Rare to find voices in the Czech media and blogosphere explicitly defending multi-culturalism and advocating (more) open migration policies, but today I found two in one day. František Kostlán tells readers of his blog
for the excellent online newspaper http://www.aktualne.cz/
that short of a renewed totalitarian regime multiculturalism – which he takes to mean the reality of people with different cultures co-existing – is inevitable. Although his main targets are the predictable hordes of xenophobic Czech bloggers, he does, however, slightly spoil the effect by trying in the usual manner of ex-dissident journalists to present his view as centrist, non-ideological practical solution standing between ideologies of left and right. There is, he thinks, a supposed left-wing ideology of dissolving dominant domestic national culture as well as the right-wing nationalist one of pulling up the drawbridge and trying to maintain the purity of a hermetically sealed, pure national culture. This, however, rather ducks the slightly more substantive conservative critique of multi-cultural policies (picked by Václav Klaus) which centres on the status of group rights and the question of acceptable degrees of diversity and the impact of ethnic and cultural diversity of social cohesion. Robert Putnam’s recent findings about the inverse relationship (which he discusses in an interesting if slow moving Guardian podcast) highlight this, although as Putnam notes what this show is not the inherently defective nature of culturally diverse societies per se ultimately as how define and construct the social identities that matter – decades ago religion was the key, divisive social dividing line in the US, now it is ethnic origin.
The second piece I saw by Věra Roubalová Kostlánová – whose name, although I’ve only just noticed the fact, suggests she may be married to Kostlán – appeared in Lidové noviny and criticized the new Aliens Act in the Czech Republic – and the broader philosophy of restricting and discouraging (non-EU) migration that underlies it. Such restriction she argues are based on a grossly exaggerated view of the amount of crime committed by non-Czechs and tends to reinforce the very phenomenon it seeks to control, by criminalizing migrants and pushing towards reliance on mafias and criminal groups. Increasing the discretionary power of the Czech Immigration Service (cizinecká police) she suggests simply increases opportunities and openings for official corruption. A new two year restriction on access to social benefits for foreign (non-EU) spouses of Czech citizens and their children as a measure against bogus marriage, she argues, is pointless as it will target the group of foreign citizens most likely to integrate into Czech society.