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Multiculturalism present and future (II)

Multiculturalism cannot move forwards if the State renounces the implementation of migrant community inclusion measures in services such as education and housing, or if the State abandons its role to encourage minority integration out of respect to its ethnic identity.

Claudio Chipana


What are the reasons or factors behind attacks on multiculturalism? By way of an hypothesis we can highlight: 1) The offensive against the Welfare State 2) The political use of immigration  as a political weapon 3) The association of Islamism to issues  of “national security”, 4) The capitalist crisis and the resulting recession and unemployment ,5) Institutionalised racism, 6) Myths about multiculturalism.

These reasons also form obstacles towards the application of multiculturalism. For example, multiculturalism cannot move forwards if the State renounces the implementation of migrant community inclusion measures and access to services, or if the State abandons its role to promote minority integration out of respect to its ethnic identity.

There has been a tendency to justify the rejection of multiculturalism by associating it with threats to national unity and British values.

However, to try to link the fight against terrorist extremism to multiculturalism – like Cameron in his speech from 2011 -, is to confuse two aspects that have no bearing on cause and effect.

The activities of radical Islamist groups correspond to motives that are far removed from the practices and needs of ethnic minorities in the UK.

The instigators of the 7/7 attack of 2005 in London were young Britons completely “integrated” into British society.

They were not “non-integrated” people because of a lack of English or having been influenced by multiculturalism. The terrorist attacks are explained by external causes, through the action of fundamentalist politically motivated groups and the Western intervention in the Middle East.

Multiculturalism has as a central theme the role and placing of immigrant minorities in society and national culture; that is the reason way the rejection of multiculturalism has been dressed up as anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Forty-five years ago the Tory MP Enoch Powell predicted the advent of “rivers of blood” as a result of immigration. Now the tabloid press is already speculating on a Bulgarian and Romanian invasion in 2014.

However, immigration has not resulted in “rivers of blood” and nor has multiculturalism resulted in ghettos or communities that refuse to integrate.

The 2001 disturbances in the north of England or the events of August 2011 in Tottenham, London, and other cities have – as it is stated in some reports– as direct causes unemployment, a lack of opportunities, and marginalisation especially of the young.

The 2011 national census shows an increasingly multicultural country. London for the first time has a population largely composed of ethnic minorities.

If in the past the government promoted multiculturalism, as happened under the Harold Wilson Labour government of the 1960s and later under the Ken Livingston GLA [Greater London Authority], it is now however declared as failed.

To talk of the failure of “State multiculturalism” can only be interpreted as an expression of neo-liberal discourse of the minimalism of the State and the rejection by the State to implement multicultural policies. If the Welfare State is considered an unnecessary task that will also logically apply to multicultural policies.

Anti-multicultural discourse, on the other hand, must be seen as what Kymlicka refers to as “master narratives” that distort the reality and practice of multiculturalism.

As far as Kymlicka is concerned, there are several myths about multiculturalism such as for example its characterisation as a mere “celebration of diversity” setting aside “serious social problems such as unemployment and social marginalisation”. (Will Kymlicka, “Multiculturalism: success, failure, and the future”, Queen University, Feb 2012).

Has multiculturalism failed? What future does multiculturalism present in the UK.  (To be continued…)

(Translated by Claire Donneky – Email: – Photos: Pixabay


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