Sometimes you need to dance with some one else
Posted by aogWednesday, 27 April 2005 at 20:09 TrackBack Ping URL

Brothers Judd cites an article on the impending breakup between liberalism and multi-culturalism. All I can say is, I’m stunned that it’s taken so long or that anyone is surprised by this. While the article touches on some basic conflicts, it misses the slightly larger picture. In terms of basic values,

  • Liberalism is universal
  • Multi-culturalism is local

That’s the incompatibility right there. All else is derivative of this. Once you accept the tenets of multi-culturalism, you have surrended any basis for insisting on any conformance to any common principles1.

The first faction of liberalism to get hit by this was feminism. That’s because the adoption of multi-culturalism meant giving up principles such as gender equality. This concern was dismissed out of hand early on but came back with a vengeance with regard to female circumcision.

One attempted solution (although adopted for other reasons as well) was the notion of group rights. This allows liberal principles to be applied to groups as a whole instead of individually. I always wondered why we didn’t see more of local subcultures attacking feminist principles on this basis, that it was their “cultural” that ordained how women were treated and how could anyone else dare to claim that culture was inferior or wrong? But that didn’t seem to happen. Somehow groups entitled to their own cultural was limited a set of politically correct groups.

But this (as we say in progamming) just “swished the dirt around”. The essential contradiction remained, just buried a little deeper. The flaw here was the group rights, as used, effectively adopted the racist viewpoint that liberals had fought against. It was unable to cope with members of designated groups who didn’t adopt the standard goup viewpoint2.

Now we have the final compromise, the remaining forces of the Modern American Left joining up with factions and ideologies that are not just incompatible but openly hostile to their professed ideals (the key moment being the attack on George Galloway for exhorting his target faction to vote).

The question that will serve as an endless debating point for future historians will not be why this conflict evolved in this way (it was inevitable) but why the liberals clung to multi-culturalism for so long when it was so obviously incompatible.


1 Indeed, one is left wondering whether multi-culturalism doesn’t have this conflict all by itself. Isn’t multi-culturalism, the acceptance of the morality and equivalence of all cultures, itself a universal principle? What can a multi-culti do against a culture that rejects that principle of equivalence? On the other hand, if that’s a universal, why not others, such as those of liberalism? The Objectivists, at least, had an answer for this issue.

2 Could this be part of the reason that so many liberals insist on gangsta culture being the authentic African-American culture? Not only does this model require a monoculture for the group, it also requires that monoculture be distinct from the majoritarian culture, otherwise the entire edifice of distinct groups collapses.