The Menace of Multiculturalism - section five

A Moving Target:
The Slippery Ideology

Multiculturalism is a slippery ideology, in that there is a myriad of variations to the concept. This wealth of definitions is actually a great advantage to the supporters of multiculturalism, as it is easy for them to deflect any attacks upon their viewpoint, by saying "Oh no, that's not the kind of multiculturalism that I'm talking about"; they can swap, merge, and confuse definitions, and therefore dodge valid arguments by avoiding "being pinned down" to one definition. Various commentators have spoken on the issue of the various definitions of multiculturalism:(26)

Lois Foster and David Stockley, in their study of the multicultural concept, talk of An Ethnic Affairs Council report admitted that Dr. Franco Schiavoni (of the Victorian Ethnic Affairs Commission) said that Dr. Ralph Pervan (then Chairman of the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission of WA) prophesied that Paolo Totaro (of the Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW) said The Ethnic Affairs Task Force has told us that As Professor Lauchlan Chipman said, In summing up this "trendy" ideology, Chipman was later to describe multiculturalism as an Government officials, and other multiculturalists, have even been apparently contradictory as to whether Australia actually is multicultural (supposedly) or not.

On some occasions, we're told that Australia isn't multicultural:(27) On other occasions, we're told that Australia is multicultural:(28) The apparent contradiction lies in the use of two differing assertions of multiculturalism. First, that of Descriptive Multiculturalism, whereby a claim is made "about the pluralistic nature of society" (i.e. that Australia consists of many different cultures). Secondly, that of Prescriptive Multiculturalism, whereby an assertion is made "about an ideal type of society to be achieved some time in the future." The way that many multiculturalists can so easily swap between these two differing assertions of their ideology can make their arguments "as slippery as an eel" to pin down. As has been noted by Anne Seitz, "The descriptive and prescriptive definitions of multiculturalism are seldom used consistently and accurately. Very often there is a confusion or a 'sliding' between the two concepts. Frequently this 'slippage' is deliberate -- a convenient tactic to confuse the issue under debate."(29)

As another example of the selective use of the term; it could be asked why some other "multi-ethnic" societies are not normally (if ever) called "multicultural" (even in the "descriptive sense"). For example, Fiji, the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka; let alone apartheid-era South Africa. The truth is, multiculturalists use the term as it happens to suit them at the time.

The effects of the introduction of multiculturalism into Australia have been enormous, with the results being mostly divisive and destructive. In 1989, in what amounted to an expensive attempt to rehabilitate the general public's view of "multiculturalism", the government produced a widely-publicised document: The National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia. This was the government's opportunity to give its version of multiculturalism. However, to believe a pro-multicultural government's public definition of multiculturalism would be as naive as believing Joseph Stalin's public definition of communism, or Adolf Hitler's public definition of nazism: their explanation would be a "whitewash", avoiding the real disadvantages and negatives inherent in the system, and ignoring the "reality" of their ideology (i.e. what it means in the "real world"). The introduction of multiculturalism in the 1970s has given a "concrete" impetus to, and a "moral" justification for, a wide range of pro-ethnic machinations and anti-Australian practices from those multiculturalists in government, the public service, various institutions, the education system, and in general (whether such practices arose from ideology, group "needs", or self-interest is immaterial).(30)

So, what is this ideology called "multiculturalism" really all about?

The Menace of Multiculturalism

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