What should liberal democracies expect, and what do they have a right to demand, from their immigrants? If immigrants are potential citizens, rather than temporary sojourners (admittedly a distinction that in practice is sometimes difficult to make), this question can be reformulated: what should liberal democracies expect, and what can they demand, from their citizens?
Posing the question in this way encourages us to focus on what liberal democracies should expect from their current citizens as well as from their immigrant citizens-to-be. If America is currently asking too little from its immigrants, this is surely connected to the fact that it is asking too little from its citizens more generally. It seems unfair to demand more from immigrant citizens than from current citizens. (There can even be circumstances in which it would be wise to do the opposite ).
In one sense all citizens are immigrants, because every child emmigrates from its private family life into a more public grown-up life. It could be argued that as a rule this passage is easier for native than for immigrant children, but this rule has always had many exceptions. Would America really be better off if the less desirable immigrants had been kept out, at the cost of keeping out the more desirable ones as well? In any case, the rule that becoming American is harder for immigrants than natives is less true now that many native American children are taught not the principles of liberal democracy but those of ethnic pluralism and multiculturalism.
So the question we seek to clarify is, what is liberal democratic citizenship? In immigration policy, numbers and circumstances matter, so formulating general principles of immigration policy that are good in all cases may be asking too much; but understanding liberal democratic citizenship should help our thinking about immigration policy both generally and in particular cases.
This essay tries to clarify liberal democratic citizenship by first looking at what it is not rather than more directly at what it is. In the first part, I contrast liberal democratic citizenship with radically communitarian citizenship (or hyper-citizenship), which demands too much; and in the second part, with radically individualistic citizenship (or hypo-citizenship), which demands too little. The second of these pathologies is currently more threatening than the first, but a thorough understanding of each depends on understanding its opposite extreme.
There are many accounts of highly demanding citizenship that we could consider in contrast to liberal democratic citizenship. In the nineteenth century, following up Jean-Jacques Rousseau's critical remarks about the unreliable modern bourgeois versus the team-playing classical citizen, and his argument that human nature is something that humans themselves create in the course of their development over long periods of time, historicist political thinking laid the foundations for modern illiberal, totalitarian regimes that expected total subordination of individual rights to the needs of the community. We could contrast the good citizen of such a totalitarian regime with the good citizen of a liberal democratic regime. Also, over the last thirty years, academic political thinkers—reacting against some not very well-founded attempts to revive liberal political thinking—have presented a case for a more "communitarian" way of thinking about politics and citizenship. But they have presented this case in such an abstract manner that the picture of politics and citizenship that arises from it is pale and watery: "Salem without the witches," one critic called it. However, rather than dwelling on either the historicist totalitarian or the current academic communitarian challenges to liberal democratic citizenship, we would do well to go right back to the original academy, that of Plato, and consider the powerful case for strong citizenship made in the conversation in Plato's Republic.
In the Republic (Politeia), Plato's Socrates constructs an image of the citizen (politēs) as a purely and thoroughly public-spirited human being, completely dedicated to the good of their political community, with little opportunity or incentive to believe or to act in any way that serves their individual private good rather than the common good. Socrates—however ironically—assumes that the perfect political community demands such perfect citizenship. He describes the best, truest, first-class citizens of his regime—the spirited and courageous guardians—as being like "well bred" dogs, whose natures make them automatically gentle and friendly to familiars, that is, to fellow citizens, and harsh and hostile to strangers, that is, to foreigners (375-376) .
But of course, human beings, unlike such "well bred" dogs, are not reliably furnished with this public-spirited quality by breeding and nature; they have to be nurtured in this direction, trained up from birth with a demanding educational system. The purpose of this education, which Socrates and his interlocutors proceed to elaborate, is to ensure the greatest possible unity in the community. True citizens must all feel the same about events around them: they must rejoice at the same good events, and be overwhelmed by the same bad events. They must say "mine" and "not mine" about the same people and things. They must share joys and pains (461-462). Everyone must "feel your pain" as their own.
Among the most famous (or infamous) of Socrates' proposals in The Republic is the communism imposed on these first-class citizens. The second-class citizens, the farmers and artisans, engaged in activities that produce the economic goods needed by the society, are, it appears, allowed private property and money. But the guardians, the more perfect citizens, must be encouraged to be free of the temptations to use their political power for their private ends; therefore, they hold what few worldly goods they do hold mainly in common with each other. They also share sexual partners and children. Private families, with their private property and the parents' concern with advancing their own children irrespective of their merits compared with others, would detract from the total dedication to the public good that must dominate the perfect citizen. The guardians live not the relatively affluent life of the moneymaking farmers and craftsmen, but the tough and comradely life of soldiers. They have gold and silver in their souls, and must not pollute themselves with gold and silver money and luxuries.
This very thorough form of communism is instituted in order to perfect the unity of the guardian class and therefore of the whole community, and to enhance the guardians' dedication to the public good. Well before this communism is discussed in the dialogue, the education of the guardians is designed to make them "protect and serve" their political community rather than their private comforts. They are carefully observed and tested and tempted, to confirm that they always remain eager to do whatever is to the advantage of their political community. Those among them who do best in these tests will be given public honors, both during their lives and after their deaths (413-414). But this is not enough. They will also be told and somehow persuaded to believe a story about their upbringing that Socrates does not hesitate to call a lie, albeit a "genteel" (or "well bred") lie. In discussing the education of the guardians, Socrates spends a lot of time criticizing traditional accounts of the gods that show them deceiving men, but he knows that in politics lies can be useful, not only to confound enemies but also to prevent friends from doing something foolish (382a, 389b).
The primary part of the useful and genteel lie that Socrates would arrange to have told to the guardians and also to the other citizens is
that the rearing and education we gave them were like dreams; they only thought they were undergoing all that was happening to them, while, in truth, at that time they were under the earth within, being fashioned and reared themselves, and their arms and other tools being crafted. When the job had been completely finished, then the earth, which is their mother, sent them up. And now, as though the land they are in were a mother and nurse, they must plan for and defend it, if anyone attacks, and they must think of the other citizens as brothers and born of the earth. (414d-e)
The purpose of this lie is to ensure that the guardians—the most political class of citizens—are led to identify their own good with that of the political community. The citizen, the politēs, is literally one who belongs to the polis (the city), so the perfect citizens would be the ones who most completely belong to their polis. How better to ensure that citizens feel at one with each other and with their particular city than for them to think of themselves as sons and daughters of the soil, and as brothers and sisters of each other, with the earth itself—or rather, a particular portion of the earth—as their mother? What else could so well attach them not only to public service in general but to serving the good of a particular country and people?
One of the most important effects of the sexual communism that is eventually imposed on the guardian class is extended (in advance) to the whole citizenry by a second part of the useful lie. All the citizens are told that they are brothers and sisters, equally related to each other and to their mother country; but they are also told that some of the citizens—those destined to be guardians or assistants to the guardians—were formed with an admixture of gold or silver (and are therefore going to be the most respected and honored citizens), whereas other citizens—the farmers and artisans—were formed with iron and bronze. One of the purposes of abolishing the family among the guardians is to do away with the tendency for parents to favor their own children; in other words, the family is abolished for the sake of the absolute justice of pure meritocracy. This is also the purpose of the lie about the different metals mixed into the souls of different categories of citizens, for in describing this part of the lie, Socrates emphasizes that what the guardians must guard and watch over first and foremost is the children born into the different categories, "seeing which of these metals is mixed in their souls" (415). Those born into the golden or silver categories who have iron or bronze within them must be thrust out among the craftsmen or farmers; and whenever there are children born to these craftsmen or farmers who have an admixture of gold or silver, these "natural aristoi"—as Thomas Jefferson would refer to them in relation to the American politeia (in a letter to John Adams )—must be removed into the ranks of the guardians. As Jefferson would put it: the public school system must be designed so that "the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish…" . And the best form of government, Jefferson asserts (in his letter to Adams) is the one that most effectively gets "these natural aristoi into the offices of government."
These quotations from Jefferson suggest that the world of Plato—even Plato at his most paradoxical, in his Republic—and the world of modern liberal democracy are not totally at odds. However, there are clearly some very important differences. For example, Jefferson's assertion about the desirability of getting the natural aristoi into office is coupled with his assertion (a very teasing assertion to John Adams, Jefferson's recently defeated electoral rival) that free elections can be depended upon to secure the "separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff." The methods of liberal democracy are not those of Socrates' ruling guardians. Liberal democracy is best founded not on genteel lies but on recognition of the self-evident truth of human equality. It follows from this truth that government by the consent of the governed, and therefore dependence on free elections to select important office holders, become leading principles of the regime.
The purposes as well as the methods of Socrates' establishment of guardian rulers must seem very questionable to liberal democrats. Do liberal democracies really need such perfect citizens, such spirited protectors who live only for the common good and never think of their private lives? Moreover, even if liberal democracies might find such perfect citizenship useful, can they rightly demand such total dedication from anyone? The first time that the word citizen (politēs) appears in The Republic is when (in Book I) Thrasymachus, the defender of tyranny as the best way of life (if you can get away with it), speaks of citizens as the mere victims of expropriation and enslavement by successful tyrants (344). Does Socrates' long response to this thesis of Thrasymachus, in the remaining nine books of The Republic, not make the guardian class victims of their fraudulently-secured attachment to the politeia? Would a good liberal democrat not insist that it would be unjust to ask any citizens to sacrifice their private lives and happiness to the extent that Socrates asks his guardians to sacrifice theirs? When Adeimantus, one of Socrates' main interlocutors in The Republic, objects that the way of life they are prescribing for the guardians is not going to make the guardians happy, Socrates' only reply is that they are trying to make happy not the guardians, that group of perfect citizen soldier-police officers, but the city as a whole. In other words, Socrates merely repeats his assertion that the city needs a group of such perfect, self-effacing citizens. Of course, near the end of the dialogue (in Book IX [negatively anticipated at 465 c]), Socrates does mount another kind of reply to the thesis of Thrasymachus and to this objection of Adeimantus, by showing how the life of a just human being is more truly admirable and more pleasant than that of a tyrant. But demonstrating that a tyrannical way of life is self-destructive does not demonstrate that the perfect citizen living the way of life assigned to the guardians will be happy.
In spite of such differences between Socratic guardian politics and liberal democratic politics, thinking about the arguments made in Plato's Republic can help us reflect on liberal democratic citizenship, for at least two reasons. In the first place, seeing what liberal democratic citizenship is not should help us see what it is. This is probably part of Plato's intention in presenting Socrates' outlandish proposals to us in this dialogue: seeing what these proposals overlook makes us see what we need to remember when thinking about the demands of politics on citizens. (As John Adams noticed, Plato's Republic can be seen as a satire, intentionally showing how nothing could be more destructive of human happiness than the abolition of private property and families .)
Briefly stated, reflecting on Plato's Republic reminds us that citizenship should not demand complete subordination of the private to the public good. The Republic can be seen as an exploration of and a warning against a kind of political purism or idealism that demands too much from citizens. Socrates pushes his interlocutors to pursue their passion for founding a perfect regime to the extremity of solving the problem of conflicts between private and public happiness by simply abolishing the private (or absolutely minimizing it when it is not possible to abolish it). As Aristotle suggests in his detailed critique of The Republic  the implementation of the strictly public regime that Socrates designs for the guardians (insofar as it could be implemented) would actually risk producing the opposite effect to the one intended. Given that the corps of guardians and assistants—a group of spirited and highly trained warriors—would have no stake in the community in the form of private property and families, it would be imprudent to expect them to obey the orders of the philosophic-kingly rulers that Socrates wants to direct them. The feisty but ungrounded guardians would be much more likely to strike off on their own various and conflicting political projects, thus not only destroying the hoped-for subordination of spiritedness to reason, but also dividing the city in factional conflict, thereby destroying the hoped-for unity of the polis. Much more reliable citizenship can be expected from men and women whose public spiritedness is grounded in their own private interests and families.
Yet there is something perennially fascinating and politically appealing in the image of a political class that is uncompromisingly dedicated to the common good. And the second reason for our considering the arguments of Plato's Republic is that we cannot rule out either the possibility or the (at least occasional) necessity of the self-sacrificing quality attributed to Socrates' guardians. Such golden heroism is rare, but it exists: think of dedicated soldiers, firefighters, and police officers. If it did not—if no liberal democratic citizens ever lived, and risked dying, by such heroic standards—then liberal democracy would have been a shorter-lived and more utopian regime than Socrates' "city in speech."
The guardians are meant to be good warriors, and liberal democracies need good warriors. It is true that liberal democracies are generally reluctant and slow to go to war, but their enemies do not always let them put it off indefinitely. In President Jefferson's First Annual Message to Congress, he was pleased to be able to report that, apart from a small naval conflict with Tripoli in the Mediterranean, he had been presiding over a nation at peace. He contrasted the American, liberal democratic preference for peaceful pursuits to non-republican, Old World countries' constant "wars and troubles." We have, he said (one supposes with unconscious humor), "a conscientious desire to direct the energies of our nation to the multiplication of the human race, and not to its destruction." Our calling is "quietly to cultivate the earth and to practice and improve those arts which tend to increase our comforts." However, at the same time, Jefferson firmly rejected the idea that this pacific character of the American regime meant that American citizens were or ever would be cowardly. In the Message, he gives an account of "the bravery of our citizens" in the naval battle against Tripoli, citing this as "a testimony to the world that it is not the want of that virtue which makes us seek their peace" .
A few months before, in his First Inaugural Address, Jefferson had asserted that the strength of America's limited, republican government lay in the fact that "every citizen, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern" . Liberal democratic citizens, having not only property and families, but also a share of political power and therefore a voice in deciding whether and when to fight, will generally not be spirited lovers of victory in war, on the model of Platonic guardians; such a warlike spirit is more attuned to the belligerent tendencies of non-liberal-democratic regimes. But if Jefferson's portrait is accurate, neither will they be shy about bravely defending their interests from hostile threats. Pursuing this line of thought, while liberal democratic citizens will insist on civilian control of military organizations, in wartime they can also recognize the need for, and pay appropriate honor to, combat forces whose esprit de corps may well come to be more like that of the guardian warriors than that of the liberal democratic citizen soldier.
From the liberal democratic point of view (as from the Aristotelian point of view), the error made by Socrates in The Republic is that he is mistaken about the kind of unity that good political communities have, and that he therefore insists on founding a political regime in which there are no conflicts between individuals and the political community. This entails founding a psychic regime—a civic education—in which the souls of the citizens (at least of the guardians) are not divided by such conflicts. This image of perfect, unconflicted citizenship is a perennial and powerful current in political thinking. Even the ever-sober Aristotle admits the flashy appeal of this image, when he notices that communal ownership of worldly goods is superficially very attractive and humane because it promises to produce a wonderful mutual friendliness among fellow citizens .
Both the attractiveness and the repulsiveness of this extreme, utopian citizenship can be seen in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile, that conscious modern rival to Plato's Republic. This work was published the same year as The Social Contract (1762), in which Rousseau calls for the institution of regimes in which citizens are created by a "total alienation" of each individual to the community. In Emile, Rousseau makes it clear why he finds unacceptable the more compromising position of early liberal political thinkers (such as John Locke), who called for civic education but of a kind that demanded a less extreme identification of individuals with their political communities. This liberal compromise, according to Rousseau, will produce neither good men nor good citizens but merely "bourgeois" individuals who are compelled by social pressure hypocritically to profess their public-spirited concern for their fellows, but are never truly motivated by anything but self interest. "Always in contradiction with himself, always floating between his inclinations and his duties, he will never be either man or citizen" . One way to avoid this divided and allegedly unhappy condition is to be a fully alienated (or "denatured") citizen. Rousseau sketches this possibility in an abstract way in The Social Contract. Near the beginning of Emile, Rousseau takes from a classical source, Plutarch, a more concrete description of this fully-dedicated citizenship:
A Spartan woman had five sons in the army and was awaiting news of the battle. A Helot arrives; trembling, she asks him for news. "Your five sons were killed." "Base slave, did I ask you that?" "We won the victory." The mother runs to the temple and gives thanks to the gods. 
Even granting that this level of identification of individual and community consciousness is possible, liberal democrats must doubt that it is desirable. A story that can serve as a liberal democratic parallel and contrast to Rousseau's Plutarchian Spartan tale is presented in Steven Spielberg's film, Saving Private Ryan, set in Normandy in June 1944. This is not an unpatriotic film, but the very premise of its plot is a denial of the thesis that Rousseau conveys by recounting the story of the Spartan mother. In Saving Private Ryan, much effort is expended—and many lives are lost—precisely in order to prevent the loss in action of the last surviving son of the Ryan family. His three brothers have been killed in action (two in the Normandy landings, one at about the same time in New Guinea). An officer who has been sent to find him in the chaos of the Normandy battles finally tracks him down—having lost two of his unit of seven on the way—and informs him that his three brothers have died, and that his orders are therefore to be escorted from the dangers of combat. Private Ryan successfully resists this order until he completes his immediate assignment. He is part of a small force guarding a crucial bridge about to be heavily attacked by the Germans. Ryan argues that none of the other men defending the bridge is less deserving of being saved than he, all having fought as bravely. So he decides to stay and fight with "the only brothers he has left," and says that his mother would understand his decision, even if the result be that he too, like his actual brothers, loses his life.
Inspired by Ryan's words, those sent to pluck him out of combat stay on to help him and his unit in their immediate and desperate task. Most of them die in defense of the bridge. This defense is successful only because a much larger American force arrives on the scene just in time; but it is made possible only because of the time bought so dearly by the additional strength and superior tactics that the Ryan rescue party contribute. We see that the American regime's concern for personal and family survival ends up decisively strengthening the liberal democratic warriors fighting for the survival of their country. This is what Jefferson meant when he asserted that liberal democratic citizens "would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern."
Ryan himself survives, and is soon sent back from Europe where the combat continues to his family in Iowa. We learn that he is to have children and grandchildren, when we see them at the end of the film accompanying him on his return to Normandy on the fortieth anniversary of the landings. We do not see any test of his prediction that his mother would understand his refusal immediately to comply with the order, and thus to avoid the probability of losing his life in defending the bridge. But the point remains that neither Ryan nor any other American in the film expects his mother not to feel, or even expects her to suppress her feeling, the loss of any of her sons. Early in the film, she collapses in grief on the very approach of the messengers evidently bringing her the news of some loss. We would think far less of her if she had spoken as the Spartan mother is reported to have spoken.
In the story from Plutarch, the messenger's anticipation of the Spartan mother's reaction to the news that he carries is more humane than the mother's actual reported sentiment; it is also more in keeping with the spirit of liberal democratic citizenship. In this spirit, great sadness at loss is the natural and normal accompaniment of acknowledgment of any gain in such situations. In Saving Private Ryan, General George C. Marshall is shown making the decision to risk lives to save the remaining Ryan son. To justify his decision to his staff, he quotes from a letter written by President Abraham Lincoln to Mrs Lydia Bixby, the mother all five of whose sons had reportedly been killed fighting for the Union: "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming…. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom" . Lincoln prays that Mrs Bixby's pride will come to replace her grief, but she is expected to grieve first, and never to forget the costly sacrifice.
A few years earlier, Lincoln had written in similar vein an eloquent letter of condolence to the parents of his friend Colonel Elmer Ellsworth (the first casualty of the Civil War). This letter, like the later one to Mrs Bixby, ended in a prayer that "God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power"; it began by lamenting that Ellsworth's death had so suddenly dashed "so much of…bright hopes" for Ellsworth himself and his friends, as well as so much "promised usefulness" to his country . As in the Bixby letter, the loss to the individual and his family were as important as the gains and losses to his country.
Even at its most demanding, then, liberal democratic citizenship will respect individuality—and, paradoxically, liberal democracy will be all the stronger because of this fact. Liberal democratic patriotism and citizenship are no less complete and no less admirable because they are less absolutely communal than either the Spartan ideal held up by Rousseau or the guardian ideal proposed by Plato's Socrates. Advocates of liberal democracy rightly respond to the criticism levelled by Rousseau by admitting—indeed, by insisting—that the demands of liberal democratic citizenship leave room for individual and family lives. In fact, the liberal democratic ideal (like the Aristotelian ideal) is to have the virtues of private and family life provide the basis for the virtues of public, political life; that cannot happen if private property and private family concerns are abolished (as for Socrates' guardians) or (as for the Spartan mother) diminished to the point that they do not matter. This liberal democratic ideal may well involve conflicts within the souls of citizens who find themselves torn between private and public interests. To condemn such inner conflicts as unacceptably bourgeois is to assert that human beings cannot be happy if they experience such conflicts. Liberal democrats deny this assertion, and doubt that such completely unconflicted, uncomplicated lives are likely, desirable, or truly human.
To consider the opposite extreme, the case not for illiberal unity but for illiberal disunity, we could examine libertarian or anarchist denials of all possible demands made by citizenship, or the more public-spirited views of defenders of individuals who conscientiously object to democratic decisions (e.g. the case for civil disobedience made by Henry David Thoreau, or the case for the toleration of eccentrics made by John Stuart Mill). But I focus instead on the related but distinct and more beguiling case for multiculturalism. Arguments by defenders of the rights of cultural minorities are a strong and dangerous current in contemporary American politics. The case for multiculturalism is often heard in debates about immigration, but it is rarely pointed out how anti-democratic that case is.
The liberal democratic response to communalistic over-unifiers (such as Plato's Socrates and Rousseau's Spartans) is also a good response to multiculturalist under-unifiers. This response (to summarize) is that liberal democracy, when it treats citizenship wisely, takes into account the needs of both private and public, both individual and community. But liberal democrats can address public and community needs only if they reject—and understand why they reject—the case for multiculturalism. Multiculturalism often presents itself as a necessary and desirable feature of liberal democratic politics. In fact, it is nothing of the kind.
The challenge that multiculturalism poses to liberal democracy and to liberal democratic citizenship lies in its rejection of a unifying liberal democratic culture in favor of a multiplicity of other, allegedly more authentic or otherwise more satisfactory cultures. The extreme citizenship and communal unity praised in Plato's Republic and at the outset of Rousseau's Emile is replaced in multiculturalism by an extreme rejection of communal unity and by an extension of a remarkable hospitality to cultures (immigrant or home-grown) that do not recognize or respect the claims of the common, liberal culture. To defend themselves against this challenge, liberal democrats have to understand how and why multiculturalism is based not (as it often claims) on modern liberal democratic principles, but on radical principles that true liberal democrats have to understand and to reject. To do this, they themselves have to develop and to deploy a better and more confident understanding of liberal democratic principles.
Who really deserves to claim the label "liberal"? Many of those who call themselves liberals today have either forgotten or consciously rejected the true principles of liberal politics, principles that we can see being developed and articulated in moderate (as opposed to radical) modern political thinking (e.g. in the political writings of John Locke and of the American founders, as opposed to the more radical modern thinking of Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau, G.W.F. Hegel, and Friedrich Nietzsche). This is reminiscent of the battle for and confusion about the "liberal" label that began in the USA in the early twentieth century, when some of the Progressive rebels against previous American liberalism began to insist that they were the only true liberals. The current struggle and confusion have less to do with that older battle about the responsibility and limits of liberal government in economic affairs than with the more recent battles (arising in the 1960s and continuing since then) about the responsibilities and limits of liberal government in social, moral, or cultural affairs. A true and defensible liberal approach to such issues will avoid degenerating into an extreme (but all too common) multiculturalism.
However, just as liberal democratic thinking about citizenship has to give its due to the case for extreme, guardian citizenship, it also has to acknowledge the case for tolerating and even encouraging a degree of cultural multiplicity. It is clear from Aristotle's critique of Socrates' simplistic approach to political unity that even in the relatively small and homogeneous ancient polis it was good to appreciate the various contributions of diverse economic and social elements. In relatively large and heterogeneous modern countries, this appreciation is intensified, and the advantages of the multiplicity of religious groups as well as of socio-economic elements come to be emphasized in modern liberal democratic thinking.
For example, in James Madison's Federalist 10, the greater incidence of democratic injustice to minorities or individuals in the small, "pure" democracies of the ancient world is connected with the "greater variety" of interests in larger modern democratic republics; and, returning to this theme in Federalist 51, Madison notices that the modern blessing of religious freedom also owes much to the greater number of religious organizations in relatively large modern republics. Aristotle might have gone along with this Madisonian argument if he had been living in the modern world, in which centuries of wars of religion had motivated the modern liberal project of separating religion from politics. But of course this liberal project required an important modification of classical, Aristotelian thinking about politics, and therefore about citizenship. When liberal democrats (rightly) emphasize that it is helpful to have a variety of religious groups in order to establish and to maintain the principle of separating religion and politics, and when they talk more generally about the separation of state and society, they do not seem to be thinking about the political community as the self-sufficient and all-embracing community of communities described at the beginning of Aristotle's Politics. They seem rather to be thinking about a more limited political constitution, designed to secure individuals' natural rights. Among these natural rights is the freedom of conscience, that is, the freedom of religious thought and the lack of connection between political rights and citizenship duties on the one hand, and religious conviction on the other.
There remain many questions about limits to permitted or prudent religious diversity. What counts as a genuine religion? And even among these, do all genuine religions deserve the same status and legal treatment in every liberal democracy?
This point is directly relevant to some current immigration controversies. It is important to see not only that the liberal principle of religious freedom does not mean indifference or hostility to religion in general, but also that it does not necessarily require that all religions be treated equally (even after sorting out the genuine ones from the impostors). The rule here is one of prudence, or intelligent attention to given facts and probabilities as well as to principles.
For example, it might well be imprudent for a statesman in a country with a citizenry composed of an overwhelmingly large majority of one particular sect to encourage immigration of significant numbers of other, historically or currently hostile sects. Such an immigration might work very well: as in Madison's account of what had happened in the USA, it might eventually underpin the principle of religious freedom. But it might also weaken that principle, if the differences and hostility among the sects do not encourage them to separate politics from religion, but have the opposite effect of making them dig in and use politics as a way of reinforcing their differences and exercising their mutual hostility. Religious diversity can reinforce religious freedom, but the principle of religious freedom must be established in the minds of the citizens in each diverse religious group. This establishment must not rest solely on a calculation of what necessary compromises have to be made by various and conflicting sects in order peacefully to coexist, it must be based on an enthusiastic embrace of arguments for religious freedom. For example, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (drafted by Thomas Jefferson as "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" [emphasis added] in 1777, and enacted in 1786), was based not just on the practical necessity but also on the theoretical justice of separating religious beliefs from the sphere of politics and citizenship, since it follows from the natural fact of human beings' mental freedom that "our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions."
Having thus politically established the principle of religious freedom and the possibility of religious diversity, does it not follow that liberal democratic politics should also include or rest on the establishment of a more general cultural freedom and diversity? Does the classical, Aristotelian definition of politics as a partnership in a politeia—a sharing of a way of life—not become irrelevant in a modern liberal politeia? In other words, is the multiculturalist rejection of a unifying single culture not accurate and truly liberal? Or is there not also a liberal democratic way of life, a set of virtues and vices that make the liberal democratic culture as distinct as any other? But if that is the case, then what is the distinction between liberal and pre- (or other non-) liberal politics?
We have just seen in the case of religious freedom that there is a set of political principles and beliefs—and we can easily add corresponding practices and virtues—that are necessary for liberal democratic regimes. Toleration of genuine religious beliefs, and the disconnection of religious opinions from civil capacities, are universal principles of liberal democratic politics. They are no less universal because they may be limited in their application by prudent statesmanship that observes the circumstances at hand. (Consider in this light the current constitution making in Iraq.) Nor are they any less true and universal principles because the freedom that they leave to religious sects may have to be qualified by the fact that in the liberal political partnership (as in other partnerships) every citizen has a duty to preserve the partnership. However much Aristotle's definition of the politeia as an all-embracing community of communities has to be modified in a liberal definition of politics, his comparison (Politics III) of the political partnership to a ship on a voyage remains relevant. Various sailors have various different capacities and duties, but they also share the common duty of preserving the ship on its voyage.
The way that a liberal political culture and a variety of religious or ethnic (or other) cultures can coexist—not without difficulties and problems, but in a reasonably successful marriage—is well illustrated by American political history. As Abraham Lincoln carefully and unforgettably explained in his speech about the Declaration of Independence in July 1858, for this coexistence to work well—and for recent immigrants really to belong to the country every bit as much as any descendent of a signer of the Declaration—has required the recognition by individual members of the various ethnic groups that there is a liberal democratic culture in which they can all share, a human culture based on American citizens' recognition of the self-evident truth that "all men are created equal" . If that truth is seen (in Lincoln's words) as "the father of all moral principle" in American citizens (and in good liberal democratic citizens everywhere), then this liberal democratic culture must be a very substantial thing, not the cold, superficial thing that liberal democratic politics in general and American politics in particular have been condemned for embodying. Little wonder, then, that defenders of immigrants' cultures have apparently felt deeply threatened by this liberal democratic culture.
However, in recent decades what has been more obvious than the substantial and challenging character of America's potentially unifying and strongly moral liberal democratic culture has been the insubstantiality and lack of confidence of liberal democrats confronted by multiculturalist opponents. Ultimately—often very quickly—the would-be defenders of liberal democracy's claims on citizens concede to these opponents that there is no self-evident truth about human equality that can serve to educate and to contain the expectations and demands of members of ethnic or religious groups. Thus the would-be defenders of American liberal democracy end up in the position of the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, who deplores multiculturalism and The Disuniting of America not on the strong ground of natural human equality and rights, but only on the weak ground that individualistic "values" are historically "our own," and that they "work for us" . This replacement of Lincoln's substantial "father of all moral principle" by the standards of historicism and pragmatism disarms liberal democrats and threatens to deprive liberal democracy of the source of its unifying political beliefs.
Thus, if natural human equality and liberty are not seen as the basis for just political arrangements and citizenship in liberal democracies, because of historicist doubts about the naturalness and universality of human equality and rights, then there is a logical and historical tendency in liberal democracy either to overemphasize the demands of the unifying political culture, and to mistake the character of that culture (e.g. taking it to be an ethnic rather than an ethical culture); or to overemphasize the need for a disuniting cultural diversity.
The logic behind the first extreme is that denying the reality of individual human rights makes the very demanding communitarian ideal of citizenship less questionable than it should be, for if there are no natural rights then there is little or no basis for questioning the demand for complete subordination of individuals' and minority groups' wishes to the decisions of the majority, and majorities themselves have little or no basis for taking into account those wishes.
The logic behind the second extreme—the multiculturalist extreme that gives too much deference to religious or ethnic group claims against the demands of common citizenship—is that the denial of the political significance of the human nature that is shared by all individuals (including those individuals who are strongly identified as members of such a group) destroys the possibility for individuals to feel themselves part of one political community. Political community requires what Lincoln called a shared "moral sentiment"—that is, a shared acknowledgement of and dedication to the truth of human equality. It also requires the formation of shared opinions that favor political practices that conform to this truth, and that oppose political regimes that deny it. By denying this truth, multiculturalism makes such common dedication and opinion formation impossible.
Since the logical basis of both the hyper-citizenship and the hypo-citizenship extremes is the same (a denial of the existence of natural political standards), it is not illogical or surprising to find both of these extremes flourishing at the same time and place, locked into a fruitless combat with each other. In the past history of American debates about immigration policy, that is often what we do find. Perhaps recalling this historical tendency for American debates about immigration and citizenship to fly off to these two linked but opposing extremes can improve the quality of our reflections on the immigration issues confronting us today. (Perhaps comfortingly, it is the immigration debates more often than the policies themselves that have suffered from the extreme tendencies.)
A hyper-citizenship tendency can be seen in the "nativist" prejudices that have appeared on the American political scene at several points since the country's first (and strikingly liberal) immigration laws were enacted soon after the Constitution was ratified. Suspicions about the loyalty of some groups of immigrants, and doubts about their capacity for liberal democratic citizenship, are not always unreasoning prejudices. But the assumption that immigrants must abandon all of the cultural baggage that they bring with them, and must assimilate to a pre-existing ethnic (e.g. WASP) cultural model, is a dangerously inaccurate interpretation of the demands of liberal democratic citizenship. The properly liberal democratic demand is that immigrants as potential citizens should come prepared to learn and to accept the political opinions that make up the liberal democratic creed, because it is by this process of "Americanization" (as opposed to Anglo-Saxonization) that they can assimilate to the liberal democratic political culture (or superculture), without completely jettisoning (what then will be) their particular subculture. Another version of the extreme demand for complete ethnic homogeneity as the goal of American immigration policy has been the recurring proposal (or just the longing) for the amalgamation of all ethnic (and religious?) groups (including WASPs) into a new race of Americans, by means of the genetic mixture produced by intermarriage among members of different ethnic groups. While an impressive amount of such amalgamation takes place (though troublingly less so in recent Hispanic immigration)—and may be taken as a sign of a healthy liberal democratic attitude to the dynamic and permeable status of ethnic "boundaries"—dependence on and promotion of this "melting pot" again misses the point that far more important than any sharing of genetic composition or ethnic background is the cultivation of a shared enthusiasm for liberal democratic political principles.
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this cultivation of liberal democratic citizenship has been challenged, for long-time resident citizens as well as for immigrants, much less by hyper-unifying arguments for ethnic assimilation or amalgamation than by hypo-unifying arguments for ethnic pluralism or multiculturalism. Since the 1960s, many observers of American politics have noticed an increasing fragmentation of American political institutions and policy-making structures, accompanied by a decline of majoritarian, coalition-building politics, and a rise of single-issue and minoritarian politics. This included the rise in popularity—at least among policy makers, if not always in more general public opinion—of a more fragmented and fragmenting vision of ethnic policy: "counting by race," hard affirmative action, and bilingual and multicultural education policies are all examples of this. During this period, multiculturalists have expressed doubts about the desirability of promoting a unifying liberal democratic citizenship by Americanizing immigrants. There have been countercurrents to these fragmenting policies and to multiculturalist doubts about Americanization (e.g. the Commission on Immigration Reform recommendations in 1997 that there be greater commitment to Americanization, and specifically a commitment to teaching immigrants the primacy of individual rights over group rights), but the case for multiculturalism in immigration policy remains difficult to challenge by would-be defenders of liberal democratic citizenship who want to avoid being accused of ethnocentricity or even of sympathy for universally valid principles of liberal democracy.
Meanwhile, during this same period, professional academic political philosophers have developed arguments supporting multiculturalist doubts about the justice and wisdom of Americanization. During the last dozen years, Will Kymlicka  has elaborated one of the most plausible versions of these arguments. It is these academic arguments, and their political manifestations, that liberal democrats have to understand and to defeat in order to defend liberal democracy.
Kymlicka concedes that—at least in the case of immigrants, as distinguished from longer-standing national minorities—the receiving society has the right "to expect immigrants to integrate into common institutions which operate in a common language." But, he argues, the immigrants retain "multicultural group rights" to maintain their "ethnocultural identities," and moreover to demand changes in the common institutions wherever changes are required in order to make it easier for the immigrants to participate in these institutions. For example, changes might be required in religious holidays, dress codes, work schedules, and public school curricula (to include the immigrant groups' languages and histories). In other words, care must be taken that the "common institutions" into which the immigrants are expected to integrate "are not biased towards the lifestyles and customs of the dominant group in society" . This kind of group right for immigrants, he argues, is wholly in keeping with the traditional liberal democratic demand for justice to individuals. It would simply be unjust to ask individual members of immigrant groups to suppress their "ethnocultural identities" to a greater extent than the "earlier inhabitants" of the country have had to suppress theirs.
If this plea to include group rights in liberal democratic citizenship is merely a plea for the process of assimilation to common liberal democratic culture to be kind and hospitable rather than brutal and intolerant, fair enough. But it goes (and seems clearly intended to go) much farther than that. There are at least two objectionable features of Kymlicka's argument.
In the first place, it does not take seriously the idea and the requirements of a unifying, common liberal democratic culture. If it did, instead of concern that schools include immigrants' languages and histories in their curricula, it would emphasize the importance of immigrants—along with other citizens—being taught not just the common language but also the difficult and unfinished history of the emergence and development of liberal democratic thinking, institutions and policies. This is not the story of the "dominant group," it is the story of political liberty.
In the second place, Kymlicka's argument does not take seriously the idea of individual identities, as opposed to identities of members of groups (especially ethnic groups), whether "dominant" or "minority." From the beginning of his attempt to make liberalism include group rights, the foundation of Kymlicka's efforts has been his insistence that individual human beings cannot make meaningful choices unless they are acting in the context of "a rich and secure cultural structure" . Thus, the survival of immigrants' cultures is crucially important—as is that of the "earlier inhabitants" (logically, though he does not worry about this)—because without these group cultures, individuals have no resources to draw on when making moral choices. Is it really the case that immigrants who painfully distance themselves from their family cultures ipso facto become less morally resourceful?
For all the subtlety of its presentation, then, the basis of this most recent defense of the rights of ethnic group cultures against the demands of a common, liberal democratic culture is identical to the more dramatic case for cultural pluralism made during the American immigration controversies in the 1920s by Horace Kallen. Kallen, a professor of philosophy, was persuaded that American culture was becoming swamped by the powerful monotony and regimentation of modern scientific industry. In "the deep-lying cultural diversities of the ethnic groups" he saw "the strongest shield" against this danger . As the political principle of ethnocultural pluralism—a "democracy of nationalities"—he proposed "not one man one vote, but one temperament, one point of view, one vote" . From the ethnic groups would arise the cultural resources that were lacking in the country's superficial common, merely industrial culture. Only in this way could democracy revive itself. It would be morbid to base democracy on any fixed, immutable, natural principles: "only the dead can be immortal and changeless and fixed…. What lives and has a future is labile and fluid." For vital political regimes as for living organisms, "there are no finalities" .
The perception that there is a fixed human nature, with far-reaching implications for government and politics—which is a perception at the heart of liberal democratic politics—is often treated with skepticism by intelligent critics of multiculturalism  as well as by multiculturalists themselves. And the rejection of natural political standards, which began in liberal political thinking over two centuries ago, and seems to be based on an almost pathological fear , is of course the starting point for all mainstream respectable academic political philosophy. All of which suggests that the attempt to revive a more sane and balanced liberal democratic outlook faces an uphill battle. Nevertheless, it is a battle that must be fought if there is to be any hope of revitalizing liberal democratic politics and citizenship.
 Consider President Abraham Lincoln's Annual Message to Congress in December 1864, which included a recommendation that the agreed policy of encouraging immigration "as one of the principal replenishing streams which are appointed by Providence to repair the ravages of internal war" should be strengthened by the government's making it clear "that it neither needs nor designs to impose involuntary military service upon those who come from other lands to cast their lot in our country." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (9 vols., New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1953-1955), vol. 8, p. 141.
 Citations of Plato's Republic refer to the standard classical pagination. Quotations are based on Allan Bloom's translation (New York, Basic Books, 1968).
 Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 28 October 1813, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, ed. Lester J. Cappon (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1971), pp. 387-392.
 Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV, in The Portable Thomas Jefferson, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York, Viking Press, 1975) , p. 196.
 John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 16 July 1814, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, pp. 434-439.
 Politics, Book 2, 1264b 5-25.
 First Annual Message, 8 December 1801, in The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Adrienne Koch and William Peden (New York, Modern Library, 1944), p. 327.
 First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1801, The Portable Thomas Jefferson, p. 292.
 Politics, Book 2, 1263b 15-20.
 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, tr. Allan Bloom (New York, Basic Books, 1979), p. 40.
 Letter to Mrs Lydia Bixby, 21 November 1864, Collected Works, vol. 8, pp. 116-117. The report on which this letter was based was inaccurate: only two Bixby sons had died.
 Collected Works, vol. 4, pp. 385-386.
 Speech at Chicago, 10 July 1858, Collected Works, vol. 2, pp. 499ff.
 Arthur Schlesinger, The Disuniting of America (New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1992), p. 137.
 Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community and Culture (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989); Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995); and Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship (New York, Oxford University Press, 2001).
 Will Kymlicka, "Interpreting Group Rights," The Good Society (vol. 6, no. 2, Spring 1996) , pp. 10-11.
 Liberalism, Community and Culture, p. 165.
 Horace Kallen, Culture and Democracy in the United States: Studies in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples (New York, Arno, 1924), p. 229.
 Ibid., pp. 43, 124.
 Ibid., p. 322.
 E.g. Jeremy Waldron, "Minority Cultures and the Cosmopolitan Alternative," University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform (vol. 25, nos. 3 and 4, Spring and Summer 1992), pp. 780ff; and Clifford Orwin, "Multiculturalism to a Point," Academic Questions (vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1998), p. 34.
 John Zvesper, Nature and Liberty (London and New York, Routledge, 1993), pp. 116-120, 145-147.