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Multiculturalism in a time of crisis

Is there a future for multiculturalism? Certainly not within conservatism. However, for other visions which postulate a horizontal and democratic society of coexistence and dialogue between diverse groups of people which contribute towards a common goal, multiculturalism could be an answer for the current crisis.

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El multiculturalismo 1Claudio Chipana*

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In the current crisis which is affecting the industrialised world and Europe in particular with high levels of unemployment and a recession (which is currently affecting each of the countries in the Eurozone to a stronger or lesser degree) there are other crises which have survived and which are expressed through xenophobia and islamophobia and through the rejection of  doctrines such as multiculturalism.

In other words, we are facing what we could call a crisis of European Identity running parallel to the economic crisis.

El multiculturalismo 8Political parties make the most of the situation and present themselves as defenders of jobs for the British and they give pessimistic prognoses about a supposed Islamisation of Great Britain and the rest of Europe. There is a panicked opposition to the burqa and the mosques that the media has taken charge of fuelling.

In the United Kingdom the main political parties, starting with the coalition government have begun to feel the impact of the rise in the opinion polls of UKIP, a political party of clear anti-European and anti-immigrant stance.

At the same time, it is nothing unusual that during a recession benefit cuts and the gradual dismantling of the National Health Service be met with a major offensive against the proposals and the proposals of multiculturalism.

El multiculturalismo 7The paradox of the case is that faced with a crisis situation, multiculturalism, instead of being viewed as a key element for the reactivation of productivity by the valuable asset of labour in the form of the immigrants, it is seen instead as an obstacle.

Neither the attacks on the National Health Service, nor the attacks on multiculturalism can help bring us out of this crisis. It is not a secret from anyone that immigrants play an enormous role in the labour force in the European economy, just the same as during the reconstruction after the Second World War.

Of course, in the logic of the great capital and the governing elite, the labour force counts the least. Salaries must lose their value faced with the advantages to the big banks with financial bail outs recommended by Troika.

El multiculturalismo 2The welfare system has been sacrificed the most; therefore the working class and the most vulnerable sectors of society such as immigrants have been most affected. The latter have become scapegoats of the crisis.

The anti-immigrant feeling has been created by the false image of immigrants who take advantage of the benefit system and who get good housing and jobs. This has been the best way that the conservative and ultra nationalist political  parties have found to appeal to the voters concerning this topic.

El multiculturalismo 3From this perspective, it does not take much to understand why multiculturalism should be done away with, under the leadership of these parties, “State Multiculturalism” has been unsuccessful, as it only drives society towards segregation and radical Islam.

As multiculturalism has been unsuccessful, then immigration is not the solution, the minorities should integrate themselves instead of doing everything they can to preserve their own identities and consequently immigration controls should be adjusted.  This the way critics of multiculturalism think.

These political positions have shown a particular hardness against the Muslim minority.

El multiculturalismo 12For European conservatives, national identities are at risk. Their motto is assimilate into society or you will not be a part of it.

Does multiculturalism have a future? Certainly not for conservatism, but for other visions which postulate a horizontal and democratic society of coexistence and dialogue between the diverse identities which contribute towards a common goal, multiculturalism could be an answer to the current crisis.

*Philosopher and political critic.

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(Translated by Frances Singer – francessingerriveros@hotmail.com)

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