Multiculturalism in the West

More ideas for consideration about the relevance of multiculturalism in the context of internationalism. This is an excerpt of a “Talk of the Town” article by Jane Kramer in the current issue of The New Yorker.

“Every country with an influx of migrant workers had to scramble toward some sort of social formula to absorb them (or, as often as not, pretend that they weren’t there). And before long those formulas had frozen into easy, and, not surprisingly, competing, certainties—all of which have turned out to be as shortsighted as the government-sponsored agents who first combed Africa and Asia and the Indian subcontinent recruiting labor for Europe’s postwar factories. There was the British “multicultural” model—or, to put it perhaps more accurately, the “You will never be us” model. There was the “We’ll support you, but please be invisible until you are us” Scandinavian model. There was the “integrated but not assimilated” oxymoron called the Dutch model. There was the “You’re guest workers, so you’ll be going home” German model—which, until the late nineties, put off even the possibility of citizenship for most immigrants and their children. Everyone had something to contribute to this debate: the social theorists and social planners and social workers and politicians and, of course, the people who hated immigrants—everyone but the immigrants themselves, who were rarely consulted. The only thing most Europeans agreed on was that the “American model” was wrong, although the American model wasn’t really a model at all but a kind of success ethic—the Europeans said “dollar ethic”—in which making money and moving up in the world was what made Americans out of strangers. It was, for better or for worse, the one model that seemed to work.”

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