This blog post is my response to numerous newspapers on Chancellor Merkel’s latest comments on Multiculturalism previously posted in October of 2010.
“Multiculturalism Has Failed.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this past Saturday that multiculturalism has failed. While her bold statement, which has brought with it a flurry of press activity and outrage, may be correct, this writer respectfully submits that her underlying assumptions are not.
Chancellor Merkel is responding to a perceived problem with the current state of Germany’s multicultural society. She has assumed, as many have before her, that the response to failed multiculturalism must be egocultural. In an attempt to preserve Germany’s culture, and commerce, Chancellor Merkel has concluded that the failure of multiculturalism means that integration – a typical melting pot model espoused by the United States – is the only viable option. Chancellor Merkel’s comments have only illustrated that the natural output of multicultural society will be egocultural behaviors masquerading as tolerance.
Egoculturalism, a modern term for discriminatory and ethnocentric behavior, has fallen out of favor in recent years. From the Crusades, to Nazi Germany, to the integration of Native Americans, egocultural actions have met with limited success and have, at times, been the cause of war and civil unrest. Multiculturalism, like egoculturalism, is destined to fail due to the common assumption that one’s own culture is superior and all others are, at best, to be tolerated, or, at worst, exploited.
The alternative, isoculturalism, is a philosophy that is gaining popular support. Isoculturalism is a concept which encourages unity and equality between different cultures, through the sacrifice of one’s own culture to preserve and build others. A sort of culturally altruistic act as it were, isoculturalism motivates the individual to find ways to build others up rather then simply tolerate them. In an increasingly globalized world, this approach offers a strategic way to create unity over diversity, and protect rather than impede global commerce and cultural survival.
Merkel has recognized that, in an increasing global and migrant community, having people “live side-by-side” happily (a hallmark of multiculturalism), did not result in growth. However, her solution of integration is not only egocultural, but may be seen by some as a thinly veiled attempt to solidify Germany’s culture as superior in the global marketplace. Perhaps isoculturalism, practiced in a culturally intelligent manner, is the solution.