"We … take our form-freedom balance in government for granted as though it were natural. There is form in acknowledging the obligations in society, and there is freedom in acknowledging the rights of the individual…. There is a balance here which we have come to take as natural in the world. It is not natural in the world. We are utterly foolish if we look at the long span of history and read the daily newspapers giving today's history and do not understand that the form-freedom balance in government which we have had in Northern Europe since the Reformation and in the countries extended from it is unique in the world, past and present."
--Francis Schaeffer, "The Abolition of Truth and Morality"
German Chancellor Angela Merkel set the tongues of pundits wagging this week when she declared that multiculturalism has "utterly failed" in Germany. Multiculturalism is, of course, one of the sacraments Secularism. It is the idea that people from dramatically different cultures can peacefully coexist as a unified society within a state or nation notwithstanding that they order themselves very differently within society and cling to radically different-and often conflicting-world views. Multiculturalism is the fruit of "cultural relativism" which maintains that all cultures are equally valid, no one being better than another. Cultural relativism, in turn, is the outgrowth of "relativism," which asserts that there is no such thing as universal truth and that all ideas are equally valid and depend on the circumstances in which they are applied.
Not surprisingy, the political correctness police went into high dudgeon in the aftermath of Ms. Merkel's speech, suggesting that her comments represented some kind of ominous foreshadowing of a German nationalist resurgence (allusions to Hitler's Third Reich are perfectly permissible rhetorical tools for liberals, though off limits to conservatives). Their goal was to squelch any thoughtful debate of the premise advanced by the Chancellor. If they could demonize her position, that would have a chilling effect on the willingness of anyone else to embrace it or, perhaps, even to discuss it. In the western world of the 21st century it is no longer fashionable to take pride in one's national heritage, and patriotism is equated with parochialism.
A recent article by George Friedman, founder of Stratfor (www.stratfor.com), provides us with some historical perspective and points out that Germany's current integration problems may be traced back to the aftermath of WWII, when immigration was encouraged as a means to compensate for a post-war shortage of workers:
"Labor recruitment led to a massive influx of "Gastarbeiter," German for "guest workers," into German society. The Germans did not see this as something that would change German society: They regarded the migrants as temporary labor, not as immigrants in any sense. As the term implied, the workers were guests and would return to their countries of origin when they were no longer needed (many Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese did just this). This did not particularly trouble the Germans, who were primarily interested in labor. The Germans simply didn't expect this to be a long-term issue."
Decades later, it's clear that Germany's utilitarian approach to immigration in the 1950s and 1960s has become a long term issue, one that poses significant challenges to the social and political stability of the country. Chancellor Merkel is only saying aloud what many Germans - and French, for that matter - have believed for some time now: The Muslim culture (which is inextricably bound up within the Muslim religion) does not comport with western Europe's liberal democratic tradition. They have concluded that while multiculturalism sounds good in theory, in practice it increasingly appears unworkable.