The Multivisions of Multiculturalism
ABSTRACT: The questions suggested by the term "multiculturalism" range far and wide, embracing: questions of inclusion; questions of criteria; questions of self-identity; and questions of the meaning of multiculturalism. In this essay I provide a framework: (i) that allows us to begin a discussion that might answer such questions; (ii) that illuminates why it is that such a modest aim is the most we can hope for at this time; and (iii) that provides an understanding of what we can do in a multicultural world in order to illuminate what we should do. This framework will reject both the idea of toleration as found in Berlin’s conception of human choice and will speak of as maximal multiculturalism,…show more content…
This framework will prove to parallel a classic Hobbesianism, a universally undesirable result that will, paradoxically, provide further direction and reason for hope.
1. One immediate response by many in the USA to such questions is an appeal to the ideal of tolerance—an ideal that Sir Isaiah Berlin, perhaps more than any thinker in our time, has defended.
Berlin's central argument for toleration is that belief in the one true view has repeatedly led to disaster: "One belief, more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the altars of the great historical ideals... This is the belief that somewhere, in the past or in the future, in divine revelation or the mind of the individual thinker, in the pronouncements of history or science, or in the simple heart of an uncorrupted good man, there is a final solution."(1) A second argument that Berlin offers for toleration is that we have no right to insist that all be educated in our way, unless we know that we are pure and good—precisely what we do not and cannot know. As Tolstoy argued, the history of education is a history of tyranny, where each new school "struck off one yoke only to put another in its place."(2) "But about one thing they were all agreed: that one