You might have read these last few days of the serious social crisis developed in the southern Italian city of Rosarno in the region of Calabria, where an exasperated local community took to the streets and violently attacked the growing community of African migrants (may of whom illegal, so to say..) and leaving many wounded.
The Government decided to send additional police to bring the situation under control.
The incident sparked off a heated debate in my increasingly racist country, and an op-ed article by a reputed progressive journalist, Antonio Macaluso, published today Saturday January 9 in the politically correct Corriere della Sera, called for an urgent rethink by our leadership of the whole integration issue before the situation runs out of control.
A situation which has now become urgent not only in the north but also in the southern parts of my country, which are plagued by organized crime and the two issues are clearly interrelated, in the sense that it is organized crime who manages the flux of immigrants.
In this framework, I would like to recoup some thinking which has been going on in this blog since its inception, which has to do with the development of effective relationships and the overall issue of dealing with ethnic, cultural, religious and social diversity in contemporary society, and see if some of the interpretative tools we have been discussing could not be usefully adapted to a situation such as Rosarno (but countless others exist just about everywhere else).
The two traditional and consolidated models of integration relate to the ‘melting pot’ -interpreted as incentivating migrants to adopt values, beliefs and mores which are acceptable by resident communities; and the ‘multicultural model’ -where migrant communities are allowed to maintain their values, beliefs and mores as long as they do not violate the rules of the community which clearly need to adapt.
The first, according to most analysts, was the most successful in the second half of the last century, and found its most explicit scenario in the United States. These same analysts add that in the eighties the melting pot exploded when the more recent migrant communities began to refuse the adoption of existing values, beliefs and mores and demanded to maintain their own.
The second, the anglo/dutch multicultural experience of the nineties and the early years of this century, was considered a highly effective reply to migrant community expectations, to the point that the European Union elaborated and attempted to develop an articulate policy before it also exploded. Here is a post I wrote on this some time ago. This happened in the UK with the first terrorist attacks in Liverpool, then Birmingham and London; while in Holland it exploded with the Van Gogh assassination. In both cases the ‘multicultural’ ideals were quickly repudiated by most of its political and social proponents.
Of course, it is clear that in either of the two models (or in any combination of these) the issue of community relationships is paramount and the starting point.
How does one develop effective relationships?
And when we say ‘effective’ what do we mean? Effective for who?
I would like to reason with you integrating (..) two concepts which visitors of this blog should now be familiar with: that of the public relator as an architect; and that of generic principles and specific applications.
First of all, as often said, we public relators are also responsible for ‘creating’ spaces (real or digital) in which stakeholders are attracted, where they converse amongst themselves and with the convenor organization. The competitive advantage (and therefore our effectiveness) lies in the creation and maintenance of spaces which those stakeholders find more attractive than other spaces.
When an architect creates a space there are many constructive variables to be kept in mind, but one of them is certainly the distinction between a bearing and a curtain wall.
I don’t know about the melting pot model, but in analysing how an unexpected event like a terrorist act in the UK or an assassination in Holland, in only a few days, caused the collapse of an entire social and material construct which had required enormous financial, social and political resources, the first thing that comes to mind is that the architect had probably failed to make that very important distinction.
If one looks at the EU policy I mentioned, it clearly spells out that education, home and work are the three pillars of an effective space, but if one learns how the two governments used the many available funds, one will notice that other priorities were privileged (mostly communication..ie. multicultural hype and..religion..i.e. political correctness).
One could briefly conclude that the collapse of the multicultural model was therefore more the effect of a poorly built space than anything else.
Legitimately one could ask what would have been different had those priorities been correctly followed. If, for example, rather than being obsessed by hyping the positive results of the model or by investing rich funds in creating and protecting places of worship, those resources were allocated to improving education, home and work….
Certainly, the least one could say is that it would have taken more time for the edifice to collapse and for the various stakeholder communities to drastically and abruptly change attitudes, behaviours and therefore spark off the anti-integration published opinion which now prevails, and which has left those societies without any political and social credible guidelines.
Now, it is clear that the Dutch situation is different from the British situation, and that the situation in London is different from that in Birmingham and the latter from Liverpool.
Every territory, as we have often argued here, has a different relationship infrastructure which results from the impact on relationship frameworks of the legal/institutional, political, economic, socio cultural, active citizenship and media systems.
So, these would be the specific applications, while the three basic pillars (school, home and work) would be the generic principles.
To be more specific, in accepting Antonio Macaluso’s appeal for a rethink of the entire migration policy framework, it might be worthwhile to adopt this integrated concept of the public relator as architect together with the generic principles and specific applications paradigm, as the two fundamental guidelines for a new approach to community relationship building.