Cosmopolitanism is a philosophical ideology which advocates that all human beings belong to one community having a common and shared morality. Anyone who subscribes to cosmopolitanism is referred to as a cosmopolite or a cosmopolitan. A cosmopolitan society espouses the morality of inclusivity, a mutual economic rapport, or a shared political framework made up of different subunits. In cosmopolitan societies, the members from disparate places form an association of mutual respect despite having differences in their beliefs such as political or religious. In the recent past, different cities have been identified as cosmopolitan, and this does not mean that all the members consciously embrace the philosophy of cosmopolitanism, but they could be referred to as cosmopolitan because members are from different cultural, ethnic, or religious background and they co-exist and interact with each other because they live in proximity. On the other hand, multiculturalism is a political philosophy which has a wider meaning and largely depends on the context either in political philosophy or sociology. In sociology or the ordinary usage of the word, different ethnic groups collaborate and coexist with each other without necessarily sacrificing their particular identities. Multicultural cities describe a mixed society where different cultural issues exist, for instance, New York City, and it could even refer to a whole country like Russia, Belgium, or Switzerland.
Multiculturalism is closely linked to the politics of identity or social and political movements, which emphasize cluster identity as the foundation of the focus and formation of their political movement. Such social movements try to advance the interest of the members of the group by trying to voice issues which are important to their group. Multiculturalism and identity politics are founded on collective identities of the participants as opposed to a collective culture. Identity politics and multiculturalism demand for recognition as well as seeking redress for past injustices. Multiculturalism poses crucial questions for the citizens and even leadership by asking to be recognized and respected for the cultural differences. It responds to the question of how to encourage the participation of the previously oppressed groups in society.
Political cosmopolitanism argues in favor of one universal world-state, although there are disagreements among the political cosmopolitans. On the one hand, there are those who believe in a strong world-state, and others are in favor of a loose and voluntary federation. According to the defenders of a voluntary lose and non-coercive federation, a world-state has the potential of becoming despotic if there are no competing powers to check the despotism. On the other hand, those who defend a strong type of federation or a world-state, or even a merger of states are the best way to exit the nature of states that exist between countries because it is a true way to bring international distributive justice. Political cosmopolitans are not limited to the two views only, but there are others who offer a third option which touches on human rights and their arguments focuses only on institutional reforms that will disperse sovereignty instead of concentrating. According to this view, concepts such as democracy, peace, prosperity, and environment can be served better by a system where political loyalty and allegiance of members of the society are dispersed widely over many political entities of diverse sizes without one single unit emerging as dominant or taking the usual role of a state.
Pros of Multiculturalism
According to the proponents of multiculturalism, the philosophy is a fairer system in the society of allowing people to truly express themselves in the community, which is more liberal and adjusts better to social problems. From this perspective, culture is seen not as one definable aspect that is based on religion or race, but rather the result of several factors that keep on changing as the world change. The modern multiculturalism traces its origin from the numerous changes, particularly in the western world, especially after WWII that saw the emergence of the human rights revolution. After the Second World War, institutionalized horrors such as ethnic cleansing and racism became nearly impossible to go unnoticed against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Multiculturalism, particularly in the western nations, was seen as a way of combating racism, protecting minorities, and trying to undo all the policies that prevented minority groups from attaining access to opportunities such as equality and freedom. It was also advocated by the liberalism, which was a trait of the western communities after the advent of the age of enlightenment.
Criticism of Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism
Multiculturalism has been criticized and questioned the ideals of maintaining distinct ethnic cultures within a country. It has been a subject of debate, particularly in some countries in Europe which are associated with the concept of a single nation within their country. According to the critic's integration of various cultural and ethnic groups may not harmonize with existing values and laws in the country, and assimilation of the different cultural and ethnic groups into a single national identity could be a better alternative. The concept of a universal community as a political institution to be shared by all, according to cosmopolitanism, may not be a feasible idea.
Canada: a Multicultural Country
Multiculturalism was adopted officially by the government of Canada during the leadership of Pierre Trudeau between 1970s and 1980s. The Federal Government has been perceived as the instigator of the ideologies of multiculturalism for the reason that it emphasized the significance of immigration. Multiculturalism in Canada can be seen in different aspects, and the first one being the different cultural and religious traditions and their coexistence and unity, which has resulted in uniquely Canadian culture. The country has people from different social, cultural, and religious, a background which has led to a unique mosaic of culture. Canada has experienced different waves of immigration starting in the 19th century, and by 1980s the country's population was made up of 40% of people who were neither of French or British origin, which are the two largest and the oldest in the country.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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