David Goodhart’s The Discomfort of Strangers
In my essay, I will look at Goodhart’s argument, then look at the countries he discusses. Then arguments against Goodhart, eg by Parekh and Taylor-Gooby
To sum up in one paragraph: The crux of the UK’s discussion about multiculturalism versus the welfare state is Goodhart, who argues that the leftish value of diversity conflicts with its support for solidarity, particularly in the form of a strong, redistributive welfare state. The left’s recent love affair with diversity, he believes, is likely to weaken the welfare state – and he calls on the left to show more support for a strong welfare state by scaling back support for diversity. He calls for a “realistic liberalism” that acknowledges the constraints on solidarity: the more diverse a country is, the less likely it is to support a strong welfare state. Much of this is down to the idea of reciprocal altruism: people are happy to contribute to others, so long as they believe that those others share their values and are deserving of the help. He believes that the UK cannot go on having relatively strong support for the welfare state and becoming a more ethnically diverse country: the more we are a country of strangers, the less support there will be for a risk-pooling welfare state. He cites evidence from the US in particular, but also looks at European social democracies.
He positions himself as the reluctant prognosticator, bearing bad but wise tidings for his friends. I think he’s a victim of nostalgia for Britishness, but that’s not what I should get sucked into in an assessed essay
He spends a lot of time talking about how people’s minds work, but not a lot on how the welfare state works. Well, that’s harsh, but he seems to take it for granted that it’s easy to retrench a welfare state. What may be the case is that, as in the US, you can limit its growth, but once a large welfare state is in place, there is no evidence that it can easily...