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United in Diversity?

On Cultural Diversity, Democracy and Human Rights


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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This book is designed to encourage reflection. It contains considerations on modern plural societies and, above all, offers a complete guide to rethinking deeply-rooted concepts and attitudes that we are not used to questioning.

This study starts with the fact that in our current multicultural context we need to change the way we approach politics, and that our idea of democracy has not yet been adapted to the demands of cultural and identitarian diversity. To put it very synthetically, I start from the fact that we need considerable transformation with regard to this reality, and this must be both as regards collective political organisation, and in the area of individual behaviour in daily social relationships. However, no transformation or change is possible unless it is based on critical self-reflection of the ideas that justify the way we think and act at present. What I aim to encourage herein is an inquisitive attitude that can eliminate atavisms and transform structures, both political and personal. What follows is thus a series of arguments and comments designed to make readers reflect on and question attitudes. Needless to say, the reader’s reflections will be as tentative (or contestable) as those of the author, whose goal is to reveal his intuitions and subject them to a larger and more rigorous debate.

How to manage cultural diversity democratically in a way that respects human rights is possibly the greatest challenge facing politics in the developed societies of modern Europe....

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