Multiculturalism on a world scale (was marxism-digest V1 #1532)

jnstewart at SPAMmindspring.com jnstewart at SPAMmindspring.com
Tue Nov 23 22:24:57 MST 1999




----- Original Message -----
From: João Paulo Monteiro <jpmonteiro at mail.telepac.pt>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 4:20 PM
Subject: Multiculturalism on a world scale (was marxism-digest V1 #1532)


>But this
> particular "multicultural" babble is a very vicious one and not at all
innocent.
> The purpose of this glorification of "diversity" is the exclusion from
modernity
> and the confinement of the third world peoples in isolated pockets -
veritable
> cultural, political and economic ghettos of poverty, ignorance and
despair.

    I am uncomfortable with the language of intentions.  The effect of this
sort of celbration of diversity, as I think I suggested, excludes those
forms of culture that do not fit into a certain bourgeois liberal humanism.
I have found it interesting to challenge such exclusion on the grounds of
particular issues such as equality of the sexes and races, but it is
certainly easy to point out regional, ethnic, and occupational cultures tht
are marginalized or trivialized.  Celebrating diversity tends to be reduced
to serving a little korean food once a year and singing a jewish song.
    I don't think it is the intention of such multiculturalists to exclude
from modernity the cultures they celebrate or ignore.  I think it is
implicit in the stated need to celebrate the otherness of various groups
that has the effect of marginalizing them.  Kids will say, of a school
subject, "We already did Rome."  They mean that they covered some unit of
study on this subject.  In the same way they will say that they did Mexico
because they had a pinata for someones birthday.
    Now, I look at this from the point of view of American education, where
multiculturaism is all the rage, so perhpas I am missing some more sinister
angle.  I recall that Andre Coydrescu (sp?), now of some University in
Louisiana. remarked, in effect,  that when he was a boy there was little
talk about multiculturalism in that it was forbidden in Rumania to talk
about ethnic diversity and they all, therefore, had little choice but to get
along.  Now there is a profound observation.  He goes on to observe how
those who previously had the responsibility of surpressing such
multiculturalism found new lives for themselves using ethnic rivaries for
their own ends---such was his observation on many of those in the former
Yugoslavia.
    These observations point one of the more disturbing facts of life in
this world: the record of multiculturalism is, at best, somewhat spotty.
Perhaps the dead of Chechnya and Bosnia along with a number of other areas,
might prefer, had they any further say in the matter, to remain under the
multiculturalism of the sort Coydrescu spoke of.










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