Tuesday, 15 February 2011

David Cameron's speech about

the failure of "multi-culturalism" has been making waves here in Australia. Columnist Andrew Bolt stirred the pot a little further. I wrote a letter - on request - which appeared as the lead letter in a newspaper yesterday.
I know that so-called "multi-culturalism" is a very sensitive subject so I was very careful about what I said. I did however point out that people normally find it impossible to hold opposing sets of beliefs.
You cannot believe in "A" and not believe in "A" at the same time. There is also the "in between" state of not knowing whether you believe or not. In religious terms people would be described as "believers", "atheists" or "agnostics". "Agnosticism" is not a state of belief or disbelief. It is a state of not-knowing what you believe.
"Multi-culturalism" surely has to be the cultural equivalent of "agnosticism".


Frances said...

Cat: Can you expand on why "multi-culturalism" is the equivalent of "not knowing what you believe"?

Anonymous said...

I think Cat means something like - to give a rather wild example - you can have a society that believes in marriage or one that does not believe in marriage. You cannot have a society that neither believes or disbelieves in marriage. If society believes in marriage then people can, if they choose, get married. If society does not believe in marriage (and legislates against it) then you cannot have some people getting married because it goes against the belief system (as legislated) of the society. You cannot have a system where a society has said "You may not get married but we will make an exception for X group because they believe in marriage." So-called "multi-cultural societies are in fact trying to say just that sort of thing - even when the legislation of the society opposes it.
Bob C-S

catdownunder said...

Frances - I probably should write a second blog post but take language as an example. Australia uses English. English is the official language. We "believe" in English. We could just as easily have "believed" Dutch or French as the first language and "not believed" in English. What we cannot do is say "you can speak whatever you like and we will accommodate you". That is the equivalent of "not knowing what you believe". When the government helps to fund (as it does) small newspapers in other languages and foreign language services on things like the SBS it is trying to keep alive an idea that does not exist - i.e. that Australia is officially a multi-lingual society in which everyone has the right to speak whichever language they wish and that this includes speaking it to everyone else, being understood, being educated in it etc. Clearly that is nonsense. I have over simplified - and I know I risk being misunderstood!

Anonymous said...

The term "multi-culturalism" is rubbish. It is quite impossible to have a multi-cultural society. That supposes at least two systems working together at the same time. It can't be done. Strict communist regimes or strict Islamic regimes do not tolerate anything else for the simple reason that they see only themselves as being right and anything else as unacceptable. You cannot have a society within a country which has two equal legal systems (e.g. Roman/sharia) or two banking/educational/hospital etc systems. One will always end up taking preference over the other and those who are not the preferred group will end up causing trouble or being an oppressed minority. I am fed up with being told we have to accept things like sharia law even for some because a minority want it. Sure as heck it will not give me the right to take four wives so why should anyone else be allowed to do it!

Frances said...

Thank you both Cat and Anonymous.
I see the point now.
I always found the concept to be rather patronising, and based way back then upon the idea that our own culture was so superior that others would of course in time aim to emulate it, so in the meantime we could be smilingly tolerant of their funny ways.
And I've been, in the past, rather aggravated by young commentators who extol its virtues by pointing out how much Italian and Greek migrants added to our society, apparently unaware that this was pre the mc policy.