Read about "What being a citizen means" in this LibertyGB article.
I recently spoke at a conference entitled, "Embracing Cultural Diversity, Learning to Live Together, Multiculturalism in South Korea." In the West we are used to conferences that celebrate multiculturalism and demonize its opposite, culturism, as 'racism,' and the title of this conference promised the same dynamic. But the conference organizers and attendees were refreshingly open to hearing both sides of issues. In this spirit, we discussed ideas it is vital for Liberty GB members to consider.
It wasn't smooth. In lovely English, one of the MCs described the audience members as being in "total chaos of shock and embarrassment" after hearing a professor question multiculturalism. People gulped as the professor asked the audience to notice that the name of the country is "Korea." That implied that the country is for Koreans! "Wow!" We thought, "He said that." Think of the implications for Britain.
Showing more nuance, the professor then argued that, due to cultural similarities, Polish immigrants were better candidates for assimilation into Western Europe than Muslim ones. Challenging dogma, he told us that dispassionately assessing quantitative impacts was more important than projecting a "liberal" image of "openness." After considering Western Europe's welfare costs, car burnings, and education challenges, he concluded that multiculturalist immigration policies bring an overall "disadvantage."
The conference MC said that Korean students had not previously heard of the "dark side" of multiculturalism. In today's intellectual climate, such honest debate is a victory.
Importantly, conference organizers asked us, "What is a Korean citizen?" A North Korean defector who spoke answered this clearly. The audience squirmed as he described the horrors of his escape. He eventually became economically stable in Vietnam. Still, he could not live without his people's language, foods and culture. So he underwent further horrors and the risk of re-capture to get refugee status in South Korea. In the West we have taken citizenship to be a culturally neutral matter of bureaucratic paper work. Even without paperwork, here was a real Korean.
The Filipino Ambassador who spoke provided a telling contrast. He expressed irritation that only low-skilled Filipinos were allowed to work in South Korea. He applauded a delegation of Filipino guest workers that lobbied Korea's only foreign-born National Assembly member, Jasmine Lee, for more rights and visa changes. Were these demands made out of love for Korea, its people, past, and future? I suspect not. Real citizenship requires identification with, and an altruistic care for, your nation. The protestors showed themselves Filipino, rather than Korean, citizens.
All in all, Korea has very sensible culturist immigration policies. In a nation of 50 million citizens, only 1.5 million are foreigners. Of the foreigners, the 200,000 involved in marriage can become citizens. People of Korean ancestry from foreign lands also have a route to citizenship. However, the rest of the foreign workers can only stay for a maximum of 5 years and cannot become citizens. Korea's traditional culturist laws can serve as a model for other nations.
However, problems are on the horizon. Foreign workers routinely overstay their visas and illegally bring their families to Korea. A Bangladeshi speaker gleefully told the audience that by 2035, 15% of Korea would be foreigners. But it's worse than that. Korea's median age is 47. Immigrants have a high birth rate and Koreans have a dismally low birth rate. When you combine these facts with multiculturalism's salad bowl policies that discourage foreign assimilation, we can see that the Korean nation faces real dangers.
In my talk, I directly challenged the Korean audience members. There are more unemployed Koreans than foreign factory workers. Was their love of country so small that they'd rather lose their nation than do factory labor? I believe that, as earlier presidents did, the current government needs to challenge the patriotism of Koreans rather than concede that multiculturalism is inevitable. Part of the reason Koreans don't work in factories is that they'd be the only Koreans in the factory. But, with a zero low-skilled immigration policy and patriotism in Koreans' hearts, this needn't be the case. Koreans have a choice.
Rather than a typical western celebration of multiculturalism's total intellectual and policy dominance, this Korean conference entertained debate and allowed a diversity of opinions. My idea of replacing all foreign workers with Koreans may have been too strong and require modification. But the Korean participants' willingness to debate such cultural policies rationally, without slandering and excluding dissenters as 'racists,' gave me hope for their future. Armed with the terms 'culturism' and 'culturist,' perhaps Liberty GB can bring back needed, honest debate to Britain as well.