Multiculturalism

Sherry Listgarten sherry@timesten.com
Fri, 19 Oct 2001 19:00:58 -0700


Just in case people aren't *completely* tired of this thread...

> So this is the issue, and its essentially theological: Is culture
> like paint on canvas -- muddy when over-mixed -- or like beads on a
> string -- more diversity when mixed?

Yes, exactly, and yes I think that's relevant. I don't think it's
theological, though. I bet academics have studied miscibility of cultures.
Dunno what they've found.

> Yes. This is the point they are making, and like so much theorizing on
> the left, it assumes that the role of the individual should be
> subsumed to the group. I am not willing to buy into central cultural
> planning any more than I am willing to buy into central economic
> planning.
> 
> Culture is just the result of countless atomized behaviors, as is the
> market. To whom do we give the right to interfere in those decisions?

Okay, it sounds like the opposition isn't so much to separate cultures as to
artificial means to keep them separate. But what if it's the cultures
themselves that are doing it, as opposed to imposing it on others? For
example, we started off talking about immigration policies, not about
ripping Pepsi t-shirts off of Aborigines.

Also, I'm not sure it's fair to say that economic theories translate to
cultural theories. "What's best for the part is what's best for the whole"
doesn't hold for most systems. (Though generally it's too hard to get past
defining "best" in real-world systems, let alone figuring out how to
optimize...)

I like your "gardening people" phrase, and I hope that no one's trying to
play God here. But it doesn't mean we have to actively try to tear down
systems and force them to behave according to an economic model that may not
suit.

-- Sherry.