I watched a seminar on politics and religion on Swedish State Television today. Among other things, it was explained how the Bible was used to justify the transition from monarchy to republic in Europe in the 17th century. Then the question was raised “Where do we get our authority from in a multicultural society”. Everybody has their own ideals but where is the common ground? We can’t get it from God anymore since we don’t agree in theological matters. The values of a single culture aren’t a stable enough basis either with many cultures involved. So, how do we answer the question?
A lot of people feel democracy is threatened by multiculturalism. I’d say there are two problems with that sentence. Firstly, multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a culture in itself. It’s very new to many people and therefore scary, but it’s basically not a new thing at all. People of different opinions have lived harmoniously in many different societies throughout history, we do it everyday in our families at home and in democracies with more than one party or even coalition governments it is already happening. It’s just a matter accepting multiculturalism, which requires accepting other people’s rights to have their own culture and making that acceptance part of the culture or (metaculture) of multiculturalism, making it one of basic principles of that new culture. This new culture is inevitable, the alternative is war and hopefully we’re approaching a point where we stop physically threatening and killing them for not agreeing with us, a point where we talk to each other instead of hitting each other.
Secondly, democracy. We have representative democracy. This is not the ideal form of government. Nobody should feel worried about this system being threatened. All change is scary, but we can’t not look at better alternatives and when the current system is challenged by new cultural movements we should welcome the criticism that helps us think outside the box and try to create a new system. I’m an anarchist, so the fear of not knowing whence to derive authority doesn’t apply to me. There are too many good examples from decentralizing power and the history of individualism to fundamentally fear the slow crumbling of current power structures.