multiculturalism in the canadian state

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Mon Nov 22 09:24:22 MST 1999


It depends upon by whom and how "ethnic chauvinism" is defined. Here we get
back to the age-old question of nationalism progressive or reactionary, to
which the answer it depends upon the stage and concrete content of the
expressions of nationalism.

"Multiculturalism" has often been used as a cover for homogenization ("Yes
we have different colors, religions, ethnicities and we should celebrate
diversity but on the other hand, we are all the same.") Or Multiculturalism
comes in certain ersatz varieties that can be used to "celebrate [more
superficial forms of] diversity" while suppressing real forms and necessary
forms of diversity.

I have seen in  Indian Country various strains of "multiculturalism" used by
both the left and right as a cover for subordinating even suppressing
concrete and necessary forms of Indian diversity or as a cover for
celebrating the superficial in order to suppress the concrete. So when
Indians ask that the very special and unique dimensions of U.S. and Canadian
history that relate directly to genocide against Indians [in no way implying
that other targeted groups have not also been suppressed] be recognized and
addressed, it is called "ethnic chauvinism" or asking for "special"
recognition and treatment--as if the historical treatment and oppression of
Indians did not have some "special" instruments and effects of oppression.
Further, in the context of neoliberal globalization, "multiculturalism" is
often used by the bourgeoisie as a cover for all sorts of nefarious stuff
(e.g. bringing in specialized Third World workers under H-1 visas to
undercut wages and break existing unions of U.S. workers and then preaching
we need "multiculturalism" so we can "all get along").

So I guess it depends on by whom "multiculturalism" is proposed, expressed,
defined, applied and to what ends the concept is applied.

Jim Craven

James Craven
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. 98663
(360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
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-----Original Message-----
From: * [mailto:yu217096 at]
Sent: Monday, November 22, 1999 7:56 AM
To: marxism at
Subject: Re: multiculturalism in the canadian state

You misread my post and my grammar is bad.
Eliminating ethnic chavanism benefits the working class is what my clumsily
written paragraph says.

Paul Flewers wrote:

> Shiraz Rawat wrote: < The Canadian Multiculturalism Act is not in itself
> a bad thing. It helps to eliminate ethnic chauvinism which, although
> benefits the bourgeoisie, also benefits the working class. >
> How can any form of chauvinism benefit the working class? Would it not
> be better to say that individual groups of workers, for instance, white
> South Africans or Northern Irish protestants, could obtain a privileged
> position at the expense of the workers amongst the SA black population
> or the NI catholics, through collaborating with their bosses, or that,
> for instance, European workers could gain some crumbs from the table by
> accepting their rulers' imperialist programmes? But in neither case
> could these groups of workers really benefit from chauvinist politics,
> as their institutions and general outlook would thereby be corrupted,
> and it would be much harder for them to be won over to socialism, and
> thus to a way forward for genuine improvements, both financial and
> moral. Chauvinism, therefore, can only really benefit the ruling class.
> Paul F


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