Introduction: Nationalism and Multiculturalism…..
Ethno cultural pluralism is an unavoidable fact of life. Almost every state is ethnically and/or culturally heterogeneous. Walker Connor famously suggested that there were only seven examples in the world of states that met the nationalist test of “one state per nation, one nation per state”.
Herder was the one coining the word “nationalism”. He believed in the uniqueness of each culture and the impossibility of comparing different cultures on an absolute scale of value. Modern Nationalism has various traits and variants: civic, ethno-cultural and multicultural. We should understand nationalism, then, as a normative argument that confers moral value on national membership, and on the past and future existence of the nation, and identifies the nation with a particular homeland or part of the globe.
Sweeney defines ‘three types of nationalism: state, civic and ethnic; ‘ethnic nationalists’ who stress culture and descent, ‘civic nationalists’ who stress culture and territory but not descent, ‘state nationalism’ which asserts the dominance of a particular ethnicity’. Civic nationalism…is more tolerant of diversity, and is marked by a recognition of different ethnicities.
He implies that ‘state nationalism’, although a well-defined category, has been abandoned by modern European states, leaving only a contest between the remaining two nationalisms. At the same time he hints at the possibility of a new third nationalism that goes beyond the merely civic and tolerant, when he introduces the idea of a nationalism that is marked by ‘multiculturalism’. So, there may remain three types of nationalism: ethnic, civic, and multicultural.
Since nationalism is well entrenched in the state-society structures, it is an undeniable factor in politics where it creates individual loyalty to an ethnic community, constructing the group identity and working on the mobilization for the benefits of the group interests.
But, sometimes it affects the society negatively, this happens if the majoritarian nationalism was contested by a competing nationalism, the society may witness bloody aggressive confrontations, such as what used to happen in between the Scottish and the British in the United Kingdom. That’s why modern history witnesses a large-scale loss of life and property all over world in the name of promoting nationalism.
On the other hand, so far in most of the literature, multiculturalism is considered as a policy framework rather than a form of nationalism. A way to manage the immigrants’ population, achieving integration while maintaining identity.
Thus, multiculturalism can be viewed as both a policy adopted in diversely cultural societies and as the demographic cultural status in these societies. As a descriptive term it is used to describe societies which have many distinct cultural groups usually as a result of immigration.
Multiculturalism as a public policy for managing cultural diversity in a multiethnic society officially stresses mutual respect and tolerance for cultural differences within a country’s borders, emphasizing the unique characteristics of different cultures especially as they interact with one another inside these societies. Immigrants should preserve their cultures with the different cultures, interacting peacefully within one nation. An important remark in this regard is the fact that while all societies today are culturally heterogeneous, not all of them are multicultural.
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I quote Bhikhu Parekh “Multiculturalism doesn’t simply mean numerical plurality of different cultures, but rather a community which is creating, guaranteeing, encouraging spaces within which different communities are able to grow at their pace. At the same time it means creating a public space in which these communities are able to interact, enrich the existing culture and create a new consensual culture in which they recognize reflections of their own identity.”
Ralph Grillodistinguishes between weak multiculturalism in which cultural diversity is recognized in the private sphere while a high degree of assimilation is expected of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the public sphere (law and government, the market, education and employment) and strong multiculturalism marked by institutional recognition of cultural differences in the public sphere including political representation and private one.
The emerging trends in nationalism in some countries point to the fact that it is much more than just a set of political principles for nation-building. However, one wonders whether it is proper to label multiculturalism as a form of nationalism when many multicultural states are not able to avoid a backlash from the majority or completely satisfy the minority to the extent that the nationalist vision is truly adopted by the entire nation.
That is why to know whether nationalism can be multicultural, it is highly important to study the state’s response and its policies regarding immigrants and minorities within multicultural societies.
Generally, no state is entirely neutral in arbitrating these nationalist visions. Use of coercive means can be expected of any state while deciding to form its nationalist vision and this happens irrespective of the nature the political system.
Taylor Strong insists that the nationalist sentiment remains an integral part of the political culture of a state. He perceived the identity as being unattached from the public domain and that is why the state can not be neutral because it is in control of the identity of the nation. For him, this establishes the limits of multiculturalism; once cultural identity is recognized then transformed into a state, the cultures that are internal to this community can not be entitled to benefit from the same right. But still he believes that each culture should preserve its authenticity since the recognition of the equal value of each culture will be permitting the public conversation between the diverse identities.
Kernerman identifies that the main issue behind multicultural nationalism is how to achieve a balance between the need to sustain diversity and the necessity to achieve unity with the major question of “how are the various manifestations of diversity to be recognized and understood in relation to one another and to the political community?”
But what is the position of minorities within multicultural societies? And how does the state deal with them? How can we balance between national sentiments and inclusion of immigrants peacefully in a plural society?
- The paradox of multicultural societies: nationalism Vs. multiculturalism?!
Within multicultural societies, people usually disagree about how national unity is best achieved and what it should look like? Some demand equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of their cultural, ethnic, racial, religious or other characteristics since citizenship must be left undifferentiated and symmetrical. Citizenship should be “difference blind”. In contrast, others demand forms of differentiated citizenship where their differences are not only recognized, but also incorporated into the rules, procedures, and symbols of the political system.
That is why many related issues gain attention of policy makers in these societies such as: the scope of minority rights, and the under representation of minorities in electoral politics, the absence of loyalty…. But the oppositions remain: equal versus differentiated citizenship, individual rights versus collective rights, impartial versus group-based representation, and so on.
Within multicultural societies, nationalism is a site of polarization, driven by mutually exclusive understandings of which units of identity- groups and peoples- should dominate in the collective understanding of the political community. These communities/groups have some conception of the parts and the whole, and so they operate according to their specific logic of identity.
This shows how the state has a major role in boosting the sense of loyalty and national identity among the different communities within the society. This role differs among states given different national histories, legal frameworks, and preferences for managing immigration.
Contemporary States which adopts an integrative multicultural policy claim that their nationalism is civic rather than ethnic, emphasizing on their equal rights agenda. But inspite of that some signs suggest that minorities may still feel outsiders despite the equal rights and the civic welcome.
Parekh points out: “one might enjoy all the rights of citizenship and be a formally equal member of the community, and yet feel an outsider who does not belong. It depends upon the public as much as on the Parliament and on political symbols, images, ceremonies, collective self-understanding and views of national identity as much as on equal-rights legislation“.
No society can remain the same when it admits new members, rather every society constantly redefines and reconstitutes itself in response to the emergence of new generations who bring with them new ideas, forms of self-understanding and modes of behavior. That’s why immigrants are considered a challenge. To solve this, common belonging need to be developed by all state’s institutions.
Common belonging is a two-way process; immigrants can not belong to the society in which they have chosen to settle unless it is prepared to welcome them, and conversely it can not accept them as full members unless they wish to belong, with all what this entails. Common belonging therefore can only be achieved if each party respects the terms of the relationship and discharges its obligations.
That is why Inclusiveness is usually formulated in the metaphor of “two-way integration”. The first of the EU Common Basic Principles of Immigrant Integration Policy states: “Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of the Member States“
This means that not just immigrants but also the receiving society has to change, the latter being mandated to create opportunities for the immigrants’ full economic, social, cultural, and political participation. This is a process that requires each side to stick to its obligations so as to get its rights fully satisfies.
- On the immigrants’ side, they may legitimately ask for changes in the practices and institutions of the wider society if the demands are biased or can not be met. Their demands are likely to receive a favorable response only if they have made a commitment to society, valuing their membership of it.
These minorities arrive willingly as immigrants to the host country, wishing to belong to this country of settlement and they are expected to be loyal, especially that a society is not a chance collection of people who happen to live together; rather it represents a way of life built up through struggle and sacrifice over several generations. Since their identities and histories are closely bound up with their society, they rightly feel protective about it. Native citizens want to be reassured that immigrants value their membership of it, and respect its way of life.
Immigrants need to commit themselves to the host society and accept the expected responsibilities and obligations, but this does not mean that they should break their ties with their country of origin. Such a demand is unfair, impossible to meet, and unnecessary. What can be demanded of immigrants is that they should see their country of settlement as their home, whatever other homes they might also happen to have. It should mean something to them, have an intrinsic value for them, and they should give reasonable evidence of their commitment to it. Such a commitment establishes their good faith, gives them the rights of membership, and entitles them to make different claims on the rest of society as their process of settlement requires.
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Immigrants express their commitment to society in several ways: They should cherish its integrity and well-being, respect its authority and laws, and in general discharge their obligations as citizens. Immigrants also affirm their commitment to society by participating in its common life, discharging their share of collective responsibility, being productive workers, not abusing the available welfare provisions, and so on. But this does not include interfering in their personal life sphere which does not affect the shared collective life or else it will be unequal treatment.
Immigrants need to acquire the cultural competence to help them get acquainted with their new country’s way of life. This involves learning its language, understanding and observing its rules of civility and norms of behavior, and familiarizing themselves with its traditions, history and moral sensibilities. That is why both the state and the society must help them integrate within the fabric of the society with all possible legal and social facilities.
From the many types of cultural rights claimed by immigrants are:
- Exemptions from laws which penalize or burden cultural practices of members of a religious/cultural group whose practices are different from the society’s known practices because of the very different meaning it has for the majority culture. Thus, the exemption is justified as recognition of that difference. Also, some related claims seek to have the general law recognize a culturally specific way of establishing certain rights which are established otherwise by the general law. A simple example is the authority granted to religious officials in some states to perform legally binding marriages.
- Assistance rights to do those things the majority can do unassisted, helping the minorities to overcome obstacles to engaging in common practices. Special provision is sought because of culturally specific disadvantages or because the desired common activity has been designed in such a way as to keep members of non-dominant groups out. Introducing new citizenship and English language requirements are two main policies in this regard.
- Representation of minorities in state’s decision-making bodies. Adequate representation of the immigrants should be ensured in the major political institutions to allocate them a fair share of public resources, to secure protection of their interests/rights and to prevent discrimination. The mechanisms for this vary; sometimes it takes the form of straightforward quotas.
- Symbolic claims to acknowledge the worth, status, and existence of various groups (name of polity, official name of ethnic groups, national holidays, teaching of history, official apologies).
The above shows how both the society and the state are needed in the integration process of minorities to meet the needs of both the immigrants and the native citizens in a just fair way that seeks the benefits of the whole society.
The states’ integration policies changed over time till it reached to the multicultural pluralistic form for several reasons including:
(a) Demographics: In the past, many governments had the hope/expectation that ethnic minorities would simply disappear, through dying out or assimilation or intermarriage. It is now clear that this is not going to happen due to their high birth rates. The percentage of immigrants in the population is growing steadily in most Western countries, and most commentators agree that even more immigrants will be needed in the future to offset declining birth rates and an ageing population.
(b) Rights-Consciousness: the human rights revolution that is premised on the idea of equality of human beings raised the awareness of groups which now have a powerful sense of entitlement to equality as a basic human right, not as a favor or charity.
In many countries around the world, elites ban political movements of minority groups through different ways. The fear of this sort of repression often keeps minority groups from voicing. Keeping quiet is the safest option for minorities in many countries. However, in consolidated democracies, there is no option but to allow minority groups to mobilize politically and advance their claims in public. It is this loss of fear, combined with rights-consciousness that explains the active nature of ethnic politics in western democracies.
The state must make a commitment to immigrants in appropriate ways dealing with the facts that they are new to the society and are liable to misunderstanding and negative stereotyping. Also, they need time to acquire the necessary cultural competence, and in the meantime they lack a clear coherent voice. Being outsiders, they are often resented and also likely to be discriminated against and may suffer from various kinds of disadvantage. This deepens the role of the state to ease their transition, helping them become full legitimate members.
Since the nature of the attachments of the groups to the larger political community varies, certain mechanisms are needed to accommodate these variations. This requires some actions from the state’s side such as:
First: Discrimination against immigrants in all areas of life, especially in areas such as employment and housing, should be declared unlawful and subjected to appropriate sanctions since it implies unequal treatment, building up frustration, and can over time generate a profound sense of alienation and marginality. When the state does nothing about it, it sends out the message that it regards them as an inferior class of citizens. Thus the state must address the socio-economic exclusion problems.
Secondly: Immigrants suffer from several economic, social, cultural, political and other disadvantages which impede their settlement. This requires a comprehensive public policy covering areas such as: the immigrants’ need to learn the language in classes that suit their needs and working hours, dealing with residential concentration phenomenon when it transfers from being a comforting way of boosting the immigrants’ self confidence and safety into an impediment of integration by confining immigrants to their own community.
Thirdly: Educational institutions play a crucial role in creating a common sense of belonging. They should prepare their students to live in a multicultural society, cultivating the necessary multicultural skills as tolerance, openness to other ways of life and thought and mutual respect. Citizenship is not entirely about rights, but is a matter of participation in the political community and begins early in life. It concerns the learning of a capacity for action and for responsibility but, essentially, it is about the learning of the self and of the relationship of self and other. It is a learning process.
Consequently, it is vital to build up inter-ethnic bonds through associations which bring together different communities in the pursuit of common interests, and develop mutual understanding and trust, fostering a strong sense of civic identity that transcends ethnic differences and creating a larger sense of national identity.
Also, Multiculturalism may take the form of revising the educational curriculum to include the history and culture of minority groups; creating advisory boards to consult with the members of minority groups; recognizing the holy days of minority religious groups; teaching police officers, social workers, and health care professionals to be sensitive to cultural differences in their work; developing regulations to ensure that minority groups are not ignored or stereotyped in the media; and so on.
These policies may seem discriminatory but they are not because they are intended to remove obstacles to equal fair competition and tackle disadvantages, not to give arbitrary and unfair preference to minorities and immigrants. So when in some cases they receive greater attention, this is only because their disadvantages are greater than normal citizens and are compounded by discrimination. It is an “affirmative-action/positive discrimination” program in light of citizens’ varying legal frameworks.
Inspite of all these efforts, sometimes obligatory civic integration (civic integration courses and tests for newcomers…) is interpreted as an instance of repressive liberalism especially that non-compliance tends to be sanctioned in terms of financial penalties or denial of permanent legal residence permits. Some view that the novelty of civic integration policy is its obligatory character, which has notably increased over time, and this notional ‘integration’ policy has even transmitted into a tool of migration control, helping states to restrict especially the entry of unskilled and non-adaptable family immigrants.Some believe that what began as an immigrant integration policy has thus turned into its opposite, a no-immigration policy.
But this is not totally true, since basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history, and institutions is indispensable to integration. Thus, it is the right of the host country to ensure the success of its integration process through the means fitting its societal framework. But, still some countries tend to be so aggressive in its immigration policies out of its belief that immigrants pull the economy backwards. Such an issue differs among countries according to the ruling political system. But, still the public policies mentioned and the attitudes expected from the minorities are the least acceptable to ensure a peaceful multicultural society which both preserves its identity while respecting diversity.
Multicultural governance may be the most feasible theory to achieve a multicultural national citizenship because it operates with the purpose of constructing normalized multicultural citizens within a balanced regime of identity and diversity. Multicultural governance does far more than protect the spaces within which diversity can flourish; it helps to create these spaces. It constructs the identity framework in which cultural freedoms can be asserted and deployed. A multicultural state will be providing the categories within which groups and citizens negotiate their behavior and interact together so that the citizen can belongs to an ethnic group and to the nation simultaneously.
As Charles Taylor believes, personal identity is formed in a symbiotic relation with a collective identity and is nourished by the culture that the group shares. This emphasizes the importance of having a multicultural spirit within the society, believing that with the appropriate policies adopted by the state’s institutions to facilitate the integration of minorities and with a high degree of loyalty from the minorities’ side, an authentic multicultural nationalism can flourish where both the national identity and diversity are being respected and promoted.
Such visions draw the best mechanism that can achieve a real multicultural national society, proving that a balance can happen between both nationalism and multiculturalism.
Generally, we can identify four types of minorities which are disadvantaged and need to be well integrated:
- Groups have their cultural roots within their country of citizenship, but have a key defining characteristic (e.g. gay/lesbians; disabled people).
- groups are autochthonous minorities (i.e. national minorities or aboriginal peoples) (e.g. the Québécois; the Basques)
- groups have cultural or ethnic roots not only outside the territory of the state in which they have citizenship but also outside the Western world (e.g. Black-British; Chinese-Americans)
- groups are mainly religious minorities originating outside the Western world (e.g. French Muslims; British Sikhs)
In this research I was focusing mainly upon the minorities of the last 2 kinds who usually arrives as immigrants to the host country.
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