Multiculturalism and Its Issues

Xenophobia by definition is the ‘intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from different origin or countries’. In the township of Alexandra, just northeast of Johannesburg, on May 11, 2008 local residents attacked foreign immigrants from African countries like Mozambique, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. What was the drive and what provided incentive for these events to take place? As John Hickel mentions in his article, “mass eviction campaigns led by angry vigilante mobs comprised mostly of unemployed young males…”. This leads to the assumption that inequality, more specifically the uneven distribution of resources, is a major and constantly growing matter.

There are two major takes as to why xenophobia is popular in countries like these. Looking at it from a political-economic point of view, the neo-liberal approach proves that poverty originates from individuals lacking motivation to work towards prosperity. As a result of fear of deprivation, outbreaks of violent competition occur over scarce resources such as jobs and housing. Secondly and most importantly are the gaps in identity politics. The moral anomie or the difference in social and ethical standards creates a communal hierarchy where the natives create social boundaries, which exemplify the prevailing fear of being dominated. Here we can successfully deduce that xenophobic violence is a reaction to neoliberalism. Furthermore foreigners are symbolically associated with stereotypes that narrow perception and objectivity. So is xenophobia a natural or self-generated issue?