Thursday, August 04, 2005

The carnival of culture

From a piece by Hanif Kureishi:

    If the idea of multiculturalism makes some people vertiginous, monoculturalism - of whatever sort - is much worse. Political and social systems have to define themselves in terms of what they exclude, and conservative Islam is leaving out a lot.

    ... ...

    You can't ask people to give up their religion; that would be absurd. Religions may be illusions, but these are important and profound illusions. And they will modify as they come into contact with other ideas. This is what an effective multiculturalism is: not a superficial exchange of festivals and food, but a robust and committed exchange of ideas - a conflict that is worth enduring, rather than a war.

    When it comes to teaching the young, we have the human duty to inform them that there is more than one book in the world, and more than one voice, and that if they wish to have their voices heard by others, everyone else is entitled to the same thing. These children deserve better than an education that comes from liberal guilt.


At 9:50 AM, Blogger Iyer the Great said...

Hits the nail on the head. There is no "robust and committed exchange of ideas" as people get defensive when they start talking about their religion. And once you are defensive, you hardly weigh the pros and cons.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger gawker said...

Right on. I wrote a post on multiculturalism on my blog here some time ago.

P.S : Thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger froginthewell said...

Great "first paragraph of the second excerpt".

However, I guess the "only my religion is right" point of view is also an essential ingredient of a multicultural society - as long as people don't impose that idea on others, that is.

So people getting defensive while talking about their religion is quite okay - no worse than some irreligious people insisting on a materialistic interpretation of religious texts and paradoxically claiming to be pro-debate.

If we don't have conservative people to lobby for their respective cultures the dominant culture will replace the others leading to a dry cultural homogeneity, and only the superficial aspects such as food will remain.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Iyer the Great said...

Froginthewell, if it must, I would like to see a "my religion is also right" view rather than "only my religion is right" view.

"If we don't have conservative people to lobby for their respective cultures the dominant culture will replace the others leading to a dry cultural homogeneity, and only the superficial aspects such as food will remain. "

I lost you here.

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rahul -- Yes, most people are like that as you said. But as Kureishi says, this behaviour will also get modified when it comes into contact with other ideas and viewpoints. One hopes so!

Gawker -- I just read your post. Very well written.

Welcome and thanks for adding me in your blogroll too!

Froginthewell -- I would agree with Rahul's second comment that 'my religion is also right' is better. What's wrong in materialistic interpretation of religious texts? I'm all for that exercise too. If you really think that the first paragraph in the second excerpt is great, you shouldn't be having problems with materilastic interpretations either as Kureishi clearly says robust and committed exchange of ideas need to take place.

Uma -- I totally agree with you.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger froginthewell said...

Atheists by definition think that religions are wrong. A devout muslim will have to believe that theories with many gods are wrong ( please correct me if I am wrong ). As long as they don't impose it on others, as long as they respect others' right to opinion, I don't think such points of view are any worse or better than "my religion is also right".

Anand - again, I did not say that one should not interpret texts materialistically. I am only saying that insisting on a materialistic interpretation is as fanatical or as liberal as insisting that the sacred texts are revealed scriptures. For instance, here Michael Higgins says that some religions banned alcohol only fearing overindulgence. That is *his personal belief*, no better or more legitimate than a finding something intrinsically immoral in drinking : of course, as long as he doesn't impose it on others.

Rahul, by that point I was only referring to such cases as, say, the Americanisation in India ( India is better : consider many east asian countries like Korea etc. ). The whole world will become one America, and the other cultures will be relegated to university studies ( of course, I am exaggerating, but hope you get the point ).

At 5:33 AM, Anonymous max martin said...

what a fantastic piece...

master degree Special Education | computer diploma | associate degree Teaching learning

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