>Does multiculturalism actually work?

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There have been many cases in history where people have praised how a country/empire has managed to peacefully manage a population of many different ethnic and linguistic groups. But they usually have difficulties too. It’s often put down to results. In 1998 when France won the World Cup it was seen as the success of multi-culturalism. Today, when French society is having significant problems and the wolrd cup squad seems to echo the country’s ethno-cultural divisions, many of the same commentators say that it points to the failure of multi-culturalism. Indeed since the recession hit Europe there has been a resurgence of the right wing, and a habit of treating immigrants as scape-goats.

So is there any truth in the current fears about multiculturalism? Is it merely scaremongering? Or is it a factor, but a less significant one than others such as the economy?

7 comments

  • >As the cartoon suggests, the most obvious problem is one of faith rather then culture. The term multiculturalism has come to signify more the acceptance of burkha – clad women, Sikh men carrying knives on to planes and Hindu people somehow being allowed both divali and the Judeo-Christian (pagan) new year off of work rather then an evening spent doing Caporaira or lombarda, then eating in a Thai restaurant before going to see a performance of Bizet's Carmen at the theatre. Geert Vilder's Party in the Netherlands makes an obvious effort to have themselves seen as having an anti-Islam stance rather then an anti-foreigners / Immigrants or even broader right wing dictat one. This has allowed them to gain popularity in a country which is historically famous for its accommodating and liberal culture and its struggle against fascism during German occupation. Of course faith and culture are undoubtedly linked and there in lies the problem as belief in a religion and its teachings can require a rejection of pluralism which an otherwise pluralistic society cannot tolerate if it is going to survive. The other force that impedes multiculturalism as you say is economic. It is in no way scaremongering and Gordon Brown rightfully learnt that when he was caught expressing his intellectual snobbery and aloofness during the election campaign. Scare can only be mongered when their are disparities, actual or perceived, in the way people are being treated, aided and dealt with and this can only be rectified after first admitting there is / could be a problem and then taking considered, fair and inclusive measures. Across Europe but defiantly in Britain there was no effort by the state or other big players in society to deal with this in the "good" times and so it is no surprise that the fire gets stoked further now we are all more vulnerable. Does multiculturalism work? Possibly but only with caveats such as not being asked to accept the unacceptable, respect for the predominant indigenous culture by all and fair, unbiased to the point of neutrality treatment for all that should not be overly fearful on insensitivity to the few when trying to achieve the greater good.

  • >Multiculturalism can only work if the varying cultures involved allow for other cultures to exists (e.g. the english and scots and polish people coming into the country).It cannot work if one or more cultures in the society have ideals which they must push onto others in an extreme way. Islam for example, is a religion of war (until the culture or country involved has succumbed to Islamic rule, Muslims will practive Jihad – it is what their Koran demands. There are those muslims who say islam is a religion of peace, they neglect to say it is a religion of peace after it have taken over other cultures and replaced them (i.e. not multicultural).

  • >I think there are cultural elements including language, attitudes towards women, drinking etc. However I would agree that religion is often the big contention in this debate. The United States proves that multi-culturalism can work. The US has, and continues to have difficulties/tensions between different groups. But as Peter said economics is a big factor, and it's perhaps no coincidence that throughout history most multi-cultural entities struggled to exist as economic circumstances began to deteriorate.I think multi-culturalism often works best when culture is almost ignored by the state. The Roman Empire and USA are two good examples of this. They worked/work primarily on efficiency and money, not ideas and religion (though I accept that they play/played a big role nonetheless). It means that in such states immigrants are encouraged to respect the native customs simply to 'get on with business'. But it also means that as Robin said no group is trying to force their ideals onto other groups.Can we lay the blame at Islam's door though (as Robin seems to imply)? Islam is not a religion of war; it just depends on how you interpret the Qu'ran and which parts you read. A literalist Christian believes slavery is ok and homosexual behaviour is not. Yet most Christians don't believe that, and so the same can often be true of Muslim people. In fact I'd be willing to stake a bet on the fact that most Muslim Britons are quite liberal in comparison to their fundamentalist kin, and don't believe every word of the Qu'ran. Though this in an odd way is proof that in actual fact successful multi-cultural countries do change culture i.e. as we have said someone who is not accepting of other people's culture can't live in a multi-cultural state. So multi-culturalism can be succesful if it is respecting of the native culture, and breeds acceptance and toleration, but beyond that permits difference. There is still a problem even here however. Multi-culturalism cannot work as it exists in Britain today whereby if you cross a certain line in London, Birmingham, Bradford etc you enter what to all appearances seems like another country. So integration, tolerance, and acceptance of difference with the hope that these will dissapear in the long-run, are all crucial for multi-culturalism to work.

  • >Not to go into Islam but the Quran clearly states that people must be converted, and those who do not convert are enemys, and enemys must be killed. People can reinterpret all they want, but if they do then they are not Muslims.

  • >They reinterpet to fit in with the new societies they live in, as most religions do. In the Islamic homeland you will find stricker adherence to direct scripture. Obviously such beliefs are in conflict with British/European country's, and so familys which move to these countryies eventually (perhaps even after a generation or two) find the need to reinterpret their beliefs

  • >You can't say that only literalists are truly of the religion they name themselves. In that case there are about 50 Christians on the planet. Just point out one person who believes slavery is ok, as it says in the Bible. So exactly the same thing is true of Islam. There are many people who call themselves Muslim and don't believe everything from the Qu'ran.

  • >i agree, there are only about 50 true Christians on this planet, i dont have a problem with that (in fact its probably a good thing).

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