Multiculturalism: From Dark to Darkness

Unless you welcome multiculturalism with open arms the branding irons come out and the familiar adjectives are burned onto the forehead. Therefore, let’s get the nova moment over with; I am neither a racist nor bigoted but I do have opinions.

The big hope of multiculturalism is that everyone will integrate and all the people will respect each other’s way of life. Thus diversity is viewed as maintaining each culture in a harmonious plane, with religion playing a central role in this nirvana.

However, this hope is based on the here and now which allows no thought of tomorrow.  Of course those who have promoted multiculturalism may view it as a long-term commitment for the human race.

My problem with the ‘here and now’ philosophy is that it allows no space for change. It is very much a ‘present time’ philosophy which is the maintenance of cultures, and, the legal obligation to respect it has an inflexible rigidity appended to it. A society so ordered is one set in concrete. One thinks of Stalin!

th5Suddenly, as if by magic wand (Harry Potter is real) all the religions will love and respect one another. Let’s forget the centuries of upheaval that religion has brought us. In the recent past we have had the murderous debacle of Northern Ireland where Catholic fought Protestant and, where the hate is still tangible.

In the Middle East where the two houses of Islam have no compunction in killing the other. Tension continues to increase between India and Pakistan. @France24_en November 7th. In India Hindu and Muslims continue to shed blood. Whilst in Pakistan religious differences have caused several bombings and where attacks on Christians are now a common occurrence.

Can we seriously dismiss what is happening around the globe as though it has no effect on the migrant populations in our midst? We know it can and does. Also, Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay p543 reminds us that politicians use ethnicity and religion for their own purpose.

Religions may speak of peace and love but harness swathes of intolerance and subjugation. All religions were basically the stanchion of men, and, women knew their place or else. In the modern Christian world the old culture is being broken down and women are gaining their rightful place as equals. Note, Tom Peters, The Circle of Innovation pp 402-407 he quotes several writers to argue that, “Women are smarter than men”. And better managers!

In contrast Islam is still mired in the ancient culture, as are some other religions. It is therefore difficult to give any credence to the Muslim faith, while promoting equality in every other aspect of life. We do not need to unearth the prohibitive nature of Islam towards women. On another tact we cannot have different laws operating for different sections of society. The law of the land must be initiated by parliament and not Sharia courts.

There are numerous cases of young women, children really, who have been plucked from their school to be sent to a foreign country to be married. A marriage of arrangement! No say, no choice – a diktat.

I read an article in the Daily Mail (November 2nd) concerning a woman, Maryam Nemazi from the group One Law for All. She holds a strong opinion against Muslim Councils and the use of Sharia courts in the UK. She accuses them as “tantamount to abuse”. When I read such stories I think, what would the Suffragettes think, and, how can a liberal society tolerate such subjugation.

Referring back to Tom Peters and the power of women and, recognising the imposition placed on the females of Islam, I think of a vast wealth of talent not nurtured. A Terracotta Army hidden!   I came across a refreshing little piece by E.E. Bradford (1860-1944) called Society.

“God made the country and man made the town – And woman made society”.*

Furthermore, faith schools are not a celebration of diversity. Rather such schools are a cold statement of difference and work to emphasize that difference. Faith schools do not best employ the concept of empathy. Unfortunately, as the country becomes more ghettoized differences become more heightened.

Moreover, multiculturalism signs the death knell of any possibility of achieving a secular society. Religions are obviously opposed to the very notion of secular schools for the simple reason that they would lose influence. An influence they use to cement the child’s belief system. We know this yet we pander to the needs of the soldiers of entrenchment.

A society based on a secular outlook would allow children to mix and to learn from each other. There would be no need to impose a law demanding respect; the kids would simply play together, grow together and build lasting bonds. Multiculturalism is a poor attempt at a quick fix.

The fact that law has to be used in an attempt to enforce respect tells its own story. Athqbhtaafd law is a demand that the people must obey.  They are told to adapt their language and thought processes to accommodate others but such a law has to be one that meets general approval otherwise it is likely to go unheeded. People have an aversion to being forced.

Audite et alteram partem – A Latin motto – Listen even to the other side*

Notwithstanding, multiculturalism has proven a great asset for big business. Perhaps that is the real reason behind its promotion? The influx of several million migrants was obviously going to cause upset hence the desperate need to design a concept for it, with the threat of the law to empower it. No doubt it was a blessing that the Liberal elite endorsed and readily adopted it as their own.

The truth is that we cannot save the world alone. The mass movement of people has more to do with globalization. The pursuit of money leaves no room for the thought of consequence or a plan for the long-term. Globalization is a harvester of cheap labour.

However, many see no alternative, their eyes are pinned on the present for fear of a divide, leading to violence between the migrant and indigenous population. They are happy with their quick fix and are thus too busy patting their own back to consider any consequence.

*The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

*Economics: The User’s Guide   Ha – Joon Chang p458

Nonetheless, change is happening. The change is championed by an unlikely ally – capitalism. The source of the problem may actually lead to its solution. Change will not be advanced by politicians, no, they’re too wrapped up in their own cossetted world. The agents of capitalism, the marketing agencies and their never ending push to boost consumerism will be our knights.

Consumerism will break barriers that politicians are afraid to breach. While consumerism may smash the ramparts we will then need to reconstruct a society, the thcafjwb3ekind of society that we need as a human race. To anticipate, the answer is, no! we don’t want the Americanisation of the world. America has had ‘Affirmative Action’ for over 50 years and is the most ghettoized nation in the world. We need to think!

Change is taking place around the world as the poor demand a greater share of the wealth of the planet. They are using the power of democracy (take note) to send the message that they are unhappy. Power to the people!!

Therefore, multiculturalism is not the answer because it holds no answers. Multiculturalism is actually the harbinger of ghettoes. Its solution is to keep us separate, not to unify us as one people.

 

Europe: Moving Politically Right?

  • Our politicians

There are fears that Europe is moving inextricably to the right in politics. The numbers voting for the parties of the right has grown. Nationalism and an increase in xenophobic

If only it was about food waste.

attacks have prompted scaremongering.  The parties of the left in politics are equally loud in protest and actions. The increase of extremism can be laid squarely at the door of politicians; they will not admit it but their poor management has brought us to this juncture.

America is also witnessing a political phenomenon. And this is where our story begins. The decision of the American administrations of Reagan, Bush and Clinton to deregulate the financial system led us directly to the banking crisis of 2008. The repeal of the 1933 Glass – Steagall Act which brought regulation to the banking sector after the great crash of 1929, lead the way. Suzanne McGee (p269). The crisis of 2008 still has us in the doldrums. Thank-you cowboy Ron!

In Europe the crisis was handled badly, made worse by our political leaders. Joseph Stiglitz (pxxv) Greece had been allowed to spend aided by Goldman Sachs bank until the bubble burst. The EU refused to bail Greece out and instead insisted that the country go cap in hand to the IMF. A political farce ensued, Dani Rodrik (p218). Panic engulfed the EU caused by political ineptitude particularly on the part of Germany.

Greece was forced to pass laws on cutting its health service, on trade union rights including collective bargaining and to cut the minimum wage to secure a bail out. Austerity, austerity the catchphrase of the neo-liberal economists had taken hold. Prune back, was the rallying call, in order to pay your debts. Believing in the ‘confidence fairy’, Paul Krugman (p200) e.g. make the markets believe that you are not being profligate and they will continue to invest. Mm, the very people who caused the crash!

Prune, hack, slice; wages, jobs, the welfare state. Prune, hack, slice, the debt man’s at the gate. That was the basic spin from our politicians. Somehow the economic mire we found ourselves in was the fault of the workers and the poor. A telling analysis of the absurdity of such a political logic is given by Krugman (p200)

“The trouble with the current situation, [2012] insisting on perpetuating suffering [austerity] isn’t the grown-up, mature thing to do. It’s both childish (…) and destructive”.

We can add the voice of Stiglitz (p76) to that analysis:

“The irony is that in the crisis that finance brings about, workers and small businesses bear the brunt of the costs”.

Income inequality has been rising since the 1980s. Ha-Joon Chang (p333). The trend is acknowledged by many economists. The trend was marked in the USA and UK who have followed the neo-liberal economic school of thinking — austerity. Thus over a sustained period ordinary people have witnessed a decline in their living standards and the failure of politicians to protect their well-being.

Dissatisfaction has been brewing, the kettle is not yet boiled, but. Wages depressed, jobs scarce at the lower end of the market, the economic crisis not yet resolved, forced cultural change with growing concerns over migration / immigration. A very large section of society is concerned by the onslaught of politically correct doctrine and worry about their culture and way of life. The negative response of politicians has many feeling that their voice is irrelevant.

In the midst of this cacophony the politicians in the UK gave themselves a pay rise. The gulf has just got wider!

The sustained barrage of political correct idioms to be learned coupled by the demeaning labels: racist, bigot, NIMBY, old and backward etc. etc. etc. leaves many feeling they are being brainwashed by New Stalinists. Having to mind your P’s and Q’s every time you speak, support their interpretation of events. Perception is everything!

A note of caution from Howard Gardner the eminent Harvard psychologist (p51);

“…emotion is often a more powerful factor in influencing our behaviour than logic”. He suggests that there are: “…more neural connections going from the limbic emotional centre to the intellectual cortex”.

With the establishment of Sharia courts in the UK and the seemingly endless mention of the rights of minorities tends to suggest that the needs of the majority have already been met. This does nothing to broker acceptance or respect. Frustration and anger builds!

On and on the assault comes with an absence of someone to turn too. No political outlet because all the recognised parties are seen to be in cahoots. There is tiredness with interest groups hogging the limelight and achieving their demands. Politicians have forgotten the wisdom of Edmund Burke: cited in Charles Handy (p103)

“ Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate clink, while thousands of cattle, repose beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field,…”

The real danger of the present situation is that the dissatisfaction with the establishment becomes ingrained. It could make a good Shakespearian play:         Macbeth Act 1V sc.1

“Double, double toil and trouble,

Fire, burn; and, cauldron, bubble.

No surprise that the electorate, middle-left and middle-right scour the horizon for an escape route. The far-right too has quickly recognised an avenue to explore and found many alienated folk standing on the roadside.

 Germany            –              NPD (neo-Nazi???)

France                  –              National Front

Austria                  –              Freedom Party

Netherlands       –              Dutch People’s Party

Sweden              –              Sweden Democrats

Finland                 –              Finns

The list could go on but the point is made.

Much of the anger at this time is generated by the migrant crisis and once again political ineptitude rears its ugly head. However, many of the parties of the far-right are also opposed to the EU – the mammoth without ears. Some of these hard-line groups have secured up to 30% of the popular vote and together hold an approximately 33% of the seats in the European Parliament. Amazing!

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/26/

The crucial point here is that they don’t want to reform the EU. They want to kill it off.

In the UK voters floundered in various directions, some finding solace with Ukip, but the electoral system (first past the post) dented their enthusiasm; 4 million votes but no parliamentary seats. Others took revenge on the Liberal and Labour parties leaving the Tories with a strong hand.

In the USA the republican right are being trounced by Trump, whilst the democrats have found an alternative voice in Bernie Sanders. Why?

The story unfolds with a Sky news correspondent Tuesday March 1 2016. A question of why a woman was voting for Bernie Sanders brought an illuminating response: she said it was not about Bernie but the doors his campaign opened to a wider discussion of many important topics.

Here an articulate, grey hair, voice of reason is seeking an explanation for her feeling of alienation from political life. Her voice is echoed in multiplies of millions around the globe. For decades the political class has ambled on impervious to ordinary folk and disparaging of their concerns. They had been emboldened by the lack of an opposition.

Floundering in the political mire, ordinary Joe felt powerless. Their only source of power they believed was their vote, but all the recognised parties were proving to be equally crap. Along came the extremes and sat down beside them and brushed their powerlessness away.

I can hear echoes of Caliban:      The Tempest   scene 2 187 – 195

No more dams I’ll make for fish,

Nor fetch in firing

At requiring,

Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash a dish.

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Ca—Caliban

Has a new master. Get a new man!

Freedom, high day! High day, freedom! Freedom, high day, freedom!

 

It seems that the political class are akin to an oil tanker, nice and steady when crossing the Atlantic Ocean but slow and in need of a lot of space when it has to turn. It has to turn.

Are we adrift?

Not quite but we are getting there. There is a growing feeling of unfairness out there in the world. Fairness is a powerful psychological trait. It is so strong that it can dictate people’s thinking, tied, perhaps rigidly, to a person’s emotion.

There is a sense of tiredness with the grab society; the, me, me, me philosophy of some. And with the flashy, look at my wealth occultists.

Charles Handy (p198) puts it well, “…it is ultimately not tolerable for the many poor to live beside the fewer rich”. Jealousy? No, disgust! During the so called ‘Golden Age’ of the 50s, 60s, 70s, everyone seemed to share in the prosperity created. Since the 80s times have changed.

The trickle-down effect

Many of the working class accepted the ‘spin’ of government that by cutting taxes for the rich this money would be used to create more employment hence the new wealth would ‘trickle down’. A similar ‘spin’ is given to corporate tax reductions. This view was entrenched until, “…in the face of considerable evidence that it is untrue”. Fukuyama (p465) Further evidence can be found in: Chang (p451), Stiglitz (pp 8, 78), Rodrik (p165) and Krugman (p84).

Quid pro quo

The rich and our politicians appear more focussed on feathering their own nests than being responsible leaders. The concept of clientelism: you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, is very much alive in the corridors of power.

In the UK members of parliament (MPs) were able to employ their wife and offspring at the expense of the tax payer. The expenses scandal of recent years is still haunting some of them. Others have been caught doing dodgy deals.

In America clientelism is all but a business whereby interest groups give generously to a politician’s campaign for election and in return gain influence in the corridors of power. Fukuyama (p87) suggests it undermines democracy because it “…strengthens existing elites and blocks democratic accountability”.

Therefore we can see why the people feel alienated from the political system. The feeling of powerlessness is not a fleeting will-o-the-wisp experience. As Ha-Joon Chang (p106) points out, austerity governments in the Netherlands, France, and Greece were voted out in 2012 followed by Italy in 2013. It made no difference; the austerity package of the EU was nonetheless imposed.

Meanwhile, in the UK the conservative government is busy cutting away at areas of the state in the name of efficiency. Slice by slice it is cutting into the National Health Service (NHS).

Perhaps politicians should take note of the wisdom of Fukuyama (p532)

“When governments cease being accountable, they invite passive noncompliance, protest, violence, and in extreme cases, revolution”.

Abuse of power

A further hard hitting policy is the raising of the retirement age in the UK. Women had their retirement age raised from 60 to 65 in line with men. Now everyone has to put in several more years before they can escape the workhouse. The ‘spin’ by the government is that as a result of people living longer the pension bill will be much higher and needs to be offset by people working for longer.

Some women will have had their work life extended by up to 10 years. How much is the government saving by that little manoeuver??

The true implication is that successive governments have sanctimoniously mismanaged the economy. For 50 years many have paid income tax and national insurance tax and god knows how many other taxes and now when retirement looms they are a burden. Shame!!

This is an abuse of power as it leaves large numbers of people feeling anxiety and guilt. It only affects the workers as the better off have the means and can decide when they want to retire. No such luxury for the less well off.

Thus we have the rise of the Tea Party in America and Donald Trump viewed as a saviour. In Europe the rise of the far-right and extreme left. In the UK we have Ukip on the centre right whilst the far-left are still sucking their dummies and waiting for the resurrection of Trotsky.

A few more words of wisdom for our shamelessly needy politicians – from the 17th century

“…government should benefit the people, not those in power”. Wang Fuzhi       www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Fuzhi

Karl Popper adds his voice: we need an open society; “…in which the political institutions can be changed by the governed”.

Do some good join Robin Hood!

 

Suzanne McGee                               Chasing Goldman Sachs

Joseph Stiglitz                    The Price of Inequality

Dani Rodrik                         The Globalization Paradox

Paul Krugman                    End This Depression Now

Howard Gardener           Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice

Ha-Joon Chang                  Economics: The User’s Guide

Charles Handy                   The Hungry Spirit

Francis Fukuyama            Political Order and Political Decay