8.3.2 A Shift in the Ideological Environment

Arjun Tremblay

Another major development that threatens multiculturalism’s continued implementation is the shift to the ideological right in national-level politics that is occurring across democracies. This shift is evidenced by the formation of new center-right governments, by the rise and mainstreaming of far-right political factions, and by the struggles and decline of center-left political parties. This shift has created in its wake an ideological environment that is less than conducive to multiculturalism’s survival as an ideology and as a policy option. Why is this so? The adoption and implementation of multiculturalism policies has generally occurred under social democratic and center-left governments. Additionally, multiculturalism is logically consistent with social democratic and reform liberal ideologies given their openness to radical forms of change and their desire to redress imbalances in power. By contrast, the political right tends to oppose cultural accommodation and minority recognition and to promote integrationist alternatives to multiculturalism highlighted above. There are also major logical inconsistencies between various ideologies of the right and multiculturalism, as one can see in table 8.8 below. These inconsistencies suggest that if the ideological pendulum continues to shift to the right across liberal democracies, multiculturalism policies may be at risk.

Table 8.8 Logical Inconsistencies between Ideologies of the Right and Multiculturalism

Ideologies of the Right Multiculturalism
Tends to embrace a mono-cultural ideal of society All societies are multicultural and common public institutions should reflect diversity
Tends to be biased in favour of maintaining the status-quo Often requires radical and rapid change as well as the creation of new institutions
Tends to value negative freedom, which is to say protection from the state The state is necessary to protect the rights of minorities (consistent with positive freedom)
(neo-conservatism) values the individual over the group (the BSM) views individuals and groups as equally important
Tends to value small government, limited government intervention in society Government intervention needed to redress the power imbalance between majority and minority groups

Source: Tremblay, A. (2018). Diversity in decline? The rise of the political right and the fate of multiculturalism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 2-3.


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