“Calm down, calm down”
David Cameron is capable of saying some very silly things. He was at it again earlier this week when he branded Oxford University, his alma mater, a disgrace for only accepting one black student last year. It was doubly silly in fact. First, it wasn’t actually true. Secondly, the problem isn’t some sort of racism on the part of the dons but the total failure of the comprehensive education system.
He is also capable of saying some very accurate things and in his statements on multiculturalism and immigration he has been not only wise but quite brave too.
Back in February Cameron joined the ranks of European leaders to announce the death of ‘multiculturalism’. Like Sarkozy and Merkel he was right to do so, multiculturalism has failed. This isn’t the same as saying multiracialism has failed, it clearly hasn’t, but you’d never know to listen to some of the reactions to Cameron’s remarks.
The left believes in multiculturalism because it doesn’t believe, with notable exceptions like George Orwell, that culture itself is anything special. According to Marx all society was just a manifestation of the social relations generated by prevailing economic relationships, a social superstructure erected on the economic substructure to borrow his terminology. It followed from this that as these economic relations changed so the culture would change; there was nothing immutably valuable about culture itself.
The Labour party rightly pays little lip service to the crank doctrines of Marxism today. But you can see a very definite economism at work in their belief that there is no problem which cannot be solved by the liberal application of a bit cash. To the left the answer to every social problem is financial, or economic. Though they don’t put it in these terms any more, they still believe that the substructure wags the superstructure.
So if culture was a trifling matter then having multi cultures was nothing to be worried about. This allowed Labour to fling the UK’s doors open which also had the handy result for them that many of these immigrants tended to vote for them. They were importing voters.
The problem is that culture does matter. It evolves to facilitate communication, becoming a standard stock of norms of thought, speech and behaviour. It does this based on a host of factors besides economic relations. Culture is far more complex and important than the left believe.
The result is that cultures haven’t dissolved when placed next to other by mass immigration, they have persisted and cultures haven’t integrated. Rather they have settled into separate but parallel existences with minimal contact with each other.
This was encouraged by another favourite tool of the left, identity politics. This emerged in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the left realised that the working class, its traditional support, was deserting it. It responded by hanging its hat on a constellation of groups based around disability, religion, sexuality and race. By chopping up society into interest groups, each with an interlocutor, the left fostered division.
Cameron was totally correct that multiculturalism had failed. Predictably the left responded in the way it does when anyone tries to discuss an issue which the British public are so concerned about; it screamed ‘Racist!’, ignoring the fact that it’s entirely possible for different ethnicities to share a common culture.
Now Cameron has gone and said something accurate and brave again. In a speech today he will say that mass immigration has “created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods” and “placed real pressures on communities up and down the country”. That this is self evidently true wont stop some from trying to paint him as the Grand Wizard of the Whitney Ku Klux Klan which to the left is almost as bad as the Bullingdon Club. Almost.