Study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity
By John Lloyd for The Financial Times
“A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists. His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbor to the mayor... In the presence of diversity, we hunker down…We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”
Now before you call me a racist lets allow that ethnic or racial diversity is just another way of saying cultural diversity which is just a simpler way of saying religious, political and social differentness usually accompanied by different hairdos . While no one with an ounce of political sophistication (me!) would stand up and say racial diversity within communities is a bad thing. I’d bet a lot of people would say that religious, social and political diversity within communities often causes a god awful amount of trouble. It would be hard to find a place in the world where this arrangement is working and pretty easy to see where it isn’t. Anywhere some colonial power or other overbearing Pluto-technocratic body has arbitrarily decided the lines should be drawn, for instance.
Which leads me to think; maybe this Melting pot idea is just another self- reinforcing institutional myth? The US is a unique and very young experiment in melting. Nowhere else have we built a nation on a clean slate (thank you, small pox) with nothing but immigrants. Throw in lots of oil and wow, totally unfamiliar paradigm. Now, can you imagine the Swedes and the Italians having a common government? I just almost peed myself laughing imagining the Swedes quietly and methodically drinking themselves to death while the Italians stab each other and set themselves on fire. Accordingly, you’d have a hard enough time getting Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate NY to agree on what to get for lunch, trying to get Texas and Vermont on the same page and you’re eating at the Wacko diner on Delusional lane in Crazy town. No one with half a synapse would ask culturally dissimilar European states to get together and make stuff happen. Why do we so persistently ask it of ourselves?
The great beige global community where differences fall away is just an enabling myth for corporate exploitation of poor people and their unprotected resources. In practice, Globalism’s goal is to replace native culture with consumer culture so that a system that can’t live without growth has somewhere to peddle its crap and it’s easier to peddle crap to a homogenous, indoctrinated blob. Surely, these folks live in miserable conditions a lot of the time but I bet you dollars to donuts that most immigrants would much rather stay home. Maybe if the IMF and WB made loans that actually benefited the countries they deign to serve by investing in the transfer of knowledge and skills to build their own infrastructure to address their own needs according to their own vision, rather than requiring them to hire foreign contractors for over-scaled projects designed to enrich the contractor in an obvious bid to place these countries in a state of overbuilt indebtedness that renders them hopelessly and permanently pliant to the exploitative wishes of our overarching agenda (care of the Milton Friedman School of Empire Building), they’d stay put. Maybe if we didn’t seed and support so much unrest abroad; if we used our wealth and influence to combat injustice rather than perpetuate it as far as it serves our economic agenda; they’d stay put. No one wants to melt. Ironically, melting is the antithesis of diversity. True diversity is present when people can stay where they are and evolve independently of some all encompassing corporate or Imperial agenda.
As for us “United States”, there is a big difference between discussing how to implement universal health care and discussing whether or not we should have it. Only one of these conversations is going to be productive, the other is a tired and mangy dog and pony show being drug out for yet another turn around the dusty circus ring. We might as well continue to debate abortion rights or gay marriage. These are yes or no questions. Not debatable. We must respectfully walk away from the table if we hope to advance with integrity and purpose in any direction. My previous post on Oligarchy reinforces this Small is Beautiful argument.
There is nothing wrong with feeling out of place and moving somewhere that suits you better. (I think 75% of Rhode Islanders do this. Then they move back, though. What’s up with that place?) Isn’t this determination of individual utility exactly what our religiofied free market system asks us to do? How about small, regional government where we don’t argue endlessly and hopelessly about fundamental rights while positive community endeavors like sustainable energy initiatives, small scale organic farming, local reserve currencies, decentralized holistic education and the chance to cooperatively succeed in meaningful endeavor wither on the vine. I don’t want my tax dollars to fund another brutal, corrupt and unwarranted war. I don’t want to support globalism. I don’t want an ever increasing portion of my inflation depleted earnings to line the pockets of the Fat Man. I can live on solar and hydro and without Pepsi! Even if we respect each other (and that’s a big IF) and wish each other the best, we shouldn't reconcile ourselves to living by a set of watered down rules that leave us frustrated and unsatisfied and continually struggling with each other in the nonsensical support of a anachronistic myth. Texas should be free to outlaw abortion and all forms of taxation, sell guns alongside the gum at convenience stores and teach creationism in their completely privatized school system if that’s the way they want to go.
Comfortable, palliative myths aside, other than its inherent ability to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a very few who are very intent upon reducing the state to skeletal remains and a creating clean slate for the privatization of everything EXCEPT a ginormous military, I don’t see the merit of a United States.