American Multiculturalism and the Anti-Discrimination Regime

978-1-58731-045-4; 978-1-58731-047-8
Forthcoming Books
Paperback $40.00; ebook $40.00
475 pages, 6" x 9"

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American Multiculturalism and the Anti-Discrimination Regime

The Challenge to Liberal Pluralism

Powers, Thomas F.

Modern democracy is being reshaped by the commitment to fighting discrimination. How is it that anti-discrimination politics is today surrounded by controversy on every side—critical race theory, the 1619 Project, cancel culture, etc.—but is at the same time absolutely unquestioned, the necessary starting point for thinking about the meaning of contemporary democratic life? Thomas F. Powers offers “a way to see all at once, and to think about the complex whole that is the civil rights revolution” by focusing on the challenge that it poses to the liberal democratic tradition. He provides a comprehensive account of the character of anti-discrimination politics by examining the laws, ideas, and moral categories that have been working to transform American democratic life since 1964. Above all, by comparing contemporary multiculturalism (and multicultural education) with liberal pluralism, Powers brings into view the anti-discrimination regime by highlighting many different lines of tension between the new order and the traditional American understanding of politics. In the decades following the civil rights revolution, multiculturalism became well-established (with the support of law) as a new civic education and a new form of democratic pluralism for America rooted in the fight against discrimination and its distinctive moral logic. When a country has a new civic education, a new pluralism, and a new morality, these are signs of fundamental change demanding our attention—especially when, as now, these have no important connection to the liberal tradition. All of that is demonstrated even before Powers takes up the radicalization of multiculturalism by postmodernist thought. Supported at every step by concrete and striking evidence of the general claims being made, this book will change the way you think about American democracy and the American future.