AND THE RATIONAL SOCIETY:
THE PLURALIST VIEW
Modern pluralism emerged as American intellectuals, mainly ex-radical, responded to the events of their youth and the pressures of the 1950's. The rise of communism and fascism in Europe had forcefully suggested the similarities between the extreme Right and the extreme Left and the dangers of mass movements. The moderate New Deal, on the other hand, succeeded in giving American capitalism a reasonable and stable basis. Thus drastic social change seemed not only terribly dangerous but also unnecessary.
But many of the thinkers with whom we are concerned remained critical of American society as a whole through World War II, perhaps sustained by the hopes for a new world pervasive during that war as during the previous one. These hopes soon exhausted themselves as the cold war and the rise of McCarthyism finally deadened the radical impulses of the pluralists:1 the country now had to be defended against attack from without and within. McCarthy threatened the stability of the society to which the pluralists were becoming reconciled; in his attack on intellectuals he threatened the rapprochement itself. The pluralists now sought values in traditions of mainstream America with which they could