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The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, of political philosophy, and of colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "ethnic pluralism", with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism.

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  • The Universal, in the name of which an oppressive particularity came to dominate the globe, suddenly seems the last bastion against a neoliberal world order that is happy enough to maintain differences ... as long as they are subsumed without resistance within the global market.
    • Nicholas Brown and Imre Szemán, “Twenty-five Theses on Philosophy in the Age of Finance Capital,” in Leftist Ontology, edited by Carsten Strathausen (2009), p. 37


  • Multiculturalism in Europe is dead in the water, as every recent election has shown. Even the politicians are admitting it now. Some people cling to the illusion of it still, the way the Soviets clung to the illusion of Communism, but it’s over, and these show trials and violent street attacks are symptoms of its death throes. They’re the desperate acts of desperate people who’ve totally lost their way. Criminalizing opinion is an open admission that lawmakers have lost control, and created a situation they can’t handle. But that’s what happens when the people are never asked for their opinion, and, when they give it, it’s ignored.
  • Indeed, we’ve encouraged it by fostering separatism and ghettoization in the guise of our old friend, Multiculturalism. And as a consequence, Islamic violence against women and girls is an ugly reality in Europe. And for anyone to use the law to try and suppress discussion of it is not enlightened or tolerant or liberal. It’s shameful and stupid and cowardly and unforgivable.


  • If you try to discuss multiculturalism in the UK you're labelled a racist. But here we're still free to talk, and I say multicultural society doesn't work. We're not living closer, we're living apart.
  • [S]o many languages were spoken in Malaysia that quite often the wheels of justice ground to a standstill for the lack of an interpreter who could restore the tower of babel to a court of law.
    • Shamini Flint, Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
  • [H]e was in a holding pen with various members of the Kuala Lumpur criminal fraternity and they scared him [...] They ranged from a Chinese gang member, whose dragon tattoo foraged up his arm and curled around his neck, to a large, [sic] Indian man with a jet-black moustache and pocked-marked face, brooding in a corner. The majority of his cellmates appeared from their accents to be Indonesians, part of the large contingent of illegal immigrants in Malaysia. [...] At least, he thought, the government should be proud that their efforts to integrate the various races in Malaysia into a cohesive society were bearing such fruit. It was a very multi-racial group that was penned in together.


  • I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.
    • Pauline Hanson (1996) Maiden Speech for Australian House of Representatives Hansard for 10 September 1996
  • My gorge rises at the use of the word 'white.' The issue should never be the colour of somebody's skin. I thought we all very, very long ago accepted that what mattered about somebody was not the colour of his skin but the content of his character. And I'm not interested in what colour they are. The real question is, does a country which has a very large amount of immigration adapt to the immigrants, or do the immigrants who arrived in that country adapt to that country. And it's my very strong view that the only hope of a tranquil and peaceful and productive and successful society is that the migrants adapt to the place to which they come. And for very many years we have not been encouraging or indeed helping them to do that. We've been encouraging, through a policy of official state multiculturalism, that people should stay separate ,and should remain within their migrant communities and we have not created a single British nationality. There are various feeble efforts to make them take exams in how to claim social security benefits, or who was Winston Churchill. That is not the same. We have ceased to be proud of our own country, culture, history, religion, language, and we haven't asked our new citizens to be proud of them either. And we now see the result of that. It's not a question whether they're white. It's a question whether they're British. And my fear is they're not becoming British and the Britain is ceasing to be Britain, and that is a very great shame both for us who were already here, and for those who have come.
  • When you are a person who comes from a multicultural background it just means that you have more information coming in from the universe. And it's your task to figure out how it all integrates, figure out its order and its beauty. It's a harder, longer struggle.
    • 1989 interview in Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston edited by Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin (1998)


  • What does cultural pluralism signify in the absence of economic pluralism? Perhaps the question seems meaningless. Yet the apparent lack of meaning signals the intellectual retreat. The economic structure of society—call it advanced industrial society or capitalism or the market economy—stands as the invariant; few can imagine a different economic project. The silent agreement says much about multiculturalism. No divergent political or economic vision animates cultural diversity. From the most militant Afrocentrism to the most ardent feminists, all quarters subscribe to very similar beliefs about work, equality and success. The secret of cultural diversity is its political and economic uniformity. The future looks like the present with more options. Multiculturalism spells the demise of utopia.
  • Endless discussions of multiculturalism proceed from the unsubstantiated assumption that numerous distinct “cultures” constitute American society. Only a few historians or observers even consider the possibility that the opposite may be true: that the world and the United States are relentlessly becoming more culturally uniform, not diverse. … No group is able, and few are willing, to stand up to the potent homogenizing forces of advanced industrial society. All Americans, from African Americans to Greek Americans, buy the same goods, look at the same movies and television, pursue the same activities and have—more or less—the same desires for success. … Multiculturalism is not the opposite of assimilation, but its product.


  • The values of Western civilization are not just different, they're better. OK? I know a whole generation has been raised on the notion of multiculturalism, that all civilizations are just different. No! Not always, some times things are better! Rule of law is better than autocracy and theocracy. Equality of the sexes, better. Protection of minorities, better. Free speech, better. Free elections, better.
    • Bill Maher, Victory Begins at Home (20 January 2004)
  • Contrary to all those who think that the time to speak of multiculturalism is over, I think it is most timely and necessary, and that we need more not less. ... For multiculturalism is a form of integration. It is the form of integration that best meets the normative implications of equal citizenship and under our present post-9/11, post-7/7 circumstances stands the best chance of succeeding. Moreover, contrary to the claims of its critics (and sometimes of its advocates), the key trends and developments are broadly consistent with a moderate, pragmatic yet, inevitably, uneven multiculturalism.


  • Multiculturalism is about the proper terms of relationship between different cultural communities. The norms governing their respective claims, including the principles of justice, cannot be derived from one culture alone but through an open and equal dialogue between them.
    • Bhikhu Parekh, Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (2000), p. 13
  • Multiculturalism is not about safeguarding self-contained ethnic and cultural boxes but rather about intercultural fusion in which a culture freely borrows bits of others and creatively transforms both itself and them. Far from implying that each individual should remain rooted in his or her own culture and flit between them, multiculturalism requires that they should open themselves up to the influence of others and engage in a reflective and sometimes life enhancing dialogue with others. Multiculturalism is not ghettoisation but a form of universalism, and represents one of the highest expressions of human freedom and self-creation.


  • Islam chose to unite earth and heaven in a single system, present both in the heart of the individual and the actuality of society, recognizing no separation of practical exertion from religious impulse. ... The center of its being and the field of its action is human life in its entirety, spiritual and material, religious and worldly. Such a religion cannot continue to exist in isolation from society, nor can its adherents be true Muslims unless they practice their faith in their social, legal and economic relationships.


  • The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.


  • Today people commonly use the word "fascism" instead of "national socialism." Presumably this is what you are asking. No. Hitlerism had racism as its essential dogmatic foundation. But in a multiethnic country, such an ideology has no chance of success. And Russia has never had such a movement. But if we speak about the rampage of militant chauvinism, then it exists--and in bloody form--in several republics of the former U.S.S.R., but certainly not in Russia. And if one were to count all the instances of violence perpetrated on nationalist grounds and in local wars, all of them took place outside of Russia and were not perpetrated by Russians.
  • The great thing about multiculturalism is it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I think was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but an advanced Western society.
  • The current ideology of religious harmony emphasizes similarity—different religions are harmonious because they say the same thing; The older doctrine of multiple paths lays stress on their diversity—these paths are valid because they serve genuine different needs and answer to different natures. In short, they serve humanity not by being the same but by being different.
    • Ram Swarup. Ramakrishna Mission. (1986). Ramakrishna Mission: In search of a new identity.


  • In its simplest, most basic context, multiculturalism is the name for an approach that shows us another way of using knowledge to understand ideas and events. Most often a multicultural approach uses several disciplines to highlight neglected aspects of our social history, particularly the histories of women and minorities. Concepts of race, class, culture, gender, and ethnicity are the driving themes of a multicultural approach, which also promotes respect for the dignity of the lives and voices of the forgotten.
    • C. James Trotman, Multiculturalism: Roots and Realities (2002), p. ix
  • By closing gaps, by raising consciousness about the past, multiculturalism tries to restore a sense of wholeness in a postmodern era that fragments human life and thought.
    • C. James Trotman, Multiculturalism: Roots and Realities (2002), p. ix


  • I believe that the biggest disease in Europe today is called cultural relativism. And I want to fight with all my life this misconception by politically correct, often liberal and leftist politicians, who invented the multicultural society, that all cultures are equal. ... I am proud to say that our culture – that is based on Christianity, on Judaism, on Humanism – is not only better, far better, than what I see as a barbaric Islamic culture, and that we should fight to preserve it for our children.

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