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The Lowest Common Denominator

Liberal democracy in a pluralistic society is an endless but fruitless search for the lowest common denominator that can serve as society's moral bond. The more pluralistic the sociey, however, the more difficult it is to find a common denominator. Let us try to explain the problem crudely and oversimply, but not entirely inaccurately.

We did away with state churches in this country so that all the Protestants could feel at home in it. We de-Protestantized the country so that Catholics, too, could feel at home in it. We have dechristianized the country to make Jews feel welcome, and then dereligionized it so that atheists and agnostics may feel equally welcome.

Now we are demoralizing the country so that deviants from accepted moral norms will not feel excluded. The lowest common denominator, we have discovered, is like the horizion, always approached but never reached.

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