David Brooks has an interesting and provocative Op-Ed in today’s NYT (“The Next Culture War“) describing a new dividing line in the U.S. and how it has played out on issues of immigration. Brooks points out that immigration is not a partisan issue. Second, many people’s objections to the immigration bill do not center around racism or nativism. Third, it is not fueled by economic insecurity.
Brooks claims it is driven by the huge explosion in higher education since the 1960s; the U.S. is one of the first societies with “mass educated class” that believes more in cosmopolitanism and racial diversity, unconciously embracing Richard Rorty’s worldview that we should create ”a greater diversity of individuals — larger, fuller, more imaginative and daring individuals.”
The new faultline is among those opposing a greater degree of individualism that both conservatives (in economic individualism) and liberals (in cultural individualism) embrace, between what Brooks calls “individualistic cosmopolitans and rooted nationalists.”
Brooks’ analysis parallels some of our own analysis that will be discussed in the NYT Sunday magazine on Sunday (in a column by Erica Goode, 6/17/07) about the challenges of immigration to social cohesion. We may indeed be living in a more divided time and the challenge, which Bob Putnam’s latest article (available 6/17/07) in part addresses is to knit a larger, more cohesive we.