Have you ever considered how does, historically culturally and linguistically diverse, Switzerland functions better than the US, UK, Canada, France, etc.?
“Diversity !”, “diversity !”; you hear a lot of talk about “diversity”. Most who do, do not know how to make diversity work in the actual World. But the Swiss talk little about “diversity”, for them the facts are more important than words; Swiss make diversity work, perhaps not like a Switch watch, but they do a better job than any other country.
Most countries with ethnic and cultural diversity all they are able to do is: the majority “rules” and the minorities shut up, revolt, resort to terror or threaten separation. You see that all over the World.
Most of them are regimes that oppress the majority too, their majorities do not rule; the rulers belong to the majority, it is not the same thing. It seems inevitable; when they oppress their minorities, they also oppress the majority.
There is no need to name such countries, many are well known… They violate the human dignity of the majority and the minorities; they do it every day many times all over their territories, year after year. Sometimes they do it even abroad. They are terrible, shameful regimes who should not exist, but that is for another blog.
I am sure the people will overthrow those regimes, just like the French and other countries, mostly in the West, overthrew their oppressive regimes and instituted representative democracy.
This brings me to established representative democracies and their historical minorities.
By getting rid of the old absolute-power regimes, representative democracies solved the problem of oppression of the majority, but no representative democracy has solved the problem of oppression or suppression of its historical minorities; it is a big problem now.
I want to say also that many representative democracies have evolved into societies where most citizens no longer feel represented by the elected politicians, but that is issue for another post too.
Look at the situation of historical minorities in some well-known representative democracies;
In the US there is no need to tell you about the issues with Blacks, Native Americans of several cultures and languages, and also with native Spanish-speaking Americans.
The issues in Canada with Quebec, the First Nation Indians, Acadians and Eskimos are also well known. The constant fear Quebec may separate is a major “background worry” in Canadian politics.
If you jump across the Atlantic;
In Spain, it is not possible to exaggerate the cultural and territorial frictions related to language and culture. Those frictions threaten to break up the country now, and have already in the past.
Moving North to France; you might know about the “problems” with the Corsicans and the Bretons. There are other separatist issues in the French state.
Italy has tense accommodation with its Northern region.
If we continue on to the UK, everybody knows about Scottish separatists.
For something quite different, let us now go to Switzerland, a direct democracy, and how it handles its historical minorities.
I mention Switzerland’s nature as a direct democracy because I know it explains the success of Switzerland with its historical minorities.
In Switzerland the German-speaking majority has no issues with the French, Italian and Romansh minorities, nor do the minorities have issues with the German-speaking majority. How do the Swiss manage such amazing feat?
Switzerland has succeeded in the accommodation of its minorities because Switzerland does not really “accommodate” its minorities; the minorities are equal partners with the majority. A simple but revolutionary concept the calm Swiss do not brag about.
In the process of figuring out how to make diversity work in the real world, the historical cultures of Switzerland have turned Switzerland into perhaps the most politically stable country in the World and, overall, the best country in the World
It is more stable than any of the countries I mentioned, including the UK and Canada, considered very stable countries by many of us; I consider Canada, the country where I live, very stable, but that does not mean the cultural and linguistic issues with its historical minorities have been solved, they have not.
In the US, and the other countries I mentioned, there is lots of talk, articles, academic papers, forums, laws, regulations for this or that, concerning historical minorities, but none of them manages the realities on the ground too well.
Why they don’t look at the Swiss? I do not really know, but I suspect it is because the majority of the population, including the minorities, do not know how the Swiss do it. I also suspect the status quo is comfortable for the politicians and others in the “elite”.
In my next post I will discuss how the Swiss make their historically multicultural country work. I hope you join me because I have no doubt the Swiss have found the better way.