February 25, 2011
Monoculturalism is Dead: Multiculturalism has Yet to Come
Claus Leggewie in Eurozine:
Daniel Cohn-Bendit once said that he knew the '68 movement in Germany had won by a comment from a conservative colleague: "It doesn't work with the Muslims, they harass their women." We've been hearing for years that multiculturalism has failed, and now the German chancellor – who, incidentally, could only become chancellor because '68 and '89 did work – has added her voice to the chorus. Gender equality a success, integration of immigrants a failure?
Despite the flak it's coming in for at the moment, multiculturalism lives and will prevail. As the one to import the term "Multikulti" to Germany (I titled a book after Don Cherry's eponymous band in 1990), allow me to explain not only what Cohn-Bendit, but also liberal conservatives like Heiner Geissler, meant by it. Not, namely, as Angela Merkel recently put it, in front of an audience of cheering young Christian Democrats: "Now we'll do a bit of multikulti and live side-by-side and everyone's happy." Anyone who has read the original arguments and the numerous subsequent studies knows that multiculturalism was not demanding arbitrariness or the Sharia, but rather the republican integration of diversity.
That included abandoning an utterly antiquated law on nationality, adopting forwards-looking social and employment policy, guaranteeing religious freedom as stipulated in the constitution, and a whole range of educational initiatives. The problems today indicated by terms such as "parallel society" and "schooling failure" were predicted by the advocates of multiculturalism pretty exactly. It was they who were the realists.
Posted by Robin Varghese at 03:23 PM | Permalink