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Multiculturalism versus Monoculturalism

October 20, 2009

Multiculturalism versus Monoculturalism

The beginning of the end any culture starts when it tries to preserve itself as a static entity. It is like trying to preserve a strict understanding of your own personality throughout your life despite any experiences and the aging process. Young children may have the same personality traits that they carry throughout their life but the personality of a five year old is not that of an 80 year old. Traits are not the whole the picture in any dynamic system. Nor are traits the entire story of a culture and to believe so makes culture a very narrow and dead item.

We often hear of people who would like nothing more than to bury the notion of multiculturalism in order to preserve the existing culture. This can be demonstrated by the way that John Howard refuses to refer to Australia as a multicultural society; to the removal of any reference to multiculturalism form all federal government documents; to the way integration has been used as the new catch cry. The only alternative to multiculturalism is integration into monoculturalism and it is concept that is both unachievable and self destructive. It is unachievable because no where on Earth does it exist and it is self destructive because it can only ever exist under absolute totalitarianism.

When we look at examples of where monoculturalism has been a government policy it is never encouraging. We have China’s Cultural Revolution that saw the entire nation wearing the uncomfortable grey Mao suits and the virtual destruction of historical icons; we have Nazi Germany that exploited cultural icons to promote the concept of a master race; and we have the White Australia Policy that imploded in the face of historical and social realities. Each of these was an example of extreme attitudes born from the mistaken attitude that culture can be strictly defined and controlled.

Social engineers may hang on to the dream that they can control culture but all they do create is cultural anomalies and oddities that eventually fall outside the mainstream of society. How many people yearn for the old gray Mao suit that buttons up to the neck? It symbolizes conformity and mindless obedience more that it does unity and fraternity. On a smaller scale some people have migrated to Australia twenty years ago find that the old country is not the old country any more. The image was preserved in their heads but the home country was evolving. I have heard this complaint from people who have returned to places like Malta, England and Greece etc. They lament that the old country is now just like their new country. Cultures are alive because they are made up of people who contribute to it all the time. Television, radio and even the printing press have all dragged cultures in unexpected directions. It is hard to deny this when you have groups of people pronouncing ‘Zebra’ as ‘Zeeebra’ because that is how Sesame Street says it. Pretending that they do not change will not make a difference.

We have a problem with terminology and expression that confuses reality with image. Integration has a very vague definition when it comes to migrants. How do we test if someone is integrated or not? Is in the clothes they wear; the food they eat or the laws they keep. Just following the fashion of the day is no measure of integration as it changes from year to year. A walk down any city road will show the variety of national food restaurants and how they have influence the wider communities tastes. Aussie Pizza anyone? Crime is not a real measure as the figures on crime consistently indicate lower crime levels amongst migrant groups. This was just a true when the Vietnamese refugees came as to when to when the Sudanese refugees came.

So this leaves us with the problem of what is the culture and what is not. By creating the definition the culture ceases to be dynamic and is effectively sterilized. It becomes a frozen view of a point in history that only exists in mythology. Australian’s who yearn for the good old days where everyone was friends are ignoring the reality of history. Were people all friends at the time? The bitter fights over the Gold fields that set the stage for the White Australia Policy cannot be ignored. Nor can the discrimination where business owner would display Job Vacancies with the sign ‘No Irish Need Apply.’ It was only a short time ago when the term ‘Wogs’ was a condemnation for every European Migrant coming to Australia. Integration was indeed difficult in the past but it did not have to be.

Multiculturalism, whether it has political support or not, is the reality of modern Australia. It is a statement of fact and cannot be suppressed, except in the minds of a few xenophobes and ideologues that see it as a destructive ideology. This view is a false one and ironically only creates another subculture of monoculturalists. To blame all the problems of the world upon multiculturalism is to blame the sun for shining and the Earth for existing. Social problems exist regardless of whether people have different backgrounds or not. Social problems are only made worse when people are expected to conform to an artificial standard then punished for not doing so. Sometimes these tests are inane as the kind of food you eat and sometimes as sinister as the colour of the skin. Clothes, religion and race are poor measures for creating exclusions as they each have the baggage of negative prejudices associated with them. This merely creates an ‘Us’ verses ‘Them’ society where minorities have no place.

Anyone can hope for the ‘Good old Days’ to come back but even back then people were hoping for the ‘Good Old Days’ even further back in time. How far do we need to go back to find the true Australia? Federation, First Fleet or as far back as the Garden of Eden? It is all nonsense as Australia was multicultural from the time of human settlement 40,000 years ago and will continue to be into the future. There will never be a time in the future of any country where everyone is the same and if there was would it really be worth living in?


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