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Is Multi-culturalism an anti-concept? If so, what legitimate term does it displace?

asked Jan 08 '11 at 15:53

c_andrew's gravatar image

c_andrew ♦

edited Mar 08 '12 at 08:18

Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Andrew Dalton ♦

Yes, Muliti-culturalism is an anti-concept. The term it seeks to displace is Cosmopolitan.

Multi-culturalism does this by obscuring three of its own aspects that are required to judge it as evil. First, as Jean-Francois Revel points out, Multi-culturalists assert that all cultures are morally equal except for Western (Enlightenment) Culture, which it denigrates as Evil.1,2 Secondly, it elevates Moral Tolerance to the status of a primary virtue which short circuits the evaluation of those "morally equal" cultures. Third, it assumes that Determinism, whether cultural, economic, racial, social, tribal or some melange of them, conditions the thoughts, character, actions and thus the life of the person. This third aspect is philosophically primary, but it is the one that the multiculturalists hope most to obfuscate, preferring to speak in pseudo-enlightenment terms like "Multicultural Individual" or "Open to Other Cultures," while pursuing a collectivist political agenda hostile to actual individuals and Western Culture.

Cosmopolitan refers to an individual who retains cultural roots in his or her country of origin, yet has adopted a wide taste for other cultures, and so lives both a "local" and "global" life. The term is derived from Greek cosmos, the global, and polis, the old Greek city-states (the local).

For those of us in the West this means retaining our cultural roots in the Enlightenment, Judging other cultures by appropriate standards and Choosing from among them the best they have to offer. Precisely the opposite of the program that Multi-culturalism proffers.

1"Whence comes this fierce hatred of the intellectuals for the least barbaric societies of human history, and this rage to destroy the only civilizations to date that have emphatically conferred a dominant role on intelligence?"

2 I originally used the term "Uniquely Evil," which succintly describes the Left's evaluation of Western Civilization. I have since discovered that White Supremacists and Bio-Ethic Conservatives have co-opted the phrase in their reaction to it; one person who rails against the Left's use of the term proposes an "Ethnic Basis for Individualism."

answered Jan 08 '11 at 15:59

c_andrew's gravatar image

c_andrew ♦

edited Nov 26 '11 at 14:17

My understanding is that tolerance refuses to suppress beliefs and views that are judged to be erroneous because it recognises that it is through the exercise of individual autonomy that greater clarity about the truth can be gained. In the end, everyone gains from toleration, since it is through exposure to conflicting views that society acquires certain insights and experiences an intellectual and moral flourishing.

Also who are those Bio-ethic conservatives you are talking about. I've never heard of them before.

(Jan 09 '11 at 05:49) Fareed Fareed's gravatar image

The concept that you are describing is Political Tolerance and is a limited civil virtue. Political Tolerance merely says that you have no right to initiate force or advocate the initiation of force against others. (Of course, it does not preclude retaliatory force or such advocacy against a person who has initiated force.) Moral Tolerance is the idea that you should not judge or that you should not evaluate the behaviour of others even if such behaviour impacts on you. It is another anti-concept that seeks to undercut judgement and to displace political tolerance.

(Jan 09 '11 at 11:33) c_andrew ♦ c_andrew's gravatar image

Bio-ethic conservatives use various evolutionary disciplines (such evolutionary psychology) to bolster "traditional family values" and are mainly collectivist although they usually call themselves communitarians. They use a different path (biological determinism) but share certain ideas with the racial determinists.

(Jan 09 '11 at 11:38) c_andrew ♦ c_andrew's gravatar image

In referring to Political Tolerance as a limited civil virtue, I am not denigrating its importance but defining its scope. The achievement of Political Tolerance was one of the key advances in human society that broke the power of the Church-State complex. There is a certain irony in the fact that one champion of tolerance, John Milton, was very intolerant during the reign of Cromwell whose political agenda he supported but preached tolerance after the Restoration. Was he hypocritical or merely left with a new appreciation of how bad repression is when he found himself on the other end of it?

(Jan 09 '11 at 12:09) c_andrew ♦ c_andrew's gravatar image

Just coming back to this question: what would be those appropriate standards?

(Jan 18 '11 at 00:19) Fareed Fareed's gravatar image

As is manifest in the historical context of "Political Tolerance," the legitimacy of the use of the term "tolerance" in politics is predicated on an IMPROPER deposit of political power. It mustn't be casually generalized outside that context.

(Jan 18 '11 at 00:27) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image
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I propose that the concept, "catholic"/"catholicism" is the proper one when "multiculturalism" is used in an innocent way. "Catholic" means "Universal or general, affecting mankind as a whole, or affecting what is universal in human interest. 2. Comprehensive in sympathies or understanding, liberal, as in "catholic" taste." Webster's Collegiate, Fifth Ed.

It is the virtue of catholicism that is being urged, I believe, those times the term multiculturalism is acceptably (if mis-guidedly) used. The concept catholic abstracts the norm of human affairs, the essence of humanism, from the specific, provincial dressing it appears in. It ignores everything that is different but insignificant between peoples and cultures. It does so without giving up the possibility of judging right from wrong.

The term, multiculturalism, implies that moral distinctions made in a context of cultural ones are thereby, automatically, irrational. It assumes that even reasonable men cannot abstract from the window-dressing of different lands and peoples to what is morally significant. We can't separate the wheat from the chaff, it posits. Notice that a specific complaint against a specific judgment could be argued. But the purpose of the coinage is to preclude such, (doomed) arguments.

The power of the term is that the fact of different cultures is obvious. The literal meaning of "multi"-"cultural" applies. This appears, to the uncritical, to validate the meaning of the statements which use the term. Their meaning, however, actually is that specifically moral differentiations are false.

(Logically, this also implies that there are no specifically moral judgments. There are only differences. All differences are cultural and incidental. Being acquainted with them, "understanding" them is urged in the place of evaluating them.)

We can, I suggest, urge that all nations strive for catholicity in their practices and policies, and we can defend our principles as being catholic as well as moral. We can claim that American political precepts achieve the ideal of catholicity. There is nothing the most innocent and well-intentioned use of the term "multicultural" can ask beyond what that term asserts.

answered Jan 13 '11 at 19:36

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Jan 13 '11 at 19:48

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Asked: Jan 08 '11 at 15:53

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Last updated: Mar 08 '12 at 08:18