Saturday, December 22, 2012
As Giles Fraser says (Guardian 9/6/2012) “Community is premised on sameness. And sameness excludes, however subtly… Sameness creates community and community looks after its own” As he goes on to say: “the great political question of the age is how one manages to combine diversity with social solidarity”. Fraser situates himself firmly against the Blue Labour pessimists David Goodhart and Maurice Glasman who argue that too much diversity (ie too much immigration) damages social solidarity. Fraser argues that “diversity and social solidarity can exist where there is a high degree of stability, where neighbours get to know each other and learn to celebrate their differences” It is this vision of community as a unity in diversity that we must seek to develop in the 21st Century. It is not a passive notion of multicultural tolerance or cultural relativism but rather an active process - a desire to live with and learn from diversity within a framework of universal human rights. This kind of community has to be created voluntarily – it does not just happen. It is about more than just “eating samosas together” and appreciating each others different cuisines and cultures” . There are clearly some recent policy developments that run completely counter to the establishment of such stable diversity. Moving poorer (and usually BME) people out of more prosperous parts of London, the caps on housing and other benefits and the ethnic and social cleansing of parts of London and other better off urban areas and the increasing concentration (ghettoisation) of poorer families in more deprived areas is a quite deliberate attempt to pre-empt the evolution of such diverse neighbourhoods.