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June 04th 2017 print

Francis McLoughlin

The Contradiction in Multicultural Policy

Only when groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir tremble to make themselves known in public for fear of a confident citizenry showering them with virulent and open contempt will Australia finally have grasped that it need pay no more heed to opinion-page scolds and social engineers

sack of rome IIPierre Manent must rank among our greatest living political philosophers. A professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, a one-time student of Raymond Aron, and a prolific author of books on the theme—more often than not—of what he calls “the political form,” Manent has been aptly described as a “Catholic Straussian,”[1] a designation which points to what must be about the most necessary, intriguing, and promising intellectual synthesis imaginable in our times. In facing the problems of our world—from the ongoing crisis of liberal democracy, to the threat of Islamic nihilism, and the erosion of sovereignty in an age of globalisation—it helps to have reflected on Manent’s presentation of the contemporary significance of the nation-state, in his Democracy without Nations?, or his poetic and rigorous exegesis of political forms more generally, in Metamorphoses of the City.

At first glance, Manent’s willingness to defend and honour the European nation-state in and of itself, as a civilised and liberal political form—he has written that “[t]he nation-state is to modern Europe what the city-state was to ancient Greece”[2]—should place him squarely in the camp of the Right. Yet his latest work, Beyond Radical Secularism, does not conform at all to the template popularised by right-wingers—men like Éric Zemmour, say—who denounce the dilution of French Republican culture in the wake of paramarxian politicking and heavy immigration from the Islamic world. Indeed, there is nothing Napoleonic about Manent; his works are too nuanced to please the Front National. If anything, in its pessimism, Manent’s argument in Beyond Radical Secularism comes closer to the Houellebecqian dilemma facing serious French conservatives who see that, in many cases, they may actually have more in common with traditional-minded Muslim newcomers than with the native-born chauvinists with their loud-mouthed nostalgia and militant secularism. Manent’s is a book of regimes and rapprochement.

Still, it is impossible to ignore the reality that an increasingly violent, menacing series of outbursts, perpetrated by individuals who have settled in France from predominantly Muslim nations, has marred the country’s journey towards a de facto demographic Eurabia in recent times, and Manent is nothing if not clear-eyed as to the nature of the problem confronting his country. In Beyond Radical Secularism, he makes explicit reference to the underlying politico-theological crisis:

The rights of man, as these have come to be understood throughout the course of the history of European nations, will be of little help in bringing Muslims to see their moral practices reasonably from a certain distance; as we now understand them, human rights imply the pure and simple disappearance of Islam as a form of common life. Muslims are too attached to their moral practices and to their religion to give into the temptation to become ‘modern individuals’ by disappearing as Muslims.[3]

Modernity issues its edict to all to give up their archaic attachments and embrace the “neutrality” of modern life. But this edict, as any student of the twentieth-century well knows, can just as often inspire a nihilistic response. Among Muslims, this response has come from that small minority of emasculated men who make a point of growing their beards long, reciting the Qur’an, and mixing explosives. Manent’s response to all this, however, is not to enjoin Islam to adapt, à la Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For if anything, such injunctions merely exhibit a doubling-down on the original error. Exasperated by the politics of fact-value distinctions, Manent bemoans that “when we are asked to adhere to the values of the Republic, nothing is asked of us.”[4] “The result,” in a depoliticised state, “is that everyone likes to proclaim these values, a money that may buy nothing, but at least costs nothing to print.”[5]

These empty “values” are but the common currency of centrism—in both its centre-Left and centre-Right varieties—and have no purchase on the loyalties of a political community. But what sets Manent apart from so many on the contemporary French Right is his adamant refusal to re-write his nation’s recent history or, in light of which, to play the unsuspecting victim. In reflecting upon the influx of North Africans and Middle Easterners, he dares to stress an unwelcome truth:

We did not impose conditions upon their settling here, and so they have not violated them. Having been accepted as equals, they thus have every right to think that they were accepted “as they were.” We cannot reverse this acceptance without breaking the tacit contract that has accompanied immigration over the last forty years.[6]

This is exactly what Western populations, having placidly accepted the political status quo for decades now, do not want to hear. They would prefer it if the vivid demonstrations of the incompatibility of post-Christian liberal democracy with a younger, energetic religious-group, were something utterly unforeseeable and simply perverse. But they are neither. And now the West suffers for it, unsettled and agitated by recent developments—developments which Manent is well-positioned to observe: he began writing his book in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders in January 2015, and published just before the bloodbath in November 2015.[7]

The Bataclan massacre, recall, was presaged many months beforehand by Reuel Marc Gerecht’s post-Charlie Hebdo exposé in the Wall Street Journal on the impotence of the French intelligence services.[8] Despite being the “finest counterterrorist force in the West,” upon which the Americans and British rely,[9] the DCRI was simply overwhelmed by the threat of jihad in Europe, a threat made possible by Schengen and mass-immigration from the Muslim world. The DCRI, at the time, was reportedly monitoring 11,700 people with ties to the Syrian war, the “hardcore” among them having risen by one estimate from 800 to 2,000 in a couple of years.[10] The imprecision of even these staggering figures—an imprecision engendered by the inability of a liberal democracy to completely invigilate its citizenry—should alert us to the proximate origins of the threat, hinted at in James C. Bennett’s quip: “Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism. Pick any two.”[11] In other words, the “open society” of positivist dreams, in ignoring so many human realities—foremost among them a sense of the divine, of religiosity and its significance to civic life, in defining the very soul of a people—proves ultimately self-defeating. Bataclan shows just what can happen when such realities are neglected.

Our politicians have stockpiles of gung-ho phrases for use on the occasion of such atrocities, and are all-too eager to indulge in bluster. In their hyperactivity, many of our officials are wont to twist themselves, pretzel-like, into contortions of indignation, announcing mismatched measures in histrionic tones. A self-confident people has no need for such antics, yet in the case of France a few televised sorties on Raqqa saw to it that the temporarily-impassioned were sated. The ritual is well-established by now: a feverish week of hashtags and meme-sharing, and the unnerved were ready to return to business-as-usual. But would it have been preferable to witness instead a nation, having had some such outrage perpetrated on it, enter into a visceral state of vengefulness, hankering for a military enactment of the underlying civilisational clash? The answer is clearly no. It would have been preferable, rather, for a people not to have rendered itself vulnerable to such attacks in the first place.

Any student of classical political philosophy would rightly recoil at an attempt to reduce the political things—which is to say, the human things—to mathematical formulae. Too many professional political analysts, from exalted “game-theorists” to lowly pollsters, have adopted just such an approach, pioneered by Saint-Simon and Comte through to Weber and Popper. The resulting managerial art of “governance” is precisely what has brought the West to its current predicament. Indeed, Aristotle critiqued democratic regimes in the Ethica Eudemia for their propensity to “count” personalities rather than “weigh” them, elevating thereby the “numerical” treatment of men over the “proportional”[12]—which is the difference between regarding men as faceless individuals, registered by the ballot-box, and indispensable souls, albeit assigned to different stations in life. (A liberal democracy is supposed to meld the two approaches, though try telling that to a census-taker). Perhaps, then, the time has come to stage a return to the “proportional” treatment of things, in which case, I do not think it overly abstruse to advance an elaboration of the central deficiency of liberal democracy in mathematical parlance, though this time in terms of set theory.

After all, delicate subjects require delicate treatment, in furtherance of which mathematical analogies can work wonders. (Just ask Alain Badiou). So consider that, before its Zermelo-Fraenkel incarnation, attempts to formalise naive set theory encountered something called “Russell’s paradox,” first articulated by its namesake, Bertrand Russell, in 1902.[13] It may be expressed as follows. Define an “abnormal” set as a set which happens to be a member of itself, and a “normal” set as a set which is not a member of itself. The paradox is that the set of all normal sets would be neither normal (for then it would contain itself) nor abnormal (for then it would not contain itself). As Russell wrote in his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy:

The comprehensive class we are considering, which is to embrace everything, must embrace itself as one of its members. In other words, if there is such a thing as “everything,” then, “everything” is something, and is a member of the class “everything.” But normally a class is not a member of itself. Mankind, for example, is not a man. Form now the assemblage of all classes which are not members of themselves. This is a class: is it a member of itself or not? If it is, it is one of those classes that are not members of themselves, i.e., it is not a member of itself. If it is not, it is not one of those classes that are not members of themselves, i.e. it is a member of itself. Thus of the two hypotheses—that it is, and that it is not, a member of itself—each implies it’s contradictory. This is a contradiction.[14]

Defenders of liberal democracy in the West would do well to ponder the proposed resolution of this contradiction by the Zermelo-Fraenkel formalisation of set theory, which introduced the “axiom of choice.”[15] It may just prove the key to their survival.

Put simply, the axiom of choice can be expressed as follows: the Cartesian product of a non-empty collection of non-empty sets is non-empty. The axiom thereby precludes Russell’s paradox by simply refusing to recognise self-contradictory sets. According to the mathematician Derek Goldrei, in his Classic Set Theory, “…[Ernst] Zermelo’s motivation for producing axioms was not so much the avoidance of paradoxes, but… to give a framework for a controversial result about sets.”[16] Whereas Zermelo’s contribution represented “in a formal way what is intuitively true about sets,”[17] Russell’s paradox “relies in large part on our ability to make statements which refer to themselves.”[18] The axiom of choice, in other words, was a decision, and it was beautiful. Zermelo laid down the law, and his colleagues went on with the show. No more dithering, no more hand-wringing, no more pseudo-insights which some wise-guy—like the sophists in Plato’s Euthydemus—could pull out of his repertoire of learned tricks, to arrest the development of this branch of mathematics. Far from denying the reality of paradoxes and beguiling complications, Zermelo simply noted that there are rules to observe if set theory is to thrive. So let me proffer a proposal of my own, which is this: in a liberal democracy, where each individual is entitled to his own opinion, any opinion which seeks to suppress some other opinion must be excluded from that liberal democracy. Liberal democracy must grow a backbone.

To select an example at random from recent memory, when a dope-addled,[19] jihad-inspired,[20] lumpen son of Muslim immigrants in Copenhagen shoots up a conference on free speech hosted by the Lars Vilks Committee—as one Omar El-Hussein did, in February 2015—before rounding off his terror with a sojourn across town to give attendees of a bat mitzvah the same treatment, the response of a liberal democracy must be to exclude—remove, detain, preclude—forever more this kind of actively hostile element from its overall liberal “set.” Alas, progressives who dwell ideologically in the Republic of Russell’s Paradox would rather feign ignorance over the nature of the incident, going so far as to deflect attention onto the growing suspicion, held by many, that Muslim mass-immigration to Western cities has been a calamitous mistake and must come to a halt—a suspicion which progressives denounce as “Islamophobia,” that is, something inhospitable to liberal democracy.

The progressive would have us all endlessly intone that not all Muslim immigrants harbour murderous, infidel-hating sentiments. This is indisputably so. (Who could deny it?) But to revert to the language of set theory, it is nevertheless clear that the small set of individuals who thirst after the blood of apostates and “crusaders,” from Berlin to Rome, is flanked by a larger set of Muslims in Europe who sympathise with the jihad-minded malcontents—as was attested by the hundreds who showed up for Omar El-Hussein’s funeral.[21] This set of Jew-loathing sympathisers itself constitutes but a subset of an even larger multitude of European Muslims who demand that infidels respect, and even defer to, Islam in the nations of what was formerly Christendom. And the intensity of those Muslim activists who actually convene demonstrations to petition the infidels to heed their Allah-inspired will, animates in ever-fading degrees those concentric circles of the faithful who comprise the rest of those Muslims who has come in droves to a continent of liberal democracies—instead of some place in the Ummah which actually implements shari’a.

It is multiculturalism which makes a Russell’s paradox of liberal democracy. It is tempting to say, in contradistinction, that a liberal democracy must have only one culture, and that it be a liberal one. (Add any more, and your beloved liberal democracy stands to become the incredible shrinking regime!) Now, in one sense, to be a liberal is to hold the opinion that freedom—of thought, speech, assembly—is a good thing. But for a democracy to be liberal, it is sufficient only that it allows its citizens to hold any opinion they wish, regardless of whether that opinion, in itself, is liberal or not. A man in a liberal democracy, it follows, must be completely free to hold the opinion that liberal democracy itself is a bad thing—be it because he dislikes democracy, or liberalism, or both. It is only necessary that the culture of his country be liberal, so that no anti-liberal man may forcibly divest his pro-liberal compatriots of the right to hold an opinion contrary to his own. If he is liberal in spirit, though not in opinion, the ostensibly anti-liberal man will attempt to persuade the liberal, by argument, that his liberalism is faulty or mistaken. He will not, however, try to silence or suppress the liberal. For that reason, such a man will be an effective participant in the culture of liberalism, whether he likes it or not. (This is a contradiction for the anti-liberal opinion-holder to grapple with internally, not externally). Those smart-alecks who would decry the exclusion of a jihad-declaring rabble-rouser must be met with the Zermelo-Fraenkel “axiom of choice,” adapted to liberal democracy: the political form of a liberal state of liberal men is liberal.

That, certainly, is one way of putting it; though clearly, also, a tediously subtle and unsatisfactory one. As a purely formal, abstract exposition, this account leaves much to be desired in terms of the concrete. But how could it be otherwise? In a liberal democracy, the total set of opinions—which by necessity includes both liberal and non-liberal opinions, insofar as the non-liberal accepts the right of other opinions to exist untrammelled—ceases to be liberal once the non-liberal elements organise, act, and effectively oust the liberals, so to speak, from the set. The liberals having been silenced, the set will contain only illiberal opinions—an illiberal set—leaving an illiberal democracy. How could this be allowed to happen? “States,” Manent has written, “are large, over-burdened beings, slow-moving, and always postponing the moment to reflect and to decide.”[22] Such inertia, as we shall see, can be fatal.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, for one, has written of “the dictatorship of the small minority,” pointing out that when an “intransigent minority” demands special treatment, in the face of which the “flexible majority” remains nonchalant, the minority will succeed in imposing its preferences on the majority.[23] Taleb gives some thought to the circumstances under which such a thing is likely to occur—the spatial distribution of the population, say, or the costs involved—referring to the “emergent property” of a “complex system.” All in all, he offers the following reflection:

In the United Kingdom, where the (practicing) Muslim population is only three to four percent, a very high number of the meat we find is halal. Close to seventy percent of lamb imports from New Zealand are halal. Close to ten percent of the chain Subway carry halal-only stores (meaning no pork), in spite of the high costs from the loss of business of nonpork stores. The same holds in South Africa where, with the same proportion of Muslims, a disproportionately higher number of chicken is Halal certified.[24]

The question of how meat is to be prepared has, to be sure, little if any bearing in itself upon the question of whether a society is “liberal” or “illiberal.” But it is worth considering, if only as a cautionary tale for how cultures can change.

While Taleb concedes that the halal practice may be disproportionately prevalent with respect to the share of observant Muslims in the population, “in the U.K. … [it] is not neutral enough to reach a high level, as people may rebel against forceful abidance to other’s religious norms.”[25] This is noteworthy, for it suggests that if the spread of Islamic custom in Britain is to stall, it will only be because, in this particular instance, “some people may have a taboo against Moslem food”—that is, because some will choose to take a conscious stand against it—rather than petering out of its own accord. Self-confidence in one’s own national way of life, then, is a precondition for retaining that way of life. Anything less will fail to preserve it.

To interpret the “axiom of choice” in this political context—namely, as an intent to preserve one’s national way of life—is to conjure forth a line of reasoning set out by Manent in his Democracy without Nations? In a chapter titled ‘The Nation’, Manent makes the case that “the sovereign state alone is capable of defining and simultaneously instituting the ‘abstract place’ of representation.”[26] “The vitality of the representative process,” he goes on to emphasise,

presupposes that the people represented in its diverse constituent parts exists, and desires to exist, independently of its representation, and thus of the representative state. In order to be represented, one must first be.[27]

The understanding enunciated here amounts to nothing less than the political equivalent of Ernst Zermelo’s approach to set theory. While Manent has much to say, employing a Tocquevillian term, about the “equality of conditions” under democracy, he warns of how “[a] state that universally guarantees the ‘human rights’ of the members of society becomes a substitute for the combination of a sovereign nation-state and representative government.”[28] And how could anyone fail to think, upon reading these words, of today’s “human rights commissions”?—bodies which, in aspiring to a state of universal tolerance, achieve in practice something resembling more the “systematic organisation of hatreds” described by Henry Adams.

We must therefore go even further in defining our terms. A normal nation, let us say, is one which respects the integrity of the prevailing culture, a culture which may prove difficult to define precisely—cultures, after all, are hardly reducible to algorithms—but which is nonetheless evinced in the mores of the citizenry. An abnormal nation, on the other hand, is one whose authorities purposely set out to “spruce up” or “improve” the way of life—how many more times must our ears bleed at hearing the word “vibrant” used to describe a “diverse” city or suburb?—by visiting upon the citizenry an immigration system akin to a game of musical chairs. Zermelo-Fraenkel liberal democracy, in this sense, is a normal nation; abnormal nations, by contrast, are mired in the collective angst and bafflement of Russell’s paradox.

But how could the once-liberal set of opinions in the West fail to contain itself? So long as a thought exists in the head of a man in a democracy, surely it stands some chance of being represented in the governing body of the nation? Democracy, of course, is inspired by the principle of equality. But since men are not equal in any way, strictly speaking, except spiritually at birth or “in the eyes of the law,” the equality of conditions in a democracy must be achieved by a process of artificial levelling: hills must be dynamited, valleys filled. In such a regime, the threat of mass-man—the easy-going, conformist, technocratic man—becoming the prevailing type, was articulated by Alexis de Tocqueville in his Democracy in America:

Subjection in small affairs manifests itself every day and makes itself felt without distinction by all citizens. It does not make them desperate; but it constantly thwarts them and brings them to renounce the use of their wills. Thus little by little, it extinguishes their spirits and enervates their souls, whereas obedience, which is due only in a few grave but very rare circumstances, shows servitude only now and then and makes it weigh only on certain men. In vain will you charge these same citizens, whom you have rendered so dependent on the central power, with choosing the representatives of this power from time to time; that use of their free will, so important but so brief and so rare, will not prevent them from losing little by little the faculty of thinking, feeling, and acting by themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.[29]

Tocqueville’s warning was as good as prophecy. It may not have been exactly what he had in mind, but the French Pleven Laws, for example, or Australia’s very own Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act—together with all the other complicated, intrusive, petty rules rendering “subjection in small affairs,” stultifying a culture of liberty in the name of equality and diversity—are simply incompatible with a free society. When immigrants are reared in cultures very different from those of the West, many will find it near-impossible to assimilate—to alter their very souls, as it were, by immersing themselves truly in their new regime. Multiculturalism, then, is but a necessary response to the repercussions of mass-immigration, in compelling the existing-citizenry to adapt to the ways of the newcomers.

In our liberal democracies, progressives appoint themselves the political-groundskeepers, labouring under the belief that the liberal set of opinions must be perpetually raked and tended, weeding out the stolid and recalcitrant who would dare to defend the liberal polity as such. The progressive is not impressed by Zermelo-Fraenkel liberal democracy. To the politics of Russell’s paradox, he has given no thought. The progressive, indeed, will brook no dissent from anyone who points out that peoples from the Sub-Sahara, or the Maghreb, or the Mashriq, or Central Asia, or the Far East, or Hispanic America, by and large do not hail from a liberal culture, and thus if they are brought to the Anglosphere or continental Europe in large enough numbers, concentrating thereafter in select neighbourhoods, vast numbers of such people will, alas, never be truly a part of the liberal polity. Liberal mores will be simply overwhelmed and swept away, because of the naive democratic sentiments which eschew the Zermelo-Fraenkel formalisation of liberal democracy.

The sinister irony, however, is that while multiculturalism stands as the official policy of suppressing liberal democracy for the sake of the illiberal minority, recent calls by the Right for immigrants to “assimilate” present their own form of illiberalism—particularly when such calls aspire to a legal form such as a “burqa ban” or, more circuitously, “identity cards”—so that the mores of liberal democracy are threatened on both sides of the political aisle. The aggrandisement of the state in the name of forced “assimilation” simply cannot be advanced by any self-respecting conservative or classical liberal, any more than the forceful diminution of foreign minority-cultures—which exist here only because of the official policy to invite them here—could be countenanced by anyone claiming the mantle of virtue or liberty. Indeed, I do not believe there could be a greater demonstration of the truth of Professor Manent’s assertion that a sovereign state is the precondition for representative government—that a nation constitutes the very foundation of liberal democracy—than the situation now impressing itself upon our minds, from Toronto to Sydney. But do we, as Australians, really see it? A perusal of the opinion-pages of our nation’s major rags would suggest not. There are all too many stranded yet, in the Republic of Russell’s Paradox. But as it happens, we are not alone.

In his novel Silence—recently adapted as a motion-picture film by Martin Scorsese—the late Catholic-Japanese author, Shusaku Endo, gives an account of Christian faith, embodied in the efforts of two Jesuit missionaries, coming to profound grief in attempting to penetrate a proud, traditionalist, seventeenth-century Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate. Great and wanton cruelty was inflicted on the Kakure Kirishitan—Japanese Christians driven into hiding by a ruthless campaign of persecution by the authorities—in an effort to stamp out a force which threatened to transform the social fabric of Japan. The novel is extremely powerful, distressing, and in the end, downright painful for anyone—let alone a conservative-Christian Westerner—to read, not least because, for all one’s instinctive sympathy with the plight of the Christians, one cannot help but feel a gnawing sense of ambivalence in pondering the ultimate rightness or wrongness of the Japanese state in acting the way it did. After all, it was carrying out its duty to preserve a distinctly Japanese way of life, warding off an intrusion by what was—for all its catholicity—an alien religious doctrine.

Given all this, do liberal democrats truly have a right to defend their own countries, their own cultures? The question has recently returned to Japan. In February 2015, Ayako Sono, a Catholic-Japanese novelist—like Endo, a member of Japan’s “Third Generation” of post-war writers—provoked outrage when she argued in an op-ed for Sankei Shimbun that, although Japan should indeed consider an efficient, level-headed, self-interested policy of allowing in foreign workers to help ease strains on its labour-market, owing to its declining-population, the country should nevertheless maintain some prudent, ad hoc residential-separation between the native population and migrant-workers. After all, Japan has no desire to repeat the mistakes which other countries have made in recent decades. To make matters more explicit, Sono offered some forthright words on the logic behind South African apartheid.

As South African apartheid has come to symbolise all that is wicked and evil in our world, I do not believe it necessary to describe the reaction which met her proposal. Heads, suffice it to say, exploded all over the place. After a time, the Japan Times recorded a nation still deep in the throes of its hissy-fit: “Public outrage over what is widely seen as a pro-apartheid column penned by conservative author Ayako Sono has shown no sign of abating more than a week after its publication.”[30] The Times went on to report that “111 university professors and scholars nationwide had expressed their support for a letter of protest” of Sono’s article, the letter insisting that Sono’s view “deserved international condemnation.”[31] This herd-intelligentsia even went so far as to call upon the elderly littérateur to retract her column, declaring it an “‘intolerable’ affront to efforts made by global society to battle racism,” the decision by Sankei Shimbun to publish it having “‘damage[d] Japan’s reputation’ as a trustworthy member of the international community.”[32]

“Global society” may well be battling “racism”[33]—“racism,” in this instance, being defined as an attempt to safeguard national sovereignty—though it is unclear how seamless a part of this self-same planetary-populace Japan has hitherto been. Certainly, the country’s immigration policy has been impressively shrewd and effective at preserving Japanese civilisation by demographic means, though all that may be subject to change, given the white-hot progressive ire occasioned by Sono’s piece. All it took was for Sono to relay an anecdote from Johannesburg many moons ago, noting what happened when black families moved into apartment blocks once reserved for whites. The blacks, with their sizeable families, would often invite their extended kin to come live with them, so that there would end up being 20 to 30 people living in a unit where a white or Asian family would once have lived as husband, wife, and a couple of children.[34] This arrangement led, before long, to certain unintended consequences—undue pressure on the water supply, for one thing—so as to eventually drive out the white families. This was regrettable, but such is life. In any case, Sono concluded: “People can work, research, and socialise together. But only in terms of residence should they be separated.”[35]

It apparently did not matter that Japan’s long-standing immigration policy is already predicated on this being true; that Sono stated it openly was beyond the pale. And as ill-considered as it may have been for Sono to raise a case which seemed to equate culture and race, since Japan happens, by fate and circumstance, to be an ethnically-homogenous nation—though not all nation-states are, obviously—it was not unreasonable for her to have thought the comparison apt. The solution she proposed, at any rate, was the eminently sensible one which has it that immigration should be limited (its conditions being agreed to in a formal contract); that it have a clear purpose (employment in a sector suffering from a labour-shortage); and that it not interfere with the pre-existing culture. If foreigners wish to work in Japan, they must respect Japan. And yet, Sono actually says they need not assimilate—by which she means outwardly conform—so long as they make no attempt to influence the existing culture in any way. It is truly risible and pathetic that such hysteria should have greeted the publication of Sono’s lucid, civilised musings on her nation’s pressing demographic problems. Progressives the world over seem to fear nothing more than the talk turning to what they call “racism,” but which any normal person would recognise simply as a delicate topic which ought to be—though their ever-squeamish establishments no longer permit it—discussed in the open.

Australia may not be as far gone as Europe, but nor do we enjoy anything even approaching the cultural integrity still to be found in the Land of the Rising Sun. We have certainly suffered our own outbreaks of violent illiberalism in recent times. And it may well be untenable to imagine that Australia could any longer aspire to the kind of program which Sono believes to be in the best interests of her country. All the same, the thought will by now have crossed many a mind, here and abroad, that multiculturalism is a pernicious creed, inviting paradox and subversion, deception and, eventually, self-censorship—if not outright censorship—of civilised, liberal opinion. If Zermelo-Fraenkel liberal democracy is to have a future, the most one can hope for is the cultivation of a general feeling in line with the reasoning and insights articulated by Professor Manent in his aforementioned work. Such an attitude, which is of an entirely different quality to the soundbite-searching bluster of our politicians, constitutes the true spirit of an autonomous political community.

Only when we have reached the point where Hizb ut-Tahrir trembles to make itself known in public for fear that a self-respecting citizenry will shower it with virulent, outspoken contempt—a contempt unprompted by the expediency of addressing unpleasant headlines—will Australia be able to revive its liberal culture. By the same token, only when we have accepted the desirability of a renewed social contract, one which recognises the consequences—some of them regrettable—of recent immigration-levels, will our liberal democracy find its ground. We cannot achieve any of this, however, so long as we languish under a Republic of Russell’s Paradox.

[1] Truman Anderson, ‘French Resistance’, Claremont Review of Books, Vol. 17, No. 1, Winter 2016/17, p. 16

[2] Pierre Manent, Democracy without Nations? (trans. Paul Seaton), (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2013), p. 30

[3] Pierre Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2016), p. 81

[4] Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, p. 96

[5] Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, p. 96

[6] Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, p. 45

[7] Barton Swaim, ‘Saving Paris From Islamism’, Wall Street Journal, 3 August 2016

[8] Reuel Marc Gerecht, ‘France and the New Charismatic Jihad’, Wall Street Journal, 7 January 2015

[9] Reuel Marc Gerecht, ‘A France-U.S. Anti-Islamist Alliance’, Wall Street Journal, 15 November 2015

[10] Christopher Caldwell, ‘European Insecurity’, The Weekly Standard, 30 November 2015

[11] James C. Bennett, ‘Multi-culti Policy and the Sydney Beach Riots’, Anglosphere.com, 15 December 2005 [Available online at http://anglosphere.com/weblog/archives/000198.html]

[12] Ethica Eudemia VII 1241b 33-40, in The Works of Aristotle (trans. W. D. Ross), (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1915), pp. 203-4

[13] Derek Goldrei, Classic Set Theory, (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1998), p. 68

[14] Bertrand Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, (London, UK: George Allen & Unwin, 1919), p. 136

[15] Goldrei, pp. 104-126

[16] Goldrei, p. 69

[17] Goldrei, p. 70

[18] Goldrei, p. 71

[19] Angelique Chrisafis, ‘Copenhagen shooting suspect Omar el-Hussein – a past full of contradictions’, The Guardian, 17 February 2015

[20] William Wheeler, ‘The Jihadist of Copenhagen’, The New Republic, 3 August 2015

[21] AFP, ‘Copenhagen shootings: Hundreds attend funeral of gunman’, The Telegraph, 20 February 2015

[22] Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, p. 3

[23] Nassim Nicholas Taleb, ‘The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority’, Medium, 14 August 2016

[24] Taleb, Ibid.

[25] Taleb, Ibid.

[26] Manent, Democracy without Nations?, p. 33

[27] Manent, Democracy without Nations?, p. 35

[28] Manent, Democracy without Nations?, p. 38

[29] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Harvey C. Mansfield & Delba Winthrop), (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 2002), p. 665

[30] Tomohiro Osaki, ‘Outrage grows over Sono “apartheid” column’, Japan Times, 20 February 2015

[31] Osaki, Ibid.

[32] Osaki, Ibid.

[33] Osaki, Ibid.

[34] David McNeill, ‘Japanese Prime Minister urged to embrace apartheid for foreign workers’, The Independent, 13 February 2015

[35] Eric Johnson & Tomohiro Osaki, ‘Author Sono calls for racial segregation in op-ed piece’, Japan Times, 12 February 2015

Comments [27]

  1. Jody says:

    The Judas Goats from the Left and its bien pensant acolytes will always guarantee we remain in danger.

  2. hwka says:

    Mr McLoughlin sir, I dips me lid.
    That was the best leader I think I have ever read.
    Not sure I need to read any further.

    • Warty says:

      So little read, one wonders at a comment at all.

      • hwka says:

        Wonder away , Warty , your comprehension skills may well improve as a result.
        Headlines and leaders are designed to draw the reader to the article which might otherwise not be read.
        I was not all that impressed by the article but I was impressed by the leader, hence my comment.
        Struggle on Warty , you may well get there.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    I have not yet fully read this article but I must immediately express my very strong disapproval of this:

    “In reflecting upon the influx of North Africans and Middle Easterners, he dares to stress an unwelcome truth:

    (Quote from Pierre Manent)
    >We did not impose conditions upon their settling here, and so they have not violated them. Having been accepted as equals, they thus have every right to think that they were accepted “as they were.” We cannot reverse this acceptance without breaking the tacit contract that has accompanied immigration over the last forty years.<

    (Affirmed by the author)
    This is exactly what Western populations, having placidly accepted the political status quo for decades now, do not want to hear. They would prefer it if the vivid demonstrations of the incompatibility of post-Christian liberal democracy with a younger, energetic religious-group, were something utterly unforeseeable and simply perverse. But they are neither.”

    Since when was it mandatory to “impose conditions" on visitors or guests being welcomed in one’s home? Is it not absolutely natural to expect the guests to behave respectfully and in a civilised manner towards the hosts, appreciative of the hospitality, instead of demanding the rights and privileges which belong to the owner of the home? Is it not the inalienable right of the homeowner to throw out misbehaving, ungrateful guests?

    • Warty says:

      I think if you put it into an Australian context you might agree. Think back to the Whitlam era, with its abundance of left lunatics like Al Grassby. In retrospect we can see their liberal ideas regarding multiculturalism, were a reaction to the White Australia policy, and the conservatism of the long Menzies era. Multiculturalism became the new nostrum of both centre right and centre left (centrism) and we would see no evil, hear no evil . . . The acceptance of moral relativism became visceral, to the point molecules of saturated ignorance clogged our very ability to distinguish right from wrong. Muslims believing in ‘death to the infidel’? Welcome them with open arms: we’ve made them that way through our colonising past (despite the fact Australia never did any such thing. Papua New Guinea was a protectorate). Death to the infidel? ‘Tis but a quirk in their peace-loving religion, which we should respect, courtesy of multiculturalism.
      This is the tacit contract Manent is talking of. These are the people we regarded as equals, until matters began to rather rapidly unravel. Those more astute observers have pointed out repeatedly that their intentions have been crystal clear for well over a decade now, but we chose to ignore them, trusting that political correctness will continue our opiated dream of good will.
      Manent’s argument is totally valid: the Muslims have been unflinching in their furtherance of their ideology, which we once accepted without really inquiring deeply into the matter.
      So, Manent’s argument is why start beating your collective chest when the body parts start flying? They warned you about it, and their sermons of hatred had been going on under our collective nossies.

    • Keith Kennelly says:

      It’s ok to change our views and impose our values on the newcomers.

      We are allowed to err and to correct our errors.

      It is ok not to be tolerant of intolerance.

      • Warty says:

        I think you need to check the text again Keith: in no way does either Mcloughlin or Manent suggest we tolerate intolerance, but he did suggest that the fact we allowed these creatures in, and the fact that we currently have the sort of accepting society that has (up to now) allowed the same people to set up closed communities and to accept their entirely anti Western anti social behaviour/ideology as just part of the multi cultural mix. The very passages Bill quotes (in context) point to why Manent correctly argues this.You and I and Bill may strongly oppose this now, but we were not alert to the dangers thirty or so years ago.
        Bill having come from Hungary may be more alert to totalitarianism than we, but the majority allowed Islam to set up here.

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          Warty

          Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I now think multiculturalism and allowing immigrants in without conditions was an error. I also think it an error for us to tolerat intolerance.

          It was ok for us to make errors just as it is ok for us to now address and change those mistakes.

  4. Bill Martin says:

    Now that I have finished reading the article, while I fully concur with its message, I do believe that it is rather verbose, straying into numerous byways of questionable necessity to enhance understanding. When referring to Muslims, it fails to make the salient points that their culture is not merely alien to ours and pretty well all other cultures, but it is the only culture completely dominated by religion, which, in turn, is the only religion dedicated to annihilate all other cultures and religions, which is the crux of the matter.

    • Jody says:

      The pundits are now predicting a Corbyn win in the British elections!! This sandal-wearing, mung-bean-chewing communist will take them back to the 1930s. But I feel ambivalent; one the one hand it horrifies me but I also feel Britain needs to crash and burn to be an object lesson to the rest of us. So, in many ways this NEEDS to happen. The ship needs to go down to kill the cockroaches.

      And I think their own multicultural policies are reaping them their current harvest. I’m ashamed to say I’ve turned my head away from their current problems with muslim terrorism as I think they’ve been the architect of their own miseries.

      • ianl says:

        The whole point to the Brexit vote is that when offered a real choice, rather than a fake bipartisan tweedledum/tweedledee offering, a majority chose to reclaim sovereignty, which amongst other parameters entails immigration border control of some fashion. The constant squawks of various EU puffs insisting that the UK continue its’ Brussels-determined immigration “quota” expose that point to clear sunlight. So the “they” architecting their own miseries is a minority, on current empirical evidence. If Corbyn wins – and remember that the pollsters were comprehensively and deservedly lied to in the Brexit campaign – then I will agree that the UK has become a truly national tragedy. I have a personal stake here as well as a few years ago my daughter chose to live and work in London.

        Australia is sliding that way as both major parties and the MSM enablers steadfastly refuse to make an offer of real choice here. We do now have some immigration control post Rudd/Gillard. It is fragile, precarious and under constant attack; it is also very rarely defined out loud. Nonetheless, it is an improvement on a Brussels style diktat. I do not expect a real choice to be offered as the only three “elites” I can remember in my life who willingly gave up power for the better (Steele Hall, John Gorton, Bill Hayden) are not regarded as examples to emulate. So the quivery status quo in Aus is what we have, as the saying goes in “real politik”.

        • Jody says:

          No sir; I’m not having any of it. The people have tolerated the status quo without going onto the streets in their millions (as they did in anti-this or that marches) and putting a stop to it. By their tacit acceptance and willingness to lie down and not confront their marxists acolytes they have effectively shared the blame. And you hear so many young people cooing and billing about ‘celebrating diversity’ that they are well and truly part of the problem.

          • ianl says:

            None of that bravado is of any practical use. You and I have been here before. If the political/bureaucratic/media groups persist in offering no real choice, “demos” are of no significance. Political partisanship (ie. all major parties tacitly agreeing not to change anything significant) needs to be smashed up by the temptation of power to cause agenda change – these “elite” people are now terrified by the evident disintegration of civilised society and are completely clueless on how to stem it (so is anyone here, including both you and me). No action there … perhaps, tell us *exactly* what you would expect from them. No shyness, now.

            The Brexit vote may have been too little, too late but they did indeed go out on the streets in their millions when it counted. The Aus population has voted twice, the second time unenthusiastically, for immigration border controls. Better than none.

            And Skeletor is a UN-centric “diversity” advocate, yet in the past here you have supported her. So, no madam, your bravado is a flat one-note samba. Again, practical, useful suggestions are needed. Rhetoric is just tedious. Of course we’re fed up, irritated to the roof, but none here are electable.

          • Warty says:

            I am more of Jodi’s mind here ianl (your reply button, by the way, has been swallowed by your full-frontal assault).
            Your advocacy of smashing things up, particularly from a bunch of largely old farts is perhaps a little impractical. I’m of the mind that there is such a thing as a community mind, and it doesn’t quite work like clockwork. You will have seen massive swings of public sentiment in the past, even the distant past, but these never came about totally out of the blue. Little community weevils had been working away, spreading their thought larvae, permeating the consciousness until suddenly these etherial things became truths, realities. Look at that Marx bugger: it was way back in 1848 when his Communist Manifesto came out, but it took until 1917 before he got his first successful revolution. And even then, his ideas were an amalgam of Enlightenment philosophies anyway. In fact the Levellers, way back in the 1640s had experimented with ideas of communalism/communism.
            So what my point? Jody’s scribblings, yours, even mine, will go somewhere towards countering the leftish onslaught. We each make our own contributions in our own way, without necessarily having to man the barricades.

      • Keith Kennelly says:

        Two things Jody

        1 don’t believe all you read about Corbin. Do your own research .. he has more in common with Tony Abbott than both Turnbull and Shorten… unlike May.

        2. Did you forget about the wrongness of the polls last British election

    • Keith Kennelly says:

      You are right Bill. A very complex article. It is verbose and can become confusing without a very clear understanding of where and when it wanders into ‘knowledge for the sake of knowledge’.

      The crux of the matter you are referring to is that the aim of Islam is total domination of all people.
      That makes the only difference between the moderates and the terrorists is the means they employ. And of course the moderates know they don’t have to be violent … others do that for them.

      Until Muslims change the very specific aim of one god, Allah, one law, Sharia Law, all Muslims are our enemy and complicit, some by practical application and the others by passive acceptance, in the violence.

      The thread that runs through the above article, that not all Muslims ‘hold murderous infidel hating sentiments’, is a deception, a self deception. It would be more correct to say not all Muslims hold murderous sentiments but they all hold infidel hating sentiment.
      Fir that is what their religion tells them … all … moderate or radical and they all accept that.

  5. en passant says:

    Bill,
    You hit the nail squarely: London, Manchester, Baghdad, Kabul, London again and …. wait for it, for their will be another multiple murder in the next 24-hours … everyone can see the viral cancer the cultural relativist Leftards have inflicted upon us. All the evils of islamic behaviour are the price they expect their nations to pay to break down western society, capitalism, nation states and our will to resist the inevitable.

    Having deliberately infected our nation, I want to hear any politician state when this nightmare will be over. Tell us the date (by year, decade or century) when (like the Normans or invading Danes in England) the death cult of islamic Orcs will be absorbed into our civilised society. If that cannot tell us that simple fact, then they should step aside and allow real ‘men of character’ to take control and conduct the radical surgery that is becoming ever more urgent.

    I want to return to the days when I breezed through an airport and straight on to the plane as I passed the smiling stewardess. I suspect it is a scene my grand children will never experience.

  6. Alistair says:

    Peoples / nations are cultural entities. As someone said – “A nation is a group of people bound by a false foundation myth and a shared hatred of its neighbours”. The problem with liberal democracy as a political system is that it does not value its host culture nor its foundation myth any higher than that of any of the other cultures around it. Therefore, ultimately, it has lost everything that binds that people together into a unit to defend its liberal democracy – and it simply submits to its own destruction from groups who have a cultural foundation. As I said in a comment the other day. Aborigines value “identity”, “connection with country”, “nationality”. Strangely Liberal democracies find such considerations passé and have no connection to anything and are arrogant enough to feel they have nothing to learn from this.

    • Jody says:

      Bravo Alistair!! There is poetry AND MEANING in rhetoric. I’m not ready to write it off just yet. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”. These words provided a soothing balm to a badly wounded nation. If only we saw that kind of leadership now.

      ianl; protest marches stopped the Vietnam war. I’m too old to march – and way too angry, as it happens – but there is a younger demographic which could turn out into the streets to show their total refusal to cowtow any longer to the EMPTY rhetoric and false god of multiculturalism. But they need an ‘outcome’ (yes, I’ve been a teacher) and that could be “assimilation NOW”. It’s ‘do-able’. But they are still being seduced by the notion of ‘diversity’ and the multicultural paradise and in thrall to their evil masters from the Left. It’s all going to unravel violently and dysfunctionally but without that ‘outcome’ it’s concerning where this will go. As Clive James said “when the house of cards collapses you’re still left with the cards”.

    • A brilliant and perceptive contribution. We have taken our shared values – equality, freedom of expression, democracy, opportunity – for granted, and it’s certainly time to re-invigorate them and promote them loudly, especially since young people seem to take them so lightly – just as we take the air we breathe as a given – and seem to be so easily led by half-baked understandings of the world. In practice, sure, our value system may be imperfect, but it’s always going to be a work in progress, genuine and steady progress, while impatient young people seem to want a perfect world and they want it NOW ! Thank, Alistair.

  7. pgang says:

    That was a lot of words to say that we’re stuffed. Although it was pleasant to read and nice to read somebody calling out the vacuity of the oh-so-pretty and popular Hirsi Ali.

    Anyway, the essay presents the symptoms of the Enlightenment in a nutshell. Are any solutions rendered? No, just lots of shoulds and coulds, as per usual. What’s needed, which nobody dare utter, is a new Reformation not of Islam, but of the West. A reversal of the lazy Enlightenment, which always wanted the icing of Christianity without the dough, and a return to a modicum of reality about the human condition.

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    What’s needed PGA for is to confront any Muslim, living in the west, with the fact his religious aim is to subject me to his one god Allah and his one law Sharia.

    The only difference between a radicalised Muslim and a so called moderate Muslim is the means they will use to achieve this stated aim of Islam.

    It’s why no radicalised Muslims can be deradicaised and any Muslim can be radicalised.

    Until we accept that this is the nature of our enemy we won’t take the steps needed to win this war.

  9. Jody says:

    I agree with Professor Jordan Peterson…”the new tolerance is pathological”.

  10. acarroll says:

    Yes but if we become intolerant of Islam and expel it or quash it along the lines suggested, who next?

    Remember, it could lead to another Holocaust. QED