Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Applying the Dharma to social justice issues – race, religion, sexuality and identity
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SethRich
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Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by SethRich » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:55 pm

Greetings,

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).
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’.
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).

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 [1]"see through" and [2] not be impacted by secular ideological tyranny in the 21st century?

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:53 am

SethRich wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:55 pm
Greetings,

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).
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. ...
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).
Hi, Paul,
I found it to be so full of loaded terms, straw men and unacknowledged bias that I wouldn't trust its author to recognise truth if it whacked him in the face, although I do agree with your comment that, "ideologies that seem on face value to be egalitarian and anti-discrimination can actually be tyrannical, puritanical and lead to witch-hunts."
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.
I've known that for a very long time. If you haven't, I'm surprised and (I have to say) disappointed.
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.
You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not.
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.
That's such a tangled mess of concepts that I really haven't got time to sort it out now. Enough to say that that a lot of the left's rejection of religion is really rejection of morally corrupt religious institutions rather than of religious teachings.
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 [1]"see through" and [2] not be impacted by secular ideological tyranny in the 21st century?

:candle:
[1] Test everything against the dhamma (and against common sense and science - sometimes the dhamma loses, e.g. in cosmology)
[2] All of us, all the time, are "impacted" by every large change in society unless we choose to live under a rock, but we do not have to assent to everything. Where there's a conflict between what is morally right and what the powers that be are pushing on us, I tend to use the Serenity Prayer to triage my response:

Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


:namaste:
Kim

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SethRich
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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by SethRich » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:13 am

Greetings Kim,
sethrich wrote: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.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:53 am
I've known that for a very long time. If you haven't, I'm surprised and (I have to say) disappointed.
To appreciate something, is a different thing to noticing it for the first time. Many of the Buddha's practices are about appreciation and gratitude for that which is already known to be good and worthy.

Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether your conflation of these two things is the result of poor comprehension skills or something more sinister. Please clarify.
sethrich wrote: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.
Kim O'Hara wrote:You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not.
Where have I said anything about legal responsibility?

:shrug:

I am talking about the Right View of the Dhamma informing Right Thought/Intenion, informing Right Speech/Action etc.

If by "legal" you mean "The Law", by which you mean "The Dhamma", then perhaps you have a point? Please clarify.

Kind regards.

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:24 am

SethRich wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:13 am
Greetings Kim,
sethrich wrote: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.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:53 am
I've known that for a very long time. If you haven't, I'm surprised and (I have to say) disappointed.
To appreciate something, is a different thing to noticing it for the first time. Many of the Buddha's practices are about appreciation and gratitude for that which is already known to be good and worthy.

Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether your conflation of these two things is the result of poor comprehension skills or something more sinister. Please clarify.
Your sentence makes sense either way, i.e. it's ambiguous, and my interpretation was the more natural one. Don't blame me!
sethrich wrote: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.
Kim O'Hara wrote:You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not.
Where have I said anything about legal responsibility?

:shrug:

I am talking about the Right View of the Dhamma informing Right Thought/Intenion, informing Right Speech/Action etc.
As I said, "You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not."
Re-read the OP, and your comments on it, and you should see what I mean.
If by "legal" you mean "The Law", by which you mean "The Dhamma", then perhaps you have a point? Please clarify.

Kind regards.

:candle:
That is a such a wildly improbable misreading of my clear intention that I find it hard to believe you are conducting this discussion in good faith. Please try to be sensible.

:namaste:
Kim

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SethRich
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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by SethRich » Mon Sep 02, 2019 5:41 am

Greetings Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:24 am
As I said, "You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not."
Re-read the OP, and your comments on it, and you should see what I mean.
No, I haven't a clue what you're on about. I have explained I'm speaking "about the Right View of the Dhamma informing Right Thought/Intenion, informing Right Speech/Action etc. " I have no idea why you're trying to involve or invoke "legal responsibility".
sethrich wrote:If by "legal" you mean "The Law", by which you mean "The Dhamma", then perhaps you have a point? Please clarify.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:24 am
That is a such a wildly improbable misreading of my clear intention that I find it hard to believe you are conducting this discussion in good faith. Please try to be sensible.
Frankly, I thought it was very charitable to give you the benefit of the doubt that your comments may have actually had some connection to the Dhamma, rather than being papañca-saññā-sankhā.

Kind regards.

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by Bundokji » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:43 am

SethRich wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:55 pm
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 [1]"see through" and [2] not be impacted by secular ideological tyranny in the 21st century?
I think most of us have the tendency to turn views into ideologies, and the more certain views are associated with virtue, the stronger is the potential for getting deceived. As an unenlightened being, i try to protect myself from getting drifted by reflecting, trying to understand the four noble truths, look for wise companions and being aware.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:55 am

SethRich wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 5:41 am
Greetings Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:24 am
As I said, "You seem to be blurring personal (emotional) response and legal responsibility. Your author does so on purpose. I'm not sure if you are, but I hope not."
Re-read the OP, and your comments on it, and you should see what I mean.
No, I haven't a clue what you're on about. I have explained I'm speaking "about the Right View of the Dhamma informing Right Thought/Intenion, informing Right Speech/Action etc. " I have no idea why you're trying to involve or invoke "legal responsibility".
Well then, you haven't read Minogue's text critically, regardless of how much you liked it, and there's not much point in trying to continue the conversation.
If you want to make use of "the Right View of the Dhamma [to inform] Right Thought/Intenion, [to inform] Right Speech/Action etc" - which seems like an excellent idea to me - then I think you need to make a bit more space somewhere in the sequence for clear thought, to apply it to whatever comes your way, and to practise it yourself. Minogue's polemic would be a good practice exercise, if you don't mind trudging through toxic sludge.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by DNS » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:04 pm

My preference is not tribalism, nor multiculturalism. I like the melting pot, it avoids both extremes of identity politics and racism. See this famous clip from Morgan Freeman.


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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:04 am

DNS wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:04 pm
My preference is not tribalism, nor multiculturalism. I like the melting pot, it avoids both extremes of identity politics and racism. See this famous clip from Morgan Freeman.
I'm not sure what the rest of the context for that clip is, but I would say that sometimes these arguments along the lines of "let's just all be citizens of X", seem to be an excuse to insist "lets all be like the majority, and if you don't like it, tough". However, I'm sure you or Morgan wouldn't be saying that!

Minogue's opinion piece may have some relevance within the UK, but it seems to me largely and exercise in negativity, and I certainly wouldn't turn to him for education in Dhamma. Of course there are problems with intolerant ideologies (of all political flavours!), but I've no idea what is Dhammic about his criticisms. In places it reads as a diatribe against straw-people versions of other cultures, implying guilt by association. For example, he seems to be implying that the excesses of various Chinese governments over the past century of so is reflected in values of all ethnic Chinese. He does not seem to be cognisant that many of the people that he tries to paint as guilty by association might have left their countries to escape from the excesses that he tries to tar them with. More importantly, for me, his world-view seems quaintly irrelevant to "new world" countries such as mine:
The cutting edge of multiculturalism however is to be
found in its insistence that the Anglo-Saxons and Celts of
Britain must not think their language, religion, laws and
customs in any way superior to those of the people who,
for some mysterious reason, want to come and live here
rather than stay home.
http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/cs46a
Perhaps the Anglo-Saxons and Celts who don't like the multicultural aspects of countries such as mine should head back to the UK and keep him company.

However, he may have a point about secularisation. Anglo-Saxons/Celtic society has become more and more secular, which may have contributed to a lack of identity, and therefore confidence, that lead parts of it (across the political spectrum) down a road of intolerance towards some of the more colourful and confident groups.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:20 am

Thanks for your post, Mike. Just one thought ...
mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:04 am
...However, he may have a point about secularisation. Anglo-Saxons/Celtic society has become more and more secular, which may have contributed to a lack of identity, and therefore confidence, that lead parts of it (across the political spectrum) down a road of intolerance towards some of the more colourful and confident groups.

:heart:
Mike
I think you're leaning over backwards to be generous to him, since I couldn't actually see where he mentioned secularisation. :shrug:

While it's true that UK society has become more secular, I see that as a cost (and sometimes a benefit :smile: ) of accommodating diversity: if there is only one religion in a society, it can be used as a yardstick for moral behaviour (and a stick for beating those who fall into immoral behaviour); if there isn't, some loosely rational humanist ethical reasoning has to take its place.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by DNS » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:17 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:04 am
DNS wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:04 pm
My preference is not tribalism, nor multiculturalism. I like the melting pot, it avoids both extremes of identity politics and racism. See this famous clip from Morgan Freeman.
I'm not sure what the rest of the context for that clip is, but I would say that sometimes these arguments along the lines of "let's just all be citizens of X", seem to be an excuse to insist "lets all be like the majority, and if you don't like it, tough". However, I'm sure you or Morgan wouldn't be saying that!
Correct, that is not what I am saying and I'm sure not Morgan Freeman, either. His attitude works more in a modern, diverse, free and democratic society. Such an attitude probably wouldn't work in a mostly homogeneous society or totalitarian society where there are few minorities and people look at them strangely and/or with suspicion.

It has worked somewhat well in the U.S.; see for example the election of Barack Obama, a record number of minorities and women in recent years even though the country as a whole is still something like around 70% white (European-ancestry). Of course there is still some racism and discrimination in the U.S.

The melting pot idea is not that everyone should all just be like the majority, but rather let the culture evolve and blend into a mix; not to keep everyone segregated and within their own communities, but ideally to form one blended culture, not by force, but by natural cultural evolution. Maybe it's just that I'm lucky to live in a very diverse city, one of the most diverse in the U.S. In my neighborhood there is an almost an equal mix of white, black Latino, and Asian ancestry people. And everyone gets along very well, so I've seen it work.

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:10 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:20 am
Thanks for your post, Mike. Just one thought ...
mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:04 am
...However, he may have a point about secularisation. Anglo-Saxons/Celtic society has become more and more secular, which may have contributed to a lack of identity, and therefore confidence, that lead parts of it (across the political spectrum) down a road of intolerance towards some of the more colourful and confident groups.

:heart:
Mike
I think you're leaning over backwards to be generous to him, since I couldn't actually see where he mentioned secularisation. :shrug:
Perhaps I'm confusing Minogue with Paul:
SethRich wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:55 pm
... secular doctrines like multiculturalism ...
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:20 am
While it's true that UK society has become more secular, I see that as a cost (and sometimes a benefit :smile: ) of accommodating diversity: if there is only one religion in a society, it can be used as a yardstick for moral behaviour (and a stick for beating those who fall into immoral behaviour); if there isn't, some loosely rational humanist ethical reasoning has to take its place.
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I didn't mean the overall secular orientation of government, I was referring to the individual religions of citizens, and it seems that the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the UK (and NZ and Australia) have become not-particularly-religious, and perhaps this makes them more likely to adopt rather intolerant extreme views of various political flavours.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: Minogue, Multiculturalism and an appreciation of more Noble Truths

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:23 am

Hi David,
DNS wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:17 pm
It has worked somewhat well in the U.S.; see for example the election of Barack Obama, a record number of minorities and women in recent years even though the country as a whole is still something like around 70% white (European-ancestry). Of course there is still some racism and discrimination in the U.S.
There are still serious problems in the US (which I'm not expert on) and here (which I am of course much more interested in) such as imprisonment rates of minorities. Alleviating these problems will require rather more than "just getting along with the neighbours". The tactic I see with much of the right-wing discourse is that it attempts to label the pointing out of problems as "complaining about the past". The problems are then dismissed by a "you have equal opportunity now - just get over it" line. In fact, this is nonsense. There are systemic problems that have real costs (e.g. the cost of maintaining all of those prisons!), and improving them would be of benefit to everyone.
DNS wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:17 pm
The melting pot idea is not that everyone should all just be like the majority, but rather let the culture evolve and blend into a mix; not to keep everyone segregated and within their own communities, but ideally to form one blended culture, not by force, but by natural cultural evolution. Maybe it's just that I'm lucky to live in a very diverse city, one of the most diverse in the U.S. In my neighborhood there is an almost an equal mix of white, black Latino, and Asian ancestry people. And everyone gets along very well, so I've seen it work.
Well, I think that's what is happening here, but of course some will complain about singing the National Anthem in Māori, or communities using their own language and having their own cultures, and so on...

:heart:
Mike

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