State monoculturalism and diversity

Amidst claims that his speech is an attack on Islam David Cameron has attempted to defend his Munich speech by saying that terrorism is not exclusive to Islam.

It’s vital we make this distinction between the religion and the political ideology.

He might say that, but the full content of the speech suggests otherwise. His theory is that multiculturalism breeds terrorism in the UK. He attempts to build an argument to justify this theory which goes something like this: young Muslims feel isolated and un-rooted because of the Muslim community’s apparent self imposed isolation from the rest of society. This isolation, Cameron claims, is multiculturalism which he maintains has bred terrorism. He’s wrong.

Multiculturalism has always been a part of the fabric of our society. Just think of the various communities that grew in Wales during the height of the industrial revolution, English, Scottish, Cornish, Jewish, Romany, Irish, Chinese, Somali, Italian, and Polish. These varied cultures have enriched Welsh life and contributed to modern Wales. Our songs, dance, languages, sport, have all been influenced by  these cultures. Or look at the growth of London with its various communities.

Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.

Where does this leave Wales and Welsh culture in relation to the British State? Is encouraging Welsh culture part of a state multiculturalism doctrine separate from the English mainstream? Where does it leave the Romany who live largely independent from the UK ‘mainstream’?

It is clear that ‘multiculturalism’ has nothing to do with terrorism.

To my mind the speech shows the duality of Cameron’s politics, and ironically the very root of the terrorism that he says he wants to tackle.

Cameron and his Conservatives loathe diversity. They can’t understand it. In their neo-imperial mind-set they cannot fathom why people should want to be different from them. Their aim, much like their Victorian forebears, is to shape society to their understanding. Though Cameron claims to support the devolution of power to the most local level possible  he’ll not let go of power unless it is exercised in the way that he wants it to be exercised, and he cannot control this unless he can influence and understand those that would exercise that power. Anything different is deemed as a threat to his vision of a homogeneous British society, an imaginary sepia society (which probably looks like a cross between Jane Austen’s Pride and Pred and the Hovis Advert), but is nevertheless very real in the collective memory of Cameron and his ilk.

Various semi-independent communities live side-by-side in a more-or-less peaceful co-existence across the globe. However it is also the case that cultures live cheek by jowl in  what seems to be perpetual war. What’s the difference? Respect and equality.

Cameron’s attack on multiculturalism is part of that neo-imperialism. He attacks something which he doesn’t understand nor respect. Though he doesn’t say so in as many words his thinking implies that he considers other cultures inferior and less equal to that of his own.

It is not multiculturalism that’s the problem but the converse, monoculturalism, an uniformed existence which is the very thing that Cameron and neo-imperialists like him strive for and why many feel threatend.

That is what is at the root of the so many of the terrorist attacks that we’ve seen curse imperial powers.

History shows that when an over-powerful culture, such as the virulent Anglo-American culture of today, threatens the existence of other cultures and peoples, then people react.

I’m no scientist but I know that every action has a re-action.

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5 thoughts on “State monoculturalism and diversity

  1. Don’t want to sound negative, but:

    “Just think of the various communities that grew in Wales during the height of the industrial revolution, English, Scottish, Cornish, Jewish, Romany, Irish, Chinese, Somali, Italian, and Polish. These varied cultures have enriched Welsh life and contributed to modern Wales”

    … but they didn’t, by and large ‘enrich’ Welsh language culture.

    The Irish immigration was one of the biggest events and reasons in turning Wales into an English-speaking country. That was partly because the Irish either refused to integrate into Welsh (speaking) working class communities – their catholicism kept them apart – or, the Welsh (speakers) couldn’t/wouldn’t integrate the Irish as a community. Though there are numerous examples of Irish who did learn Welsh, as a community they didn’t. This is also true of the English, Poles, Scots etc. In fact, the one modern community which did ‘enrich’ Welsh language culture were the much-maligned Romany.

    I think things have changed somewhat but Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Mon are turning into English speaking countries. There is of course a cultural benefit to this (events held in those area) but those cultural benefits are now in English and not in Welsh.

    The movement of people does have profound effects.

    In Wales the prime cultural process of the movement of people into the country has been to turn Wales from a Welsh-speaking nation, to an English-speaking one. A nation where you can be Welsh but not speak Welsh, but can’t be Welsh but not speak English.

    Unlike the situation in England (UKland) where the immigrants have all changed their language by the second or third generation (including the Welsh – England’s biggest linguistic minority for centuries) the same isn’t true in Wales. The situation was the reverse. Rather than the people who moved into the country which changed their language, in Wales it was indigenous people who changed their language.

    Can we be honest about this and not give the auto-pilot reaction to Cameron’s speech? I don’t agree with everything he says, in fact, from a Welsh language nationalist point of view, I don’t see a problem. I’d be over the moon if all these people from the four corners of the globe came to Wales and all spoke Welsh (as they all move to England and speak English). But there are issues around multi-culuralism which need to be discussed and addressed.

  2. “Unlike the situation in England (UKland) where the immigrants have all changed their language by the second or third generation (including the Welsh – England’s biggest linguistic minority for centuries) the same isn’t true in Wales.”

    In South Wales immigrants did assimilate and it was a two-way process. My great-grandparents were English but my grandmother thought of herself as Welsh, she has a strong accent and her vocabulary is peppered with Welsh words i.e Wenglish. This is/was the real day-to-day language of the Welsh working class – North & South. I’m all for promoting Cymraeg but a bit of ‘ware teg for Welsh English.

    In our day to day lives we are bombared with BBC-style RP English and S4C style Cymraeg ‘crach’. It is fine to be British or Cymraeg but why is the Welsh identity of the area once known as ‘American Wales’ so neglected and discriminated against?

  3. Macsen’s argument is correct and lucid. British-style “multiculturalism” has been a driving force for bullying people to accept Anglicisation. There can be a Welsh multiculturalism of course but only if migrants to Welsh-speaking Wales learn Welsh, and those to English-speaking Wales respect the rights of Welsh speakers.

  4. Did you see the recent BBC Wales video on multiculturalism?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-12442850

    All the Welsh people interviewed were both positive about multiculturalism, and about their own Welshness – when asked they explicitly rejected the suggestion that they were British.

    This would seem to disprove the stereotype that Britishness embraces diversity whilst Welshness is narrow and exclusive.

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