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Some countries have official multiculturalism policies aimed at preserving the cultures or cultural identities — usually those of immigrant groups — within a unified society. In this context, multiculturalism advocates a society that extends equitable status to distinct cultural and religious groups, no one culture predominating.
- 1 Contemporary history in Western societies
- 2 Multiculturalism in contemporary Eastern societies
- 3 Adoption of multiculturalism as national policy
- 4 Multiculturalism as introductory to monoculturalism
- 5 Opposition to multiculturalism
- 6 Current trends in Europe
- 7 References
- 8 See also
- 9 Further reading
Contemporary history in Western societies
As a philosophy, multiculturalism began as part of the pragmatism movement at the end of the nineteenth century in Britain and in the United States, then as political and cultural pluralism at the turn of the twentieth. It was partly in response to a new wave of European imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa and the massive immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans to the United States and Latin America. Philosophers, psychologists and historians and early sociologists such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Santayana, Horace Kallen, John Dewey, W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke developed concepts of cultural pluralism, from which emerged what we understand today as multiculturalism. In Pluralistic Universe (1909), William James espoused the idea of a "plural society." James saw pluralism as "crucial to the formation of philosophical and social humanism to help build a better, more egalitarian society.
In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia in 1973. It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union. Recently, right-of-center governments in several European states—notably the Netherlands and Denmark— have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism. A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom and Germany, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over 'home-grown' terrorism.
The monocultural nation-state (Europe)
Especially in the 19th century, the ideology of nationalism transformed the way Europeans thought about the state.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Existing states were broken up and new ones created; the new nation-states were founded on the principle that each nation is entitled to its own sovereign state and to engender, protect, and preserve its own unique culture and history. Unity, under this ideology, is seen as an essential feature of the nation and the nation-state - unity of descent, unity of culture, unity of language, and often unity of religion. The nation-state constitutes a culturally homogeneous society, although some national movements recognized regional differences. None, however, accepted foreign elements in culture and society. Multilingual and multi-ethnic empires, such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, were considered oppressive, and most Europeans did not accept that such a state could be legitimate.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Where cultural unity was insufficient, it was encouraged and enforced by the state. The 19th-century nation-states developed an array of policies - the most important was compulsory primary education in the national language. The language itself was often standardized by a linguistic academy, and regional languages were ignored or suppressed. Some nation-states pursued violent policies of cultural assimilation and even ethnic cleansing.
It has been argued that the concept, if not the 19th century methodology, of monoculturalism has been gaining favour in recent years.[How to reference and link to summary or text] This is generally fueled by a desire to safeguard national cultures or identities that are perceived as being under threat - particularly by globalization and the promulgation of multiculturalism by Left Wing political parties - as opposed to the outright xenophobia of the 19th century.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
The 'Melting Pot' ideal (USA)
In the United States, continuous mass immigration had been a feature of economy and society since the first half of the 19th century.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The absorption of the stream of immigrants became, in itself, a prominent feature of America's national myth. The idea of the Melting pot is a metaphor that implies that all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The Melting Pot implied that each individual immigrant, and each group of immigrants, assimilated into American society at their own pace. An Americanized (and often stereotypical) version of the original nation's cuisine, and its holidays, survived. Note that the Melting Pot tradition co-exists with a belief in national unity, dating from the American founding fathers:
"Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs... This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." -- John Jay, First American Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Ethnic selection (Australia)
Prior to settlement by Europeans, the Australian continent was not a single nation, but hosted several Indigenous cultures and between 200 and 400 active languages at any one time.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The present nation of Australia resulted from a deliberate process of immigration intended to fill the "empty" continent (also excluding potential rivals to the British Empire). Settlers from the British Isles, after 1800 including Ireland, were the earliest people that were not native the continent to live in Australia. Dutch colonization (see New Holland) and possible visits to Australia by explorers and/or traders from China, did not lead to permanent settlement. Until 1901, Australia existed as a group of independent British settler colonies.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Proposals to limit immigration by nationality were intended to maintain the cultural and political identity of the colonies as part of the British Empire.[How to reference and link to summary or text] While there was never any specific official policy called the White Australia policy, this is the term used for a collection of historical legislation and policies which either intentionally or unintentionally restricted non-European immigration to Australia from 1901 to 1973. Such policies theoretically limited the ethnic and cultural diversity of the immigrant population, and in theory facilitated the cultural assimilation of the immigrants, since they would come from related ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Taken from a historical perspective, however, this was not a matter of cultural diversity or otherwise, but an attempt to preserve the British ethno-cultural identity of the Australian nation. It was official policy for much of the 20th century to promote European immigration and to keep out those who did not fit the European, predominately Anglo-Celtic, character of Australian society. As the Twentieth century progressed and the number of migrants from the United Kingdom became insufficient to meet planned quotas, immigrants came increasingly from other parts of Europe, such as Italy, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Multiculturalism in contemporary Eastern societies
India is the second most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse geographical entity after the African continent. India's Republican democracy is premised on a national belief in pluralism, not the standard nationalist invocation of a shared history, a single language and an assimilationist culture. State boundaries in India are mostly drawn on linguistic lines. In addition India is also one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, with significant Hindu (80.5%) , Muslim (13.4%), Christian (2.3%), Sikh (2.1%), Buddhist, Jain and Parsi populations. Cities like Mumbai in Maharashtra display high levels of multilingualism and multiculturalism, spurred by political integration after independence and migration from rural areas.
There are more than 700 living languages spoken in Indonesia and although predominantly Muslim the country also has large Christian and Hindu populations. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka tunggal ika" ("Unity in Diversity" lit. "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country.
Adoption of multiculturalism as national policy
Multiculturalism was adopted as official policy, in several Western nations from the 1970s onward, for reasons that varied from country to country.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Government multicultural policies may include:
- recognition of multiple citizenship (the multiple citizenship itself usually results from the nationality laws of another country)
- government support for newspapers, television, and radio in minority languages
- support for minority festivals, holidays, and celebrations
- acceptance of traditional and religious dress in schools, the military, and society in general
- support for music and arts from minority cultures
- programs to encourage minority representation in politics, SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), Mathematics, education, and the work force in general.
- enforcement of different codes of law on members of each ethnic group (e.g. Malaysia enforces Shar'ia law, but only for a particular ethnic group)
Origins in Canada
- See also: Demography of Canada, Cultural mosaic, and Immigration to Canada
Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. In 2001, 250,640 people immigrated to Canada. Newcomers settle mostly in the major urban areas of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. By the 1990s and 2000s, almost all of Canada’s immigrants came from Asia. Canadian society is often depicted as being a very progressive, diverse, and multicultural. Accusing a person of racism in Canada is usually considered a serious slur. All political parties are now cautious about criticising of the high level of immigration, because, as noted by the Globe and Mail, "in the early 1990s, the old Reform Party was branded 'racist' for suggesting that immigration levels be lowered from 250,000 to 150,000."
Multiculturalism in Canada was first articulated by Progressive Conservative Senator Paul Yuzyk in his maiden Senate speech in 1964. It was officially adopted in 1971, following the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, a government body set up in response to the grievances of Canada's French-speaking minority (concentrated in the Province of Quebec). The report of the Commission advocated that the Canadian government should recognize Canada as a bilingual and bicultural society and adopt policies to preserve this character.
Biculturalism was attacked from many directions. Progressive Conservative Party leader John Diefenbaker saw multiculturalism as an attack on his vision of unhyphenated Canadianism. It did not satisfy the growing number of young Francophones who gravitated towards Quebec nationalism. While many Canadians disliked the new policies of biculturalism and official bilingualism, the strongest opposition came from Canadians of neither English nor French descent, the so-called "Third Force" Canadians. Biculturalism did not accord with local realities in the western provinces, where the French population was tiny compared to other cultural minorities. To accommodate them, the formula was changed from "bilingualism and biculturalism" to "bilingualism and multiculturalism."
The Liberal Party government of Pierre Trudeau promulgated the "Announcement of Implementation of Policy of Multiculturalism within Bilingual Framework" in the House of Commons on 8 October 1971, the precursor of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of the Brian Mulroney Progressive Conservative government which received Royal Assent on 21 July 1988. On a more practical level, federal funds began to be distributed to ethnic groups to help them preserve their cultures. Projects typically funded included folk dancing competitions and the construction of ethnic-oriented community centres. This led to criticisms that the policy was actually motivated by electoral considerations rather than Trudeau's vision of a Just Society. After its election in 1984, the government of Brian Mulroney did not reverse these policies, although they had earlier been criticized by Tories as inconsistent with unhyphenated Canadianism. The Trinidad and Tobago born Canadian writer Neil Bissoondath has been a particular critic of the concept as an official policy.
Far from pleading multiculturalism's neutrality in matters of national unity, successive Canadian governments have argued that the policy promotes the national interest by breaking down social and cultural barriers. Many believe that rather than weakening the national character, or presenting a slippery slope whereby all groups may appeal for separate treatment based on every imaginable difference, the policy is viewed as strengthening national identity by binding citizens to a single moral community. However, there are critics of the policy, and according to a 2007 University of Toronto study, many recent non-white citizens do not identify themselves as being "Canadian". .
The policy was added to the Constitution of Canada, in section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Diane Ravitch describes both the melting pot and Canada's cultural mosaic as being multicultural and distinguishes them as pluralistic and particularist multiculturalism. [How to reference and link to summary or text] Pluralistic multiculturalism views each culture or subculture in a society as contributing unique and valuable cultural aspects to the whole culture. Particularist multiculturalism is more concerned with preserving the distinctions between cultures.
Canadian multiculturalism is looked upon with admiration by many world leaders - particularly His Highness the Aga Khan. In a 2002 interview with the Globe and Mail, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world." He explained that the experience of Canadian governance - its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its peoples - is something that must be shared and would be of benefit societies in other parts of the world. With this in mind, he went on in 2006 to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre seeks to export the Canadian experience by promoting pluralist values and practices in culturally diverse societies worldwide, with the aim of ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential as a citizen, irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious differences.
The Diversity at Work Glossary, recognizes multiculturalism as part of “a policy introduced by the federal government in 1971, which acknowledges that many ethnic Canadians experience unequal access to resources and opportunities. It urges more recognition of the contributions of such Canadians, the preservation of certain expressions of their ethnicity, and more equity in the treatment of all Canadians. Since 1971, there has been increasing recognition of the limitation of this concept; first, it does not explicitly acknowledge the critical role which racism plays in preventing this vision from materialising; second, it promotes a static and limited notion of culture as fragmented and confined to ethnicity; and third, it pays insufficient attention to institutional forms of racial discrimination, focusing instead on individual expressions and experiences”.(Source: Diversity at Work, Diversity Glossary))
The other country to have most fully adopted Canadian-style multiculturalism is Australia, with many similar policies, for example the formation of the Special Broadcasting Service. While the White Australia Policy was quietly dismantled after World War II by various changes to immigration policy, the full political introduction of official policies of multiculturalism was 1973.
The overall level of immigration to Australia has grown substantially during the last decades. Net overseas migration increased from 30,000 in 1993 to 118,000 in 2003-04. During the 2004-05, total 123,424 people immigrated to Australia. Of them, 17,736 were from Africa, 54,804 from Asia, 21,131 from Oceania, 18,220 from United Kingdom, 1,506 from South America, and 2,369 from Eastern Europe. 131,000 people migrated to Australia in 2005-06 and migration target for 2006-07 was 144,000.
The meaning of multiculturalism has changed enormously since its formal introduction to Australia. Originally it was understood by the mainstream population as a need for acceptance that many members of the Australian community originally came from different cultures and still had ties to it. However, it came to mean the rights of migrants within mainstream Australia to express their cultural identity. It is now often used to refer to the fact that very many people in Australia have, and recognize, multiple cultural or ethnic backgrounds. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs in Australia estimated that, in 2005, 25% of the Australian workforce was born outside of Australia and 40% had at least one parent born outside of Australia.
Following the initial moves of the Whitlam Labor government in 1973, further official national multicultural policies were implemented by Malcom Fraser's Liberal Government in 1978. The Labor Government of Bob Hawke continued with these policies during the 1980s and early 1990s, and were further supported by Paul Keating up to his electoral defeat 1996.
The election of John Howard's Liberal-National Coalition government in 1996 was a major watershed for Australian multiculturalism. Howard had long been a critic of multiculturalism, releasing his One Australia policy in the late 1980s which called for a reduction in Asian immigration. Shortly after the new government took office, the new independent member Pauline Hanson made her maiden speech in which she was highly critical of multiculturalism, saying that a multicultural society could never be strong. Notably, despite many calls for Howard to censure Hanson, his response was to state that her speech indicated a new freedom of expression in Australia on such issues. Rather than official multiculturalism, Howard has advocated instead the idea of a "shared national identity", albeit one strongly grounded in certain recognizably Anglo-Celtic Australian themes, such as 'mateship' and a 'fair go'. While Howard has changed the name of the Department of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the policy of multiculturalism has remained largely intact in practice. Newspaper columnists such as Andrew Bolt have called for a National policy of Assimilation.
In the United States, multiculturalism is not clearly established in policy at the federal level. At the state level, it is sometimes associated with English-Spanish bilingualism.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Other examples include California allowing drivers to take their exams in a number of languages.
The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (the Hart-Cellar Act), passed by a Democratic controlled Congress, abolished the system of national-origin quotas. Over 28,000,000 have legally immigrated since 1965 under its provisions. Prior to 1965, the US was taking around 178,000 legal immigrants annually.
In 2006, a total of 1,266,264 immigrants became legal permanent residents of the United States, up from 601,516 in 1987, 849,807 in 2000, and 1,122,373 in 2005. The top twelve sending countries in 2006, by country of birth, were Mexico (173,753), People's Republic of China (87,345), Philippines (74,607), India (61,369), Cuba (45,614), Colombia (43,151), Dominican Republic (38,069), El Salvador (31,783), Vietnam (30,695), Jamaica (24,976), South Korea (24,386), Guatemala (24,146), Other countries - 606,370. Muslim immigration to the U.S. is rising and in 2005 more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent U.S. residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades.
Under the Conservatives (1979-1997), multicultural rhetoric and policies were confined to left-leaning councils[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Since the election of the Labour government in 1997, multiculturalism has influenced government policies and statements[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Precursors of present policy include the Race Relations Act, and the British Nationality Act of 1948. The policy's recent harsh critics have included the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu and the Pakistani-born bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali.
In 2005, an estimated 565,000 migrants arrived to live in the UK for at least a year, while 380,000 people emigrated from the UK for a year or more, with Australia, Spain and France most popular destinations.
The Malay Peninsula has a long history of international trade contacts, influencing its ethnic and religious composition. Predominantly Malays before the 18th century, the ethnic composition changed dramatically when the British introduced new industries, and imported Chinese and Indian labour. Several regions in the then British Malaya such as Penang, Malacca and Singapore became Chinese dominated. Co-existence between the three ethnicities (and other minor groups) was largely peaceful, despite the fact the immigration affected the demographic and cultural position of the Malays.
Preceding independence of the Federation of Malaya, a social contract was negotiated as the basis of a new society. The contract as reflected in the 1957 Malayan Constitution and the 1963 Malaysian Constitution states that the immigrant groups are granted citizenship, and Malays' special rights are guaranteed. This is often referred to the Bumiputra policy.
The formation of Malaysia itself was burdened with the 'mathematics of race'. The then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman would only accept Singapore as a member of the federation if Sarawak and North Borneo were admitted too. The Prime Minister's rationale was that the inclusion of Singapore into a new federation would make the Chinese the new majority power, at the expense of the Malays. Inclusion of the Borneo states, on the other hand, would maintain a Malay majority.
Ethnic tensions followed the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Singapore, under the leadership of People's Action Party, and the federal government led by a coalition chaired by the United Malays National Organisation, had frequent disputes about the social contract. Tension between Malays and Chinese contributed to the 1964 Race Riots in Singapore. This riot in turn partly contributed to the expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia. At the same time, Malaysia was experiencing a communist insurgency known as the Malayan Emergency. The conflict could be seen as between the Chinese-dominated Communist Party of Malaya and the British-backed Malay-dominated government.
The worst race riot — the May 13 Incident — occurred in 1969, again between Chinese and Malays. This led to the introduction of the New Economic Policy which aimed to reduce economic disparities between the ethnic groups. It also introduced policies such as the Rukunegara to encourage unity among all ethnic groups in Malaysia, and promoted syncretic festivals such as DeepaRaya and Kongsi Raya. In education, the national education policies included vernacular education. Malaysia is the only country outside of China that has a Chinese education system.
These pluralist policies have come under pressure from orthodox Muslims and Islamist parties, who oppose secular and non-Islamic religious influences. The issue is related to the controversial status of religious freedom in Malaysia.
Multiculturalism as introductory to monoculturalism
Multiculturalism, as generally understood, refers to ideology and policy in western nation-states, which previously had a de facto national identity. Many nation-states in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are culturally diverse, and are 'multi-cultural' in a descriptive sense. In some, communalism is a major political issue. The policies adopted by these states often have parallels with multicultural-ist policies in the Western world, but the historical background is different, and the goal may be a monocultural or mono-ethnic nation-building - for instance in the Malaysian governments attempt to create a 'Malaysian race' by 2020.
Opposition to multiculturalism
Skeptics[attribution needed] of the ideology often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical or even desirable when housed by a single nation - one that, in the case of some European nations, would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of its own.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
In the United States especially, multiculturalism became associated with political correctness and with the rise of ethnic identity politics. In the 1980s and 1990s many criticisms were expressed, from both the left and right. Criticisms come from a wide variety of perspectives, but predominantly from the perspective of liberal individualism, from American conservatives concerned about values, and from a national unity perspective.
The liberal-feminist critique is related to the liberal and libertarian critique, since it is concerned with what happens inside the cultural groups. In her 1999 essay, later expanded into an anthology, "Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?" the feminist and political theorist Susan Okin argues that a concern for the preservation of cultural diversity should not overshadow the discriminatory nature of gender roles in many traditional minority cultures, that, at the very least, "culture" should not be used as an excuse for rolling back the women's rights movement.
A prominent criticism in the US, later echoed in Europe, Canada and Australia, was that multiculturalism undermined national unity, hindered social integration and cultural assimilation, and led to the fragmentation of society into several ethnic factions - Balkanization.
In 1991, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., a former advisor to the Kennedy and other US administrations and Pulitzer Prize winner, published a book with the title The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. Schlesinger states that a new attitude — one that celebrates difference and abandons assimilation — may replace the classic image of the melting pot, in which differences are submerged in democracy. He argues that ethnic awareness has had many positive consequences to unite a nation with a "history of prejudice"; however, the "cult of ethnicity", if pushed too far, may endanger the unity of society. According to Schlesinger, multiculturalists are "very often ethnocentric separatists who see little in the Western heritage other than Western crimes." Their "mood is one of divesting Americans of their sinful European inheritance and seeking redemptive infusions from non-Western cultures."
Samuel P. Huntington, political scientist and author, known for his Clash of Civilizations theory, has described multiculturalism as "basically an anti-Western ideology." According to Huntington, multiculturalism has "attacked the identification of the United States with Western civilization, denied the existence of a common American culture, and promoted racial, ethnic, and other subnational cultural identities and groupings."
In his 1991 work, Illiberal Education, Dinesh D'Souza argues that the entrenchment of multiculturalism in American universities undermined the universalist values that liberal education once attempted to foster. In particular, he was disturbed by the growth of ethnic studies programs (e.g., Black Studies).
Criticism of multiculturalism in the US was not always synonymous with opposition to immigration. Some politicians did address both themes, notably Pat Buchanan, who in 1993 described multiculturalism as "an across-the-board assault on our Anglo-American heritage."[How to reference and link to summary or text] Buchanan and other paleoconservatives argue that multiculturalism is the ideology of the modern managerial state, an ongoing regime that remains in power, regardless of what political party holds a majority. It acts in the name of abstract goals, such as equality or positive rights, and uses its claim of moral superiority, power of taxation and wealth redistribution to keep itself in power.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Multiculturalism has also been attacked through satire, such as the following proposition by John Derbyshire.
The Diversity Theorem: Groups of people from anywhere in the world, mixed together in any numbers and proportions whatsoever, will eventually settle down as a harmonious society, appreciating—nay, celebrating!—their differences... which will of course soon disappear entirely.
This theorem is held to be false by Derbyshire and other paleoconservatives.
Another critic of multiculturalism is the political theorist Brian Barry. In his 2002 book Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism, he argues that some forms of multiculturalism can divide people, although they need to unite in order to fight for social justice.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Approximately 20% of today's Canadian citizens were born outside Canada, the highest net immigration rate per capita in the world. Recent immigrants are largely concentrated in the cities of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, which have high population growth due to this concentrated immigration.
In Canada, the most noted critics of multiculturalism are Kenneth McRoberts, Neil Bissoondath, and Daniel Stoffman. As a young man, McRoberts worked for the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, and his career as a political scientist has roughly coincided with the policy of multiculturalism. While some[How to reference and link to summary or text] argue that the shift in official discourse from biculturalism to multiculturalism has had a neutral effect on relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada, McRoberts believes that it was disastrous for Canadian nationalism, as it offended Québecois and their dualistic vision of Canada as a bilingual and bicultural society.
To many French Canadians, despite an official national bilingualism policy, multiculturalism threatened to reduce them to just another ethnic group. Of all Canadian provinces, Quebec has been the least supportive of multiculturalism, due in part to a widespread view that multiculturalism was implemented at the federal level to dilute the two founding peoples philosophy which had preceded it, thereby diminishing the place of the province's French majority within Canada, and due in part to Quebec's policy internally of welcoming people of all origins but insisting that they assimilate[How to reference and link to summary or text] into Quebec's majority French-speaking society. Recently, however, the more assimilationist aspects of this policy have been tempered[How to reference and link to summary or text] with a recognition that Quebec is a de facto pluralist society and an understanding of pluralism as a reasonable feature of modern Quebec society or any other society that welcomes immigrants. The Quebec government has therefore adopted a form of multiculturalism termed an "interculturalism policy."
This policy seeks to integrate immigrants into the mainstream French-speaking province of Quebec on the basis of French as the common public language of all Québécois; all residents are in this way held to be invited to participate in a common civic culture. Interculturalism is in this way consistent with the Quebec government's view of itself as the "national" government for all Québécois. Interculturalism is viewed as less threatening than multiculturalism to the idea of Quebec's population as a single and distinct "nation" within another nation. Whether as a first, second, or third language, French becomes the instrument which allows the socialization of Québécois of all origins and encourages interaction between them.
In his Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada, the Trinidad and Tobago-born Bissoondath argues that official multiculturalism limits the freedom of minority members, by confining them to cultural and geographic ghettos. He also argues that cultures are very complex, and must be transmitted through close family and kin relations. To him, the government view of cultures as being about festivals and cuisine is a crude oversimplification that leads to easy stereotyping.
Daniel Stoffman's Who Gets In raises serious questions about the policy of Canadian multiculturalism. Stoffman points out that many cultural practices, such as allowing dog meat to be served in restaurants and street cockfighting, are simply incompatible with Canadian and Western culture. He also raises concern about the number of recent immigrants who are not being linguistically integrated into Canada (i.e., not learning either English or French). He stresses that multiculturalism works better in theory than in practice.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Another more recent and conservative criticism, based largely upon the Nordic and Canadian experience, is presented by the administrative scientist Gunnar K. A. Njalsson, who views multiculturalism as a utopian ideology with a simplistic and overly optimistic view of human nature, the same weakness he attributes to communism, anarchism, and many strains of liberalism. According to Njalsson, multiculturalism is particular to a western urban environment and cannot survive as an ideology outside it. Some variants of multiculturalism, he believes, may equip non-egalitarian cultural groups with power and influence. This, in turn, may alter the value system of the larger society. This realist criticism of multiculturalism maintains that in European-settled countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, multiculturalism may aggravate a situation where old-stock families are not permitted by the countries of their forebearers to consider themselves English, French, Scandinavian, etc., while newer arrivals can claim two or more national identities. [How to reference and link to summary or text]
The response to multiculturalism in Australia has been extremely varied, with a recent wave of criticism against it in the past decade. An anti-immigration party, the One Nation Party, was formed by Pauline Hanson in the late 1990s. The party enjoyed significant electoral success for a while, most notably in its home state of Queensland, but is now electorally marginalized. One Nation argued for the abolition of multiculturalism on the grounds that it represented "a threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values," asserting that there was "no reason why migrant cultures should be maintained at the expense of our shared, national culture."
A Federal Government proposal in 2006 to introduce a compulsory citizenship test, which would assess English skills and knowledge of Australian values, sparked renewed debate over the future of multiculturalism in Australia. Andrew Robb, then Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, told a conference in November 2006 that some Australians worried the term "multicultural" had been transformed by interest groups into a philosophy that put "allegiances to original culture ahead of national loyalty, a philosophy which fosters separate development, a federation of ethnic cultures, not one community". He added: "A community of separate cultures fosters a rights mentality, rather than a responsibilities mentality. It is divisive. It works against quick and effective integration." The Australian citizenship test commenced in October 2007 for all new citizens between the ages of 18 and 60.
In January 2007 the Howard Government removed the word 'multicultural' from the name of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, changing its name to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
One of the earliest critics of multiculturalism in Australia was historian Geoffrey Blainey, who warned that it threatened to transform Australia into a "cluster of tribes". In his 1984 book All for Australia, Blainey criticized multiculturalism for being "anti-British" and for overemphasizing the rights of ethnic minorities, Asian immigrants in particular, at the expense of the majority of Australians. According to Blainey, such a policy, with its "emphasis on what is different and on the rights of the new minority rather than the old majority," was unnecessarily creating division and threatened the nation's social cohesion. He remained a persistent critic of multiculturalism into the 1990s, condemning multiculturalism as "morally, intellectually and economically ... a sham".
Following the upsurge of support for the One Nation Party in 1996, Lebanese-born Australian anthropologist Ghassan Hage published a notable critique in 1997 of Australian multiculturalism in the book White Nation. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from Whiteness studies, Jacques Lacan and Pierre Bourdieu, Hage examined a range of everyday discourses that implicated both anti-multiculturalists and pro-multiculturalists alike. The book was taken by many merely to be an attack on Australia's Anglo-Celtic majority[How to reference and link to summary or text], but its analysis is more sophisticated than a charge of racism by the dominant ethnic group. Hage's analysis suggests that Australian multiculturalism has fallen a long way short of its original ideals and works much more as a form of assimilation by the participation of white and non-white people, pro- and anti-multiculturalists alike in maintaining the centrality of a set of cultural values associated with Whiteness.
In the 1950s, the Netherlands was generally a mono-ethnic and monocultural society: it was not explicitly monolingual, but almost everyone could speak standard Dutch; Frisian was the only indigenous minority language. Its inhabitants shared a classic national identity, with a national mythos emphasising the Dutch Golden Age, and national heroes such as Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. Dutch society was segmented along religious and ideological lines, sometimes coinciding with differences in social class and lifestyle. This segmentation had developed since the late 19th century into a uniquely Dutch version, called pillarization, enabling peaceful cooperation between the leaders of the various 'pillars', while their constituencies remained largely segregated. The Jews had been the only non-Christian minority since about 1600, enjoying freedom and tolerance. Spinoza and Anne Frank are the most widely known representatives of this group. Major immigration in the form of labour migration began in the 1960s, and accelerated in the 1970s, with Spain, Morocco and Turkey as the main countries of origin. From the 1970s, multiculturalism was a consensus ideology among the 'political class'; expressed in the phrase "Integratie met behoud van eigen taal en cultuur", that is, social integration while retaining the language and culture of the immigrant groups. However, a tacit assumption was, that most of them would go back when they were not needed anymore. Only the Spaniards and others from southern Europe did so in significant numbers. Immigrants were treated as members of monolithic cultural blocs, on the basis of nationality - their religion only became an issue in the 1990s. These communities were addressed by the Dutch government, in their own languages - Arabic for Moroccan immigrants, even though many of them were native speakers of Berber, also known as Amazigh. Opposition to the consensus was politically marginal. The anti-immigration Centrumpartij had occasional electoral successes since 1982, but its leader Hans Janmaat was ostracized, and fined for his often strident opposition to multiculturalism.
The elite consensus on multiculturalism co-existed with widespread aversion to immigration, and an ethnic definition of the Dutch nation. Dutch nationalism, and support for a traditional national identity, never disappeared, but were not visible. When these factors re-entered political debate in the late 1990s, they contributed to the collapse of the consensus. The Netherlands has now attracted international attention for the extent to which it reversed its previous multiculturalist policies, and its policies on cultural assimilation have been described as the toughest in Europe.
The multicultural policy consensus regarded the presence of immigrant cultural communities as non-problematic, or beneficial. Immigration was not subject to limits on cultural grounds: in practice, the immigration rate was determined by demand for unskilled labour, and later by migration of family members. Gross non-Western immigration was about three million, but many of these later returned. Net immigration, and the higher birth rate of the immigrant communities, have transformed the Netherlands since the 1950s. Although the majority are still ethnic Dutch, in 2006 one fifth of the population was of non-Dutch ethnicity, about half of which were of non-western origin. Immigration transformed Dutch cities especially: in Amsterdam, 55% of young people are of non-western origin (mainly Turkish and Moroccan).Cite error: Invalid
invalid names, e.g. too many Cliteur rejects all political correctness on the issue: western culture, the Rechtsstaat (rule of law), and human rights are superior to non-western culture and values. They are the product of the Enlightenment: Cliteur sees non-western cultures not as merely different, but as anachronistic. He sees multiculturalism primarily as an unacceptable ideology of cultural relativism, which would lead to acceptance of barbaric practices, including those brought to the Western World by immigrants. Cliteur lists infanticide, torture, slavery, oppression of women, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, gangs, female circumcision, discrimination by immigrants, suttee, and the death penalty. Cliteur compares multiculturalism to the moral acceptance of Auschwitz, Stalin, Pol Pot and the Ku Klux Klan.
Cliteur's 1999 work is indicative of the polemic tone of the debate, in the following years. Most of the 'immigrant barbarities' which he names are regularly cited by opponents of multiculturalism, sometimes as a reductio ad absurdum, but also as factual practices of immigrants in the Netherlands.
In 2000, Paul Scheffer - a member of the PvdA (Labour Party) and subsequently a professor of urban studies - published his essay 'The multicultural drama', an essay critical of both immigration and multiculturalism. Scheffer is a committed supporter of the nation-state, assuming that homogeneity and integration are necessary for a society: the presence of immigrants undermines this. A society does have a finite 'absorptive capacity' for those from other cultures, he says, but this has been exceeded in the Netherlands. Specifically:
- a huge influx of people from diverse cultural backgrounds, in combination with multiculturalism, resulted in spontaneous ethnic segregation.
- the Netherlands must take its own language, culture, and history seriously, and immigrants must learn this language, culture, and history.
- multiculturalism and immigration led to adaptation problems such as school drop-out, unemployment, and high crime rates.
- a society which does not respect itself (its Dutch national identity) also has no value for immigrants
- multicultural policy ignored Dutch language acquisition, which should be a priority in education.
- Islam has not yet reformed itself, and does not accept the separation of church and state. Some Muslims did not accept the law in Amsterdam because its mayor was Jewish.
- immigrants must always lose their own culture - that is the price of immigration, a "brutal bargain" (quote from Norman Podhoretz)
Scheffer approvingly quoted the Dutch sociologist J.A.A. van Doorn as saying that the presence of immigrants in the Netherlands had "put the clock back" by 100 or 150 years. The high immigration rate and the lack of integration threatened society, and must be stopped. His essay had a great impact, and led to what became known as the 'integration debate'. As in the essay, this was not simply about multiculturalism, but about immigration, Islam, the national identity, and national unity.
In 2002, the legal scholar Afshin Ellian - a refugee from Iran - advocated a monocultural Rechtsstaat in the Netherlands. A liberal democracy cannot be multicultural, he argued, because multiculturalism is an ideology and a democracy has no official ideology. What is more, according to Ellian, a democracy must be monolingual. The Dutch language is the language of the constitution, and therefore it must be the only public language - all others must be limited to the private sphere. The Netherlands, he wrote, had been taken hostage by the left-wing multiculturalists, and their policy was in turn determined by the Islamic conservatives. Ellian stated that there were 800 000 Muslims in the country, with 450 mosques, and that the Netherlands had legalised the "feudal system of the Islamic Empire". Democracy and the rule of law could only be restored by abolishing multiculturalism.
The intellectual rejection of multiculturalism was accompanied by a political transformation, which led to the abandonment of official multiculturalism. It is often described in the Dutch media as a populist 'revolt' against the elite. The catalyst was Pim Fortuyn. He was a critic of multiculturalism, and especially of what he called the "Islamisation of the Netherlands", but succeeded primarily because of his charisma.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Unlike the intellectual critics, who wrote for fellow members of the elite, Fortuyn mobilised millions of disillusioned voters. Overturning the political stability of the 1990s, Fortuyn came close to being prime minister of the Netherlands. When he was assassinated in May 2002, his supporters saw him as a national martyr in the struggle against multiculturalism, although he was in fact shot by an animal rights activist who said that he killed Fortuyn because he targeted "the weak parts of society to score points".
Following Fortuyn's death, open rejection of multiculturalism and immigration ceased to be taboo. To a large extent, open racism also ceased to be taboo: negative reactions to immigrants became the norm, for a section of the population. The new cabinet, under premier Jan-Peter Balkenende instituted a hard-line assimilation policy, enforced by fines and deportation, accompanied by far tighter controls on immigration and asylum. Many former supporters of multiculturalism shifted their position. In a 2006 manifesto "one country, one society", several of them launched an appeal for a homogeneous society.
The most prominent figure in the post-Fortuyn debate of the issue was Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her first criticisms of multiculturalism paralleled those of the early liberal-feminist critics in the United States - the emphasis on group identity and group rights diminished individual liberty for those within the minorities, and especially for women. As time went on, her criticism was increasingly directed at Islam itself, and its incompatibility with democracy and western culture. By 2004 she was the most prominent critic of Islam in Europe. When she scripted a short film on Islamic oppression of women, featuring texts from the Quran on the naked bodies of women, its director Theo van Gogh was assassinated by an Islamist. Threatened with death and heavily guarded, she spent most of her time in the United States, and moved to Washington in 2006 to work for the American Enterprise Institute. In 2006 she also expressed support for the Eurabia thesis - that Europe is being fully Islamised, and that its non-Muslim inhabitants will be reduced to dhimmitude. In a speech for CORE in January 2007, she declared that Western culture was overwhelmingly superior:
- ...my dream is that those lucky enough to be born into a culture of "ladies first" will let go of the myth that all cultures are equal. Human beings are equal; cultures are not.
The United Kingdom has continuous high immigration rates, among the highest in the EU. Most of the immigrants of the last decades came from the Indian subcontinent or the Caribbean, i.e. from former British colonies. In 2004 the number of people who became British citizens rose to a record 140,795 - a rise of 12% on the previous year. This number had risen dramatically since 2000. The overwhelming majority of new citizens come from Africa (32%) and Asia (40%), the largest three groups being people from Pakistan, India and Somalia.
In the UK, supporters of the Labour government's approach believed it was defending the rights of minorities to preserve their culture, whilst encouraging their participation as citizens — that is, integrating without assimilating[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Critics argue that the policy fails on all counts: if social conditions and insularity become barriers to the integration of minorities, then multiculturalism does not properly function[How to reference and link to summary or text]. There is now a lively debate in the UK over whether explicit multiculturalism and "social cohesion and inclusion" are in fact mutually exclusive[How to reference and link to summary or text]. In the wake of the July 7 Bombings 2005 (which left over 50 people dead) David Davis, the opposition Conservative shadow home secretary, called on the government to scrap its "outdated" policy of multiculturalism.
Prominent critics of multiculturalism include Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Ugandan-born author of After Multiculturalism, and one-time black activist Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. In 2006, Phillips was criticised by London mayor Ken Livingstone, who accused him of fuelling hostility towards ethnic minorities by criticising the principle of multiculturalism. Livingstone then accused Phillips of being so right-wing that he would 'soon be joining the British National Party'.
In the May 2004 edition of Prospect Magazine, David Goodhart, the Editor, temporarily couched the debate on multiculturalism in terms of whether a modern welfare state and a "good society" is sustainable as its citizens become increasingly diverse.  Open criticism of multiculturalism - hitherto sometimes disingenuously equated with racism, jingoism and xenophobia by the political Left[How to reference and link to summary or text] - given Prospect's pedigree and reputation, was thereafter firmly part of the mainstream. Since then events such as the London bombings have shifted the debate away from sustainability and cohesion, and towards a focus on the uneasy bedfellows of free speech and security.
In November 2005 John Sentamu, the first member of an ethnic minority to be appointed as Archbishop of York stated, “Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me: let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains.” . Criticisms have also been voiced by bishop Nazir Ali of Rochester.
The Archbishop's sentiments reflect the widespread opinion among the UK population that the enforcement of de facto multiculturalism often involves asymmetrical - even assimilationist - concessions or unnecessary sacrifices made by the majority culture; whilst minority cultures are allowed to remain distinct, British culture and traditions are sometimes perceived as exclusive and adapted accordingly, often without the consent of the local population[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Recent examples include the cancellation of public fires[attribution needed] (associated with Guy Fawkes Night), the proposed 'multicultural reinterpretation' of the York Mystery Plays and the Birmingham 'Winterval' controversy. Critics[attribution needed] argue that this practice misinterprets multiculturalism completely - the concept of a culturally diverse, not homogenised, society - and betrays the sycophancy of the political elite[How to reference and link to summary or text].
In August 2006, the community and local government secretary Ruth Kelly made a speech, which some[attribution needed] saw as signalling the end of multiculturalism as official policy. In November 2006, Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that Britain has certain "essential values" and that these are a "duty". He did not reject multiculturalism as such, but he included British heritage among the essential values:
- "When it comes to our essential values - belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equal treatment for all, respect for this country and its shared heritage - then that is where we come together, it is what we hold in common."
Japanese society, with its ideology of homogenity, has traditionally been intolerant of ethnic and other differences. People identified as different might be considered "polluted" —- the category applied historically to the outcasts of Japan, particularly the hisabetsu buraku, "discriminated communities," often called burakumin, a term some find offensive —- and thus not suitable as marriage partners or employees. Men or women of mixed ancestry, those with family histories of certain diseases, and foreigners, and members of minority groups faced discrimination in a variety of forms. In 2005, a United Nations report expressed concerns about racism in Japan and that government recognition of the depth of the problem was not total. The author of the report, Doudou Diène (Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights), concluded after a nine-day investigation that racial discrimination and xenophobia in Japan primarily affects three groups: national minorities, Latin Americans of Japanese descent, mainly Japanese Brazilians, and foreigners from other Asian countries.
Japan accepted just 16 refugees in 1999, while the United States took in 85,010 for resettlement, according to the UNHCR. New Zealand, which is smaller than Japan, accepted 1,140 refugees in 1999. Just 305 persons were recognized as refugees by Japan from 1981, when Japan ratified the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to 2002. Japanese Minister Taro Aso has called Japan a “one race” nation.
Multiculturalism and Islam in the West
There is a developing distaste toward the idea and policies of multiculturalism in Europe, especially, as stated earlier, in the Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom and Germany.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The belief behind this backlash on multiculturalism is that it purportedly creates friction within society.
Alleged incompatibility with secular society, has been influenced by a stance against multiculturalism advocated by recent philosophers, closely linked to the heritage of New Philosophers. Fiery polemic on the subject by proponents like Pascal Bruckner, and Paul Cliteur has kindled international debate. They hold multiculturalism to be an invention of an enlightened elite who deny the benefits of democratic rights to the rest of humanity by chaining people to their roots. They claim this allows Islam free rein to propagate abuses such as the mistreatment of women and homosexuals, and in some countries slavery. They also claim multiculturalism allows freedom of religion to exceed the realms of personal religious experience and to organize towards mundane ambitions seeking moral and political influence that opposes European secular or Christian values.
From the late 1990s multiculturalism came under sustained intellectual attack in Western Europe largely, but not exclusively, from the political right.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The reaction was more vehement than in North America, since it was associated with several other factors - the return of explicit nationalism as a political force, the revival of national identity, the rise of euroscepticism, and concerns about Islam in Europe. The period saw the rise of anti-immigrant populism in Europe, which was uniformly, sometimes fanatically, hostile to multiculturalism. The debate became increasingly polarised, and increasingly associated with Islam and terrorism.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The multiculturalism issue merged with the immigration policy issue. The most extreme rejection of multiculturalism comes from supporters of the Eurabia concept. Islam is seen as a political movement, which is attempting to seize control of Europe, and to destroy its civilisation.
Current trends in Europe
Some European Union countries have introduced policies for 'social cohesion', 'integration', and (sometimes) 'assimilation'. They are sometimes a direct reversal of earlier multiculturalist policies, and seek to assimilate immigrant minorities and restore a de facto monocultural society. The policies include:
- compulsory courses and/or tests on national history, on the constitution and the legal system, see Life in the United Kingdom test
- introduction of an official national history, such as the national canon defined for the Netherlands by the van Oostrom Commission, and promotion of that history, for instance by exhibitions about national heroes.
- official campaigns to promote national unity, and individual identification with the nation - such as the campaign Du bist Deutschland in Germany
- tests designed to elicit 'unacceptable' values. In Baden-Württemberg immigrants are asked what they would do, if their son says he is a homosexual. (The expected answer is that they would accept it).
- prohibitions on Islamic dress - especially the niqab (often misnamed as burqa).
Some of the measures, especially those seeking to promote patriotic identification, include: In the Netherlands, the naturalisation ceremony includes a gift symbolising national unity. In Gouda it is a candle in the national colours red-white-blue, in Amsterdam a Delftware potato with floral motives.
There are proposed measures which go much further than these. They typically, but not always, come from firmly right-wing parties and their supporters. Although implementation is not on the political agenda in any EU state, the proposals illustrate the 'post-multicultural' climate: a loyalty oath for all citizens, legal prohibition of public use of a foreign language, cessation of all immigration, withdrawal from the European Union, a compulsory (non-military) national service,; in rare cases a ban on the construction of mosques, closure of all Islamic schools, or a complete ban on Islam.
Although such policies often have the stated aim of reviving national unity, one result has been an increased polarization. Muslims in Britain or the Netherlands may occasionally hear that their culture is backward, that western culture is superior, and that they are obliged to adopt it. In turn, overly-defensive reactions include an increased self-identification as 'Muslims', and adoption of Islamic dress by women and 'Islamic' beards by men. Part of the Muslim minority is now hostile to the society they live in, and sympathetic to terrorism. In Amsterdam's secondary schools, about half the Moroccan minority does not identify with the Netherlands: they see their identity as 'Muslim', and regularly express anti-western views but, nevertheless, do not want to return to their historical homeland.
In turn society is increasingly hostile to Muslims: a survey showed that 18% in Britain think that "a large proportion of British Muslims feel no sense of loyalty to this country and are prepared to condone or even carry out acts of terrorism". A TNS/Global poll showed that 79% in Britain would feel "uncomfortable living next to a Muslim". There have also been notable tensions in Britain between established Muslim communities and newly-arrived Eastern European immigrants. A major attitude survey of teenagers in Flanders showed that 75% refuse to have a relationship with a black person, a Muslim, or an immigrant. Half want all immigration stopped, and 41% say they distrust anyone from another ethnic background.
In some cases the rejection of the multicultural consensus in Europe included the revival of a traditional national identity which was often defined by ethnicity.[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Paradoxically, that excludes not only first-generation immigrants, but their identifiable descendants, from full membership of the nation. New terms for minorities of immigrant descent have come into use: the (originally geological) term allochtoon in Belgium and the Netherlands, and 'nichtdeutsche Herkunft' or 'ndH' in Germany ('non-German origin'). Both are applied regardless of citizenship. The renewed emphasis on historical culture places higher demands on cultural assimilation; immigrants may be encouraged to learn, for example, to identify and describe cultural heroes and historical figures such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and William of Orange. Moreover, in an already culturally diverse population, the promulgation of semi-official 'national values' may prove divisive and/or exclusive. For instance, the 'Muslim test' in Baden-Württemberg implies that those who do not accept homosexuality cannot be German. It was criticised for this and for the supposed hypocrisy of having been introduced by a German Christian-Democrat administration.
Issues of nationality and loyalty can be divisive. In the Netherlands, the Party for Freedom of anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders opposed the nomination of two ministers because they had dual nationality. The party subsequently proposed a motion of no confidence in both ministers. The party doubts their loyalty to the Netherlands, in cases of conflict with their countries of origin (Turkey and Morocco). According to an opinion poll more than half the population agrees with the party. Opinion is sharply divided by political party: 96% of Wilders' voters agree with him, and 93% of GreenLeft voters disagree.
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