Sunday, April 30, 2017

The siren song of homogeneity


The U.S. and Europe are in a time of great political change. Policies haven't changed that much yet, but the set of ideas that drive movements and activism and the public discussion have altered radically in the last few years. In the U.S., which of course I know the best, there have been new outpourings on the left - the resurgent socialist movement and the social justice movement chief among them. But as far as I can see, the biggest new thing is the alt-right. Loosely (we can argue about definitions all day, and I'm sure many of you will want to do so), the alt-right wants to make American society homogeneous. Most of the enthusiasm is for racial homogeneity, but religion seems to figure into it a bit as well.

The siren song of homogeneity is a powerful one. On Twitter and elsewhere, I am encountering more and more young people (mostly men) who openly yearn for a society where everyone is white. The more reasonable among these young people tell me that homogeneity reduces conflict, increases social trust, and has a number of other benefits. They often cite Japan as their paradigmatic homogeneous society; some explicitly say they want a white version of Japan.

Those are the reasonable ones - the less reasonable ones tend to communicate in memes, threats, and slurs ("Fuck you, Jew! How about open boarders for ISRAEL!!", etc.). But the fact that these men are dedicating so much time, effort, and passion into those memes, threats and slurs says something important. It says that there is passion in this movement.


Is the alt-right really a growing, rising movement?

Much of the passion for white homogeneity seems new to me - twenty years ago, despite the existence of Nazi-type websites like Stormfront, the idea of making America an all-white nation seemed like a fringe notion. Perhaps it still is a fringe notion - after all, social media acts as a force multiplier that allows a relatively small number of highly committed individuals to seem like a huge army. And perhaps this kind of sentiment was always reasonably common in America, but simply kept under wraps by the mainstream media before the internet emerged to make it more visible.

There is some evidence to support the contention that alt-right ideas are still highly unpopular in America. A 2016 Pew survey found that only 7 percent of Americans say that growing diversity makes the country a worse place to live:


Compare that to 31 percent in Britain and Germany and 36 percent in the Netherlands!

Meanwhile, recent polls find support for immigration:


That's a short time series, so here's a longer one from Gallup. It also shows a gentle downtrend in anti-immigrant sentiment, and also pegs it at just under 40 percent:


As Gallup's racial breakdown shows, the decline in anti-immigrant sentiment is being driven by whites - anti-immigrant sentiment is actually slightly up among blacks and Hispanics. That implies that much of what anti-immigrant sentiment does exist is not due to a growing yearning for a homogeneous white nation. A substantial majority of white Americans supports letting undocumented immigrants stay, as long as certain conditions are met - that doesn't exactly seem like a vote for white homogeneity.

So it's certainly possible that the alt-right - even defined very generally, including the more moderate "alt-light" and the quietly sympathetic "alt-white" - is a shrinking, dying idea that is only becoming louder and more aggressive because it's under threat. It's possible that Trump's election was really driven more by people's economic hopes that he would bring back dying industries and bring American jobs back from overseas, or even just by a desire to roll the dice of change.

But I think that whether or not the alt-right is really a growing, burgeoning movement, it makes sense to take it and its ideas seriously. First, the presence of Trump in the White House will probably force much of the country to listen to what the alt-right has to say. Even though he isn't really their man, he has hired several people who at least loosely sympathize with the movement's ideas - Bannon, Miller, Anton and Gorka among them. That means that at least as long as Trump's butt is planted in a chair in the Oval Office, alt-right ideas have at least a chance of making it into government policy. That means the alt-right, and their ideas, matter.

And even beyond that, I feel an emotional desire to engage with the alt-right - at least, the more reasonable among them. I couldn't care less about the people in Europe supporting Le Pen or Geert Wilders, but alt-right Americans are my countrymen. I'm a nationalist at heart and I care about what my countrymen think.

And I think that there are a decent of young (mostly) men out there whose intellectual lives will be defined by this stuff - who will spend their 20s and 30s entranced by the idea of a homogeneous white society. Just as there are old hippies who still look at the world through the lens of the 1960s anti-war movement, in a few decades there will be some aging white Millennial men for whom Pepe the Frog and r/thedonald and Kekistan and the Great Meme War were the climax of their youthful energy and imagination. I want to engage with those people, even if (as I predict) they ultimately lose.


Is the alt-right really a pro-homogeneity movement? Is Trumpism?

Every movement is...well, heterogeneous. Alt-right people talk a lot about homogeneity, but it's certainly not the only thing they talk about, or the only reason for their movement. Some may join the alt-right simply out of a fear of the social justice movement - banding together for mutual defense. Others may simply be opposed to some group of immigrants - someone who would be fine with a Cuban neighbor might be terrified of a Syrian one. Still others may be religious traditionalists looking for a home after the collapse of the Christian right, neo-Confederates allied to an Old South style of racial politics or just Trump fans looking for a cool club to join. For some, "homogeneity" might be simply a convenient rallying cry for expelling undesirable groups from the country, or for instituting one's chosen value system. As for Trumpism, that almost certainly has multiple causes - anything as big and all-encompassing as a presidential election will have multiple causes.

But I think research shows that fear of ethnic heterogeneity is a real driver of Trump support. For example, this study shows that reminding white people with strong white identification that America is getting less white (which might not actually be true, but we'll get to that later) increased support for Trump. And anecdotally, support for homogeneity pops up again and again in pro-Trump literature and discourse. Here's a quote from Trump advisor Michael Anton's famous essay "The Flight 93 Election," widely considered to be one of the basic Trumpist manifestos:
Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population[.]
So I'd say the case is fairly clear that the desire for a homogeneous society runs strong through both the alt-right and the broader Trump movement.


The data-based case for homogeneity

(Note: When I talk about "homogeneity" in this post, I'm only talking about the ethnic/racial type. I'm not talking about linguistic, religious, or other dimensions of homogeneity/diversity.)

The case for homogeneity comes down to the idea that a homogeneous society is a nicer place to live. Alt-right people cite Japan's stunningly low crime rate, for example, as evidence that ethnically similar people don't fight. They also claim that homogeneity increases social trust.

There is a reasonably large body of research that supports the "trust" idea. For a good list of links to those papers, check out this post by blogger James Weidmann, better known as Roissy. Roissy sums up the thesis in one simple equation: "Diversity + Proximity = War." I'm not going to replicate the whole list here, but here's a very small sampling:

1. A study in Denmark showing a negative correlation between reported trust and ethnic diversity at the municipality leve from 1979-2009

2. A study in Britain find that people who stay in communities after those communities become more diverse report more negative attitudes toward their communities afterward

3. A study in the Netherlands finds that increasing diversity in classrooms made kids more likely to choose friends of similar ethnicity

4. A study found that across Europe, different-ethnicity immigration tends to decrease social trust, while similar-ethnicity immigration tends to increase it.

Roissy didn't include econ papers on his list, but economists have also flagged the dangers of ethnic divisions. Alesina, Baqir, and Easterly (ironically, a rather diverse team of authors) famously found that ethnic divisions reduce public good provision. Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote hypothesize that diversity is what prevents America from having a Europe-style welfare state.

There are lots of postulated mechanisms for how diversity reduces trust and leads to dysfunctional societies. Maybe people are genetically programmed to cooperate with those who are genetically more similar to them. Maybe people who belong to different groups have different interests. Maybe we just generally fear that which is different and strange.

On top of this appeal to evidence, however, there's an emotional appeal - as there always is for any really important political idea. There's the negative appeal of fear of diversity - the specter of becoming a minority, potentially hated, despised, and/or oppressed by other groups. But there also seems to be a yearning for a half-imagined utopia - a "Japan for white people", where shared whiteness produces a neighborly camaraderie, social cohesion, and peace that is unknown in much of modern America.


Caveats to the data-based case for homogeneity

Roissy is a polemic blogger; his aim is to advocate, not to educate. The academic case for homogeneity is not nearly as clear-cut as what he presents.

Many of the studies he cites have methodological issues. For example, one study finds that "neighborly exchange" is negatively correlated with diversity. But its data set doesn't allow it to compare recently diversified neighborhoods with neighborhoods that recently received a lot of internal in-migration - in other words, it may simply be that a flood of newcomers, be they the same race as the majority or not, tends to disrupt neighborly friendships. In fact most of the cited studies tend to have this problem - it's hard to distinguish between the impact of population mobility and the impact of diversity itself.

Other studies he cites show some cases in which ethnic diversity increases trust. For example, a study in America found a U-shaped relationship between ethnic fractionalization and trust, meaning that high and low diversity places tend to have more trust than medium-diversity places (which makes sense if medium-diversity places are places where a bunch of newcomers just showed up).

Also, it's worth noting that many of the studies Roissy cites are from Europe. It may be the case that Europe functions differently than America, and is not an appropriate comparison. Most Europeans may think of their societies as based on ethnicity - "blood and soil", as some say - while this may hold true for only a minority of Americans. Also, recent European nonwhite immigration may be very different from the type of nonwhite immigration America gets - where America has recently mostly taken in hard-working Hispanics and high-skilled Asians and Africans, Europe has tended to take a lot of lower-skilled Middle Easterners and North Africans. Not only might the latter tend to be a more fractious type of immigrant, but there's also an enmity between Europe and the MENA region that goes back further than reliably recorded history. That could contribute to the distrust. In other words, the kind of diversity you get probably matters a lot.

Then there are all of the contrary studies Roissy, as a polemic blogger, doesn't cite. It's a big literature, and there are lots of findings that go in the other direction. For example:

1. A recent study in Southern California found that ethnic diversity is associated with decreased crime and higher home values

2. A study in Britain showed no relationship between ethnic diversity and trust.

3. A study in Europe found a positive long-term effect of diversity on trust.

4. A 2014 literature survey finds that "ethnic diversity is not related to less interethnic social cohesion."

5. A 2008 study in Europe found that ethnic diversity didn't decrease social capital.

6. A 2007 study in Britain found that the negative effect of diversity on social cohesion disappears after controlling for economic variables.

7. There's also a big literature on diversity and group decision-making, most (but not all) of which concludes that ethnic diversity makes groups smarter.

I could go on - most of this is the result of me just doing Google Scholar searches for "diversity and trust" and "diversity and social capital" and picking out any studies on the first page or two that seem to contradict the "diversity decreases trust" conclusion. That's hardly a scientific way to proceed, but it does show that if you get your academic information from a polemicist, you're going to get a distorted picture of the academic literature.

My point here is not to say that the alt-right is wrong about homogeneity and trust. They might be right - my sense from reading literature surveys is that the correlation between homogeneity and trust is a common finding, but not overwhelmingly common. My point here is to say that the question of homogeneity and trust is not yet answered. This is not surprising, because both homogeneity and trust are big, expansive, vaguely defined concepts, which usually means clear-cut answers don't exist.

Another thing that bothers me about many of these studies is that I tend to be a bit skeptical of survey research. This is not to say survey research is worthless, but I guess like any good economist I instinctively put more stock in measures of actual behavior. Roissy's link list does include some studies showing diversity increases conflict, but to my knowledge, the academic consensus is that immigration reduces crime (including in Canada). That literature review is from a few years back, but recent research all seems to confirm the finding. To me, lower crime is a much more tangible result than people simply saying negative things on a survey.

But an even more important reason why you shouldn't put too much stock in this literature is that almost none of these studies are very good at dealing with endogeneity. Here are some examples of endogeneity issues:

* Suppose low-skilled immigrants tend to move to areas with low social trust, because businesses in places with low social cohesion tend to hire cheap labor.

* Suppose large empires tend to conquer lots of different ethnicities and encourage internal migration that increases local ethnic diversity, but suppose that large empires also tend to collapse, causing lots of local conflicts.

* Suppose exogenous events that cause waves of newcomers - conflicts, recessions, out-migration from declining areas - are also things that tend to reduce trust.

To really control for these kinds of things, you really need natural experiments. They already do this for things like the impact of immigration on wages. But to isolate the effect of ethnic diversity from the effect of population mobility - i.e., to tell the difference between "newcomers of any race" and "newcomers of a minority race" - will require finding some situation where different ethnicities of newcomers are randomly assigned to different areas.

(Update: Someone forwarded me this paper showing that when housing is randomly assigned in France, diversity is correlated with "social anomie", which apparently increases vandalism but reduces violent conflict. Interesting! Keep in mind that this might be specific to the types of people who live in France.)

Anyway, so this is all important to think about. But to me, the really interesting question is whether ethnicity itself is endogenous.

More on that later, though. First, let's shift gears from data to anecdote, so I can talk about my experiences living in an ethnically homogeneous society.


My own experience in a homogeneous society

As regular blog readers know, I've live in Japan (for a total of about 3.5 years). Though I'm of course not Japanese, the experience taught me much about how Japanese people live and think. So I have observed at least one good example of a homogeneous society up close. While that example might not generalize, here are my thoughts.

First of all, if you think Japanese people share a sense of camaraderie and togetherness from all being the same ethnicity, think again. Because Japan is homogeneous, ethnicity just isn't that salient to most Japanese people - when a Japanese person meets another Japanese person, they don't think "Japanese person," they just think "person". Ethnic identity isn't on their minds.

Because of this, ethnic homogeneity creates very little solidarity on a day-to-day basis in Japan. Japanese people are generally wary of striking up conversations with strangers - more wary than Americans of different races are of striking up conversations with each other, I find. Services like Craigslist that facilitate informal transactions between private parties are rarely used - when I ask Japanese people why, they say it's because they can't trust strangers. Some Japanese people have told me that they feel far less shy talking to a foreigner than they do talking to another Japanese person.

I suspect that the feeling of ethnic solidarity that many alt-right whites feel for other alt-right whites is something unique to minorities. People who have always been part of the overwhelming majority just don't think about ethnicity enough for it to create bonds of solidarity - except in extreme situations, like a foreign war.

Surveys corroborate my hunch. Japan has always reported relatively low levels of interpersonal trust - until recently, considerably lower than in the U.S.:


Now keep in mind, that's trust, which is very different from trustworthiness. Japanese people, as a rule, are some of the most scrupulously honest people I've ever met. I've had old Japanese women run to catch up with me on the street, handing me a penny I dropped. The one time I dropped a substantial amount of cash on the ground, it was a yakuza bodyguard who notified me. Japanese people generally deserve high trust, but don't necessarily give it to each other. 

Urban Japan also seems to me to have little tradition of "neighborly exchange" (I'm sure this is different in small towns, but Japan is very highly urbanized). I see very few people saying hello to their neighbors. One person I knew who did this was considered eccentric.

So if you think a homogeneous society means that people will tip their hat to you on the street and be you're friend just because you're the same race as them, think again. 

However, Japanese culture also has quite a lot of unwritten rules, which almost everyone follows. Some of these are speech rules - the famous Japanese "politeness". Some are rules about work - the famous Japanese "corporate culture". Some are rules about service in restaurants and shops. There are many others. 

These rules - which people sometimes mistakenly label "conformity" - would be harder to turn into universal norms in the diverse United States. Foreigners, or people from other parts of the country, might just not know the rules. And people from certain ethnic backgrounds might resent being pressured to follow those rules by people of other ethnic backgrounds, and so might intentionally disobey. The less other people follow a social rule, the less incentive there is for me to follow it.

So Japanese homogeneity seems to produce a society where everyone's minor, day-to-day interaction is a little more predictable

How about politics? Japan has long been dominated by a single political party (the LDP), and politics is traditionally conducted via factions within that ruling party. There's little question in my mind that homogeneity is one of the causes of one-party dominance - there's no ethnic minority to form the core of an opposition party. 

So how does that work out? Japanese politics is famously dysfunctional - the debt is out of control, patronage politics is rife, and there's usually a dearth of leadership. This was as true before World War 2 as it is today - Japan in the 30s was afflicted with frequent coup attempts and plenty of extremism, and essentially bumbled its way into multiple disastrous wars. Nowadays, Japanese political dysfunctionality is more likely to manifest itself as wasteful spending and obstruction of needed economic reforms.

However, it's worth noting that Japan has not experienced a "populist backlash" like other countries. Shinzo Abe is a true nationalist leader, and a responsible one. He was quick to quell outbursts of racism against those minorities that do exist in Japan, and in general has a pretty progressive agenda. And overall, Japanese people are (so far) pretty happy with Abe. He's worlds away from a Trump or a Le Pen or an Erdogan or a Chavez. So it's possible that homogeneity exerts a stabilizing effect on Japanese politics, insulating it from periodic outbreaks of madness, while making it less responsive in normal times due to the lack of a credible opposition.

As for crime, everyone knows that Japan is an extraordinarily safe country. It's hard for people who've never lived there to wrap their heads around how safe it is - teenage girls walk the streets of major cities alone at night in schoolgirl skirts and fear absolutely nothing. Is Japan so nonviolent because of its homogeneity? It's hard to say. In America, immigration - which is usually nonwhite immigration - tends to decrease crime. The ultra-diverse New York City and Los Angeles are some of the lowest-crime cities in America. Also, Japan does have a few very diverse neighborhoods, and these are also quite safe. So my instinct is to say that Japan's secret safety sauce is something else. But I don't really know.

So overall, if I were to draw conclusions from my experience in Japan, I'd say that homogeneity has its advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately isn't clearly better or worse. Japan is one of the awesomest, nicest places I've ever been, but the other top contenders are diverse places like Vancouver, Austin, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

(As an aside, if I were making policy, I'd recommend that Japan not take in mass immigration. Maybe their society could handle it, maybe it couldn't - but I say, no need to mess with a good thing. But that's also why I recommend that America and Canada keep taking in lots of immigrants - we've got a different kind of good thing going. Anyway, that's my instinct.)


How racial is homogeneity?

But here's one coda, which leads into my next point. Are Japanese people all the same race? Maybe not. Japan was formed from the confluence of two groups, the Jomon (unusually densely populated hunter-gatherers) and the Yayoi (rice farmers). This genetic mixing is still very apparent in the genetic data. And perhaps as a result of this, you see a reasonably large diversity of features in Japanese people. For example, here are two Japanese guys:


Are those two guys the same race? Technically, yes. In America they'd both be "Asian", in Asia they'd both be "Japanese". Neither American culture nor Japanese culture recognizes any ethnic difference between these two men. And sure, they both have straight black hair, and their skin tones aren't that different. But the pretty big difference in physical appearance between those two guys - and between many people in Japan - makes me wonder whether our definitions of race aren't a little...elastic.


What if homogeneity is a choice?

In lefty circles, it's common to hear people say that "race is a social construct." What could that possibly mean? Obviously, physical differences are real. And obviously, those differences are going to be clustered, because for most of human history - and even now, really - there was only limited population mixing across areas. A clustering algorithm will pick out clusters of traits, and you can call those "races" if you want.

But are the "races" we recognize the same that would be picked out by a clustering algorithm? Sometimes, sure. But not always. The two pictures above demonstrate that even in a supposedly super-homogeneous place like Japan, genetic differences exist that culture and society just don't recognize as representing different ethnicities.

Another important example is "Han Chinese". When you look at the genetics, Han Chinese people are actually pretty diverse. Another is "Turkish". Here are two Turkish actors I just found by Googling:



Wow. Compared to these guys, the two Japanese guys above look like twins. Obviously, these two men have ancestors from very different geographic locations, and yet somehow they're both Turks. Just like some British people have red hair and some have black, and just like some Japanese people have "sauce faces" and some have "soy faces", some Turkish people have dark skin and some have light. A difference in appearance need not translate to a difference in race, in the real world.

But the most interesting example might be "white." In America, we have a race called "white" that Europe just doesn't seem to have. In Europe, anecdotally, ethnicity is defined by language, and perhaps also by religion. While skin color differences are recognized, European ethnic definitions are usually much finer. In America, though, they're all just "white." 

In fact, who's included in "white" seems to change quite a lot over time. In 1751, Benjamin Franklin was arguing against North European immigration on the grounds that Swedes, French people, Russians, and most Germans weren't "white":
Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth.
What a difference two and a half centuries make, eh? And the expanding definition of whiteness doesn't seem confined to the distant past, either. Twentieth-century immigrant groups like Italians, Jews, and Poles were initially not considered "white" (except by the legal system), but rather "white ethnics". Now, no one in America questions whether Italians are white, and were in fact white all along, from the very start. And the only people who question whether Ashkenazic Jews are white are a few screeching Nazis on Twitter (who may or may not reside in the U.S.). 

In fact, this may already be happening with Hispanics. More and more Hispanics are declaring themselves white

"Black" and "Asian" are other examples. In America, "black" people are all assumed to be part of one big race, as are "Asian" people. But try telling Hutus and Tutsis in Africa that they're both part of the same ethnically homogeneous group. Or try going to a bar in Korea and telling some guys that they're the same race as Japanese people (My advice: Be ready to duck). Ethnic differences that Americans don't even recognize the existence of are the basis of genocide in other parts of the world.

"White" too. Hitler's plan for the Soviet Union involved genocide of Slavs on a scale so epic that it makes it clear the Holocaust was just a dress rehearsal:


Now that's some #whitegenocide, right there. Even though Germany lost, they made considerable headway toward making that plan a reality, slaughtering over 20 million Russians.

So you have blue-eyed Turks thinking they're the same race as black-haired Turks. You have pale Americans and swarthy Americans both calling themselves "white". And then you have Germans launching an all-out apocalyptic war to exterminate a group of people that they probably couldn't even tell from themselves if they all had the same clothes and haircuts. 

(Random anecdote: One time, in Germany, a German woman came up to me and started speaking rapid German. She was astonished to find that I was American, and said "But you look so German!")

OK, but suppose you don't buy all this stuff about the social definition of race. That's hippie-dippy bullshit, right? Genetic differences are real, end of story. OK, but even then you must admit the power of intermarriage.

Intermarriage was probably essential for the creation of the white race here in America. This is from a recent National Academy of Sciences report titled "The Integration of Immigrants into American Society":
Historically, intermarriage between racial- and ethnic minority immigrants and native-born whites has been considered the ultimate proof of integration for the former and as a sign of “assimilation” (Gordon, 1964; Alba and Nee, 2003). When the rate of interethnoracial or interfaith marriage is high (e.g., between Irish Americans and non-Irish European Americans or between Protestants and Catholics), as happened by the late 20th century for the descendants of the last great immigration wave, the significance of group differences generally wanes (Alba and Nee, 2003). Intermarriage stirs the ethnic melting pot and blurs the color lines.
When tons of people have Irish, German, and English ancestors, it's just very hard to keep those three ethnic categories separate in society. The same thing happened to Italians and Jews after World War 2. In the early 1960s, the outmarriage rate among Italian Americans was over 40 percent. Jews took a little longer, but got there eventually - the Jewish outmarriage rate is now 58 percent, and among the non-Orthodox it's 71 percent. 

(In case you were wondering, somewhere around 33% of native-born Hispanic and Asian Americans currently marry non-Hispanic whites.)

Whether you believe race is fundamentally about biology or sociology, intermarriage erases racial boundary lines. It's the final proof that ethnic homogeneity is not fixed, but changes depending on what people do.


An alternate theory: Trust causes homogeneity

Once you realize that homogeneity can be produced, through redefinition and through intermarriage, an alternate theory presents itself for why there might be a correlation between homogeneity and trust: Places with high trust become more homogeneous over time. 

This could happen genetically. When people associate freely and don't have intergroup suspicions and hatreds, they probably tend to hook up and get married with each other a lot more. Over time, the prevalence of trust leads to a genetically homogeneous group.

This could also happen socially. When people of disparate groups are bound together for a common purpose - fighting a war against a neighboring country, for example - the increased feeling of solidarity and commonality might cause them to start to consider themselves as one single race. 

So what produces trust? Perhaps another big, nebulous thing: institutions. Research shows that when organizations like the military, colleges, and public schools put people in close contact and make them cooperate, they start to trust people of other ethnic groups more. For example, here's the abstract of a 2006 American Economic Review paper called "Empathy or Antipathy? The Impact of Diversity":
Mixing across racial and ethnic lines could spur understanding or inflame tensions between groups. We find that white students at a large state university randomly assigned African American roommates in their first year were more likely to endorse affirmative action and view a diverse student body as essential for a high-quality education. They were also more likely to say they have more personal contact with, and interact more comfortably with, members of minority groups. Although sample sizes are too small to provide definitive evidence, these results suggest students become more empathetic with the social groups to which their roommates belong.
And here's the abstract from a very recent paper called "Trust, Ethnic Diversity, and Personal Contact: Experimental Field Evidence":
We combine a lab and a field experiment in the Norwegian Armed Forces to study how close personal contact with minorities affect in-group and outgroup trust. We randomly assign majority soldiers to rooms with or without ethnic minorities and use an incentivized trust game to measure trust. First, we show that close personal contact with minorities increases trust. Second, we replicate the result that individuals coming from areas with a high share of immigrants trust minorities less. Finally, the negative relationship between the share of minorities and out-group trust is reversed for soldiers who are randomly assigned to interact closely with minority soldiers. Hence, our study shows that social integration involving personal contact can reduce negative effects of ethnic diversity on trust.
Crucially, unlike most of the papers about diversity and trust cited above, these studies are randomized experiments

Because they're randomized experiments, they're inevitably small-scale. These are moderate, short-run effects - to really know whether institutions like schools and the military can erase racial boundaries over many decades is beyond the scope of controlled experimentation. So these papers are really just suggestive.

But the notion seems to fit with American history. The Civil War seemed to put an end to the eruption of anti-Catholic sentiment, allowing Irish and South German Americans to integrate both socially and genetically into the emerging white race. And after World War 2, the outmarriage of Italian, Jewish, and Polish Americans accelerated. In both cases, the experience of being part of a nation at arms, cooperating side by side in a desperate, titanic struggle, probably erased a lot of the suspicions, prejudices, etc. that had persisted before the wars.

Anyway, this alternate theory can potentially explain the correlation between trust and homogeneity - places with institutions that create high trust levels tend to become more homogeneous over time. 


An alternate theory: "War + Proximity = Diversity"

But what about all those wars? Most of the time there's a really big war, there's at least some modest ethnic difference between the combatants - British vs. French, German vs. Russian, Hutu vs. Tutsi, Japanese vs. Korean. If small differences like those could cause such incredible bloodshed, think about what calamities could be caused by the difference between groups as distinct as Africans and Europeans!

In fact, I think the historical record gives us a clue as to why this idea is wrong. The bloodiest wars in history are mostly either civil wars in China, or interstate wars in Europe or East Asia. This was true even when Europe and Japan had global reach. They chose to kill people who looked a lot like them, rather than people who looked very different. In fact, genocides between extremely distinct groups - for example, the Belgian genocide in the Congo - are the exception, not the rule. In fact, plenty of mass killings happen among people who don't recognize any ethnic differences between the sides at all - the Khmer Rouge, Mao Zedong, the Spanish Civil War, etc. 

So we have big genetic differences not even being recognized in some parts of the world, and tiny, possibly undetectable genetic differences being the basis for genocide in other parts of the world. I'd say the thesis that "Diversity + Proximity = War" is, at the very least, suspiciously incomplete.

A better general theory, I think, is that most competition happens between groups of people that are pretty similar. Similar people have similar interests and desires, which naturally leads them to compete. But when people fight en masse, they need ways to organize themselves in order to motivate soldiers to kill others who look and act like them. Thus, they exaggerate any small differences they can find. "You're German, superior to those inferior Slavs; exterminate them!" Etc.

Under this theory, the "#whitegenocide" that some alt-right people fear - a term they use for race mixing - is actually the exact opposite of real genocide. Under this theory, race mixing happens when high social trust causes group differences to stop mattering, while genocide happens when low social trust causes previously insignificant group differences to start mattering.

To sum up, instead of "Diversity + Proximity = War", we might theorize that "War + Proximity = Diversity" - wars give people a reason to emphasize and magnify small differences. 

It's why you don't often see humans fighting emus


A compromise theory

Given the evidence on both sides, and the plausibility of both the pro-homogeneity and the pro-diversity theories, it seems at least somewhat likely to me that the real world features a combination of the two. Here's how the compromise theory goes: At first, when an influx of new people comes in, there's a natural reaction of distrust, and existing communities get fractured. However, as time goes on, the previous inhabitants and the newcomers get used to each other. This process is accelerated by integrating institutions like public schools, colleges, and the military, and is complete once intermarriage is widespread. However, social conflict, especially political conflict, can keep this integration from happening, causing groups not to mix and people to continue to emphasize and maintain their differences. 

So the compromise theory says: In the short run, increased diversity causes decreased trust; in the long run, high trust cause increased homogeneity. 

Or, as I once put it on Twitter: "One different-looking person in your neighborhood is a guest. 100 are an invasion. 1000 are just the neighbors."

Update: I should mention that this compromise theory is basically Robert Putnam's conclusion:
[E]vidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. In the long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation by creating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration.
If this theory is right, America's success depends on having institutions strong enough to integrate Asians and Hispanics - the two most recently arrived big groups - with the existing groups of whites and blacks. In other words, this theory says that homogeneity isn't the means, it's the goal. 

Who knows; one day even white and black Americans might consider themselves part of the same ethnic group.


The dream of a white nation

But what about the people who don't want that? What about the alt-right folks and fellow-travelers who have no intention of waiting around for America's various races to all decide they're on the same team? Many want to take the shortcut to a homogeneous society - they want to live in a place where only white people are allowed. They want the dream of a half-remembered, half-imagined 1950s Southern California - the clean streets, the nice lawns, the dependable white neighbors who tip their hat and say hi to you as they stroll down the lane. And dammit, they want it now

Well, the short answer is: I don't know how they're going to get it. It's not going to be possible for them to reimplement racial segregation, or kick all the Asians and Hispanics out of the country. Any serious, large-scale attempt to do that would mean civil war and the collapse of America, which I guarantee would not lead to a nice pleasant racially homogeneous peaceful life for anyone anytime soon.

And what are the other options for creating Whitopia? Secede? Not gonna work. You can go to small towns and gated communities, but the jobs won't follow you, and by the law of the land, any nonwhite person who wants to can buy the house next to you. So what other options are there? Move to Argentina, I guess. Or maybe New Zealand.

It's this paucity of options, I think, that has so many alt-right people so freaked out. For people who want a white heterogeneous society, there's pretty much just nowhere to go. Until recently there was Europe, but with the rise of substantial nonwhite minorities there, and with most European leaders still committed to allowing large-scale nonwhite immigration, that avenue to Whitopia - or Kekistan, as it were - seems closed down. To those who dream of white homogeneity, it must seem like they're being hounded to the ends of the earth, denied any place to call their home, told everywhere by their leaders to integrate with the nonwhite people nextdoor. No wonder they're going crazy on Twitter.

I wish it were different. I wish there were some island nation where alt-right folks could go, and establish their all-white nation-state. It doesn't seem likely to happen, but if it could, I'd say: More power to you.

But the ironic thing is, suppose they did get their Kekistan. Suppose New Zealand decided to become an all-white country (like it did in 1920), and twenty million alt-right types from around the world moved there (giving it about a quarter the population density of Japan). I think it just wouldn't work.

I think people would move there, and find that homogeneity doesn't automatically produce trust and goodwill and social peace. They would find that their population was a highly selected set - it would be made up of people who couldn't get along with the people in their homelands. And they would find that the real thing keeping most of them from getting along with their neighbors wasn't ethnic diversity - it was their own personalities. 

Eventually, social strife would return. Neighbors would feud over land and resources and power and community status. Gunfights would erupt. Killdozers would be unleashed. The government would lurch from crisis to crisis. Protectionist economic policies would be tried and would fail. The economy would languish. Some people would emigrate, back to the hellscapes of diversity. 

And those who remained would cling to the theory that "Diversity + Proximity = War". No one likes to give up their cherished social theories, especially if it's the theory that the country was founded on. Just as with Hutus and Tutsis, the inhabitants of Kekistan would "discover" ethnic differences that had been there all along. Suddenly they wouldn't be just white people anymore, but Russian-Kekistanis, Italian-Kekistanis, Hungarian-Kekistanis. Strife and distrust would return, and the new country would undergo decades, if not centuries, of brutal upheaval, fragmentation, clan warfare, unstable military rule, competing aristocracies, atrocities, and poverty.

I didn't just make that prediction up, by the way. That's pretty much just the history of Japan

So although there's certainly a case to be made for homogeneity, I'd say the case is a lot weaker and more uncertain than its proponents believe. And more importantly, there's no path for how to get there - at least, not for a country like America. Except for a few small towns scattered throughout the country, the dream of an all-white utopia is likely to remain just that.

142 comments:

  1. Dude Mason's book on Japan's history? Really?

    (I agree with everything else though!)

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  2. argleblargle8:22 AM

    "Because Japan is homogeneous, ethnicity just isn't that salient to most Japanese people - when a Japanese person meets another Japanese person, they don't think "Japanese person," they just think "person". Ethnic identity isn't on their minds."

    Wow does that sound nice! I would love it if I could simply deal with everyone as a "person". But western culture has taught me to be hyper aware of everyone's race, and filter every single political and cultural issue through the lens of "what race are the people involved". For instance, it's pretty much a given that the Republicans will win the white vote and the Democrats will the minorities, so the main election question is simply which party is better at driving up turnout from their preferred base.

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  3. Anonymous10:45 AM

    I think one big difference between the US and Europe is simply the geography of migration.
    Low cost airfare enables Frenchmen with Moroccan roots or young Turks (he!) from Germany to go the "old country" for very little money, (two-way tickets for 100€ or less). It's not that uncommon for them to spend 4 weeks each year in Istanbul/Algier etc (yes Europeans have lots of paid vacation). So the old country stays something very real.

    Also, Erdogan often states that issues of Germans with Turkish roots are matters of domestic policy to him.

    Hmm...

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  4. I forget who said this, but "The cost of diversity is really just the cost of intolerance framed differently."

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous11:25 PM

      But you could also claim that the cost of intolerance is just the cost of diversity framed differently.

      Delete
    2. Clever rhetoric, but false. The rise of rape, robbery, and murder in, say, Sweden certainly isn't the result of the Swedes' "intolerance"—quite the opposite.

      Delete
  5. I couldn't possibly plow through all this -- but -- as a native New Yorker (born 1944 -- Bronx) my experience is that when everybody's different, nobody's different, so, we have more fun with your differences. See The Wanderers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080117/

    I like to say we don't have diversity; we have assimilation. A hundred years or so and there wont be any countries -- the world will be one big Bronx.

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  6. Anonymous10:54 AM

    This "white society" meme is mostly a straw man.

    I'm sure there are some people who take this seriously but I think even a lot of them are confused and/or unable to articulate what is really important to them, probably because the "Progressive" curriculum they've been fed in school has served them particularly poorly in this regard.

    The crisis here isn't a "white" thing it's a Western Civilization thing. More specifically (going from general to specific actually): the social and institutional legacy of the Greeks and Romans, Judeo-Christian ethics, The European Enlightenment, certain strains of Protestantism, English Common Law and the founding principals of the United States of America as expressed in its constitution and other founding documents.

    Yes, there are a whole lot of "white" people involved it the above, specifically white men, dead ones in fact, but that's not the point. The point is that this historical progression and legacy has produced a social and political system...a culture focused on civil rights, property rights, explicitly limited government, enforceable contracts, religious pluralism and a reasonably transparent and accountable legislate and judicial system. That's where the magic comes from folks, not from mere democracy, skin color or some Jared Diamond-style geographical accident. It is this (often imperfect, abused and unjustly withheld) system and culture that has produced the greatest human civilization the world has ever known which also has improved the lives of more people, both within and without, than anything else in the world, ever. Period. The End.

    That seeing things from this perspective has been under decades of attack from the Political Left shouldn't need much explanation. Kids (K through college) no longer learn this stuff in school, it is constantly re-enforced that no culture is superior to any other and everything can now be explained through the race/class/gender lens of Cultural Marxism. And of course, as Noah is at least partially abetting here, attempts to defend the importance of Western Civ/American values (as articulated above) are recast as a desire to promote "white" values and culture which of course justifies the deployment of the almighty "Racist!" label. This is a national tragedy and this alone explains America's deteriorating social and cultural cohesion. We used to know what we were about, we have come to understand that our greatest sins involved withholding the full franchise of our system to certain groups of people and that there are certain, cultural fundamentals that we all must be in agreement with and abide by. Too many of us have forgotten this, never properly learned it or are afraid to come out and say it. There are no expectations of Americans or aspiring Americans anymore just a longer and longer list of what the government should do for us. That's simply begging for tyranny and massive social unrest. -Mercury





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    1. Anonymous6:03 PM

      Another Amen!

      Delete
    2. Also known as the Cherry Picking thing. All that is defined as good and noble is attributed to Western Civilization, and what isn't, isn't.

      Delete
    3. Yes for all the accomplishments of Western Civilization the horrific crimes are of equil number, as with every Civilization. So no there is nothing superior about Western Civilization unless you consider building better guns, bombs and ways to kill people superior.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous6:50 AM

      Perfection isn't the bogey here. We're #1 on NET basis as I tried to explain above.

      And, the system works, even places where (*drumroll*) people aren't white.

      S. Korea and Saudi Arabia probably had the same GDP in the 1950s. SA had a natural resource that the world was about to consume on an even larger scale, S. Korea had zero natural resources and just recovered from a devastating war. S. Korea adopted a Western style (as described above) democratic republic. Saudi stuck with theocracy and monarchy. Today S. Korea is extremely prosperous on a GDP per capita basis and by many other metrics that should be obvious (and they just peaceably ousted their chief executive). Today, Saudi is a pretty unpleasant place to live by similar quality of life measures unless you're among a tiny elite.

      General MacArthur, after conquering Japan, designed a new government for them basically designed out of a US high school civics textbook. A few decades later Japan was a serious economic rival to the US whom they lost a nuclear war to.

      As bad as European colonialism was in many ways I think you'll find that ex-British colonies have fared better in the modern era than others because they have built on legacy institutions and culture left behind by the British. This includes Hong Kong, India (a huge subject, I know), Canada, the US and some pretty nice tropical islands.

      Finally, worldwide emigration patterns suggest a preference for societies based on WHICH political/cultural systems?

      How about them cherries?
      -Mercury

      Delete
    5. Anonymous7:04 PM

      Why is then the alt-right against Hispanic or Indian immigration?
      Both groups, particularly Hispanics, are descendants of the same Western Civilization. The US inspired most of the constitutions and political systems in Latin America. Their culture is closer as well, more so than the US' is to Europe's.
      You make it seem as if the alt-right is fighting some Muslim invasion, which would make a little sense in Europe, but not in the US.

      Delete
    6. Hispanics, yes.
      Indians kind of, but not really.

      Delete
    7. "Cultural fundamentals that we all must be in agreement with and abide by"

      By which I assume you refer to:

      "a culture focused on civil rights, property rights, explicitly limited government, enforceable contracts, religious pluralism and a reasonably transparent and accountable legislate and judicial system"

      Even IF these were all products of white civilisation, rather than just capitalism (which is an argument for another time) every single moral good you listed is enforced BY LAW in America. This is with the possible exception of "explicitly limited government", though I'd note that America lags behind other white colonial era countries on economic involvement of the state, so maybe it's not a white philosophy but a hyper individualistic capitalist philosophy.

      Which of these tenets do you think is being legally defied by non-white immigrants into America?

      Is it possible (alternative hypothesis time) that the countries you're talking about as "white value" utopias just happened to get rich because capitalism works regardless of any of the other philosophical rubs? Because countries like China are doing fine economically without civil rights, religious freedom, limited government, or accountability from governments and courts. Maybe property rights just reign supreme for economic miracles?

      Now I'm not saying I'm chomping at the bit to go live in a authoritarian capitalist state. Democracy is a moral choice, not an economic one. It just seems to me like you're incorporating values of your choosing to define white ideals, and pointing to success stories where non-capitalist countries became capitalist countries, which is ALWAYS going to be a success story as far as economists are concerned, and has nothing to do with half of your stated tenets.

      Delete
    8. "Cultural fundamentals that we all must be in agreement with and abide by"

      By which I assume you refer to:

      "a culture focused on civil rights, property rights, explicitly limited government, enforceable contracts, religious pluralism and a reasonably transparent and accountable legislate and judicial system"

      Even IF these were all products of white civilisation, rather than just capitalism (which is an argument for another time) every single moral good you listed is enforced BY LAW in America. This is with the possible exception of "explicitly limited government", though I'd note that America lags behind other white colonial era countries on economic involvement of the state, so maybe it's not a white philosophy but a hyper individualistic capitalist philosophy.

      Which of these tenets do you think is being legally defied by non-white immigrants into America?

      Is it possible (alternative hypothesis time) that the countries you're talking about as "white value" utopias just happened to get rich because capitalism works regardless of any of the other philosophical rubs? Because countries like China are doing fine economically without civil rights, religious freedom, limited government, or accountability from governments and courts. Maybe property rights just reign supreme for economic miracles?

      Now I'm not saying I'm chomping at the bit to go live in a authoritarian capitalist state. Democracy is a moral choice, not an economic one. It just seems to me like you're incorporating values of your choosing to define white ideals, and pointing to success stories where non-capitalist countries became capitalist countries, which is ALWAYS going to be a success story as far as economists are concerned, and has nothing to do with half of your stated tenets.

      Delete
  7. A part of this otherwise reasonable post by an otherwise reasonable author had me quite stricken (struck?):

    "I couldn't care less about the people in Europe supporting Le Pen or Geert Wilders, but alt-right Americans are my countrymen. I'm a nationalist at heart and I care about what my countrymen think."

    Truly, hard to know where to even start:
    Does the author, a proud american progressive as far as one can tell, not adhere to the oh-so-american principle that "ALL men are created equal and are endowed with certain innalienable rights"?
    (I don't think this is the case).
    Does the author, an ashkenazi jew as mentioned by himself in the post, really not care about the european far-right?
    (Again, I don't think this is the case)
    Perhaps the author, with his extensive factual knowledge ranging from physics to history, with economics and general geekistry in between, being a "nationalist at heart", believes that these nationalist movements will benefit Europe?
    (Not the case etc.)
    ...or believes, erudite nationalist at heart he is, that the U!-S!-A! is the greatest bestest country in the world, and that far-right movements in a continent that is still the biggest economy in the planet, has three countries with nuclear triads, and several young and fragile democracies, well, these are really barbarian issues that should not concern an imperial citizen.
    (ídem)
    Or perhaps the author believes, as evidence strongly suggest, that it would be Europe's muslims that would face genocide should the situation *really* "go south" and, as a nationalist at heart, couldn't care less about not-his-countrymen?
    (This I really, REALLY, do NOT think is what Noah believes; I might be using some hyperbole for rhetoric effect)

    Now, my (hopeful) guess (thus the parenthetical corollaries) is that this was some "miscommunication" and the author meant to say something along the lines that for pragmatic reasons it is optimal to focus in one's own (better known) community and seek its self-interest within reasonable bounds (eg. open liberal democracies that don't war each other).
    Then again, Noah is a (very) well-spoken (written? Articulate - english is not my native language) man who means what he says and expresses it clearly (come to think of it, he's the opposite of Trump & Spicer combined), so the aforementioned excerpt frankly worried and disappointed me a bit.

    (For the record, I am european, so I aknowledge my inherent bias, but I *could* care less -and think everyone shouldn't- about Syria, Korea, the Kremlin & the White House)

    P.D. This turned out into a way to long rant; I do apologize.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is very little evidence that Muslims in Europe would 'face genocide' if the desire for more homogeneous societies in Europe (a desire which I agree with, BTW) were ever to become a reality. For what it's worth, I think a much likelier solution is some kind of partition of European countries.

      Does the author, a proud american progressive as far as one can tell, not adhere to the oh-so-american principle that "ALL men are created equal and are endowed with certain innalienable rights"?

      I can't speak for Noah, but I certainly don't share that, and regard it as obvious nonsense in the sense which it was intended. I am also not a believer in liberal democracy so I couldn't care less about the fate of 'fragile democracies' in Europe.

      Given that many European societies work quite well as ethnic homelands of sorts, that mass immigration in societies like England and Sweden has resulted in increased crime and decreased social solidarity, and that at bottom I (as someone not ethnically European) don't want to see distinct European ethnic groups with their distinct genetic inheritance, identity, and physical phenotypes disappear from the planet, yes I think ethnic nationalism makes a whole lot of sense for Europe, and will benefit Europe. I don't think the same is true of America, which is why I don't agree with the ethnic nationalists in their goals for America.

      Delete
  8. That's more or less how I've always thought of the Alt right types. They're not Alt right because the ideas are good, they're Alt right because they have no friends except for other weird assed Nazis.

    ReplyDelete
  9. About clustering algorithms, you probably know this but there's no one true one. For many you must even specify in advance how many clusters you want.

    Various desirable criteria must always be traded off against each other - the computer scientist Jon Kleinberg proved this in a neat paper in 2002.

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    1. Every clustering algorithm is just a model, with its own set of assumptions. And if you think about, socially determined racial categories are really just the same thing, just not as precise.

      Delete
  10. Phil Koop4:13 PM

    It's interesting that you perceive the Turkish guys as looking so radically different. To me, underneath the different lighting and hairstyles, they look similar enough to be brothers.

    Not that this in any way undermines your point.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:05 PM

      I know right! The Turkish guys seemed more similar to me than the Japanese ones.
      By the way, early life environment affects face recognition later in life. Which sort of goes in line with Noah's compromise theory. The older people that have been around homogeneous environments tend to be alienated by diversity, but the younger ones that grow up in less homogeneous tend to be in favor of diversity.

      Delete
    2. Wow. Really? One looks like a Swedish dude, one looks like an Arab dude!

      Delete
    3. Anonymous5:57 PM

      Yeah they looked super similar to me too!

      Delete
  11. Anonymous4:35 PM

    If you want to look into homogeneous societies that also have relatively high levels of trust, I would recommend eastern european countries.
    It is definitely worth looking into for the data. Of course many those countries have unique problems that make it harder to compare.

    Also I am surprised you don't mention the Burakumin in Japan that are considered a lower human race, even though there are no physical distinctions between them and the rest of the Japanese.

    I think this makes the social construction of race better understood. Usually the topic is so politicized. But what we know is that whites, asians, blacks, etc. are not biological, evolutionary units and that human variation is mostly clinal. Of course that doesn't mean that blacks are not different from whites, but if you take as an example two populations of sub-Saharan Africans you will see that their genetic distance is greater than the one between whites and asians. As a population geneticist once said, you don't need a geneticist to tell you that blacks are different than whites.

    Overall, I think homogeneity has more to do with culture, customs, and history (for the most part). But physical distinctions can play a role in what you perceive as your "kin". Wasn't it in ancient Rome that they were "color blind" though?

    As for the rise of the alt-righters, I am skeptical. They are only a minority. I would say that there are similarities with the European nationalism movements. You can track them all down back to the 2008 financial crisis. As someone that grew up in a European country that has now nationalists (with white nationalist ties) in the parliament, I remember that they started gathering attention after 2008. Ever since I moved to USA, I have seen similar resentment sentiments against the elites.

    I don't know if articles will be enough to convert them. Maybe try more memes. Nice read though.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Also I am surprised you don't mention the Burakumin in Japan that are considered a lower human race, even though there are no physical distinctions between them and the rest of the Japanese.

      Good point! Maybe I should have put that in...

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5:58 PM

      I grew up in an Eastern European country (Poland) and this idea that we have a lot of societal trust is definitely news to me... (Compared to the US, where I currently live.)

      Delete
  12. This post is only a few hours old, but it's already a Noahpinion classic.

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  13. Stephen J. Gould pointed out that, while they are perceived as less intelligent and perform less well on alleged intelligence tests in Japan, they quickly catch up to other Japanese when they immigrate to the US. Here we can't tell the difference and the distinction disappears.

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  14. Anonymous11:10 PM

    I'm not your biggest fan, Noah, but one must give credit where it's due. This is a thoughtful post.

    A couple of observations

    There's little question in my mind that homogeneity is one of the causes of one-party dominance - there's no ethnic minority to form the core of an opposition party.

    Before non-white migrations, fairly ethnically homogeneous European countries had multiple parties: Radicals, Tories, and Whigs in Britain, for instance. Eighteenth, nineteenth century France.

    Demographically homogeneous Asian and African countries have multiple parties.

    It seems you make a hidden, unstated assumption in your argument about Japan: namely, that parties are fundamentally linked to demographic heterogeneity.

    ----------

    You asked

    In lefty circles, it's common to hear people say that "race is a social construct." What could that possibly mean?

    And then, perhaps without realising it, you answered that question

    But the most interesting example might be "white." In America, we have a race called "white" that Europe just doesn't seem to have. In Europe, anecdotally, ethnicity is defined by language, and perhaps also by religion. While skin color differences are recognized, European ethnic definitions are usually much finer. In America, though, they're all just "white."

    In fact, who's included in "white" seems to change quite a lot over time. In 1751, Benjamin Franklin was arguing against North European immigration on the grounds that Swedes, French people, Russians, and most Germans weren't "white"


    That's precisely what "race is a social construct" means. :-)

    Once upon a time, for instance, the Klan targeted German, Irish and Italians migrants. The set of white race people was expanded, so as to incorporate individuals with those backgrounds.

    ---------

    By the way, your point that the nazis did not consider Slavs as equals is a very good one. Italian fascists, as well, did not consider Germans as equals, either: they were inherently barbarians, in their views.

    Theirs were alliances of convenience, which explains how nazi Germans and Japanese became allies. Moreover, the nazis accepted huge numbers of volunteers from "lower races" in the ranks of the Waffen-SS.

    Those "friendships" were bound to end badly.

    Neither did the English consider the Irish equals, by the way.

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    1. It seems you make a hidden, unstated assumption in your argument about Japan: namely, that parties are fundamentally linked to demographic heterogeneity.

      Oh, sure. I definitely don't mean to say I think homogeneity implies one-party rule or vice versa. I just mean that a big ethnic minority is one thing that would probably work against one-party rule (as it's working against one-party rule in Singapore).

      That's precisely what "race is a social construct" means. :-)

      Once upon a time, for instance, the Klan targeted German, Irish and Italians migrants. The set of white race people was expanded, so as to incorporate individuals with those backgrounds.


      Yep! This was exactly what I was trying to say.

      Delete
  15. Noah, just want to add something. If you want more 'proof', so to speak, that race is largely a social construct, look no further than Brazil.

    Quite literally, race in Brazil is defined by outward physical appearance, without regard to genetics at all, such that: "It is possible for siblings to belong to different "colour" categories.[36] So a "White" Brazilian is a person perceived and socially accepted as "White", regardless of ancestry or sometimes even immediate family.[37]"

    Furthermore: "First, there is an enormous variety of "racial" terms in use in Brazil; when Brazilians are inquired in an open ended question, from 135 to 500 different race-color terms may be brought. The 1976 PNAD found 136 different answers to the question about race;[55] the July 1998 PME found 143.[56]:18 However, most of these terms are used by very small minorities. Telles remarks that 95% of the population chose only six different terms (branco, moreno, pardo, moreno-claro, preto and negro); Petrucelli shows that the 7 most common responses (the above plus amarela) sum up 97%, and the 10 more common (the previous plus mulata, clara, and morena-escura) make 99%.[56]"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_ethnicity_in_Brazil

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    1. "Race is a social construct" is conflating two separate things; it is as accurate is saying that color is a social construct.

      All human terminology are social constructs. What it maps to is degrees of human relationship. The reason it is fluid is

      "I against my brother; I and my brother against my cousin; I and my brother and my cousin against the world"

      However the underlying reality it is describing is not fluid. The amount of genetic relationship between individuals is fixed.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:18 AM

      "Race" can be a social construct but mostly shared ancestry is a real thing - which is why humans who hail from populations that were isolated from other human populations for tens of thousands of years exhibit different (obvious and not so obvious) traits.

      The Brazilian system/habit of "racial" and somewhat arbitrary classification which you describe is primarily a system for determining social class and, as you point out, can result in two siblings having two different "racial" labels.

      I'm married into a Caribbean family myself and they (traditionally anyway) have a similar system. Ironically, my white-as-can-be kids have more African-American slave "blood" in their veins than Barack Obama who has none...but only he could ever carry or personify the legacy of African-American slavery in our (USA) society. So, this kind of silliness cuts both ways.

      In my above comments I try to point out that certain cultural qualities are really the golden ticket and are not the sole preserve of members of a certain "race". It's one thing to conquer a foreign land and convert the vanquished to your culture (generally frowned upon these days) but a certain amount of domestic cultural uniformity, expectations, limits and even chauvinism is more or less critical. -Mercury

      Delete
  16. 1. I think you should consider the possibility that the Trump supporters were always there but had no one like Trump to vote for.

    Trump's ideas are like those of blue collar friends that I have known for over the years. The ideas are What you think until you spend a little time thinking things through. BTW I have changed blue collar friends minds on immigration just by telling them how poor people are in Honduras (where I lived for a while.)

    2. People how want a whitopia can go to Fargo ND. There are many other 90%+ white parts of the US like Maine. They don't because it is not really very important to them. (Just like folks who fear AGW are not buying land in Maine that will be ocean front if sea level rises 10 feet.)

    Bottom line I don't think it is a big issue for many people.

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    1. Not everyone likes moving, giving up their local community and having to find a job in a place they might not have any work available for them.

      Also people do tend to live in relatively segregated conditions; take a look at the dot maps of the south.
      http://demographics.coopercenter.org/racial-dot-map/

      Delete
  17. Anonymous11:47 PM

    Really good post. One random thing I want to add, though, is that I find alt-rightists somewhat less annoying on the question of diversity than SJWs, because their views are more internally consistent:

    The alt-right believes that diversity is really bad, largely because of the alleged poor behavior of non-whites. So it supports separation on ethnic lines. There are a lot of really ugly beliefs packed into that, but ok, makes some sense. ("Say what you will about National Socialism...")

    People on the social justice left also believe that diversity is really bad---except that they believe this is the fault of white people rather than non-white people. But then, instead of advocating that non-white people go to the ~80% of countries in the world without European people in them with all due haste to escape racism, they aggressively push for more demographic change and integration in traditionally European societies. (The food at this restaurant is inedible---and besides, the portions are so small!)

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    1. "The alt-right believes that diversity is really bad, largely because of the alleged poor behavior of non-whites."

      Blacks do better with black teachers (look up EducationRealist). The Altirght insists on its position because it is the moral choice. That is the reason why the Altright contains both Jews and Nazis (and no, I'm not just talking about the Alt-lite)

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:48 AM

      The alt-right doesn't lump all non-whites together. For example, much of the alt-right acknowledges that American Asians have lower crime rates and higher IQs than American whites.

      I would guess that much of the alt-right would be supportive of a high-skilled immigration policy. However, allowing the immigration of millions of people from dysfunctional populations for humanitarian reasons seems like begging for centuries of social problems.

      Delete
    3. "I would guess that much of the alt-right would be supportive of a high-skilled immigration policy."

      Nope. The alt right (well, people to the right of the alt-lite) is not in favor of high skilled immigration; co-ethnics is the line. High skilled immigration discourages investment in native high skilled labor, creates an elite that is not invested in the country and allows corporations to play countries off each other.

      Delete
    4. Agree with Sam. Though some pay lip service to IQ and other stuff like that, alt-right support for policies like high-skilled immigration always evaporates when someone mentions how many high-skilled people are nonwhite. It's really about creating an all-white Kekistan.

      But that Kekistan, if it exists, will never be America, and on some deep level I think most alt-righters realize that.

      Delete
    5. Nope. The alt-right doesn't want to import a million Iranians, a million Russians or a million Serbians. The altright is a total reject of the idea diversity is good.

      You also don't understand the focus on IQ. The reason isn't because they only care about IQ; it is because IQ is related to crime and being murdered is something we seek to protect our fellow citizens from.

      "But that Kekistan, if it exists, will never be America,"

      The United States was 90% white prior to 1965. The altright's vision of America is 1600-1881 and 1924-1965; in other words the massive majority of American history.

      You are making the mistake of considering all immigrants are the same. Not even all British ethnics are the same (read Albion's seed); past a certain point ethnic diversity causes countries to splinter.

      Delete
    6. Sam, I take it you're a Vox Day "alt-west" person. I know Vox Day is the most BRILLIANT man who has ever lived according to his followers, but he is NOT the face of the alt-right. It is men like Richard Spencer. The alt-right is for a white ethnostate. They're against "diversity" but only of the non-white variety. If America was being invaded by low-skilled Slavic migrants, they would be having no trouble with it and you know it.

      Delete
    7. Alt-west? Not really. I don't have a plan I favor. I also don't think Day is the most brilliant man ever; he doesn't understand evolution which is sort of important for the subject.

      "They're against "diversity" but only of the non-white variety."

      You are confusing the terminology for the position. They use the term white to refer to America's non-minority population. This is because we don't really have a term that means 'only American white ethnicities'. They are currently fine with importing Slavs because they are worried about the importation of non-white minorities but the long term goal is a stable ethnostate which means no white immigrants from other ethnicities either.

      The current position is tactical to avoid being overwhelmed and murdered. It is not their goal.

      As for how I know that, I'll point that the US halted immigration in 1924 when it was coming from Southern and Eastern Europe. It has precedent and anyone who wants to roll back the 1965 changes implicitly wants to return to that.

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  18. Thanks for the long and thoughtful piece. I think its worth interrogating how you define homogeneity a little more. Although you unpick the concept later down in the article, there is a lot of scholarly work that has pulled apart the notion that Japan is homogeneous. Have a look at the work of Michael Weiner, Harumi Befu or Tessa Morris-Suzuki. What they say supports what you suggest about Japanese-ness, but they also take your argument further.

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    1. Yep! Of those, I've only read Morris-Suzuki, but I'm pretty familiar with the stuff involved.

      Delete
  19. thanks for the post. For further stuff on Japan's purported homogeneity, I might suggest you look at Tessa Morris-Suzuki's 'Reinventing Japan', Harumi Befu's 'the hegemony of homogeneity' and Michael Weiner's 'Japan's minorities'.

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  20. Yes, this is a classic, but with so much ground to cover there are a few omissions.

    I grew up in upstate NY, but have lived in Texas since '73. Ethnic distinctions in NY were (are?) much more finely tuned, and shades of white mattered. Upon moving to Texas I became 'Anglo', which was partially correct, although I self identify as a Pict-American. The whole Anglo thing is pretty much the same thing as lumping all African Americans together. 23andme, for better or worse, gives us all a shot at giving some detail to the spectrum.

    Since I was a kiddo, I have been an avid follower of human evolution research and now, paleogenetics. I always found it puzzling why Neanderthals, a European adaptation during ice ages were depicted as swarthy. It seemed to me this told me more about the artist than ths subject. Pale skinned blondes or red heads seemed more likely given where they lived. Thank you, Svante Paabo for settling that one.

    Last, yes, Austin is a diverse place, but it includes its fair share of the entire alt-right spectrum. I suspect that at its core it is really just the current manifestation of anti-Semitism that has never left us. I have experienced a detailed explanation of why Jews and the 'rest of us' are different: they are descended from Neanderthals and we are descended from Cro-Magnon, modern humans. Seriously.

    Anyway, any Noahpinion that includes both an Emu War and a Killdozer digression gets my endorsement.

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    1. The whole Neanderthals skin pigmentation thing is still unsettled. There is certainly evidence that some groups may have evolved light skin and had lighter hair but it is likely that there was a large variation. It is without a doubt that light skin evolved in modern humans long after Neanderthals disappeared although I would say it likely occurred after the ice age proper as humans began to occupy those regions more recently opened to habitation by the retreating glaciers and warmer climate.

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  21. Anonymous2:00 AM

    Singapore has diversity, but controlled diversity. The population is about 75% Chinese, 15% Malay, and 10% Indian, and has been ever since independence, despite the lower fertility of Chinese. The government explicitly takes in more Chinese immigrants in order to "maintain the ethnic balance". This is a cautious, prudent policy compared to the American (lack of) policy, where whites have gone from 90% to 62% and will soon be a minority. Maybe it will turn out OK, but maybe not.

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  22. Chris5:21 AM

    Thank you. This was a very interesting post. I have a few comments.

    1. I think the hesitation of Japanese to speak to those not in their in-group is due to a kind of transpersonal shyness, not to discrimination in most cases, though outcastes, Ainu, Okinawans, ethnic Koreans, and others are often but not always discriminated against. It is estimated that 85-90% of Japanese communication is nonverbal, and Japanese are generally socialized in an intensely group-centric fashion, so long-term characteristics such as cooperation, pleasantness, being a good sport, peacefulness, nonviolence, empathy, and sympathy are ranked higher than verbal quickness or eloquence or forwardness. However, once you break the ice and become at least partly accepted into an in-group, it becomes much easier to communicate, and body language plays a very important part in this. Within a group everyone is usually exactly equal, unless they represent a public institution, and even then the powerful person is expected to sometimes be humble and non-domineering and willing to confess his/her mistakes inside the group, at least after a few cups of sake! To many Americans, Japanese group dynamics seem rather "maternal" and nurturing, and even corporations and political parties are highly group-oriented. This leads many Japanese to feel shy or to panic when dealing with someone they don't know. They look cold from the outside, but in many cases I think they are actually worrying inside about whether they will be able to satisfy the expectations of the unknown person. There are a few arrogant nationalists, including the present Japanese PM, but mostly Japanese reserve seems to be due to a perceived sense of self-imperfection. Incidentally, I live in Japan, and I and my neighbors always bow or say hello when we meet. I guess I've been accepted as a member of the larger town or at least neighborhood group.

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  23. Chris5:22 AM

    (Part 2)

    2. You make some good points about race. How about following your logic to its implied conclusion? I mean, how about not using the word or concept of "race" at all? This is because it is a pseudo-concept. Basically, Pedro has already summed it all up, but to put it in my way, there is no single biological trait that absolutely divides humans into completely different "races," and there don't seem to be many cases in which "race" can't be simply replaced by "skin tone" or "culture" or similar terms, so it is a useless and sometimes harmful word, since people associate it wrongly with culture. This is natural, because "race" only became a major word/concept in English during the process of European expansion around the world during the past five centuries or so. In that context, "race" was used in an unbalanced, binary way to explain why the white "race" had the right or even the duty to rule over and exploit the "less advanced" "races." Slavery was the extreme example of exploitation being justified by the equation of skin color with "race" and "race" with essence and essence with value. Until very recently, "race" was used to imply or suggest the superiority of white culture, civilization, and human essence and value. Times are changing, but the continued use of the outmoded and slippery word/concept of "race" = skin color + essence or, at the very least "race" = skin color = culture = ironclad biological-cultural determination is still often found, especially when people feel stressed or are in a state of change or crisis, when the vague and loaded word "race" makes over-generalization and prejudice all too easy. "Race" is a euphemism for biological determination and inalienable difference that makes it easier to discriminate and hold prejudices, and it really has no upside, so why don't we just voluntarily drop it and let it die a gradual peaceful death? Using "color" and "culture" and other words would also help us speak more accurately about what what we want to express and keep us from taking easy refuge behind the smoke-screen of "race" = color + X, Y, Z, with its implied extra added value of judgmental inequality or implied essence. Noah, how about writing an essay about contemporary social conflict without once using "race"? I would be interested in how it would differ from an essay that used "race" in the rather casual way you do in this essay. Would the essay become more explicit and accurate? Would it come up against any social taboos or step on toes? What would result? I, for one, would be interested.

    3. Why do you leave out economics when talking about the longing for homogeneity? Surely poverty (even comparative) + competition = conflict. No? Did alt-right become more active in response to the Great Recession or not? If you are unemployed or have a bad-paying job, then you are by definition in a non-homogeneous situation. Surely more Trump supporters are worried about the economy and the economic outlook for the future than about skin color. Competition makes a lot of difference (sorry for the pun). And men are getting less and less education in comparison to women. How do alt-right males classify women in their (wet?) dreams of homogeneity? For them, is competition with women also non-homogeneous?

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  24. New Zealand has a lot of Asians now. Maybe Alaska would have been a better example?

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    1. Anonymous5:03 PM

      Both New Zealand and Alaska have a large population of people indigenous to the area. People should stop ignoring that, when portraying these places as mostly "white" (meaning European-descended).

      Delete
    2. I wasn't aware they were that large. Got any numbers?
      And I apologize for disregarding them. My bad.

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    3. Anonymous6:29 PM

      Alaska is 66.5% white alone, and 14.8% native.

      https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/02

      New Zealand is 74% European, 15% Maori, 7% Pacific peoples, and 12% Asian.

      Neither is that different from the average US percentage of the population that is white at about sixty-something to seventy percent.

      http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/infographic-culture-identity.aspx

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    4. Thank you. I recently moved from California to Washington state. It seems a lot whiter here, but I know there are a lot of Indigenous Peoples here. Perception is pretty different from reality. Your NZ numbers added up to more than 100 --where's the overlap?

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    5. The overlap comes from the fact that many New Zealanders identify with multiple ethnicities. A bit over 11% of Kiwis report 2+ ethnicities, and that share has been rising in recent decades: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLECODE8024

      It's been 30 years since immigration reform, and over this time New Zealand has generally developed more of a distinct national identity that seems to be inclusive enough to encompass a variety of ethnicities. The statistics on multiple ethnicities seem to suggest that's a daily reality for a lot of people.

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  25. AR-R here; Rather then taking the whole thing apart, I'll confine myself to 4 comments; if you want more, ask

    1"Maybe people are genetically programmed to cooperate with those who are genetically more similar to them. Maybe people who belong to different groups have different interests."

    This was settled in 1976- The Selfish Gene. You appear to be assuming that the blank slate is true. Once you reject it, the altrights positions are coherent; fail to, and you won't be able to understand any of that.

    2 I don't think you get the AR's position on ethnic homogenity. Lets use an example from a country that is more homogeneous then Japan- Haiti.

    3 Once you get that, you will understand why the papers you cite are garbage; they don't correct for race and income.

    4 The Burakumin doesn't work like you think it does- I recommend looking up the original cite.

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    1. All of these seem to simply be denials of my points without argumentation or reason. Your only cite is The Selfish Gene, which I don't think supports your case.

      Delete
    2. "Read the original source" is not an argument? Really?

      The Selfish Gene (Genes optimize their reproduction) is directly related to cooperating with genetically related individuals.

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    3. When confounds are accounted for (mostly IQ-related) diversity has ZERO effect, negative or positive.

      https://twitter.com/KirkegaardEmil/status/858739667163860992

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    4. @rw95
      She's wrong. The purest example is Chinese immigration (since they have a higher IQ then the native population). Massive social tensions in the Philippines and Indonesia relative to the rest of the population.

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    5. Clearly either you misread my statement (purposely or otherwise) or I didn't state clearly enough.
      When factors such as IQ are accounted for (as in similar between ethnic groups) diversity has no effect, beneficial or otherwise. Obviously there's tension in southeast Asia since the Chinese are higher IQ and more productive than Filipinos and Indonesians.

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    6. So if you eliminate a measure of genetic differences you find that genetic differences have no effect? That is overfitting.

      Also the population of Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland seems a clear counter example; very similar IQ but still killing each other.

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    7. Anonymous6:43 PM

      Even if you follow an evolutionary logic that suggests that people favor their immediately related family (eg. parents and offspring) or extended family (few generations apart, or clan), it does not follow that an individual would innately favor a nation with a population of millions of people he or she never met, over another foreign nation with a population of millions, just because one of them happens to have a higher percentage of citizens whose physical appearance is perceived to be "racially" similar to him or her.

      An African American and European American could have the same great grandfather, while that same European American shares no ancestry more than centuries back with another European who never immigrated to the New World. If you used the logic of genetic ancestry rather than appearance, you could argue they'd have more kinship yet many people would still perceive the European and European American as the same race.

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    8. " it does not follow that an individual would innately favor a nation with a population of millions of people he or she never met,"

      No, it means they are more likely to do that compared to an individual who was not related. And indeed we have plenty of cases of that happening. It also means this feature is not evenly distributed; more clannish people are more likely to behave that way compared to less clannish individuals.

      "An African American and European American could have the same great grandfather, while that same European American shares no ancestry more than centuries back with another European who never immigrated to the New World. "

      I mentioned The Selfish Gene for a reason. Humans are not equally genetically distant from one another. So it is possible the two share the same grandfather, but the two are more closely related to their coethnics then each other.

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  26. History is full of fratricidal conflicts between groups a biologically brilliant scientist would have trouble seperating. A Serb, a Croat, and a Bosniak look quite similar to me. Likewise, seperating a Sunni from a Shia or even many Jews would not be easy. Conflict is part of the human condition; we choose to ameliorate or exacerbate this issue through our political systems.

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    1. I can assure you if you lived in a place where the distinction was a matter of life or death, you would be able to tell them apart; people in Iraq or Yugoslavia were able to pull it off.

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  27. 2 Points:

    1st i think talk about immigrants is almost a step backwards. There are real problems in the US (housing, healthcare, education, and gaps in childcare) and immigrants are neither the solution nor the cause for these problems. Anyone telling you otherwise needs to STFU.

    2nd The people on both sides of the argument really are just afraid of changing economic circumstances (which some would, correctly, attribute to seemingly benign but really Radical policies). POLICIES are the real issue.

    Hopefully Noah's thorough posting puts this red herring nonsense to bed. omfg

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    1. I do think our continued prosperity depends on maintaining robust immigration levels, preferably of the high-skilled variety with a Canada-style system.

      Delete
    2. Only if you are below replacement. And what happens if global fertiliy stops or noone wants to move to the country? I see your point Noah, and I think immigration IS uniquely American(USA!USA!). MY point is that diversity/immigration is good, but we may be approaching diminishing immigration growth benefits or growth itself.Its seems like people are having less and less children (regardless of "race") and thats because of Housing, Healthcare, and Education/childcare issues. Also, maybe complacency(prolly).

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    3. " I think immigration IS uniquely American(USA!USA!)."
      An amazing reply to make to a Canadian. Of course that Canadian actually cited two immigrant societies (Argentina and New Zealand) as places white separatists should go to experience ethnic homogeneity!
      There are several developed countries (including both Canada and NZ) who have a higher immigration intake per capita than the US.

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    4. Anonymous4:27 PM

      How are millions of immigrants and their children not part of the housing problem when housing in many metros is essentially fixed in supply? Additionally, given that it is more difficult and resource intensive to educate English language learners, and given that there is a fixed supply of people who are simultaneously qualified to work as teachers, willing to work as teachers, and good at it as well, how is it that immigration doesn't negatively impact the education received by U.S. born citizens?

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  28. Anonymous5:01 PM

    "If this theory is right, America's success depends on having institutions strong enough to integrate Asians and Hispanics - the two most recently arrived big groups - with the existing groups of whites and blacks."

    Even though the later waves of recently arrived immigration have long since outnumbered them, both Asians and Hispanics have communities going as far back as colonial times. After all, much of the US used to be New Spain/Mexico back in the day. In places like Hawaii and California, there are Asian/Hispanic communities as old as European settlement in the area.

    American racial and ethnic minorities were either prevented from assimilating (Segregation in the case of African-Americans after being brought over involuntarily, exclusion in the case of Asian-Americans who were voluntary immigrants) or forced to assimilate (eg. African culture/Native American culture was lost among their descendants involuntarily, unlike the voluntary assimilation of European immigration), so it's not so straightforward -- many of the institutions only started welcoming voluntary assimilation from racially diverse people relatively recently.

    Then, much African/Asian voluntary immigration to the US is post 1960s, not too different in timing from the post-war, post-colonial immigration to Europe people are discussing now (and in many cases, for example, South Asians to Britain, North Africans/Middle Easterners to France, they already have many generations of people living there, no different from US Hispanic and Asians).

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  29. Anonymous5:29 PM

    I enjoyed this post, but I think some of your counter-arguments to D+P=W are not logically related to it.

    Noting that there haven't been many large-scale conflicts between very different races can mostly be explained by the absence of proximity; maybe D times P=W would be more like it, such that you don't just get more W with dramatically higher D if P is too low. And it is only fairly recently that high D (measured via genetic distance) and high P have been combined to the extent that they are today, mainly because transportation is just much cheaper and a sufficiently large number of people have the means to travel thousands of miles to cultures radically different from their home culture; here I'm assuming that a Pakistani in 2017 is farther genetically and culturally from the median contemporary Brit than an Irishman in 1910 is from the median American of that time.

    I think you are also viewing D in those historical examples (or lack thereof) through the modern lens of ethnic differences, instead of the ones that applied at the time. This is to say that had you taken your era-contigent view of race more seriously (which you should, because it's a reasonable view), than you would recognize that Hutus and Tutsis can still count as highly diverse because they themselves think that they are, and that is all the diversity you need to make D+P=W happen. This means that part of the solution to avoiding the fate of D+P=W is for people to basically renounce their racial identity (as most "white" people in America did over the last century) so that the perceived D is lowered, allowing P to be high without producing W. Here I see the social justice left complicit in the problem, being unwilling to embrace the "color blind" vision of society that the traditional left advocated 50 years ago, and which could have smoothed over the tensions between ethnicities had it been given a few more decades to run its course.

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    1. the modern lens of ethnic differences, instead of the ones that applied at the time.

      Aha, but this is my whole point! :-)

      If you can't predict what kind of "differences" will cause conflict, you don't have a predictive theory, and if you don't have a predictive theory, you haven't really explained the world.

      My counter-theory is that conflict causes people to invent and magnify differences that didn't matter before, and that conflict itself is caused by other things.

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    2. Anonymous9:23 PM

      I bet many people in Sweden and Germany (for instance) are starting to hone in on a predictive theory about exactly which ethno-cultural differences are likely to cause problems....notice patterns, that kind of thing.

      Zero or near-zero expressed expectations to assimilate into the dominant/host/pre-existing culture is a pretty good marker for oncoming conflict to. Yes, once there are obvious problems there will likely be hyperbole, name-calling, and fabrications (we're talking about human beings here) but to sit back and try to play the chicken-or-the-egg game is absurd when you're talking about, say, a European town where certain types of crime have exploded in parallel with a massive influx of NEMA immigrants. -Mercury

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  30. I think there's an underappreciated element in the key idea driving the alt-right/homogeneity movement:

    "They want the dream of a half-remembered, half-imagined 1950s Southern California."

    This is only partly right. What they *really* want is the image of that 1950's Southern California _as they really saw it on TV_. We under-appreciate how the images of "TVLand" became prescriptive, not just descriptive - and their descriptive value described an idealized society with no diversity, not even the limited diversity of the real society of Southern California.

    TV has a huge effect on people's view of the world, and a couple of generations got used to a completely whitewashed version of reality. They now want that world back, and don't care that it never actually existed in the first place. This is a main reason they complain so much about modern media "forcing" diversity on them in their movies & TV - it doesn't match TVLand anymore. MAGA really wants to Make America TVLand Again.

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  31. Wow. This post was incredible.

    There is such a profound lack of charitable and serious critiques of the alt-right, that are both critical and non-hysterical.

    Honestly, I'm blown away. This is great.

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  32. Anonymous8:35 PM

    I think worrying about the Alt-Right is worrying about a symptom. Its a symptom of identity politics. Progressives have strongly encouraged voting blocs by identity and ethnicity for decades. This caused a reaction among some whites, that rather logically cannot be denied: if Hispanics are a bloc, why not whites?

    The better alternative is a color-blind society, but its not being pushed anymore because of intersectionalism means you must, must, must pay attention to race, gender, etc.

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    1. That will fail for the same reason the United States still has farm subsidies. You cannot have a democracy and a color blind society.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous12:22 AM

      I think that the idea of a color blind society isn't being pushed by much of anyone because identity politics suits both Republicans and Democrats pretty well. I mean, unless a congress critter has to deal with redistricting, they almost never have to worry about reelection.

      Delete
    3. Bingo. Democracy incentivizes for the forming of interest groups and for politicians to create clients to gain guaranteed voters. This is why empires have been non-Democratic.

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  33. Anonymous9:30 PM

    Nice review of the diversity and conflict literature, and I hope work will continue in this area. That said, homogeneity versus diversity just isn't an adequate framing of the alt-right's position. At the most it's a flourish on the main alt-right theme of superior native versus inferior immigrant (or some similar "us" versus "them"). Your Anton quotation captures this main theme perfectly.

    "Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population[.]"

    The focus is on characteristics of the immigrants. The argument is not just that they are different, but that they are worse or less capable. Using "Third World" to label individuals rather than countries suggests that these individuals drag their countries down, quite apart from their status as majority or minority. Reframing the argument as diversity rather than inferiority would require an entirely new approach. (For one, we'd see a lot more vitriol against East Asian immigrants.)

    It's important to distinguish these two arguments as they are distinct in implication. Low crime rates in New York and LA are inconsistent with the diversity=>conflict argument. But they are consistent with the overall pattern of crime by race in the US. NYC and LA have small black populations relative to the highest-crime cities in the US: St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans. I suspect the effects of diversity per se are small relative to a model that predicts each city's crime rate by a simple weighting of its racial composition by the race's national crime rate.

    Despite its weaknesses, diversity=>conflict will probably continue to gain currency thanks to its inoffensiveness. How else can one argue for immigration restrictions without denigrating any group?

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  34. The Alt-Right want to be Japanese. That's a joke, right? I don't think they'd like it.

    Also, "move to New Zealand"? Maybe not, for a start there's the indigenous Maori population, and there is a public commitment to honouring Maori culture, eg, events start with Maori greetings. Then there's various Pacific islanders, a big Chinese population (both new and old), indians, and so on.

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    1. Correct. Noah's fundamental failure is he appears to think people are interchangeable. They aren't. A society made up of Japanese people is not the same as a society made up of British people. The point of Japan is to argue against unrestricted immigration.

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    2. I agree that people are not interchangeable. I propose we kick you out, Sam, and replace you with a Japanese or British immigrant. Therefore enhancing both social peace and average population IQ. :-)

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    3. The jokes on you then.

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    4. Just kidding, I'm sure your IQ is super duper high. :-)

      I really did write this post for guys like you, you know!

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    5. I wasn't refering to IQ.

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  35. A masterful takedown of a terrible strawman.

    It isn't race so much as culture, and the various ingroup/outgroup settings. And the fact that when one group becomes absolutely dominant, it tends to split and fight itself, creating new ingroups/outgroups.

    For instance, the crux of the criticism of the "diversity+proximity = war" lies in that most wars are between similar groups. I would point the author to Scott Alexander's "I can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup". Serbians don't hate Nigerians, who are very different than them, they hate the almost indistinguishable (to a non-Serb) Croats. Russians hate Ukranians and Georgians. Mexicans hate Guatemalans. And the coastal elites of the US hate white americans who didn't go to Ivy league schools. The US is so dominant as a world power the only people we can be bothered to hate are our countrymen.

    What I long for is not a return to a fanciful racial homogeneity that never existed. What I want is a nationalism powerful enough to bind the various racial groups together. What I want is a culture strong enough to remind us all of what we share. But as long as the (mostly white) cultural elites use racial minorities as a crowbar to beat their countrymen with, and a justification for their crimes, then I am afraid there will be further, what's the economic term? Disruption.

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    1. And the fact that when one group becomes absolutely dominant, it tends to split and fight itself, creating new ingroups/outgroups.

      That's probably true, yeah. I included that in my scenario at the end.

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    2. Wow, awesome comment!

      Delete
  36. Be interested to hear how places like Singapore or Dubai fit into the model. Probably best described as ethnically diverse city states with benevolent authoritarian rule (having lived in both you rarely see the police in either other than helping with large crowds. Both are extremely low crime, people regularly leave wallets, phones and electronics to mark their space when they wander off to get food etc. Interestingly they seem at opposite ends of the spectrum regarding privacy, Singapore people regard enforcing social norms as a duty while Dubai is very much live and let live (what you do in private is your own affair as long as you keep it that way)

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    1. Anonymous11:54 AM

      This is more or less my point.

      Singapore and Dubai are multi-ethnic (numerically anyway) but quite MONOcultural.

      Singapore is more like a giant Anglo-American corporation than an Anglo-American republic and at the end of the day Sheikh Mohammed owns every grain of sand in Dubai. So, maybe not everyone's cup of tea and ultimately inferior systems for realizing human potential but neither place has much in the way of social unrest. You assimilate or life becomes difficult fast.

      Our PC-influenced expectations for immigrant assimilation into our culture is now minimal. -Mercury

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  37. Anonymous2:00 AM

    Re: Diversity decreasing crime and increasing property values in So Cal. Is that simply blacks being displaced by Mexicans?

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    1. A lot of SoCal immigrants are Koreans, Persians, Armenians, Chinese people, etc...it's not just Mexicans, especially now that Mexican immigration is trailing off.

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    2. But note that immigration also seems to reduce crime in Canada:
      http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/does-immigration-reduce-crime/
      https://crdcn.org/immigrants-and-crime-evidence-canada

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    3. "Immigrants" don't reduce or increase crime. The question is which immigrants, and which groups are they displacing? If migrant mexican farm workers displace blacks, crime in that area goes down (and rises wherever those blacks moved to). If a pack of koreans move into an area with a large trailer park, crime goes down. If a pile of Somalis move into the suburbs of a Minnesota city, crime skyrockets. This false classification serves to conceal the effect of immigration from different places to different places. If you dropped any random ten thousand Americans into Sweden, the crime rate would go up, because Sweden is about as peaceful a society as you can get (at least until they started importing people even more violent than Americans). The question is from where, to where?

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    4. I find that while many Koreans do move in packs (particularly Korean businessmen drinking after work), Somalis rarely pile up. I can't even recall the last time I saw a pile of Somalis. White co-op kids at a group sex event, however, are another matter.

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    5. Tarrou, well said.

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  38. I got a good laugh here, because we all know someone like that:
    "And they would find that the real thing keeping most of them from getting along with their neighbors wasn't ethnic diversity - it was their own personalities. "

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  39. "1. A recent study in Southern California found that ethnic diversity is associated with decreased crime and higher home values"

    Where does the provided link support this statement? You might have mixed up land-use diversity with racial diversity. From the paper:
    "Although racial and ethnic heterogeneity in neighborhoods appeared to reduce single-family, multifamily, commercial, mixed-use, and office space development, this effect weakened in the most recent decade; furthermore, this racial heterogeneity appeared to have no effect on redevelopment. "

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  40. "2. A study in Britain showed no relationship between ethnic diversity and trust."

    This study came to the conclusion that "the coefficient for ethnic diversity in model 5b is statistically significant at the 99% level of confidence. Even controlling for this broad spectrum of individual and neighbourhood-level characteristics, then, individuals in more ethnically diverse neighbourhoods are less trusting of the people living in those neighbourhoods. "

    However, then the authors noticed that "For the ‘know neighbours’ variable, this means that the more people an individual knows in
    his or her neighbourhood, the weaker the negative association between diversity and trust becomes."

    Controlling for this variable seems very iffy. I think a fair characterization would be that this study shows that diversity reduces trust significantly. Some of it may be because people in diverse neighborhoods know fewer neighbors.

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  41. "3. A study in Europe found a positive long-term effect of diversity on trust."

    You statement is not supported by this study either. The findings of the study are that: "We do, however, find negative effects of diversity. More cultural diversity within the EU decreases levels of trust. According to our results, cultural distance between two populations affects mutual trust between those populations."
    The authors say that "We _tentatively_ conclude that initially low levels of trust are overcome when people become more familiarized with other populations and they get accustomed to living together in the European countries"
    This does not mean that there is a positive long-term effect of diversity on trust at all, just that the negative effects might possibly become less pronounced with time.

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  42. "7. There's also a big literature on diversity and group decision-making, most (but not all) of which concludes that ethnic diversity makes groups smarter."

    The study that was actually conducted by the authors of the article you linked was "Ethnic diversity deflates price bubbles." That's very far from the conclusion that it makes the groups smarter. A series of experiments (https://hbr.org/2017/03/teams-solve-problems-faster-when-theyre-more-cognitively-diverse) showed that ethnic diversity did not help improve problem-solving speed.

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  43. The one time I dropped a substantial amount of cash on the ground, it was a yakuza bodyguard who notified me

    After all, it's not high-trust societies that usually have officially tolerated, openly identifiable organised crime gangs. It's places like Sicily.

    Imagine if Charlie Richardson was to open an official Richardson Gang Headquarters in Clerkenwell and have his enforcers take enquiries from the public; the police would close it within about five minutes if they didn't bust it the night before. But yakuza manage to operate more or less openly. Both the fact they can operate like that, and that there is a demand for what they do, are indicators that social trust might be pretty low.

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  44. "5. A 2008 study in Europe found that ethnic diversity didn't decrease social capital."

    This study looks really weak, it only looked at country-level data. It doesn't seem to have even controlled for whether it was a former communist country or not. The explanation that the country with a high level of trust is more likely to accept more diversity could make more sense...

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  45. "the academic consensus is that immigration reduces crime (including in Canada)."

    Has anybody thought that Canada with its point system promoting things like education and work experience would have a higher crime rate among immigrants?

    Note that: "In stark contrast, research findings in European countries indicate that some second-generation immigrant groups have crime rates that drastically exceed those of the native-born population."

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    1. Has anybody thought that Canada with its point system promoting things like education and work experience would have a higher crime rate among immigrants?

      Yupppppppppppp

      Also, Canadian society is pretty open and welcoming and good at assimilation. France...notttttt so much.

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    2. Anonymous6:45 PM

      Is Canadian society any more welcoming than the US to immigrants?

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    3. Immigration may reduce crime in some societies, but certainly not in Britain, where (for a start) South Asians commit statutory rape at 11-12 times the rate of ethnic British people. The Rotherham scndal wasn't a one-off.

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  46. It's the Democrats in Big Blue cities, and universities, that demand homogeneity in politics, in practice.

    Note the secret, and probably illegal, discrimination against Republicans, Christians, and pro-life professor applicants over the last 20 years.

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  47. Anonymous11:36 AM

    High IQ immigrants will assimilate well.

    Below-average IQ immigrants will assimilate with some trouble.

    Low IQ immigrants will be plagued by social problems, for ongoing generations.

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    1. Anonymous7:57 PM

      Or high IQ immigrants organize social movements (like socialism) or labor movements. Of course, this presumes "IQ" has as much reality behind it as many commentators often believe.

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  48. I largely agree but think there may be an optimal amount of immigration, enough to garner benefits but not so much that it interferes with assimilation, an amount that may differ with the economy and degree of difference involved. Difficulties often appear around the first generation that have little direct knowledge of where they are from but feel out of place and a minority where they are. Too much immigration can lead natives feeling the same way, though more anxiety than reality.

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  49. What highlights a big cognitive disconnect is Noah's characterization of Japans' Prime Minister Abe: Noah says that Abe is a true nationalist leader, but a responsible one, quick to quell outbursts of racism, pretty progressive, and ultimately "worlds away" from a Trump or a Le Pen...

    If restricting ethnic immigration and deliberately defending ethnic character is racist/fascist/horrific, then Abe is the ultimate super racist/fascist. Abe is the worst, most offensive parts of Trump and Le Pen amplified to infinity. Trump's most outrageous offensive action is advocating tapping the brakes on third world immigration and some basic enforcement of immigration laws on the books, Abe already has gone far past that.

    Abe publicly says that he plans to raise the ethnic Japanese birth rate of Japan instead of importing foreigners of other races who are eager to live in Japan. That kind of statement would be beyond outrageous for Trump or Le Pen.

    What's baffling is the most extreme racism, the harshest limits of ethnic immigration, the most serious defenses of preserving a racial identity are totally fine in Japan and don't generate a whisper of controversy, yet the most mild teaspoon dose of that in the US or France is cause for the most elaborate panic and hysteria.

    What's further baffling is that Noah seems to endorse this bizarre hypocrisy and not recognize it.

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    1. Actually, Abe has been moving to increase immigration to Japan: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-23/why-immigrant-shy-japan-is-luring-foreign-workers-quicktake-q-a

      Here's Abe criticizing hate speech and vowing to fight it: https://japantoday.com/category/politics/abe-criticizes-hate-speech

      So, get your facts straight, hoss. :-)

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  50. Noah, come on.

    You are citing Shinzo Abe planning extremely selective worker immigration of small numbers of highly desirable workers from Asia. And you cite some basic common sense condemnation of the most outrageous forms of hate speech like "kill Koreans" and "throw [Koreans] into the sea". This is still an order of magnitude more racist, more selective, and more discriminatory by a large degree than anything Trump or Le Pen has suggested.

    Trump has triggered hysterical outrage by suggesting that the US adopt an immigration model more like Canada, where they select for high skill immigrants that can contribute.

    The largest ethnic minorities in Japan are Koreans and Chinese which aren't true Wajin Japanese, but they are in the same general family. That's like immigrating white ethnic Italians and Anglo Saxons to France: not exactly the same, but very similar and there is zero question of major clash of civilizations type problems that can persist across many generations. That's a whole different ball of wax from asking France to accept large inflows of low skill, assimilation resistant, even tribally hostile groups from the Middle East and Africa. And you know that.

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    1. Oh, I was just citing those things to show you don't know what you're talking about. ;-)

      You can judge leaders by an absolute standard or a relative one. By an absolute standard, George Washington was evil for owning slaves, FDR and Truman were war criminals, and pretty much every leader alive today is horrible in some way. But by relative standards, Washington did a huge amount to advance human freedom, as did FDR and Truman. And relative to other Japanese leaders and to standard Japanese policy, Abe is no fascist or nativist or racist or anything like that at all. He's a nationalist, but he's also moving Japan in a liberal direction, contrary to the howls of many of his detractors.

      Trump has triggered hysterical outrage by suggesting that the US adopt an immigration model more like Canada, where they select for high skill immigrants that can contribute.

      Really? I love the idea. I endorsed it here:
      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-17/canada-should-be-trump-s-model-for-immigration-reform

      Of course, Trump seems to be breaking all his promises, so I don't expect this to happen anytime soon. Plus Bannon just seems to want to cut off immigration entirely.

      That's a whole different ball of wax from asking France to accept large inflows of low skill, assimilation resistant, even tribally hostile groups from the Middle East and Africa. And you know that.

      Sure, I wrote that in my post above! Here are the relevant sections:

      Also, recent European nonwhite immigration may be very different from the type of nonwhite immigration America gets - where America has recently mostly taken in hard-working Hispanics and high-skilled Asians and Africans, Europe has tended to take a lot of lower-skilled Middle Easterners and North Africans. Not only might the latter tend to be a more fractious type of immigrant, but there's also an enmity between Europe and the MENA region that goes back further than reliably recorded history. That could contribute to the distrust. In other words, the kind of diversity you get probably matters a lot.

      I would not recommend Japan take in 0.5% of its population in immigration every year. I would also not recommend this for France. But I WOULD recommend this for the USA, since we are not Japan or France.

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    2. Noah Smith, it seems both you and Trump have advocated for a Canadian style immigration system. You are literally advocating for exactly the same immigration model that Trump is advocating. Immigration, including the premise of selective immigration designed to benefit incumbent residents which you advocate, is easily the idea that has generated the most passioned and hysterical opposition towards Trump. The very thing that is earning the loudest cries of fascism and xenophobia and racism is the very idea that you support completely.

      Yet, you group Trump and Le Pen with Erdogan and Chavez. If Trump's immigration policy is exactly what you recommend, what specifically is bad about Trump?

      If I can summarize Trumpism:
      1) Canadian-style, selective immigration.
      2) Reasonable traditional US right wing views on free market economics, law, education, health care.
      3) Rhetorical war on far left control of narrative and political messaging.

      I can see Le Pen aligned with Trump on #1 and #3 and completely the opposite on #2. I don't see how Chavez and Erdogan tie into any of that.

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    3. It seems like you're burying a quite important point deep in the comments here on France, Noah.

      France took about 0.4% of its population in immigrants in 2015. Sweden is more like 1%. This mostly puts you on the restrictionist/right side of the debate in Europe.

      It seems a little weak to dodge the Europe question entirely, as this is generally one of the points closest to the hearts of the alt right.

      Otherwise, liked the article. Nice work!

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    4. Yep, if I had been advising Europe, I would advise them to take fewer immigrants than they did. I don't think they can handle it. The reason I think America can handle as many immigrants as we've taken in the recent boom is that we did it multiple times before and it worked out well.

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  51. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I can’t speak for any specific strain of the “alt-right” but I would say that Indians generally (and I know they come in many different varieties) have proven than they can, do, and desire to assimilate into American culture. Their native, modern culture does, after all, share a strong British influence with the USA.

    BTW – Indian-American immigrants are starting to make big parts of the racist/white privilege meme sound pretty damn tired. Many white (or even non-Caucasian) Americans now know and trust more and more Indian-Americans who are A) several shades darker than Obama but B) also their doctors, new tech hires, the smartest kid in their math class etc. AND they see them running small businesses and pushing their kids through the best educational opportunities they can possibly access. The notion that these same white Americans are somehow still, nonetheless overwhelmed by “institutional” or their own racism and will pick, say, Buffy the gender-studies major over Arihant the computer science major for that plum new media/tech/finance job is pretty absurd.

    Hispanics are a mixed bag, at least as they are represented in America’s immigrant population. Sure a lot of them work hard but too many of them don’t seem to have the inclination to go the extra mile to better themselves or their children through education and come Monday morning, they’re right back to working hard again, generation after generation. Frankly, I think Mark Zuckerberg, Nancy Pelosi and Limousine Libs kind of like it that way. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to fret that too many immigrants like that might not be such a good thing 10, 20 or 50 years down the road. And maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for more American kids to pick up a damn rake every once in a while (like their forbearers did) and earn their unlimited minutes.

    Finally, I believe American citizens should be able to decide who can emigrate to their country (with the aim of becoming citizens themselves) and who shouldn’t. Period. - whether or not the criteria is arbitrary, based on specific metrics or anything in between – whether or not it grows or shrinks GDP or whatever. If your family chooses to adopt a needy child that’s fine but imagine telling your (rhetorical) wife: “Honey, I’d like to make this teenage girl, a refugee in fact, part of our family. I know she will cost us some money for a while but eventually she will probably earn her keep. Plus, she’s willing to do some jobs that…ahh…current family members are…..ahh… no longer willing or as able to do….”. make sure you show the wife lots of stats and chars with circles and arrows and mention that the average age in the family is going straight up.

    Look, there are at LEAST a billion people in the world who would pick up, move to the USA and become citizens if given the chance. Are Americans somehow obligated to attain the world’s average population density? Is it not OK to want to tap the breaks once the population hits 350 or 400 million?….and we’ll take our chances with “growth” and that “demographic time bomb” ?? Or no, super-sophisticated elites know what’s best for us and we should just submit to whatever they decide? -Mercury



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    1. Indians do have very high success rates of happy win-win immigration success stories to US + Europe, except for the Romani people who are considered Indian. Indians are also in the same Indo-European Aryan ethnic grouping as European whites.

      I agree with the rest of your comment.

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  52. Instead of Japan, why not use the example of Iceland--a homogeneous society of very closely-related European people? One surely doesn't see the kind of social dysfunction and pathologies one sees in the U.S. I suspect that a major difference between Japan and Iceland is that in Iceland the whole country is only about 650,000 people or so - the size of the American city I live in. Japan is a highly urbanized nation of 120 million people. Thus, I think something you forgot in your analysis is that size (and scale) matters! Larger-scale societies are more impersonal and less trusting. I suspect that small-scale societies--where people are more likely to know each other--work better whether homogeneous or heterogeneous. Huge cities and countries of millions just aren't the same.

    Another is the rate of change. The flooding of Latin-American migrants into in the U.S happened virtually overnight. Suddenly, the U.S. became a bilingual country. And much of that was to cities. In the city where I live, for example, long-time residents literally feel like strangers in their own country! That's certainly going to engender quite a bit of resentment. And there is probably a similar situation in Europe with Muslims. No one wants to feel like an alien in their home. By contrast, there are many other ethnic groups in my city that did not arouse any resentment whatsoever. Their numbers were small enough, and they came over a long enough time period, that they could assimilate rather than "take over" the place. Contemporary mass transport technologies are the issue; you certainly couldn't have millions of people flooding into a country so rapidly in the distant past

    Another big issue is whether you have a leadership that's willing to actively exploit racial/ethnic differences for their own gain. That is not done in Japan, and it's probably not in Turkey, either. Here, by contrast, politicians are all too happy to stir up racial grievance and resentment in order to encourage the crab mentality that keeps American workers at the bottom of the developed world for benefits. Cadillac Driving welfare queens, Obamaphones, and all the rest of the dog-whistle phrases you hear in the U.S. you just don't here as much elsewhere (or their equivalents). American politicians (Republicans primarily) actively use this to foment hatred of the government for the benefit of their corporate benefactors (i.e. divide-and-rule).

    Finally, I think the biggest driver of the Alt-Right and racial resentment is the high-stakes, zero-sum competition for jobs under modern capitalism. If someone else's job comes at your expense, then of course you're going to resent them. Despite assurances of economists, those of us who live in the real world know that there are far too few jobs to go around for workers, and that increasing the supply of labor means it just isn't worth that much anymore. People aren't stupid--around here they can see that every commercial kitchen and every construction job site is filled with people who can't speak English earning a living while their kid sits at home with $50,000 worth of debt and no prospects. Most jobs being created are low-wage work where anyone besides "low-skill" immigrants need not apply. That's going to add resentment as well. If jobs were still plentiful, heterogeneity wouldn't be as much of a factor.

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    1. Anonymous6:48 PM

      Latin Americans have been around what used to be the US for generations before it existed as a country, and the US also took over places that used to be Mexico/New Spain. There have been Spanish speakers on the continent for centuries. It's not like it only just happened yesterday overnight.

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    2. Those of us from California have a different experience of the presence of Hispanics. They were here before us northern Europeans. Our place names are mostly Spanish. Maybe they should be more integrated than they are -- but the ones who have been here a long time are mostly. The kids and grandkids of immigrants speak English and many barely speak Spanish. Right now, there are more going back south than coming into the US. It's all very complex.

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  53. What happens when you have two distinct geographic regions of a nation, one where some combination of intermarriage, strong institutions, etc., leads to high levels of trust, and another where the absence of those same elements fosters the opposite? Let's say a "blue" region and a "red" region. It seems that friction between these two regions would increase even as the "blue" region adopts new understandings of homogeneity.

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  54. This article was satisfying to my search for how America ended up with trump, and why - three months into an admin fraught with scandals and lies - he's still there.

    However, I view this as a supportive belief. I think the issue is purely economic. As the wealth gap has widened, the working class has perceived stagnant wages, low worker respect (rights are reduced and self-advocates replaced), and workplace policies that circumvent security such as hiring multiple workers rather than a full-time employee.

    The working class also pays a higher proportion of taxes, childcare, and all cost of living measures. We work long, hard house to support the welfare class (who gets benefits for nothing) and the wealthy. Without job security, we loose our jobs to someone who will do it for less. We fear those people.

    The working class is diversity. It is stereotypical to say that the middle-class is anglo. We would become more diverse if we felt secure enough in our jobs to welcome those who could take our jobs.

    The wealthy politicians don't understand this. They love their wealth and aim to stoke it. FDR put a ceiling on income during WWII. If Americans are going to have a basic standard of living, then the wealthy must have a ceiling of profits. Currently their wealth comes from our sweat.

    We need job security, livable wages, childcare, worker rights, and benefits. We should have stock in our workplace so as we make it succeed, we share in the profits.

    Every billionaire has made too much money. Everyone of them should pay their workers more, offer better benefits, bonuses, childcare, etc. Greed is the driving force of hate.

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  55. Here's a passage from Trevor Noah's new autobiography (another Noah) on a side of this subject that I find highly relevant but under-discussed here. Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says “We’re the same.” A language barrier says “We’re different.” The architects of apartheid understood this. Part of the effort to divide black people was to make sure we were separated not just physically but by language as well. The great thing about language is that you can just as easily use it to do the opposite: convince people that they are the same. Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin. But because racism is stupid, it’s easily tricked. … If the person who doesn’t look like you speaks like you, your brain short-circuits because your racism program has none of those instructions in the code. “Wait, wait,” your mind says, “the racism code says if he doesn’t look like me he isn’t like me, but the language code says if he speaks like me he…is like me?
    Trevor Noah, Born a Crime, 2016

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  56. Seth Largo12:37 PM

    That conflict occurs in relatively homogeneous societies is irrelevant. There are many causes of human conflict. That other causes exist beside proximity of diversity doesn't negate the fact that diversity is often one of said causes.

    It's like, if my wife's car keeps breaking down because she never changes the oil, I should probably tell her to change the oil, not, "You know, dear, the Smiths always change their oil but their car still seems to break down, so it's probably nothing to do with the oil."

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  57. "So what other options are there [for white separatists]? Move to Argentina, I guess. Or maybe New Zealand."

    Gee, Noah, both these countries are immigrant societies with arguably greater levels of ethnic diversity than the US. They can never be whitopias, and are even less likely than the US to aspire to be.

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  58. Not so sure we can achieve the Putnam compromise in the US. If you "follow the money", according to Ed Gleaser, race is one of the primary reasons the US cannot have a European style welfare state. He sites many of your sources on cohesion above.
    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    The only thing that seems to unite a group are cohesive events like wars or moon shots. I prefer the later. But I just don't see a middle way in the US. Ever.

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