Cultural Diversity and Unityrnby Claes G. RynrnThere is plentiful historical evideirce that cultural diversityrnand immigration need not undermine a society’s cohesion.rnThey can be sources of enrichment and renewal. Especiallyrnin a vital civilization, groups of different religious,rnethnic, and national origin may be pulled, however reluctantlvrnin particular cases, into a dynamic arid fertile consensus.rnOne problem with immigration into the United States todayrnis that, at current levels, it complicates assimilation. Thernnumber of foreign-born residents is higher than at any time inrnAmerican historv. Over 40 percent of the residents of NewrnYork City speak a foreign language at home. In Miami the figurernis 75 percent. At the same time, many immigrants resistrnintegration into a common national culture; some groups pursuernseparate ethnic or racial identities.rnThe impact of mass immigration and separatism cannotrnbe assessed without considering the ever-present need to balancernunity and diversity. It is importairt to ask whether Americanrnculture still has sufficient centripetal and harmonizingrnpull to avert social fragmentation. Whatever other problemsrnmay attend multiculturalism and immigration, they arc strainingrnan increasingly fragile social fabric. The question arisesrnwhether there are sources of order in American society, actualrnor potential, that can moderate and balance the centrifugalrninfluences. Or docs the strain on society need to be reduced?rnMost Americans sense deepening social teirsions but haverndifficulty identifying their central cause. A strong case can bernClaes G. Ryn is a professor of politics at The CatholicrnUniversity of America, chairman of the National HumanitiesrnInstitute, and coeditor of Humanitas. His most recent hookrnis The New Jacobinism (National Humanities Institute).rnmade that the fragmentation of society steins, in its most importantrndimension, from disintegration at the moral core ofrncivilization. Arguments presented elsewhere (as in my recentrnbook The New jacobinism) can here be only summarized.rnAmerican society faces large-scale legal and illegal immigrationrnand multiculturalism at a time when a certain traditionalrnethic, a virtue of character and personal responsibility, isrnlosing its strength and prestige.rnThe older virtue can be conveniently summarized in thernphrase “love of neighbor.” It stressed personal obligations tornindividuals up close. This virtue made possible a society thatrnwas at the same time decentralized and morally cohesive.rnThe cohesion derived from recognition of a universal moralrnauthority and from citizens’ efforts to harmonize their lives accordingly.rnThey were not unified mainly through doctrinalrnagreement. Neither were they unified mainly by nationalrnboosterism. Conflict was reduced through acts of self-disciplinernand kindness. Social harmony was understood to requirernmoral character and good conduct first of all. Therernwere no shortcuts to a better society. A larger social good,rnincluding the preservation of freedom, was seen as possible onlyrnif imperfect and sinful human beings would restrain and improvernthemselves. The importance of local and centralrngovernment was recognized, as was the need for religious,rnmoral, intellectual, and cultural authority, but the primaryrnresponsibility for dealing with problems was understood tornrest with those who were most immediately concerned.rnFrom this understanding of virtue and social life grew a decentralized,rngroup-oriented society. The common good didrnnot require conformity to a comprehensive plan—the conceptionrnof unity favored by the French Jacobins and their de-rnJUNE 1993/21rnrnrn