All of the major political parties in the West share a common belief in liberalism. This does not mean, though, that their politics are exactly the same. There do exist typical differences between those who follow a left liberal politics and those who follow a right liberal politics.
When it comes to the issue of national identity, right liberals are usually more concerned to maintain social homogeneity: which means, in practice, that they want migrants to assimilate into a mainstream culture.
Left liberals, on the other hand, often support a separate identity for migrants and are therefore happy to fund what has become known as the multicultural industry.
Andrew Bolt is the most prominent right liberal journalist in Australia. He recently wrote a column complaining about the funding of ethnic organisations by the Victorian Labor Government. (Herald Sun 28/11/03)
The column draws out nicely some of the typical differences between left and right liberals on this issue. Andrew Bolt, as a right liberal, takes aim at the Victorian Multicultural Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to fund ethnic groups "to retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance".
Bolt claims that "it should be no business of government" to undertake such a left liberal activity. He says of migrants that "surely it's better for us all if they merge into one Australian mass, however multi-hued. Isn't that what we most celebrate in our migrants─that a Zambian can captain the wallabies" [the Australian rugby team].
According to Bolt "it would be best if our paid multiculturalists packed up the whole show and got out of the way of healthy assimilation."
It's not possible for conservatives to support either the right liberal policy of assimilation, as outlined by Andrew Bolt, or the left liberal policy of multiculturalism.
Conservatives don't share the underlying assumptions of both left and right liberals. Liberals want individuals to be self-created by their own reason and will. A traditional national identity is not created by our own individual reason or will: instead, it's something collective and historical that we're simply born into.
So, whereas conservatives are free to support a traditional national identity, liberals need to find some way to escape from it.
Left liberals typically engineer this escape by building up the existence of other ethnic groups, whilst ignoring or damning their own mainstream national identity.
That's why it's politically correct for the Victorian Multicultural Commission to support ethnic minorities to "retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance." It would be thought highly politically incorrect though for the Commission to support the Anglo-Australian majority to do the same thing.
The left liberal escape plan is poorly thought through. Although it does act to break down the traditional national identity, it's highly unlikely that over a hundred separate ethnic cultures can be supported within a single country.
What's more likely is that a superficial commercial culture will replace the older national culture, something that is unlikely to be welcomed by the left.
Right liberals usually don't have the same negative view of their own tradition as left liberals. Like left liberals, though, they will not recognise the legitimacy of a traditional national identity as part of public policy.
Therefore, they are willing to run a progamme of mass foreign immigration, whilst at the same time expecting immigrants to easily cast aside their own identities.
Again, this isn't well thought through. Culture and people are linked together. Bring in a new people in sufficient numbers and the culture is likely to change. Furthermore, bring in a very large bloc of new immigrants and it becomes difficult for vote chasing politicians to demand they assimilate.
For conservatives, therefore, it is necessary to reject both the left liberal and right liberal positions on national identity. We do not support either multiculturalism or the attempt to assimilate a large, continuous stream of immigrants.
Because we support our own traditional national identity it is only logical that we oppose a policy of mass immigration, and that we, and not only ethnic minorities, claim the right to "retain and express our social identity and cultural inheritance."
(First published at Conservative Central 09/01/2004)