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`Distinction between multiculturalism as policy and as fact of pluralist society vital`


`Anti-racism infuses politics into multiculturalism, makes it dynamic’: IRR
18th February 2011: Soon after Prime Minister David Cameron in his Munich speech blamed the ‘state doctrine of multiculturalism’ for creating ‘segregated communities’, the Institute of Race Relations has come out in support of the phenomenon.
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It has asserted that it is important to draw a distinction between multiculturalism as policy and multiculturalism as a fact of pluralist society Britain has become.

For the purpose, the Institute has referred an analysis made by IRR director A. Sivanandan after 7/7 in 1984.

The IRR claimed Sivanandan had then referred to the dangers intrinsic in a state-funded ‘ethnicism’, first introduced by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher after the urban uprisings of 1981 as a way of breaking down black political struggles against racism.

Recapping Sivanandan’s seven theses on multiculturalism, the IRR said it drew a distinction between the reactionary aspects of ‘culturalism’ and ‘ethnicism’ and the progressive potential of multiculturalism within the context of anti-racism.

Elaborating on the theses, it said: `In itself multiculturalism simply means cultural diversity. But, in practice, that diversity can either be progressive leading to integration or regressive leading to separatism.

The force that drives multiculturalism in either direction is the reaction to racism and, in particular, the racism of the state which sets the seal on institutional and popular racism.

The reaction to racism is either resistance (struggle) or accommodation. (Submission is not an option, nor is terrorism.)

Resistance to, or struggle against, racism engenders a more just society, enlarges the democratic remit and provides the dynamics of integration that leads to a pluralist society.

Accommodating to racism engenders a retreat from mainstream society into the safety of one’s own ethnicity and leads to separatism.

Anti-racism is the element that infuses politics into multiculturalism and makes it dynamic and progressive.

Remove the anti-racist element and multiculturalism descends into culturalism / ethnicism.

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