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What type of multicultural model for Europe?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-09-22 07:15:09
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Sometimes I feel that there are some political or social forces that dream a different World; a different model of society that in their opinion would make human kind and our World better. And their view of this new World, is that there are no more nations, no national sentiments. No different races or religions, no history, or at least we should not give so much weight or importance on our past. History in our schools (I can definitely speak for Greece, but perhaps it takes place in other countries as well) is being downgraded and not being taught they way it should. They are afraid of evoking any nationalistic sentiments. If we were mature enough we could learn from it, and move on to the future with knowledge not ignorance.

In order to achieve peace and stability, they think that countries should stop being nations as well, but rather states that are being comprised by as many ethnic groups as possible, of all religions, races, and cultures; in other words the multicultural model we all observe in Europe. Holding a passport and being a citizen of a country now days, does not mean that you are ethnically German, Irish, Danish or Greek, rather that you are citizen of this country. And right so,when you live in a country for so many years, pay taxes and contribute, you are a citizen of this country. In fact you become a citizen of this country the very moment you get a job there and start paying taxes. But then why in our passports they still use the term "nationality?"

To me nationality is your ethnic background, something that you are born with it and never changes. Citizenship is referring to the state you live in and have your rights. Totally different things. Being a non national, but a citizen of a country should not mean that you have less rights than the citizens of the predominant ethnic group of the state. But can we be as open minded in Europe, or do we still need to feel that our countries are representing an ethnicity as well? It was the most wanted model for Europe in the past, and most countries tried to integrate and absorb all ethnic minorities. They tried to create a homogenous nation state, promoting one language, consciousness, religion and tradition. Now Europe went to the other "extreme" and our leading elites are trying to create quite the opposite.

Though I agree with the second position, I can not help it but disagree with their methods. They follow the recipe that to them was apparently successful in USA; any one has the freedom to create his own religion or dogma, as long they believe to a God. History, heritage and culture are things that can be manufactured and revised, according to new "evidence" and anyone can create new cults, beliefs and versions of history. The freedom of speech, the democratic right to express freely your opinion, becomes a right to believe any religion and any version of history or culture you want. That sounds great, but why do we have to assimilate all people or cultures into one?

Our history is sold to satisfy those who want "a solution", and end any ethnic and nationalist feelings. Because according to them, this is bad; it creates frictions and wars! It does not work like that. If they want to make nations to come together and create a successful multicultural society, they must do the opposite; encourage and promote each others' heritage, culture and history onto another, so we can get to know each other better and come closer. But they follow the American model (with all its faults, since America is not the best example; they have so many problems still to solve). They are trying to "Americanize" us all, with the dominant capitalist multicultural "Anglosaxon" culture being promoted upon us all. If they want me though to accept such thing, I need to be part of it and see people from Greece (or wherever I come from) the Greek language, the Greek culture (the modern one,we still have a great culture and lots to give to the world) our heritage, being portrayed and promoted all over the world, and vise versa, cultures from all over the world portrayed and promoted in my own country. Especially in Europe, that we are already in an "integration mode", I believe it is the best way to proceed with the integration process, but keep our culture and heritage as well!

Imagine, when you are trying to push or convince the Africans, or the Afghans and the Iraqis to follow this culture, without them seeing something of their own in it. They will most probably reject such culture as something foreign, as another attempt of the White Europeans to rule them. Similarly, I feel exactly the same. I want to connect, I want to see part of myself or people like me in this new culture, and I do not mean just someone who looks like me. I cherish and I am proud of my people's heritage and I do not want to see it gone. Equally so, I am curious about other people's cultures. I feel the World is far more interesting place because it is having so many different races, languages, ethnic groups, religions and cultures. Just like biodiversity to biology, the variety of human cultures enriches this planet, even though sometimes it causes problems. We got to understand that the problems arise from the other, darker side of the human nature that is called greed and power mongering.

Some World elites, in their frustration to control the planet by making everybody feel connected and think the same, are promoting globalization and multiculturalism. In Europe and most of the Western World, this process is particularly obvious. We listen to American music, watch American movies, TV programs, reality television. Why would it be wrong to have a more diverse model of this new wave of culture? It is called "multiculturalism" after all, so where is the diversity in it? Even the EU's motto is "United in Diversity". Do we have any French music hits lately, any Italian actors, Czech directors, Greek painters, Estonian movies, Polish designers, Romanian fashion designers, Finnish celebrities....

Instead we get TV shows like the "A country" has Talent, cooking and singing contests or competitions in all countries and languages. The same program but in different language. Nothing to promote intercultural dialogue, our national or European culture and heritage. Rather turn Europeans into Americans or if not that, then model the future European population after the American one. I have to disagree. Erasing the rich cultural background of Europe or other regions of the World is not the way forward. We need to preserve it, promote it and be proud of it. Encourage multilingualism, encourage people to discover and experience as many European cultures they can, by festivals, events, traveling, TV programs and education in our schools.

Only then multiculturalism will succeed, when we are all feeling that we are part of it and contribute something to it. When we are proud of this new cultural project and not feel threatened by the loss of our own heritage. Right now, the "Americanization" of Europe has only bad effects. I think it is time to redesign our societies.I do not want to see Europe or any other region of this World adopting just one, capitalist, Western and consumerist culture. Being different is nice. Dialogue is good. Being proud of who you are and where you are coming from is an advantage. Respecting and understanding other people's culture is a virtue. Adopting a new way of life and enriching your heritage with so many others is what created human civilization so far. Trying to control it or create one single superior Global culture.......I think it led to fascism and authoritarian empires in the past, hasn't it?

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Emanuel Paparella2011-09-22 08:20:51
The ideal is multiculturalism and yet the sad reality and paradox is that several prominent EU leaders are now downplaying and even rejecting the whole concept of multi-culturalism claiming that it has not worked very well.

The old xenophobic nationalism was rightly discredited when the EU was forged because it had produced two world wars. The paradox nowadays is that it is alive and well abetted by nationalism and regionalism and even separatism.

The above article is quite correct in pointing out that multiculturalism will only work if people believe in it,and indeed,any belief will not work till it leaves the realm of rhetoric and becomes praxis. That is the real test of fire. Do I believe in it enough to practice it?

I suppose in America we call that pragmatism. Some Europeans frown on pragmatism as an inferior sort of philosophy, but there is a kernel of truth in it which is universal and individuals and societies and nations ignore at their own peril. When they do they fall back on the glories of the past and empty pomp and circumstances.

E.g., Umberto Bossi is more proud of claiming to be a “Padano” than of being an Italian, even less so of being a European, and of course he advocates separation from Italy. We also have Wilder in the Netherlands. Which means that Cavour was on target when he sardonically said that “now that we have made Italy we need to make the Italians.”

Pari passu, could it be that now that we have made Europe (a new Europe) we need to make the European, or the “Newropean” so called? One can debunk the global perspective and multiculturalism but the global perspective (which goes back to Socrates when he said that he was more than a Greek, he was a citizen of the world) mandates that one transcends the confines of one’s ethnic, regional and even national culture. Transcendence of course does not mean to ignore or forget one's particular culture but simply to insert it into a more overarching multicultural global one. One does not begin with the abstractions of Mount Olympus, to be sure, one begins with the particular but always aims at the universal. Socrates and Plato and Aristotle taught us that too, if nothing else.

Christos Mouzeviris2011-09-23 00:07:40
Thank you Mr Paparella that you "got" what I wanted to point out...Multiculturalism will only work out if people believe in it, and are happy to be part of it, and not be forced on to them with rhetoric..You can not force multiculturalism, you may encourage it, but you got to inspire people to accept it as well...Right now in Europe we see that we are going backwards...Towards nationalism again..And that is dangerous..We know it..

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