Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Is pluralism the best system for advanced societies? According to Schumaker: yes, and it is the only workable system. To decide whether pluralism is an effective method, there must first be a general understanding of what pluralism is and how it works. Pluralism is a system of coexistence between different groups, where multiple groups share power and all strive towards justice and mutual tourism together. This works by smaller groups retaining their identity differences (which are then accepted by the wider culture at large) and all groups respecting these differences and prioritizing mutual respect and compromise. The bottom line is that pluralism strives for equality of representation and treatment for its citizens.
Ontology is the study of the nature of being. It recognizes that there are multiple ways of being; ie. multiple belief systems, political preferences, socio-ecological situations, etc. All of these ways of life create individuals with large variances in their values and beliefs, leading to the formation of culturally unique groups. Divisions between those with opposing views, in a pluralistic nation, are celebrated, not ridiculed. While studying the nature of being, and the nature of how individuals live, it is impossible to not study how they continue to live in harmony despite their identity and cultural contrasts. Pluralism allows these groups to strive towards mutual tourism, rather than compete for power.
Every group, political or not, has a set of beliefs towards human nature. Conservatives, liberals, feminists, and many other groups in America all have unique identities that separate them from one another. One of these identities is how they believe humans would act in their most natural state. This viewpoint is essential to every group’s identity because it rolls over into how much they believe citizens should be regulated by the government. The essence of humanity can be described in various ways, but in a pluralist nation, all that matters is that every definition is respected. Societies that strive to be pluralist must ensure groups are tolerant of one another’s beliefs and live coherently with one another.
In pluralist societies, justice is the primary goal. As mentioned earlier, groups with variances in values must respect one another and strive for justice for all. The nature of society relates to how one defines a society’s attitudes and behaviors, and how these should be maintained and protected. How and why do humans interact? How do these interactions influence an individual’s values and beliefs? Are these interactions indicative of a society’s behavior? How does one maintain and protect their own ideals without challenging another’s? All of these questions are imperative when attempting to define the nature of society. Every group in advanced societies must ponder these questions and determine their own definition. Once again, a pluralist society does not mean every group needs to come to the same conclusion, it means every conclusion is valid and should be honored.
Pluralism ensures societies do not become ruled by one elite group, which is of vital importance when trying to keep the healthy competition for power between groups. In America, this is shown through the use of separation of powers in the three branches of government, and the electoral system that leads to a government based on representation. No one person or group can rule all branches of government, and therefore can never have complete power. The electoral system further allows for groups to compete for power and attain status, by earning the votes of the citizens. This is an example of how pluralism can fuel cooperation within government branches and allow for the representation of multiple groups.
Epistemology can be defined as the branch of philosophy that is concerned with the study of knowledge, justification, and rationality. Unlike ontology, which studies the knowledge individuals hold, epistemology studies how one comes to certain conclusions. This philosophical branch is heavily intertwined with pluralism because it relates to how certain groups form their ideals and beliefs. For example, the American ideology of contemporary liberalism grew out of a yearning to reform classical liberalism. The dissatisfaction and inequalities of the Gilded Age led to a desire for reform that created a new group entirely, unique with its own beliefs and ideals. Epistemology studies how groups come to be and allow Pluralist nations to recognize that different pathways lead to different destinations, and that is perfectly fine. Knowledge can be accumulated from anywhere, and every bit of it influences one’s sense of the world and the society they live in. One thing to be careful of in the modern age is only obtaining information from one group, which will lead to a biased opinion. For pluralism to be efficient, groups must honor the idea that how one attains knowledge influences their political views, and therefore must remain open-minded and receptive to one another.
I agree with Schumaker that pluralism represents an “underlying consensus” among “advanced societies” because without the general agreement that despite the nation’s diversity, there is a desire to live in harmony with one another, chaos would ensue. Any society that has enough groups to compete for power, and enough citizens to belong to these various groups, understands that there needs to be a standard for how others are treated and respected. Advanced societies typically have more people, and therefore more opinions and pluralism is the best system for everyone to feel heard and satisfied through the mutual respect and compromise foundations of pluralism. As long as each group’s ideals are honored and respected, advanced societies can continue to flourish no matter how many groups and parties form. Pluralism allows for general agreement between the masses, which is necessary for modern societies.
Specifically, about American politics, the nation has become so polarized that sometimes compromise can seem out of reach. It is now more important than ever to remember the nation’s foundations and respect one another’s differences. The fate of the nation might be at hand during elections, but it’s the individual relationships made between citizens that can truly make a difference. Equal representation stems from knowing the people and desiring for all of their voices to have a place at the table. On his online blog, Schumaker reiterates this point when he writes that “our partisan polarization has reduced and often thwarted our capacity to achieve the primary purpose of politics: to take collective political action to resolve common problems and achieve common goals.” Schumaker is highlighting the risks of party polarization and warning Americans of the dangers that could ensue if they do not return to their foundation of pluralism. Pluralism is vital to the success of diverse nations, and therefore any advanced society must implement and retain this political philosophy to ensure success.
When groups or parties begin to pull away from the ideals of pluralism and view their own beliefs as superior to others, extremist groups form that threaten the nation’s unity. For example, White Nationalists are an American group who desires for there to be separate white and black communities, because they believe only racially pure countries can provide people with secure identities and achieve greatness. This greatly interferes with America’s current consensus that all people, regardless of race, are created equal. Despite the extreme polarization present in today’s politics, the vast majority of American groups support and uphold the rights of African Americans to ensure equality. When an extremist group such as White Nationalists starts preaching otherwise, it threatens the consensus of the public. The fact that a majority of Americans can recognize this behavior as immoral and dangerous, showcases how there is a consensus that cooperation and compromise (ideals of pluralism) are necessary for society as advanced as America.
Pluralism is a political philosophy that allows for advanced, diverse societies to ensure all parties and groups have a seat at the table. It prioritizes equality and justice through cooperation and respect between groups. This system of coexistence ensures no one group gains too much power while enabling diversity and acceptance so that society tolerates differences and flourishes despite any differences. In an advanced society with numerous unique groups, pluralism is an absolute necessity.