restricted access The Clash of Cultures, the Tension Within Liberalism, and the Proper Limits of Tolerance

Modern welfare liberalism is an evangelical faith, an identity with its own values, practices, and collective memory of battles won and lost. Because one of those values is tolerance and because the human rights to which liberalism gives political expression include the rights of cultural minorities, it is also a formula for peaceful coexistence among faiths, including its own. Paradoxically, the formula is under greater stress in Europe, where liberalism is virtually a state religion, than in the United States where important elements of liberal policy face powerful opponents. The stress seems more a function of economic stagnation than a clash between a minority’s patriarchal traditions and the legacy inhabitants’ easy-going post-modern hedonism.