Is Multiculturalism In Retreat?

Ah, the many blessings of Diversity. What were they again?

It seems lately that all over the liberal Western world, native peoples are developing a nasty case of buyer’s remorse: it is finally dawning on them that the natural friction between dissimilar human groups in too-close proximity is, almost without exception always and everywhere, a mighty engine of tension, conflict and violent disaggregation. Our well-intentioned, but historically naive, ideology of radical multiculturalism — which has been raised by progressive political and academic elites to a kind of secular religion, with doubters and heretics vilified as “hate-filled” “racists” and “bigots” — is now beginning to be seen by an awakening multitude as a grotesque intellectual fraud, and a disastrous mistake.

Two widely read commentators published essays on the subject today.

First, here’s Thomas Sowell:

Somebody eventually had to say it — and German chancellor Angela Merkel deserves credit for being the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Multiculturalism has “utterly failed.”

Multiculturalism is not just a recognition that different groups have different cultures. We all knew that, long before multiculturalism became a cult that has spawned mindless rhapsodies about “diversity,” without a speck of evidence to substantiate its supposed benefits.

…“We kidded ourselves for a while,” Chancellor Merkel said, but now it was clear that the attempt to build a society where people of very different languages and cultures could “live side by side” and “enjoy each other” has “failed, utterly failed.”

This is not a lesson for Germany alone. In countries around the world, and over the centuries, peoples with jarring differences in language, culture, and values have been a major problem and, too often, sources of major disasters for the societies in which they coexist.

Even the tragedies and atrocities associated with racial differences in racist countries have been exceeded by the tragedies and atrocities among people with clashing cultures who are physically indistinguishable from one another, as in the Balkans or Rwanda.

Meanwhile, Patrick Buchanan offered a short piece of his own. While I often find myself in near-visceral disagreement with Mr. Buchanan on a variety of topics, he is a man of penetrating intelligence, and on this subject he sees clearly. The outlook is bleak:

Across Europe, there is a resurgence of ethnonationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties that are gaining respectability and reaching for power.

Austrian nationalists triumphed in 2008 when the Freedom Party of Joerg Haider and the Alliance for the Future of Austria together took 29 percent of the vote. The Swiss People’s Party of Christoph Blocher, largest in Bern, was behind the successful referendum to change the constitution to outlaw minarets and prohibit the wearing of burqas.

Hungary’s Jobbik Party, which to the Financial Times “sits squarely in Europe’s most repulsive arch-nationalist tradition and which blames Jews and Roma for the hardships of other Hungarians,” pulled 17 percent of the vote this year and entered parliament with 47 seats, up from zero seats in 2006.

The Sweden Democrats just captured 6 percent of the vote and entered parliament for the first time with 20 seats, joining right-wing folk parties in Norway and Denmark.

Geert Wilders, a rising figure in Dutch politics, was charged with hate speech for equating Islam and Nazism. In June, his Freedom Party swept past the ruling Christian Democrats, who lost half of their strength in parliament. “More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam — that is what the Netherlands has chosen,” said Wilders.

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy — one eye on Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the other on the 2012 elections — rejecting cries of “Nazism” and “Vichyism,” is dismantling Gypsy camps and deporting Gypsies to Romania. Milan is now following the French lead.

What is happening in Europe partakes of a global trend. Multiracial, multi-ethnic, multicultural nations are disintegrating.

Russians battle ethnic Muslim separatists in the North Caucasus. Seventy percent of Americans support an Arizona law to identify and expel illegal aliens. Beijing swamps the homelands of Tibetans and Uighurs with Han Chinese. India fights secession in Kashmir, Nagaland and the Naxalite provinces.

“Wars between nations have given way to wars within nations, ” said Barack Obama in his Nobel Prize address.

Ethnonationalism tore Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union and Josip Tito’s Yugoslavia into 22 separate nations, and is now tugging at the seams of all multi-ethnic states. Globalism is in retreat before tribalism.

Buchanan points out that it is probably too late for Europe, where the birthrate amongst its indigenous people has been far below replacement levels for far too long: an example, I think, of both the Darwinian maladaptiveness of secularism, and of the top-heaviness and decline in human capital that seems to arise without exception in advanced civilizations, and that leads eventually to their collapse.

Read Sowell’s article here, and Buchanan’s here.

Read also Jim Kalb’s outstanding series on inclusiveness, as discussed here.

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  1. JK says

    Doggone. I’d never’d expected it Malcolm before but I see the reason.

    Hell, under the circumstances, I’da done it too – the vicissitudes of trying to spell Angela Merkel in NYC – and Nanny Bloomberg…I’da probably added three cononants and four yeahwells.

    Posted October 21, 2010 at 4:49 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    You sure this is the post you meant to comment on, JK?

    Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says

    Well admittedly, it was a long night.

    Posted October 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink