12 April 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does multiculturalism work?

Dear friends,
I hope you had a good Easter holiday.
Quite by chance this Sunday we are discussing: Does multiculturalism work?
We are also lucky that Edwin wrote us a few comments on the subject. In the meantime I apologise for
writing a few disjointed paragraphs on the theme; I just ran out of time.
In the meantime don't forget the regular messages from friends at the end of the email.
My tuppenth for what it's worth.
Does multiculturalism work? It can do but it depends on all sides being willing to accommodate the
main parts of the others cultures and not pushing too hard at the boundaries of the others practices
and belief.
The college I went to in Central London had probably more than 20 Nationalities and all got on very
well, maybe it was the sheer mix of nationalities that helped but it was during the Biafra war and
Ibo and Yoruba students were still friends as were Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Maybe growing up in
London I have a different view of those from other cultures than those who are raised in a
"monoculture" (does that only apply to plants?).
As said it depends on all parties agreeing to come together, it is not possible if the "outsiders"
refuse to move from their own culture and keep to the ghetto. A friend's Spanish cousin was dating a
Gitano but it fell apart because his family put pressure on him to keep to his own kind.
May be one of the most telling indicators of a community mentality and expectation is that in the UK
some 53% of minority communities marry outside there own communities where as in the US only 4% of
the African Americans marry outside their own community.
There are some inalienable rights that people as individuals enjoy and that neither the state, the
government, religion, society nor even culture have the power and authority to deny the individual
or tamper with these rights.
And there are two main reasons why these inalienable rights cannot be prohibited or tampered with.
The first, and the most relevant for our subject, is that these institutions I have just mentioned
are by their very nature discriminatory and racist. Their sole function is to protect and promote
the interests of those members within these institutions even at the expense or cost to those not
belonging to these institutions.
The second reason is that all humans enjoy these inalienable rights beyond their circumstances; or
the institution they belong to. In effect these inalienable rights are inalienable not because of
some sovereign power or authority that has established things this way, but rather because it is the
human race that is the final sovereign and authority. There no other authority beyond the authority
of belonging to the human race.
These inalienable rights are numerous and so fundamental that, constitutions and human rights
charters might even overlook them; let me list some of them:
The right to think freely and the right to express one's opinion without fear and prejudice.
The right to be treated as an individual and identified as an individual and not to be treated nor
identified on some arbitrary criteria for example my group of friends, the location of my birth, the
colour of my eyes etc etc.
The right to learn and the right to have information to help the individual make rational decisions
about their future.
The right to choose one's partner and the right of two individuals to choose each other as partners.
The list, as I say, is endless and for our purposes it is not necessary to go into more details.
How can we understand these inalienable rights? One way is to use an example and suggest we should
understand these rights the way understand our legs and walking. Our biological make up includes two
legs which we use for mobility. It would be unimaginable and preposterous for governments, states or
other institutions to prevent us from walking, even walking from the bedroom to the loo. On the
contrary we go out of our way (at least in theory) to help those who don't have mobility.
This example of mobility and legs, incidentally, also has practical implication. I am thinking in
the use and deployment of anti personnel mines that are designed to maim rather than kill the enemy.
But in effect they maim civilian after the war. Indeed, the use of these mines should not only be
prohibited but those who use them and manufacture ought to be indicted for crimes against humanity
since their only purpose is apriori to deny individuals the right to one functions. This is like the
concept and crime of attempted murder; we do not need to wait for the commission of the murder since
an attempted murder is apriori solely aimed at killing someone.
My position so far is that we have some inalienable rights that emanate from the virtue of behind
human. And that the ultimate authority over these rights is humanity itself. Thus these rights and
duties over ride all the pseudo authorities and powers that are associated with discriminating
Indeed the concept of crimes against humanity is evidence that we do recognise the existence of
inalienable rights. Or at least rights that transcend local institutions. The fact that some courts
and states apply this concept in the same way that a chef in a restaurant might decides to include
broccoli on the menu (i.e. pick and choose at will) is beside the point.
Of course, with rights go duties, and whilst I'm not going to discuss what are the relevant duties
go with a specific right, I wish to establish a self evident truth about duties. Whilst rights are
chosen and exercised at will, duties are mandatory and non negotiable. This is why it is important
that rights are exercised freely, because the duties that go with them are not optional.
For example, to right to have children is a right we have to choose freely and willing to have
children. But the incumbent duty of giving every child a stable and safe home is absolute and non
negotiable. Those who deny or prevent this natural sequence of causality are of course acting beyond
their authority if not criminally irresponsible.
To come to our theme, what matters is whether cultures do respect these inalienable rights? And
although the question stems from a philosophical argument, the answer is of empirical.
However, multiculturalism can only work if the cultures in question (an empirical issue) do
themselves protect these inalienable rights. Indeed, those cultures that are blind to these
inalienable rights are not cultures but as I said institutions that are based on prejudice and racism.
However, cultures that do promote these inalienable rights are not only real cultures but cultures
that can easily be adopted by different groups. For example, cultures that help with people who are
not mobile with facilities to be mobile for those who want to be mobile are a culture that focuses
on the principle of exclusion and not inclusion. A culture that makes a wheelchair as expensive as a
car is probably not cultures at all.

Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
In the mean time:
Lawrence si puedes difundirlo entre tu grupo te lo agradezco
Hola amigos y perdón por el atrevimiento pero como las cosas no están muy bien pues por si podéis
ayudar a difundir este link de un apartamento que se me queda vació a fin de mes. Lo único que no
pone el anuncio es el precio son 770 eur aquí en mi barrio Chamartin.
regular messages from friends below


Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)
----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does multiculturalism work?

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