The idea of the equality of cultures (as opposed to the equality of human beings) denies one of the critical features of human life and human history: our capacity for social, moral and technological progress. What distinguishes humans from other creatures is capacity for innovation and transformation, for making ideas and artefacts that are not simply different but also often better, than those of a previous generation or another culture. It is no coincidence that the modern world has been shaped by the ideas and technologies that have emerged from Renaissance and Enlightenment. The scientific method, democratic politics, the concept of universal values - these are palpably better concepts than those that existed previously. Not because Europeans are a superior people, but because many of the idea and philosophies that came out of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment are superior.
Clearly no human can live outside of culture. But to say this is not to say they have to live inside a particular one. To view humans as culture-bearing is to view them as social beings, and hence as transformative beings. It suggests that humans have the capacity for change, for progress, and for the creation of universal moral and political forms through reason and dialogue.
Multiculturalism In India Free Essays
Many multiculturalists argue not simply that cultural values are incommensurate, but that also that different cultures should be treated equal respect. The American scholar Iris Young, for instance, writes that 'groups cannot be socially equal unless their specific, experience, culture and social contributions are publicly affirmed and recognised.'
Language & Multiculturalism
To view humans as having to bear specific cultures is, on the contrary, to deny such a capacity for transformation. It suggests that every human being is so shaped by a particular culture that to change or undermine that culture would be to undermine the very dignity of that individual. It suggests that the biological fact of, say, Bangladeshi ancestry somehow make a human being incapable of living well except as a participant of Bangladeshi culture. The idea of culture once connoted all that freed humans from the blind weight of tradition, has now, in the hands of multiculturalists, become identified with that very burden.
Multiculturalism is a controversial issue in America
Not only is the demand for the 'recognition' the product of political pessimism, it has also become a potential means of implementing deeply authoritarian policies. Consider, for instance, Tariq Modood's distinction between what he calls the 'equality of individualism' and the 'equality encompassing public ethnicity: equality as not having to hide or apologise for one's origins, family or community, but requiring others to show respect for them, and adapt public attitudes and arrangements so that the heritage they represent is encouraged rather than contemptuously expect them to wither away.'
Multiculturalism is the product of political defeat.
The irony of multiculturalism is that, as a political process, it undermines what is valuable about cultural diversity. Diversity is important, not in and of itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, and make judgements upon them. In other words, because it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help create more universal values and beliefs, and a collective language of citizenship. But it is precisely such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgements, that contemporary multiculturalism attempts to suppress in the name of 'tolerance' and 'respect'.