Multiculturalism as A Model: Between Idea and Reality

By Atanasov, Petar | European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Multiculturalism as A Model: Between Idea and Reality


Atanasov, Petar, European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities


Abstract

In this paper the main issue of analysis is the prosperity of the multicultural model and its sustainability in course of the practice and debates. The reality showed that it is difficult to bit the nation-state and the liberal model of democracy and what are reasons for that. Also, can multicultural democracy be viable? And if not, where the multicultural model can be streamlined? Current trends show that the multicultural democracy is hard to build and sustain. The arguments of the paper are that the multicultural model is not sustainable visà- vis the nation-state and the ruling majority within society and that the ideal model of multiculturalism is usually transforming itself into an ethnic democracy. Macedonian example shows that when different cultural groups cannot commonly agree on power-sharing arrangements the model lean towards ethnic democracy.

Keywords: model of multiculturalism, ethnic group, ethnic democracy, Republic of Macedonia

1. Introduction

More than a decade ago, when this author began with the analyses of the multicultural dilemmas, one of the initial proposed question that had to be resolved in the theoretical contex of political philosophy was linked with the essential question of the politics of recognition, about whether and how the cultural groups should be recognized in the politics (Gutman, 1994). This question was and still is the crucial point concerning the multicultural states and their co-existing political models. The theory about cultural pluralism led to the insight that the the human beings are at the same time natural and cultural creatures and that is why they should be treated equally (Parekh, 2000). The wisdom from the aspect of liberalism was that the person has right to be equally recognized, first and foremost, on the base of his/her universal human identity and potential, not primarily on the base of the ethnic identity. The ethnic identity of the person is not his/her primary identity. Also, in this field, the question which injustices in the society we are considering in relation to various ethnic and cultural groups was very important. The people that are subject to both cultural and economic injustices demand both recognition and redistribution (Fraser, 1998).

According to the presented injustices one can elaborate adequate remedies. Still, the important moment is that very often members of smaller cultural groups suffered from both. Overall, the dilemmas of multiculturalists were whether to prefer issues of equality and particularity, to ask only for recognition of particularity or recognition of the right to redistribution as well, whether to compare or to measure cultures or only the cultural groups, etc. Complex and serious questions were raised that needed answers, urgently, depending on the phase in which the multicultural country was and the attitude of the people.

In the meantime the research had developed in relation with the realities and by testing the normative aspects of the multicultural models. Different countries were examined to check what are the 'facts' and how can cultural conflicts be contained within integrational paradigm of the multicultural system. However, the debate about multiculturalism more and more went around the strength of the state power that needs to be transformed in order to find the place for different cultural groups. The various forms of multi ethnic content in most of the new states have created problems in the context of internal stability of the societies. Acceptance of the multiculturalism as strategic policy developed new forms of democratic governance as a response to the structural dilemma of the nation-state. Concerning the problems of ethnic and cultural diversity, the multiculturalism could be at least enlisted in the framework of the democratic governance if it recognizes the demands of ethnic and cultural groups. But this agenda created much too big problems. It cut through the essence of the monostate. …

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