The riddle of multiculturalism

This article was inspired by a lecture on “national security” at a Thai university. As the professor spoke of a “global state” that would “encourage multiculturalism”, my colleague (an ex-soldier who served in the first Gulf War) turned to me and said “She should try going to Iraq and telling them that”.

I’ve been lucky enough to live and work in many countries around the world. I’ve experienced many forms of stable and semi-stable multicultural societies (as opposed to the unstable ones where only squaddies step foot) and I’ve seen that multiculturalism can work. So why am I convinced that it will not and cannot work in Britain? Why does multiculturalism work well in some states, moderately in others and fail miserably in others still?

Well I don’t have all the answers but I have picked up a few clues:

1) Chronology

It is ironic that in the age of globalisation and globalism, ethnic and religious clashes seem to be at an all time high. Perhaps, as globalisation strips away the imagined security of national borders, people look to other forms of identity such as religious or other cultural ties.
Whatever the reason, large scale voluntary immigration in the modern age seems to cause more friction than it has done in ages past. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that historical migration would naturally be on a more restricted scale in both number and distance.  In modern times, migration can be performed en masse and across continents, allowing for a greater traverse of cultures and identities.

Interestingly, invasion does not seem to be an indicator of success or failure in multiculturalism. Hong Kong, Malaysia and Canada are now our allies.

2) Type of government

In most of the countries where I experienced stable multiculturalism, there was always a strong government with a right wing attitude to law and order and/or nationalistic sentiment. Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand would be the best examples. While I realise that all these states have many, many faults, multiculturalism is not one of them.

All these places have low rates of violent crime and very little racial conflicts. Contrast this to countries with a very liberal approach such as France, Canada, Australia, etc.

Perhaps the biggest difference I can see is that successful multicultural states always make clear that the number of immigrants will be controlled, and the identity and culture of the state is never seen as threatened. (Singapore being the only exception, as its original identity was always mixed anyway.)

3) The cultures involved.

Some cultures are very different, some are more similar.

When leftists say to me: “It’s no about race or culture, it’s about the people”, I say “Yes, but culture plays a big part in making the person”. While many cultures can peacefully co-exist, I believe than some cultures find coexistence very hard.

Islamic countries can be very, very welcoming to foreigners on their own soil but Islamic immigrants often encounter real culture shocks when living overseas. It’s not hard to see why. Islamic states have the lowest press freedoms, some of the most brutal laws and restrictions on freedom and a general culture of intolerance to criticism.

Chinese people on the other hand, often have a hard work ethic and seek to adapt – if not adopt – to the local culture.

These characteristics cannot be simply forgotten just because someone moves west. Once we have grown up in a certain environment, it forms a core part of our character.

I defy anyone to tell me it is coincidence that a huge part of terrorism and conflicts around the world are related to Islam while very, very few are related to Buddhist nations. Also notable is the role of fundamental Christian nations over and above progressive Christian in name only nations such as Scandinavia.

4) Historical disputes

As opposed to “chronology” by which I meant the actual time of migration, in “historical disputes” I mean the actual history of hostility between any nations or cultures. In an ideal world, we would all forgive and forget, but in reality the Jews and Muslims will find it very hard to agree on who has legitimate claim to Israeli territory, African Americans have a very legitimate claim of historical abuse and of course Australian Aborigines have many issues with western rule in Australia.
As I’ve said before, if only religion didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have half as many of these conflicts as we have now.

5) The perception of immigrants

Let me give one example from many:

In Hong Kong, the biggest number of immigrants are Filipino. The Philippines has the highest ratio of migrants of any country. Most Filipinos work abroad to support their families at home. They tend to be well educated, peaceful, law abiding and most importantly, the nature of their work is nearly always temporary. Compare this with the situation in the UK, where the perception of many immigrants is that they are here to stay, and we must ensure their stay is comfortable as possible by funding their culture, religion and  festivals from our own tax purse.

In my view, all these factors mix in to a society and determine the stability of multicultural experiments.

I’m delighted to have experienced environments in which it can work, but in the UK I see no hope. In fact, we are a textbook example of failed multiculturalism. Nobody is to blame except for our government. Perhaps our biggest mistake in the UK was allowing such as huge threat – or at least a perception of a threat – to our own identity.

How can we correct the mistake? Simply allow those who wish to do so to return home, and adopt the right wing policy of other countries that performed better at multiculturalism. However we do it, the important things is that it is done peacefully, without hostility and for the benefit of all involved.

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One Response to “The riddle of multiculturalism”

  1. Bush and his first term criminals threw out the Geneva Convention and will someday be brought up on war crimes. You better hope Obama wins the election or the country will start seeing 68 starting up again. On this 4th we salute Bernardine, Billy and all the Weathermen that helped stop another madman in Nixon.

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