Multiculturalism disintegrates India - I
by B S Harishankar on 14 Sep 2018 14 Comments

An orchestrated attempt has recently emerged in the contemporary Indian academic, cultural and political scene to define, elucidate, interpret, explicate and emphasize our past and present within the framework of multiculturalism. This new theory has been launched when the exclusively European secularism has been routed from India. Multiculturalism which has taken the seat aims to expunge our ancient idea of integration, assimilation and diversity. It shall also be projected as a slogan in 2019 general elections to counter cultural nationalism.


To understand multiculturalism in the Indian context, it is necessary to comprehend the origin, development and impact of this ideology in the west, since its crux lays in Europe. Its aftermath has been apprehended, analyzed and discussed by various research institutes, think tanks, authors and statesmen in the west.


The notion of a multicultural society developed steadily in the 20th century by continuous waves of immigration to Europe and America by the rather uncomfortable post-WWII legacy of toxic ethno-nationalism. Western liberal democracies advocated that ethnic minorities have rights to retain their cultures within certain limits. Since the 1970s, multiculturalism has been the official policy in Canada, Australia and Western Europe due to growing urbanization and migration. A festival of multiculturalism is celebrated by the Halton Multicultural Council throughout the region of Halton, in Canada.


As a response to a new growth of European imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa and the huge immigration of southern and eastern Europeans to the United States and Latin America, thinkers, philosophers and sociologists such as Charles Sanders Peirce, George Santayana and Alain Locke developed ideas of cultural pluralism, from which emerged the current  multiculturalism. Notable ideologues of pluralism include Robert Alan Dahl and Seymour Martin Lipset.  


Although America exerted powerful cultural influence to export such an ideology since the civil rights movement in the 1960s, its most ardent supporters across the world have been left-wingers. Multiculturalism today is generally associated with post-colonial immigration and the juxtaposition of different ethnic groups within European countries. Race is important in multiculturalism. Current debates over multiculturalism center round whether or not multiculturalism is the appropriate way to deal with diversity and immigrant integration in the west.


Multiculturalism, the ‘elite cult’ of Euro American think tanks, enforced by many EU states through “diversity” programmes, has begun to lose its old glamour and lustre. Since the last two decades, Western Europe which propagated ideas of multiculturalism has disowned it. One of the most dangerous theories of balkanization that has emerged globally is rooted in the idea of multiculturalism. Many commentators worry that multiculturalism has nurtured what Germans call Parallelgesellschaften or parallel societies segregated from a country’s socio-cultural integration.


Alibhai Brown in his work, After Multiculturalism, cautioned that different cultures are to be valued, but it is always wrong for them to take precedence over fundamental human rights. Samuel Huntington observed in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order that multiculturalism is basically an anti-Western ideology. The multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. Huntington says the multiculturalists wish to create a country of many civilizations, a country not belonging to any civilization and lacking a cultural core. In his noted work, The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, Arthur Schlesinger pointed out that the multiculturalists are very often ethnocentric separatists who see little in the western heritage other than western crimes.


Beyond its outward claims of equality and opportunities, it is important to understand the targets of multiculturalism. In a paper presented at the conference on European Approaches to Multiculturalism and Integration, organized by The Smith Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in 2011, Rene Cuperus said multiculturalism has a two-fold implicit message. A false comforting message to newcomers/migrants: “You do not have to integrate in or adapt to your new home country”. And a disrupting message to the native population: “Your majority culture will in the future just be one of many multi-cultures.”


In an article for the Council for Secular Humanism in 2006, Dutch legal philosopher, Paul Cliteur, considered non-western cultures as anachronistic, and multiculturalism as an unacceptable ideology of cultural relativism. He argued that multiculturalism leads to the acceptance of barbaric practices (brought by Muslim immigrants to the West) including slavery, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and female genital mutilation.


Professor Olivier Roy, an eminent French scholar on contemporary Islam, has explicitly declared that both assimilation and multiculturalism have failed. The Council of Europe, guardian of the European Convention on Human Rights, has backed the growing number of heads of government denouncing multiculturalism as a failure, warning that it poses a threat to security. Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary-general of the council, said, “multiculturalism allows parallel societies to develop within states, since some parallel societies have developed radical ideas that are dangerous such as terrorism”.


Robert D. Putnam conducted a decade-long research on how multiculturalism harms social trust. After surveying 26,200 people in 40 American communities, he highlights that the more racially diverse a community emerges, the greater the loss of mutual trust. People in diverse communities lose faith in state media and institutions.


In his speech  on the topic ‘Pluralism: a key challenge of the 21st century,’ Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, observed on 23 May 2013 that if diversity is seen as a source of strength, societies can become healthier, more stable and prosperous. Annan stressed that there is another side of the coin if we fail to manage the conflicting pressures that pluralism inevitably brings. He emphasized that without the institutions and policies to manage diversity, whole communities can feel marginalized and oppressed, creating conditions for conflict and violence.


This is why pluralism is a key challenge for the 21st century. Within Europe, pluralism is currently seen as a threat. According to French reporter Alexandre Mendel, multiculturalism is leading to the separation of European societies. American historian Andrew Michta, also Dean at the European Centre for Security Studies, argues that the elite policies of multiculturalism, group identity politics, and the deconstruction of Western heritage, has contributed to the fracturing of Western European nations and has weakened the overall sense of mutual responsibility for one’s fellow citizens. But everywhere, the overarching consequences have been the same as observed by Kenan Malik: fragmented societies, alienated minorities, and resentful citizens.


Europe allowed excessive immigration without formulating integration into mainstream, a mismatch that has eroded social cohesion, undermined national identities, and degraded public trust. Terrorism has been the final outcome. The numbers of attacks of left-wing terrorists increased in 2016 compared to 2015. Twenty-seven attacks were carried out and EU member state authorities arrested 31 people. Italy, Greece and Spain were the only EU member states to experience left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks.


According to EU reports, jihadism accounts for the most catastrophic forms of terrorist activity as nearly all reported fatalities and most of the casualties were the result of jihadist terrorist attacks. Most arrests were related to jihadist terrorism, for which the number rose for the third consecutive year. The European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol supported 127 counter terrorism investigations in 2016, which shows a clear indication of the growing range of jihadist activity.


The Gatestone Institute, International Policy Council in October 2017 said that according to Policy Exchange, a think tank report, “The New Netwar,” the Islamic State is still producing, at a conservative estimate, about 100 items of new content each week, including execution videos and bomb-making instructions, reaching an internet audience of, at minimum, tens of thousands, including large numbers of users in the UK. British Muslims are twice as likely to espouse anti-Semitic views, according to a survey conducted by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research. British universities hosted 110 events featuring extremist speakers in the last academic year, 2016/17, with the highest proportion taking place in London institutions.


On April 2014, a paper was released by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, entitled ‘Fundamentals of the State Cultural Policy’. The authors assert that the basis of cultural policy should be the idea that ‘Russia is not Europe.’ They called for the abandonment of the Western cult of liberalism, specifically noting that “Multiculturalism” is dangerous to Russian society, and projects which are not consistent with traditional Russian values must be deprived of all state support. The paper was signed by Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Aristarhova, and submitted for consideration to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation. On March 2016, Konstantin Romodanovsky, head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, said multiculturalism has failed.


The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill warned in 2016 that multiculturalism has no future in Europe because it creates a dangerous cocktail of people cut off from their deep-rooted traditions. He observed that if multiculturalism implies weakening people’s connection to their values and traditions, it automatically makes them victims of discrimination and forces them to be defensive. The Patriarch said this very approach contains a dangerous source of division, the fundamental division of the family.


Data from PEW research showed that more than 70 per cent of people in 10 European Union countries surveyed said multiculturalism made their country either a “worse” place to live, or made “no difference” at all. In Greece, 63 per cent of respondents said increasing diversity had made their country a worse place to live. In Italy, 53 per cent held a similar view.


Speaking at a security conference in Munich in February, 2011 British PM David Cameron launched a devastating attack on multiculturalism in Britain, warning it is fostering extremist ideology and Islamic terrorism. Earlier in December 2006, former Prime Minister Tony Blair made a major appeal on Britishness. He said there is a right to ‘our own different faiths, races and creeds’; but we have a ‘duty to express any difference in a way fully consistent with the shared values that bind us together’. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in October 2010 that the multicultural idea of people from different cultural backgrounds living happily “side by side” did not work. Later in December 2015, she said multiculturalism leads to parallel societies and therefore remains a ‘life lie’.


French president Nicolas Sarkozy admitted in February 2011 that multiculturalism did not lead to integration and has failed in France. He said “Our Muslim compatriots should be able to live and practice their religion like anyone else ... but it can only be a French Islam and not just an Islam in France.” “If you come to France,” said Sarkozy, “you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France.” Australia’s former prime minister John Howard and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar have also perceived that multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants in their countries.


A revamping of the educational system in Europe began a decade back to counter the dangers of multiculturalism. In 2006, British Minister of Education announced plans to implement teaching of core British values in the school curriculum as British identity is hardly touched in education. It was frequently noted that London bombings were perpetrated by British citizens whose loyalties lay with their ethnic and religious identities rather than Britain. It was also identified that lack of a successfully mobilizing inclusive civic British identity was seen as the cause behind such anti national trends.


Former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, claimed in 2017 that political support for multiculturalism had created a “fifth column” of terror supporters in western societies. From Moscow to Marseilles, from Stockholm to Sicily, the western world sees the Muslims pouring in and creating tiny nations within the nation and being unwilling to embrace a new identity as English, Italian, French or German. It is this menacing and threatening multiculturalism that is being hastily launched in India.


There is an emerging trend across Africa and the Third World in implementing ideas such as multiculturalism framed in Europe due to socio-political conditions peculiar to the region. For blindly adopting western theories, Malaysian academician Syed Hussain Alatas condemned third world intellectuals with their persisting obsession with imported and inherited theories from the West, unfamiliar to their culture and society and their intellectual traditions. In June 2011, for the same reason, at the Penang International Conference, Claude Alvares criticized the Indian academic society for blindly submitting to western intellectual tradition


(To be concluded…

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