Racism, discussed in the previous chapter, provoked an antiracist reaction, taken up by pressure groups and subsequently parliament and local councils. Yet antiracism had its limitations, and even sometimes exacerbated the racism it was seeking to eliminate. Multiculturalism offered a positive alternative to racism. At one level multiculturalism simply describes cultural diversity in many modern states and societies, including Britain. Yet at another it is an ideology that accepts and welcomes cultural diversity, as an alternative to past policies emphasizing assimilation of minorities in the interests of cultural homogeneity. Underlying that ideology are assumptions and values that amount to a distinctive political perspective which contrasts markedly with many interpretations of nationalism (see Chapter 6) and, more obviously, racism and fascism (see Chapter 7). Multiculturalism additionally carries challenging implications for mainstream ideologies, particularly conservatism, although some liberals have also questioned the notion of minority group rights, with potentially damaging implications for the rights of individuals and universal human rights.
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