The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe
– A History
By Rita Chin
Princeton University Press – £30.00
We are a British nation with British characteristics. Every country can take some small minorities and in many ways they add to the richness and variety of this country. The moment the minority threatens to become a big one, people get frightened.
(Margaret Thatcher – ‘Race, Nation, Society’)
If you come to France, you agree to to melt into a single community, the national community. If you do not accept this, don’t come to France.
(Nicolas Sarkozy – ‘The ‘’Failure’’ of Multiculturalism’)
Along with Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech made in 1968, the first of the above two quotes by the loathsome Margaret Thatcher, is just one of the many literary kernels, fundamentally responsible for the ideology behind Brexit – which in and of itself, is currently destroying what is left of the UK (as I write).
Likewise, the second quote by Nicolas Sarkozy, may be considered by many for inadvertently fuelling the thinking behind France’s far-right National Front (FN).
So when it comes to The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe – A History, one ought to perhaps read and tread very carefully; as Multiculturalism is an overtly controversial, if not ultra-inflammatory subject throughout many parts of Europe right now. And has been for years, especially since the Syrian Civil War of 2011. Although it does need to be said that the French populace, have up until now at least, had the all round chutzpah and intelligence to not allow the FN to ultimately preside over France.
It’s a pity the same cannot be said for huge swathes of Britain, a nation, which, thanks to the likes of Nigel Farage and most of the current government, appears to be both socially and politically self-imploding by the day.
Again, a most dire situation, more than disproportionately triggered by the following continuation of Thatcher’s (devout) influence: ‘’ ‘’Some people do feel swamped if streets they have lived in for the whole of their lives are really now quite, quite different.’’ The point was […] to draw a line between the British people, endowed with British character, and those marked as bearers of ‘’alien’’ cultures who were rendering British streets unrecognizable. The latter, she implied, were not really part of Britain, and too many of them threatened to eclipse the core.’’
Rita Chin (author of The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany) has herein written a book that is readily readable – especially given the subject matter – and one which places the most pertinent issues at the forefront of a clearly complex and very involved situation. For example: ‘’In the past, groups perceived as incompatible with European identity were usually located beyond European borders. But now they are firmly established within Europe itself […].
Chin’s mighty extensive range alone, warrants the purchase of this most indispensable book. As such, I would like to leave the final words to the authoress herself: ‘’The goal of this book is not to prescribe a specific form of multiculturalism that might serve as a cure-all for an enormously complicated politics. Rather, my hope is that the history I chronicle here may help us to become more self-conscious about what multiculturalism is, has been, and might be in the future (‘Multicultural and Multiculturalism’).