Multiculturalism Equals Anticulturalism
Multiculturalism, a Newspeak fantasy initiated, predictably enough, in Canada, is a social theory that pretends to promote and defend all cultures, while in fact — and in true intention — diluting and neutering all cultures. It accomplishes this subterfuge by subordinating all cultures to the demands of a democratic egalitarian relativism which becomes, in effect, the new global super-culture, or, more accurately, anti-culture.
What, if anything, is a culture? Of what, in other words, is culture definitively comprised? Surely not of a regional cuisine, a quaint costume, a traditional folk dance, or even a unique language per se. Rather, if culture exists at all, it is in its essence a comprehensive way of seeing the world and living in it, a shared set of beliefs or presuppositions about what human life means, how a society ought to be structured, who counts as the highest or representative type of man or woman, and how children should be raised to feel, think, and dream. Insofar as culture is developmental or modifiable, its changes will always be prompted by changing views within the society as to what is best, or how reality is constituted. In other words, culture is necessarily a broad set of customs rooted in specific beliefs about the good and the true. To the extent that a culture is vital and thriving, its foundational beliefs remain firmly and broadly held, which is to say that the people in general continue to accept those beliefs as correct, and therefore to adhere to the way of life growing out of those beliefs as the best way to live — and not “the best way for us,” but rather the best way for humans as such. For no society has ever adopted, or will ever adopt, a comprehensive mode of existence on the basis of what is perceived by that society to be an arbitrary or random preference. They cling to their ways and raise their children in these ways because they believe these ways embody the truth.
From this it follows that any culture, to the extent it is still alive, engenders a certain feeling of superiority in its denizens, in the sense that they naturally believe they are living as nature prescribes, whereas other peoples are not, or at least not as fully. To the extent that two or more cultures remain alive, then, the inevitable result must be disagreement, chauvinism, and likely a certain degree of distrust, or at least disdain, between them. From the point of view of peaceful coexistence, the best one can hope for, when genuinely vital and distinct cultures interact, is that the inevitable conflicts and irreconcilabilities gradually begin to resolve themselves, through mutual interest, influence, and even attraction, into a new, unified culture that somehow brings together ideas from each without thereby directly annihilating the truth claims of either; that is, without one of them simply absorbing the other spiritually at the expense of a generation or more of rudderless living on the side that has completely lost faith in itself as a way of life. I say this is the best one can hope for, but in reality it may be more than one can reasonably hope for. In any case, it is certain that multiculturalism, while pretending to represent such a desirable detente among cultures, actually serves only to universalize the condition of rudderless living for the various peoples brought together geographically and then summarily divested of the vital power of their respective cultures, which is to say left adrift on a sea of nihilism, with nothing more substantial to cling to but abstractions about ethnicity, difference, identity, and of course “equal rights.”
Let us begin again, however, from a starting point not already knee-deep in late-modern presuppositions. For what mankind, since the Enlightenment, has come to dub “culture,” is nothing but what Plato, operating in a more rational world, described with perfect and evocative artistry as “the cave.” All of us are born and raised within one cave or another, bound to chairs facing the back wall upon which we are presented with a never-ending shadow play projected from behind us, which shadows we inevitably presume to be the real world. This shadow world is reality as understood by the vast majority of men, and must remain so for the society to function within itself — for a “culture” to be maintained. Education in the highest sense, of which only a minority of souls are capable, entails being unbound from one’s chair and slowly enticed to turn around and face the painful truth, i.e., to see the puppets being held up in front of the fire that projects the light and shadows onto the cave wall, and thereby to grasp, in defiance of all we had previously believed, that what we had accepted as reality was nothing but a myth existing at a distant remove from the true world outside the cave, which bears little resemblance to the shadows we have known.
The only way out of one’s cave, according to Plato, is philosophy, which means finding one’s way out of the intellectual limitations of “culture” in favor of higher realities — not in favor of adopting the ways of another culture, as though moving from a chair in one cave to a chair in another cave, where little or nothing is gained, but rather in favor of a glimpse of the sunlight above that belongs to no cave, and the knowledge of which necessarily leaves one somewhat unfit to live comfortably, or with much chance of social acceptance, within any cave (or culture).
Multiculturalism, by contrast, is the fantasy that distinct and essentially irreconcilable cultures can somehow continue to be living cultures, which is to say believable ways of life, while at the same time subordinating themselves to the premises of mutual respect and enjoyment that sap the vital energy out of every culture simultaneously — except, of course, the “culture,” if one may call it that, of relativism and non-judgmental (undiscriminating) democratic coexistence. In other words, multiculturalism seeks to reduce all cultures to nothing but that superficial amalgam of old costumes, regional dishes, and folk songs that was once merely the “local color” of various cultures, thereby depriving their adherents of any sense of an overarching meaning of life, or any precepts for determining truth and falsehood, good and evil.
In ultimate effect, in a multicultural society, as conceived by our post-Enlightenment progressives, no one is allowed to believe deeply in anything, except in the new universal truth that no one should believe deeply in anything. Nihilism, the complete undermining of all belief in a solid foundation of reality and human existence, becomes the necessary condition of something the progressives pass off as “peace and mutual understanding,” when in truth it is merely the indoctrinated relinquishing of all purpose and desire for life.
When people disagree about fundamentals, they might come to blows. Or they might, if their foundational beliefs are not utterly hostile to reason or to one another, try to live alongside one another with forbearance, perhaps even learning to see something intriguing and enriching in their neighbor’s alternative way of life. Such fascination with The Other, as our post-Hegelian theorists would call it, is a continual, if subtly woven, thread throughout history — from Alexander and Al-Farabi, to Desdemona and Ishmael, to W. S. Gilbert and Joseph Conrad. But if men are simply forced to sacrifice their fundamental beliefs outright to the artificial god of coexistence, then something like peace may be achieved, but only at the price of forging a community without souls, a neighborhood in which coexisting itself becomes the ultimate aim, and hence individual life becomes meaningless except insofar as each human may be judged in accordance with his successful self-subordination and negation of will in the name of the convenience of the collective, which thereby becomes the only truth.
Under multiculturalism — Enlightenment social theory in full bloom, or rather final rot — the solution to the sobering reality of Plato’s cave is merely to let every man imagine the shadows on the wall in any way he likes, but only on the condition that he never ask to be unbound from his chair so as to turn around and see who is holding the puppets before the fire behind him. In short, nihilism with no means of escape.