It is often feared that multiculturalism divides native populations from ethnic minorities, but it is becoming increasingly clear that there is multiculturalism within native populations – and that those populations are truly divided.
Across Europe, liberal and left-wing voters have been struggling to keep nationalists from triumphing in elections. Alexander Van der Bellen, running as independent leftist, has beaten the right wing Norbert Hofer in the Austrian elections by less than 1%. Austrian progressives united behind Van der Bellen, polling suggests, less because they supported his ideas than because they wanted to keep out the nationalists. In France, last year, tactical voting between leftists and Conservatives kept out the Front National. In Sweden the “centrist” parties united to marginalise the Swedish Democrats.
This form of downright adversarial politics will only enable parties of the right, which can use their exclusion to symbolise the elite maneuverings they have opposed. It will also exacerbate intracultural divisions as the pressures of globalisation become more acute. As Ed West observes, there is a significant class factor involved: the working classes, which tend to be more insular and, also, more alienated from the benefits of internationalism, have leaned right while the fashionably cosmopolitan educated middle classes have leaned left. Social and ideological stratification is ensuring that Europe is a house divided against itself – and newcomers rightly expected to integrate may ask with some justice, “Integrate into what?”