Happy Slaves: A Duologue on Multicultural Deficit.

Description

88 pages
$15.00
ISBN 978-1-55071-225-4
DDC 306.2

Publisher

Year

2005

Contributor

Reviewed by Joseph Garcea

Joseph Garcea is a professor of political Studies at the University of
Saskatchewan.

Review

This book is essentially a leftist neo-Marxist critique of multiculturalism. True to its title, this very short book consists of a relatively brief conversation between the two authors on what they refer to as the “multicultural deficit” in Canada because both official multiculturalism policy and the nature of intergroup relations are far from optimal. Indeed, they argue that Canada is bicultural, rather than a multicultural nation, which subjugates ethnic minorities. Their conversation is heavily influenced by Marxist and neo-Marxist perspectives regarding the institutionalized injustices despite the adoption of what are depicted as progressive multiculturalism policies and programs.

 

The book is essentially a lament, indeed a rant, regarding the true purpose, value, and virtue of multiculturalism. In expressing their views they pull none of their punches and are quite prepared to use hyperbolic language to assign blame. They depict multiculturalism policy as an element of a larger strategy by those who they describe as “hegemonic elites” who are responsible for social problems and what they depict as “ethnocultural extermination.” Invoking Marx’s notion of false consciousness, they suggest that generally citizens are led to believe that they are privileged to live in a just multicultural polity when in fact it is an unjust polity which subjugates and enslaves them. As “happy slaves” they are not inclined to question the problems in the system.

 

The authors are particularly critical of Canada’s official multiculturalism policy for several reasons, including: being superficial insofar as it is focused primarily on folklore, dancing, and food, rather than more fundamental cultural characteristics and rights of ethnocultural groups in the contemporary society and economy; being a control mechanism used to decide who is and is not granted access to the “bicultural power structure”; being a crass political strategy by the Trudeau and Mulroney governments to neutralize the perceived threat of ethnic alienation; and dividing and separating ethnic intellectuals and political leaders. They are also critical of technological developments such as the internet for being an instrument of dominance, subjugation, and cultural extermination because it contributes to the perpetuation of English as the dominant culture.

 

For those who are interested in a leftist neo-Marxist critique of multiculturalism this book makes is likely to be a welcomed addition to the literature. However, for those who have read much of the extant anti-multiculturalism literature there is little that is novel or insightful in this book. Only those who subscribe strongly to the neo-Marxist perspective and jargon and who oppose multiculturalism are likely to find this book satisfying.

Citation

Anselmi, William, and Kosta Gouliamos., “Happy Slaves: A Duologue on Multicultural Deficit.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27609.