|Two main thoughts on this. |
The notion of a "unified" country, or more precisely, the need to be more so, is a dubious one. For starters, we already are unified. I mean, whatever differences there may be in the religious/racial superstructure, I have much the same basic- by which I mean, not limited, but fundamental, "important"- needs as the Italian bakers and the Sikh shop owners in my area: food, drink, sleep, entertainment, etc. We are unified in this major way.
In fact, all human beings on the planet are already more unified than they are different. I can't see how "becoming more unified" could mean anything other than, as the poster says, everyone becoming more like one particular segment of British society- the white middle class- which has no claim to objective "betterness" than any other segment.
In other words, a narrative where "we need to be more unified" both denies the unity that already exists, and it makes diversity and the general chaotic craziness, the "spice" and "flux" of life, out to be an area of mutual misunderstanding, ghettoisation, combative stasis, when it is actually anything but. Yes, I would like to be more able to communicate with, say, those Italian bakers or the Sikh shopkeepers- but why the hell do they need to stop being Italian bakers or Sikh shopkeepers?
On the other hand, there is one age-old "disunity" which I think is part of the problem. Let me explain. The main body of the discourse on "intergration" seems to involve white people, speaking from the white community, however well intentioned, informing everyone else that they should change. To me, this is just wasted breath- real positive change does not come from without and by force, but from within and by education. I would seriously question the worth of criticisms by the poweful white of, say, practices in the Pakistani community inasmuch as these criticisms will come from an ivory tower, from a position of power, separated by that one basic disunity which arises from those largest distances of governed-government, minority-majority, and communitylanguage-statelanguage, which distances will always distort even the most well-meant and positive message because it is not delivered face-to-face, in dialogue, but through Althusser's Ideological/Repressive State Apparatus- the Police, official letters, schools, one-way communication (monologue) on the radio, the TV news etc.
That is, while I may, and "may" is the important word here, be able to talk with a non-white coleague about the positive and negative aspects of that person's community, and, from an equivalent power-position, suggest a strategy for dealing with the negatives, I would totally doubt my ability to do this constructively from Jack Straw or Tony Blair's position.
Which leads us to the point where we say "Yes, we need dialogue"- which is all very well, but the tricky question is: how do we create it? How do we turn "dialogue" from a vague abstraction into a concrete activity?