Multiculturalism and the death of the subculture

There has been much talk recently about the need to make philosophy more welcome to women, racial minorities, and other underrepresented groups. While the underlying sentiment here is praiseworthy, it should be enlightened by considering the character these gestures frequently take. This raises some problems to which I have no answer.

The gesture takes the form of an invitation from a higher social group to individual members of an oppressed group to become proficient in the mores and customs of that higher group.[1] Its primary motivation is the higher class’ sense of its own wrongdoing and/or limitations – more straightforwardly expressed, its sense of sin. It is not motivated by the higher culture’s sense of pity for the disaffected, who, apart from the aforementioned sense of sin, would be ignored. Its aim is to expiate the sin and overcome these limits by broadening the types of individuals composing it – i.e. expanding the range of ‘matter’ in which the cultural form would be instantiated. As such, it is a species of the allocation and diversification of resources ordered toward preservation/growth, the most familiar images of which occur in the economic sphere.[2]

In the above case as elsewhere, the method adopted is intrinsically inadequate to its intended end. As an invitation to the individual member of a lower class, this invitation begins a process of the generation of that higher cultural form in that individual –therefore, simultaneously the destruction of his/her prior form, i.e. his/her prior mode of being and way of life. But it was precisely what was distinctive of the lower culture that was sought as a potential remedy for the limits of the higher one. And, in the process of assimilating the individual to the higher culture, it is exactly this which is given up.

As a result, though the higher culture gains little if anything in virtue from this assimilation, it does effect the destruction of a subculture by chipping away at its material base. This destruction itself, however, serves the ultimate end – undermining consciousness of sin – in another way. By removing the presence of the contrary whose existence is the occasion for the recognition of difference (therefore, also of lack), it also removes the occasion for that recognition itself. This removal of consciousness of sin, in fact a consequence of the destruction of the other, is instead represented as an increase in the virtue and capacity of the higher culture itself. In concreto, this means that modern multiculturalism is and must essentially be middle-aged white culture instantiated in white women, black men, Chinese children – and simultaneously, a weakening of that culture rather than its strengthening, given the continual removal of the gadflies that keep it vigilant.

This is why ours is the most monolithic multiculturalism ever to have existed.

[1] It should be clear to my reader that my use of ‘higher’, and ‘lower’ should not be read as meaning ‘better’ and ‘worse’, but as indicators of class and power

[2] Otherwise put, it is a species of that kind of functionalism for which the matter instantiating the function must matter as little as possible.

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A justification of the existence of evil in 120 words

  1. Good and evil are contraries.
  2. Contraries are beings presupposing each other in sense, i.e. beings whose meaningfulness is conditional upon that of their opposites.
  3. Meaningfulness is to understanding as possibility to existence: i.e. meaningfulness to an understanding is nothing other than real possibility, described with respect to an understanding rather than reality as such. Those who think otherwise ground meaning and possibility alike in their own ignorance.
  4. Hence, contraries are beings whose possibility is conditional upon that of their opposites; as Aristotle says, potencies are directed at contraries.
  5. So for goodness to be possible is for evil to be as well.
  6. A world where goodness is possible is better than one where it isn’t.