The real meaning of Blair’s speech on multiculturalism

Prime Minister Blair gave a remarkable speech this week in which he denounced, not multiculturalism, as Philip Johnston incorrectly reported in the Telegraph, but the extremes of multiculturalism which devalue even such minimal common beliefs as rule of law and the very existence of Britain as a sovereign nation. Blair said:

Integration, in this context, is not about culture or lifestyle. It is about values. It is about integrating at the point of shared, common unifying British values. It isn’t about what defines us as people, but as citizens, the rights and duties that go with being a member of our society.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other faiths have a perfect right to their own identity and religion, to practice their faith and to conform to their culture. This is what multicultural, multi-faith Britain is about. That is what is legitimately distinctive.

But when it comes to our essential values—belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equal treatment for all, respect for this country and its shared heritage—then that is where we come together, it is what we hold in common; it is what gives us the right to call ourselves British. At that point no distinctive culture or religion supersedes our duty to be part of an integrated United Kingdom.

To understand the significance of what Blair is saying, we need to remember that a “multicultural” society is one that consists of a plurality of equal cultures, with no dominant culture. Multiculturalism delegitimizes the historic majority culture of a society, but it assumes that the society itself still exists as a juridical and political entity. Hence such minimal required common values as “rule of law” and “respect for this country and its shared heritage”—a “heritage” that in Blair’s treatment consists entirely of liberal values such as “tolerance” and “equal treatment for all.” Thus Blair is not challenging multiculturalism and its destruction of Britain’s historic culture via the equality of all cultures, nor is he challenging the mass non-Western immigration that both expresses and fuels the multiculturalism. All he wants is to set minimal rational limits to multicultural tolerance, so that it no longer means, as it has meant in Blair’s Britain, tolerance for jihadism and terrorism.

[See follow-up to this blog entry.]

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 09, 2006 01:38 PM | Send

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