firmative action to ensure group quotas will create white backlash and serve as a
continuing major irritant in the relationships between racial and ethnic groups.
Those who favor policies which fall, logically, under the rubric of corporate pluralism emphasize, in return, the moral and philosophical position which posits
group rights as well as individual rights, and the need for major compensatory
measures to make up for the massive dimensions of racial discrimination in the
And so the argument is joined. This article has been written with the distinct
conviction that the argument is a momentous one and that its resolution, in
whatever form, will be best served by as much intellectual clarity, thoughtfulness,
and good will as we can all muster in the process. Certainly, what the American
people decide about this patterned complex of issues in the last 20 years of the twentieth century will have much to do with determining the nature, shape, and
destiny of racial and ethnic relations in America in the twenty-first century which
will then follow.
Gunnar Myrdal, with the assistance of
Richard Sterner and
Arnold Rose, An American
Dilemma ( New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), particularly, chs. 1 and 45.
Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1964); see also my Human Nature, Class, and Ethnicity ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).
See Herbert J. Gans, "Symbolic Ethnicity: The Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures
in America," in On the Making of Americans: Essays in Honor of David Riesman, eds.
Herbert J. Gans
Joseph R. Gusfield, and
Christopher Jencks ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979).
See Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life, passim.
Milton M. Gordon, "Toward A General Theory of Racial and Ethnic Group Relations," in Ethnicity: Theory and Experience, eds.
Nathan Glazer and
Daniel P. Moynihan
( Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975). This paper is reprinted in my Human
Nature, Class, and Ethnicity. The terms "liberal pluralism" and "corporate pluralism" were
chosen because they appear to me to portray accurately and nonpejoratively the salient
and historically appropriate characteristics of each type of pluralist society. It is true that
many liberals today support measures which fall in the "corporate" variety of pluralism.
But there has been a longer historical association of the term "liberal" with those measures
and conditions which I am grouping under the term "liberal pluralism."
See Nathan Glazer, Affirmative Discrimination ( New York: Basic Books, 1975), ch. 1,
for a presentation of such a viewpoint.