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United in Diversity?

On Cultural Diversity, Democracy and Human Rights

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Eduardo J. Ruiz Vieytez

We live in increasingly diverse societies. Human relations are increasingly maintained by widely-used virtual means, with the result that it is becoming more common to find people with various identities and feelings of belonging living in the same political space.
Identity, linguistic, religious and/or cultural diversity are not new phenomena in our societies, but recent population movements and improved communications make them more visible and crucial than before. Unfortunately, our institutional and political structures have not evolved at the same pace, thus the appropriate management of diversity has become one of the greatest challenges faced by policymakers today in European democratic societies.
Unlike traditional notions of democracy, which tend to see it simply as majority rule, it is necessary to widen the way human rights are viewed and implemented, always bearing in mind the plural nature of today’s societies. This implies the need to rethink deeply-rooted concepts and attitudes that we have not been in the habit of challenging before. This essay aims to be a guide to facilitate such reflections.
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Chapter III: Constructing Proposals: towards Democratic Pluralism

Extract

Chapter III

Constructing Proposals

Towards Democratic Pluralism

1.  Multiculturalism as a Substrate and as a Method

The diversity which we are experiencing today is neither a problem nor a solution, but simply a reality. We could even go so far as to say that diversity is not just “a” reality but is in fact “the” reality of our modern European societies. Our social life and political organisations of coexistence exist within this framework of reality. This means that multiculturalism is the substrate on top of which all public policies are decided and applied. It would be a grave mistake to overlook it. Understanding it and taking it into account in politics is the only way of getting closer to a result that is not only fair but respectful of the rights of all.

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