Recently a Canadian acquaintance of mine posted a link to Prime Minister Trudeau speaking about diversity inclusion, which was a new phrase for me. He ended his post by asking, wouldn’t we be better off in a world of diversity inclusion.
I am not so sure we will. I have listened to the post a few times and I hear just one more attempt by the state to homogenize us on some core principles. The assumption being that they are such good core principles that no rational person would dissent from them.
Currently I am reading Joseph Levy's Rationalism, Pluralism and Freedom. Levy has hit the nail squarely on the head: there is an irreconcilable tension between what he identifies as the rationalist (liberal state) tendency towards centralization and local intermediate groups’ (churches, associations, local militias, etc.) tendency towards pluralism.
The state rightly understands that the local groups are suspicious of the tendency of the state to centralize power, to become the single source of legitimate authority, to set cultural norms which it can enforce through its police powers. Intermediate groups act in ways to preserve power within themselves-e.g. requiring women to wear head scarves to protect a certain status within the group, or, to take a less charged example, to avoid public schooling, professional training and conscription if you are a Jehovah's Witness or to wear modest clothing and avoid the use of electricity if you are Amish.
The very thing that Trudeau handles so blithely--the young Muslim girl wearing lipstick--goes to the heart of the norms of the intermediate group. He seems wholly unaware that it is his tendency to make us all "friends" and Canadians that undermines the authority of and is destructive of the intermediate groups. That he intends to use the public education system to achieve this goal of minimizing the distinctions that give the intermediate groups their authority and distinct quality is at least honest on his part. In the US, the State is constantly trying to inculcate values into students without expressly acknowledging that it is doing so.
Listen to his language as he talks about participating in and supporting other people's cultural practices. This very act serves to demystify (remove the mystery-nee sacredness from) their unique cultural practices. Sometimes people use the term cultural appropriation, but the practice Trudeau is introducing seems worse. The universe is filled with mystery. One thing intermediate groups do that the state is wholly incapable of doing is honor the mystery through ritual. By engaging in/normalizing/minimizing cultural practices without honoring the mystery and recognizing the sacred nature of ritual, the state destroys that which is sacred and obliterates the basis for the existence of the intermediate group.
To my mind, we have in very large part, lost sight of and fail to value the contributions of local intermediate groups. The West has particularly moved in the direction of more and greater centralization. Religion was the last great intermediate bastion standing against the state and it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The State has successfully limited the expression of religiously inspired actions in all domains except within the confines of the church building and soon it will achieve centrality there.
It is this tendency towards centralization and the real or feigned refusal to recognize the fundamental differences between others who do not act like us that I think is quite out of balance with the needs of humans, who need to connect with the particular and the personal. Trudeau exhibits a quality like a giant, wet, friendly golden retriever happily splashing mud on everyone and everything while trampling through sacred spaces, but meaning nothing ill at all while he does so.