The Guardian • Issue #2075

Multiculturalism and class

Children singing.

Photo: Kate Andrews – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Deed).

There are two faces of Australian society. There are those who embrace difference and diversity who want to live in peace with their neighbours. That is the face of multiculturalism which recognises and enjoys the culture of other nationalities who have made Australia home but continue to practice the culture of their former homelands.

They freely offer their rich culture to all Australians.

The other face is that of the likes of Peter Dutton. Theirs is a mean, weasel-minded, militarist, racist face that wants to build a wall around Australia.

Dutton and many other members of the Coalition have never supported multiculturalism. They wrap their ideas in an Australian flag and depict them as ‘patriotic’ and as having ‘pride’ in Australia.

But real patriotism can never be associated with racist and intolerant attitudes towards others in the community and hostility to other countries – even to the point of invading them and attempting to impose the Australian government’s economic, political, and social policies. This is what is being attempted in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Fiji, and not long ago, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These policies are not in the interests of the people of Australia – neither of the working class nor of the wider community.

Because all workers are part of the one class, whose level of material existence depends largely on the effectiveness of their struggle against the common capitalist exploiter, the need for unity is not just a philosophical notion but a vital necessity.

The Communist Party unites in its ranks all people irrespective of national origin who accept the ideas and ideals of Marxism and are prepared to work for a socialist change.

Just as in the process of nation formation, the development of a wider economic community led to the development of ethnic ties into new national traits and awareness, so the economic and social (class) integration of migrants creates the basis for their integration into the Australian nation and the consequent expansion and enrichment of the national life and culture. The process by which the culture of the countries of origin of and the culture of the Australian nation are both developed to the fullest is the democratic and effective basis for the unity of the Australian nation and for the development of an Australian culture which genuinely reflects the multicultural nature of the Australian nation.

The central, most important, the underlying idea of the Party’s attitude to this question is the acceptance of a single working class within one country and one party expressing the interests of the working class.

The CPA supports the view that Australian society is multilingual and multicultural in its composition. It is comprised of all the diverse elements from many different backgrounds, but there is, nonetheless, a single working class with a single ideology.

Similarly, there is a single Australian nation with a common territory and a common language, notwithstanding the diversity of linguistic elements.

Within the confines of the single Australian nation, ethnic groups of migrant backgrounds go through two processes.

They undergo a process of social integration as a result of their participation in social production and class relations based on the mode of production and their consequent common class interests with people of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Flowing from this social integration, ethnic groups also go through a slower process of national integration, gradually developing a consciousness of being part of the Australian nation.

It is this second, slower process which can be assisted and consolidated by the purposeful activity of progressive migrants and the whole working class and democratic movement towards the development of a unified, progressive, new Australian culture.

The CPA extends solidarity to the people of every country in their struggle against imperialism, for national liberation and social progress. It extends solidarity to all the socialist countries, above all in the common struggle against the threat of a nuclear war. This is the Party’s internationalist duty.

The struggle against imperialism is taking place on a world-wide scale. The Australian working class has a particular struggle against imperialism in its campaign against US bases in Australia and the AUKUS alliance.

This means organisational and political unity of the working class within each country and international solidarity between parties and other working class organisations of different countries.

The important fact is that post-war migration and the new reality which was created in Australia have, at the same time, created the objective conditions reflecting the multicultural character of the country.

It is vital to defend multiculturalism. It means friendship, respect for the differences of others and the emergence of an Australian culture based on the interaction and interconnectedness of all that is good and progressive in the cultures now to be found in Australian society.

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