On the front page of today’s Times we read about Kyrgyzstan, which is busy providing intelligent observers, at sanguinary cost, with yet another data-point about the incomparable blessings of Diversity.
Meanwhile, Dennis Mangan brings to our attention an outstanding paper on said blessings, by Australian academic Frank Salter (original here, but visit Dennis’s place for his comments and what will probably be a lively discussion amongst his readers, who are generally a sharp and feisty lot, with pungent opinions).
Some excerpts from the Salter article (Roman numerals are links to footnotes in the original):
Unrestricted migration would harm Australia’s national interests in ways documented by scholars in economics, sociology and related disciplines. Much of the harm is predictable from what is known about the dysfunctions of diversity. They include growing inequality in the especially invidious form of ethnic stratification. No one likes to be ruled over by a different ethnic group or to see his own people worse off than others. The result is resentment or contempt, depending on the perspective taken.
Diversity has also been associated with reduced democracy, slowed economic growth, falling social cohesion and foreign aid, as well as rising corruption and risk of civil conflict.[iii]
The loss of social cohesion bears emphasis. Disapproving of birds flocking together is beside the point; it is a biological fact that needs to be taken into account.[iv] Rising diversity within human societies tends to drive people apart, causing them to take sanctuary in individual pursuits and ethnic communities. The practical consequences are reduced public altruism or social capital, evident in falling volunteerism, government welfare for the aged and sick, public health care[v]and a general loss of trust.[vi] Ethnic diversity is second only to lack of democracy in predicting civil war.[vii] Globally it correlates negatively with governmental efficiency and prosperity.[viii]
On “equating parochialism with morally repugnant ‘racism’ “:
Surely that is not true, firstly because “racism” has no agreed definition and has been deployed for ideological and ad hominem purposes. It is more an instrument of abuse than of reason. If its use cannot be avoided it should be reserved to describe ethnically aggressive statements and acts, not the peaceful expression of pro-social sentiments common to humans everywhere.
Secondly, the notion that preference for one’s own people is immoral ignores the universal interest we all share in particular affiliations. All humans share parochial interests that give rise to social preferences. It would be maladaptive not to prefer people of our own type, beginning with kin. And in general this preference is moral. Bearing and caring for our own children, choosing friends on intuition, and having a special affection for our own country cannot be equated with hating others.[ix] A liberal society that allows free expression of these moderate preferences is hardly the moral inferior of one in which the elite scolds and punishes the people’s aspirations to have a country of their own.
The universality of parochial interests contradicts Prof. Bagaric [the target of Dr. Salter's criticism in this article] when he states: “For most of human history there have been few migration limits. . . . A relevant reason [for restricting immigration] cannot be a person’s birthplace. This is merely a happy or unhappy coincidence.” The anthropological reality is the precise opposite: until recent decades almost all human society have sought to prevent permanent mass migration. Hunter gatherers and primitive agriculturalists, farmers and herders have all laid claim to a territory and fiercely defended it. Marriage partners have been found almost exclusively within the ethnic group, encompassing the local dialect. The psychological motivations for this are well established in such predispositions as social identity mechanisms, collectivism, assortment by similarity, innate cognition of human kinds, and rational choice.[x] Evolutionary origins of territoriality and ethnocentrism are indicated by their being human universals as well as being found in apes. And from the evolutionary perspective, which acknowledges the limited carrying capacity of all territories and of the world itself, it is maladaptive to allow one’s lineage – family, clan, or ethnic group to be replaced by others.[xi]
Dr. Salter concludes by asking:
How have so many scholars come to ignore accessible knowledge about human nature and interests?