Is Multiculturalism Antiquated? A Dialogic Debate on Negotiating Liberalism, Finding Symmetry and Sustenance

Author(s): Sushma Trivedi

Full Text: PDF

Published: 2022-03-11


Multiculturalism might simply be understood as managing relations of different communities residing within national boundaries on one hand and relations between the states and the community on the other hand. But the rapidly changing socio-economic world has given it multivalent political meanings and expressions. Multicultural societies are faced with challenges posed on identity, religious beliefs, and cultural equations. In recent times in wake of some unfortunate happenings, multiculturalism as a political ideology has come under the scanner and some scholars even pronounced its death. Nevertheless, multicultural societies are as much a reality of the modern globalized world as are the interlinked economies. Today world stands at crossroads, ideologies like 'difference blind position', 'hands-off neutrality', and models like 'melting pot' and 'salad bowl' have, if not failed then definitely proved insufficient to tackle the needs and aspirations of multicultural societies.

Multiculturalism is based on and nourished by the political philosophy of liberalism and liberal democracies are believed to be the fertile ground for its propagation. Therefore, this study destructures and deconstructs the principles of liberalism to present an insight into the efficacy and suitability of the classical form of liberalism for multicultural societies. It is emphasized that culture, the most crucial component of multiculturalism is pushed to the periphery in course of the practice of the fairness of justice and equal distribution of goods. Culture plays an important role in the formation of the identity of an individual and a group. Ignoring cultural differences also means undermining identity which manifests itself as somewhat liberal oppression and sometimes as denial of social justice.

It is concluded that in changed circumstances radical liberalism can become a source of conflict within the society rather than harmonizing differences. An alternative can be derived from within the liberal theories as thinkers like Rawls and Dworkin; not only acknowledge differences but also make slight provision for differential rights. A moderate broadening of the ideas can create a perfectly balanced model of liberalism for multicultural societies.