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Brigham Young University

The Increasingly Multicultural Nature of the West:

How Western Countries Should Understand Multiculturalism and Its Effect on the

Enduring Nation

A Capstone Project Submitted

In Accordance With the Requirements of

Political Science 400

By

Jacob Spencer

Provo, Utah

April 2018
Occupied with building our twin towers of Babel, we no longer appreciate the fact that

separations between and among human groups cannot be entirely overcome.

- Pierre Manent

1
The Issue At Hand

The 2015 European Migrant Crisis featured the mass exodus of over a million refugees
1
from Muslim majority nations, most prominently Syria, into Western Europe. Though Europe

was no stranger to Muslim immigration at the time of the crisis, as immigration from the Islamic

world had been occurring for centuries already, never before had so many foreigners arrived at
2
such a rapid pace. The unprecedented uptick in immigration rates startled the European nations
3
to say the least. As would be expected given the magnitude of the migration, it quickly became
45
the focus of European parliamentary politics, elections, and referendums. , Such a shift in

political dialogue was in many ways a healthy shock to the European political establishment; for

like a forest fire refreshing the soil after years of natural decay, it brought to the forefront
6
questions of societal import that had been deemed inappropriate for years.

Though any simplification of such a difficult problem is bound to leave a point or two

untouched, much of the controversy surrounding the migrant crisis can be simplified as falling

1
Jonathan Clayton, ​A million refugees and migrants flee to Europe in 2015 (​United Nations Human
Rights Commission); available from
www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2015/12/5679451d6/million-refugees-migrants-flee-europe-2015.html;
Internet.
2
Jorgen S Nielsen, ​Muslims in Western Europe ​(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), 1
3
Jonathan Clayton, ​A million refugees and migrants flee to Europe in 2015
4
Charles R. Morris, "Backlash.", ​Commonweal​ 144, no. 1 (2017): 6.
5
Such is made clear when one considers political events like the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom,
or even the electoral race between the nationalist Marine Le Pen and the internationally minded
Emmanuel Macron in France. Both of these major world events focused largely on the issue of
immigration and multiculturalism.
6
Melani Barlai et all, ​The Migrant Crisis: European perspectives and national discourses​ (Lit Verlag:
Zürich, 2017), 1.

2
under the purview of one critical question: How should western nations approach the
7
increasingly multicultural nature of Western society, if multiculturalism is to be pursued at all?

Two Differing Approaches

In an effort to answer such a pertinent question in accordance with the progressive values

he holds, Will Kymlicka of the University of Ottawa offers a theory of liberal multiculturalism in
8
his 1995 work, ​Multicultural Citizenship​. Kymlicka’s theory, though complex in presentation

and detail, fundamentally describes a system wherein which great amounts of ideological and

cultural differences are accommodated, all while a sense of national unity still manages to be

preserved. At its core, Kymlicka’s solution to the ever increasingly diverse nature of Western

life embodies the hope that the West can retain its cultural and political heritage, whilst ensuring

the endurance of differing cultures all living harmoniously within the country's own borders.

Like Kymlicka, the French political philosopher Pierre Manent strives to answer the

question posed above, but does so in a way that contrasts deeply to Kymlicka’s multicultural
9
framework. Rather than devise a new way of organizing society, Manent raises a voice of

warning against the tides of multiculturalism, and offers a defense of the traditional nation state.

Manent argues that doing so is a matter of necessity, for the nation state is not only the means by

which purposeful meaning is infused into the lives of the citizenry, but is also the political form

which allows for a thriving democracy. Simply put, Manent concludes that to lose the nation

7
Western nations are commonly considered to be those countries which embrace a form of democratic
governance where human and individual rights are recognized and defended. Western nations tend to
have roots in the Greco-Roman and/or the Judeo-Christian traditions.
8
Will Kymlicka,​ Multicultural Citizenship​ (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
9
Pierre Manent, ​Democracy without Nations? (​ Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2007).

3
state is to ultimately lose the identity, meaning, and democracy westerners have enjoyed for
10
generations.

One Acceptable Solution

Upon completion of an examination of both Kymlicka’s theory and Manent’s defense, I

have come to the confident conclusion that though persuasive in its attempts to frame

multiculturalism is such a way as to allow for great diversity while simultaneously ensuring the

liberal ideals of the nation remain in their primacy, Kymlicka style multiculturalism ultimately

falls short. For it lacks the ability to support the formation and enduring presence of meaningful

national bonds, or even the sovereignty of the democratic state. As such, in an effort to preserve

that which the West holds dear for many more generations to come, Manent’s solution to the
11
question posed above must be embraced.

I readily admit that such a conclusion is riddled in controversy. This is made clear by the
12
fact that many who have examined the issue at hand have come to opposite conclusions. After

all, polarizing disagreement of this kind is expected when one is grappling with a problem as

fundamental to political philosophy as that of the nation and its relationship to both culture and

the individual. With this reality in mind, I intend to offer a fair examination of Kymlicka’s

approach prior to my defense of Manent. Doing so will also ensure that the arguments of the

multiculturalists are what is actually being countered, rather than mere straw-men.

10
Ibid., 10
11
When speaking of that which the West holds dear, I am referring both to the cultural heritage who’s
roots reach back to the days of Christ and Caesar, and to the political forms which developed over
centuries of philosophical thinking.
12
Barlai, et al., ​The Migrant Crisis: European perspectives and national discourses​, 1

4
Also included are moments in which the theoretical musings of both Kymlicka and

Manent are applied to the practical reality of the 2015 European Migrant Crisis. This is done to

prevent a loss of focus on the problem at hand, as well as to compare their philosophical

assertions with the political reality taking shape in the Western world today.

Kymlicka’s Approach: The Multicultural State

A Liberal Argument for Group Rights

First and foremost, it must be understood that Kymlicka positions himself intellectually

as being firmly rooted firmly in the liberal tradition. In brief summary, Liberalism views the

autonomous nature of the individual as paramount, thus a certain degree of tolerance and respect
13
for others is thought to be imperative. Additionally, and as described in Kymlicka’s own
14
words, Liberalism requires “limiting state intrusions on the liberties of citizens”. In an effort to

best define the limits placed on the state in the interest of the preservation of rights, Liberalism

often views politics as being the relationship between the individual and the state, and as such,
15
political rights are rarely conceived as being inherent in anything but the individual.

On this point Kymlicka breaks with the liberal fold, for a central principle of his theory of
16
multiculturalism is the existence of group rights. Such a break he argues should not need to

occur however. He makes this contention by asserting that group rights are in accordance with

the Liberal tradition, as it is through working in communities that freedom and equality are
17
established and protected.

13
Will ​Kymlicka, ​Liberalism, Community, and Culture​ (​Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 1.
14
Ibid.
15
Ibid.
16
Kymlicka, ​Multicultural Citizenship​, 126.
17
Ibid.

5
Kymlicka’s argument rests in the notion that group rights do not infringe on the liberal
18
principle of equality, but rather, they increase the potential for equality. Simply put, to

understand liberal equality solely as the state being blind to the race, religion, or creed of the

individual is to limit equality in such a way as to prevent any form of actual equality from
19
surfacing. For the state can never be genuinely culturally neutral, rather it must always embody
20
a cultural perspective. This is evidenced by how there must be national holidays, official

languages, a style of structuring work weeks, etc., all of which express the values of a certain

cultural perspective. As such, for there to be actual equality amongst the citizenry, the state must

not embody one culture, but should make special arrangements and provide group rights to all,

and thus embody the combined values of the whole. In summary, only when group rights are

given to those deserving of them can equality be secured between citizens of varying
21
backgrounds.

Kymlicka’s notion is further supported when one considers the negative effect not

recognizing group rights has on minority populations. Minorities become culturally

disadvantaged, by which it is meant they are incapable of fully participating in society, a reality

that doesn’t just affect the individual, but also produces lasting generational consequences. An

example of such cultural disadvantages could be the family who is disenfranchised politically

because they are unable to understand or participate in the national dialogue surrounding politics.

Or perhaps more notably, the pious immigrant who must work a job schedule designed around

18
Ibid.
19
Ibid., 32
20
Ibid., 126
21
Ibid., 108

6
Christian holidays and holy days, rather than the holidays or religious celebrations of their

chosen faith. To make matters worse, he does so all whilst enduring the prejudice that come

with not being in the majority. Kymlicka argues that though examples of cultural friction like

these are potentially endless, they are also avoidable, if appropriate group rights are given and
22
defended.

Kymlicka does not stop at merely asserting the necessity of group rights. Rather,

Kymlicka notes that group rights manifest themselves differently in various minority groups,

though the rationale for their existence is the same. Ultimately, minority groups fall into one of
23
two categories: National Minorities or Ethnic Groups.

National Minorities

National Minorities embody all the characteristics of a nation as defined by Benedict

Anderson in his work, ​Imagined Communities​, those namely being an imagined sense of

community that transcends direct familial bonds, as well as a shared history, geography,
24,25
language, and culture. These nations, or peoples as they are commonly termed, often find

themselves as the minority group in the midst of an opposing people as a result of colonization or
26
conquest. They may also voluntarily enter into a governing relationship with a majority nation
27
as is often seen in the case of federations, but such a voluntary surrender of sovereignty is rare.

22
Ibid.
23
Ibid., 10
24
Ibid.
25
Benedict Anderson,​ Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of
Nationalism​ (Verso, 2016.)
26
Kymlicka, ​Multicultural Citizenship​, 11
27
Ibid.

7
Whatever the reason for their place as the minority, Kymlicka views their struggle and

claim to group rights similarly. Simply put, the plight National Minorities face is the retention of

their traditional culture in the midst of an opposing way of life. If their culture is to remain
28
intact, Kymlicka argues they must be recognized as a distinct factor in the whole. To ensure
29
this distinction, they must be given either rights to self-government or special representation.

Self-government rights allow a group to be governed partly by their own system of choice, while
30
special representation rights guarantee greater representation in the government of the whole.

It must be noted that such rights are not to be viewed as temporary, but rather, as permanent part
31
of a multicultural society. They are after all necessary for the indefinite preservation of the
32
culture in question.

All this being said, Kymlicka does recognize that the actual formulation of the legal
33
rights of national minorities must be worked out on a case by case basis. In turn, all national

minorities are going to have varying levels of protection from the whole. It is the hope however

that in Kymlicka’s multicultural state, the legal rights of the national minorities will be enough to

ensure their desired place as being set apart or distinct from the rest of the country.

Ethnic Groups

Unlike National Minorities which are nations in the purest sense of the term, Ethnic

Groups are typically immigrant populations who, with the exception of many refugees,

28
Ibid., 26
29
Ibid.
30
Ibid.
31
Ibid.
32
Ibid.
33
Ibid., 11

8
34,35 ​
immigrated voluntarily to the land they now find themselves a minority in. This distinction is
36
critical to Kymlicka, as for the most part, Ethnic Groups wish to integrate into larger society.

That being said, it would be foolish to think that complete integration is the common goal of

these ethnic populations, for the desire to retain many aspects of traditional culture is only
37
natural.

Kymlicka argues that because of the voluntary nature of immigration and the general

shared desire of immigrants to integrate, Ethnic Groups are not warranted the same kind of
38
self-representation or self-governance rights given to National Minorities. Rather, Ethnic

Groups are deserving of what can be termed polyethnic rights. Polyethnic rights demand the

passing of anti-racism or anti-discrimination legislation, the securing of educational

opportunities through affirmative action programs, and the assurance against the passage of
39
legislation that infringes on certain religious practices. ​Simply put, rather than facilitate the

separating off of a group, polyethnic rights are designed to ease the integration process and

ensure the blessing of prosperity already available to those who were born in the immigrants’

nation of choice.

It should be noted that Kymlicka asserts that most of the problems faced by multicultural
40
societies arise from a failure to grant the polyethnic rights Ethnic Groups deserve. As such, it

34
Ibid., 14
35
Though discussing the definition of and the rights given to Ethnic Groups is an essential element of any
discussion of Kymlicka, it should be understood that it is largely irrelevant when it comes to the defense
of Manent later in the paper. For the greatest conflict between Manent and Kymlicka stems from the
subject of Nation Minorities.
36
Ibid., 15
37
Ibid.
38
Ibid., 30
39
Ibid., 30
40
Ibid., 32

9
follows that to remedy these issues, countries should prioritize social policies designed to
41
protect, assist, and empower immigrant populations.

Proper Treatment of Illiberal Groups

A common critique of multiculturalist policy is that it allows for immigrant groups to

embrace illiberal ideology all in the safety of liberal tolerance. It must be understood that such a

critique cannot be attributed to Kymlicka’s conception of liberal multi-culturalism as it is

theoretically described. For Kymlicka goes to great lengths in an effort to defend liberalism

while simultaneously allowing for groups with illiberal histories to maintain a sense of their
42
unique cultural heritage.

Before any further exploration of Kymlicka’s approach to these groups can commence,

one must understand that by illiberal Kymlicka is describing cultures where the exercise of

individual autonomy, a key value in liberal thought, often results in serious punishment.

Examples of inappropriate exercises of liberty include an individual choosing to apostatize from

a given religion, or perhaps a women not wanting to dress according to traditional standards of
43,44
modesty. A prime example of an illiberal culture, one that is quite relevant to this paper’s

greater topic, is the general Islamic world, wherein norms of governance, morality, punishment
45,46
of religious dissent, and treatment of women differ significantly from the liberal world. When

41
In addition to those already listed in the text, programs that could fulfill the demand of polyethnic rights
include expedited immigration for extended family, the printing of government documents in the
language of the minority, or even tax breaks for the first few years in the new country.
42
Ibid., 155
43
Ibid., 156
44
Though both these listed examples pertain to conservative Islam, it must be understood that there are
many any cultures that qualify as being “illiberal”, and are thus relevant to the discussion. These include
African nations engaged in polygamy, Asian cultures that disenfranchise women, and many others.
45
Douglas Murray, ​The Strange Death of Europe​ (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2017), 135

10
this is considered, Kymlicka’s approach to illiberal groups becomes all the more important, for

the influx of refugees from majority Muslim nations into western Europe will likely prove to be a

great test of the merits of the multicultural approach.

Kymlicka explores two varied approaches of dealing with illiberal groups, each being

catered to the needs and rights of whether the illiberal sect is a National Minority or an Ethnic

Group.

National Minorities, as potentially self-governing or uniquely represented entities, are

allowed greater freedom to enforce illiberal policies, for it would be an infringement on their
47
rights to pick and choose what they can regulate or what they can’t. That being said, the

greater liberal majority can attempt to make a difference through is the enforcement of external
48
protections grounded in liberal ideals. Simply put, though encouraging internal restrictions

passed by the self-governing minority may be impossible, the greater government can guarantee

that members of the illiberal minority will be given the same national protections as all other

citizens of the multicultural state, and these rights will not be infringed upon by actions of the
49
greater state. Such a distinction may seem trivial to many, but it is arguably the best that can be

done to protect both National Minorities and individual rights, at least from the Kymlickian

perspective.

Thankfully, more can be done by the greater liberal majority when it comes to dealing

with the lack of liberality of certain Ethnic Groups. Laws may be passed directly outlawing the

46
Leila Sayeh and Adriaen Morse, “Islam and the Treatment of Women: An Incomplete Understanding of
Gradualism,” ​Texas International Law Journal 30, no. 2 (1995): 311
47
Kymlicka, ​Multicultural Citizenship​, 164-165
48
Ibid.
49
Ibid.

11
practice of truly abhorrent practices for example, and immigrants who insist on still practicing
50
such practices may be prosecuted despite their cultural heritage. To some, this may seem in

contradiction with liberalism's embracement tolerance, but to Kymlicka, those who voluntarily

immigrate to a liberal western democracy come with the expectation of some degree of

integration, and requiring the doing away with such illegal practices is part of this reasonable
51
integration.

The Preservation of National Unity in a Multicultural Society

With this foundation for multiculturalist policy laid, Kymlicka argues how solidarity and

social unity in the nation state may be preserved despite a diversity of cultures and personal
52
identities. The key is social cohesion through a shared sense of civic identity, or citizenship,

that of which needs to be cultivated in the populace, be it through public education, national
53
patriotic holidays, or even the embracement of common national symbols. It should be noted

that Kymlicka does not view this prescription as a magic solution sure to bond all groups

together under one overarching national identity, but rather, as the only and thus necessary

solution that still allows for the embracement and recognition of group rights.

If Kymlicka’s basic premises regarding the utility of group rights are to be accepted, then

yes, Kymlicka’s conclusion that civic identity is the only means to social cohesion is correct. As

such, his premises are not to be accepted, for a nation built solely on the notion of citizenship is

50
Ibid., 179
51
Ibid., 170
52
Interestingly enough, this argument lacks the optimistic confidence found in the tone used throughout
the rest of his work. I would submit this as evidence of just how shaky an argument it is. For in a certain
respect, his words gave off the impression that even he was doubtful of the potential of mere citizenship
as a unifying bond.
53
Ibid., 191-192

12
ultimately not a nation at all, and will be unable to stay intact as a unified, productive,
54
democratic whole. To avoid such a fate, Western nations must prioritize the endurance of the

nation state over the inclination to become multicultural. By doing so, liberal democracy which

westerners have learned to value so passionately, may continue to be upheld.

The Unintended Transformation of Ethnic Groups into National Minorities

In what could be considered a failure of the implementation of a Kymlicka style

multiculturalism, Muslim immigrants in Western Europe who would normally be considered

ethnic groups, have come to resemble national minorities for all practical purposes. For rather

than integrate into the greater whole as Kymlicka imagined ethnic groups would, many of these
55
immigrants have “self-segregated” themselves from the larger culture. Whole communities

have sprung up throughout Western Europe that are nearly entirely Muslim, and as beacons of
56,57
familiarity to other immigrants, they continue to grow at rapid paces.

As these homogenous communities continue to grow in number and cultural isolation,

their similarities to genuine national minorities will multiply, guaranteeing a future point when

such communities are indistinguishable from Kymlicka style national minorities. That is, if this

point has not already been reached. Such a reality will likely force the hand of troubled

European multiculturalist leaders who in an ideal situation would seek to protect liberal

54
By declaring that a nation built solely on the notion of citizenship is not a nation at all, I am relying on
the definition of nation laid out by Benedict Anderson which is in simplest terms, an imagined
community with a shared history, language, geography, and culture. Such a definition is useful for this
paper, as it mirrors the definition of national minorities given by Kymlicka, as well as the essence of
nation described by Manent.
55
Shamim Mia, ​Self-Segregation and the Muslim Problematic​ ( London: Palgrave Macmillan,
2015), 11-12.
56
Miah, ​Self-Segregation and the Muslim Problematic​, 12
57
Kirsten Grieshaber, “Study: Europe’s Muslim population to grow, migration or not.” Canadian Press,
29 November 2017.

13
principles, thereby granting these Muslim communities greater privileges under law. Such

privileges will, in accordance with the promises made to national minorities, include outsized

political representation and the allowance of certain non-liberal practices characteristic of

conservative Islamic culture.

It must be stressed that such a develop is not one Kymlicka foresaw or intended to occur,

nonetheless it is occurring at a rapid pace, and as such, the case for Kymlicka’s theory must be

considered as weakened in that respect.

On a more practical level, European political leader’s intent on preserving the

multicultural state will need to grapple with the effects of granting the privileges listed above,

despite the fact that such privileges were not originally intended to be given. For outsized

political influence granted to these communities, either in the form of guaranteed representation

in the parliaments or increased self-representation, will likely alter the face of contemporary

Western European politics in such a way as to disrupt both conservative traditionalists and

modern liberals alike. Additionally, illiberal practices embraced by traditional Islamic culture

will need to be tolerated by multiculturalist leaders to a greater degree, as per the guidelines laid
58
out by Kymlicka. The effect of such toleration on the European cultures is difficult to predict

or quantify, but what can be said is that it will continue to change life in those Western Nations

in such a way that will be out of the hands of the traditional voting populace.

Clearly, upon consideration of multiculturalism and its failure in this respect, it becomes

apparent that alternative solutions to Kymlicka style multiculturalism must be embraced, for

multiculturalist policies are insufficient when it comes to grappling with the current demographic

58
Kymlicka, ​Multicultural Citizenship​, 164-165

14
trends of Europe’s Muslim population. One solution that is sufficient is that which is offered by

Manent. Should it be accepted promptly, Western nations will be well equipped to endure the

contemporary cultural challenges they face.

Manent’s Solution: The Defense of the Nation State

The Nation State as an Indispensable Source of Unifying Identity and Meaning

The need for the nation state is perhaps no more eloquently put then when summarized

by Pierre Manent when he states in his 2007 work, ​Democracy Without Nations?​, “A political

form-the nation, the city-is not a light overcoat one can take off and put on at will and still

remain what one is. It is the whole in which all the elements of our life come together and take

on meaning. If our nation suddenly disappeared and its bonds were dispersed, each of us
59
immediately would become a stranger, a monster, to himself.” Simply put, the nation state, the

form of governance that has ruled western countries for centuries, is not as robust as
60
multicultural theorists may implicitly suggest. Rather, they are inherently fragile entities, held
61
together by common bonds that of which must remain strong if unity is to be upheld.

It is on this ground that Manent builds his argument, for if the traditional nation state can

be adequately defended, any formulation of Kymlicka style multiculturalism will be shown to be


62
lacking in the ability to do that which Kymlicka hopes it can.

Manent begins his argument by exploring Europe’s growing acceptance of an

international “human identity” that has accompanied Europe’s growing demographic

59
Manent, ​Democracy Without Nations?,​ 4
60
By “implicitly suggest”, I am referring to the multiculturalist notion that a country can undergo
fundamental cultural or demographic shifts and still retain its basic civic identity.
61
Ibid., 30
62
It is Kymlicka’s hope that that nations will successfully harbor a multiplicity of distinct national
identities while still preserving a sense of civic unity.

15
63
multiplicity. Manent notes that coupled with this vague notion of human identity is the
64
equalizing of all people or interests. Simply put, no longer do men turn their hearts to the needs

of their neighbors or countryman, but rather men delight in a sense of international citizenship

that is devoid of real obligation or duty.

It should be noted that Kymlicka does not intend to be an advocate for such

internationalism. Rather, he encourages the fostering of many differing national identities under

the same government. That being said, a Kymlickian multicultural state is vulnerable to the kind

of internationalism Manent describes. In other words, Kymlicka is unable to prevent the reality

Manent describes, the reality that nations lose their nationalistic spirit once excessively

multicultural. Such a reality is an unintended, yet a sure consequence of radical tolerance

breaking the societal norms that once bound men together as countryman.

Manent continues his argument by stating that coupled with the embracement of an

international identity is the development of a disgust for those who still cling to the old model of
65
the nation state. Arguing this point, Manent addresses the irony of the situation stating, “Not

too long ago, the democratic idea justified and nourished the love each people naturally has for
66
itself. But now, in the name of democracy, this love is criticized and mocked.” When one

considers Kymlicka’s idealized multicultural state in light of this quotation, it becomes clear just
67
how easily such an intricate system can devolve into disgust towards the majority culture.

63
Ibid., 6
64
Ibid., 7
65
Ibid., 9
66
Ibid., 9
67
By idealized multicultural state, I mean a state wherein which national and ethnic minorities are given
their deserved group rights in an effort to balance the playing field equally across all competing cultural
identities.

16
Quite tragically, those few who still love the old country would then themselves without a nation

amongst who used to be brethren.

Concurring with Manent’s argument concerning national identity is Douglas Murray,

who in a 2017 book titled, ​The Strange Death of Europe,​ writes regarding a certain irony which

accompanied German Chancellor Merkel when she declared with enthusiasm in response to the
68
2015 European Migration Crisis, “War Schaffer das (we can do this!).”​ It should be noted that

these words were declared without really defining what the “this” is, or more importantly, who
69
the “we” are. By “this”, it is clear that Merkel meant the integration of hundreds of thousands

of immigrants from non-western lands into an already struggling German society. The “we” is

not as clear, for as demonstrated earlier, determining what exactly makes up a “we” becomes
70
increasingly difficult as societies become more multicultural.

Murray notes that some have tried to salvage the German “we” by redefining it along

lines less akin to the ones laid out by Anderson, but rather, more abstractly as recommended by
71,72 ​
Kymlicka. For example, Murray describes how Bassam Tibia, an immigrant to Germany who

came to embrace the academic study of minority integration into larger society, recommended

that “German” identity be structured around a shared sense of civic values, those perhaps being
73
separation of church and state, rule of democratic law, and human rights. However, as

observed by Murray, such a reductive form of “germaneness” ultimately lacks the ability to unite

68
Murray, ​The Strange Death of Europe​, 94
69
Ibid., 94
70
Ibid.
71
Ibid., 104
72
Anderson,​ Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
73
Murray, ​The Strange Death of Europe​, 104

17
74
any “we” together. For it simply lacks the ability to speak to and mark the soul like traditional

conceptions of Germaneness, ones grounded in a shared sense of an imagined community bound

by a shared history and culture, are able to do. Simply put, without accounting for the necessary

elements laid out by Anderson, namely an imagined community capable of transcending close

relationships, grounded in a shared history, language, culture, and or faith, any alternative
75
definition of nation will fail to unify as nationhood uniquely should.

Murray continues his support of the kind of argument put forth by Manent that western

nations are being driven towards an ugly process of self-hate where those who love the nation

which once was are “criticized and mocked”, by describing an event that is increasingly

becoming more common place in Europe. A Swedish Parliamentary Secretary in charge of


76
integration was asked by a reporter whether or not Swedish culture is worth preserving. The

Secretary responded by stating in what must have been a dismissive tone, “Well, what is
77
Swedish culture? And with that I guess I’ve answered your question.” This utterance is not

only evidence of the cycle of self-dismal and cultural suicide in which Europe is engaged, but in

a rather ironic way also supports Kymlicka’s assertion that a state cannot remain neutral on

issues of culture. Kymlicka made that assertion in support of the state actively working to

recognize and enforce group rights, but there is no question that his assertion can be used to

prove the counter argument of his chief claim. For if the state is not actively working to preserve

74
Ibid.
75
Anderson,​ Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
76
Murray, ​The Strange Death of Europe​, 107
77
Ibid.

18
its national identity, it cannot remain neutral on the matter, and in turn must be working towards

or at least remaining complicit in its crumbling.

Also reiterating Manent’s larger point is a notion put forth by J. Budziszewski in his work

Truth and Tolerance​. Budziszewski writes concerning how when it comes to installing in the

youth positive morals, a neutral liberal education is left only with the ability to speak about wise

and foolish actions generally, unable to bridge the gap between universal and particular
78,79
statements. Budziszewski regards such a result as a shame, and then goes on to wisely assert

that, “unless we admit what is the same for all, genuine diversity is impossible… life is like
80
music, where the variety of melody depends on the principles of harmony.” Budziszewskis’s

assertion can be just as well applied to concept of national unity as a whole, for once a

constructive national identity is shared and developed, diversity uninhibited by divisiveness can

flourish. For this reason, Manent’s larger point regarding the necessity of national identity

should not be understood to mean a desire for sameness or uniformity. Rather, it can be

understood in terms of Budziszewskis’s metaphor; a well formed national identity can be to the

state as the rules of harmony are to song. It sets the standards of tolerance by which life can flow.

The Sovereign Nation State as the Foundation for a Democratic System

In addition to his scathing critique of the international identity which stems from

excessive multiculturalism, Manent examines the ways in which the nation state is the

foundation of functioning democracy, and how without it, democracy itself risks collapsing

78
J. Budziszewski, ​True Tolerance: Liberalism and the necessity of judgment​ (New Brunswick:
Transaction Publishers, 1992), 136
79
In other words, youth instructors become unable to apply their teaching to the lives of the students they
instruct, out of fearing of giving unrighteous judgment and inflicting offense.
80
Budziszewski, ​True Tolerance: Liberalism and the necessity of judgment,1​ 37

19
under its own weight. This portion of Manent’s greater argument rests in the notion that the

nation state provides meaning to an otherwise meaningless political form, as it binds a people not
81
only together to its present, but also to its past and future. Unfortunately, such meaning derived

from nation is losing its authority in the West, for “the elements that held it all together are now
82
rediscovering their independence.” Simply put, as the idea of the unified nation in a democracy

weakens, the unity of society fractures into a mere multiplicity of interests devoid of greater

meaning and connection to both past and future.

This fracturing is a contributing factor in the general weakening of the sovereignty of the

democratic state, which is the state's ability to act and govern according to the dictates of its own

people. Without state sovereignty as the highest power of the land, the substantive equality that

is infused into the citizenry through rights like equal protection under the law will atrophy. For

as argued by Manent, “the sovereign state brings equality into being; it produces the plane of

equality- the equality of conditions, the equality implied in the human condition- without which

we simply cannot conceive of a decent common life, despite our many differences and
83
differences of opinion.” ​Simply put, the sovereignty of the state is the needed as tool through

which a democratic society can achieve a common foundation of substantive equality. A

sovereign state is not the impediment to a minority citizen’s ability to flourish as characterized

by Kymlicka; it is the very vehicle by which the minority’s substantive equality can best be

recognized. How shameful then is the destruction of the sovereign state currently being

underwent in Europe, for as described by Manent, “today democracy turns actively and

81
Manent, ​Democracy Without Nations?,​ 10
82
Ibid.
83
Ibid., 16

20
84
aggressively against the state.” Surely the citizens of the western nations would wish to

preserve this substantive equality if they knew that it was at stake. Or perhaps after generations

of reaping the good fruits from the tree that is the “necessary condition of the equality of
85
conditions,” the West has come to take for granted the blessings once so desperately sought.

Unfortunately, the weakening of sovereignty is a prime attribute of Kymlicka’s

multicultural state, for as demonstrated in his argument concerning the group rights of national

minorities, Kymlicka intentionally diverts power away from the sovereign and installs it in a

largely unaccountable government. This surrendering of authority is not a mistake in

Kymlicka’s system, but a feature. Such was demonstrated during a discussion on to what degree

the Supreme Court of the United States should have authority over the laws passed by Native
86
American tribal councils. For Kymlicka set himself at odds with much of the liberal

community by asserting that no, the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over national minorities should
87
be limited, as there is, “little scope for legitimate coercive interference.”

When one considers this position in light of the demographic trends in Europe discussed

previously, wherein which Muslim immigrant communities are taking on the attributes of

national minorities, a frightening picture of the future is painted. For if the sovereign is unable

to intervene in an illiberal community as to guarantee the equality of conditions requisite in a

democracy, then truly the democratic form has failed to achieve its purpose. If such an end is to

84
Ibid., 17
85
Ibid., 16
86
Kymlicka, ​Multicultural Citizenship​, 167
87
Ibid.

21
be prevented, it follows that the converse must be ensured; the sovereignty of the democratic

state must be protected.

All in all, Manent’s central argument asserting the necessity of the nation state proves to

powerfully counter Kymlicka’s assertions that intentionally weakening state sovereignty in the

name of group rights will produce equality. For doing so not only threatens substantive equality

amongst the citizenry, but also leads to the elimination of meaningful, generation transcending

bonds, all resulting in the establishment of an empty political form.

A Need for a Return to Political Realism

In an effort to continue his of critique of the confident, optimistic multiculturalists,

Manent urges the return to a kind of political realism that recognizes the “dense, compact, hard
88
to penetrate nature of human communities.” To fully outline his argument, Manent traces the

emergence of what he describes as an “aesthetic vision, a tourists view” of human societies, back

to the kind of emotion experienced by countless individuals around the world following the
89
demolition of the berlin wall.

Following the collapse of the USSR and the infamous wall that was the symbol of its

empire, dreams of idealistic unification flourished throughout the western world. Many were

intrigued by the romantic notion that after enduring history’s bloodiest century yet, we had come

to a sort of Hegelian end of history, in which national labels that were perceived to be divisive
90
could be abandoned in favor of a utopian international identity.

88
Manent, ​Democracy Without Nations?,​ 28
89
Ibid.
90
Ibid.

22
To the surprise of many though, the credibility of these dreams came crashing down in

2001, when terrorism from non-state actors delivered a devastating blow to what was otherwise
91
considered by some to be a blooming new world order. Manent continues his argument by

stating:

Before that fateful day we spoke so glibly of ‘difference’ and of ‘the right to difference’!
This was because the ‘differences’ we thought and spoke of could only be light and
superficial, easy to combine, easy to welcome…. We were suddenly recalled to political
reality… human communities take hold of their members at a level so deep that even the
powerful instruments and contagious pleasures of modern life are unable to create a truly
92
common life among them.

Unfortunately, not all Westerners immediately experienced the kind of political awakening

described by Manent. Rather, in the year since, much of Europe has doubled down on its
93
embracement of the “unrealistic and utopian.” Interestingly enough however, as the frequency

of Islam motivated terrorist attacks increase in Western Europe, political realism appears to be

awakening much of the West yet again, as evidenced by recent condemnations of


94
multiculturalism by European political leaders.

Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that such denouncements will continue to increase, for

much of Europe has come to embrace their reputation as “humane and multicultural,” in contrast

to the popular conception of the United States as “a cruelly materialistic nation that compels

immigrants to shake off their identities and fend for themselves in a dog-eat-dog economic
95
system.” In disagreement with this popular opinion, it must be noted that by embracing the

91
Ibid.
92
Ibid.
93
Wikan Unni, ​Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe​ (Chicago, 2002).
94
​John F Burns, "U.K.'s Cameron condemns multiculturalism policy” (​Toronto Star​, 2011, sec.
News, p. A11.
95
Bruce Bawer. "Crisis in Europe," ​Hudson Review​ 58, no. 4 (2006): 580

23
kind of political realism described by Manent, “American immigration has worked on the
96
whole”, and continues to work through an embracement of integration and assimilation.

Though the situation in Europe may be bleak on first glance, there is hope to be found in

Manent’s argument that man, as the political animal, exists within communities that shape him

profoundly. For if the goals of these communities were to be aligned in accordance with the

traditional conceptions of nation described by Manent, rather than to that which is self-defeating

in Kymlicka’s multiculturalism, perhaps nations can once again be a tool in the cultivation of

citizens who will then be best suited to help themselves, and their countryman as a whole.

Concluding Thoughts

All in all, upon examination of the thorough arguments put forth by both Kymlicka and

Manent, as well as the political realities taking shape in western Europe, it becomes clear that

though Kymlicka’s approach may appear moderate and reasonable, it weakens the sovereignty of

the state in such a way that will prove to be detrimental to Western conceptions of liberty and

equality. Additionally, it fails to provide a means for the formation of a unifying national

identity that transcends the significant divides in a multicultural citizenry. Furthermore, it is

unable to protect and uphold the national identities that have already been centuries in the

making. As such, western countries must be wary of the promises made by multiculturalism, and

must work to ensure that the sovereignty of their state and the unity of their people remain in

intact in its wake.

Otherwise, the “we” westerners once took for granted may become weaker in substance,

to the point where all men are echoing the Swedish Secretary’s words, saying “Well, what is the

96
​Bawer, "Crisis in Europe,”, 580

24
97
west? What is Britain? What is France?” If this time comes, perhaps westerners will be faced

with the sense of defeat which accompanies the question of, “Where do ​WE ​go from here,”

which is bound to follow the ill effects excessive multiculturalism will in the long run incur.

Unfortunately, at that point there will not even be a ​We​ for the somber question to be directed at.

Such a time should not come, and will not, if the sovereignty of the democratic nation

state is reaffirmed, and the necessity of a national identity grounded in the elements of

nationhood is embraced.

97
Murray, ​The Strange Death of Europe​, 104

25
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Bawer, Bruce. "Crisis in Europe." ​Hudson Review​ 58, no. 4 (2006): 577-97.

Budziszewski, J. ​True Tolerance: Liberalism and the necessity of judgment.​ New Brunswick:

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26

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