Friday, December 07, 2012

Cultural values, multiculturalism

Kind of an abstraction or extension of the below post. I need to contextualize this quite a bit. I like multiculturalism, and my belief is that the values of the West can form a good contribution to it. In Europe, when you start to talk about cultural values like this, you're almost sure to be drawn into this false debate about immigration versus European culture, with everything that goes along with it. I don't see things that way. There's no potential "Death of the West" on the horizon, Muslim migrants to France or elsewhere aren't going to destroy European culture.

What I do think, however, is that in the discussions about multiculturalism it's important not to leave the culture of the West itself out, or to suggest that every group under the sun is entitled to emphasize their own cultural traditions, while folks who come from a Western background aren't allowed to do so....because of perceived flaws in the culture. I see colonialism and imperialism as the result not of an inherent flaw in Western culture but the result of greed projected onto the world scale. There may have been some issues regarding the Protestant worldview, that particularly messed up, and continue to mess up, things in the United States and in the areas of the world colonized by the UK, but the Catholic countries of France and Spain did quite a bit of damage themselves. The source of what happened was the profit motive, not a core deficiency in the basic cultural fabric of the West itself.

Because of this, Western culture is redeemable, so to speak, provided that it recognizes itself as one part of many, or a part that's not in necessary opposition to all other cultural blocs. Folks in European countries can, of course, control how much immigration they choose to allow, but whether they allow lots or not that much, I don't feel that they're in any danger of being compromised or destroyed.

On immigration, the United States is a different matter entirely, because it was founded on immigration, and not only that but quite a few of the immigrants coming in, say from Mexico, are partially indigenous---they're more native than most European people to this continent.

In the abstract, Western traditions in the U.S. should self consciously form a part of the multi-cultural fabric of the United States, however, at this point in time the immigration question itself is so sensitive that it's hard to see how this could be promoted without feeding into nativist racism. Perhaps when immigration from Mexico and multi-culturalism as a whole have been more fully absorbed the promotion of Western values as part of our multi-cultural framework would be more appropriate.

Yet, on a personal, as opposed to on a social level, there's no reason why that should not be the case.

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