Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Maxime Bernier and the Political Faux Pas

   Maxime Bernier, the senior Conservative politician recently tweeted out a series of tweets that question when is multiculturalism too multicultural? Immediately (of course) the twits the twitterati
lost their sh... minds, immediately dividing into the 'Muslims are taking us over' camp and the 'you are racists' camp. Then it degenerated from there. Immediately, and with standard de-rigeur-righteousness, the other political Party leaders denounced him as a racist, and TV shows found pundits to expound on his political future. Andrew Sheer dithered, there were murmurs at the Party convention about his expulsion when he ripped the rug out from under them by leaving. The real cause of all this ruckus was never actually addressed. Of course not, because he dared to question That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Questioned, viz., Canada's multicultural policies.
   It is an article of faith, amongst the Socially Concerned, that Canada's Official Policy of Multiculturalism is the best-that-ever-was-or-will-be in history, and, while we can easily see that societies which promoted multiculturalism, such as Norman Sicily (actually, Norman kingdoms in general),  the Roman Empire, the Chinese Empires (China is not a gigantic monoculture) were -- are --  more generally prosperous with less disparity between the uppermost and lowest classes and a vibrant, creative interchange of ideas allows for a wider, more open and better living opportunities for the people there.
   But the point that gets missed, or willfully ignored, that Bernier picked up on, is that none of the these societies was wholly open to hoover up every dust bunny with a-heart-wrenching-tale-of-woe floating around the world and welcome them in with open arms. Societies, at any scale, that did that didn't last very long.
   Every society needs to have a core set of stories, and beliefs, and values around which to coalesce. A successful multicultural society permits a multiplicity of different groups to participate, but still maintains a sufficiently large core set of values in common to be stable. If those core values are not sufficiently broad, if differences in opinions and beliefs are too intense, then, eventually, that society will fracture, and history shows us that when people get emotional, they get angry and violent. Calm only prevails when there is an agreement to disagree, in the understanding that the point of disagreement does not have severe consequences for one or another party.
   For example, the U.S. and slavery, Religious differences and bigotry as in the Balkans, cultural differences as in between Neustria and Austrasia (which became, respectively, France and Germany). In each case, they started with a common goal, but failed to abridge or abate their differences, harboring resentments and fears, creating small, isolated, inward-looking groups that became intolerably rigid, until they broke apart into violence and wars. There is not that much difference, originally, between the English colonists who created Maine and Vermont, and the ones who created Georgia and South Carolina, but different socio-economic paths eventually led to a bloody war, the echoes of which still reverberate. The Slavic people who populate the nations of the Balkans came from the same original stock, and for a while, as we can see from archaeological proofs, were creative and prosperous, but centuries under various different rulers, Roman, Greek Byzantine, then Ottoman Turks, left them fragmented into pockets defined primarily by different religions who have spent much of the past 300 years tearing at each other in periodic wars over territories that are poor in comparison to the rest of the world. The sons of Charlemagne each inherited a part of his Empire, and fought each other, until the two areas began to separate, the languages and cultures changed, and there has been continual warfare up until about 80 years ago. The formation of an overarching economic union has produced a great economic and cultural benefit for the peoples of Europe, but overweening bureaucracy is causing too much frustration for it to be maintained.
   What Bernier is giving voice to is the concern that the current government is welcoming in too many people from too many disparate regions too quickly who have too many differences to integrate to a sufficient degree. Because newcomers must integrate to a high degree with their new adopted homeland if that culture is to survive. By this means, they add their tastes and aesthetics to the existing culture, and thus change it, create a new, more vibrant culture. The pace of welcoming must be managed, it must be careful and it must not be faster than the psyches of the existing population can bear. People can, and do, eventually accept change, but different people at different rates, and there is no species that actively welcomes it. This is where those who are wholly open to new experiences fail with their agenda of forcing it upon others. There may be good reasons and a lot of benefits to welcoming different viewpoints, but there are a lot of reasons for moderation.
   That is what Bernier noted, and that is anathema to the Social-Democrats who fail to acknowledge the danger of unrestrained, unrestricted, and overly enthusiastic importing of people from too many disparate lands, with beliefs and values that are sometimes completely incompatible with the ones we have come to embrace. It is a tragic irony that the current government seems to be very open to welcoming people from close-minded cultures. Bernier has a note of caution as to what happens when too many people have too much difference, a very real danger that those on the right try to foster in their misguided self-view as heroic warriors fighting against monsters (probably played too much video games) and those on the left arrogantly dismiss in their own belief in their inherent goodness. And so he has been duly castigated by the chattering classes.

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