Friday, 14 October 2011


Hello everyone

I would like to get a discussion going about the costs and benefits of multiculturalism. I think that this is gouing to be a very important political issue in the next few years - and as philosophers we need to get a handle on this issue and an overview of where the debate might be heading.

For some liberal philosophers the choice today is between multiculturalism and some kind of fundamentalism. Multi-culturalism is about peaceful cultural co-existence. Here, if you are not a multi-culturalist then you are some kind of antagonistic proto-fascist.

However, critics of multiculturalism argue that core cultures are in essence incommensurable and so any attempt to impose a multicultural society will only succed by means of a 'repressive tolerance' (political correctness and the like) that silences cultural dialogue and exchange.

It would be interesting to see what people think about this issue and get a - polite - debate going about whether it is possible to live in a complex liberal socety without a good deal of antagonism.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Neil,

    In my third year, I wrote an essay discussing Lyotard's comment: 'Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture....'. Looking at the costs and benefits of multi-culturalism and globalization. I'll share some of my main points on multi-culturism.

    I'll start with the costs of multi-culturalism... The biggest point for myself I suppose is the loss of our own culture. I think a clip from the film Talledega Nights sums this up best,

    'Ricky Bobby: We? No, we are not French. We're American, because you're in America, okay? Greatest country on the planet

    Jean Girard: Well, what have you given the world apart from George Bush, Cheerios, and the ThighMaster?

    Ricky Bobby: Chinese food?

    Cal Naughton, Jr.: Chinese food.

    Jean Girard: That's from China.

    Ricky Bobby: Pizza.

    Jean Girard: Italy.

    Cal Naughton, Jr.: Chimichanga.

    Jean Girard: Mexico.

    Ricky Bobby: Really, smarty-pants? What did French land give us?

    Jean Girard: We invented democracy, existentialism, and the Ménage à Trois.’

    In a sense, a multi-cultural society, creates almost a hybrid person, we have an influx of so many different cultures, we take on a bit of everything, and we have no real direct connections to these cultural practices, but we also grow up with them which means we kind of take on a custom - but have no historical or sociological connection to the customs or things. Because of this we have a loss of culture, we struggle to distinguish what our 'cultural identity' is.

    I guess this supports the perhaps nihilistic view of multi-culturalism in a consumer society, which Lyotard expresses. That all values become inert and all is homogenized and the same, all is of equal value = of no value.

    On the other hand, we have more differences, we can learn alot, experience is perhaps rich, people have more choice. We are not so 'bound' by our cultures, if we do not like the philosophy, the religion, the food, the customs of our own culture, we are not glued to them for the rest of our lives anymore - perhaps the argument is that it is a freer and more embracing society - which I do actually believe in some ways!

    I know just a couple of simple arguments, but hopefully it will get a discussion started!