Multiculturalism has failed. Time for Interculturalism.

Katarina Church and the minaret of the Stockho...

So its 2011, the supposed “Clash of Civilisation” hasn’t happened, but it still could. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness once hailed as being the only way to deal with “people different to us” is failing. The issues created when “others” moved into an area are still there. Nothing is improving and in some places cultural tensions are increasing.

There are a few reasons why multiculturalism is failing.

The fear of the “Other” still exists. We say say we aren’t racist, we may say we respect them. But neither of those statements cover up for the indirect racism or the misrepresentations we make of people from other cultures who may even live on the same street.

There is no interaction. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness have left people afraid to say things to each other out of fear of offending someone. Since when do we worry about this? If we do not mean to offend, people will know this! We no more understand people from other cultures as we did when they came to our countries as we are afraid to interact with them.

So I think German Chancellor Angela Merkel is correct. Multiculturalism has failed. Its time for a new approach. Can things be better with interculturalism?

Since getting involved with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the concept of “Intercultural Dialogue” I am more and more convinced that this is the way forward. We need not just to accept people from other cultures, we need to interact with, and I mean really interact with them. Not just going to joint events, but going to events aimed mainly at one group.

It is only this way that we will socialise with people from other cultures and move outside our comfort zone. This is the only way we can learn how to truly be accepting. Through the Anna Lindh Foundation I have learned this and the more events I attend the more I think this is true. The recent Anna Lindh Exchange Forum meeting confirmed this for me. The more we are willing to interact with people from other places and cultures the more we learn about them and they about us. It will mean we have to worry less about Political Correctness as there will be a level of understanding that will be beyond the need for this.

So its time time we stopped being understanding each other on a deeper level by being intercultural and not paying lip service as being multicultural.

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Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

5 thoughts on “Multiculturalism has failed. Time for Interculturalism.”

  1. ‘It is only this way that we will socialise with people from other cultures and move outside our comfort zone. This is the only way we can learn how to truly be accepting.’

    Why should I be accepting? I don’t like foreigners/immigrants, and I don’t like them being in my country.

    1. I believe the matter of “why should I be accepting” can be answered with the acknowledgment that these people exist, and there is little anyone can do to prevent that. With that acknowledgment of existence comes the acknowledgment that these people not only exist, but exist somewhere, and there is no moral authority you or I hold over them to dictate where they exist.

      That, then, leaves us with two options. We can either exist somewhere else, or we can exist with the Other and render the term “Other” obsolete. Any modern nation is not comprised solely of people born within its borders, and those who were born within the borders of their nations likely have an ancestor who wasn’t. There have been several “Others” over the course of human history. Far more than are able to be counted. However, they are no longer “Others.” They are the Smiths, or O’Connells, or what have you.

      They did not become this through multiculturalism, according to the author’s argument. They became “Us” through accepting them into the well-rounded whole. They became “Us” through an understanding that acknowledged the existence of differences, but cared little for them and more for those that held them.

      We should be accepting of foreigners/immigrants because they exist, and we cannot stop that. So we can either rage impotently against their existence, or come to terms with it and progress.

  2. You seem to be assuming that multiculturalism has been attempted.

    Also, I don’t know what your beef is with ‘political correctness’ as such. Political correctness includes behaviour like using terms like ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ instead of ‘queer’ or ‘homo’ and words like ‘arab’ rather than ‘raghead’ or ‘black’ rather than the n-word. I assume you don’t object to this, so I’m wondering what it is that you do object to when it comes to political correctness.

  3. ‘They became “Us” through accepting them into the well-rounded whole. They became “Us” through an understanding that acknowledged the existence of differences’

    We were never given the opportunity to accept these people – we were never asked.

    Personally I don’t use racial slurs, but many people do. You can’t just exclude people from society because you don’t agree with their opinions.

    I’m English and I’ve got nowhere else to go – I don’t want to go anywhere else though. I exist too and my opinions matter.

    1. Your English because the English arrived in England and drove out who lived there. Migration is well known in human history and it isn’t going to change anytime soon.

      No one asks anyone to accept them. Its what society does. We accept others as they are human and they are like us. You would be surprised how much was all have in common.

      And you do have a choice. You can stay or leave. I’m Irish but I have lived in other countries. Its quite easy. No one is forcing you stay in England.

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