The Menace of Multiculturalism

The Origin of "The Cult of Ethnicity"

The birth of the concept of multiculturalism can be traced back to the writings of Horace Kallen, who advocated a policy of "cultural pluralism". Kallen, a German-born Jewish-American philosopher, first published his ideas in 1915. He attacked assimilation and the melting-pot theory, and instead proposed that America should become a "commonwealth of... nationalities". Ignoring the potential threats to the ideal of a unified society, Kallen encouraged a philosophy of ethnic separatism, despite warnings that cultural pluralism would "result in the Balkanisation of the United States".(14)

In his critique of the "cult of ethnicity", The Disuniting of America, Arthur Schlesinger relates how "The gospel of cultural pluralism was at first largely confined to academics, intellectuals, and artists" but that, after the Second World War "The civil rights revolution provoked new expressions of ethnic identity by the now long-resident 'new migration' from southern and eastern Europe". He notes that the pressure for the new cult of ethnicity came not from the ethnic minorities en masse (who saw themselves as Americans), but "from their often self-appointed spokesmen". Schlesinger says that the ethnic upsurge "began as a gesture of protest against the Anglocentric culture", but became a "cult", and now threatens the unity of America.(15)

The fatally flawed concept of cultural pluralism eventually took hold in other countries. The term "multiculturalism" was coined in Canada in the 1960s, and was used by the Trudeau Government to try to promote harmony between the predominant French-Canadian and British-Canadian cultures, as well as with the various minority cultures.(16)

Largely made possible by "nearly three decades of large-scale heterogenous immigration", the ideology of multiculturalism took root in Australia during the late 1960s, where it became the rallying cry of various academics , liberals, and "lefties". One of the prime movers of this "cult of ethnicity" was the Polish-born Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, who has been described as the "architect of multiculturalism in Australia". Of Zubrzycki, it was reported that "He was one of the first Australian academics in the late 1960s to put forward multiculturalism as an alternative to the then social policy of assimilation. He says nobody took the proposal seriously until 1973, when he pursued the policy as chairman of the Social Issues Committee of the Immigration Advisory Council to the Whitlam Government. The committee argued Australia had to move towards a recognition of cultural pluralism". Later, as Chairman of the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council, and then as Chairman of the Ethnic Affairs Task Force, he had a guiding hand in presenting two "landmark" reports to Malcolm Fraser's Liberal Government: Australia as a Multicultural Society (1977) and Multiculturalism for all Australians (1982). It has been said that the commitment of successive governments to the multicultural ideal was due "thanks principally to Jerzy Zubrzycki".(17)

However, the rise of multiculturalism in Australia was due to the operations and lobbying of an entire movement and network of people (many now part of the "Multicultural Industry") who pushed for the adoption of multiculturalism as official government policy. James Jupp has admitted that "There is, then, no doubt that a small, mainly politically-involved minority ushered in multiculturalism as public policy". Zubrzycki claimed that "the major breakthrough" came in 1972 when Jean Martin (who largely wrote the 1977 report) gave her Meredith Memorial Lecture on the subject, followed by Grassby's "much publicised address" on multiculturalism in 1973. Indeed, "Australia's public debate about 'multiculturalism' really developed during 1973 with the then Minister of Immigration, Al Grassby".(18)

The advent of the Whitlam Labor Government (December 1972 to November 1975) was the vehicle via which multiculturalism "exploded onto the political scene". It was Grassby who, with the backing of the new government, pushed multiculturalism as far as it could go. It was a concept popular with the liberalistic academia and "migrant intellectuals ... [who] found the idea of multiculturalism attractive". Not only was the concept "a popular idea with the new intelligentsia, but more important, it had clearly struck a responsive chord with many immigrant communities, particularly those from southern Europe".(19)

Multiculturalism was one of the few Whitlam programmes not jettisoned by Malcolm Fraser's incoming Liberal Government in 1975. Voting pattens had by then emerged which showed that "while voters from northern Europe had a similar voting pattern to the Australian-born and the eastern Europeans tended to support the conservative parties, southern Europeans were supporting the ALP". The Fraser government decided that a "commitment to multiculturalism ... could offer something to the southern European electorate". Support for multiculturalism came to be seen as a way of "buying the ethnic vote". As part of this political strategy, "Organised ethnic groups were recognised, funded and listened to. Politicians hoped that sections of the electorate could be reached if ethnic leaders were cultivated, and cultivation and funding helped to strengthen the position of ethnic leaders". Indeed, in 1976, the then Minister for Immigration, Michael MacKellar, admitted "that his Government intended to pursue multicultural policies because the Liberal/National Country Party coalition appeared to be unpopular with migrant voters".(20)

Raymond Sestito has revealed the vote-chasing nature of multiculturalism; how the political parties introduced such policies, not "responding to organised pressure but rather as the initiators of the new policy". He explained that "By the early seventies a great deal of Italian and Greek migrants who had arrived from the mid-1950s onwards had become citizens and so gained the vote. Between January 1965 and June 1979, 188,640 Italians and 150,208 Greeks were granted Australian citizenship. This was too large a group of votes to be ignored by the major political parties. The migrant vote would become especially important to the Victorian ALP since there was a heavy concentration of Greek and Italian votes in the inner suburban area of Melbourne; attracting the migrant vote would be a way of keeping these seats ... Multiculturalism is so appealing to the parties because there are votes to be gained by promoting it. In this case we can say that Australia's political parties have been the initiators of multiculturalism, rather than responding to group pressure."(21)

Sestito further explained the political dilemma of multiculturalism: "Once an issue is established, the bargaining process begins. This is where the parties are caught in a political bind. Once they have articulated the needs of groups, then it becomes hard for them to pull back. Groups which were previously unorganised become stronger and make increasing demands which the parties cannot ignore if they are to gain their vote. Political parties become locked into a situation where one tries to outbid the other in the promises each makes. Thus while in the 1960s one would be mistaken in thinking that migrants hardly existed, we now have a situation where parties compete to see who can promise the most to migrants."(22)

"The first move to buy into the ethnic vote was made by the Federal ALP Government and its Minister for Immigration, Mr Al Grassby", whereby Whitlam's ALP Government (1972-1975) set up various migrant and ethnic services and infrastructures. "If the ALP was first off the mark, the Federal LCP coalition [Liberal Party and the Country Party] was quick to follow. In August of 1975 the coalition issued a detailed policy on immigration and ethnic affairs which was not only an extension of the ALP policy, but was radically different from previous coalition policies in this field. Introducing the policy, the shadow Minister for Immigration, Mr Michael MacKellar, said he 'did not believe that Gough [Whitlam] had the migrant vote all tied up' ... Whereas in the 1960s there was a bi-partisan policy of ethnic assimilation and integration, it seems that multiculturalism has now become the policy of both major parties."(23)

Thus, multiculturalism came to be "endorsed in various ways in the policy statements of both major political parties", due to political agitation, misguided idealism, ethnic lobbying, and especially because of political dishonesty and "vote-grabbing".(24)

It is interesting to note the results of a 1994 survey of voting support, by voters' country of birth: (25)

Voter support (% by country of birth):
Political party Total Australia Greece Italy Other
Asia New
Aust. Labor Party 41 40 52 61 44.5 60.5 33.5 28.5 51
Liberal-National 45 46 36.5 33 44.5 33 52 54.5 31
Democrats 6 6 1.5 4 5 1.5 5 5 8.5
Green 3.5 3.5 3.5 1.5 2 2 4 7 5
Independent/Other 4.5 4.5 6.5 0.5 4 3 5.5 5 4.5

Time Morgan survey was based on face-to -face interviews with 14,712 electors throughout Australia, January 1994 to mid-April 1994.
In light of information given in the preceding paragraphs, it would be interesting to see this survey with Europe broken up into North, East, West, and South.

The Menace of Multiculturalism