Discover more from 3am Thoughts
The Left's "Diversity" Blindspot
True multiculturalism is about diversity and plurality of worldviews.
In a very visible way, British politics in the past year has provided a stress test to the contemporary liberal shibboleths of “diversity” and the imperative to “listen to voices” of historically marginalised minority communities. It is a stress test that liberals have failed, and in doing so revealed a hypocrisy and lack of substance behind the sanctimonious rhetoric and performative obsequiousness. The test was a simple one: how do liberals respond to Conservative Party politicians that also happen to be from minority backgrounds.
It was evident when Priti Patel was framing the Rwanda deportation policy, it was evident when Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, and it is more recently evident with Suella Braveman taking up Patel’s mantle on immigration policy. “Doesn’t she know she's the daughter of immigrants herself?” I’m sure neither Patel nor Braverman have suddenly forgotten their parents or their upbringing at all, but this type of embarrassing rhetoric has unfortunately been standard fare from numerous White liberals in the commentariat.
In their responses, liberals have made clear that “listening to voices” of historically marginalised minority communities doesn’t actually apply if those voices are Right of centre. In no uncertain terms it demonstrates that there is a qualifier to this mantra: “listen to voices” of people from minority backgrounds, but only the ones that agree with contemporary liberal dogmas. Watching the responses to Braverman’s comments that multiculturalism in the UK has failed and how liberals frame the word “diversity”, it was clear that liberals have forgotten that the true meaning of that word in a pluralistic, multicultural society is diversity of worldview and diversity of perspective. One couldn’t help but think of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride:
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Let me be really clear: I don’t agree with their politics or policies. I’ve written several vicious 3am Thoughts about the moral bankruptcy of this period of Tory reign, likened their attempts to govern since Brexit to a junkie trying to slit their wrists, and described Liz Truss’s short stint as Prime Minister to “the bile puked up when a comedown is so torrid there are no solids left to hurl.” But this is precisely the point; I don’t think that a Priti Patel or a Suella Braverman owes me anything in their own politics and beliefs simply because of ethnic background. Neither should anyone on the Left. Yet to contemporary liberals, everything is merely skin-deep; little wonder the rhetoric is equally shallow.
In protesting too much, one can’t help but wonder if it is to drown out the obvious reality that the most reactionary, incompetent, damaging government in British parliamentary history has simultaneously been the party that changed the complexion of British politics. This period of Tory government since 2010 has been disastrous across almost every domain, except one: diversity in politics. This is a bitter pill to swallow for liberals; a Right-wing government has produced two out of three of Britain’s women Prime Ministers, its first ever British-Indian Prime Minister in Sunak, and the most diverse Cabinets in the history of British politics. Boris Johnson, the greatest degenerate to serve as Prime Minister, also presided over the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in history, with ministers from minority backgrounds comprising 18% of all positions, which is even above the ~16% minority proportion of the population. Yes, the Tories did this.
What do you think the responses would have been if this were a Labour government? We would have drowned in fawning Guardian opinion pieces over how Labour were changing the country, forging a new Britain based on its modern multiethnic brilliance. Instead, only the odd begrudging acknowledgment of Sunak’s appointment can be found in liberal circles. There is an irony here in that liberals, and Labour, who have made identity politics their calling card, even fail at the game they’ve tried to set the rules for. All they can muster is Angela Rayner and her Northern accent, but her story is itself instructive from the party that champions “diversity”: that as someone from a working class background, she is now an anomaly in a party named “Labour”.
What about championing minority candidates? As came to light earlier this year, Labour have been actively blocking minority candidates from standing as parliamentary candidates, which appears to have been motivated by the fact that these candidates were Left-wing. Let’s spell that out...a party called Labour with its roots in the trade union movements of the turn of the 20th Century, that espouses all the liberal shibboleth rhetoric of “diversity”, blocks minority candidates from standing for election for being more overtly Left-wing. Consistent with much of the substance-free zone that is contemporary liberalism, the walk just doesn’t match the talk here.
This is why the recent surge of performative liberal outrage at Braverman’s comments in her Washington DC speech that multiculturalism has been a failure were so revealing. The status quo liberal response conflated multiculturalism with multiethnicity. Multiculturalism implies diverse cultural practices, including, for example, religious practices, social outlooks, and political association (often related). Multiethnicity describes the ethnic backgrounds in the composition of the population. When liberals responded by highlighting Braverman's ancestry, they were completely missing the point; they were merely highlighting Britain’s multiethnic reality. By assuming that her background would or should automatically add up to a particular (liberal) worldview, they betrayed their lack of understanding of what the substance of multiculturalism is.
And this reveals the truth of the liberal project that espouses a rhetoric of “diversity”: they don’t want true diversity, which is multiplicity of perspective and worldviews. Liberals don’t want true multiculturalism, because their entire project is one of enforcing cultural homogeneity as defined by the abstract “luxury beliefs” of an, ironically again, largely White, well-educated segment of the electorate. If contemporary liberalism was interested in fostering multiculturalism, it would not have developed its culture of censorship, de-platforming, and excoriation of anyone who dissents from whatever edicts of race, gender, and identity have been mandated. It reveals a very uncomfortable truth; that this rhetoric of “seeking to correct historic marginalisation” only applies as long as minority groups behave in accordance with the creed of liberals.
What in fact the contemporary liberal project is seeking to impose is monoculturalism layered over multiethnicity. The desire to enforce homogeneity in thought, speech, and perspective, is why “diversity” has been reduced to an administrative box-ticking exercise for institutions and corporations that reflects multiethnicity only, not cultural diversity and plurality of perspective. This distracts from the actual hard political realities of fostering a healthy, vibrant society where different cultural worldviews and perspectives are held together by a common commitment to a functioning, free, and open society. The latest round of liberal performative outrage at the anti-immigration policies of the daughter of immigrants highlights that the Left really can’t see its own diversity blindspot.
I appreciate you reading 3am Thoughts. If you are not already subscribed, please consider joining along; and if you are, perhaps consider recommending a friend to. Thank you.