The Populist Moment, Chapter 10, Part 2
Alain de Benoist
The Ambiguity of “Communitarianism”
Translated by F. Roger Devlin
In most Western countries, all discussion of immigration today immediately results in a debate about “multiculturalism.” In England, the United States, and Germany, to cite only three countries, if one is against immigration, one is also against multiculturalism — and the converse is also true: It is generally in the name of multiculturalism that immigration is justified. When one is abroad, it is difficult to make people understand that the same symmetry is not found in France: opponents of immigration are certainly also hostile to multiculturalism here, but those who promote immigration as an “opportunity” or a “necessity” are not automatically partisans of multiculturalism. On the contrary, most often they vigorously denounce it under the name of “communitarianism.” In France, even if the term remains in relatively current usage, multiculturalism, which is only championed by rather marginal groups (The Representative Council of Black Associations, Indigènes de la République, etc.), is not at the center of debate. Thus, Olivier Roy recently noted the “end of multiculturalist discourse in France.” The explanation is found in that French peculiarity: the “republican” ideology founded on “secularism.” [laïcité]
The word “communitarianism” is new, since it did not appear in dictionaries until 1997. But today it is on everyone’s lips, even though no one advocates it: The communitarian is always someone else! So we are dealing with a polemical category intended above all to denigrate. As Pierre-André Taguieff has noted, the term “communitarianism” immediately became a pejorative, “used (especially in the French language since the 1980s) to designate with a critical intent any form of ethnocentrism or sociocentrism, any self-concentration of a group involving self-valorization and a tendency to remain closed off.”
“Communitarianism” is said to have its origin in an overly intense or exclusive attachment to a “community,” whatever its nature (regional, religious, cultural, ethnic, sexual, etc.). It manifests itself by a tendency to “identitarian withdrawal” which can go as far as a desire to secede from the broader society, and by a series of demands amounting to a claim of privileges, thus creating a climate of conflict whose costs accrue to national unity. Socially inexplicable, and politically and morally unacceptable, communitarianism is said to be synonymous with a harmful particularism, sectarian hatred, or even civil war. But we also observe that, in a paradoxical way, the will to “proselytism” is supposed to fall under “communitarianism” as much as an exaggerated taste for keeping to one’s group [l’entre-soi]. Regularly associated with the specter of “religious fundamentalism,” religious or xenophobic “radicalization,” jihadism, and so on, “communitarianism” is in fact perceived as a sort of tribal separatism that generates conflicts (“Lebanonization”). The old accusations of “dual loyalty” and of the will to form a “State within the State” are part of the critique of “communitarianism.” Communities are presented as carceral structures which lock people in, and not as liberating bonds. Their recognition would thus be synonymous with “the assignment of identity” and “communitarian confinement.” In this connection, any reference to any ethnocultural difference or a “country of origin” is perceived as striking proof of a “lack of integration.”
This real or imagined “communitarianism” is rejected in the name of a “republican model” which flatters itself with giving “civil bonds” priority over “communitarian attachments” in the name of civic universalism (although at the risk of falling into a communitarianism of the State). To “communitarianism” is sometimes opposed “national unity,” or sometimes “secularism,” “republican values,” “republican universalism,” the “national-republican” spirit, etc. The general idea is that “communities” are incompatible with a “Republic, one and indivisible.”
This rejection is shared by all political milieus of the Right and Left in a revealing way, from the most extreme to the most moderate. Marine Le Pen appropriates the famous saying of the Count of Clermont-Tonnerre: “Everything for individuals, nothing for communities.” The program of the National Front explicitly declares: “Assimilation, especially via the school system, must become the rule once again and communitarianism must be banished. France will inscribe in its constitution: ‘The Republic recognizes no community.’” “Nothing is more subversive of republican order than communitarianism,” affirms Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) deputy Jean-Claude Guibal. “A strong France is a France which says no to communitarianism,” adds Nicolas Sarkozy, also denouncing “the intermediate bodies which come between the State and the people.” The “republican” Left does not get left out: communitarianism — that is the enemy!
“Communitarianism” thus shares with “populism” the privilege of having become a semantic whipping-boy: Everyone considers it his duty to denounce it as a dangerous threat. In public discourse it only exists as a figure for what must be rejected; i.e., as a vehicle for delegitimation. But few take the trouble to define exactly what is to be understood by the term. This vagueness favors unanimity, and in politics, unanimity is often suspect. Let us try to see things more clearly.
To start, let us note a few paradoxes. It is remarkable that the anti-communitarian rhetoric of certain Right-wing milieus directly borrows its linguistic elements from Enlightenment discourse directed not so long ago against traditional societies. At that time, it was only a question of abandoning “archaic beliefs,” “medieval habits,” the principles “of another age,” the “subjection of women,” the preference for honor over dignity, etc. It was these same arguments which were used in the past to discredit both the Catholic religion and the values of the Ancien Régime which some identitarians — who on occasion become critics of modernity and defenders, if not of Catholicism, at least of the Ancien Régime — spontaneously have recourse to when it comes to denouncing “communitarianism.”
Thus, a certain form of the Right blames immigrants for remaining faithful to traditional values. They reproach them with a way of life based on separatism and endogamy while they themselves are glad to criticize miscegenation. They denounce “identitarian withdrawal” while championing an identitarian conception of life. Sometimes they even reproach immigrants with “rejecting the Western way of life,” instead of telling themselves that those who “do not love France” might hate it less and be less tempted to leave it by throwing themselves into terrorist or criminal enterprises if we had not ourselves given the example of such a rejection of this Western way of life based on materialism, spiritual emptiness, the collapse of the social bond, the disappearance of reference points, the primacy of money, the prostitution of business, and the obsession with obedient consumption.
An equally schizophrenic discourse is found on the Left when it celebrates diversity and miscegenation (two concepts supposed to be “enriching,” whereas the latter inevitably impoverishes the former), or cultural diversity and globalization as a process of generalized hybridization, appealing at once to the normative ideal of pluralism and that of “miscengenationism”[mélangisme], wanting equal representation for all the ethnic groups whose existence it denies elsewhere, or to note the “multi-ethnic” character of contemporary societies while reacting ever more harshly against any display of otherness.
But the denunciation of “communitarianism,” combining a critique of ethnic minorities and a critique of the communitarian anti-individualist principle, is not merely the direct heir of a philosophy which was the primary matrix of liberal ideology. It is also entirely natural among advocates of a French “republicanism” heir to a kind of nation-building [construction nationale] in which the formation of the civic nation has led to a nationalization of the social bond, itself tied to centralization, cultural assimilation, and the homogenization of a territory.
The Revolution of 1789 openly aimed at “uniformizing” France in order to substitute the superior devices of reason (the creation of départements, the declared will to “destroy the provincial spirit,” and the “wiping out of regional dialects”) for the vestiges of a shameful past. The people of France was to become a single people made up of indistinguishable individuals freed from all forms of rootedness: “The people is the totality of French citizens,” proclaims Article 7 of the Constitution of June 24, 1793. From the French Revolution, organized according to the fanaticism of the One, “national republicans” have inherited the idea that the nation is an indivisible whole which must be directed from a powerful center equally remote from all of its parts. Nationality and citizenship having become synonymous, there must be a perfect coincidence between political and national unity — which implies the suppression of everything which forms an obstacle between the State and the individual, beginning with intermediary bodies, “communities,” regional cultures, and so on. “Republicanism” in this sense is another word for Jacobinism, rooted in the tendency already present in the Ancien Régime to centralize a power whose sovereignty is also considered (at least since Jean Bodin) as one and indivisible.
This way of thinking about political life excludes divided (or distributed) sovereignty and the principle of subsidiarity (or of sufficient competence). Making neutrality the principal trait of the public domain (i.e., forbidding itself to decide about what Aristotle called the “good life”), it excludes public recognition of specific identities, particular languages and customs, shared ways of life, and values proper only to some of the citizens. These differences, overruled by a single and overarching court of appeal, are at best restricted to the private sphere; i.e., asked to remain discreet, or even to make themselves invisible. The “republican” denunciation of “communitarianism” reduces civic belonging to adhesion to abstract principles. It is the equivalent of the “constitutional patriotism” preached by Jürgen Habermas on the basis of his theory of “communicative rationality.” Under cover of denouncing self-centered groups, national ethnocentrism is what gets affirmed.
In such a context, the integration of immigrants is necessarily synonymous with assimilation. The Republic does not want to recognize subsidiary forms of belonging [“the sous-apparenances”], which implies the negation, banishment, or delegitimizing of communities. The Nation only recognizes individuals, and integrates them by assimilating them. This is why it refuses to differentiate (make a distinction) between citizens according to ethnic, cultural, or religious criteria. Article 2 of the Constitution of 1958 thus forbids any discrimination — even “positive” — based on origins, race, or religion. The individual is supposed to pay for his assimilation by forgetting his roots. At the same time, democratic equality is understood in the sense of sameness, with society associating citizens who can only be considered politically equal because they are anthropologically alike.
Today’s offensive against “communitarianism” is tied, as everyone knows, to problems arising from the rapid and poorly managed arrival of a mass of immigrants of an origin and culture very different from those of the host country. The same goes for the polemics concerning “secularism,” a principle reaffirmed with all the more force inasmuch as people think they can thus conjure away the risks associated with the presence of different traditions, cultures, and ways of life on the same territory. The Republic thinks it can and must restrict itself to the same neutrality in the ethnocultural domain as in the religious domain. We see in this that the republican principle, anti-liberal insofar as it places the State above the individual and must refrain from deciding in favor of a particular conception of the “good life,” leaving to the citizens the right to choose that which suits them best on the condition that it only express itself within the context of private life.
The problem is that this much-vaunted model of assimilation no longer works, generally speaking (for there are always individual exceptions), first of all because the State is no longer productive of sociality today (social relations being formed outside it), and also because today’s immigration, in terms of its character and scope, is no longer compatible with this model.
Assimilation, which presupposes a gradual harmonization of behavior, is only possible if a certain number of conditions are fulfilled: Iimmigration must be of relatively moderate volume or else extended over a long time; the immigrants’ culture must not be very different from that of the host country; institutional mechanisms allowing individuals to be assimilated must be alive and in a functioning state; the native population must not react in an excessively negative fashion to the arrival and presence of the newcomers; the immigrants themselves must show a real will to integrate, and so on. None of these conditions are being fulfilled today. Thus, assimilation cannot function, especially for the reasons set out by the demographer Michèle Tribalat.
Recalling that assimilation is a process “which results from the good will of the newcomers and the involvement of the social body with the approval of its elites,” Michèle Tribalat thinks that assimilation has become impossible because of the widening separation between native and immigrant populations. To justify her opinion, she relies especially on the return in force of the religious identitarian marker among immigrants’ descendants — the differential in fertility varying as a function of religious affiliation — and on the fact that, contrary to what was expected, religious endogamy remains the rule for them. She also observes that by way of reaction, the French popular classes, the first victims of the social pathologies tied to immigration, “are seceding, and live whenever they can where they are able to protect their way of life.”
Communities can be denied all one likes, but they are as plain as the nose on one’s face.
* * *
Communitarianism in the proper sense merely means that “the individual does not exist independently of his belonging, whether cultural, ethnic, religious, or social.” This idea is met with again in multiculturalism, which is above all interested in the way differences between groups are to be treated by the public power. Its basic postulate is that minorities’ cultural identity must not be left unaccounted for or denied in the name of integration or citizenship. Far from necessarily imprisoning the individual, cultural belonging may also be an instrument of emancipation; keeping apart [l’entre-soi] also allows one to escape the heteronymous ascription of identity. Beginning from that common basis, the representatives of multiculturalism divide into different schools or tendencies. Some of them, for example, think multiculturalism involves a decoupling of nation and citizenship, thus contradicting the concept of national identity (on which they agree with those on the opposite side who defend national unity against multiculturalism), while others think that policies of recognizing cultural specificities reinforces national unity rather than destroying it.
The term “multiculturalism” emerged in the 1960s, mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries, where it enjoyed immediate success. It subsequently occasioned vast ideological debates of which the larger public has usually remained uninformed. A very common mistake is, for example, to think that critiques of multiculturalism come exclusively from immigration adversaries of all stripes, who see in it only a form of “globalism” participating in the subversive deconstruction of national imaginations.
Multiculturalism is in reality a rather complex ideology. At first glance, it gives the impression of being a byproduct of liberalism. Multiculturalists in fact often treat cultural differences in terms of individual preference. They conceive the autonomy of cultures on the model of individual autonomy, the rights of people on the model of the rights of man, cultural pluralism on that of values-pluralism, the diversity of cultures on that of the diversity of conceptions of the “good life,” etc. The principal spokesman of liberal multiculturalism, Will Kymlicka, is thus at pains to reconcile liberalism and multiculturalism, and to reduce the gap between abstract universalism and practical inscription in a specific national culture.
But it is interesting to observe that multiculturalism, even as it borrows a number of its traits from liberal doctrine, has nonetheless often been attacked by liberal authors simply because it argues on the basis of the concept of “culture,” and thus of cultural difference. By analyzing society on the basis of groups or communities and not on that of individuals and the theory of individual rights, but holding that cultural groups are endowed with an authentic form of identity which it is legitimate to defend and protect, multiculturalism falls into the error of “culturalism”; viz., into cultural relativism or “essentialism,” thus once again calling into question the foundations of universalism.
Basically, the liberal adversaries of multiculturalism reproach it with reasoning in terms of belonging; i.e., not envisaging the individual as entirely free in his choices, and with according excessive importance to communities and cultural or ethnic groups. They also accuse it of violating the liberal principle according to which the public powers must adopt a position of neutrality regarding ethnic origin or religion: to preach that cultural minorities defined above all in terms of ethnicity be taken into account politically amounts to ignoring the liberal principles of distinguishing between public and private identity and the public sphere’s necessary neutrality. Another criticism consists in reproaching multiculturalism’s advocates with neglecting the right of individuals to emancipate themselves from the constraints proper to their respective groups’ cultural traditions. In the name of tolerance, multiculturalism thus provides comfort to groups whose beliefs or practices contradict liberal principles. Article 4 of UNESCO’s Universal Declaration stipulates that “no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe the rights of man.” Such critiques have been developed notably by Derek L. Philips, Susan Moller Okin, Anne Phillips, Anthony Kwame Appiah, Nancy Fraser, Stephen Homes, and many others.
Some authors have recently gone so far as to maintain that the philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), described as a resolute adversary of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, is the great ancestor both of multiculturalism and of Right-wing populism — and even that, as a “culturalist,” he cannot be considered “Left wing.” In short, for a certain liberal Left multiculturalism is nothing but a Trojan Horse for identitiarian theories hostile to individual rights. . . .
The response of multiculturalism’s partisans to liberal critiques usually consists in asserting that
the idea of citizenship must rest upon “policies of difference,” on “policies of recognition,” or that it must become “multicultural.” This response does not proceed from any communitarian logic seeking to give group rights priority over individual rights. . . . On the contrary, it occurs in the context of a critical reflection on the limits of a universalism “blind to differences” which denounces the shortcomings of a false abstraction without renouncing the principles of liberty and equality.
Concerning the intolerance of certain ethnocultural groups, multiculturalists most often declare themselves in favor of “exit rights” in case of membership in illiberal groups. But the question nonetheless remains valid: How can a multicultural State devoted to the liberal principle of “neutrality” remain neutral faced with conceptions of the “good life” which illiberal minorities intend to perpetuate? Multiculturalists’ answers to this question vary according to whether they give priority to the tolerance of illiberal practices associated with guaranteeing “exit rights” (William Galston) or to individual autonomy (George Crowder).
Let us return to the fundamental aspect of the problem. It cannot be denied that societies are easier to manage the more homogeneous they are, since this homogeneity favors the diffusion of shared values. Nor can it be denied that people feel most at their ease in such societies, since they have the feeling that the human landscape around them is made in their own image, which reassures them by confirming them in what they are — whereas the contrary case gives them the impression of becoming “strangers in their own land.” It is also generally admitted that the more homogeneous a society is, the more its members are inclined to have confidence in one another, which favors altruistic and cooperative behavior. But such societies are now the exception rather than the rule, at least in the Western world.
We live in a country which has become multi-ethnic within a few decades. This reality requires us to reflect anew on the concept of pluralism, which can be understood in a very different way depending on whether one is referring to liberal pluralism, democratic pluralism, communitarian pluralism, pluralism of values, or pluralism of opinions.
Politics has been defined, among other ways, as the art of the possible. “Ideal” politics organized exclusively around abstract principles or pious wishes is by definition an anti-politics. The leading trait of politics is realism. From this point of view, the denunciation of “communitarianism” suggests voluntary blindness each time one wants to delegitimize communities by using this term. People want to pretend that communities do not exist — or they decide not to see them — whereas they most certainly do exist. The denunciation of “ethnic statistics” by the frightened maidens of official anti-racism suggests the same willful blindness, as does the idea that the best way to combat racism is to deny the existence of races: There are realities to which one must close one’s eyes.
There is of course an intolerable form of “communitarianism”: that which amounts to a rejection of the law common to all, a will to secede from society; the “communitarianism” that consists in putting the host culture and the culture of origin on an equal footing as if the former had to adapt to the latter, or as if all identities were valuable except that of the natives (rejection of others is denounced as intolerable even as self-rejection is hinted at); the “communitarianism” which only retains those traits of a cultural identity which can be exaggerated in order to oppose the host culture, or which consigns all members of a group to a sort of house arrest by turning such groups into lobbies that want to make their own interests prevail, or have their demands triumph to the detriment of society as a whole: Such a “communitarianism” must, of course, be fought tirelessly.
The law which applies to all is itself indissociable from the fact that there exists a “dominant culture” (Leitkultur) in every country — the result of a shared history, a culture which can certainly evolve, as it has always done, but which still constitutes a central referent which cannot be ignored and whose suppression cannot be demanded. “Assimilation,” writes Michèle Tribalat, “does not necessarily suppose that the autochthonous culture’s belief is superior to that which the immigrants bring with them. It is merely the culture of the country in which they have chosen to live, and it is thereby the legitimate cultural point of reference.” Similarly, we can only agree with Vincent Descombes when he says that “if we believe the existence of a political body is legitimate, then we posit the reality of the nation in the modern sense; viz., a political community of citizens. In that case, communitarian or religious identities can only be subordinate.”
But the baby must not be thrown out with the bathwater. “Communities” of all sorts are today trying to affirm themselves and get themselves recognized in public life; i.e., to leave the private sphere within which republican formalism is trying to confine them.
The question that must be asked is this: Isn’t “communitarianism” in its worst aspects the consequence of the public authorities’ refusal to recognize the existence of communities? Does “communitarianism” amount to a phenomenon of “identitarian withdrawal” or to a cultural crisis? The refusal to recognize differences can only lead them to affirm themselves in a convulsive or even pathological fashion. Today, the emergence of radical Islamic currents going as far as terrorism is being explained in terms of “communitarianism.” Might it not instead be a refusal to take these communities into account which has contributed the most to this development? People assure us that the wearing of the hijab logically entails that of the burqa. What if it is rather the forbidding of the Islamic scarf which favors the appearance of the burqa by way of reaction? And in whichever direction the causes may operate, does anyone really think the problem of “communitarianism” can be resolved by establishing clothing police?
Does integration imply the abandonment of all identitarian elements the immigrant has inherited from his family or country of origin? Is a refusal to cut oneself off from that part of collective memory really enough to prevent him from finding a place in the host country? Is respect for the rules of coexistence necessarily correlated with the forgetting of roots (as suggested by those who take pride in not having forgotten their own)? The least one can say is that the answer is not self-evident. On the other hand, one might ask if such a demand is not intrinsically tied to the French Jacobin model of a Republic “one and indivisible.”
Regarding immigrants, Fares Gillon writes:
Here are people who have been uprooted from their land (or who uprooted themselves), who abandoned their culture, forgot their language, and henceforth having nothing to transmit to their children. These children, perfect experimental guinea pigs for freedom by way of uprootedness, . . . are the first post-human subjects: without roots, and soon, after passing through the republican school system, without knowledge or attachment to their new country. Cut off from their origins without being given the chance to take root in a civilization now sabotaging itself, they incarnate most perfectly the neo-human with no attachments, with no reference points, of which the ideologues of postmodernity dream. So it is not as strangers to France that the uprooted people of the suburbs pose a problem, but as perfect products of the new France, the France which rejects itself.
Does taking account of certain cultural specificities form an obstacle to integration or does it facilitate integration? One might well think that faithfulness to certain cultural traditions is necessary for the development of individual autonomy, and that it is by way of public institutions and the law common to all, not by assimilation and cultural conformism, that “integration” can best be brought about.
The only criterion in this matter must be public order, which implies recognition of a common law. A law that applies to everyone is necessary for the co-existence of all who live in the same country. This is a point on which one cannot compromise: It is in the very nature of what is diverse to demand a principle of unity, without which one gets caught up in an endless spiral of demands for “rights” and privileges that amounts to the “tyranny of minorities” feared by Tocqueville. But the law common to all must also be able to take particularities into account, examine demands tied to customary traditions and permit those which do no harm to public order, and take the necessary measures to allow them to exist. A country does not find its coherence in the destruction of more particular forms of cohesion. The social nature of man can only be conceived beginning from communities which form the stuff of society. Only in this way can diversity, perhaps, be civilized.
Daoud Boughezala is not wrong to write on this subject:
I believe with Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka that the cultural group can be an instrument of emancipation for the individual — on the express condition that a single law apply to all citizens. Reasonable accommodations are only worthwhile if they are genuinely reasonable. . . . That grown female students should wear the veil at university does not bother me. The burqa, however, is unreasonable because it is depersonalizing, and thus should remain forbidden in public.
The right to be different is, in any case, merely a right; i.e., a freedom and not an obligation. To recognize difference is to grant those who wish to live according to a form of belonging they consider important the possibility of doing so, not to lock them up in it or forbid them from deviating from it. Moreover, difference is not an absolute. By definition, it can only be relative: One only differs in relation to what is different. The same goes for identity: a group can no more have an identity by itself than an individual. All identity is constructed within a relation. The same goes for cultures: Each of them constitutes a world of meaning, but these worlds can communicate. They are not quasi-species, but unavoidable modalities of the expression of human nature. Let us take care here not to confuse the universal with universalism.
It is in this context that we can (retrospectively) pose the question of the “Islamic scarf” (hijab, not burqa), which has already released floods of ink and called forth the wildest commentary since its outlawing in educational establishments through the application of the secularist principle by law on March 15, 2004. Does wearing this scarf really undermine public order (more than the wimple, turban, or beret)? If it is legitimate to forbid it to teachers, who are obligated to neutrality by virtue of their status, is it also legitimate to forbid it to female students? To mothers? The 2004 law was passed in the name of the struggle against “communitarianism,” at the risk of excluding from public school girls who, far from demanding a particular kind of instruction in a particular sort of school, were on the contrary intending to remain in public school. People have justified this law by reasoning that the wearing of the veil constitutes a violation of the girls’ autonomy, moreover going against “republican values.” This supposedly justifies the State’s paternalistic intervention, although the women in question saw the forbidding of the Islamic scarf as a violation of freedom of religion and/or of their dignity. In an age which attaches such importance to freedom of choice, does a young Muslim girl have the right to choose to have an abortion, but not to wear the veil? We are confronted here with a typical example of a conflict of values.
As Charles Taylor notes,
It is very difficult to distinguish the share of identity or custom and the share of active faith in the wearing of the headscarf, but the State has chosen to code it as a religious act, and even a pointedly [ostentatoire] religious act. . . . In 2004, the Stasi commission chose to say that the subjective value attributed by the individual to the sign he is wearing is less important than the objective interpretation the State gives of it. Now, that interpretation remains questionable. First of all, the wearing of the hijab has been identified with a sign of feminine oppression — independently of the subjective value which the woman wearing the veil attributes to her behavior. . . . Next, the wearing of the veil is supposedly less a sign of piety than a declaration of hostility to the French Republic and its secular foundations. Moreover, the term “pointedly” must, in my opinion, be understood in this way: Something is “pointed” which appears in the public space as a message of defiance of republican values. . . . So it amounts less to a “pointed” sign than to an “injurious” [attentatoire] one from the Republic’s point of view. . . . Personally, I reject this objective interpretation. In a State under the rule of law, a person should particularly have the right to determine the meaning of his own acts.
The recognition of differences obviously does not imply angelism. It is clear that such recognition will not lead to the disappearance of conflicts. But it is the same with regard to difference or identity as with freedom: The bad use one makes of it discredits that use, not the principle itself. In this respect one may disagree with Elisabeth Badinter who, to justify the “right to indifference,” assures us that “every time we give differences priority over similarities, we dip our toes into a process of confrontation.” Similarity is in reality no less fruitful of conflict than difference: Think of the “mimetic rivalry” so well analyzed by René Girard.
Michel Masson writes:
The communitarian mentality is of a different nature than the communitarian spirit. Forms of communitarianism reproduce, at the scale of peoples, the characteristics of individualism at the scale of communities. . . . On the contrary, the communitarian spirit produces and perpetuates the spaces necessary for the free exercise of various human activities. Communities are the locus of social bonds. . . . Under these conditions, one understands the interest the sorcerer’s apprentices have in dragging both communities and communitarianism through the mud of history in the same cart. For if they succeed in doing so, nothing will be able to interpose itself between the people and political power, which can then reign without obstacle or division.
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “Paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
- Third, Paywall members have the ability to edit their comments.
- Fourth, Paywall members can “commission” a yearly article from Counter-Currents. Just send a question that you’d like to have discussed to [email protected]. (Obviously, the topics must be suitable to Counter-Currents and its broader project, as well as the interests and expertise of our writers.)
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Paywall Gift Subscriptions
- your payment
- the recipient’s name
- the recipient’s email address
- your name
- your email address
To register, just fill out this form and we will walk you through the payment and registration process. There are a number of different payment options.
 For a combined critique of multiculturalism and immigration, cf. especially Frank Salter, Welfare, Ethnicity, and Altruism (London: , Frank Cass, London 2004); On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick: , Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick 2007).
 Olivier Roy, “C’est la fin du discours multiculturaliste en France,” in Le Monde, May 30, 2014.
 The term laïcité itself remains untranslatable in many languages. The English word “secularism” represents only a very approximate equivalent.
 Pierre-André Taguieff, “Vous avez dit communautarisme ?”, in Le Figaro, July 17, 2003. Cf. by the same author, La République enlisée. Pluralisme, communautarisme et citoyenneté (Paris: éditions des Syrtes, 2005). Cf. also Laurent Lévy, le Spectre du communautarisme (Paris: Amsterdam, 2005); and Fabrice Dhume-
Sonzogni, Liberté, égalité, communauté. L’État français contre le communautarisme (Paris: Homnispheres, 2007).
 Cf. Dominique Schnapper, “La République face aux communautarismes,” in Études, February 2004, 177-188.
 Cf. Pierre Rosanvallon, La Société des égaux (Paris: Seuil, 2011).
 Michèle Tribalat, Les yeux grands fermés (Paris: Denoël, 2010); and Assimilation : la fin du modèle français, (Paris: éditions du Toucan, 2013).
 Michèle Tribalat, interview in Causeur, January 2014, 65.
 Catherine Halpern, “Communautarisme, une notion univoque,” in Sciences humaines, April 2004.
 Cf. Tariq Modood, “Multiculturalisme civique et identité nationale,” in Sophie Guérard de Latour (ed.), Le multiculturalisme a-t-il un avenir? (Paris: Hermann, 2013), 243-276. Cf. also Bhikhu Parekh, Rethinking Multiculturalism. Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000).
 Cf. Nathan Glazer, We Are All Multiculturalists Now (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998).
 Nevertheless, cf. Lukas Sosoe (ed.), Diversité humaine. Démocratie, multiculturalisme et citoyenneté, (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2003); Charles Taylor, Multiculturalisme. Différence et démocratie, translated by Denis Armand-Canal (Paris: Flammarion, series Champs, 2009); Patrick Savidan, Le Multiculturalisme (Paris: PUF, series Que
sais-je ?, 2009); Francesco Fistetti, Théorie du multiculturalisme. Un parcours en philosophie et sciences sociales, translated by Philippe Chanial & Marilisa Preziosi (Paris: La Découverte, 2009); Sophie Guérard de Latour, Vers la république des différences (Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail, 2009); and Sophie Guérard de Latour (ed.), Le multiculturalisme a-t-il un avenir?, op. cit.
 Cf. Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community, and Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); La Citoyenneté multiculturelle. Une théorie libérale du droit des minorités, translated by Patrick Savidan (Paris: La Découverte, 2001).
 Derek L. Phillips, Looking Backward: A Critical Appraisal of Communitarian Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Susan Moller Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); Brian Barry, Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001); Anthony Kwame Appiah, The Ethics of Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Patrick West, The Poverty of Multiculturalism (London: Civitas, 2005); Anne Phillips, Multiculturalism Without Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2007); and Jens-Martin Eriksen & Frederik Stjernfelt, Les Pièges de la culture. Les contradictions démocratiques du multiculturalisme, translated by Peer Bundgaard (Geneva: MētisPresses, 2012).
 Cf. Göran Adamson, Aje Carlbom, & Pernilla Ouis, “Johann Herder, Early Nineteenth-Century Counter-Enlightenment, and the Common Roots of Multiculturalism and Right-Wing Populism,” in Telos, no. 169, Winter 2014, 28-38.
 Sophie Guérard de Latour (ed.), Le multiculturalisme a-t-il un avenir?, op. cit., 9-10.
 Cf. William Glaston, Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Liberal Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); and George Crowder, Liberalism and Value Pluralism (London: Continuum, 2002).
 Cf. Robert D. Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century,” in Scandinavian Political Studies, June 2007, 137-174.
 Michèle Tribalat, “Chercheur en terrain miné,” in Le Débat, March-April 2014, 48. On the concept of Leitkultur, cf. Bassam Tibi, Europa ohne Identität. Die Krise der multikulturellen Gesellschaft (Berlin: Siedler, 1998), 2nd ed.; and Europa ohne Identität ? Leitkultur oder Wertebeliebigkeit (Berlin: Siedler, 2002).
 Vincent Descombes, Les Embarras de l’identité (Paris: Gallimard, 2013).
 Cf. Hugues Lagrange, Le Déni des cultures (Paris: Seuil, 2010).
 Fares Gillon, “Le choc des non-civilisations,” website Philitt: Revue de philosophie et de littérature, November 20, 2014.
 Daoud Boughezala, “Le choc des multiculturalismes,” in Causeur, October 2013, 55. In Situation de la France (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2015); Pierre Manent maintains a similar point of view.
 Referring to the recent murder of a child of French origin carried out by the Islamic State (Daesh), Yves de Kerdel writes that “there is no difference, mutatis mutandis, between this 12-year-old boy who left his school in Toulouse to carry out cold-blooded executions and the young [Muslim] girls who demand the right to wear the veil at university” (“L’insupportable trahison des clercs,” in Valeurs actuelles, March 19, 2015, 6)!
 Paternalism consists in limiting an individual’s freedom for his own good and against his desires or wishes, whether by preventing him from doing what he wants or by forcing him to do what he does not want.
 A governmental commission set up by President Jacques Chirac in 2003 to hold consultations and advise on the proper application of the principle of secularism. It was named after its Chairman, Bernard Stasi.
 Charles Taylor, “Vivre dans le pluralisme,” in Esprit, October 2014, 24. Cf. also Cécile Laborde, Critical Republicanism: The Hijab Controversy and Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); “Républicanisme critique et multiculturalisme libéral,” in Sophie Guérard de Latour (ed.), Le multiculturalisme a-t-il un avenir?, op. cit., 227-242.
 Michel Masson, “Communautarisme et communautés,” in L’Écritoire, March 2015, 2-6. In Individu et communauté, une crise sans issue (Paris: Edifa-Mame, 2007), Thibaud Collin supports the view that, in the final analysis, “communitarianism is an individualist phenomenon.”
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
David Zsutty Introduces the Homeland Institute: Transcript
“A Few More Steps and We Were . . . On Some Edge of Things”: Staircases That Lead Nowhere, Part 2
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 561: An All-Star Thanksgiving Weekend Special
The Blacks Next Door
Used to Be a Bad Guy: Carlito’s Way at 30
The Worst Week Yet: November 19-25, 2023
The Suppression of the Maryland Moderates During the Civil War
G. Gordon Liddy’s When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, Part 2