The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk –
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.
Rudyard Kipling, The Stranger
An extensive ‘meta-analytical review’ on the impact of ethnic diversity on ‘social trust’ indicates that there is something gravely amiss about the sloganeering of politicians and academics and their plutocratic sponsors on the supposed benefits of ethnic diversity. The study is called ‘Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: A Narrative and Meta-Analytical Review’. This has been published online as a preliminary to being published in the Annual Review of Political Science (Volume 23, 2020).1 The authors are Peter Thirsted Dinesen, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen; Merlin Schaeffer, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Copenhagen; and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov, Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University.
Plain sense, whether by instinct or intuition or anecdotal observation, obliges many to look in askance when experiences contradict dogma. However, the masses are assured that this is only due to their innate racism, which is supposedly indicative of a psychological imbalance that can be fixed through a variety of methods.
Of the latter alarming possibilities, scientists at Oxford University found that ‘implicit racial bias’ can be reduced by the use of the heart medication propranolol, which blocks ‘activation in the peripheral “autonomic” nervous system’. ‘Professor Julian Savulescu of Oxford University’s Faculty of Philosophy, a co-author, added: ‘Such research raises the tantalising possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis’.2
What seems to be discarded as irrelevant by these scientists is the possibility that such ‘implicit racial bias’, existing at an unconscious level, is likely to be a survival mechanism developed over millennia. Sir Arthur Keith, regarded as the ‘dean of British physical anthropologists’, postulated that a dual moral code of altruism among the tribe, or what in present studies is called an ‘in-group’, and aversion or suspicion towards an out-group is an innate attitude for assuring the survival of a tribe, or nation. Now we are told that such ‘primitive traits’ can and should be obliterated by social engineering, indoctrination, and perhaps even mass compulsory medication. In Keith’s day ‘universalism’ was upheld as the progressive wave of the future3 in terms similar to those of today’s ‘globalization’ and human oneness.
What the Oxford tests do indicate (albeit the number of subjects was small) is that ‘implicit racism’ is biologically innate, as Sir Arthur Keith contended; hence the widespread and persistent phenomenon of ‘social distrust’ in multicultural societies is likely to be imbedded in the ‘autonomic nervous system’. It could be that this persistent and congenital illness could be ‘cured’ by placing huge amounts of propranolol in public water supplies as a means of compulsory mass medication. Since ‘racism’ is regarded as pathogenic, it would be justifiable as a public health issue.
Of the many studies cited by the meta-analytical review, one of the most significant and earliest was based on forty communities and 30,000 individuals in the USA, undertaken by Dr Robert D. Putnam, political scientist at Harvard University. Putnam’s 2007 study found that ethnic diversity causes decrease in community trust, engendering feelings of powerlessness and alienation.4
Putnam and other social scientists who continue not to get the results they would wish for nonetheless remain optimistic that ethnic diversity can be made to work by looking for examples in contrived situations, where common interests might be created that can at least temporarily or partially circumvent the outcomes of normal circumstances. Domesticated cats and dogs raised under special circumstances in a household might ‘prove’ that there can be a future world where cats and dogs can not only tolerate each other, but can become ‘friends’ and overcome their primal ‘implicit speciesism’ – a world moreover where one day the lamb might lay down with the lion. Putnam gave an optimistic view (from the liberal perspective) that his study of social fragmentation caused by ethnic diversity can yet be obviated by considering such contrived situations as military and religious institutions:
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.5
Such situational communities might in themselves take on the traits of ethnic communities. The situation for the forming of the institution, group, or community itself creates ‘in-group’ solidarity and identity relative to an out-group, and such traits of an ethnos might indeed transcend a biological ‘race’. Hence, the Marine Corps has its own ethos, mythos, structure, history and purpose regardless of its racial composition, relative to non-Marines; as do monasterial monks, sports teams, symphony orchestras, and college fraternities.
A ‘nation’ might be constructed by an amalgam of ethne into a new ethnos, if the nation and state building processes are strong enough, in particular with an in-group ethos relative to a perceived out-group. Jews and Judaism are an obvious and particularly strong example. Yet even Israel, perhaps the best possible state for the developing of an ethnos across racial boundaries, among a people that has been formed by amalgamating many ethne over thousands of years around a strong ethos and mythos, remains divided between Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and Beta Israel. A corporation can develop a similar in-group ethos among its employees, cutting across other bonds. Nation-states might also be built and maintained by developing a sufficiently strong bond through the symbiosis of otherwise separate ethnicities. The historical and social circumstances widely diverge, and that is the point: there is no universal formula.
Symbiotic relationships among diverse ethne within a state could be considered as an alternative to multiculturalism, and to what many ‘conservatives’ have been advocating in recent years: the ideal of ‘one nation’ which is the ‘melting-pot’ wrapped up in Right-wing phraseology. Is ‘one nation’ assimilation really better than multiculturalism, where the latter at least implies some form of separate identity (many cultures)? While ideals such as repatriation remain remote, and perhaps impossible, is the aim of having everyone conform to a common denominator really a Rightist option? The common denominator for citizenship and residence is generally the willingness to work and pay taxes. In capitalist states, just as under Marxism, ‘laws of social production’ are regarded as paramount.
Singapore is an example of a society where ethne are given a large degree of autonomy and a strong nation-state is constructed through symbiosis rather than either amalgamation or multiculturalism. The strength of ethos is the key, and that is something far removed from the present condition of any European ethnos or state. Singapore is a ‘multiracial nation’ that maintains separate identities in an organic – symbiotic – relationship, as South Africa once tried to do in its own way under the ‘greater apartheid’ policy of Verwoerd. Singapore has an ethos that is far from liberal, nor is it reducible to the above-mentioned ‘one nation’ melting-pot policy of a bogus ‘conservatism’. It is ironic that the very justification for ‘ethnic diversity’ as beneficial for a healthy economy is rejected by a state whose economy is particularly successful. A Singaporean news report stated on the Prime Minister’s remarks regarding the state’s policy:
Singapore is not a melting pot, but a society where each race is encouraged to preserve its unique culture and traditions, and appreciate and respect that of others, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (May 19). No race or culture is coerced into conforming with other identities, let alone that of the majority, he added. In fostering such an approach for a multiracial, multireligious society rooted in its Asian cultures, Singaporeans also need the arts and culture ‘to nourish our souls’, Mr Lee said. ‘We certainly don’t wish Singapore to be a first-world economy but a third-rate society, with a people who are well off but uncouth,’ he said. ‘We want to be a society rich in spirit, a gracious society where people are considerate and kind to one another, and as Mencius said, where we treat all elders as we treat our own parents, and other children as our own.’6
Singapore, while adapting its multiracial inheritance, has rejected liberal notions on both multiculturalism and assimilation. This is not to say that Singapore offers a universal template for ethnic relations, but that is exactly the point: there is no universal template for this, or much else. This notwithstanding, liberal social scientists, politicians and businessmen generally start from the assumption of the desirability of a plural society within the context of globalization, held together by a common ethos of production and consumption. Books such as The Global Me7 are written by economic commentators for popular consumption, showing that the rootless individual, who can be transplanted across the world according to the requirements of global business, is the wave of the future, and the guarantee for individual, national and corporate prosperity. Singapore is remarkable in many ways, and is the antithesis of the universal model upheld by liberal academics, politicians and plutocrats. In particular, the Singaporean state upholds that strong, authoritarian sense of identity and culture that is antithetical to liberal and globalist ideology, by ensuring that material wealth does not erode the national spirit. As The Straits Times article goes on to state of Mr Lee, within the context of Chinese, Malay and Eurasian cultures, each are developing their own Singaporean distinctiveness, within the broader context of the Singaporean national identity.
Unity in Diversity?
When under tension, are even the situational communities referred to by Putnam necessarily able to maintain their stability? Putnam mentions the military as an example of a community that can maintain unity within diversity. Is this really so? The loyalty of a military under tension when drawn from disparate sources has always been a matter of concern for rulers. A paper on the experience in Vietnam of black soldiers states:
One of the least known but most important chapters in the history of America’s encounter with Vietnam was the internal rebellion that wracked the U.S. military. From the Long Binh jail in Vietnam, to Travis Air Force Base in California, to aircraft carriers in the South China Sea, the armed forces faced widespread resistance and unrest. Throughout the military morale and discipline sank to record lows. Antiwar committee and underground newspapers appeared everywhere. Unauthorized absence rates reached unprecedented levels: in the Army in 1971 there were seventeen AWOLs and seven desertions for every one hundred soldiers. Harsher forms of rebellion also occurred—drug abuse, violent uprisings, refusal of orders, even attacks against superiors. The cumulative result of this resistance within the ranks was a severe breakdown in military effectiveness and combat capability. By 1969 the Army had ceased to function as an effective fighting force and was rapidly disintegrating. The armed forces had to be withdrawn from Indochina for their very survival. The strongest and most militant resisters were black GIs. Of all the soldiers of the Vietnam era, black and other minority GIs were consistently the most active in their opposition to the war and military injustice. Blacks faced greater oppression that whites, and they fought back with greater determination and anger. The rebellions that shook American cities like Watts, Newark, and Detroit erupted at major military installations just a few years later. The result was a military torn by racial rebellion.8
The ‘black experience’ in the USA was far removed from being capable of inculcating in black GIs a kinship with their white comrades against the ostensible enemy. Indeed, the enemy to the black GI was the white GI, whilst there was a kinship with the Vietcong. The sense of what it meant to be an ‘American’ was and remains too nebulous to provide any common meaning even in as tightly controlled a structure as the military.
If the authority, hierarchy and discipline of the military, even when confronted by a hostile ‘out-group’, is insufficient in maintaining an ‘in-group’, to what extent will social scientists, politicians and plutocrats resort to a levelling tyranny to achieve their aims? Despite the many works supposedly showing the intrinsically violent and repressive character of the ‘Right’, today’s social engineers in academia, politics and business are the heirs of the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks. There has been no blood-letting comparable to that of those states and ideologies that have pursued ‘equality’ as the ultimate goal.
1Peter Thirsted Dinesen, Merlin Schaeffer, and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov, ‘Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: A Narrative and Meta-Analytical Review’, can be downloaded here. I particularly thank John Fromme for bringing the paper to my attention in his review at Action Zealandia: ‘The Myth of Multiculturalism’, 16 October 2019.
2‘Drug “reduces implicit racial bias,” study suggests’, University of Oxford News & Events, 8 March 2012.
3Arthur Keith, Essays on Human Evolution (London: The Science Book Club, 1945), passim.
Also Sir Arthur’s Rectorial address to Aberdeen University, published as The Place of Prejudice in Modern Civilisation (1930).
6‘Singapore’s approach to diversity has created a distinctive identity across ethnic groups: PM Lee Hsien Loong’, The Straights Times, 19 May 2017.
7G. Pascal Zachary, The Global Me (New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 2000), passim.