mercredi, décembre 20, 2006

Actualité - Blair's Racist Promotion of "Multiculturalism and Integration"

"Our Nation's Future -- multiculturalism and integration" was the title of the Prime Minister's speech at Downing Street on December 8, the latest in his "Our Nation's Future" lectures. In it he demanded that everyone should subscribe to what he referred to as "shared, common unifying British values." At the same time he spoke in an openly racist manner regarding what he termed "ethnic minority people" in general, whilst he singled out Muslims, and especially those "originating from certain countries," for particular attack.

The main aim of Blair's speech was precisely to attack particular sections of the population; to state that "multi-cultural Britain" had produced "British-born suicide bombers," and that consequently "there is an unease, an anxiety, even at points a resentment that our very openness, our willingness to welcome difference, our pride in being home to many cultures, is being used against us, abused indeed, in order to harm us." The argument presented is then that there must be the correct balance struck between diversity and integration. As in the similarly spurious argument that there must be a "balance" between rights and security, and that to redress an imbalance there must be more security and less rights, so Blair's argument is in effect that there must be less diversity and more integration, specifically integration around "British values." Specifically, Tony Blair defines "legitimate" diversity and identity in terms of religions and faiths, which he seems to equate with diversity of cultures. However, Blair's argument proceeds to define what he means by integration, which "is not about culture or lifestyle. It is about values. It is about integrating at the point of shared, common unifying British values."

The whole anti-democratic and racist tenor of the argument is borne out by the fact that, even if this argument held any water, Tony Blair does not proceed to investigate or to put forward a procedure for investigating or have an enlightened conception of ascertaining what can be the "shared, common unifying" values arising from the collective of the residents, or even the citizens, of Britain, or even whether it can be said that there are any values which are common to them all. The assertion is that integration around common values (values which he then goes on to stipulate and to define as specifically "British") is about what "defines us" as "citizens, the rights and duties that go with being a member of our society."

This argument betrays not only a contempt for the rule of law, but a contempt for culture and cultures and for the rights of minorities within a society. It is the old colonialist, Eurocentric conception, specifically of the superiority of everything "British," elevated to the level of a government policy and programme which attempts to make it respectable. As such, it is part of the attempts at providing justifications for the imposition of a political agenda and political culture which legitimises certain values and ideologies and de-legitimises others, to the extent that even to express these values or ideologies is being criminalised or branded as a disorder of thought content or the cause of anti-social behaviour.

In a global context, Tony Blair often refers to "universal values." Unsurprisingly, it appears that for the Prime Minister these are indistinguishable from what he is championing as so-called "British values" -- that is "belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equal treatment for all." However, the context of the argument is such that the crisis of attempting to promote and impose such values on public opinion is clear. Glaringly, Blair's arguments hopelessly mix up the notions of nationality and citizenship, and conflate the reality of national minorities within society with cultures identified with various religions. The crisis of values is such that many are acutely aware of the irony of the 19th century conception of "tolerance," itself predicated on the chauvinist notion of the superiority of Britain and its "civilising mission" while tolerating inferior peoples, being used to deny even the right of cultures to express their values, to trample on the rights of minorities and to wipe out civilisations and promote anarchy, violence and aggression. In fact, Tony Blair is attempting to identify the values of New Labour, whatever one may think of them, with the values of the "nation," and make the issue one of law and order, the necessity to "integrate," when these values are opposed. In fact, it is not hard to demonstrate that these New Labour values are those of a particular form of "representative democracy," inequality based on safeguarding the dictate of the monopolies and the imposition on the whole world of the "global market" and so on. As for "the rule of law," it is another irony that Blair wishes to champion that which his government and his allies breach with impunity throughout the world on the basis that might is right.

Blair's aim is not only to demand that everyone accepts such values but also to argue that these values are threatened by an ideology that is alien, anti-British, Muslim and propagated by people "particularly originating from certain countries." A clearer expression of Islamophobic racism it would be difficult to find and yet Blair wishes to go even further by using the state to intervene in the affairs of mosques, to withhold government funding from community groups that do not promote these "British values," and by launching other attacks specifically aimed at Muslims, "ethnic minority people" and migrants.

These are sinister developments, involving the most racist attacks on entire communities and attempts to set people at loggerheads. They show that Blair and his government are being forced to resort to the most desperate acts not only abroad but at home too. It is a fact that far from subscribing to so-called "British values" most of those in Britain and throughout the world are resolutely opposed to the values of Anglo-American imperialism; warmongering, the doctrine that might is right and that society must be organised according to the needs of the big monopolies.

In Britain, as elsewhere, the workers and democratic people have fought for and are establishing their own values which include the principle of fighting in defence of the rights of all. It is evident that the question of values has become a battlefield at the centre stage of political developments. It is being used by the government and the establishment to justify its authority, to impose retrogression on society, and to deny the rights of all as human beings. Tony Blair's conception of "integration" and "multiculturalism" is racist and against the very right of an individual or collective, class or national minority within England, Scotland or Wales to affirm their identity and themselves decide their own future and the future of the polity within which they exist. It hardly merits the description of a political agenda but is crudely based on notions of "Britishness" and all that is alien to "Britishness" which closes the door to all enlightenment and gives the green light to a fascist society. Such retrogression must not be allowed to pass!

(Workers' Daily Internet Edition - December 16, 2006)

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