chapter  2
Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Principles of Community
ByDavid Archard
Pages 16

The phenomena of nationalism and racism in the liberal order confront political philosophers with particular and pressing problems. It is no longer enough to dismiss them as unworthy of rational scrutiny. The claim by the editors of the Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy that ‘[nationalism – still less racism, sexism or ageism – does not figure [in the Companion], on the grounds that it hardly counts as a principled way of thinking about things’ (Goodin and Pettit, 1993, p. 3) has been often critically cited as an instance of political philosophy’s apparently blithe disregard for the realities of modern political life. Moreover, one of the volume’s contributors, Will Kymlicka, makes the surely plausible claim that the liberal picture of the political world just does not and seemingly cannot accommodate the fact that people are – whether one likes it or not – divided by race, culture and nation (Goodin and Pettit, 1993, pp. 376–7). The communities to which people actually belong, and to the membership of which they attach so much importance, can not simply be dismissed as beneath philosophical contempt.