Modern Philosophy And Views On Multiculturalism Politics
Modern philosophers so far agree on the fact that multiculturalism and political correctness are important elements in a liberal democracy. Just like the American Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, equality, and pursuit of happiness, the European Court of Human Rights forbids elected governments from interfering with principles aimed at bringing about progress to the citizens. Sarkozy's expulsion of Romanian immigrants, and the EU's failure to take action, however shows the decreasing popularity of the European Court of Human Rights. This is mainly because of the dying appeal of advanced elite values that are unworkable. Most people would prefer to be their own judges of what is right and what is wrong. Politically correct liberal consensus is seen as na've and Marxist. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders who heads the Dutch Nationalist party is known for calling on the government to evict Muslims because, as he alleges, they are destroying the country just on the basis of na've decrees from the European Court of Human Rights.
The dying sentiment about multiculturalism in Europe is best exemplified by French President Nicholas Sarkozy's expulsion of Romanian immigrants which was against the EU laws because Romania is an EU member. The action would have warranted the need to take action against Sarkozy but the EU simply turned a blind eye and did nothing. This implied that even the EU feels that the liberal states have reached a point where they can not afford to keep on giving special attention to minority groups in their countries.
Effects Of Multiculturalism
Liberal democratic nation-states of the west can longer afford multiculturalism when they address the question about how far they can continue to accommodate immigrants who do not make any attempts to accept their host country's principles. In most European countries the reluctance of immigrants to weave into the social fabric by adopting the progressive principles poses a threat of disintegrating the society. The situation is even made worse when these immigrants go ahead to agitate for recognition of their cultures at the expense of progress. However governments in European countries are obligated to accept and integrate immigrants who come with different cultural principles and religions.
In recent times multiculturalism has been closely associated with the issue of liberal society as well as liberal nation-states. Liberal society seeks to safeguard individual rights for freedom and autonomy universally. On the other hand modern nation states seek to promote inclusive and unifying polices. Nation states in modern times are more concerned in promoting equality with regard to civil rights. The emphasis is on assimilation policies and recognition of an individual nationally through cultural stereotypes in order to acquire citizenship in a modern nation state.
Multiculturalism is seen as an avenue for the perpetration of terrorist activities. The post 9/11 era has been characterized by concerted efforts on intelligence gathering about immigrant residents. These efforts have yielded information that links most immigrants or their descendants to groups like al Qaeda and al Shabaab in most European countries. The same immigrants also act as financiers or financial conduits of money used in funding terrorist activities. There are many combatants imported from European countries fighting for extremist groups in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as Somalia among others. These combatants are either native Europeans influenced to join these groups or conscripted immigrants. What matters is that they are all ready to kill or die in the name of Islam. For example, British Pakistanis pose the greatest threat to the US antiterrorism efforts. The CIA has even reported of hearing British accents in intercepted communication between different Taliban factions. As NATO continues to commit troops in fighting Talibans, its member countries are also providing a significant amount of opposition by having their citizens fighting on the Taliban side. It is due to multiculturalism and accommodation of extremist cultures that European countries are providing personnel to both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Nancy Fraser states the dilemma more clearly when she argues about redistribution and claims for recognition and the contemporary struggle by minorities being 'two mutually interconnected but distinct and irreducible paradigms of justice' (Fraser 200, p.125) . The two issues focus on two different things. For example the clamor for redistribution is about socio-economic injustice and marginalization while recognition is about cultural injustices. Addressing the issue of redistribution by giving special preference to socio-economic problems of the minorities would only end up excluding them further from other citizens. There is also a dilemma on whether politics of recognition would best serve multiculturalism by accommodating their cultural differences and diversity or by deconstructing their identity to make them equally competitive in the current social and economic environments. The latter seems more fitting and appropriate for it works for the good of all citizens. This is why liberal democratic states of the west feel they can not afford to keep on recognizing multiculturalism on economic grounds.
The broad definition of multiculturalism blurs the exact equality being sought such that it is no longer clear whether it is social equality, equality in participation in political matters, or recognizing and acceptance of cultural differences. When equality is promised to immigrants it leads to a situation where they create resistance whenever they are excluded from welfare policies. This is because democratic values are perceived by the immigrants as a guarantee for equal representation in decision making processes. The problem comes in when this equality is not well defined leading to a situation where the demands for equality surpasses democratic principles.
The View In Modern Europe
Governments in most liberal nation states of the west today perceive the adoption of multiculturalism as an obstacle to their concerted efforts of forming universal standards of co-existence and integration with different cultures. This makes multiculturalism difficult to maintain in view of the fact nation states are formed and expect to maintain a single dominant culture. The contradicting positions that result from this debate have been developing over the years to an extent that most liberal nation states in Europe are opting to adopt a stand based on moral evaluation of cultural groups rather than cultural equity within a society.
The question of cultural identity and recognition has become more complex as nation states start regarding and evaluating moral values of cultures they are supposed to accommodate. The only solution lies in addressing the issue without overemphasizing the importance of one culture over another and by concentrating on how different cultures can be integrated into the current social and public movements .
Groups that accept multiculturalism
The debate over group versus individual recognition has become a major concern for political theorists and liberal thinkers as well. The importance of groups is seen in the role they play in shaping people's identity and political affiliation. There have also been deliberative democrats, including Amy Gutmann and Joshua Cohen who propose that group diversity be accepted through a continuous process of deliberating over the policies and institutions that address citizen rights.
Most theorists agree on the fact that transnational migrations are gradually eroding the cultural composition of nation-states in the form of citizenship. Rights are being pursued on residency status rather than on citizenship making the distinction between citizen and alien statuses quite unclear. Primarily this is an issue with migrant, or in a politically correct name, guest workers in most liberal democratic countries of Western Europe. This is the first group that agitates for acceptance of multiculturalism. They were originally recruited during the labor shortages of the 1950s that stretched to the 1970s. Their descendants have continued to grow in population in Western Europe over the years even after the recruitment of guest laborers ceased. The termination of recruitment was occasioned by the 1973 oil crisis. They have become permanent residents together with their spouses and children. Most of them have never sought for citizenship mainly because they have the same civil and social rights as the citizens of these countries and hence consider naturalization processes as a waste of time. They however lack political rights like full citizens.
Proponents of multiculturalism have always taken it for granted that it is solely the concept of culture that that needs to be recognized and accommodated. In reality, culture is a holistic concept that involves many aspects like religion, practices, language, and race among others. Multiculturalists only base on two concepts of culture namely language and religion. The issue of race hardly enters the multiculturalism debate. This is mainly because it has already been taken of by the concept of antiracism. Blum (1992) differentiates antiracism and multiculturalism by stating that the former deals with 'victimization and resistance' and the latter deals with 'cultural life, cultural expression, achievements, and the like' (Blum, 1992, p. 14). Some of the accommodations sought by multiculturalists include exemptions from certain laws on religious grounds, preferential treatment in issues that the majority do unassisted, funding for language schools and associations, special quotas of representation in government bodies, recognition of their cultural codes and practices in the legal system, and some form of self government rights.
The other group that supports multiculturalism is those who propose that the noncitizens deserve to be given those rights because they are entitled to universal rights of personhood as stipulated by the international human rights conventions. Proponents of multiculturalism further propose that these rights have a supremacy over national citizenship. 'Rights increasingly assume universality, legal uniformity, and abstractness, and are defined at the global level. Identities, in contrast, still express particularity and are conceived of as territorially bounded. As an identity, national citizenship . . . still prevails. But in terms of its translation into rights and privileges, it is no longer a significant construction' (Soysal 1998, p. 208).
Challenge of multiculturalism of citizenship on liberal democratic nation-states
Multiculturalism poses a challenge to nation-states basically because of the fact that transnational migrations are gradually eroding the cultural composition of nation-states in the form of citizenship. Rights are being pursued on residency status rather than on citizenship making the distinction between citizen and alien statuses quite unclear.
Multiculturalism goes against the foundation of nation-states of the west since most of them were formed by a single dominant culture and expect to maintain this status in order to effectively compete with other states. The contradicting positions that result from this debate have been developing over the years to an extent that most liberal nation states in Europe are opting to adopt a stand based on moral evaluation of cultural groups rather than cultural equity within a society.
When immigrants take collective action they end up eroding and transcending the nation-state boundaries. This happens against the background of advances in technology, international communication and means of travel which make it possible for immigrants to stay in touch with their homelands. Soysal (1998) sums the effects of transnational migration by stating that: 'In a world within which rights, and identities as rights, derive their legitimacy from discourses of universalistic personhood, the limits of nationness, or of national citizenship, for that matter, become inventively irrelevant' (p. 210-211).
The concept of multiculturalism is never clear about the exact equality being sought whether it is social equality, equality in participation in political matters, or recognizing and acceptance of cultural differences. Nancy Fraser states the dilemma more clearly when she argues about redistribution and claims for recognition and the contemporary struggle by minorities being 'two mutually interconnected but distinct and irreducible paradigms of justice' (Fraser 200, p.125). The two issues focus on two different things. For example the clamor for redistribution is about socio-economic injustice and marginalization while recognition is about cultural injustices. Addressing the issue of redistribution by giving special preference to socio-economic problems of the minorities would only end up excluding them further from other citizens. There is also a dilemma on whether politics of recognition would best serve multiculturalism by accommodating their cultural differences and diversity or by deconstructing their identity to make them equally competitive in the current social and economic environments. The latter seems more fitting and appropriate for it works for the good of all citizens. This is why liberal democratic states of the west feel they can not afford to keep on recognizing multiculturalism on economic grounds.
Post nationalism analyzes multiculturalism in two ways. The first is linked to international conventions which have greatly played a role in ensuring that the immigrants and the minorities have preserved their cultural values and recognized. Secondly, 'if the postnational observation is correct, that ethnic communities increasingly take the form of transnational diasporas with strong ties to the homeland, then it follows that traditional models for integrating migrants through assimilation into the majority culture will no longer work' (Kymlicka 1995, p. 9).
Immigrants and minorities are known to put pressure on demands like recognition of their cultural difference and special rights. These posses challenge to the liberal beliefs. In this process of getting differentiated, the conflicts with the white who constantly perceive it like a battle of dominance. This also goes against the social cohesion and integration that aims at having common values and solidarity.
Normative with its criticism has an undoubted proposition that today immigrants and minorities are indentified in terms of the cultural group rights. The strong cultural differences of today immigrants especially in Europe have a hard time adapting and integrating in the host country. The discrimination of today's society is seen to be a result of group differences that does that cause inequalities and lead to lack of political and social citizenship rights. The evidence to prove need and nature of arguments for cultural group rights to other arguments like cross-nationality is inadequate.
In a philosophical view, multiculturalism debate does not even reach experimental level. The argument that the presence of immigrants and ethnic minority groups have led to differentiation of individuals that has put liberal nation into stake is nothing more than an allegation. The common referred examples of ethnic conflicts were witnessed in Bosnia, Rwanda and the former Soviet Union.
Politics in liberal democratic states of the west have been negatively affected by the rise of identity agitations by minorities and other groups who started out agitating for rights and are now seeking for special treatment. What started as a movement for recognition and respect for Jewish culture has been usurped by blacks, women, and gays. Deliberations over the role of multiculturalism in the society today have shown that the concept indeed poses a major threat to liberal democracy. The concept has been seen to be promoting segregation instead of its initial intention of affirming the diverse communities and according respect to minority groups. It is an ideology that has run its course without achieving its aim of bringing about integration. It has bred a culture of victimhood which in the final analysis sets one group against the others under the pretext of having undergone a more serious oppression and humiliation than the others.
How can the EU accept multiculturalism?
The way forward in the acceptance of multiculturalism in Europe is in negotiating and transcending cultural differences politically. The current scenario is best described by Modood & Werbner (1997) who state that the 'political theatre in which these cultural, ethnic, national and ideological differences must be negotiated is that of the so-called New Europe, a mass of land delimited by cultural and historical enmities and exclusions, frequently of the most barbaric kind' (p. 261). Such an analysis is made necessary because, as Modood (1995) state:
'Critics of multiculturalism have argued ' that the 'culture' of multiculturalism is not the vital, gradually changing, creative, mimetic, unreflective, unbounded and hybrid culture that anthropologists study. It is a far more reified and politicised imagined entity, the object of representation by elected and self-appointed group spokespersons who stress its inviolability as a sacred domain of collective sovereignty. This assumption is what makes the negotiation of difference so difficult: finding common cultural and political grounds requires the pooling not only of political but also of cultural sovereignty, embodied in public respect for the symbols and values of the 'other', the incoming 'stranger' with the promotion of anti-racism a central goal' (p. 262).
The growth of multiculturalism in Western Europe has not gone unchallenged. Most governments have taken steps to check on the development multiculturalism lest it seriously challenges the prerogatives of the nation states. However there is till more to be done especially on the common EU policies on migration and ethnic relations. These EU policies should be well coordinated with those of member states to oversee the necessary restrictions. A good example is the 1995 Schengen Accord that brought about a well coordinated system of implementing stricter controls on illegal immigrations. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty created a common system that could be used to give European citizenship to immigrants fro other countries. This treaty offers a control on freedom of movement and the rights of residence in EU member states. Goodwin-Gill (1985) describes these treaties by stating that:
'Their generality accommodates many shades of opinion, and what really counts is how the scheme of protection is worked out at the local level, particularly with regard to subsidiary rights and procedural guarantees. . . . Even under the European Convention on Human Rights the jurisprudence adopted . . . and the interpretation of 'civil rights' has sanctioned serious limitations upon nonnationals' entitlement to substantive and procedural due process. Deportation, termination of a residence permit, and the grant or refusal of entry, have all been found by the European Commission not to involve civil rights' (p. 566'68)
It is hard to determine how immigrants and minority dispute a liberated nation and state as it is required by an integrated nationality. When comparing this aspect between German and Britain in the early 1990 we find that it is unenthusiastic in the sense that the immigrants and the other cultural minorities challenge as liberated nation. It is clear that the being identified by the nation and state one come from is very important. Being identified by the state and the nation a person comes from is relatively crucial to an individual particularly the immigrants and the cultural minority people.
A good example of the minority demands to be identified by their country of origin and location of origin is the Kosovo Albanians in German. Despite being the immigrants and staying in German for many years and acquired the citizenship of the country. Their demand to be identified as natives of their original country still stands. They feel as if they do not belong anywhere that is they cannot be identified as Germans at the same time they are immigrant in Germany. This confusion has attributed to the demands for an allocation of a state where they could identify themselves with. This according to the Albanians will give them a haven to be identified with.
These particular groups have backing up motives to their claims, for instance the Albanians claims to have an upper hand in the building of Germany. They claim to have a say in the country and therefore the need to be identified not only as immigrants but Kosovo nationality immigrants. By their reorganization, the immigrants will acquire a more legal way to contribute to the building of the inhabited country.
In German it has been seen that the immigrants have gone to the extent of interfering with the politics of the country. They amount to the biggest group of people who fail to vote in any election. This interference has brought to delays in passing of motions and the general integration of the country. This is one of the factors that has led to failure on growth of many European countries particularly German. Majority of the immigrants and minority cultures contribute little or nothing to the growth of the country yet claim to be recognized. This is main reason that Germany for instance has been laden with committee to help integrate a liberated nation and state.
The post nation and states has integrated human rights quotes in their agenda that ensure that all people despite of their origin are well catered for. This has been a major leap that has ensured that no one is looked down upon or undermined. This is the effort that a country like Germany is doing to ensure that its citizens, immigrants and the minority culture feel secured and integrated in the national building.
The argument and proposal on post national organization is the best way forward for an integrated nation that will incorporate the immigrants and the minority groups in any given country with high population of these groups of people. She claims that this will help in all groups of people contributions in the building of the nation hence the growth of a nation.
There was a time when multiculturalism made sense in liberal democracies the world over. There was a mutual agreement between those involved in matters of liberal traditions on how a united Europe, and the whole world by extension, was supposed to look like and how it would best be politically portrayed. It was imperative to acknowledge the fact that every individual possessed the right to live a meaningful and appreciated life, have the freedom of expression, and be free from constraints of belief and activities imposed by other members of the society from the majority groups. It was also important to mutually agree that that no group could claim to be morally significant or commanding more respect than others. The state was expected to uphold and protect the constitutional and legal rights of every member of the society and to ensure that all were treated justly. There was a broad consensus among libertarians and even liberal egalitarians on the importance of respecting individual freedom and equality. The aim was to make the world as free as possible from governmental interventions and impositions.
Multiculturalism when taken positively is a good concept as it leads to moral and political recognition of disadvantaged and frequently discriminated groups like African Americans in the United States, women worldwide, and other groups like gays, and the disabled. Europe should continue to accommodate issues of plural-cultural equality. There will always be challenges in every imaginable form from increase in terrorism to decreased relevance of civic and national identity but the liberal governments of the west should find ways to cope with the demands of multiculturalism instead of closing their doors to other cultures.
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