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A respeito do multiculturalismo

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 24.10.10


John Gray, "A Conservative Disposition", in Gray's Anatomy, pp. 149-151:


Whereas opinions may legitimately differ as to the best mode of provision, the duty of government to set and inspect national standards in schooling is beyond reasonable doubt. It may be true that, when British culture was far more homogeneous in its traditions and ways of life, curricular choice could be safely left to the tacit understandings of headteachers and staff. With the advent of mass immigration and other species of cultural diversity, a national curriculum, or something like it, is a manifest necessity. Current proposals are far from being the best that can be conceived in that, as Sheila Lawlor has shown, they give insufficient priority to a core curriculum comprising English, mathematics and science. It is the inculcation of such skills of numeracy, literacy (in the English language), and scientific thinking that is the proper aim of any national curriculum.


There are clear implications for the issue of multiculturalism in this conclusion. Cultural minorities, such as the British Muslims, have an undeniable entitlement to government funding for their schools, if only on grounds of equity given the current practice in regard to Catholics and Jews. Along with every other school ought to receive such subsidy only if it conforms to a streamlined national curriculum by teaching the basic skills to all of its pupils, both male and female. In Britain, it is taken for granted (even if the realities often fail to match this expectation) that opportunities for men and women, whether as children at school or later in life, be the same. The form of life that is inherited today, with all of its many variations, confers upon men and women the same responsibilities and opportunities. With regard to schooling, it follows from this that conservative governments cannot endorse, by subsidy or otherwise, schools that deny this equality of opportunity to the sexes. This is but one of the important limits on cultural diversity that any government which is committed to the protection of civil society is bound to impose.


It expresses a deeper and less fashionable truth. Cultural minorities, whether indigenous or immigrant in origin, cannot expect public subsidy for aspects of their ways of life which flout the central norms of liberal civil society. They are entitled to protection from forms of discrimination which deny them full participation in the common life. They cannot justifyably claim privileges or immunities of the sort enshrined in policies of affirmative action and of group rights, which effectively shield them from the healthy pressures of the larger society. Although it is to be hoped that cultural minorities in Britain will retain many aspects of their traditions, including traditions of hard work and family stability in which many recent immigrants excel over the indigenous population, civil peace in the kingdom depends on their integration into the civil society that enables them to live in freedom. The lessons of states which have allowed unrestricted immigration of incompatible minorities or which have inherited profound ethnic divisions, are sobering and indeed ominous for liberals who indulge the dangerous fantasy that civil peace can be maintained solely by obedience to common rules. History and the news of the day suggest otherwise: that pluralism must be bound by the norms and the common culture of civil society. Pluralism must have such limits, or else Beirut will be the likely fate.


The American experience, in which the courts (now virtually the only effective agents of policy-making in America) have been hijacked by ethnic and other special interests, illustrates vividly the dangers of pluralist societies that only legalism holds together. It intimates the hard truth that a multiracial society, if it is to be peaceful and free, cannot also be radically multicultural. In particular, entry into civil society in Britain presupposes subscription to its norms, among which toleration, voluntary association and equality before the law are uppermost in importance. It must be made plain by any conservative government that cultural diversity cannot mean the subordination of women in state-funded schools, or (as in the Rushdie case) toleration of threats which in endanger freedom of expression. The common culture to which people aspire is that culture of liberty which animates a civil society. This common culture may be reinforced by laws and policies which resist pluralism when pluralism threatens the norms of civil society itself. A civil society such as in Britain is entitled to assert its identity against those - be they recent immigrants or long-established indigenous groups - who challenge its central, defining practices of toleration and compromise. It is, indeed, these practices that set the limit to pluralism in Britain today.


The pursuit of a delusive organic community distracts frm the humbler but indispensable task of filling out that thinner common culture of respect for civil society that presently enables people to coexist in peace. Building up that common culture, in turn, effectively enfranchises all people as active citizens in a polity to which everyone can profess allegiance. A conservative policy, rightly conceived, is not one which seeks to renew old traditions by deliberate contrivance; it is one which nurtures the common traditions that are currently shared, while respecting the variety of practices whereby they are held in common.

publicado às 16:46

John Gray e a natureza humana

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 19.07.10


Retirado da introdução, que podem encontrar aqui:


Contemporary humanism is a religion that lacks the insight into human frailty of traditional faiths. In envisioning the universe as the work of a divine person Western monotheism has always been anthropocentric, but it has preserved a sense of mystery, the insight that the nature of things is finally unknowable. In contrast secular rationalists have promoted a type of solipsism. Like the Tlonists of Borges’s fable, examined in Chapter 5, they think the real world and their intellectual constructions are — or can be made to be — identical. Hence the ornate theories of justice devised by credulous philosophers, the elaborate systems of incentives designed by bien-pensant economists and the recondite schemes for taxing emissions advanced by Greens — just the latest of many attempts to reorder human life by the use of reason.

Humankind is not a collective agent that can decide its destiny. If humans are different from other animals it is chiefly in being governed by myths, which are not creations of the will but creatures of the imagination. Emerging unbidden from subterranean regions, they rule the lives of those they possess. Many of the worst crimes of the last century were the work of people possessed by what they believed to be reason. Science is believed to confer a superior rationality on its initiates, but science cannot make us into a rational animal of the kind imagined by humanist philosophers. Humans can anthropomorphize anything, except themselves.

A little realism would surely be useful. Accepting that we are flawed and our problems not fully soluble need not be paralysing; it could make us more flexible and resourceful. But no realist will try to convert the world. The myth-free civilization of secular rationalism is itself the stuff of myth. Myths are fictions, which cannot be true or false; but fictions can be more or less truthful depending on how they capture human experience. No traditional myth is as untruthful as the modern myth of progress. All prevailing philosophies embody the fiction that human life can be altered at will. Better aim for the impossible, they say, than submit to fate. Invariably, the result is a cult of human self-assertion that soon ends in farce.

publicado às 23:03

Acabadinho de sair

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 18.07.10


À venda na FNAC do Chiado, ou aqui, uma antologia de textos de John Gray. E, bem a propósito, aqui fica um vídeo do mesmo autor, que podem encontrar aqui:


publicado às 17:32


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