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Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Cultural Pyramid

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Multiculturalism as a name, newly coined, has its conveniences. It defines a concept and a course of action that has been automatic throughout human history. Wherever two human beings have met, there has been a ‘clash of culture’, if one can slightly distort Huntington’s term. Though culture is primarily defined to be communal, each individual practices it in his own way. Since human beings have unique personalities, the practice of their culture—even the so called ‘shared’ communal culture is never similar.

This means that we should also consider the layers of culture. As a starting point, is then our personal cultures, derived from our familial and communal culture. The culture of the family may or may not be secular but the communal social culture is derived largely from the religious group one is born into, and in this sense, is the bedrock and the most impositional of all cultural practices. Since nationhood is so recent a concept in human history, national values forms the thin uppermost film of culture. Sometimes, nations who claim religious values to be foundational, combine nationhood and religion in a lethal retrograde combination.
Question is, when we talk of multiculturalism, which layer of culture are we talking about? Should we consider that multiculturalism impose a communal definition on human beings? Does multiculturalism ignore the cultural interaction of two individuals? Is that why multiculturalism has remained an academic or a topic for radio shows and not become a blueprint for human relations?
Multiculturalism as a belief system ignores the real issues of daily interactions and imposes a group identity by which an individual must present himself to others. The assumption is that the group culture is bigger than the individual’s practice of culture.
If belief in individualism is the bedrock of ‘modern culture’ then the idea of multiculturalism needs a corrective.