Some reflections on “multiculturalism”

Without Prejudice

Some reflections on “multiculturalism”
(NB: this is an anti-racist argument)
by Stephen Moriarty

We live in a world in which ethnic conflict is a problem of immeasurable seriousness. Swift had it right when he hinted that humans would fight over which end of their boiled eggs they broke first. How do we explain this? Most arguments make out that ethnic conflict is either inexplicable or immoral or both. Yet there must be an explanation, and since such conflict is conducted by human beings, there is clearly a point at which people overcome their scruples about it.

I think one of our difficulties is that it is usually assumed that a persuasive moral case is a persuasive political case, but it is not, as Machiavelli pointed out long ago. People do not act in line with even their sincere moral beliefs. We fully accept this with regard to things. We know the world would be a better place if possessions were shared and cared for by everyone, but we also know that our sinful nature makes us incapable of this. Capitalism is founded on this concession to “sin”. Marriage and “just war” are similar concessions by Christianity.

The conviction that human nature is essentially good, or can be made so, is a “bourgeois ideology” in the Marxist sense. Sensitive people who live in comfortable circumstances can benefit from the exploitation of those less fortunate with an easier conscience when they believe that life in poorer parts of society is only poorer, rather than also more vicious. This is important because it is difficult otherwise to understand the actions of the Left in destroying the only practical basis for socialism – national identity – by its actions after 1997. The answer is that it was never genuinely socialist in the first place. Its socialism was a bourgeois pose, a display of status by those who never wanted to face its consequences.

Indeed Marxism is a bourgeois ideology in the Marxist sense: the insight was hardly new that people tend to believe what suits them, and Marx excluded sexual motivation and thus relieved prudish people from having to think about the intractability and universality of human evil. This unwillingness to face the reality of universal evil leaves Marxists (and we are all Marxists now) prone to believe in evil in a religious sense (as supernatural) and therefore also prone to witch-hunting and wishful thinking.

The blogger Steve Moxon says that the PC project is a reaction to the failure of the Marxist prophesy of a proletarian revolution. The proletariat, stereotyped as white working-class males, has been rounded-on by its erstwhile champions (a Marxist/Dickensian sentimentality about the working-class was widespread until very recently), who now fetishise anything that is notwhite, working-class, or male, he says. Nevertheless low-status males remain, he says, the least privileged group in all societies; he says there is now a “runaway” bias against them such that their manifestly rough deal, in particular with regard to access to sex and reproduction, is not addressed. I think it is interesting that the two groups involved in the “grooming gangs” were low-status males and white girls from the British underclass.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the “grooming” cases was its show-casing of anti-white prejudice, although one should also mention the long paralysis of the authorities in the face of the problem. Such prejudice is common, as I once heard a brave black caller to BBC Radio 5 attest. The existence of this prejudice is like the existence of Saturn’s moons: it blows a whole world-view to pieces. As Albert Memmi describes in his book Portrait du colonise, portrait du colonisateur, the indigenous population becomes stereotyped as lazy. This is partly because indigenous people have usually established a civilisation in which there is some room for leisure and sharing and because they make up a full spectrum that includes the old, the sick and the feeble, whereas immigrants are obliged to work very hard (and all due credit to them for this) and are almost by definition dynamic. They also often have an ambassadorial pride in their birth-identity.

Furthermore, civilisations have strong hospitality codes that dictate self-effacing generosity to newcomers. Thus it tends to be the host civilisation that breaks down when confronted by mass immigration, because this self-effacement interrupts the normal process of inter-generational acculturation (see the “diversity agenda” in schools and on the BBC, for instance). Yet, in the unconscious of the colonisers, a people who have allowed themselves to be colonised are contemptible, all the more so perhaps when they have previously dressed up their cowardice as charity and thus insulted everyone by condescension.

The black lady who responded calmly to Emma West said that she was here to do the work people like Emma West didn’t want to do. This opinion is understandable because it must be difficult for immigrants to find an explanation for their being invited here in such numbers and under so little compulsion to assimilate if it was not because there was something wrong with the indigenous population. Many immigrants must have the impression that the British ruling class has decided to replace its people despite all the obvious risks, and that therefore the English working-class must have been truly useless.

The English working-class are thus in grave danger of becoming the “Other” to the “British”. They are, to many, the main moral, ideological and practical obstacle to the New Britain (Peter Mandelson’s phrase). They are subject to negative stereotyping on the grounds of culture, class, race, and “loser” status in the current colonial process (and as the descendants of the foot-soldiers of imperialism). The less the New British have in common (and multiculturalism is an ideology that celebrates division), the more they need a scapegoat; and the more the English attempt to resist, the more they will prove their savage incompatibility with modernity.

It is this that partly explains the oft-noted anomaly of greater hostility to immigration in low-immigration areas. In a society based on the notion of relatedness, inherent but taboo negative qualities are projected onto outsiders (“the Other”). When there is sufficient immigration, this ideology becomes untenable, not so much because it has been debunked (which it is to a degree), but because it becomes taboo: people suppress their fear in order to be able to go on with life. It becomes necessary to believe that the new situation is alright, that a society without kinship bonds is not less secure than one with them, and that the enemy is now those atavistic individuals whose persistence in regretting the change is a painful reminder that all may not be well. These become the scapegoat for all the fear and repressed “longing for the tribe”. They become the Other onto which the new taboo of racism can be projected. Racism becomes almost the only sin (and it is indeed a kind of original sin because it is inherent in all of us – we have an instinct to preserve local adaptation by mating with people like ourselves) because, in the effort to believe everything is alright, newcomers are sanctified, and since they are really normal, sinful, people, this means that much normal human sinfulness is placed beyond criticism. Only racism remains as “wrong”. This is “liberalism” and “multiculturalism”.

Thus the natural tendencies of human beings are inverted, rather as gravity holds up the arch. Perhaps societies always function in this masochistic way. As Roger Hicks has pointed out, we can see parallels with the Communist taboo on possessiveness, the Catholic taboo on sex and the general religious taboo on reason: they all use “prestige suggestion”, the bold denial of obvious truth, combined with Girardian group-psychology, to instil guilt and fear. While societies based on kinship can scapegoat outsiders (harmlessly?), those based on “anti-racism” (see below for why this is in quotation marks) will always need an internal scapegoat because they are based on the idea that there is no such thing as an outsider.

I am trying not to romanticise tribal society here. It is probably true that scapegoating was a normal part of tribal life, and an individual or group within the tribe might have found themselves accused of treachery, of being an Other, but in general the natural function of Othering was probably to keep the tribe alert to the very real danger that other tribes posed whilst maintaining “civilised” behaviour within the tribe. I suppose I am trying to trace out what happens when this natural function of Othering is frustrated by the guilt-mechanism of “anti-racism”.

While multicultural societies intend to treat all groups equally, in fact it is the indigenous population, as a consequence of its nostalgia, which provides the scapegoats. In practice it is only the indigenous population, initially in the majority, that has to adopt the new paradigm: in-coming groups, whilst ostensibly treating “racists” as the Other just like everyone else, remain able to “to other” foreigners, since they are one and the same people: indigenous individuals.

Thus the culture of indigenous population comes under an intense assault. Any attempt to maintain that culture is rejected by many of the indigenous because such loyalty is implicit evidence that the ideology of multiculturalism is flawed and that the new structure is dangerously unstable. Unable to face their situation, they instead redouble their efforts to believe that everything is alright: there occurs a frenzied fetishisation of the foreign and a further stigmatisation of the domestic culture, bringing about its collapse.

Thus what appears to be the apogee of progressive politics – multiculturalism – is in fact its nemesis. Every progressive cause is sacrificed upon its altar: manners, feminism, gay-liberation, child-welfare, animal-rights, rationalism, free-speech, economic equality and, most ironically of all, anti-racism. The mechanism by which (admittedly limited) progress is possible – rational debate leading to consensus – is wrecked by the apparatus of multiculturalism (which is, of course, merely relativism writ large): speech laws (they “creep” because any controversial opinion is a metaphor for the taboo); patronising, indeed racist, sensitivity to “cultural practices” (which become totemic – provocatively assertive); the fragmentation of the demos.

At the bottom of this catastrophe is hypocrisy. Richard Millet has quoted Moliere: “L’hypocrisie, c’est un vice a la mode, et tous vices a la mode passent pour virtus.”

Multiculturalism is a racist ideology.


  1. Well written, Stephen. You have even beaten the Postmodernism Generator!

    My only criticism is that you missed the /sarc tag off the end.

    I will leave it to Paul Marks to address the specific arguments you make.

  2. Neil,
    Oh dear, there was me thinking this was lucid prose and reasonably down-to-earth. Really! /nosarc!

  3. Even such impeccably establishment figures as the Chancellor of Germany now admit that “multiculturalism” has been a disaster – turning people against each other (just as Class War “rich versus poor” politics does), and actively preventing the assimilation of immigrants.

    What is still lacking is a official understanding that it was a DELIBERATE disaster – that the people behind “multiculturalism” (the Frankfurt School of Marxism thinkers – sometimes know as the “Politically Correct” thinkers, although the modern ones actually call themselves the supporters of “Critical Theory” in various subjects) wanted to create conflict as part of their desire to undermine civil society – which they call “capitalism”.

    It is incredibly depressing that even some conservatives parrot the language of the Frankfurt School Marxists – for example a recent socialist leaflet against me, and my fellow councillors, in Kettering denounced us as “male, pale and stale”.

    “Sexism” (“male”), “racism” (“pale”), and “ageism” (“stale”).

    Of course the socialists do not consider themselves as “sexists”, “racists” and “ageists” because these terms are only legitimately used for the benefit of the “Progressive” (read collectivist) cause.

    Nor is the truth, many young and female candidates, any defence – as objective truth, according to the left (for want of a better word), does not exist. All of our candidates could be female, non white and young – and we would still be “male, pale and stale”.

    However, how can I say any of the above? As the socialists can simply reply – “we are only quoting one of your own cabinet ministers – it was this person who called you male-pale-and-stale”.

    When some Conservatives use the language invented by Frankfurt School (i.e. Toytown) Marxists, and do-not-even-know-they-are-doing-it, it is difficult not to despair.

    However, one must struggle on.

    • Is there sick-bag handy? After reading this latest instalment of disingenuous tripe from the resident commenter here I’m sorely in need of one.

    • Oh dear, what a bunch of silly ‘ineffectuals’ you are here. Simply unable to see the wood for the puny trees that obscure your blinkered eyes.

  4. As for the article – I do not think it is evil at all. Although I do not agree that the “ruling class” deliberately imported people as a conspiracy against the British “Working Class”.

    There was some government backed overseas advertising for employees for the Health Service and so on – and I think this advertising was a serious blunder, but I do not think it was a conspiracy.

    Was Mr Atlee and Mr Bevin (and so on) engaged in this conspiracy?

    They were replaced by Mr Churchill and Mr Eden – where they engaged in this conspiracy?

    The minister of Health at the time of the main overseas advertising campaign was Enoch Powell – was he part of the conspiracy?

    So I think thesis is mistaken – although it is clearly true that in the 1960s (and later) many European thinkers (of the various new, mutant, forms of Marxism) hoped that large new populations of people in Europe would be allies against the evil “capitalist” societies of France and Germany and so on (and Britain). They did indeed encourage this immigration (and still do – for example the mad “Green” lady who wants to import terrorists from Syria) and did all they could to PREVENT assimilation. These people tended to worm their way into officialdom – the minister (and Prime Minister) would know little of the intentions of some officials and the people in control of supposedly charitable bodies. But one can exaggerate the effectiveness of all this – the Welfare States naturally attracted people in ways that the old societies had not.

    If you arrive in (say) Northampton and have no benefits (no “free” healthcare and so on) at all – the fact that you have no support network (family, church and so on) is a terrible thing. Someone in India or Africa knew that if they went to Victorian Britain (and it was perfectly legal for them to do so) they would be likely to have a very harsh life indeed (no “free stuff” – and no existing voluntary support network either) so few came. It was not a conspiracy that changed this – it was a different legal framework (the unintended consequences of the new Welfare State).

    For example why did Hispanics not flood into the United States before the 1960s – the border was just the same (there was actually LESS control of the border than there now is). But there was no “free stuff” (such as “emergency” health care, and Food Stamps and…….) and to “discriminate” against new people was perfectly legal (a matter of personal choice), it was not compulsory to welcome new people. So few people came over the border – some did, but nothing like the number that come now. And those who did come came to become Americans.

    It would have been unthinkable for “Mexican American” to aggressively wave the Mexican flag and celebrate the Mexican Independence Day by denouncing the United States in the 1950s – after all the person had left Mexico to become an American, they had left all that behind them.

    But I do not think that Mr Moriarty expressed himself in a “racist” way – or in any other nasty way.

    Although I would point out that there is no general “religious taboo” against reason in the Roman Catholic Church – on the contrary it has always been pro reason (it was Martin Luther who denounced “that whore reason” – claiming that people could not know the difference between good and evil without the orders of God, and could not choose between good and evil even if they did know). The Anglican Church (from Hooker onwards) has also been pro, not anti, reason. The same is true of Judaism and some forms of Protestantism and so on.

  5. Dear Paul, Thanks again. These are very sensitive issues. I am trying, if it doesn’t sound pretentious, to get at the truth of all this, and unfortunately good and evil do lie close together. I do not like wearing my heart on my sleeve and have an aversion to protestations of righteousness.
    It is my conviction that race is no bar to being English; indeed this is a typical example of the hypocrisy that surrounds this issue: the problem in this regard has not been that the English have not been willing to accept non-Caucasians (the Christianity of much of the population before the 1960s manifested itself in a welcoming attitude – see the testimony of Bonnie Greer’s father as to his experience as a black GI during WW2), rather that too many non-Caucasians have refused to become English. One of the reasons this happened is that the British Empire, by its very existence and as a matter of policy, failed to encourage assimilation. Assimilation seems quite absurd now, I agree (which is not to say there is a better policy available), but I try in this essay to show how it might be that the causality is not that liberalism makes assimilation absurd, but rather that lack of assimilation causes liberalism.
    With regard to religions and reason, they may claim to be all in favour of it, but in Church on Sundays I generally spot an invitation to abandon it!
    Thank you again.

  6. Dear Stephen – we will have to agree to disagree on religion. I agree that neither being British or being English is a “racial” matter.

    Although some people do argue the other way – at least as regards to “Englishness”.

    On the failure to assimilate – well the left (who do not think we should call “liberals” – Gladstone would have been baffled by the describing of these collectivists as “liberals”), have done all they can to prevent it – but you do have a point that not all the fault is on their side.

    If there is a strong alternative identity (such as Islam) why assimilate into English culture? Especially when, to be blunt, English culture has become rather weak threadbare.

    Again there is a American example.

    Some, by no means all, Hispanic immigrants to Texas assimilate and become Texans (lone star belt buckles and all), but Hispanic immigrants to California do not assimilate. Why would they assimilate? What does being a “Californian” mean? What does it stand for? What principles and beliefs does being “Californian” indicate?

    Or “American” for that matter – what, in the modern context, does “being American” or “being British” actually mean? What principles and beliefs does it stand for?

    To some extent even Hayek was at fault – with his stress on human action not human design, and unintended consequences.

    Yes (yes indeed) there is a lot of truth in Hayek’s position – but it is not fully true.

    There must, in a healthy society, be actual beliefs (principles) that the people understand and support (and, if need be, will die for).

    “This is just how we do things here” will not do.

    If people do not know WHY certain things are done (and certain things are not done) – as soon as another culture (or people within their own culture) challenge what is done (and what is not done) things will start to collapse. The Hume-Hayek position on these matters has a glass jaw.

    There is no real substitute for a true understanding of basic principles and a conscious (free) choice to support these principles.

  7. Paul,
    Indeed, people need something to believe in and “neo-liberalism” fails to provide this. In particular it runs away from responsibility: consumers, say the neo-liberals, can make their own choices and if we atomise everyone into consumers then we have only to then step back and watch the beautiful ecosystem flourish. The trouble is human beings can’t be atomised in this way because they are a social animal (whatever that means exactly – I wish I had the brains to understand the implications of genetics – history is a reasonable hint I suppose!). Globalisation, for instance, does not result in a more stable ecosystem because the metaphor (and I think that a metaphor of this kind is behind a lot of support for globalisation) is wrong in detail and in principle.
    I write this stuff hoping that someone who actually understands genetics will explain to me just how grim human nature is.
    I will try to work it out (but I am sure it is beyond me) and get back to you!

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