‘E Pluribus Unum’ – From many one.
That’s what’s stamped on our currency. It means that we are a pluralistic society. Not so much a melting pot but a stew. Asociety in which minority groups maintain their independent cultural traditions and where no one minority imposes its views on the other.
Pluralism is NOT multiculturalism.
To quote Jack Lacton of the Kerplunk Blog:
The key difference between pluralism and multiculturalism is this:
- Pluralism is based on exceptional values as determined by the host society
- Multiculturalism is based on lowest common denominator values
There are many things wrong with the concept of multiculturalism. The first of which are its attempts at replacing it with what makes our society great – pluralism. Multiculturalism believes that all cultures are equal but that’s not true.
Here’s a good example.
The bushman of Australia could, as individuals, be trained to fly the space shuttle. But that doesn’t make their culture equal to ours because they can’t build a space shuttle. You can give every individual equal opportunity and treat everyone equally – but that doesn’t make cultures equal.
Equality is a fine ideal. But like all other ideas, it can be pursued to absurdity. The same with multiculturalism. Melanie Phillips spoke about the problem of multiculturalism.
Many people think multiculturalism just means showing respect and tolerance to other cultures and faiths. If that were so, it should be unarguable. We should all support respect and tolerance. But that’s not what multiculturalism is at all. It holds that all minority values must have equal status to those of the majority. Any attempt to uphold majority values over minorities is a form of prejudice. That turns minorities into a cultural battering ram to destroy the very idea of being a majority culture at all.
The end result of multiculturalism is the Balkanization of a society. Pluralism, on the other hand, does not. Pluralism is based on a value system that we all hold in common. Multiculturalism is based on the lowest common denominator of values in a society.
Back to Melanie Phillips.
Pluralism allows for many different groupings but, unlike multiculturalism, does not try to impose one uniform status on all of them. It allows a thousand flowers to bloom, with minorities forming communities of faith, ethnicity or culture within a society — but under the overarching umbrella of a national identity to whose core values everyone signs up. It is only by having that overarching set of common values — monogamy, freedom of conscience, equal rights for women, freedom of expression — that a society coheres as a common project.
Now, the USA and Australia have a leg up on pluralism on Europe. Why? Because of the way both countries were founded. When you come to America as an ethnic group you are immediately accepted as being an American. Same with Australia. But when you immigrate to a European country, you are not given the citizenship of European and you are definitely not a Frenchman, German, Dutchman, etc. etc.
Tolerance is the main argument of multiculturalism and those who hold that view hold up America as a prime example of tolerance. But tolerance can go too far. A new book by Amy Chua entitled “Day of Empire – How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance — and Why They Fall” takes on this concept toleranceas it applies to what she calls hyperpowers.
Every “hyperpower” in history, she writes, has been “at least by the standards of its time, extraordinarily pluralistic and tolerant during its rise to preeminence.” Imperial Rome and Britain, China’s Tang Dynasty, Achaemenid Persia, the United States — in the rise to preeminence, each was more accepting of racial, ethnic and religious difference than the competing powers of its age.
But there are limits to the positive contribution of tolerance.
At some point, strategic tolerance reaches a limit and “sow[s] the seeds of decline,” setting off a cycle of “conflict, hatred, and violence.” That ominous note is especially evident in Chua’s discussion of the U.S. She fears we may be approaching the point at which tolerant rise gives way to intolerant fall.
And where pray tell is the conflict, hatred, and violence coming from. I don’t have to tell you. Just look at the today’s headlines, but the main source is the end result of political correctness and multiculturalism that has replaced pluralism as the tolerant force in our society.
We need to recognize that pluralism is distinctly different from multiculturalism. One is based on strong, positive values. The other is based on appeasing everyone with a lowest common denominator approach. It must stop if we are to preserve the last best hope for this world.