Salman Rushdie er også opptatt av hvordan mennesker i samfunn med forskjellige kulturer kan leve sammen. Samfunnet må velge, sette visse verdier over andre. Men hvordan få menneskene til å slutte opp?
When we, as individuals, pick and mix cultural elements for ourselves, we do not do so indiscriminately, but according to our natures. Societies, too, must retain the ability to discriminate, to reject as well as to accept, to value some things above others, and to insist on the acceptance of those values by all their members. This is the question of our time: how does a fractured community of multiple cultures decide what values it must share in order to cohere, and how can it insist on those values even when they clash with some citizens’ traditions and beliefs?
Rushdie skiller mellom et mangefasettert samfunn og et multikulturelt. Det første er uunngåelig i vår globale verden: Ingen kan mure seg inne og tro de kan bevare sin kultur. Alle låner, stjeler, kopierer. Men multikulturelt tendererer mot en oppfatning om at alle kulturer kan eksistere uanfektet side ved side. Det tviler Rushdie på om er mulig.
Britain, the most determinedly «multiculturist» of European nations, is at the heart of the debate. According to some opinion polls the British people avowed their continued support for multiculturalism even in the immediate aftermath of the July 7 bombings; many commentators, however, have been less affirmative. David Goodhart, editor of Prospect magazine, asks the old philosophical question — «Who is my brother?» — and suggests that an over-diverse society may become an unsustainable one. Britain’s first black Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu, accuses multiculturalism of being bad for English national identity. And the Government announces that new citizens will have to pass a «Britishness test» from now on: a passport will be a kind of driving licence proving you’ve learnt the rules of the nationalist road.
Multiculturalism, however, has all too often become mere cultural relativism, a much less defensible proposition, under cover of which much that is reactionary and oppressive — of women, for example — can be justified. The British multiculturalist idea of different cultures peacefully coexisting under the umbrella of a vaguely defined pax Britannica was seriously undermined by the July 7 bombers and the disaffected ghetto culture from which they sprang. Of the other available social models, the one-size-fits-all homogenising of «full assimilation» seems not only undesirable but unachievable, and what re2_kommentars is the «core values» approach, of which the «Britishness test» is, as presently proposed, a grotesque comic parody.
Rushdie har ikke noe svar. Han nøyer seg med å slå fast at et samfunn må ha visse kjerneverdier, og folk må bekjenne seg til dette samfunnet, og sette det over gruppetilhørigheten, ellers vil samfunnet falle fra hverandre.