Multiculturalism

Martin Zehr m_zehr at SPAMhotmail.com
Thu Nov 16 17:37:14 MST 2000



   An excellent critique that is surely applicable in understanding the
current state of affairs in the contemporary reistance movement and why it
is so divided. There can be no national struggle for ethnic rights unless it
is contained within an independent political movement that seeks total
separation from the mother country. Ask the Albanians, they'll tell you. Ask
the Irish. It is only in the context of a 'prison of nations', such as the
US, that multiculturalism is foisted upon the intellectual elite as a way to
channel the democratic aspirations of oppressed nationalities and sidetrack
the intelligensia from a more dynamic role in that process. The other side
of multiculturalism is Black Republicanism, like Thomas Sowell and Colin
Powell. These are more the case of those who have been "bought and sold" in
return for their contribution and ideological justifications. Neither deals
with the unequal distribution of wealth and power; neither seeks to change
the existing social relations, neither build a mass movement of the people
to unite in mass struggle. Then there are those like Marable Manning with a
more penetrating and incisive analysis and world view.

   Multiculturalism in this age has: 1) Divided those forces who have an
objective unity in the struggles for change; 2) Diverted energy of
intellectuals away from struggle into a vacuum of PC academic debate that
resurrects the same issues without ever resolving the inherent power
inequalities that lie at the root of them; 3) Allowed the Democratic Party
to project itself as a haven for those oppressed nationalities with a
cultural critique without having to deliver anything in the way of
substance; 4) Maintained the policies of mass incarceration and
marginalization of Third World peoples while others are focused elsewhere;
5) Enabled popular forces raising significant political struggles to be
attacked and race-baited by multiculturalists for not having an appropriate
multi-national character to them, even while nothing is done to change that
state of affairs; 6) Allowed the manipulations to obscure the reality of the
current state of affairs in the US and the world.

   What it come down to is to ask ourselves if we can begin to address those
issues that multiculturalism uses to divide the people in order to unite
them. For example, in dealing with unequal education, multiculturalism is
now leading down the road towards the Republican voucher plan. Instead, it
should be agreed that education is unequal. A massive program of
intervention in American urban areas that focuses on urban redevelopment and
capital investment, drug rehabilitation, control of police, decreasing the
duration and number of people sentenced to prison, and building block level
political organizations of resistance are just a few of the issues that need
to be addressed. What is happening now is that the agenda has been
established by those who have no interest in change so that the parameters
of the struggle are clear from the beginning and the prospects of success
are limited to a few.

   The intention of multiculturalism is to de-fang the masses and it has.
But, it can not obscure the contradictions because they are made apparent
everyday. There is clearly a need for some ideological struggle on this
issue. I for one do not claim that there can be any real clarity contained
within the context of this one post. I do not claim the authority to speak
in the name of anyone and recognize the need for organizations of the
oppressed to develop their own leadership. But, even while saying that I can
not help but feel that as the crisis sharpens, and the knife goes in deeper,
our responses must change and become more significant.


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