From the September 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard
On 22 July, the government offices in Oslo, Norway, were blown up, killing eight people. Shortly afterwards the bomber travelled to a Norwegian Labour Party summer camp mainly attended by children and began shooting them. He killed 68.
To begin with, the news media reported this accurately as a terrorist attack, speculating predictably but wrongly that the attacker was muslim. When it emerged that the attacker was not in fact muslim but a self-declared christian, with political views similar to that held by many mainstream news commentators and politicians, and with links to right-wing political parties throughout Europe, suddenly it was decided that Anders Behring Breivik was not a terrorist after all, merely a deranged madman, acting alone.
Then began the usual debate about how to define terrorism, which is held, as Chomsky has pointed out, to be a “vexing and complex problem” – at least, it’s deemed vexing and complex by those whose job it is to provide apologetic cover for the forms of terrorism that are acceptable to the ruling class.
There is just as much confusion about multiculturalism, or what the Norway terrorist called in his political manifesto “Marxist multiculturalism”. The fact is that human societies, and especially modern ones, are almost always multicultural. As Gary Younge pointed out in the Guardian (14 March): “Cultures are dynamic, and emerge organically from communities. None exist in isolation or remain static. So the presence of a range of cultures in Britain or anywhere else is not novel, but the norm.” There’s nothing wrong with that. A diversity of languages, festivals, music and food is something to be welcomed and enjoyed.
But the other kind of multiculturalism – that which advocates liberal, state-led policies for encouraging and supporting cultural differences at the expense of working class unity – has nothing to do with Marxism. It is something to be opposed as much as the alternative policy pursued by some states of inculcating a single “national identity”. Workers should be encouraged to think of themselves as members of a worldwide class with a common interest, not as members of different “nations” or different “ethnic” or “cultural” groups with their own different, competing interests.
We have never had a problem doing that. That’s because we understand that working class people of all cultures need to come together as equals to fight for issues that unite them as a class. And that’s the only way we’ll ever achieve a society where we can work together for things that unite us all as human beings, regardless of skin colour, religious beliefs, cultural or national origin, or individual difference.