Societies are becoming more ethnically diverse, partly as a result of the immigration driven by the economic pressures described above. Refugees, notably from the turmoil in the Middle East, have added to the flow of immigrants.
The tensions arising from ethnic diversity have featured in several sections of this book. It is ultimately necessary, and possible, to agree to live together in peaceful pluralism (4.4). It benefits everybody. In return for respect and equality of treatment, minorities can contribute to the economy and to a stable and vibrant fused culture.
Other aspects of governance can contribute towards ethnic inclusivity:
- Human rights can be seen as a moral standard (4.2.4), they may be embodied in the law (5.4.7), or they may be granted as socio-economic rights (6.7.1). They can confer a degree of political legitimacy (6.3.7). They should apply to every individual in a society, without exception – to protect minorities, to protect individuals who seek to break free from their ethnic groups, and to demonstrate to the majority that pluralism is not leading to erosion of agreed values.
- Concerns about terrorism have led to hostility towards Muslims in European cities but, as argued by the Economist, there is “A case for vigilance, not despair”.
- Legal measures can be used to prohibit some forms of ethnic divisiveness (5.4.6), adding an element of official coercion to the less formalised pressures of moral influence, but to do this the law must be acceptable to all communities (5.4.3).
- Wise political leadership can help to create an environment in which peaceful pluralism is encouraged (6.7.4).
- Citizenship (188.8.131.52) should be highly valued, and a path to it should be available to every individual.
- Distributed control of public services can depoliticise them and increase individual choice, allowing some services to be tailored to meet different ethnic requirements (6.6.2).
- Separatism is problematic (6.6.3), although some elements of regionalisation or federalism may be helpful if an ethnic group dominates a defined geographic area – but each region will still have some pluralism within it.
These additional elements of governance help to encourage peaceful pluralism, but appropriate behaviour between individuals remains the strongest safeguard.