Beta
X

21Apr

The Great Experiment by Yascha Mounk review – a shallow dive into the diversity debate

This exploration of how to make diverse democracies work offers a political warning where none is needed

Speaking on German television in 2018, the liberal political scientist Yascha Mounk remarked that Germany was “embarking on a historically unique experiment – that of turning a monoethnic and monocultural democracy into a multi-ethnic one”. He was immediately deluged with emails from far-rightists who felt his comment corroborated their belief in a conspiracy to eradicate the white race. This might have prompted Mounk to reflect that the “experiment” metaphor, which carries certain negative connotations, was perhaps a less than optimal way to characterise mass migration and its consequences. Instead, he went away and wrote an entire 368-page book organised round this very theme.

The Great Experiment promises to show us “how to make diverse democracies work”, but contains very few actual policy proposals. For the most part it’s a mishmash of general principles, political truisms and syrupy platitudes, delivered in a register somewhere between a TED talk and an undergraduate dissertation. Mounk draws on social psychology to tell us what we already know: that, on the one hand, human beings have “a tendency to form in-groups, and discriminate against those who do not belong to them”; on the other, the “intergroup contact hypothesis” suggests people from different backgrounds are more likely to get along if they spend time with one another. The ideal diverse society should be neither “unduly homogenising” nor so fragmentary as to give rise to “cultural separatism”.

Continue reading...

Related

Boy Friends by Michael Pedersen review – in the company of men

A Scottish poet’s memoir reflects touchingly on male friendship and masculinityScott Hutchison, a m...

Read More >

We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets review – confessions of a content moderator

This Dutch novel takes aim at the depersonalising corrosiveness of the internet, but becomes laboure...

Read More >

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris – lockdown, loss and dentistry

The writer’s affable misanthropy and self-deprecation are on display in a new set of reflections on...

Read More >

The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan review – an atmospheric tableau

This tale of a Soviet mathematician working in rural 50s Ireland is bogged down by a lack of narrati...

Read More >

What Do Men Want? by Nina Power review – a misguided defence of the male

A philosopher’s ostensibly reasonable call for compassion veers towards the reactionaryThe philosop...

Read More >

The Oracle of Night by Sidarta Ribeiro review – the secrets of sleep

A neuroscientist attempts to reconcile psychoanalysis with modern science in a fantastical romp thro...

Read More >