Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Demystifying the liberalism and multiculturalism

What we as an individual in a society composed by our actions need to do is the following; first understand the core principles of liberalism at individual level, and do not bother and confuse about multiculturalism, because the word multiculturalism is as complicated as the word ‘secularism’; both has inherited problems; do not link with multiculturalism when you try to understand the entity called liberalism; make sure that the foundation of liberal values are established in your thinking by your own way and methods, then move for understanding the multiculturalism but ensure that you are not moving away from liberal values over the period a journey to understand the multiculturalism.     

What prompted me to utter the above words is Mr.Mehta article in today’s IE. Some excerpts: 
  • Munich Conference has evoked sharply contrasting responses. Some see in the speech an attempt to rescue liberalism from its counterfeit cousin, multiculturalism. Others see an enactment of the same narrow politics that produced a crisis in many liberal societies in the first place. 

  • The contest between liberalism and multiculturalism was about the relationship between freedom and diversity. Multiculturalism often fell into three traps in the context of this relationship. First, it ignored the fact that equal freedom for all individuals is the core value.  

  • ……instead of saying that your identity should be irrelevant to citizenship and to the goods that the state distributes, multiculturalism made identities the axis of distribution. The more identities become an axis of distribution, the greater the chance of destructive group politics. 
  • But liberal politics globally has been curiously susceptible to being taken over by right-wing nationalists.

  • This is often because defenders of liberal values end up aligning them with a particular way of life or national identity. In India, for example, the debate over reforming personal laws was often framed as being about “national integration” rather than about values of individuality and freedom.
  • Liberals should be worried about any attempt to benchmark national identity; such benchmarking diminishes the force of liberalism. 

  • The aspect of the speech that was potentially vague was the use of state power to clamp down on extremist groups. When state power should be used for clamping down is always a challenging question for liberals; a liberal society has to put up with a lot of offensive speech. But the challenge that liberal states face is over their credibility in being impartial. Do prejudgments and prejudice make these states more assiduously pursue groups belonging to some communities than others? 

  • In short, the future of liberalism will depend not upon a philosophical statement that all groups engaging in extremist speech be condemned; it will depend upon the impartiality of state practice towards all citizens.

  • The truth is that we still don’t fully understand the circumstances under which there is a turn to extremism. In that sense, Cameron’s implicit diagnosis that the turn to extremism was fuelled by state multiculturalism seems quite premature. Multiculturalism has its flaws. But it would be foolish for liberals to suppose that simply because state multiculturalism failed, the answer must lie in a more “muscular” liberalism.
  • Liberal values are eminently defensible. But their realisation in practice involves sensibly dealing with complex layers of history, psychology and a sense of self.

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