10 February 2007

Making Sense of Multiculturalism and Assimilation

I have heard much about multiculturalism and I am going to discuss it now. Someone once asked me what my "stance" on the issue was, and I have no stance. Many make the argument that multiculturalism does not work, but through logical analysis I have found that multiculturlism seems inevitable and monoculturalism (the opposite of multiculturalism) seems impossible to implement in practice. Most people, when they think of multiculturalism, have certain images in their heads, but it's important not to let appearances deceive you and to go through the logic step by step, starting with the definitions and then moving on to the theorems.

First we'll define what multiculturalism is. The prefix multi- means many or multiple. Culture is just culture. Therefore, multiculturalism means multiple cultures or many cultures. The idea is that the government allows many cultures to exists. Monoculturalism means that the government allows only one culture, a standard culture. In order to establish monoculture, the government need to intervene because naturally people are multiculturalism (this will be explained soon). If the government takes a hands-off or laissez faire approach then you have the multiculturalism. However, the government can also intervene into the population not to create one culture but to create more cultures. This I will define as interventionist multiculturalism instead of laissez faire multiculturalism.

Defining the multi- prefix is not enough. What does the word "culture" mean? Let culture be defined as the set of characteristics or the common characteristics that a group of people have. In the world there are many individuals. Each individual has characteristics, e.g. hair color, eye color, height, religion, occupation, blood type, what car they drive, etc. This means that culture is not just defined in terms of nationality (e.g. French culture and Spanish culture) but also income (working class culture), gender (boy culture or girl culture), sexual orientation (homosexual culture), and every single other variable known.

What is the problem with multiculturalism? Those who argue against multiculturalism commonly use the argument that there will be conflict between different cultures. The answer then is to switch all different cultures into one standard culture to create a monoculture. This is assimilation. For example, there are heterosexuals and there are homosexuals. Many heterosexuals are offended by homosexuals and there does exist hatred of homosexuals in many areas. If all homosexuals were converted to heterosexuals then since there are no more homosexuals to hate then there will be no more hate.

Naturally when people are free to form their own ideas about sexuality then two groups are estbalished based on individual preferences. Homosexuals and heterosexuals emerge. This is laissez faire multiculturalism. Government has not intervened and many cultures (in this case two) have appeared. Suppose homosexuals make up 30 per cent of the population. If the government believed in interventionist multiculturalism then it may intervene and try to increase homosexual numbers or maybe it will try to introduce more culture, e.g. bisexual cultures, bestiality cultures, and so forth. If the government believed the assimilation was good then the government would choose one standard culture and force everyone to conform to that culture.

This argument seems simple at the moment. Government will probably select the majority culture (heterosexuality) and require that all people conform to that culture. However, even if there is convergence in culture in terms of sexuality, there may be multiculturalism in other areas, e.g. income, gender, religion, etc. Even if you force all gay people to become straight, you will still have diversity because you haven't done anything about income, gender, or religion. The working class are still in conflict with the middle class and ruling class. Females are still in conflict with males. Christians are still in conflict with Atheists. Multiculturalism still exists. So if the government truly believed that assimilation of cultures is necessary to prevent cultural conflict then the government need to standardize all cultures. It needs to declare, e.g. that the correct sexuality is heterosexuality, the correct income is working class (aka communism), the correct gender is female and all males need to have sex chances, and the correct religion is Scientology. After full assimilation, everyone will be the same in every way. We will all drive the same car, we will all have the same color house, we will all have the same religion, and have the same income. This is the logical consequence of assimilation, and for many people I have spoken to it is just absurd. I have just shown why assimilation is absurb using reductio ad absurdum.

To me, multiculturalism is an issue of free trade. It is an issue of communism versus capitalism. Many people might find this bizarre but I don't think it is. If the government believes in laissez faire multiculturalism then it is capitalist because it allows the private sector to produce culture. If the government is assimilationist or interventionist multiculturalist then it is communist because it believes in central planning of culture. In a laissez faire multiculturalist population, individual are free to trade cultures, e.g. you exercise the right to choose to walk (or not to walk) into a gay sex shop or a Japanese restaurant.

Laissez faire multiculturalism taken to the extreme is anarchy. If people are able to to express whatever they want then they may kill each other. All governments therefore have some assimilation. Individuals must assimilate to the law and in most areas these are made to assimilate people to a culture of order and stability and to protect liberties. Many people make a distinction between the important things that need to be assimilated (e.g. violent culture versus non-violent culture) and the more trivial things that they argue can remain multicultural (e.g. Japanese food versus French food). But how to be distinguish between those things that are important and not? We all know that many people are offended simply by looking at something they don't like. E.g. many Christians and Muslims are offended simply by looking at a woman naked. One answer given by Libertarians is that the important things that need to be assimilated are those things that involve violence or aggression, those things that harm other people. Everything else that doesn't harm people are to remain multicultural, e.g. sexual orientation, food preference, etc.

04 February 2007

What is the Secret?

I watched The Secret on TV a few moments ago, and I must say I am quite disappointed. They say that this secret was kept by all the great thinkers and philosphers like Newton and Einstein, that the Catholic Church knew the secret and it gave them greater power and that they tried to stop the secret from getting out to the people. I thought the secret was going to be something like "There is no morality," but the secret turns out to just be a simple rehash of positive psychology, i.e. think positive thoughts and conceive and you will believe. All that stuff. I've already read this in Neapolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich.

What I don't like was how they were going on about how simply thinking positive readiates some sort of energy that affects the whole university around you and the university responds to this. If you are happy and other people see this then they may be happy as well. That is true. But this program suggests that non-living objects like tables will respond to your positivity! As if!

Am I a positive thinker? Well, I am in that I do avoid looking at things I don't like. For example, if you see something horrendous like an heated argument among co-workers over political or religous issues, then I'd rather just ignore it. But otherwise I do not try to brush away negative things because negative things make up reality and negative things are often important. For example, if you were shopping for a used car and the salesman says to you, "There's nothing wrong with this car," then you have a choice betwen being negative or cynical and thinking, "Hmm, what if this guy is lying? I ought to check the car out" or being positive and thinking, "Yeah, I trust this used-car salesman." Simply trusting the used-car salesman is a case of positive thinking. You are ignoring the negative thoughts. But when shopping for a car it is damn important to think about negative things like whether the engine actually works!