View Poll Results: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic or Melting Pot?

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  • Ethnic Mosaic

    22 59.46%
  • Melting Pot

    13 35.14%
  • Other (please explain)

    2 5.41%
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Thread: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

  1. #1
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    Post Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Looking over various threads on Skadi forum, it is apparent that members have very different conceptions about how people who live in former European colonies (i.e. Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand) should define their identities, and to whom their owe their loyalties.

    Some feel that they should define themselves as primarily as members of their ethnic group or national heritage; I would call this the "ethnic mosaic" model, because it implies that the colonial countries should be simply a mosaic of different ethnic groups, i.e. English, Irish, German, Italian, Russian, etc., and that the loyalty of each member of these groups should be vested primarily in his own ethnicity, as opposed to the colonial state.

    Alternatively, some feel that identification with and loyalty to the colonial state should take precedence over any ethnic identification or loyalties; I would call this the "melting pot" model.

    So, my question is, do you favour the ethnic mosaic model of colonial identity, the melting pot model, or some other model (please explain), and why? Note that this is a normative and not a positive question.

    I think the issues raised are quite complex, so I'm curious to hear peoples' views on this subject.

    [Note: this replaces a previous poll that I had configured incorrectly. My apologies to prussian_au and Dante Aligheri, who had voted in that poll.]
    Last edited by Telperion; Tuesday, November 9th, 2004 at 02:59 AM.

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    Senior Member Oskorei's Avatar
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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Melting pot. New ethnicities are formed during history, and the ethnic mosaic-idea would not form a very good, or viable, state. It would be torn by strife between the different communities for power and resources, and many of its inhabitants would not have any loyalty to the state.

    The real alternative to the melting pot would be several smaller, homogenous states, which is preferable. A little Sweden, a little Germany and so on. But history is ruled by geopolitics, so that would be utopia.

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    Member Dante Alighieri's Avatar
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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Melting pot. To choose for a new fatherland is to choose for a new loyalty. The mosaic model will cause a fractured society, and a fractured society can't be a happy society. A mosaic model will create a society of people without loyalty.

    A big problem is of course the racial aspect. White people can get along in a melting pot society, but a multiracial melting pot will definitely create a third world state.
    "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate."

    Divina Commedia, Inferno, Canto III

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Quote Originally Posted by Dante Alighieri

    A big problem is of course the racial aspect. White people can get along in a melting pot society, but a multiracial melting pot will definitely create a third world state.
    That's true, though I would say both the melting pot and the ethnic mosaic model can be abused to promote a multiracial state. In Canada, for instance, the ethnic mosaic model has no racial component, and is used as a justification for importing immigrants from the third world en masse (to make the country more "culturally diverse".)

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskorei
    Melting pot. New ethnicities are formed during history, and the ethnic mosaic-idea would not form a very good, or viable, state. It would be torn by strife between the different communities for power and resources, and many of its inhabitants would not have any loyalty to the state.
    I agree, and would add some additional points:

    - As Dante Alighieri suggests, first generation immigrants are voluntarily choosing to leave their homeland for membership in the political community of a new state, which necessarily implies loyalty to that new state.

    - It follows that where the interests of their old homeland and their new state conflict, they must make a choice as to where their primary loyalty lies. If they feel it lies with their homeland, I do not see how they could reconcile that position with continuing to reside in their new state, short of becoming a hostile, fifth column element in the new state, undermining its political stability. Other inhabitants of the new state would certainly be in their rights to either expect members of this group to be loyal to the new state, or else return to their homeland.

    - Second and subsequent generation immigrants will not grow up in the territory, or organically immersed in the culture of their forefathers' homeland(s), or even necessarily speak their ancestral language(s). This implies that, while they have ethnic/biological roots in their ancestral homeland(s), their connection to their ancestral homeland(s) is otherwise tenuous, unless they make a conscious decision to reject their identity as a member of their own homeland (the colonial state) in favour of an artificial assumption of their identity as members of their ancestral nation(s). If very many people made such a choice, it would again tend to undermine the political stability of the colonial state, which could not rely on its citizens to prioritize their loyalty to it over other states.

    - European nations, unfortunately, have a long history of mutual animosity toward each other; Irish vs. English, English vs. French and Germans, Germans vs. Poles, Serbs vs. Croats, etc. For immigrants to import such hostilities within the colonial state, and for their descendents to continue to fuel the fires of such hostility, will again be very deleterious to the cohesiveness and stability of the state. Indeed, I would say one of the few positive features of North American society is that this sort of intra-European ethnic hostility, if it has not been extinguished, has at least been significantly abated.

    - For Euro-ethnic mongrels (such as myself) - surely the majority of European descendents in the former colonies (though I haven't consulted a survey on this) - it is necessarily arbitrary to choose one of their ancestral ethnic backgrounds with which to identify as the locus of their primary loyalty, while suppressing their potential identification with other ethnic backgrounds. The ethnic mosaic model seems to be oblivious to this point.

    All of these strike me as sound reasons for favouring a melting-pot over an ethnic mosaic in the former colonial states.

    Having said that, I can see a few arguments that could be used in favour of the ethnic mosaic; but, hopefully, someone who finds the idea of a melting pot objectionable will post on this thread, in order to stimulate a debate on this topic.
    Last edited by Telperion; Tuesday, November 9th, 2004 at 03:29 AM.

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    Member Awar's Avatar
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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Ehh... it's difficult to choose.

    Ethnic mosaic = strong identity through the generations, but also easy to spark conflicts and bear centennial grudges.

    Melting pot = less large-scale conflicts, but also less defined identity, which can easily lead this or that generation into racial mixing and being seduced by the media role-models.

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Quote Originally Posted by Awar

    Melting pot = less large-scale conflicts, but also less defined identity, which can easily lead this or that generation into racial mixing and being seduced by the media role-models.
    Yes, one of the arguments I can see for an ethnic mosaic is that the identity of the colonial state may well be poorly-defined. This problem is most obvious in the USA, which arguably subsumes everyone in a manufactured, commercialistic anti-culture devoid of any organic roots, and without any inherent checks against race-mixing.

    At the same time, though, the ethnic mosaic isn't necessarily a solution to this problem. Again, in Canada, the ethnic mosaic is officially held up as an ideal by the government; yet, this country still has a serious problem with race-mixing, manufactured pop-culture, etc. This tends to make me think that lack of racial awareness per se is not intrinsically rooted in either the melting pot or ethnic mosaic models.

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Quote Originally Posted by Telperion
    Yes, one of the arguments I can see for an ethnic mosaic is that the identity of the colonial state may well be poorly-defined. This problem is most obvious in the USA, which arguably subsumes everyone in a manufactured, commercialistic anti-culture devoid of any organic roots, and without any inherent checks against race-mixing.

    At the same time, though, the ethnic mosaic isn't necessarily a solution to this problem. Again, in Canada, the ethnic mosaic is officially held up as an ideal by the government; yet, this country still has a serious problem with race-mixing, manufactured pop-culture, etc. This tends to make me think that lack of racial awareness per se is not intrinsically rooted in either the melting pot or ethnic mosaic models.
    Yes, but what about the decisive influence of the media? It can't
    be fought by anything. Certainly not the remnants of Euro ethnic identity in Canada.

    Although I voted for the ethnic mosaic option, I think it's not enough.
    An ethnic mosaic, but with a major re-haul in the system and lots of common sense perhaps could work.

    A regular person simply doesn't take time to build a culture for himself, if he's born into a family which doesn't value ethnic identity, so, from there, it's just a step to being cultureless, and into race-mixing.

    Also, I believe that a Melting Pot would have perhaps worked 2000 years ago, in Roman times, but, today, in a post-Christian consumerist society it's bound to go wrong somewhere.

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    Quote Originally Posted by Awar
    Yes, but what about the decisive influence of the media? It can't
    be fought by anything. Certainly not the remnants of Euro ethnic identity in Canada.
    That appears true, unfortunately.

    Although I voted for the ethnic mosaic option, I think it's not enough.
    An ethnic mosaic, but with a major re-haul in the system and lots of common sense perhaps could work.

    A regular person simply doesn't take time to build a culture for himself, if he's born into a family which doesn't value ethnic identity, so, from there, it's just a step to being cultureless, and into race-mixing.

    Also, I believe that a Melting Pot would have perhaps worked 2000 years ago, in Roman times, but, today, in a post-Christian consumerist society it's bound to go wrong somewhere.
    Perhaps another way of looking at this would be to suggest that people should identify with their ethnic heritage and ancestral homelands as much as possible in a racial and cultural sense, yet at the same time recognize that their political loyalty must be to their own state, as a citizen and member of the political community. This might help to foster a preservationist mindset, yet at the same time avoid the serious political instability that could ensue if everyone vested their political loyalties with their ancestral homelands rather than the colonial state in which they reside.

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    Post Re: Colonial Identity: Ethnic Mosaic versus Melting Pot

    This is a great topic, I hope more people contribute.

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