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Why “Multicultural Society” Is a Logical Impossibility

November 4, 2012, 8:00 PM

It is rare that one learns anything important from the pseudoscience of sociology, but one thing it does teach us is that there is no such thing as “multicultural society.”

When I used to teach Introduction to Sociology at the University of Washington, I had back-to-back lectures during the first week on culture and society.  I explained to my students that culture and society were two sides of a coin; one cannot exist without the other.  Culture needs society (and its inhabitants) to sustain its existence and initiate its change, and society needs culture to hold it together and survive.  Just as there is no such thing as a coin with only one side, there is no such thing as culture without society or society without culture.  It is physically impossible to construct a coin with only heads without tails or a coin with only tails without heads.  It is equally impossible to have a culture without society or a society without culture.

This, incidentally, is the primary reason that the artificial language of Esperanto never took off, despite its numerous favorable linguistic features, such as the ease of learning and the perfectly regular grammar with no exceptions or irregularities.  As an integral aspect of human culture, language cannot exist without a society of speakers speaking it daily and interacting with each other.

Nobody disputes these truisms about culture and society from the social sciences, yet the same people also claim that we now live in a “multicultural society.”  If you think about it for a moment, you’d realize that the notion of “multicultural society” is a logical and physical impossibility.  It is similar to a coin with only one heads but several tails.  It is physically impossible to construct such a coin.

That culture needs society to sustain its existence means that multiple cultures require multiple societies.  That society needs culture to hold it together means that multiple societies require multiple cultures.  There must be exactly the same number of cultures as there are societies, just as there must be exactly the same number of societies as there are cultures.  In any bag of coins, regardless of how many coins there are, there are exactly as many heads as there are tails, and vice versa.  One culture, one society.  “Multicultural society” is a physical (and sociological) impossibility.