I had my attention brought this morning to this follow tract of text from Kenneth Minogue's introduction to Patrick West's book, The Poverty of Multiculturalism (Civitas 2005).
I found this was a very powerful argument, that shows how ideologies that seem on face value to be egalitarian and anti-discrimination can actually be tyrannical, puritanical and lead to witch-hunts (or, in the 21st century, doxing).Multiculturalism: A Dictatorship of Virtue
In the last half century, millions of Asians and Africans have migrated to Europe. This has posed considerable problems of social adjustment both for the newcomers and for the existing population. These problems are relatively minor, however, compared to something else that grew out of these migrations. I refer to the fact that the doctrine of multiculturalism has imposed nothing less than a dictatorship of virtue upon a previously free people. And this is a doctrine emanating not from migrants but from the heart of our civilisation itself. I propose to say something about both the virtue, and the dictatorship.
The virtue at first sight might seem to be ‘tolerance’, something of which the British people have had a supply no less abundant than that of any other population, and more than most. But tolerance was an old liberal virtue. In our modern world, what we might call ‘holding your nose tolerance’ has been found inadequate—indeed, positively insulting. The notional beneficiaries of tolerance demanded something better: namely, social acceptance. And a little further down the line has come the demand for something more: social inclusion. As the doctrine of tolerance began in the 1960s to turn into a morality of acceptance and inclusion, it also began to make claims about reality, and turned into multiculturalism, the belief that all cultures are equal in value.
The doctrine is that we must, on pain of committing discriminatory racism, regard every individual, and every culture in which individuals participate, as being equally valuable. Indeed, as the doctrine develops, we must not only share this opinion. We must regard people of all cultures with equal affection, employ them, make friends with them, promote them and include them in everything we do, in proportion to their numbers in the population. The doctrine ramifies in many ways—for example it finds intolerable the old familiar collective specialisations that come and go in human groups— Gurkhas in soldiering, black pre-eminence in sport, Irishmen in the Boston police, not to mention women in the caring professions. In a multicultural society, any such responsiveness to the facts of talent and temperament must give way to a precise representativeness in every sphere of life.
You might judge that this is merely a ramshackle codification of the respect for others that is familiar to us as good manners, and familiar also as the equality of opportunity so long valued in liberal politics. You would be wrong. Multiculturalism is a doctrine about purity of the heart. Sympathy for one culture rather than another, indicates an impurity of the heart. But the disposition human beings have to prefer some things to others is so powerful that this criterion would erect as the test of virtue something that is a human impossibility. And that is just the point. For if we constantly feel a set of emotions running contrary to those we have been persuaded (on pain of racism) we ought to feel, then we become entangled in a sense of guilt. We are revealed as unworthy. And the psychological power of the doctrine is enhanced by the almost sinister indifference people have to actually defining ‘racism’. Any accusation of it seems to stick. Yet, is it a sentiment, an idea, a theory, a social policy, an action? And whichever of these things it might be, how do they connect together? Is there any difference between a reflex of antipathy to a culture, and a practice of assaulting those who belong to it? A similar indeterminacy will be found in our expanding ‘phobia’ family, as in ‘Islamophobe.’
Multiculturalism, then, belongs to a family of antinomian beliefs with a long religious history behind them. The best-known examples are Puritanism and Communism. In both cases, a doctrine of the purity of the heart was advanced as transcending mere rules of right and wrong. And the result has always been to constitute an élite of the pure in heart who would, of course, need the power to reform society so that it fully shared this ideal purity. In this process of reform, Puritans became adept at sniffing out sin, or Satanism, and set about purging society of witchcraft. Bolshevik comrades experienced the fullness of proletarian solidarity, only to find that many comrades had to be purged because they could not help revealing signs of bourgeois weakness. It is the same with us in Britain. Everybody says we must celebrate the wonderful diversity of the new multicultural society coming into being, but all too many people exhibit symptoms of racism and discrimination. Racism is, of course, a motive, a movement of the heart, but the evil of racism is such that it may work even among people who are, at least consciously, pure of heart. In antinomian doctrines, there are many ways of being a sinner. This is why we have ‘institutional racism’.
Bringing it back to the Dhamma, it also made me appreciate that if we follow the Dhamma as the highest expression of humanity, then secular doctrines like multiculturalism will be subordinate to it. There is enough in the Dhamma about the falsity of identity, and a person being judged by their deeds (rather than caste etc.) that the elements of multiculturalism that extend beyond mere tolerance into puritanical, unconditional acceptance, lose their potency.
Also, I imagine this is why the Left hate God with such venom?... because whilst there are still people who hold religious ideals above sectarian ones, ideological tyranny will face ardent resistance.
So with all that said, given that this is an "Engaged Buddhism forum, a nonsectarian community discussing the application of the Dharma to social and environmental issues" how do you use the Dhamma to "see through" and  not be impacted by secular ideological tyranny in the 21st century?