The Menace of Multiculturalism - section six



What is Multiculturalism?


The defining of multiculturalism can be fraught with difficulty, as there are several aspects to this ideology, as well as a myriad of views and perceptions concerning it. Even the advocates of this policy talk of the "different concepts of multiculturalism" and admit to "difficulties in defining ... 'multiculturalism'".(31)

However, upon investigation, it can be seen that there are four basic aspects to multiculturalism:

  1. Demographic Multiculturalism

  2. Prescriptive Multiculturalism

  3. Holistic Multiculturalism

  4. Political Multiculturalism
As each of these aspects are interrelated, it is therefore necessary that each of these four strands should be looked at, to understand the overall ideology.(32)


1. Demographic Multiculturalism.


Also known as Descriptive Multiculturalism; this is an assertion that because a society has people from different backgrounds that therefore such a society, as a whole, should be described as multicultural; applicable whether that society be a nation, a city, or even a small town.

On the surface, there would seem to be little to disagree with in this concept. However, there are two angles to be considered.:

Firstly, to look at it as a matter of scale, or of proportion. For instance, if a single German, and a single Russian were to take up residence in a far flung, isolated, culturally homogeneous village in China, does that village automatically become multicultural? Of course, one could become pedantic and say that as that village now contains people of several cultural backgrounds, that the village has now become "multicultural". It could then be said that everywhere in the world is "multicultural" as in every place you will usually find someone who belongs to a different culture, whether it is a national culture, a regional culture, or even the "culture" of a different family. The whole concept becomes nonsensical. Or, if it is a matter of scale, at what stage does a society become "multicultural"?

Secondly, to look at it as a matter of cultural commitment. For example: Should Norway be considered a "Norwegian" country; or should it, by reason of recent migration, be considered a "multicultural" country? If one is granted the privilege of migrating to Norway (and it is a privilege, not a "right"; as no-one has the "right" to migrate to a foreign country), shouldn't one make a commitment to learning the Norwegian language and adapting to the Norwegian culture? Or does one say "Well, I'm here now, your country had better start adapting to suit me"?

The point is, if a nation has a mainstream or predominant culture, that "culture" can be a matter of commitment: from the nation to the immigrant, and from the immigrant to the nation. When immigrants, and their second and third generations, become part of a nation and its culture, demographic statistics of "ethnic background" lose their relevance. Cultural divisiveness (multiculturalism) arises when home-grown agitators (academics, liberals,"lefties", etc.) and self-appointed migrant "representatives" ("Well, I'm here now, your country had better start adapting to suit me") become active in the pursuit of their own political and social agendas.

Therefore it can be seen that a country which houses a minority of people from different cultural backgrounds (i.e. "ethnic minorities"), and a "multicultural country", are not the same thing. The difference lies in Political Multiculturalism (defined later in this section).


2. Prescriptive Multiculturalism


This is the aspect most commonly, and often deliberately, confused with Demographic Multiculturalism; that is, to confuse a descriptive phrase (a demographic "what is") with a prescriptive phrase (an idealistic "what should be"). Prescriptive Multiculturalism is the aspect of the ideology which provides "prescriptive assertions about an ideal type of society to be achieved some time in the future", hence the multiculturalist's talk of "Australia is not yet a multicultural society", or their yearning to create "a truly multicultural society".(33)

Petro Georgiou (then Director of the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs) believes that Others have claimed "that a truly multicultural society would make provision for the use of all languages in everyday affairs, including official transactions".(34)

As Lorna Lippman commented, Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki has laid down the "three aims of multiculturalism", namely "ethnic cultural identity", "a more socially cohesive nation", and "equal access to social resources"; this opinion being echoed by the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council's 1977 report, Australia as a Multicultural Society. In reinforcement, John Menadue (then Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) said "These principles of cultural identity, social cohesion and equal opportunity have become generally accepted as pre-requisites for a multicultural society."(36)

Brian Bullivant relates how these three "aims" have "dominated official statements" about multiculturalism, to which he says is sometimes added a fourth, "equal responsibility for, commitment to and participation in society" (an addition which has been supported by the Australian Council on Population and Ethnic Affairs), the exact meaning of which he has called "obscure"; although, nonetheless, multiculturalism's supporters hope "that a multicultural Australia will achieve all these features and more". Bullivant then adds that "It is at this point that anyone with a sense of history and philosophy must begin to doubt the rhetoric of multiculturalism. Can it really be that the Australian version will solve the pluralist dilemma that has resisted resolution by philosophers and politicians for centuries; will the multicultural golden age dawn over antipodean skies?". Faced with such "romantic" multiculturalism, Bullivant says that even "Jean Martin, the late doyenne of Australian sociologists, has put an opposing view based on a more accurate sense of history that such assumptions 'defy the weight of historical experience'."(37)

Prescriptive Multiculturalism can be seen to be a "fairy tale" that supporters can easily cite as an argument for multiculturalism as, being an "Utopian" ideal, it cannot be immediately disproved; yet it is often used to support (and supposedly prove???) the multiculturalist ideology. In fact, like all other aspects of multiculturalism, upon a closer examination, it actually proves to be dangerous and divisive in its implementation.


3. Holistic Multiculturalism


This stresses the idea of cultural pluralism: that the maintenance of many, or "plural", cultures housed within a nation's "ethnic groups" is valuable, both to the ethnic group (to the ethnic group itself, as well as to its individuals) and to the host nation (as a whole). It says that the nation should value such cultural diversity; although these cultures should co-exist "within an overall framework of unity" (paradoxically, this "framework" is usually that of the predominant culture). This is how multiculturalism is usually portrayed in the "current" or "operative" sense; indeed, it has been said that "Multiculturalism has come to be a shorthand term for a form of cultural pluralism.".(38)

Cultural pluralism is said to be "a mode of living which enables everyone to maintain his or her culture or whatever segments of it they may desire, without prejudice or disadvantage". Of course, the practical difficulties of such a theory are enormous, considering the many "weird and wonderful" cultural practices that exist around the world, many of which would not be welcome in a "Westernised" society.(39)

Closely linked to the idea of cultural pluralism is that of cultural relativism, i.e. "that each culture is of equal value, and should not be judged from the cultural perspective of others". Again, in a practical sense, this concept is so ridiculous that it can only be considered an exercise in futility.(40)

Also, it has been noted that "the full expression and the maintenance of cultural pluralism would need to be supported through and by ethnic-specific structures -- that is, by structural pluralism."(41)

But, like Demographic Multiculturalism, Holistic Multiculturalism is irrelevant without the mechanics of Political Multiculturalism.


4. Political Multiculturalism


This is the active promotion of cultural pluralism, so that rather than encouraging migrants to adapt to the national culture, or even leaving them to their own devices, the government will deliberately encourage migrants (and their offspring) to remain within society as separate "ethnic" groups. It actually opposes the assimilation of immigrants into the nation's culture.

In the normal course of events, immigrants would've been able to adapt to the national culture, and their children and grandchildren could become fully part of the nation's mainstream culture. Instead, all of these people are now being told not to adapt, but to retain a separate identity from that of host nation, thus ensuring divisiveness.

An important tactic employed in this process, related to cultural pluralism, is that of structural pluralism whereby it is believed that "rather than leaving migrants to engage in their own cultural practices or not, as they please, Governments should actually encourage migrant groups, by explicit funding and other policies, to maintain their own institutions, their own kind of ... languages, news media, clubs, societies, schools, sporting and other recreational groups, and, possibly, economic institutions like shops and professional services. This should be done, not to help provide a stepping stone into the wider society, but because it is a good thing in its own right and an end in itself". It is this "trend to institutionalise cultural distinctiveness through organisations" that enables the government to artificially "enable all cultures brought to Australia by migrants to be maintained and developed". As one commentator noted, "In its extreme form, structural pluralism entails an apartheid-like separatism and carries the potential for dividing rather than unifying society."(42)

An integral part of political multiculturalism is for the government, and other pro-multiculturalists, to force their views upon the entire population, thus making it the "official ideology" of Australia. For their purposes, it is seen as imperative that multiculturalist ideas are forced upon children in their formative years, so as to shape the views of the coming generations. Thus, Lorna Lippman (then Director of the Victorian Office of Community Relations) has demanded that "Social institutions and particularly educational institutions, have to contribute to multiculturalism" and that they "retain the term 'multicultural' as being an official ideology in Australia with widespread adherence, particularly from education authorities". It is seen that "the education system must play an active role in bringing about ... a stable multicultural society". To this end "General education at primary and secondary level now includes multicultural study programmes", for which it has been recommended that "general curriculum be re-examined and that Multicultural emphasis be reflected in all subject areas" (emphasis added).(43)

It is through political agitation and action, via the power of government policies and resources - and supported by liberal-internationalists in the media and the education system, that multiculturalism has become the dominant ideology, which is now being forced upon modern Australia.

Multiculturalism needs to be recognised for what it is: a political ideology.




The Menace of Multiculturalism

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