multiculturalism and the clockwork city

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As an immigrant from an under-developed country, one of the things that amazed me about Canada is efficiency. Everything is a well oiled clockwork. The streets are clean, information flows transparently through power point presentations and government websites, both public institutions and private businesses respect their appointments in a timely manner. There isn’t a layer of corruption that weaves through every transaction, meritocracy can sometimes trump kinship ties, and a policeman cannot be bought by a couple of bills. The politicians are managers – their divisions do not arise from worldview tensions, but from simple managerial differences. Jobs are more or less well paid, and although the working day is shorter than in some underdeveloped countries, an hour of labor-power here produces more value due to a combination of technological and social efficiency.

Much has been written about how capitalism is wedded with instrumental reason – the streamlining of social and technological processes for the purpose of efficient capital creation. Canada is genuinely a case study of this phenomenon – the clock in general, ticks here faster. However, such profound streamlining of all social phenomena inevitably lead to a level of homogenization. All the parts of the clockwork must tick in synchronicity. Some technocrat somewhere in an office figured out through an excel spreadsheet that drinking in the streets generated financial and social losses. Your coworker can do more in less because all their life they were taught that time is money, therefore you shall optimize, or face a mediocre career or joblessness. Cutting the corners, telling that white lie? Forget it, that’s fraud and has criminal consequences. Snitch on your cousin, because the law is more important than your kinship ties.

Canada sells itself as one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It is true that many religions, skin tones, and languages coexist here. But the diversity stops there. In a clockwork world where synchronicity is required, only the right sized gear or spring can fit. The immigration system has already filtered the worthy candidates that can adapt to the friendly and generous canadians. That cab driver used to be a doctor in Islamabad. That engineer’s parents were the upper one percent in China. I am studying a PhD in the natural sciences. Someone in some office with a masters degree in public policy has decided that we were more worthy than the others. There is no diversity in any of this. No varied modes of life. Either a skilled worker, a technocrat, or a capitalist.

The fictitious nature of this diversity is the most obvious with the question of First Nations. The multiculturalism in Canada does not include them. They are not a cog, bolt, or spring that can fit nicely into the multicolored, shiny clockwork. Many racists, from white, latin american, indian, and african backgrounds have asked: why aren’t they like us, with our college degrees and career jobs? Are they even in an income tax bracket? Why does my tax money goes to them?

There is a child locked in Omelas, in a dungeon under a municipal building.

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