Wednesday, February 9, 2011

multiculturalism a cause of social division, really?

David Cameron's speech regarding multiculturalism addresses the concern over the lack of common identity among British citizens with respect to values. Cameron targets the flaws of multiculturalism in relation to the overt focus on the toleration of the cultural and personal identity of individuals belonging to minority groups to the detriment of national identity and thus national 'belonging'. however in his attempt to point out the flaws of multiculturalism, Cameron exposes the flaws in his own argument.  

Cameron's focus on certain groups values trumping those of the nation fails to understand that other cultural values may be held deeper than those of the host nation and thus multiculturalism serves as a method in which can recognize these values and also establish commitments to the value of the wider community. this will never be achieved by the use of 'muscular liberalism' advocated by cameron which substitutes the complicated but steady toleration of others associated with multiculturalism with the onset of programs to foster a version of national egoism where one must assume the values and the common identity provided by the nation at the expense of personal identity.

With toleration being a key tenet of liberalism the advocation of Cameron brand of 'muscular liberalism' may in terms of policy appear to be bullying by the state with regard to certain group of citizens to accept values they do not naturally hold yet pose no threat to the state. Cameron's mention of individuals having to learn the language, while a valid point will also in terms of policy result in political bullying which might link to the immigration debate, the most divisive debate in British political discourse.Cameron's argument merely represents the nationalist arguments of 'social cohesion' through 'common identity' fostered through the recognition of common values such human rights freedom and democracy but what cameron does not recognize that the values of the state are meaningless if the personal identities of citizens are not in turn deemed with the same esteem. 

While all citizens benefit from the high esteem in which human rights, freedom  and democracy are held in British political culture, the expense for recognition of minority groups seems to be a abandonment of  already existing loyalties, a sacrifice many are not prepared to make for the sake of 'social cohesion'. conversely, cameron attacking such deeply held loyalties only serves to intensify the individuals bond with his or hers personal identity, feeling there identity to be under threat with the state enforcing it's own form of identity without any mediation. 

What seems to be missing is not certain groups of citizens willing negation or lack of recognition of the cornerstones of British political culture, but the state's attitude towards the personal identity of citizens, particularly if the state perceives certain identities to pose a threat to the political community as a whole. The solution, or at least a start, is the mediation of British identity with individuals already-existing identities through dialogue that escape the 'tit for tat' clashes between the political parties. This process has never really taken place in Britain despite various discussions about it taking course with the need for it to happen has not until the september 11 and 7/7 attacks been deemed as necessary. 

However, the 'like it or lump it' rhetoric (with regard to british identity and values) espoused  by conservative commentators and politicians serves as no substitute for reasoned dialogue between relevant groups on the fate the multicultural patchwork of Britain. in sum, David Cameron speech did make some valid points with respect to recognition and representation of minority groups but his solution for the flaws of multiculturalism exacerbate, and may even worsen the problems as personal identities are not akin to political identities due to political identities socially constructed nature.                                    

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