Unity in Diversity vs Disunity in Ideologies

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Question: Give an example of ethnocentric behavior in your country. Has it helped or hurt your country?

 

Answer: The system of apartheid in South Africa (that ended in 1994) was largely based on ethnocentrism [1]. Many, if not most apartheid policies were created from a position of classifying ethnicities and races ethnocentrically. This created a race-based class system that denied South African citizens of all races equal opportunities and equal treatment under the law. South Africa was immensely damaged through this system in terms of cohesion amongst its citizens, in terms of maintaining internal stability in the country and in terms of its status in the world.

 

Post-apartheid South Africa has not escaped ethnocentric behavior however and the country’s social cohesion is being damaged through identity politics [2]. Identity politics, a form of (negative) ethnocentrism, arrived in South Africa around the time of the passing away of Nelson Mandela, and has since caused serious damage to many of the gains made towards a stable, democratic, multi-cultural society. As long as identity politics prevails as a major influence in how personal identities are formed or defined, negative ethnocentrism is likely to prevail as a destabilizing force within South African society.

 

In South Africa one type of negative ethnocentrism - apartheid - has been replaced by another - identity politics, with a short period of positive ethnocentrism in-between: Between 1994 and more or less 2010, the concept of “Unity in Diversity [3;4]” prevailed, meaning: "We are uniquely different, but equal at the same time and we are all confident about who we are within our own groupings, meaning we have true diversity. As individuals and cultural groupings we are all committed to working on building a [new] country together to reach a common goal towards prosperity and opportunity for all".

 

Identity politics [2] has in recent years (post 2012) turned that approach on its head, because it functions from an in-group versus out-group perspective, resulting in the in-group viewing the out-group as an adversary. Identity politics tends to cause in-groups to view themselves as victims of out-groups, thereby disempowering themselves by taking on the victim role.

 

This is particularly noticeable within the South African context today where instead of focusing on the benefits of equal opportunities and the added advantages of affirmative action policies for the previously disadvantaged - brought by post-apartheid democracy -  the idea of being victims of oppression based on past history takes priority and is emphasized even more than before.

 

In light of affirmative action policies, those with a sense of victimhood are in reality often in an advantaged position in relation to educational and job opportunities, but continue to view themselves as disadvantaged, because within identity politics there lies currency in victimhood and all in-groups are vying for this currency.

 

One could argue that the concept of Unity in Diversity, as is expressed on the (new) South African coat of arms [4] as was practiced in South Africa between 1994 and around 2012, is under normal circumstances the best possible philosophical approach to counter negative ethnocentrism, but that it is evidently no match to identity politics when introduced into a fragile young democratic environment, such as the post-apartheid South African one.

 

Identity politics [2], a negative ethnocentric phenomenon that did not originate in South Africa, but came across from the USA and Western Europe, seem to hold great appeal to young people, which in a general sense has a lot to do with a deterioration in parenting in the Western world  and a general deterioration in the higher education system, with campuses having served as fertile ground for identity politics to flourish. The South African higher education system being modeled on the Western one therefore facilitated the cross pollination of identity politics into the local environment from abroad.

 

Due to the revolutionary history of South African politics during the apartheid era, identity politics caught on rather quickly when introduced locally and the philosophy of Unity in Diversity was sidelined and left behind in no time. This points to the fact that "the spirit of revolution" does not depend on oppression to come alive, but that it can have an energy of its own and that in some cases "any justification" for it to come alive would do.

 

It also points to the fact that Unity in Diversity was not something that especially younger South African citizens deeply embraced, which mostly has to do with a generational lack of context and understanding of the processes that lead to adopting the concept of Unity in Diversity. One could go as far as speculating that young South Africans do not have a full appreciation for the value of peace and harmony, due to not having experienced the turmoil in South Africa at the height of the apartheid years.

 

Unity in Diversity demands a certain level of maturity and strong individual as well as group identity to function: Globalization has over the years caused a weakening of the cultural identity of culture groupings. Weak cultural identity combined with weak personal identity will cause people to be drawn towards identity politics, because they can find identity in political ideology, which would substitute the lack of finding it in cultural or personal values.

 

In order to experience a sense of personal identity [a basic need of all human beings], identity is thus found in group contexts instead of within the individual's own personal Self or within their own traditional cultural contexts. Identity found in group settings is insecure by its nature and tends to automatically revert to the in-group versus out-group dynamic, meaning everyone becomes everyone else's adversaries.

 

Although one may have expected that the weakening of cultural identity would have increased cultural relativity, which in turn would have reduced ethnocentrism, it apparently has [had] the opposite effect. Ethnocentrism doesn't disappear when genuine cultural diversity is weakened, it just shifts to identity politics. One is thus left with the question: Which type of ethnocentrism is the preferred one? Since it cannot be avoided or removed, would we rather have: Strong genuine cultural diversity (with mild or strong ethnocentrism);  or strong identity politics (usually with strong ethnocentrism)?

 

This author would like to make the case that in multicultural societies such as South Africa, there is a middle way: Unity in Diversity, which reduces negative ethnocentrism and transforms it into positive ethnocentrism while retaining strong cultural and personal identify at the same time. Unity in Diversity can however only function with individual and cultural identity having been consistently infused with the Unity in Diversity philosophy and principles from the start.

 

In fact, cohesion - in this context meaning respect for differences between groups and cultures that exist in the same environment - needs to be drummed into people from a young age and both parental and higher education is key in such a process. Importantly however - and it bears repeating: cultural identity should be maintained and strengthened at the same time. This combination will provide for confidence and contentment within one's own culture, while also being comfortable with other groups being present in the same country or land.

 

If both parenting and the education system fails in this regard and if personal and cultural identity becomes diluted and weakened, the idea and concept of Unity in Diversity would not be believed in enough to be supported and would not be strong enough to act as bulwark against identity politics. When culture is reduced insecurity sets in and identity politics becomes a refuge. Take the foundations away and Unity in Diversity gives way to Disunity in opposing Ideologies.

 

By JJ Montagnier 

22.11.2017

 

Definitions:

 

1. Ethnocentrism

Evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ethnocentrism

 

2. Identity Politics

A tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/identity_politics

 

3. Unity in Diversity

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_in_diversity

 

4. South Africa coat of arms

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africa

 

5. Nationalism

Identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/nationalism

 

6. Tribalism

1.) The state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes.
1.1) The behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one's own tribe or social group.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/tribalism

**

 

[Note: The question that prompted this article was posed to me in a sociology course I am currently doing and this article is the answer I have prepared].

Comments

JJ Montagnier Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:17am
For multi-ethnic countries like South Africa and India to function, Unity in Diversity is the only real option. Identity Politics wreak havoc in nations that have genuine cultural diversity - where all the ethnic and language and religious groups are very different from each other. That is in contrast to the USA, where although there are many different ethnicities, the culture and language is the same and immigrants are expected to assimilate. 
 
 
Dino Manalis Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:20am
We're all human beings with common needs and problems, that's the bottom line and what we have to focus on!
Neil Lock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:28am
Excellent article. But I'm not sure that, given the nature of so called "democracy," "unity in diversity" ever had a chance.
 
The system currently called democracy, with its political parties, is actually geared up to pull political societies apart. And it looks as if South Africa is no exception, although there the divisions are perhaps more ethnocentric than ideological.
 
What the parties do is first, offer favours to their own supporters, which causes the society to start fracturing along party lines. The second phase is when the parties get together, and offer what are in essence the same policies with only small variations. (For example, all the major parties in the UK and many other European countries support the green agenda.) This causes those who don't like those policies to become disaffected, and to start to feel hatred for those that support and benefit from those policies. I suppose it's possible that identity politics may represent a third and further level of the same splitting process?
 
However, I'm not sure that "unity in diversity" was a very good way to go in the first place. I am always leery of words like "unity," "union" and "united," which to me mean centralization, big government and bureaucracy, and remoteness from the concerns of real people. That goes for the "United Kingdom" and "United States," too. And I think it's no coincidence that the motto of the European Union - which some of my more right wing friends call the EUSSR - is "United in diversity," which is almost exactly the same!
Henry Ortiz Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:36am
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ethnocentric as: “characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior”.
 
We see that everywhere, Blacks vs. Whites, Muslims vs. Christians, Republicans vs. Democrats, etc. The moment that one “group” feels superior or inferior to another is he moment that ethnocentrism starts.
 
unfortunately we have forgotten or don’t want to see that when a body is opened,  colors are the same; when a brain is study the number of neurons are about the same and color is the same. 
 
We just want to see the exterior to manipulate the stupidity we all have inside. You can see that in the news, you can hear it from the politicians, and suffered from the radicals.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:47am
Ask the 370000 white farmers that have been murdered in SA how they feel about it. Oh wait, you can't. 
 
Is SA more prosperous under Zuma than under de Klerk?
 
Same with Rhodesia under Mugabe. 
 
I'm not seeing a lot of success on that continent. 
 
Why do you think that is?
William Stockton Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:51am
Nice JJ.  
"a stable, democratic, multi-cultural society"
"unity in diversity"
 
Both these statements being made by the politically correct are inherently contradictory.  There is no stable society without common, uniform cultural values.
What modern PC is really saying is that we want diversity in ethnicity but require everyone to think the same.
Billy Roper Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:03am
Answer: the United States was founded by White Nationalists. All of the Founders were White Nationalists. The first, and second, definitions of who was eligible for citizenship, by law, established a White Nation. I think that created a unifying component.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:05am
Thanks for the perspective about South Africa. I appreciate a global perspective.
 
Within the US, you have two levels of diversity. You have the major and the coastal cities, with significant diversity. Cities like Los Angeles and Miami already have the white population in the minority. Then you have the interior of the country, where you are still 90% white, and seldom do people in this part of the country need to interact with anyone other than someone like themselves. The former group voted for Clinton, the latter group voted for Trump.
William Stockton Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:34am
Clock, "The former group voted for Clinton, the latter group voted for Trump."
 
We knew this.  What's your point?  Is this some sort of racist generalization which the cult left thrives upon?
Dave Volek Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:35am
Interesting article. I recently read "The Sovereign Psyche" where the author describes how African Americans have a different culture than white American. This culture is part American, part African, and part something else that has been created uniquely from their American experience. If we extrapolate that that in more ways, America probably doesn't have one culture, but many. 
 
I think Neil was very correct in that political parties work for their base, not for society. If we want to turn around this social force, we have remove political parties entirely. May I suggest Tiered Democratic Governance?
 
Henry Ortiz Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:38am
That is call manipulation, politicians will never go or look for unity in diversity. Divide and conquer, that is the practice.
 
Clinton manipulates minorities by  claiming social justice, and takes advantage of young people who are easily manipulated by the so called “social justice”.
 
Trump or similars manipulates by claiming economic progress, and nationalism. Strong middle class and conservatives (not necessary republicans) will be open to that.
 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 22, 2017 - 2:39pm
I'm afraid, South Africa is even worse off than India. The ANC is just too powerful. I have little hope for the country and I used to be very optimistic about it. The problem is that we are not properly informed about South Africa in our media.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 22, 2017 - 2:42pm
Neil, thank you for commenting. You make many good points and I am in agreement with most of them. I will add that perhaps we had to first try out the concept to see if it works and I think in the South African context, that was the only solution that they could come up with at the time, considering the complexity of the country with its diverse groups, all with their own agendas. 

In fact, many people thought that the country would descend into a civil war situation after aparheid ended, so the concept held up pretty well, but alas it was not sustainable.
 
Political groups have ambitions for power and that tends to unseat idealistic concepts such as Unity in Diversity - and this is now very evident.
 
It would seem that not even "majority rule" in terms of having the demographic majority vote in the country is/was enough for the ruling party. Various constitutional rights for minorities are presently coming under pressure from the government there.
 
Of course, the current debate in South Africa is: How could the leaders who negotiated the transition to democracy not have foreseen that? Could they not have negotiated for a different form of democracy? For example, should we not have opted for Federalism?
 
Most likely we are going to see a further fracturing, because that's what happens when assimilation is forced - which is also happening in South Africa now - cultural diversity [distinctly different cultures within one state] is being replaced with the expectation of cultural similarity - we should all simply be "South African", without setting ourselves apart from each other - in other words there is an expectation of giving up the deeper roots of our cultural diversity and "centralise" our culture. 
 
Put simply: Forced assimilation induces strong ethnocentrism, because when a culture senses it is under threat, cultural survival instinct kicks in - and that is exactly what ethnocentrism is and why it exists: it functions to preserve a culture - it acts as a cultural defence and survival mechanism.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 22, 2017 - 5:34pm
Henry, thank you for your comment. Mild ethnocentrism is unavoidable - all cultures have it - because if there were no ethnocentrism, we would not have cultural variations.So, as uncomfortable as this may be - in order to feel we should preserve our own cultures, we all need to feel that our ways are a little "better" than the ways of others. This is simply human design.
 
The problem comes in when ethnocentrism is too strong (negative ethnocentriusm) which results in a sense of superiority or worse... Unfortunately nowadays a lot of people conflate the general concept of ethnocentrism with negative ethnocentrism.
 
Mild and natural ethnocentrism results in you and I supporting our own sports teams and not those of other groups. It causes us to prefer our own cuisine or types of foods and cooking methods over those of other groups, (while of course we are also sometimes going to enjoy and try out that which other cultural groups can  offer us - we may even support their sports teams at times, but we will always come back to our ours - this is positive ethnocentrism).
 
If there were no ethnocentrism we would feel no need for preserving our cultual particularities and we would not value our own heritage or origins.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 22, 2017 - 6:07pm
Jeffry, thank you for your reply. I think the figure you mention may for all murders in the country since apartheid ended, not only for farmers - it is however a staggering amount. Also, farmers are four times more at risk of being murdered than a policeman in South Africa.
 
There was huge risk involved in opting for a democracy where minorities would be at the mercy of such a huge majority, and at the time of the transition (I was in my mid 20's at the time) I remember very well how surprised I was that the previous government did not negotiate for a power-sharing agreement. It has worked in Northern Ireland and it would have worked in South Africa too - at least then all groups would have had some say in how the security and justice systems were organised and managed.  People may say this is an ethnocentric statement, but: different cultural communities have a different approach to security and justice. Therefore the sentiment in South Africa amongst certain minorities is that the old government sold us out.
 
I wrote this article as an answer to a question in a study course module where the objective was to answer the question in a non-ethnocentric manner. Although the concept of seperate development has some postive aspects in terms of preserving culture, it also had very negative aspects such as forced segregation and the deliberate exclusion of equal opportunitiies in educational level and job levels. This was negative ethnocentrism and I would have bewn dishonest if I did not mention that: This created a race-based class system that denied South African citizens of all races equal opportunities and equal treatment under the law. 
 
Just remember that the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand all put immense pressure on the South African government through sanctions and made the country an absolute paraih of the world. There are many other nations that have and are doing worse, but did not and is not receiving the same treatment.
 
One could speculate that the objective was really to replace the old government with one that would be more pliable in terms of getting access to the resources of the country - and that it was not all about human rights after all - because if it were, the world would have been up in arms right now due to what`s happening in the country as we speak, yet there`s silence on the airwaves. One could be wrong in such a speculation of course, but one could speculate none-the-less.
 
If I had to reply in a strongly ethnocentric manner to your questions I would have to reply that there are cultural differences in how cultures approach Western concepts - and the old South Africa, (under British colonialism and Afrikaner nationalism both), was designed from a  European cultural position. Expecting that to be maintained in the same way under an African government is an error in judgement - and the proof is in the pudding. No doubt, if John G were still around he would have called me out for being a racist for saying that.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 22, 2017 - 9:22pm
William, thanks for the feedback. You are correct in the USA and EU context:
 
"There is no stable society without common, uniform cultural values."
 
However, the problem is that uniform cultural values cannot be implemented or enforced in countries that have significantly different cultures - countries such as India and South Africa; or Malaysia and the Russian Federation for example. It would lead to endless problems.* 
 
 
The only solution is to have all the vastly different culture communities feel patriotic to the land and the country as a whole, while at the same being able to hold their own cultural values, different from the other groups. Therefore: "Unity in Diversity". 
 
The EU does not need this approach and neither does the USA. It is only in recent years with the influx of new immigrants that, perhaps to make it more acceptable for local populations, it is being championed. 
 
*Not even under apartheid did the government try to Europeanise everybody, it knew very well that that would have been the worst mistake they could make. In fact the only thing they did impose upon ethnic groups in South Africa was the Afrikaans language - and just look what that brought them - that very point was used as a rallying cry for the entire anti-apartheid revolution.
 
From the apartheid government's perspective, having Afrikaans as an additional language would have improved employment opportunities for black South Africans as many of the foreman and managers were Afrikaans first language speakers - from the point of view of many black South Africans, by imposing Afrikaans upon them they were being forced to assimilate to European ways - and they rejected that and the world supported them.
 
Ironically the new South African government is now doing exactly the same - it has been announced that they will be introducing an African language (Zulu or Xhosa for example) as a compulsory third language in all schools. 
--
"What modern PC is really saying is that we want diversity in ethnicity but require everyone to think the same."
 
Yes, this is exactly true in the European and USA contexts. 
Katharine Otto Added Nov 22, 2017 - 9:54pm
JJ,
Good to have you back.  Interesting article, but I wish you had defined "identity politics."  I presume you mean it has to do with identification with a certain group, like an ethnic or political group?
 
When I imagine a healthy society, I think of individuals rather than groups, with individuals appreciating their own worth and that of others.  Here, the individual seeks to demonstrate the best qualities of his cultural orientation, to be a role model and example others can be proud of.  Looking for things to like and admire about other cultures, races, or beliefs.  In that sense, unity in diversity would mean that individuals voluntarily cooperate within society to create an environment where everyone is appreciated for their different abilities, perspectives, and interests.
 
I see us in the US overly distracted by what I call "personality politics," such that people like President Trump are evaluated more on personality than policies.  Part of this may result from the "dumbing down" of America by media and those with controlling agendas.  Also, I believe the first step to changing a system is to understand it, which we are not encouraged to do.  So much happens in secret, with agendas misrepresented or hidden, such as the 9/11 event or our war in Afghanistan.
 
I believe you are right about the outsiders wanting to get access to the country's resources, including cheap labor, because it's happening all over the world.  No, people are not up in arms, because they don't know the extent of it.  Even if they did know, they probably wouldn't know what to do about it.
 
Katharine Otto Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:01pm
JJ,
There was an interesting op-ed in the New York Times the other day about Afghanistan.  It said that 75% are rural and suspicious of centralized government.  Culturally, there is a long tradition of local leadership.  It makes me wonder if a similar situation exists in South Africa.  Trying to replace tribal-like tradition with absentee bosses is a questionable practice, in my opinion, and indicative of the smug self-righteousness of our Western groupthink.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 23, 2017 - 1:25am
from the point of view of many black South Africans, by imposing Afrikaans upon them they were being forced to assimilate to European ways - and they rejected that 
 
Now they have Zuma. How's that working out for them? Is life better? I think not. 
 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 1:47pm
Billy Roper,
 
According to many/most in the progressive left nationalism in general is a very bad thing - see one of Opher's latest comments.  However, I am yet to meet one person on the left who is prepared to criticize African Nationalism - like you have in South Africa today. Which shows just how ethnocentric the left can be. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 1:48pm
Just a general point and to return to the topic: the concept of ethnocentrism provides for a framework of understanding certain human behaviours: There is a spectrum from weak to strong in ethnocentric behaviour: The stronger the ethnocentrism the more extreme it gets: very strong ethnocentrism results in racism, extreme nationalism, far-right and far-left attitudes, fascism, nazism, etc.

None of the above are socially acceptable - and rightly so. However, Identity Politics - a form of very strong ethnocentrism ... [as Henry Ortiz noted above: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ethnocentric as: “characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior”] ... seems to be acceptible.
SO - society has created a form of extreme ethnocentrism" [identity politics],
that is acceptible and even promoted, while classic extreme ethnocentrism" continues to be considred as anti-social behaviour.

That means that within "the right framework" [identity politics] you are allowed to be as ethnocentric as you wish - for example it has become quite normal for people on the progressive left to call anyone they disagree with a "fascist" or "nazi". This is very strong [negative] ethnocentric behaviour.

We also see that normal positive ethnocentrism [mild patriotism, mild pride in your country, expressing mild religious moral beliefs, etc] are all put in the category of extreme ethnocentrism.
Those who believe that it is "wrong" to express mild patriotism, mild pride in their country or mention religious Christain beliefs [for example], would feel insecure in the presence of people who are comfortable to naturally express such sentiments and or views and to them mild/positive ethnocentrism would come across as extreme ethnocentrism.

That is the main point I wanted to bring across in my article.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 1:56pm
Even A Broken Clock
 
Thank you for the insight into the demographics that are affecting elections in the USA. This is an interesting point, because if areas with diversity tend to vote mostly progressive in the USA and areas with limited diversity vote mostly vote conservative this trend will also show up in the EU - the more diverse areas become due to mass migration, the more progressive those areas will vote once immigrants have voting rights. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 2:12pm
Thank you Dave Volek for your resources on:
Tiered Democratic Governance
 
Will look into it in light of the points that Neil brought up. 
--
Henry Ortiz:
That is call manipulation, politicians will never go or look for unity in diversity. Divide and conquer, that is the practice.
 
Yes, Unity in Diversity will always be at risk of Divide and Conquer, as is happening in South Africa right now through identity politics being used by the ruling party. 
--
Benjamin Goldstein
Thank you for commenting. Considering that most of the mainstream media is on the left, developments in South Africa is propably of no great interest as the left is very averse to criticising their own. Almost the entire political spectrum in S.A. sits on the left. 
 
To be far though, the odd article does make it through - and here's a recent and rather frank expose of corruption under the Zuma government from Bloomberg: 
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-11-09/the-brothers-who-bought-south-africa
 
For local news there I can recommend these two sites:
http://politicsweb.co.za/home
https://www.biznews.com/
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 2:45pm
Katharine, it's good to hear from you too. 
 
I presume you mean it has to do with identification with a certain group, like an ethnic or political group?
 
Yes - here are two recent (liberal) articles discussing it in-depth:
 
"Identity politics on the left was at first about large classes of people – African Americans, women, gays – seeking to redress major historical wrongs by mobilising and then working through our political institutions to secure their rights. By the 1980s, it had given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow, exclusionary self-definition that is now cultivated in our colleges and universities."
https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/09/how-modern-addiction-identity-politics-has-fractured-left
 
"For some, the Democratic Party’s insistence on focusing on identity politics—or at least, a certain definition of identity politics—is what cost them the election"
https://newrepublic.com/article/144739/liberals-get-wrong-identity-politics
 
opher goodwin Added Nov 23, 2017 - 6:53pm
JJ - great article. I have seen multiculturalism flourish in my school. I look forward to a day when race and culture are seen by everyone as being enriching.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 23, 2017 - 7:58pm
Katharine, very relevant question - thank you for that. Interesting information about Afghanistan - I wasn't aware that there was suspicion towards  centralized government there. 
 
I would say that is not the case in South Africa. There is very little criticism of the ruling party's new direction: the socialism oriented NDR: "National Democratic Revolution". It seems to enjoy widespread support amongst ANC voters, even if a lot of voters are unhappy with the extreme levels of corruption and "state capture" issues that have been exposed in recent months [see the Bloomberg article I posted above].
 
Although tribalism is very prominent in South Africa on a regional community affairs level; on a governmental level the majority of the population [excluding some minority groups] favour central government.
 
This is because wealth transfer seems to be considered as more important [ideologically speaking] than wealth creation. This is a bit of a generalisation, but it is generally true, because a large portion of society relies on social grants and is not economically active or able to become sufficiently economically active, mainly due to limited education or poverty. Unfortunately the education system has deteriorated in the last decade or so and job creation has been lacklustre.
 
This leaves minorities who are more wealth creation oriented in quite a precarious position, because they also tend to be the biggest tax contributors, which puts them somewhat under pressure from the wealth-transfer crowd.
Phil Greenough Added Nov 24, 2017 - 9:41pm
Look no further than the United States to discover the merits of unity in diversity.   There are simply too many ethnicities, cultures and religions living in America to form a lasting coalition by focusing on one group.  Only by reaching out across our many ethnicities can a politician hope to win election.  In South Africa one only needs to appeal to poor black people to win.
 
I also find it awfully hypocritical for someone from a country with such an ugly past, to be lecturing others about diversity and how your country should be the model.  Or to say that identity politics is something recently introduced.  To be sure, America has an ugly past too but we’re way ahead of South Africa as apartheid only recently ended. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 24, 2017 - 10:47pm
Phil Greenough
 
Look no further than the United States to discover the merits of unity in diversity.
I'm sorry Phil, but I truly fail to see any Unity in Diversity in the USA. I do however see a lot of disunity because of Identity Politics. 
 
Only by reaching out across our many ethnicities can a politician hope to win election.
That's nothing exceptional - that's how it should be in any non-racial, functioning democracy. 
 
In South Africa one only needs to appeal to poor black people to win.
Correct Phil - what we have is more like a one party dictatorship under the banner of "democracy". Great isn't it? BTW, George Orwell's book Animal Farm has been removed from the school/university curriculum in S.A. - I wonder why? 
 
to be lecturing others about diversity and how your country should be the model.
I think if you read my article again carefully and my comments you will see that I said that Unity in Diversity has failed in South Africa due to the introduction of Identity Politics into South African politics. 
 
Or to say that identity politics is something recently introduced.
 
I said it is something recently introduced into SOUTH AFRICAN politics - and it has been devastating to Unity in Diversity in the South African context, because Identity Politics is a form of extreme ethnocentrism, whereas Unity in Diversity is a fragile form of positive ethocentrism that can be easily interrupted if people don't fully embrace it. I
Mircea Negres Added Nov 25, 2017 - 9:23am
Good post JJ. I agree with its general drift but would like to correct a few things, though.
 
"Identity politics, a form of (negative) ethnocentrism, arrived in South Africa around the time of the passing away of Nelson Mandela, and has since caused serious damage to many of the gains made towards a stable, democratic, multi-cultural society." Wrong and right. Afrocentric (black supremacy, really) Identity Politics began under Thabo Mbeki between 1999 and 2001 or so, then carried on with the rise of Julius Malema to leadership of the ANC Youth League and after he was expelled, the beginning of his Economic Freedom Fighters party during Jacob Zuma's presidency, who is yet another Afrocentric anti-white racist.
 
"This is particularly noticeable within the South African context today where instead of focusing on the benefits of equal opportunities and the added advantages of affirmative action policies for the previously disadvantaged - brought by post-apartheid democracy -  the idea of being victims of oppression based on past history takes priority and is emphasized even more than before.
 
In light of affirmative action policies, those with a sense of victimhood are in reality often in an advantaged position in relation to educational and job opportunities, but continue to view themselves as disadvantaged, because within identity politics there lies currency in victimhood and all in-groups are vying for this currency."
 
Right and wrong. Right in the sense that blacks victimise, disadvantage and disempower themselves by thinking the whites still have power over them 23 years after apartheid, which is far from true. Wrong in the second paragraph, because whites are no longer in charge and due to the social, political and economic impact of Affirmative Action, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and Employment Equity legislation, they are in fact being disempowered and victimised, especially white men of working age.  
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 25, 2017 - 9:23am
I have added the following definitions below the main article for clarification: 
 
The Oxford Dictionary definition of ethnocentrism, which I believe to be the more accurate one: 
Evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture.
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ethnocentrism
 
[Note: the Collins Dictionary of ethnocentrism is actually a definition of negative ethocentrismbelief in the intrinsic superiority of the nation, culture, or group to which one belongs, often accompanied by feelings of dislike for other groups
https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/ethnocentrism]
--
Dictionary.com definition of Identity Politics
political activity or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial,religious, or social interests that characterize group identity.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/identity-politics
--
Wikipedia on Unity in Diversity: 
Unity in diversity (Latin: unitas in varietate) is a political motto advocating federalism multiculturalism. The phrase is a deliberate oxymoron, the rhetorical combination of two antonyms, unitas "unity, oneness" and varietas "variety, variousness".
The phrase can be traced to Leibniz, who uses it as a definition of "harmony" (Harmonia est unitas in varietate) in his Elementa verae pietatis, sive de amore dei super omnia (1677/8).[1] In modern politics it was first used, as In varietate unitas, by Ernesto Teodoro Moneta in the context of Italian Unification. In 1943 it invoked by Adélard Godbout, Premier of Quebec, in the context of the situation of French Canadians within Canada. The variant In varietate concordia[2] was adopted as the motto of the European Union in 2000.[3]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_in_diversity
--
Wikipedia description of the motto on the South African coat of arms:
The present coat of arms of South Africa was introduced on Freedom Day 27 April 2000. It replaced the earlier national arms, which had been in use since 1910.[1] The motto ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke is written in the Khoisan language of the ǀXam people and translates literally to "diverse people unite". It addresses each individual effort to harness the unity between thought and action. On a collective scale it calls for the nation to unite in a common sense of belonging and national pride - unity in diversity.
The previous motto, in Latin, was Ex Unitate Vires, translated as "From unity, strength". 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africa
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Nov 25, 2017 - 9:59am
I wonder now which one applies to almost-exclusively-black societies. My experience in Mali, Senegal, Ghana or Cameroon are simple: Live and let live, as long as you're open and friendly. 
 
I didn't notice any particular philosophy among the people in their behavior or identification.
 
As usual it must have been us Whites complicating life...
 
 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 25, 2017 - 11:27am
Mircea, thank you for your comments - as always it helps to clarify things even more:
 
First of all, let me say that when I said:  "Identity Politics is something recently introduced into South Africa politics"; I meant introduced through media and social media in the sense that it had the exact same format as in the USA, Canada and USA. 
 
By the same token, the North American / UK form of identity politics flared up at universities in the exact same way as it did in Universities in Canada, USA and UK - to the extent that many of the political events on South African campuses were copy-cat events that had already taken place on Western campuses. 
 
Afrocentric (black supremacy, really) Identity Politics began under Thabo Mbeki between 1999 and 2001 or so...
 
I would categorise this as the rise of strong African Nationalism - and any form of strong nationalism would have strong resemblances to identity politics - because both are forms of negative ethnocentricism. 
At some stage African Nationalism actually decided to make use of Western style Identity Politics to further its cause - and it was then that we saw the mass media and social media campaigns being launched [as was exposed in the e-mail leaks]. 
 
I have added some edits to indicate my understanding of your paragraph: 
Wrong in the second paragraph, because whites are no longer in charge and due to the social, political and economic impact of Affirmative Action, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and Employment Equity legislation, they [I presume you mean whites] are in fact being disempowered and victimised [you mean: by the above affirmative action policies] [and this is] especially [true for] white men of working age.
 
I agree with all of the above and although I didn't add these points, I don't think my paragraph denied or excluded these points either. I avoided being "accusatory" in my article, because the objective of the original assignment that promoted the article was to respond in a non-ethnocentric manner to the the question: 
Give an example of ethnocentric behavior in your country. Has it helped or hurt your country?
 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 25, 2017 - 11:38am
I wonder now which one applies to almost-exclusively-black societies.
Live and let live, as long as you're open and friendly.
I didn't notice any particular philosophy among the people in their behavior or identification.
Stone, interesting point - Identity Politics most likely can only flourish in multi-cultural societies and it is probably only in multi-cultural societies that we need concepts such as Unity in Diversity to reduce conflict. 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Nov 25, 2017 - 1:19pm
JJ
 
Probably you're right. The more different in any aspect the stronger the "identity thing" seems to grow. Is it a "fear refuge" or simply ignorance ?
 
mark henry smith Added Nov 25, 2017 - 4:05pm
Tribalism is our enemy, said the weak tribe to the strong tribe.
 
I am ashamed to say Billy Roper is absolutely correct. USA was created by white nationalists to protect their position of privilege. White, male nationalists. They are the ones who raped and pillaged their way across this great nation opening up new territories for white nationalists to do their white, male, nationalizing thing. And South Africa is no different.
 
Wait, yes it is, because the Boehers? were a tribe unified by a national identity beyond whiteness. We didn't have a galvanizing national identity here. Different areas were settled by whites from different European nations and what made them cohesive was whiteness. Then the Jews showed up and we had a tribe here too.
 
Sorry, let's not go down that well worn path.
 
My point is that blacks in the US don't identify with a tribe, but with skin color. In Africa, they still base identity on tribe so tribes battle one another for control, even in the ANC. Here in the US we are beyond tribalism. Here it's all about the money. If you get the money, I don't care what you look like, you can find acceptance.
 
And the killing of the most successful economic actors in some liberated African countries has caused economic problems that it appears only the Chinese will be able to fix.        
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 25, 2017 - 5:07pm
Want to see ethnocentrism? Look at India. Untouchables aren't even treated as humans. India has mass starvation, but not the Brahmins. The Chinese have their own ethnic conflicts, many of which are unknown to the Westerners. China has several languages, e.g. Mandarin, Cantonese, not to mention dozens of not hundreds of dialects. The idea that China is monolithic is a myth.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 25, 2017 - 6:45pm
Mark Henry Smith
 
Afrikaner (Boer) Nationalism was a response to the results of the Anglo Boer War after 26000 of their women and children had died in British concentration camps (in South Africa} and they had lost all their farms due to a scorched earth policy by the English. 
 
What was American Nationalism in response to? 
 
What was African Nationalism [in S.A.] in response to (?), considering that it only stuck it's head out properly in S.A. at least a decade after democracy had already been achieved. 
 
So nationalism either seeks power from the outset or it is a defense mechanism when under threat. Sometimes it's a combination. Once the Afrikaners (Boers) had recovered and had built up sufficient power to they fell into the negative ethnocentrism trap and created all those apartheid laws - and the rest is history. However, apartheid is OVER. 
African Nationalism in South Africa is not over at all. 
This African Nationalism is, to put it bluntly: "asset stripping" the country... (see links above about "state capture" etc)
 
My question to you, Mark Henry: are you prepared to be as critical of African nationalism as you are of white nationalism? (Since you brought up the topic of white nationalism).
 
Furthermore, I urge you to do some reading on South African history - you will find that the early Dutch and French settlers were not there for the resources at first - they were there to make a living and to farm. After the English arrived and the Anglo Boer wars the Afrikaners made agreements and settlements with Anglo American mining consortiums to export the wealth of the country abroad...  ... and the ANC made agreements to continue doing so after they came into power...
 
The more things change, the more they stay the same...
Mircea Negres Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:47am
JJ, I think you would've been crucified in South Africa for what you wrote, not because it is wrong, but because it is right. Nice dance between the landmines...  My experience has been that black people are more powerful than they were before 1994, but hobble themselves with the victim mentality, while the whites are stronger than blacks economically but have lost pretty much everything else because these days are on the receiving end of discriminatory policies and laws which are aimed at disempowering them.
 
Unity in Diversity would've worked in a country which hadn't made prejudice a national pastime. This being South Africa, it is an ideal impossible to achieve because the old mindset is just too well ingrained across the board- and yes, to the shock of many a Western liberal, even blacks can be racist... I saw this everywhere, but by far the SA army was the best example. There people wear the same clothes, live in the same place, are trained the same and supposedly work towards the same goal, but the organisation is riddled with factions. This is usually along gender, race and ethnic lines, so you get the men who hate women (and vice versa), the Afrikaners who hate the English (and vice versa), the Zulus who hate the Xhosas who hate the Sothos who hate the Vendas who hate the KhoiSan who hate the whites who hate everybody else, so it's all one big, unhappy and really dysfunctional family... It is hard, if not impossible to fight against human nature, so homogeneity rules- men stick with men, women with women, blacks with blacks, whites with whites- out of an innate need to find security in one of the most dangerous countries on Earth, and much as it sticks in a lot of people's craws, Billy Roper's idea of Balkanization is increasingly coming true across the globe, what with the rise of intolerance and unwillingness to coexist peacefully.
 
Hell, it was about the only thing the movie Bushwick got that right- little white girl with (possibly) Hispanic boyfriend ends up with a white guy who rescues her from two blacks who were trying to rape her after the boyfriend got taken out by a RPG in the first five minutes. The Jews fought together, the blacks the same, and so did the whites. The only time they came together in any meaningful way was when they were trying to get out and got squeezed along the same extraction route, not because they saw overwhelming virtue in the idea of Unity in Diversity...  
 
Once more, my compliments on a job well done. 
Mircea Negres Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:53am
Oops, my syntax got a bit screwy at the end. I meant to say "The Jews fought by themselves (ie. as a homogeneous group separate from others in the community), the blacks the same, and so did the whites".
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 26, 2017 - 5:33am
Mircea, an excellent summary, thank you, and I appreciate the feedback. Your example of the S.A. army is very apt, because it is a multicultural institution, but in practice it is as you said, riddled with factionalism.
Back in the day when I did my national service when conscription was still in place (late 80's) the regiments were still segregated. There was no factionalism within those regiments however[for everybody: just stating a fact, not endorsing apartheid]. So, you are absolutely correct:
Tribalism is a fact of life in South Africa, but perhaps even more than in most places, because most likely it is imprinted in the psyche due to it having been institutionalised formally through the apartheid system, but now it has just reverted to more spontaneous 
 
Another interesting thing that is related - is that to a large extent people in South Africa still group together according to the old apartheid groupings. So perhaps one could controversially say that previously you had unnatural apartheid and now you have "natural apartheid" - I mean, if all restrictions are completely removed, why don't all South Africans simply mix together across the country?
 
And the answer is that people are too culturally different first of all and secondly they choose out of their own accord to group together within their culture communities where they feel comfortable - this is: positive ethnocentrism - absolutely normal. 
 
However the factionalism that you describe sounds more like identity politics, a more negative form of ethnocentrism. 
 
Both types of ethnocentrism are forms of tribalism however. Identity politics in the West is also tribalism. Tribalism doesn't go away, it just takes on new dynamics. Tribalism is ethnocentrism. It is also nationalsm an it is identity politics. 
 
Identity politics <=> Nationalism:
nationalism* -> not politically correct.
identity politics -> politically correct. 
 
[African nationalism -> not politically incorrect]
[White nationalism -> definitely politically incorrect]
 
--
As for the Balkanization trend - I have a feeling it is deeper and in fact more positive than just tribalism - I am in the process of writing about it - but in a nutshell it is a trend of "localisation" in preparation for future economic and resource realities combined with a return to community and culture (more on this later). 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 26, 2017 - 5:48am
Jeff, thank you very much for the insight - and yet it is rare for us to hear much about the ethnocentrism in all these places. Probably because it is too complex for people to want to think about.
 
I hope that through this article and debate we have
illustrated  just how important a role ethnocentrism plays in group formation amongst humans.
mark henry smith Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:53pm
 
JJ, I am against any group that puts itself above others for any other reason except merit. And that includes here in the USofA where wealth is seen as proof of merit.
 
If we cannot establish a basic level of support for all citizens who behave in the manner of what we determine to be good citizenship, we will never get past this divisiveness. If we can't establish basic truths that can be accepted as goals for all citizens, ditto. The importance of media has become to entertain exclusively, and it is a dangerous trend that will lead to less and less deep intellectual scrutiny of the policies of government and where the benefits accrue.
 
We see this in bill after bill. In country after country. People don't know what to believe and they are depriving themselves of the tools needed to even make a dent in the obfuscation. When you give lots of poor, uneducated, angry people who most desire payback for past wrongs, the odds of getting a manipulative, lying, government unconcerned with basic decency, become almost 100%.
 
Thanks for a good read, JJ.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 27, 2017 - 6:19am
Katharine, I meant to get back to you on your earlier comments:
 
You said: 
When I imagine a healthy society, I think of individuals rather than groups, with individuals appreciating their own worth and that of others. Here, the individual seeks to demonstrate the best qualities of his cultural orientation, to be a role model and example others can be proud of. Looking for things to like and admire about other cultures, races, or beliefs. In that sense, unity in diversity would mean that individuals voluntarily cooperate within society to create an environment where everyone is appreciated for their different abilities, perspectives, and interests.
 
Yes, absolutely - that would be the ideal - and I believe that is the case with many people - that is how they live and this approach would make for a balanced society. I would just add that while  Looking for things to like and admire about other cultures, races, or beliefs, we do not have to lose our own culture - and I think this part is very important, because if we move to far away from our own culture in order to appreciate all the others it could bring about a loss of a part of our identity (and a loss in confidence of who we are), which then could result in being drawn into identity politics. Identity politics tend to be very ideological and in fact seems to come from a sense of insecurity as all out-groups are viewed as adversaries, making it difficult to appreciate their points of view. 
 
I see us in the US overly distracted by what I call "personality politics," such that people like President Trump are evaluated more on personality than policies.
 
Yes, I see that too - and to an extent we have (had) that also in South Africa. It's a pity really - I think that citizens / voters should first of all pay attention to political performance. 
 
Part of this may result from the "dumbing down" of America by media
 
This is also (becoming) a feature in other countries. I would add that another part of the problem is consumer culture and apathy. 
 
I believe the first step to changing a system is to understand it, which we are not encouraged to do.
 
Yes, very true - and that is why we have to make the effort as responsible citizens to understand the systems and to become once again more involved in politics - WE have to make the effort from own initiative - and parents need to be involved in this process with their children.
 
No, people are not up in arms, because they don't know the extent of it. Even if they did know, they probably wouldn't know what to do about it.
 
Yes, I agree to an extent,  but I tend to be more critical of the role that individuals are meant to play within society. It is exactly all the "dumbed-down", distracted individuals who should care more, who should be engaged more and who should campaign more (on real issues, not identity politics), who should be more involved in how society is shaped. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 27, 2017 - 6:24am
Mark, 
 
The importance of media has become to entertain exclusively, and it is a dangerous trend that will lead to less and less deep intellectual scrutiny of the policies of government and where the benefits accrue.
 
Very well said - this is a very important point. It is up to individuals to be aware of that and to take make an effort to inform themselves beyond the entertainment media. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:33am
Note: I have edited one of my paragraphs at the end of the article for clarification:
 
In fact, cohesion - meaning respect for differences between groups and cultures in the same environment - needs to be drummed into people from a young age and both parental and higher education is key in such a process. Importantly however, cultural identity should be maintained and strengthened at the same time. This combination will provide for confidence and contentment within one's own culture, while also being comfortable with other groups being present in the same country or land.
--
I think Katharine Otto's solution puts it very well and her approach would work in multi-culture as well as one-culture societies:  
 
This describes Unity and Diversity perfectly: 

When I imagine a healthy society, I think of individuals rather than groups, with individuals appreciating their own worth and that of others. Here, the individual seeks to demonstrate the best qualities of his cultural orientation, to be a role model and example others can be proud of. Looking for things to like and admire about other cultures, races, or beliefs. In that sense, unity in diversity would mean that individuals voluntarily cooperate within society to create an environment where everyone is appreciated for their different abilities, perspectives, and interests.
 
Thank you Katharine. 
mark henry smith Added Nov 27, 2017 - 3:29pm
Here in the US where food is relatively cheap, where people care more about sports than politics or education, in the professional and collegiate spheres, the classic bread and circus agenda, the only hope of change is a leader so despicable that the vast majority of people can't stomach the same old same old for another minute, let alone another three years.
 
Thank God there is hope.
Katharine Otto Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:08pm
JJ,
Thanks for the compliments.  Unfortunately, it's too easy for me (or others) to say what other people should do.  They might even agree, but it doesn't mean they will do it.  I do believe the best way for parents to teach their children is to demonstrate what they want them to learn.  Children learn so much more from parents' examples than from words.
 
It occurs to me that as different cultures become more aware of each other, intermingle more, and trade and fight, there will be more blurring of "cultural identity."  This may be a natural evolutionary process and can benefit all cultures.  On the other hand, it can obliterate the weaker or more subtle cultures that are under-appreciated.  An example may be a cultural knowledge about medicinal techniques or plants.
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:39pm
Mark,
 
I'm not so sure - in my country the people keep on voting the same way. 
JJ Montagnier Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:10pm
Katharine,
 
Unfortunately, it's too easy for me (or others) to say what other people should do
 
The "others" would include me too - I am a solution finder by nature, so I'm very likely to tell people what to do from time to time... whether they listen to me or not (and whether the like it or not). 
 
I do believe the best way for parents to teach their children is to demonstrate what they want them to learn. 
 
Absolutely - as you said in your Unity in Diversity paragraph: 
Here, the individual seeks to demonstrate the best qualities of his cultural orientation, to be a role model and example others can be proud of ...
 
- and as William Stockton said in one of his comments in his article Postmodern Morality: 
"The people in our immediate vicinity should be our largest influence on identity.
(his article also addresses the point below)
 
K: ...there will be more blurring of "cultural identity."
I think this is what has given rise to identity politics and enhanced ethnocentrism in various forms: People who want to preserve their culture at all costs in the face of this blurring are turning to nationalism and people who have drifted away from strong cultural identity fall into identity politics. So, this blurring is a devolution, not an evolution, in my humble opinion. There are different cultures for a reason: Species resilience. Just like there is bio-diversity on the planet for eco-system resilience - and why you have variants in every species. If one of the variants go extinct others (the more resilient) remain. If all humans are culturally the same, all the cultural differences which would have given some cultures resilience over other would disappear, putting the whole species at risk of mass extinction...
 
Preserving culture is instinctual in most human cultures for this reason.

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