Sunday, April 15, 2018

Multiculturalism - A mixed success

The BBC has reproduced Enoch Powell's speech on race, commonly known as the "Rivers of Blood' speech. At the time 74% of the British population agreed with Powell. 

Today, 40% feel his warning has proved well-founded – compared to 41% of respondents who believe Powell’s gloomy view of race relations was wrong.

A narrow majority of 51% worried that immigration was increasing the pressure on hospitals and schools. More than one-third of all respondents see Islam as a threat to the British way of life, fractionally more than the proportion who view the Muslim faith and the British way of life as compatible.

The vast majority of respondents – 81% – said they felt happy in their communities. 

A majority of people – 59% – believe that having a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds is part of British culture, a proportion that has steadily increased since Hope Not Hate first posed the question in 2011, when 49% of people agreed with the statement.

Almost one-third of people said that they or a family member has been in relationship with someone of a different ethnicity to themselves.

The presence of a range of cultures in Britain or anywhere else is now the norm. There’s nothing wrong with that. A diversity of languages, festivals, music and food is something to be welcomed and enjoyed. But the other kind of multiculturalism – that which advocates liberal, state-led policies for encouraging and supporting cultural differences at the expense of working-class unity.  It is something to be opposed as much as the alternative policy pursued by some states of inculcating a single “national identity”. Workers should be encouraged to think of themselves as members of a worldwide class with a common interest, not as members of different “nations” or different “ethnic” or “cultural” groups with their own different, competing interests. The Socialist Party understands that working class people of all cultures need to come together as equals to fight for issues that unite them as a class. And that’s the only way we’ll ever achieve a society where we can work together for things that unite us all as human beings, regardless of skin colour, religious beliefs, cultural or national origin, or individual difference.

The prevailing opinion amongst those in charge of the British state had been to make a virtue of necessity and pursue a policy of “multiculturalism”. It didn't entirely work. In fact, it has encouraged division, by getting people to identify with their “culture” rather than with the British “nation”. The Socialist Party also views “multiculturalism” as divisive but for the different reason in that it gets workers to identify with some other group over and above their class. Now a new policy is underway with more stress placed upon “assimilationism”.
Many other groups who claim to be 'socialist' do not see ‘multiculturalism’ from a socialist angle, which views it a divisive because it forces the working class to identify with other groups against their class interests.  Instead of building a community of ideas, many left-wing groups find existing groups and try and use them as a basis for building their support. Instead of appealing to them as workers, they appeal to them according to their prejudices, appeasing their misidentification of themselves with their ideas rather than with their way of life. Class requires people to examine how they live, not how they feel.

 You don't win many friends by disagreeing with people. But you don't change their minds by agreeing with them

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