At the time this seemed an extraordinary statement and I couldn't figure out his reasoning. You do not spend more than thirty years in the New Zealand education sector without weathering relentless assertions of the bicultural promised land.
From pre-service training, and throughout our education careers, biculturalism has been presented as step number one, and multiculturalism as step number two. It was asserted that the former would naturally segue into the latter, in fact, it was a necessary prerequisite for the latter.
No one dared to challenge the reasoning, or to ask for concrete and enduring examples as proof of this assumption.
With the passage of time, and further reading and reflection, I have come to see, in large part, what Jordan Peterson meant. It is becoming increasingly apparent that state-sanctioned biculturalism has a very dangerous side to it, unperceived even by many of its often well-meaning proponents.
Human beings are fundamentally tribal. Tribalism (in the more universal sense) is etched into our DNA, it is the way we route when push comes to shove. Deep in the very substrate of our unconscious is a voice that says you are safer with those you know, than with those you do not, with those who look like you, over those who do not.
It is worth emphasizing a second time, that we are often, especially initially, not consciously thinking this, this is automatic.
Even those who rail against the assertion of these deep archetypal tendencies, by the vehemence of their response, demonstrate the proof of these facts. Their reaction might be termed "reaction formation" by a Freudian analyst i.e. the projection of an inclination of which they prefer to be in denial.
State-sanctioned biculturalism automatically produces competing forces, sufficiently differentiated to see each as counter-forces to be reckoned with.
When this is coupled with the age-old struggle to survive, or even thrive, to protect those closest to you, to be the "first through the door", it isn't difficult to see how a significant "öther" group can be perceived as having more privileges than the group to which you belong, and to be standing in the way of advancement.
It also provides plenteous opportunities for manipulation, or gain, by brokers of social change, and by those who think the primary determinant of history is the exercise of power. Division pays dividends if your goal is radical social change. The more pronounced the division, the higher the dividend, at least initially.
I agree with Jordan Peterson that multiculturalism is a much better way forward and that this is seldom (maybe never) achieved by heading down a bicultural path first.
Multiculturalism stands as a potential bulwark against the emergence of competing forces sufficiently large to create the disorder and chaos characteristic of sudden change. Not insignificantly, it also has the potential to de-weaponize tyrants and malcontents.
Multiculturalism tends to create more highly differentiated opportunities for mutually beneficial cultural interface ... opportunities that tend toward cohesion rather than conflict, cooperation rather than competition, and gradual integration rather than state enforcement.
This doesn't mean that there are no bumps (or potholes) on the road toward multiculturalism, but the tensions are more easily survivable, and perhaps even productive of good.
Almost every violent revolution has been fueled by the manipulation of competing groups, whether these be economic, racial, or religious.
Multiculturalism, by its very nature, mitigates the emergence of radical activist forces inclined to forcibly advance one worldview over another.
Biculturalism, by contrast, is more likely a wilderness than a promised land experience. At least that's how it seems to me.
Caleb Anderson, a graduate history, economics, psychotherapy and theology, has been an educator for over thirty years, twenty as a school principal.