Multiculturalism (Nestor)

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Mon Nov 22 20:28:09 MST 1999

I agree with virtually all of what you wrote on this subject (Digest 1531),
except the following:

>This is exactly what the First World countries fear most, and this is why
>multiculturalism, which inside the First World has a strong revolutionary
>or progressive meaning

Several people have pointed out that this is not the case, eg the postings
in relation to Canada, a clearly First World country.

It is also clearly the case in relation to New Zealand, where
multiculturalism is the dominant outlook of the bourgeoisie.  Far from
being progressive or revolutionary, it is the *necessary* ideology for the
ruling class at this point in time, serving to manage an increasingly
fragmenting society.  One of the ways in which this is done is through the
creation of a new middle class of female, Maori, Pacific Island and other
'Othered' management personnel in state institutions and the private sector

I'm sure that a number of British people on this list would say the same in
relation to multiculturalism in Britain.  In Britian there is a strong
critique of multiculturalism - for instance, the work of A. Sivanandan, the
main editor of 'Race and Class', and quite a lot of other left forces.  For
instance, there was recently a very good article on 'Multiculturalism' by
G. O'Halloran in the journal 'Red Action' (check out web-site:  The RA people probably have more
experience than anyone else on the British left of fighting racists and
fascists, which is probably why they have such a sharp critique of
multiculturalism as ruling class policy.)

In relation to the United States, I have to doubt Jim Blaut's claim that no
progressives oppose multiculturalism.  I would say that a substantial
sector of the US ruling class supports multiculturalism and that this is
obvious to at least some people on the US left who are far more critical.

A few months back I took a look at a paper which Carroll Cox had mentioned
on this list - a paper by Barbara Jean Field which appeared in 'New Left
Review' some years ago (NLR181 if my memory serves me rightly) and I would
say that she certainly represents a left-wing critique of these kinds of

In New Zealand, there is a small but growing critique.  A recent
interesting one is by Elizabeth Rata, the daughter-in-law of Matiu Rata,
founder of the main  Maori political party, Mana Motuhake.  She links this
kind of politics to ruling class attempts to regulate the workforce in the
new, neoliberal work environment.

I tend to think that the tendency of people in the US - both left and right
- to view multiculturalism as radical/progressive is an indicator of the
backwardness of American political life right across the spectrum.

Philip Ferguson

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