Some recent posts on THOSE issues…

1. Multiculturalism

Fascinating European perspective: Monoculturalism is dead: multiculturalism has yet to come by Claus Leggewie in Eurozine.

In Germany, conservatives criticize a pastiche of multiculturalism to justify authoritarian policies and deflect attention from decades of neglect, argues Claus Leggewie. Failure to recognize Muslims as part of society is to risk repeating an historical mistake.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit once said that he knew the ’68 movement in Germany had won by a comment from a conservative colleague: "It doesn’t work with the Muslims, they harass their women." We’ve been hearing for years that multiculturalism has failed, and now the German chancellor – who, incidentally, could only become chancellor because ’68 and ’89 did work – has added her voice to the chorus. Gender equality a success, integration of immigrants a failure?

Despite the flak it’s coming in for at the moment, multiculturalism lives and will prevail. As the one to import the term "Multikulti" to Germany (I titled a book after Don Cherry’s eponymous band in 1990), allow me to explain not only what Cohn-Bendit, but also liberal conservatives like Heiner Geissler, meant by it. Not, namely, as Angela Merkel recently put it, in front of an audience of cheering young Christian Democrats: "Now we’ll do a bit of multikulti and live side-by-side and everyone’s happy." Anyone who has read the original arguments and the numerous subsequent studies knows that multiculturalism was not demanding arbitrariness or the Sharia, but rather the republican integration of diversity.

That included abandoning an utterly antiquated law on nationality, adopting forwards-looking social and employment policy, guaranteeing religious freedom as stipulated in the constitution, and a whole range of educational initiatives. The problems today indicated by terms such as "parallel society" and "schooling failure" were predicted by the advocates of multiculturalism pretty exactly. It was they who were the realists…

One of a growing number of examples of the fact that the present debate about multiculturalism here (most inappropriately) and overseas is in fact Islamophobia: Sam Harris — SAM HARRIS’S GUIDE TO NEARLY EVERYTHING.

For Sam Harris morality is “an un-developed branch of science” that is all about separating lies from truth. Evil stems from lies, willfully blind to facts and reason. Good comes from rational, evidence-based standards for debunking lies and evaluating truths about the human condition. In this worldview, “Only a rational understanding of human well-being will allow billions of us to coexist peacefully, converging on the same social, political, economic, and environmental goals.”

But here’s the rub: the road to redemption is blocked by religious conservatives who “believe that values must come from a voice in a whirlwind.” Then, seeping from “the ivory tower,” come “secular liberals,” with their “multiculturalism, moral relativism, political correctness” borne of collective guilt “for the crimes of Western colonialism, ethnocentrism, and racism,” which leads to cowardice in the face of dogmatic bullies. So blow ye the trumpet and sound the alarm: if we don’t act soon in the ways this man suggests, then Western civilization could well succumb: “The juxtaposition of conservative dogmatism and liberal doubt . . . has hobbled the West in its generational war against radical Islam; and it may yet refashion the societies of Europe into a new Caliphate.”…

Say what???? Seems anyone can be a bigot these days, even atheists.

Irfan Yusuf is Australian, Muslim, has his feet on the ground and is rightly pissed off – as I am – by the turn this debate is now taking.

Jeremy Sammut is a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies. He has a PhD in Australian social and political history from Monash University. He has written about child protection laws and health policy.
And now he is writing about what he describes as the ‘M&M’ debate. M&M equals "multiculturalism and Muslims". His article appearing on the CIS website has been reprinted on the opinion page of The Australian.

Sammut writes about the “multicultural industry” which seeks to stifle “a legitimate debate about the success or otherwise of Muslim integration”.

Sammut’s evidence is one part of Sydney…

All this raises a few issues. Well, actually more than a few. I’ll list some:

[01] Was Jeremy Sammut around when many used to refer to Cabramatta as ‘Vietnamatta’? Was he aware of the large number of media reports and conservative commentators talking about ‘Asian crime gangs’ and the difficulties ‘Asians’ faced integrating?
[02] Is Sammut talking about Muslims as a race?
[03] Is Sammut asking us to believe that a certain ethnic group of Muslims in Lakemba is reflective of all Muslims across the country?
[04] Sammut argues that …

It is because most Australians believe in the immigration and integration of all comers that what is going on in southwest Sydney is of concern. Perceptive politicians have picked up on this.

Could he name some of these perceptive politicians? Does he agree with their perceptions and statements?…

Julia’s gymnastics and carbon pricing

I liked Nicholas Gruen on this.

…I’m a bit of a promises guy – I think if a politician promises something they should deliver it. And it’s bad if they welsh on the promise.  So I begin unsympathetic to Julia’s broken promise. After all she said that she wasn’t introducing a carbon tax.  Now she is.

Anyway I read a bit of the transcript with Neil Mitchell and have to admit that I’m kind of convinced by her case. Firstly circumstances are different in a hung parliament, but I don’t think that’s very firm ground on which to base a rearrangement. Circumstances always change.

And when Julia said “Get out every statement from the election campaign … all of the ones where I talked about the need to price carbon” I wasn’t particularly convinced either.  But then she said this.

The Australian people voted for me knowing I believed climate change is real and that I was determined to act on it, and that the Labor way of acting on it was to price carbon. People were going to say ‘Well isn’t that going to work effectively like a tax’, and we were going to have one of those silly debates about whether or not I would say the word tax. So I just clarified yesterday that the first few years with the fixed price do work effectively like a tax. This is the right thing to do to price carbon.

Well I’m not sure it’s all that clearly expressed, but at that stage I kind of ‘got it’.  Julia went to the election saying she was going to put a price on carbon. Not denying that prices would rise, thinking she’d do it using permits she ruled out a tax. If John Howard was in her shoes right now he’d be arguing that it’s not really a tax, it’s a fixed price permit system. Which it is.

Anyway, it all seems pretty OK to me.  Then again I’m not particularly enamoured of the Abbot led Coalition, so that’s no doubt influencing my judgement….

On the issue of pricing carbon – you will recall Malcolm Turnbull being very firm in another life than any policy on climate change that did not put a price on carbon was bullshit – you may care to read Prudent Risk:

Consider the following analogy: you’re driving your car, and you start to feel that the brakes aren’t working quite properly.  Most people would agree that the prudent path involves spending a modest amount of money to take the car to a mechanic, because if the brakes go out, it presents a potentially catastrophic scenario.  This sort of preventative action is good risk management.

In this case we’re dealing with the global climate, on which every living thing on the planet relies, and we’re facing a disaster in the most likely scenario if we continue on the business-as-usual path which the "skeptics" tell us is "prudent".  The "skeptics" would have us continue driving the car in the blind hope that the brakes will never give out.  After all, we haven’t gotten into a wreck so far, so continuing to drive with faulty brakes must be safe!

To sum up:

  1. If we continue in a business-as-usual scenario, the results range from bad to catastrophic.
  2. The cost of reducing carbon emissions and changing paths is minimal.
  3. The benefits of reducing carbon emissions outweigh the costs several times over.
  4. In trying to make their case to continue on the business-as-usual path, the "skeptics" contradicted themselves on major issues.  By a factor of ten.  Twice.

You tell us – what’s the prudent path forward?

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