A unified culture vs. multiculturalism (Part 6)

Dual citizenship is an anomaly to the reality that citizenship connotes a national identity, with an implicit commitment to one’s nation. Dual nationality undermines that commitment. Do the following benefits to some – tax advantages in the other nation (the country of origin); unfettered entry to both country of birth and country of adoption; and the freedom to take up arms on behalf of one’s ancestral folk – offset the deleterious international consequences flowing from the grant of dual citizenship?

Were one to get into a serious spot of bother with, or in, one’s secondary attachment, one’s national government is not likely to be able to offer adequate (or any) consular support. Some of Australia’s newest citizens have learnt that.

Then, there could also arise a comparable disadvantage were the nation of one’s ancestors to be bound by the Napoleonic Code in relation to citizenship. Under this Code, a government is entitled to treat the descendants of a former citizen, no matter where they lived, as citizens of the ancestral nation; even when these descendants had been born elsewhere, had lived there all their lives, and had never visited the tribal land.

For example, not that long ago, when an Australian official in his early twenties was to represent the Australian Government in the former nation of his father (both Australian citizens), it was discovered that the young man could be called up for national service were he to arrive at his ancestral land.

Normally, citizenship by birth is available to one born of permanent residents in the nation. Citizenship by descent is available to one born overseas to citizens who are temporarily away from home. Citizenship by grant is available to immigrants who satisfy specified legal conditions. Not that long ago, anyone taking up the citizenship of a foreign nation automatically lost the original citizenship.

When Australia offered dual citizenship, for political reasons, did that diminish the value of one’s passport to only a document of identity? What of one’s commitment to one’s nation? Is the replacement of colonialism’s globalisation by military power, by the USA’s globalisation by economic power, leading to the devaluation of sovereignty and national pride? At least until the next world war?

What of the complications for cultural identity of dual nationality? Are the principal signifiers of cultural identity becoming less significant to a peripatetic younger generation? Without the divisive influence of institutional religion, especially based on authority and priestly control, could cultural identities begin to coalesce?

Indubitably, as we immigrants in Australia have shown, there is an innate tendency for humans to be interested in one another, and thence to reach out to one another. Remarkably, Anglo-Australians did demonstrate, within two generations, a capacity to become multi-ethnic, and colour blind. We are now one national people.

A unified culture vs. multiculturalism (Part 5)

When it became clear that Australian governments were seeking to trade empowerment for ethnic votes, a claim arose that English is not our national language. I suggested that mandarin would soon be appropriate.

A de-feathered senior public servant then reportedly flew around the country in an attempt to develop a language policy. In a nation which has no population policy, no long-term economic policy, no stable education policy, and no urban planning (eg. schools and public transport)? The Minister grounded him (so it was bruited) by reminding him that only Ministers make policy!

“We are more multicultural than any other country in the world” (a meaningless assertion) is now being replaced with “We are multicultural,” in an effort to espouse ethnocentrism. An example: the Morris Dance was resuscitated in Canberra by those who claimed that the British too are an ethnic community! This occurred in a nation controlled by the descendants of British founders, and now dominated by Aussie Vaticanites.
More recently, a proposal that immigrant business signage should be in English as well is being rebuffed – because “we are multicultural.” Ethnicity rules, right?

Some years ago, Thailand and Indonesia required that immigrant origins and languages were not to be publicly displayed. Residents of Chinese origin continued to dominate the economies of these two nations (as they do in the rest of south-east Asia); but they took their identity from their nation-of-residence. National pride rules!

Unfortunately for the ambitious, ethnic empowerment expires with the death of the individual. Those whom I view as ‘professional ethnics’ are also being undermined (possibly unconsciously) by people who share their cultures. The latter make the necessary cultural and ideational adaptations, in order to become an integral part of a nation of substantially variegated origins; and to relate to others as equals, and access the equal opportunities thus available. Successful cultural blending follows.

For example (and it is a wonderful example), young Muslim women, covered head to foot, are playing sport, and being trained as life-savers. My faith in our young is growing and glowing. Those Muslim women, covered in toto, who had a swimming pool closed to all others (including non-Muslim women) when they collectively entered the pool, and their overt arrogance, should have no platform for their prejudice.

Cultural evolution is unavoidable, no matter how recalcitrant their community controllers might be. In some cases it might take decades before morally-crumbling control-structures give way.

When I was the Chief Ethnic Affairs Officer (for the state of Victoria) in Melbourne in the early 1980s, I saw Australia’s future. Three teenage boys, dressed identically (only the logos on their T-shirts were different), and expressing identical speech forms, but with their faces and heads indicating 3 different geographical (and cultural) origins in Europe were on my tram. They were Aussies, yet visibly the sons of post-war immigrants.

I was reminded of my children’s generation. Some of their friends were, as my children are, (in part) second-generation Aussies. Some of the parents, like me, were immigrants, and thereby first-generation Aussies (there being no second or subsequent generation immigrants, only Aussies). A shared education, buttressed by school teachers who commendably acculturated them to being one people, sport, socialisation, habituation, and commonsense, made them one people.

Ethnic empowerment, politically based upon an unwarranted emphasis on ethno-cultural differences, can have no future. Defending our national sovereignty will be difficult enough, especially with the insidious influence of dual nationality.