Monday, February 28, 2011

Multiculturalism vs. Diversity

The reports of the death of “multiculturalism” have been greatly exaggerated, I fear. But it is significant that, in quick succession, three European leaders (Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy) have laid a pall over this Utopian delusion. Now, “multiculturalism” in the European context is little more than a code word for “Islam”, the way “diversity” over here is a code word for “black”. In this land of plenty, if you're black you're fully accredited as being “diverse”, even if you never set foot out of the all-black, all-the-time, inner city. White people, on the other hand, can only “support diversity” by disowning their own race, with all of its pomps and works, and its history of “racism”. So in theory, if all of our DNA could be altered in mid-stride to make us all instantly black, we would be the most “diverse” nation on earth. And so goes the degeneration of language into topsy-turvy la-la land when liberals are allowed to set the rules.

Europe has a slightly different problem. Nearly every nation in Europe can lay claim to a single language as part of its heritage... and the ones that can't, like Belgium, suffer daily from their bimodality. Each nation has a relatively coherent cultural background, set of customs, legal system and precedents, mode of government, and -- most importantly for the present discussion -- faith tradition (or lack thereof, which is a tradition in itself). I'm not saying that European nations are monotonous or uniform; they are actually quite rich in cultural depth. But they are fairly consistent and predictable in these matters. There is sufficient national cohesion that when you cross the border from one to another – unguarded as it might be – you can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste the difference.

Now, against that background, Europe has an “unassimilated immigrant” problem that probably began in earnest a few decades back, when “guest workers” started showing up from North Africa, the Middle East, and other places. These people had their own customs, creeds, belief systems, etc. which were not readily replaced or transformed into the standard Western European socialist model – and what, after all, would have motivated the newcomers to do so? What were their incentives? I suspect they were as lacking then as they are now. And yet this situation didn't seem to cause any major disruptions in the rhythm of things until religion and religiously-based customs and mores became an issue. That's the point at which it “hit the fan”, so to speak – certain parts of certain cities in Europe having become, for all intents and purposes, enclaves or redoubts of traditional Islam, with its admirable history of egalitarianism and tolerance. That's a joke, of course – and the result has been a sort of culture war somewhat reminiscent of the Reformation, in that it has religion as its core. Compare the urgings of sharia law with pathologically “tolerant” Western European socialism – it's hard to imagine any two things less compatible.

But the reaction of European governments to all of this was, at first, to give up on the old assimilation idea without even having tried – and to give its blessing to parallel cultures existing within the borders of a single nation, each being allowed to live by its own rules – and even legally given a partial pass (the way certain minorities are in this country -- not that this is necessarily a bad thing). And the reaction of the citizenry – the old-time majority, that is – was to embrace the idea and run to welcome the newcomers with all of their treasured, non-assimilable differences. I'm kidding, of course; the reaction of the old timers, not unlike the reaction of conservatives on our side of the Atlantic, was to protest the watering-down of their own culture (and, let's admit, their privileges) and what almost seemed to be a preference, on the part of the government, for the new and strange (sort of like what we call “affirmative action”). So the populists rose up, and their cause was not at all harmed by some of the nastier habits of their Moslem neighbors – things like “honor killings”, for instance, that are just a ho-hum fact of life in places like Afghanistan. (I'm not sure how the practice of keeping boy mistresses has fared in la France – but I wouldn't be surprised if that had been given some leeway as well.)

Plus, the tender feelings of the multiculturalists were not even reciprocated! Pat Buchanan points out, in a recent column, that “Islam is a faith that is, itself, anti-multicultural”, even when it finds itself on foreign soil. And, as Buchanan also points out, “these European leaders are far behind the people, and their belated appreciation of the idea of national identity is but a product of political panic” -- i.e. not based on any sort of national feeling or loyalty. True enough, and you'll find that most of the energetic proponents of “diversity” over here are either actively anti-American, or at least neutral and indifferent when it comes to notions of national identity. They are, invariably, promoters of “social change”, which means, when you get right down to it, “You throw your cultural heritage on the bonfire, and we'll let certain other people retain theirs.”

But here's the difference. European leaders can, for whatever reason, pronounce multiculturalism a failure because it stands in sharp contrast to a well-developed, age-old set of images, ideas, and concepts that constitute “national identity”. Everyone knows who, and what, a German is... and likewise a Frenchman or an Englishman. No one is ever going to confuse one with the other, especially not if they're a member of one of those groups. But what is an “American”? I've already gone on at great length about how this nation is ideational – founded on ideas rather than on race, ethnicity, or religion. (Even the so-called “Judeo-Christian tradition” represented by most white people has become so watered down and compromised that it hardly counts any more as an identifying trait. What we have instead is a kind of blind cultural inertia that is in danger of being swept away by the winds of "change".) Not only that, but, as pointed out incessantly by the “diversity” buffs, we are, in fact, a “nation of immigrants” -- or the descendants thereof. What we really are is nation of racial, ethnic, and religious groups that conquered a pre-existing non-nation of aborigines, AKA Indians, AKA “Native Americans”, who themselves had a certain degree of “diversity” of faith and custom, not to mention strong tribal consciousness. But they were, in fact, no more “multicultural” or “diverse” within the tribes than the Moslems in Europe – which is, truth be told, the natural state of man in groups. (It has been pointed out that many of the tribal names given to “primitive” peoples are simply the word for “man” in their language – the implication being that members of other tribes are less than men... less than human. This is also a fairly typical attitude of people in groups, and “civilization” hasn't done a whole lot to make us evolve out of this, despite the exertions of the idealists.)

My point is that the parallels between “multiculturalism” in Europe and “diversity” in the U.S. are limited. The issue in Europe is debated against a backdrop of a relatively coherent culture (within each nation), and the contrast between that culture and the “stranger” culture is stark and unavoidable... and neither side seems all that anxious to compromise. Only the leaders – being socialists and idealists – believe that such a thing is (1) possible, and (2) desirable. The ordinary people (on both sides) don't think it's desirable, and now it turns out that it's not possible either. It's truly a culture clash, and both sides can't win (but both could lose). Our situation – and this goes back to the early years of the Republic – is that, even if we once had a coherent cultural background, it was trumped, at least officially (and legally), by Utopian ideas... and this constitutes a much weaker form of resistance to the new and the strange than European-style cultural cohesion does. And this is not to say that there wasn't resistance; every new immigrant group was met with hostility, prejudice, discrimination, and in some cases downright violence. But again, ideas triumphed in the long run, and ethnic identity became something quaint and charming rather than a strong motivator. Religious identity – again, because of the idea of “tolerance” -- was also watered down, to the extent that it now has very little direct influence on politics (an example being the myth of the “Catholic vote”). (And yeah, I know, the “tea partiers” and many conservatives have a tendency to be Protestant Evangelicals – but how much influence do they ultimately have on domestic policy? Little or none, I'd say. Foreign policy is a different matter... but if the Evangelicals were the only ones supporting invasions of countries in the Middle East, I don't think we'd have developed the habit.)

So the United States at present has no strong, decisive resistance to racial, ethnic, and religious intrusion, assimilation, or melding. It might have at one time, based on cultural inertia – but the sheer pressure of successive waves of immigration weakened it to the point where now it barely exists. New immigrant groups show up all the time with nary a murmur of protest from those already here. And this is, in fact, the way it was meant to be – paradoxically, our national identity has, as its first principle, the lack of a national identity. And you might say, but... but... how about all those ideas? Don't they fill in, and do the job that those old-fashioned factors used to do? Well, no. The funny thing about “modern societies” (starting, lets say, with the French Revolution) is that they may be motivated and energized by ideas, but their survival as societies ultimately depends on the older values. Did the French become any less French because of their revolution? If anything, they became more French – or at least more distinct (i.e., more delusional and power-crazed). Did the Russian Revolution make the Russians any less Russian? It was certainly not good news for the racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the Soviet Union, but I don't think it did a whole lot for homogenization. The minute the Soviet Union broke up, those minorities reasserted themselves and formed countries, or virtual countries within Russia, or rebellious enclaves, etc. They never forgot for one minute who they were, in other words. And even in this country there are still strong feelings of identity and cohesion with one's ancestral group – Pittsburgh being one of the better examples. But again, it doesn't seem to percolate all the way to the top (or even to the middle) politically, and is, again, trumped by ideas whenever the two are opposed. Another way of putting this is that ethnic and religious identity is a fine thing, as long as one doesn't take it seriously – and in any “serious” political discussion it becomes a liability... something to feel a bit awkward or embarrassed about, like the old folks who never quite learned English, so have to be kept upstairs when company comes.

Ah, yes – the great American “melting pot”. So warm, so comforting! In truth, so empty, so sterile. Ideas may serve to sustain a few socialist intellectuals and eggheads at the top of the government and academic food chain, but they are thin gruel indeed for people with a more grounded, tangible sense of identity (and with their sexual apparatus intact – there, I said it). But you see, those people – the normal “Joe Six-pack” on the street – have no political influence. They lost the culture war ages ago, and are now wandering around in a daze, politically (if not literally) emasculated and neutralized, but with enough life left in them to make them ripe for exploitation by fast-talking politicians and “social change” agents (not to mention the entertainment media and professional sports, America's version of the “games and circuses” of ancient Rome). We are, by and large, a nation of victims... and our victimhood is amplified all the more by the fact that few of us realize it. (The “tea parties” are, again, a symptom of a kind of vague, partial awakening to the reality of all this, which is why the Regime and its media servants have taken on, as Job One, the suppression and extermination of the tea parties and all their ilk. Nothing is more dangerous than a slave who, one day, realizes he is a slave – we saw this in the run-up to the Civil War.) (Or, on a lighter note, the classic Gary Larson cartoon that shows a herd of cattle in a field. One of them looks up and says, “Wait a minute! This is grass! We've been eating grass!")

So, in a sense, resistance to “multiculturalism” and “diversity” is like resistance to a disease – one has to be inoculated, soon after birth, with a hefty dose of racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural identity and – yes – pride. On some level, one really does have to think that his group, even with all of its odd quirks, is somehow better, or more preferable, than others. In the words of the Gilbert and Sullivan song:

He is an Englishman!
For he himself has said it,
And it's greatly to his credit,
That he is an Englishman!
For he might have been a Roosian,
A French, or Turk, or Proosian,
Or perhaps Itali-an!
But in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations,
He remains an Englishman!

Now, this is satirical, of course – but nonetheless true... in England. But can the same be said over here? The sheer volumes of verse, prose, speech, and iconography (not to mention the mountains of public school "civics" and "social studies" textbooks) that have been devoted to promoting the notion of America, or “Americans”, speaks, in my opinion, to the fact that the thing has remained not easy, but impossible, to define for all these years. We have been trying, for 235 years now, to extract something tangible out of a floating vapor of vagueness, and we cannot do it – and yet we persist. We cannot claim any sort of exclusivity when it comes to the traditional factors of identity, because – officially at least – this nation was founded as a bastion of resistance against such troublesome old things. So we have had to replace them with ideas... but some of those ideas have been found wanting, some have been found impossible to realize, and some have met with general apathy. (And even the best ones have been found to have limited applicability -- usually only to this country or to ones a lot like it. Like "democracy", for instance.) Very few Americans, for example, truly believe, on principle, in freedom of speech, or of the press, or of assembly. Oh, they believe in their _own_ freedoms and those of their group all right, but never for the other guy. (Note, for example, how the ideas about which portions of the media have to be “controlled” and which political groups and points of view are “dangerous” and “a threat to our liberties” vacillate depending on who has a majority in Congress.) And yet the whole idea of “diversity” is supposed to be based on tolerance... with a firm legal grounding. But as I said before, “diversity” is a code word that, for example, stands in direct contradiction to freedom of association – a notion that has become regarded as, at best, quaint. The difference is this. You can tell a basic, “God-given” freedom by the fact that it doesn't impinge on anyone else's legitimate rights. And you can tell a made-up, latter-day Utopian “freedom” by the fact that it's part of a zero-sum game where for one person to win, someone else has to lose. And many of the manifestations of “diversity” involve just that... as do their predecessors like “affirmative action”. In fact, it's not even a zero-sum game, but a negative-sum game. The winners never win as much as the losers lose – in opportunity, resources, morale, self-respect. The only guaranteed winner is the government, and those in charge, because in order to enforce “diversity” you need an immense power structure backed up by volumes of legal code.

So with all the above in mind, you might expect that anti-immigration sentiment would be much greater in Europe than in the U.S. -- and you'd be right. And the Europeans are unabashed about this; they are going directly against the policies of their respective governments, and they don't care... and their governments are, at least, not working full time to marginalize and shun the people who feel this way – unlike our own government, which not only does this but persecutes and files lawsuits against state and local governments, and elected officials, that try to hold back the tide. So while Europe may have turned the corner on this issue, we're still headed for self-imposed cultural annihilation – at least as long as the government has anything to say about it. And what I suspect is that this is not simply an ideational battle – you know, the government's “idea people” (I call them “nerds with a gun”) vs. normal citizens. If you can deracinate people... culturally neutralize them... commit cultural genocide... then you'll have a population of demoralized, depressed clones who will be more likely to put up with other forms of oppression and exploitation. In other words, strike first at pride by striking at the heart of a culture... and with pride goes self-respect, and with that goes the ability, energy, and willingness to defend oneself against further assaults. All totalitarian governments have taken great, ahem, pride in, first and foremost, wiping out annoying and bothersome “differences” based on traditional cultural values. Uniformity is always to be desired... and as I've discussed previously, “diversity” is little more than uniformity in disguise. If to “respect other cultures” requires you to disrespect, disown, and shun your own... well then, won't everyone sooner or later be obligated to disrespect, disown, and shun their culture, in which case what will be left? How can someone else honor my culture if I refuse to, or am unable to? They can't. So the agenda of the Regime is clear on this – the ultimate agenda of “diversity” is to eliminate all differences that might have any impact on political, social, or moral attitudes – which means all differences, period. (Including those of gender and sexual identity, I might add. Not being satisfied at striking at the heart of people's social identity, they have to strike at their DNA and endocrine systems as well, in what bears a remarkable resemblance to policies in the early years of the Soviet Union.)

Buchanan provides a quote from James Burnham: “Liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.” I would reword this slightly to say that American liberalism is the ideology of multiple cultural genocide – with the goal of achieving a great, gray sameness and a level (non-)cultural landscape, over which the elite may rule as they wish. This vision of the future may inspire them, but it ought to inspire the rest of us to strong and vociferous opposition.

I might add that, if one lives in the Washington, DC area it would be tempting to think that it's too late, because the only visible and significant cultural groups are the “diverse” -- i.e. black – and everyone else. But living in Pittsburgh gives me cause for hope. There are still a few warm coals of ethnic pride remaining here, and they could be fanned up to include a more serious and integrative approach to religion, and then extended in a meaningful way to politics. As it is, people here are being driven by slavemasters, just like everyone else – but they at least have the makings, and in some cases a living memory, of what it would take to recover their pride and identity. The problem is, no one is appealing to them on that basis, because it's so politically incorrect – even in this area. As the old timers die off, very few are stepping up to take their place. They prefer to be part of the bland, tasteless American gruel than part of something with balls (there – I said it again)... something dynamic... something real. But the promotion of ethnic pride (among white people) is probably one of the least popular causes in the country... and bringing religion into politics is strongly disfavored by the Regime as well (although they will exploit this to the hilt when it does happen). And of course, racial pride, for the non-diverse, is completely beyond the pale (because, don't you know, the only people who feel that way are the Klan and those “white supremacists” out in Idaho). So the first thing that has to be overthrown is the psychological rule of the Regime over our minds; then the political piece will become possible. Otherwise, it's a lost cause.

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