have historically had (or still have) one religion they formally
recognize as their only one-Christianity in many of them (including a specific version of it, such as
Lutheranism in Sweden). In addition, these states provide extensive financial support directly and indirectly
to the institutions of the official state religion, mainly for clergy and places of worship. (France and
the United States are the exceptions in this regard as, in the commonly used phrase, they have no
established religion.) Almost all of these nations now face massive immigration and growing numbers of
minorities that believe in different religions, especially Islam.
Where might one go from here? One option is to maintain the official church. Although often the official
religions have placed relatively few demands on people (whether members of minorities or the majority),
supporters of assimilation in effect expect considerable stripping of the beliefs held by minorities who
often have strong religious commitments. Importantly, under this approach, minority children are expected
to attend public schools in which the values of the governing religion are taught; minority residents and
citizens are required to participate in public events in which the prayers are those of another religion;
and public life is studded with symbols of the governing religion and laws reflecting it. This is a maximal
challenge to diversity.
A second option is to lift all religions to the same status as the official one. This would entail not
only fully supporting the clergy and places of worship (and social services) provided by all religions,
but also opening official events with multiple prayers, displaying in public buildings and schools religious
symbols of all groups on an egalitarian basis, and so on and on. Such a move would likely be perceived as
a direct assault on the historical and cultural identity of a nation, and would be apt to lead to a high
level of contention. It would undermine unity considerably.
A third option is for the official standing of the prevailing religion to gradually lapse (as it did in
Sweden). Under this model, no new religion would be recognized as the official religion of the state, but
financial support for the clergy and places of worship of all religions would be provided. The amount would
be determined by the number of people who indicate, annually, that a given religion is theirs. (This would
get the state out of the business of determining who is entitled to get support.) This is especially an issue
for countries that rely heavily on voluntary associations and social groups to administer social services
paid for by the public, as is common in parts of Europe. If religious groups are not included, this amounts
to discrimination against those whose primary social affiliation is religious. At the same time, no such
support should be available to groups that promote values, whether religious or secular, that are illiberal.
This third model is most compatible with the DWU approach because removing formal recognition of any state
religion puts all religions on more equal footing (at least in legal terms and financially) without directly
challenging history and identity. Although such a move constitutes a step away from tradition, it does not
replace it with any new official requirements. It allows the majority to retain a sense of the centrality
of its values (which is not fully satisfactory to minorities). At the same time, it allows the minorities
to recognize that the majority has accommodated them in a major way (which leaves some of those who hail to
the majority less than fully content). This model allows for diversity without explicitly undermining unity.
(It finds a precedent in the way shops were once required to be closed on Sundays, for religious purposes,
but are now allowed to have a closing day suiting any religion-say, Friday or Saturday-without officially
demoting Sunday.) The sensibilities of the majority are also to be respected.
3. DWU schooling
Schooling should neither be used to suppress all cultural differences and distinctions, nor to reinforce
the segregation and ghettoization of minorities.
The assimilationist model assumes that immigrants and minority members of society will be taught in public
schools, that they will be taught basically the same material as other members of the society and more or
less the same material as was previously provided. An unbounded diversity model calls for setting up separate
schools-publicly supported-and distinct curricula for various ethnic groups from kindergarten to grade 12,
such as, for instance, separate Muslim or Jewish schools, not merely as "Sunday" schools but as full-time
A DWU approach, based on the concept of neighborhood schools, suggests that (a) a major proportion of the
curriculum-say, 85 percent or more-should remain universal (i.e., part of the processes that foster unity).
The commonalities of sharing 85 percent or so of the curriculum are intended not merely to ensure that all
members of the next generation are exposed to a considerable measure of the same teaching materials,
narratives, and normative content, but also that they will mix socially. Hence, teaching the same material
but in ethnically segregated schools is incompatible with our approach. (Granted that the segregating
effects of such schooling can largely be mitigated if they teach a considerable amount of the "universal"
material and endeavor to provide for social mixing, if not in their own confines, elsewhere. Although
teachers of all backgrounds should be welcomed, insisting that children must be taught by teachers who are
members of their ethnic group is not compatible with the DWU model. (b) Minorities should have major input
concerning 15 percent or so of the curriculum; this could be in the form of electives or alternative classes
in which students particularly interested in one subject or history or tradition could gain enriched education
in that area. (c) The universal, unity-related content of the curriculum should be recast to some extent
to include, for instance, more learning about minority cultures and histories.
Bilingual education might be used, but only during a transition phase before mainstreaming begins and not
as a continuous mode of teaching that is, in effect, segregated along ethnic lines. (Reference is to education
that is conducted in the languages of immigrants and not to educational policies in a country that has
historically embraced two or more languages.)
Of particular concern is the teaching of values. This issue is highlighted by the fact that many of the most
contentious issues in schools, ranging from displacing crucifixes to requiring Muslim girls to wear swimsuits
to banning Sikhs' traditional turbans, relate to religion. One may start with the observation that schools
must help develop character and teach basic values rather than merely being institutions for learning
"academics." One may also assume that the classes that all pupils will be required to attend (the unity
sector of 85 percent-plus) will include classes in which basic civic values will be taught, such as respect
for the constitution or basic laws, human rights, the merit of democracy, and the value of mutual respect
among different subcultures. (These are to include civic practicums, such as playacting as parliament or
civil court or doing community service.) But such education may well not suffice to provide the needed
character education and is unlikely by itself to provide a sufficient substitute for the substantive values
taught in the past by religions. Given that schools are in the character education "business," the question
must be faced, what substantive values are they to instill beyond narrowly crafted civic virtues?
Providing public school classes for each religion (in line with the notion of equal official recognition
of all religions) and allowing students to choose which to attend (including classes in secular, humanist
ethics) helps diversity, but does little for unity. One way to improve on this approach is for public schools
to work with the various religious groups to ensure that the teachers selected for religious teaching
(and the teaching materials they use) refrain from advocating or implementing illiberal religious practices.
(Although we previously stated that we do not object to illiberal advocacy as distinct from practices,
children, whose hearts ands minds have not yet been formed, require extra protection.) It might be said
that a democracy should tolerate the teaching of anti-democratic values so long as those who hold them are
not seriously challenging the democratic system. However, not all the societies at issue have long-established
and well-grounded democratic polities, and hence straining them is not called for. Above all, without
leaving fundamentalism out of classrooms, no sufficient sharing of values may be found.
Many of us hold that only public schools can provide an environment in which children are exposed to
a rich core of shared values, are protected from fundamentalism, and mix socially with children from
different social and religious backgrounds. Some hold that the same may be achieved in private schools,
even if controlled by one ethnic or religious group or another, as long as the state ensures that all
schools teach a strong core of shared values. In either case, the same essential criteria must be met
if schools are to provide effective opportunities to move toward a DWU model in contrast to a homogenous,
assimilationist model or a segregated, unbounded multiculturalist one: a core of shared values and
4. Citizenship for qualifying, legal immigrants
Debates over immigration and citizenship policy have often been characterized by wild swings between
emotionally fraught, divisive positions and radical proposals for assimilation or unbounded diversity:
either we end all immigration or we open our borders to virtually anyone; either immigrants are a burden
on taxpayers and responsibility for integration rests solely with newcomers or all newcomers should be
given substantial public assistance and helped to maintain their cultures, languages, and identities;
either all illegal immigrants should be deported immediately or there should be no distinction between
legal and illegal immigrants.
A diversity within unity approach emphasizes that societies are best served if those who are legal
immigrants, and have met educational requirements, are allowed to become full citizens rather than
treated as guest workers, which is often a term that conceals their true status as permanent, but second
class, residents. The key to a democratically defensible and economically viable approach to immigration
is to make decisions up front about the scope and nature of immigration that the nation favors. Then
the government can provide permanent status for those admitted and facilitate their access to citizenship.
This approach offers a more sensible way to staff the labor market, unite families, and allow citizens to
assess the way immigration is shaping the national economy and culture.
Cultural preferences-for example, for Spain to prefer immigrants from Spanish speaking countries-are
acceptable because they help sustain unity, so long as they do not prevent immigration for family
reunification or refugee purposes and are based on culture rather than race or blood. Public support
for immigration also requires that enforcement policies are carried out. Hence, better border control,
employer sanctions, perhaps even a national identity card for all legal residents, are best included in
any approach that aims to create an effective, publically defensible system. (These measures do not apply
to true political asylum seekers.) More serious efforts to enforce immigration laws that are coupled with
sound and transparent criteria for admission will also provide a way of dealing with the ongoing reality
of illegal immigration in ways that are consistent with core democratic values. As such a system is
introduced, a society can reorient its citizenship away from representing only a bundle of rights and
towards an emphasis on civic participation and responsibility.
For legal immigrants, democratic nation-states must provide fair and objective procedures for admission,
including reasonable application costs. Linguistic and educational requirements may well be set higher
than the current ones, to ensure that citizens-to-be have acquired familiarity not only with the workings
of democratic government but also with the unifying elements of the given society. Consideration may be
given that immigrants who have not yet completed their citizenship processes could nevertheless be accorded
the right to vote in local elections and to serve in civil service as ways to help them acquire the civic
practice that makes for good citizens and to help create a civil service that is better equipped to deal
Dual citizenship could be allowed or even encouraged so long as appropriate principles and practices for
reconciling conflicts among loyalties can be established-notably the principle that the nation of permanent
residence takes priority.
All in all: Citizenship constitutes a critical way a person becomes a responsible and accepted member of a
community. Hence it should not be awarded without proper preparation nor denied to those who have completed
the required measure of acculturation.
Throughout this section we assume that citizenship is not based on bloodlines or racial membership but is
based on becoming a part of an historical community, with its own culture and identity. To join this community
is to come to share in that history, culture, and identity-up to a point, as characterized by the difference
between elements of unity and diversity previously discussed. To reiterate, history does not stop, and culture
and identity continue to be recast, in part under the influence of the new members.
Citizenship should not be a free good, but a communal undertaking, a status and identity that constitutes
both rights and social responsibilities. This holds for those who seek to become citizens as it does for
those who are already so endowed.
5. Language: an inescapable element of unity?
The assimilationist model tends to stress that all must acquire the prevailing language (sometimes,
as in Belgium, at least one of them), that it should be considered the official language, and that the
use of other languages should be banned in official business, courts, ballots, and street signs.
Unbounded diversity opposes the recognition of any one language as the official one and seeks to
provide a coequal status in courts, documents, etc., to several languages, sometimes a rather large
A DWU approach recognizes the strong advantages of having one shared language (two if necessary) and
teaching it to all immigrants, minority members, and people whose education is lagging for other reasons.
However, the state should provide ample translators and translated documents for those who have not
yet acquired the shared language, even if this results in some lowering of the of the motivation for
immigrants to learn the prevailing language.
Neighborhoods should be free to add signs in any language, but not to replace those in one (or two)
of the shared ones. The state may well also encourage keeping the languages of immigrants as second
languages and the teaching of second languages in general.
6. Core substance, symbols, national history, holidays, and rituals
In numerous situations, differences arise concerning matters that are relatively limited in importance
in their own right, but acquire great symbolic meaning regarding the rejection, or partial or full
acceptance, of people of diverse cultures. These include dress codes (e.g., regarding girls wearing
headscarves), boys and girls swimming together, the display of ethnic vs. national flags, areas in
which ethnic celebrations can take place, noise levels tolerated, and so on. In effect, practically
any issue can be turned into a highly charged symbolic one, although some issues (such as flags) tend
more readily to become such.
It is important to recognize that trying to deal with these issues one by one, or by focusing on the
surface arguments, will often not lead to consensual resolution, as the matters at hand typically stand
for deeper issues. The contested symbols serve as hooks on which people hang their resentment of those
of different cultures (including the dominant one) and of the need to adapt to a different world. These
symbols serve as expressions of people's sense that their culture, identity, national unity, and
self-determination are all being challenged. Only as these deeper issues are addressed might societies
be able to work out satisfactory resolutions of the symbolic issues.
Attacking deeply felt and deeply ingrained sentiments, denying that immigrants or minorities are
different, and so on-especially labeling all such sentiments as "racist" or "xenophobic" prejudices
and demanding that people drop them or be subject to re-education if not rehabilitation-is as unfair
as it is counterproductive.
A DWU position indicates that we understand why people feel the way they do, but also assures them
that the cultural changes that they must learn to cope with will not violate their basic values, will
not destroy their identity, nor end their ability to control their lives. Indeed, it is the prime merit
of the DWU approach that it allows such a framing of the issue, not as a public relations posture or a
political formula, but as a worked-out model of laws, policies, and normative concepts that gives
substance to such assurances.
Once this basic position is established, we note that adhering to old patriotism, which demands an
unquestioning embrace of a nation's past, is just as inappropriate as calling for the dismantling of
national identity in order to accommodate diversity. Thus, to expect immigrants from previously
colonized countries to see great glory in the imperial past is not compatible with the DWU model any
more than is calling on a nation to give up its shared values, symbols, and meanings and to become
merely a thin and formal affiliation. Arguments to "rethink what it means to be British" (or French,
etc.) are welcome if they mean to redefine commonalities and to point to legitimate differences, but not
if they are code words for abandoning shared substantive meanings and values. Nor should one assume that
even in a full-fledged European federation, national identities and cultures will vanish in the foreseeable
future, thus dissolving the deeper issues at hand.
The assimilationist model favors stressing the nation's shared fate and glorious achievements in textbooks
(especially those concerning history), national holidays, and rituals. Some champions of unbounded diversity
call for redefining history as long periods of lessons in national disgrace (for example, one scholar
suggested that American history be taught as a series of abuses of minorities, beginning with Native
Americans, turning to slaves, then to Japanese Americans during World War II, and so on). Others favor
separate ethnic and religious holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, to replace rather than
supplement shared national holidays.
The DWU position on these issues remains to be worked out. As far as the teaching of history is concerned,
surely many would agree that to the extent that textbooks and other teaching materials contain statements
that are truly offensive to minorities, they should be removed or corrected, and that recognition of
minorities' contributions to the society should be added. In addition, history of parts of the world
other than one's own should occupy an important part in any curriculum. Still, the teaching of history
is a major way that shared meanings and values are transmitted and it should neither be "particularized"
nor become a source of attack on the realm of unity.
As far as holidays are concerned, a combination of shared holidays (such as Unification Day in Germany)
with separate ethnic and religious ones may be quite compatible with a DWU model. In effect, the existence
of some ethnic holidays (such as Cinco de Mayo) enriches rather than diminishes the shared culture.
We focus here on shared and divergent values in a society that is a community of communities rather than a
mindless, over-homogenized blend. This focus is in no way meant to distract attention from the need to be
concerned with economic interests and their articulation and matters dealing with the distribution of
power. However, given that these issues have been often explored, our focus has been on values (and related
institutions), a core part of any society that is able to sustain itself and change peacefully at the same
The most challenging issue of them all is to consider, beyond changes in symbolic expressions and even in
laws and policies, what would be encompassed in a modified but unified core of shared substantive values?
Commitment to a bill of rights, the democratic way of life, respect for basic laws (or, more broadly, a
constitutional faith or civic religion), and mutual tolerance come (at least relatively) easily. So do
the communitarian concepts that rights entail responsibilities, that working differences out is to be
preferred to conflict, and that society is to be considered a community of communities (rather than
merely a state that contains millions of individuals). However, as important as these are and as much
as they move us forward, these relatively thin conceptions of unity (and those limited to points of
commonality-overlapping areas of consensus-among diverse cultures) constitute an insufficient core of
shared values to sustain unity among diversity.
The challenge for the DWU model is to ask how the realm of unity, however restated, can be thick enough
without violating the legitimate place of diversity. The answer may be found in part in secular humanist
values and ethics (including respect for individual dignity and autonomy) and thicker communitarian values
that spell out our obligations to one another. It may encompass a commitment to building still more
encompassing communities (such as the European Union), to assisting those in need in the "have-not"
countries, and to upholding the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Still, the question
stands as to what will provide a source of shared commitments to define and promote what is right versus
wrong, and what will provide an answer to transcendental questions of life, as far as they concern public
life, if it will not be based on religious doctrines, nor be sheerly relativistic or based on the beliefs
of particularistic groups.
The DWU approach is a work in progress. It does not claim to have all or even most of the answers needed
to bridge the schisms that have opened up between many immigrants and the majorities in the free societies
in which they live. It does offer, we state, a basic orientation that respects both the history, culture,
and identity of a society and the rights of members of the society to differ on those issues that do not
involve the core of basic values and universally established rights and obligations.
Signatures denote that we are of one mind on the broad thrust of this platform and the necessity of this
intervention into the current dialogue, without necessarily agreeing with every single, specific statement.
We look forward to future discussions of how this platform applies to future problems and to various different
This position paper was drafted by Amitai Etzioni in summer of 2001. He benefitted greatly from comments by
Leon Fuerth, Veit Bader and Noah Pickus. It was submitted for a two day communitarian dialogue in a
meeting of 40 scholars from eight different countries and a few elected officials on November 1st
and 2nd in a meeting organized by the Communitarian Network in Brussels. Following the meeting, the
position paper was redrafted, drawing on notes from the meeting, reports from the rapporteurs of the
five breakout sessions, and comments by members of a redrafting committee selected during the meeting
and by other participants. The whole process was organized and much of the research conducted by Mackenzie
Members of the redrafting committee included: Veit Bader, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
John Crowley, CERI-Sciences Po, France; Silvio Ferrari, University of Milan, Italy; Kristin Henrard,
University of Groningen, The Netherlands; David Hollinger, University of California at Berkeley,
United States; Leo Monz, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, Germany; Noah Pickus, Institute for Emerging
Issues, United States; Peter Skerry, Claremont McKenna College, United States; Sophie van Bijsterveld,
Catholic University of Brabant, The Netherlands; and Michael Werz, University of Hannover, Germany.
To endorse, send a fax to the Communitarian Network at (202) 994-1606, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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