For most average people in the street, including most of the ordinary proponents of it, multiculturalism simply means more of different faces and colours on the street, more choice of good food for dinner, and an occasional African or Brazilian street festival to go to on a Saturday. This is what the former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski called “multiculturalism as reading Salman Rushdie in a Thai restaurant.”
But for some, the activist core, multiculturalism is a way to dilute, disrupt and ultimately displace and destroy the “dominant culture” in their own society; the culture they hate because it’s European, Christian, patriarchal, and market-liberal-democratic. These are all the devils of the far-left demonology; the sources of all evil and oppression in the world throughout history, which must be eliminated in order for the humanity to survive, thrive, and advance towards the progressive utopia.
Thus the activists are opposed to acculturation and assimilation because that way immigration merely reinforces the existing cultural hegemony with millions of new Third World bodies and minds. Instead, immigrants are meant to be the shock troops of the demographic change to make the society less than what it has been in the past and more of what it could be according to the progressive designs. Every new “Other” means that, in relative terms, your country is just that little bit less white, European, Christian, traditional, conservative, or insert any other historical characteristic you dislike.
This is why so many on the left love immigration – not for what it can add to their society, but for what it can be used to subtract from it.
Thus, when a couple of days ago, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, a former and very much unrepentant communist, declared her intention to campaign for the Commonwealth Parliament to drop the Lord’s Prayer from its daily procedure, she said:
“It is actually insulting the way parliament is opened. Considering there’s many people who aren’t religious, there’s many people of different faiths, it is time we started having an institution that is relevant to the twenty-first century.”
Note the word “insulting” in the context of a prayer. Australia is part of the Western Christian civilisation of the past two millennia; all its institutions have a Christian heritage and cannot be understood without also understanding the role that religion has played in the development of our Western societies. However secular Australia is becoming, the majority of the population still, at least nominally, considers itself Christian.
While there has been much commentary that the latest Census revealed the increase in numbers of Australians of no faith (30 per cent), and that 2.6 per cent of the population is now Muslim and 2.4 per cent Buddhist, there is a huge logical (though a much smaller ideological) leap to assuming that retaining the country’s Christian heritage is actually “insulting” to the non-Christian minority and that therefore this heritage should be eliminated from our public life.
But that’s how the activists like Rhiannon see it – the diversification of the society through natural socio-demographic trends as well as through immigration is an excuse to reduce our culture to the blandest common denominator, ostensibly so as not to offend those (usually small minorities) who come from different heritages, but really to eliminate those aspects of the culture you don’t like, like in this case Christianity.
It’s a case of, to borrow from Bertolt Brecht’s famous poem, the people having forfeited the confidence of the government. “Would it not be easier,” asks Brecht, “for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?” The Western society won’t change, or at least won’t change as fast as the radical establishment would like, and so it’s easier to change the nature of the society by changing the make-up of the society. Open door immigration and official multiculturalism means you don’t have to convince the existing voters, you simply import new ones, more to your liking.
Recall another recent statement by another multicultural left activist, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who was talking about Australian democracy: “The traditional parliamentary system, I mean look at the photo of the House of Representatives. It does not represent anyone.”
The implication being that we need the parliament to be a statistical microcosm of Australia, faithfully reflecting the gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality profile of our society, otherwise young Sudanese Muslim immigrants like Abdel-Magied will continue to feel disconnected and disenfranchised.
Putting aside the logical fallacies of this view of representative democracy, the subtext of this desire to have more women, more people of different ethnic backgrounds, and more people of different sexualities in parliament and in public life generally is that these are the political constituency whose interests and beliefs are opposite to those of what you see as the old “power structure”. Thus, the more “Other” you have in politics, the more you can move your country and your society away from that “European, Christian, patriarchal, and market-liberal-democratic” model you despise.
As Karl Marx said, history repeats itself, the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce. As with history, so with the Marxism itself. The original saviours in the communist religion – the proletariat – have disappointed as a revolutionary force; they have been co-opted and domesticated by the forces of the capital, bought off with prosperity and a welfare net. This forced the activists to look for a new revolutionary class, and they found it in minorities or otherwise “oppressed” and “marginalised” groups: women, immigrants, gays, the developing world generally.
Marx would be bemused at how his late twentieth and the early twenty-first century followers have adjusted his theories; but the joke might actually be on us, because the new left might actually be more successful using this new “proletariat” to radically transform the society than the old left had been with the original working class, all thanks to being more Gramscian Marxist than Karl Marxist. The former, with his “long march through the institutions”, created a blueprint where the control of the means of cultural production is considered much more important (and much easier to achieve) than the control of the means of economic production. The left has been using that blueprint ever since and to a significant success.
The true assumptions behind the activists’ strategy are revealed when their theories clash with reality. It is by and large true that women, non-Caucasians, immigrants, homosexuals and other “Other” groups are more statist, collectivist and “progressive” in their sentiments, and therefore can be marshalled to politically and culturally combat the forces of Christianity, liberalism, capitalism and other institutions of the Western civilisation. By and large, but certainly not all, and the left hates it. Not surprisingly, conservative women like Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May are not considered to be “real women” and their achievements are not celebrated by the feminists, while a black American who happens to be on the right is portrayed as an Uncle Tom-like sell-out (like Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell or Condi Rice) or a crazy joke (like Ben Carson).
All women, people of colour, immigrants, gays and so on simply have to be on the progressive side of the fence; if they are not, it must be “false consciousness” that blinds them to their real interests. Minorities cannot be allowed to think for themselves, otherwise sufficient numbers amongst them might actually be attracted to the old, non-radical ideas, and the left starts losing the foot-soldiers (or, worse, the thought leaders) of their new class war against their own society.
I, for one, think that our society, while not perfect, is pretty good. It can always be improved but I don’t want to see it radically changed. I don’t carry any white guilt or European guilt, since I don’t consider myself responsible for past actions of people I might share skin pigmentation with, and the Catholic guilt, while a real phenomenon, has nothing to do with the Church’s past involvement with imperialism or treatment of women. In any case, I think that the Western culture, which the radicals hate so much and are working so hard to undermine, has been on the balance a force for the good and for progress in human history. It is certainly now, much more so than any other competing cultural system.
We live in a free and democratic society (though the radicals would contest even that), which to my mind leaves those who hate it with two options – leave and move to a country that better reflects your vision of a good society, or use the means that a free and democratic society offers you to persuade the majority of the wisdom of your vision. But be open about it. This is what the activists have never been. In their hands multiculturalism is a stealth weapon; probably in recognition of the unpopularity of their cause.
I like Thai food as much as the next person, but I will fight against the attempts to reshape the society I love through underhand demographic manipulation. And I will also treat those behind the attempts as grubs, as long as they lack the honesty and the courage to debate the issues on their merits.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk where this piece also appears.
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