The Multiculturalism of Fear
Jacob T. Levy
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This vital new liberal account of multiculturalism combines an analysis of the policy dilemmas faced by multiethnic states around the world with a philosophical consideration of multiculturalism and nationalism. Jacob T. Levy boldly argues that liberalism should not be centrally concerned with either preserving or transcending cultural communities, practices, and identities. Rather, he contends that liberalism should focus on mitigating evils such as inter-ethnic civil wars and state violence against ethnic minorities. In order for this "multiculturalism of fear" to be grounded in the realities of ethnic politics and conflict, it must take seriously the importance people place on their ethnic identities and cultural practices without falling into a celebration of cultural belonging.
Levy applies his approach to a variety of policy problems, including the regulation of sexist practices inside cultural communities, secession and national self-determination, land rights, and customary law, and draws on cases from such diverse states as Australia, Canada, Israel, India, South Africa, and the United States.
is very unlikely to change the underlying norms. Many gays and lesbians in the United States consider themselves to be married, live as married couples, and hold wedding ceremonies despite ofﬁcial nonrecognition. They then rightly complain about the denial of the legal rights that accompany marriage. Nonrecognition of polygynous marriages, if it doesn't change the underlying cultural norm, leaves participants in the same legal limbo as gay and lesbian couples are today, and that's very unlikely
of the absolute priority given to the distinction between us and all others. Something which is true of the unifying face of nationalism is that it is characteristically democratic and in some sense egalitarian, however illiberal it may be in the suppression of smaller communities which might compete for the loyalty of members. All nationals are equal members of the nation, and all jointly rule it (or it is ruled in their name and on their behalf). Claim (2b), which demands the unity of the
to defect out of the culture and migrate or assimilate provided that others do the same. Liberals, at least, dislike overtly paternalistic arguments, and in any event have trouble justifying the idea that continued cultural membership is in the interests of members whether they like it or not; but if a collective action argument is available, then they need not resort to such claims. Imagine a state with two major languages, one spoken by a much larger community than the other. Speaking the
of cultural protection justiﬁed as solutions to collective action problems. Many kinds of distinctive cultural practice can be abandoned, one member at a time, by those seeking the advantages of assimilation and hoping that others will keep their original culture intact. Religious codes of conduct and traditional ways of life can be so abandoned. Even 149 Pierre Coulombe, Language Rights in French Canada (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1995 ), 123. PLURALISM, DIVERSITY, AND PRESERVATION
prevents individual sales or whether even the tribe as a whole is incapable of selling even part of its land. 190 Ibid. 147. 191 This is the state of the law in Australia. Aborigines there do not have self-government or sovereignty; and ordinary landowners in Australia do not have either ownership of subsurface minerals or the right to refuse access to mining interests. Legislation recognizing Aboriginal land rights (in the Northern Territory in 1976, nationwide in 1993) granted special