- Critically analyse multiculturalism
Critically analyse multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the belief that no culture is perfect or
represents the best life and that cultures can benefit from a
critical dialogue with other cultures. Multiculturalism supercedes
the often believed to be outdated view of monoculturalism which was
the norm in countries which operated under the nation-state
paradigm. The assimilation model of multiculturalism is the one
adopted by the USA to deal with the large numbers of immigrants
that the country had to deal with since the early 19th century.
These immigrants were understood to be permanent residents in the
new country and the absorption of immigrants from all over the
world was a feature of the frontiersman mentality of this emergent
nation. The central idea was the metaphor of the 'melting pot',
where race was to be considered irrelevant with the eventual
blurring of obvious racial distinctions, such as language, national
traditions etc, into a homogenous American citizenry with American
values "united to each other by the strongest ties, never to be
split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties"
(John Jay, First American Supreme Court Chief Justice). This
variety of assimilation has been criticised as being realisable
only for Europeans, and being apparently inapplicable to
English-speaking, US-born black people who have been second class
citizens in America until well into the twentieth century.
Multiculturalism has been implemented in many other countries
since the assimilation model was used in the US. There are many
mechanisms by which multiculturalism might operate. Under the
pluralist model, citizens are viewed as members of groups based on
various different factors such as race, ethnicity, religion etc. It
is these factors that constitute a persons identity and race-based
identity is not a necessary determining factor; this is in stark
contrast to separatist models wherein racial groups such as
African- and Native-Americans have been segregated from cultural
inclusion as in the melting-pot example above.
Further criticism of multiculturalism comes from Paul Cliteur
(1999) who rejects all political correctness when speaking about
the issue and openly condemns legal systems that are not the
product of European Enlightenment thought, which he believes to be
superior. He takes the absolutist position that other cultures are
not merely different but worse than western cultures. He lists
examples such as infanticide, torture and oppression of women as
cultural imports that are not to be tolerated.
Multiculturalism is an attempt to reconcile the vast numbers of
people who move not only across land but also across cultural
divides. Indigenous populations often feel threatened when large
numbers of immigrants arrive bringing with them strange religions,
languages and ethical frameworks and it is often difficult to
integrate these diverse values into society without leaving any
particular group out in the cold. While this is a praiseworthy
goal, and one which must ultimately succeed if society is to be
peaceful, it can never be sustainable without one overarching
ethical framework which does not become weakened by being too eager
to accommodate the particular quirks of each sector of society.
While moral relativism is at their base, multicultural societies
will lack a firm idealogical basis from which all members may draw.
It is this fact that makes the iterations of Multiculturalism so
far implemented fundamentally unsatisfactory.