Multiculturalism, again

It seems my previous attempt to present a succinct argument against multiculturalism did not fare too well. I had thought that a few pointers would have been enough to get my points across, but apparently not.  My sincerest apologies!  Perhaps a larger-scale clarification is in order, so without much further ado, here it is in full.


Culture: – Most relevant definition in our case is probably: “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group”

Multiculturalism: “The doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country” – “appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place…”

The commonest misapprehension about multiculturalism, it seems, would be that multiculturalism is somehow a protection and/or promotion of human rights, and that anyone who doesn’t embrace it is probably a racist or a bigot.

But multiculturalism has nothing to do with protecting human rights.  It is by definition a protection of cultures, not of humans.

To draw a usable analogy, multiculturism is what enforced-pro-religionism is to secularism.

It demands of the people to respect, embrace and/or tolerate different cultural ideas, even if these ideas themselves may be completely stupid, intolerant or even deadly.

This analogy, I think, is a fair one to be made. Like religion, we are born into cultures.  We don’t really know why, we didn’t really choose it.  Sometimes it’s something we’re proud of, sometimes the opposite.  It also represents a whole chunk of who we are, how we behave, and how we perceive this world.

But should we really expect others to respect, or tolerate, or embrace our cultures? Imagine if in your culture it is a perfectly healthy thing to do to starve your child to death if he doesn’t do his homework.  So, is starving a child to death justifiable, just because it is part of your culture?

Cultures, like ideas, like religions, like everything else, should NEVER be immune to criticism.

Multiculturalism promotes the idea that all cultures are of equal value, and that they should be treated equally.  This is nonsense.  It puts cultures which preach hate, intolerance and violence on par with those preaching love and kindness.  It allows intolerance to be practised under the guise of ‘valid culture’, and in this respect, multiculturalism is not a friend, but an enemy of humanity.

What multiculturalism philosophically entails is a society in which all cultural behaviours are accepted and tolerated.  It is no surprise that these multiculturalistic values are already being exploited, with many Muslims demanding special privileges, and laws being contrived to protect them from honest criticism.

It is not wrong to wish for a country in which so many cultures co-exist in perfect harmony, but foolish.  Many cultures comprise ideologies which run at odds with those of other roots and traditions.  Some lay their intentions of invoking terror and destruction bare.  It seems that in the presence of such dangerous ideologies, there can be no hope for any peaceful coalescence of cultural values.

You don’t put a lion and a gazelle in the same cage, and call it multiculturalism.

Pat Condell on multiculturalism.

* * *

It brings me back to the very essence of my former argument: we should strive to safeguard people of all cultural backgrounds, not the cultures themselves.

We should not expect people to tolerate and embrace cultural ideas or ideologies, but instead to tolerate and respect the individual rights of others, as long as they do not impose on others in society.

I shall call this “cultural-secularism”.

Cultural-secularism is not pro-culture, it is pro-human-rights.

Pro-individualism. Pro-reason. And Pro-freedom.

This in mind, I have very little doubt that cultural-secularism is a more satisfying outlook than multiculturalism.

No one here is campaigning for the abolition of culture, certainly not me.  If we make it our objective to grant people their individual freedom, no doubt that their cultural identities will also be preserved.

I stress again upon the importance of designing a policy which directly protects individual freedom, not cultures.  A policy which is definitively non-divisive; one that does not discriminate people according to their race or culture or religion, but treat them (all humans) equally.

“To view humans as culture-bearing is to view them as social beings, and hence as transformative beings … To view humans as having to bear specific cultures is, on the contrary, to deny such a capacity for transformation.” – Kenan Malik

Note: Although I’m not a very political-minded person, I do on some days identify myself with the Left.  So perhaps you can regard this article as a leftist’s critique of multiculturalism, if you would so wish.

We all know this picture well.  It is the world as we see it in our most hopeful dreams.  But do notice that it is the people who are holding hands.  Not the cultures to which they perforce belong.