Term paper on A review of Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot by Horace M. Kallen

Historically, different cultural and racial groups interacted with each other. However, in the past such interaction was fragmentary and referred to international relations mainly because nation states were dominated by one nation mainly, while racial and cultural minorities were quite few. The contemporary society is a multicultural society that means that the society comprises a number of racial and cultural groups, which are diverse in their essence and comprise parts of the culturally diverse society. In this respect, such concepts as the concept of the melting pot developed by Israel Zangwill are absolutely inconsistent because they imply the full assimilation of racial and cultural minorities, their full integration in the mainstream culture and society and the total loss of their cultural identity and its substitution by the cultural identity of the mainstream culture. In fact, the concept of the melting pot is absolutely inconsistent because it implies that individuals do not have cultural memory but, instead, they are mere consumers and conformists, who obey blindly to the dominant trends and follow the majority. However, the democratic society provides individuals with a large freedom of choice in their cultural and religious life that means that each individual is free to have his/her set of values and follow his/her cultural traditions that will not put the individual beyond the margins of the mainstream social life but, instead, will enrich the social experience of other people.

In this respect, it is possible to dwell upon the concept of cultural pluralism to prove the inconsistency of the concept of the melting pot and to uncover the essence of the interaction between different racial and cultural groups in the democratic society. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the contemporary society is multicultural and there are diverse racial and cultural groups in the society. For instance, the US society was historically culturally and racially diverse. The American society exists for centuries but the racial and cultural diversity preserves because the American society stands on the ground of cultural pluralism but not the melting pot. This means that the American society is tolerant in relation to representatives of cultural and racial minorities. In fact, representatives of minorities can develop their culture and traditions as they are absolutely free in the US. Therefore, the US society maintains the principle of cultural pluralism, where cultural difference is norm but not an exception. In fact, the concept of cultural pluralism is the characteristic of any democratic society because people are free in their cultural preferences and traditions, while representatives of minorities have equal rights compared to representatives of the majority.

At the same time, representatives of different racial and cultural groups have inherent value of ethnic and cultural differences. What is meant here is the fact that each racial and cultural group has its own values and traditions which are transmitted from one generation to another. An individual cannot abandon cultural and racial norms of his/her parents and community. Even when an individual changes his/her cultural and racial environment completely, his/her education remains with him/her. This means that racial and cultural values and norms, which an individual has acquired in the course of his/her life, remains with the individual and affect the lifestyle, views, beliefs and actions of the individual. This inherit value of racial and cultural differences is very important. At the same time, the inherit value of racial and cultural differences encourages tolerance in the society because people are aware of the difference between each other and they respect the difference.

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