Polemical topics for Polytheists (part 10): Multiculturalism

First view: Multiculturalism is good and consistent with polytheism, because there was plenty of cultural exchange in ancient times

Second view: Multiculturalism is bad and harmful to polytheism, because it is associated with expansive empires that pretend to be inclusive.

Balanced view: We can’t overlook that multiculturalism is both a result of good cultural exchange and harmful imperialism, but this old conflict may need to be understood in a new manner.

At a time when multiculturalism (also called diversity) is praised so often as an essential component of the modern world, or strongly opposed as such, it may be problematic to find a common ground between the two sides. But in the spirit of the previous piece about politics, I will attempt to do so here. The ancients, whose polytheisms we follow, were living through new experiences in what could be called an experiment of the human condition. Their world was growing, their knowledge of foreign things was increasing, but why? Expansive trade was practiced since the Bronze Age among complex urbanized societies, also called civilizations, and this useful activity brought mutual benefits—as did the stories, news and food exchanged during the trade. On the other hand, along with this expansive trade, there was expansive empire: If trade has to do with money, surely it is not difficult to see how money is inherently connected to power, land and resources, i.e. empire. Ancient civilizations gradually grew from regional to imperial, and this was accepted as common and even desirable at that time, because it was associated with survival as well as glory. Yet, after so many centuries, are we still living in this paradoxical manner? The answer is yes. The multiculturalism promoted today can be seen from the global trade that is being carried out, connecting all large urban centers throughout the world. But this is not a complete perspective: What is often overlooked about multiculturalism is that its current form is a product of imperial Westernization and Christianity. At first there was the Catholic Church which promoted a united “Christendom” (the word “Catholic” means “universal”, by the way), but after the rise of Protestantism, Anglo-America now leads the movement. It is no secret that America today, like the Catholic Church and Great Britain formerly, is an expansive empire that seeks domination. It is often wrongly presumed by many that multiculturalism creates an equal field for all to flourish; this is a simplistic mistake because it is not possible for all cultures to be represented fairly in one place at the same time. The emphasis is on the words “in one place at the same time”: Cultures need to be distinct and dominant at their place of origin*. After a certain point, following Anglo-American culture, however tolerant it may pretend to be, is succumbing to cultural imperialism and living in subjugation. One of the eternal advantages of polytheism is that it allows for exchange, but at the same time, requires us to respect foreign cultures as distinct without interference. If each foreign culture has its own God, can we assault their cultural distinction without assaulting their God? I think not. Can all cultures (and by extension Gods) live equally in the same place at the same time? I think not. We are a cooperative species, but also one that engages in conflicts, and our Gods are no different from us in that respect. My reconciliation of cultural exchange and cultural imperialism is already hinted, but for a larger consideration, I would refer my kind readers to part 6 of this series, entitled (significantly) “indigenism”.
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*While this is a convenient rule for the Old World, a discussion of the New World is more complex because dominant cultures there had been replaced through colonization. I have already attempted a discussion in part 6 previously.

8 thoughts on “Polemical topics for Polytheists (part 10): Multiculturalism

    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      You are right in that it is largely a function of Western, particularly American, power and imperialism. It reminds me of the ancient Athenians: The “reforms” of Cleisthenes, who can be considered as a tyrant (though historians are biased in his favor) weakened the tribes in order to strengthen the central power of the state. Furthermore, foreigners (metics) were always welcomed precisely because they provided labor and produced goods for the citizens. It is no different from today, except that nowadays it is rather hypocritical: The Western powers sometimes allow uncontrolled immigration and foreign cultures to mix together purely for economic reasons, rather than the declared moral ones. And whenever it is seemingly for a moral reason, the West is always patronizing in its tone and actions, which proves once again this is all a matter of power.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. K

        Tyrants prefer to surround themselves with foreigners rather than citizens.

        That type of hypocritical moralism is characteristic of Judaic religions.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Although I do agree with your sentiment, I believe the “hypocritical moralism” may apply better to systems of imperialism in general (which require ideologies to thrive), whether religious or political. As a two-fold example, compare the following quote by Alexander of Macedon to the next quote from Jesus in the Bible:

        “Now that the wars are coming to an end, I wish you to prosper in peace. May all mortals from now on live like one people in concord and for mutual advancement. Consider the world as your country, with laws common to all and where the best will govern irrespective of tribe. I do not distinguish among men, as the narrow-minded do, both among Greeks and Barbarians. I am not interested in the descendance of the citizens or their racial origins. I classify them using one criterion: their virtue. For me every virtuous foreigner is a Greek and every evil Greek worse than a Barbarian. If differences ever develop between you never have recourse to arms, but solve them peacefully. If necessary, I should be your arbitrator. You must not consider God like an autocratic despot, but as a common Father of all”.

        “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

        Notice how the quotes seem superficially wise and promote a sense of equality only as a means of gaining greater power as well as larger numbers of followers (i.e. subordinates). A system following true polytheism on the other hand does not use such deceitful and ambitious universalism.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. K

        Does it surprise you that historians would favor Cleisthenes? Anything that strengthens a central state is seen as positive by most historians. We live in an environment today where most people could not conceive of a society without a powerful state. Countries and peoples are seen in terms of different states more than culture and race. Anyone can be anything, the only difference is which corporation(state or otherwise) you pay taxes to.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Melas the Hellene Post author

        It does surprise me, because historians ought to be neutral. On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me (as much as it may grieve me) that strong states and empires spread, because it is a matter of survival. Empires are contagious. Notice how quickly the Mauryan empire was formed after Alexander and his imperial forces set foot in India. So, I would say while we do have a conflict with an oligarchy of globalists and large empires, they are in some ways forcibly following the harsh dictates of their environment and struggling to survive. A new & thorough philosophy against imperialism, exposing its futility and vicious cycles, must therefore be established and developed far enough to influence statecraft & statesmen one day.

        Like

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