Multiculturalism: Divide And Concur

aust flag frayedIn a recent essay at Quadrant Online[1] I described how the debate over Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act reveals some of the inner workings of the multicultural industry. I argued that 18C is being contested the way two desperate combatants might fight over a dropped sword. The mostly Anglo critics want to beat the sword into a plough share in the name of free speech. The multicultural brigade want the sword for its original purpose, as a weapon to protect their ethnic groups and cosmopolitan values from what they see as a racist white Australia. The fight over 18C is really about group power and the inverted ethnic hierarchy on which multiculturalism is based.

This interpretation is confirmed by an ABC report of a new lobby dedicated to the defence of section 18C, mentioned in my earlier comment. Formed in November, 2013, the group is nicknamed the “United Nations of Australia”. The most recent meeting took place in Melbourne on the April 10. It brought together leaders of the Indigenous, Arab, Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Greek and Armenian communities.[2] Their goal is to retain Section 18C, which prohibits statements that “insult, offend, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of race. The group is explicitly ethnic in makeup and agenda. Excluded from the meeting was any representative of the large Anglo contingent of the pro-18C lobby. And, of course, no one had thought to invite a representative of white Australians vilified in the media, discriminated against in employment, airbrushed from school curricula, excluded from multicultural forums and assaulted by ethnic gangs.

The central place of tribal interests in the defence of section 18C is further evidence that ethno-cultural diversity has multiple costs, which I reviewed in Quadrant.[3] Diversity reduces social cohesion, welfare rights, foreign aid, democracy, equality, governmental efficiency and, in most countries, economic growth. It is the second strongest predictor of civil conflict after lack-of-democracy. Unfortunately, diversity also tends to undermines democracy itself by dividing society into competing ethnic camps. In Australia the multicultural lobby is willing to trade the civil liberty of free speech to gain state censorship of the majority.

A different side of multiculturalism is illuminated by Bob Carr’s memoir of his eighteen months as foreign minister in the Gillard and second Rudd governments. In the book he drops what is meant to be a bombshell – that Australia’s Israel lobby influences Middle Eastern policy in an “unhealthy” way because the lobby is “extremely right wing” and “Likudnik”, i.e aggressively ethno-nationalist.

The media accepted this as a shocking accusation and Jewish spokesmen reacted defensively.[4] One called Carr (of all people) a “bigot”. A more appropriate response would have been: “So what’s new?” Why is it considered so newsworthy that minorities are more ethnocentric than Western majorities and are affected by the plight of their home countries? This should be old news and normal for multicultural societies. Antony Loewenstein writes in the Weekend Australian that “the insular and tribal Melbourne Jewish community has fascinated sociologists for decades”.[5] Pro-Israel sentiment is so strong that at least one community member has served in Israel’s defence forces, a fact reported by the media in 2013.[6]

Bob Carr should not have been surprised by minority ethnocentrism because it is an obvious feature of multiculturalism, from which his Labor Party has long profited by licensing minority – and only minority — ethnic activists. He prefers the similar concept of “overlapping cultures”, an example of which was Muslim Spain between the early 8th and 16th centuries. Perhaps that helps explain his reluctance to criticise the organised Muslim community for its insularity and overseas loyalties.

Carr’s criticism of the Jewish leadership was a rare occasion on which he applied to a minority the standards usually reserved for Anglo Australians. That standard is itself unfair and parochial. Minority ethnocentrism is completely normal outside the West. It is typical around the world. It is Australia and other Western societies that have since the 1960s become extreme in their hyper-individualism. That is especially true of our cultural and political elites.

Leftist politicians have exploited the gap in ethnocentrism between immigrant communities and the Anglo majority, partly because their own group loyalties are weak. The result is that multiculturalism has been asymmetric from its earliest days in the 1970s. The white majority is seen as the enemy against which minorities and their leftist allies unite. It is what allows the majority to be so easily marginalised in affecting ethnic policy – immigration, domestic spoils, and areas of foreign policy. It is what makes white interests expendable but minority interests sacred. It is what has led to Western societies being colonised by the world.

How could Bob Carr be so slow noticing that ethnic lobbies care deeply about their peoples and their ethnic homelands? His Labor Party has been in coalition with activist minorities for several decades, benefiting from their votes and donations. Could it be that he failed to notice that they were all “extremely right wing” compared to him?

Actually, that is possible. Leftists are often blind to ethnic motivation, especially in groups designated victims. Carr’s selective attention has been on display for some years. While foreign minister, on the occasion of Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s death in April 2013, he described comments she made in conversation with him as “unabashedly racist”.[7] Thatcher had warned that European Australians could be taken over by Asian immigrants in the same way that Indian immigrants had taken over Fiji. Carr was so astonished that he could not reply, though Thatcher’s ethnocentrism was mild enough that she showed sympathy for other peoples. Her warning about immigrants taking control accords with multicultural leaders’ concern for their homelands. Someone with Carr’s experience in Labor’s multicultural politics was not shocked by the fact or intensity of Thatcher’s ethnocentrism but by the object of her affections – white Australians.

Make no mistake that Carr targeted Anglo identity apart from all others. In July, 2012, as foreign minister, he criticised then opposition leader Tony Abbott for stating that Australia belongs to the Anglosphere. Carr linked the statement to the views of One Nation founder Pauline Hanson in the 1990s (without recording Abbott’s vigorously opposition to that lady). “With our heritage of White Australia and membership of the British Empire . . . it’s too risky for us even to glance in the direction of talk of an Anglosphere. It revives all those unfortunate recollections and associations.”[8] Bob Carr and the Labor Party do much more than glance in the direction of the minority sphere.

To be fair, Carr’s insensitivity could cut both ways. For many years he has called for the federal government to reduce high levels of immigration, a stance that did not please minority activists. He was concerned about overcrowding in capital cities and the economic and infrastructure burdens. He criticised the pro-immigration business lobby for focusing on GDP growth and ignoring the effect on per capita GDP. Quoting Bob Birrell of Monash University, Carr pointed out that immigration is no solution for ageing.[9] He maintains this view.[10]

But Carr has not thought through the implications of Labor licensing minority ethnocentrism. The franchise is ethically corrupt in a number of ways: first because it is a monopoly that bars the Anglo majority from participating; second and more fundamentally because it is based on a double standard; third because it subverts the civil liberties component of social democracy (Labor Party spokesmen have uniformly condemned attempts to reform the Orwellian section 18C); and fourth, because it creates a moral hazard for Labor and for minorities. The risk for the universalist left is that their tribal allies convert them into ethnic partisans against their own people, which is a betrayal not only of their personal ideals and invites voter backlash sooner or later. Many in Australia’s political elite show signs of such influence. The risk for minorities is that the multicultural spoils system tempts them, despite being natural conservatives, to support policies far to the left of what they support for their ethnic homelands, turning them into hypocrites and traitors to the country that welcomed them.

The debate over section 18C has shown that the multicultural industry is at loggerheads with Australia’s deep tradition of free speech, the queen of civil liberties. Carr’s platitudes about “individual freedom”[11] deserving precedence over cultural values do not change the realities of multicultural power, that it is predicated on an ethnic hierarchy in which the state rewards ethnocentrism in minorities but punishing it in the majority. For the multicultural spoils system to operate smoothly, white Australia must be kept subordinate, for which purpose section 18C of the RDA has proven itself an effective whip.

In effect, Australia has exchanged assimilationism and civil liberties that took centuries to develop, for diversity and repression of majority free speech. The rise of multicultural power and the threat it poses to free speech could be the longest lasting legacy of politicians such as Bob Carr.

[1] https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2014/03/section-18c-multiculturalism-power/

[2] “Communities unite over discrimination changes” ABC Lateline, 10 April 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3983146.htm, accessed 11 April 2014.

[3] Salter, F. K. (2010). “The misguided advocates of open borders.” Quadrant 54(6): http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2010/2016/the-misguided-advocates-of-open-borders.

Salter, F. K., Ed. (2004). Welfare, ethnicity, & altruism: New data & evolutionary theory. London, Frank Cass.

[5] Antony Loewenstein (2014). “How a Melbourne boy became a Mossad spy” (review of Rafael Epstein (2014), Prisoner X, MU), The Weekend Australian Review, 12-13 April, pp. 20-21.

[6] Loewenstein: “The normality of such a mission, to fight for a nation on the other side of the world, is the key to understanding Zygier and others like him.” (p. 21)

[7] “Margaret Thatcher ‘racist’ – Australian minister Bob Carr”. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-22087702, accessed 11 April 2014.

[8] “Carr takes Abbott to task on Anglo outlook”, Weekend Australian, 28-29 July 2012, The Nation, p. 6.

[11] Bob Carr Blog (2011). “Multiculturalism: When the time is right”. 23 February. http://bobcarrblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/multiculturalism-when-the-time-is-right/, accessed 14 April 2014.

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