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Multiculturalism is an authoritarian, anti-human outlook. True political progress requires not recognition but action, not respect but questioning, not the invocation of the Thought Police but the forging of common bonds and collective struggles.

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The demand for equal recognition is, however, at odds with the claim that cultures are incommensurate. To treat different cultures with equal respect (indeed to treat them with any kind of respect at all) we have to be able to compare one with the other. If values are incommensurate, such comparisons are simply not possible. The principle of difference cannot provide any standards that oblige us to respect the 'difference' of others. At best, it invites our indifference to the fate of the Other. At worst it licenses us to hate and abuse those who are different. Why, after all, should we not abuse and hate them? On what basis can they demand our respect or we demand theirs? It is very difficult to support respect for difference without appealing to some universalistic principles of equality or social justice. And it is the possibility of establishing just such universalistic principle that has been undermined by the embrace of a pluralistic outlook.

Boutique Multiculturalism | Handle's Haus

To argue this today is, of course, to invite the charge of 'Eurocentrism', or even racism. This simply demonstrates the irrationality of contemporary notions of 'racism' and 'antiracism'. Those who actually fought Western imperialism over the past two centuries recognised that their struggles were rooted in the Enlightenment tradition. 'I denounce European colonialist scholarship', wrote CLR James, the West Indian writer and political revolutionary. 'But I respect the learning and the profound discoveries of Western civilisation.'

17/09/2013 · Well, that’s it for multiculturalism

Many multiculturalists argue not simply that cultural values are incommensurate, but that also that different cultures should be treated equal respect. The American scholar Iris Young, for instance, writes that 'groups cannot be socially equal unless their specific, experience, culture and social contributions are publicly affirmed and recognised.'


Frantz Fanon, one of the great voices of postwar third world nationalism, similarly argued that the problem was not Enlightenment philosophy but the failure of Europeans to follow through its emancipatory logic. 'All the elements of a solution to the great problems of humanity have, at different times, existed in European thought', he argued. 'But Europeans have not carried out in practice the mission that fell to them.'