IMMIGRATION UNDERMINES SOCIAL TRUST, PART 1: INTRODUCTION

By Darrell Dow

“The exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric. The facts show that the recent rise in immigration hasn’t been accompanied by social breakdown, but by social repair.”~~David Brooks

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act.  Signing the legislation into law, President Johnson provided assurance that it would not tip the ethnic balance of the country.  “It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power,” said Johnson.

Apologists for mass immigration and defenders of the ideology of multiculturalism and diversity no longer emulate Johnson’s rhetorical restraint.  Immigration Enthusiasts (Immithusiasts) see migration as a source of redemption or even a means of atoning for past sins.  David Brooks once wrote that mass immigration from the global south would produce the following:

1) Less violent crime
2) Increased chastity
3) Fewer teen suicides
4) Less divorce
5) Higher fertility rates
6) More gift giving
7) More family dinners
8) Healthier children
9) The end of rapacious individualism.

All of the above are functions of community.  Brooks argued that immigration yields a stronger community and the correlative benefits.  Is he correct?

In her recent book, Adios America, Ann Coulter reported that the average IQ of Indians is 82.  Yet Mark Zuckerburg steals India’s best and brightest, dropping them in Seattle as programmers via the H1B program to pad his already burgeoning net worth.  Do such policies create the conditions for ethical economic choices or merely reinforce anti-traditional, anti-conservative, and unbiblical expressions of individualism?

By its very nature open immigration undermines ethnic ties and attachment to place by exalting the individual at the expense of community and nation.  Individuals leave their communities behind and desert their homelands rather than laboring for their improvement economically and politically.

As immigrants move, receiving communities are necessarily transformed culturally, economically, and politically by their presence in large numbers. Who benefits? Perhaps the immigrants themselves, employers and owners of capital and possibly those acquiring whatever services immigrants provide. But community and the ties of natural affection produced by commonality are systematically undermined.  As social trust wanes resentment and envy create the conditions for statism to arise.  The ideology that lionizes immigration as a source of renewal and regeneration synthesizes with an egalitarianism that lauds the equality of cultures to undermine community and the mediating institutions of civil society.   As civil society is subsumed under a demographic tsunami the individual is left naked before the power of the state.

Research by the influential political scientist and Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam shows that the more diverse a community the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone.  Diversity thwarts social cooperation and effectiveness according to Putnam.  Anyone with a passing familiarity of the story of the Tower of Babel should recognize Putnam’s research as an obvious truism.

In the face of diversity people tend to “hunker down” and surround themselves entirely with the familiar. “We act like turtles,” says Putnam.  “The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”

Putnam adjusted his data for distinctions in class, income, and other variables but still reached the “shocking” conclusion that untrammeled ethnic diversity is a breeding ground for distrust that spreads like an aggressive cancer, rending the cultural fabric and body politic. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” said Professor Putnam. “The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.”

Putnam enumerates other unhappy consequences for people who must live with the consequences of the “blessings” of diversity:

1) “Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.

2)  Lower political efficacy—that is, confidence in their own influence.

3)  Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

4)  Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collectiveaction (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

5)  Less likelihood of working on a community project.  Lower likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

6)  Fewer close friends and confidants.

7)  Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

8)  More time spent watching television and more agreement that “television is my most important form of entertainment.”

Putnam found that trust was lowest in Los Angeles, that heaven on earth for mulitcultists, but his findings were also applicable in South Dakota.  The phenomenon uncovered by Putnam has arisen in other nations as well including Australia, Denmark, Germany, and throughout Europe.

I’ll address this in a later piece but as immigration and diversity reek havoc on civil society they also undermine the free market.  Markets necessarily exist as part of a social framework and are dependent on trust.  When the social order frays markets do not function properly.

Likewise, political institutions require trust.  Mass immigration undermines the foundation of representative government by breeding suspicion.  Even John Stuart Mill, no hero to conservatives, conceded this point.  He wrote:

“Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist.”

Social science confirms history and common sense: ethnic homogeneity and Protestant traditions have a direct impact in creating and cementing bonds of social trust.  Political elites naturally welcome increased diversity as a justification for further meddling in the lives of citizens. The management of racial, ethnic, and religious strife is bread and butter for the Nanny State (a subject I’ll address in a forthcoming essay).   Conversely, a social order constructed on a foundation of broad ethnic and religious unity provides a framework for trust, fraternity, and security.

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About Darrell Dow

I am first and foremost a sinner saved by grace. A disciple of Jesus Christ, I'm Reformed theologically, a recovering Baptist, and a paleoconservative politically.
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7 Responses to IMMIGRATION UNDERMINES SOCIAL TRUST, PART 1: INTRODUCTION

  1. weavercht says:

    Great piece. I’m not sure what “Protestant traditions” refers to. And “statism” isn’t a good word since we’re all statists, as opposed to anarchists. Maybe “servilists” would work better.

    What our secular elites, in both the public and private sectors, wish for is malleable, interchangeable human resources. Cogs for the machine. A preserved community, extended family, and identity makes resisting external influence easier, but communities can also be inefficient. Modern society wants to match the right worker with the right job, doesn’t want ethnicity, faith, or ideology to get in the way of that relocation. So, I don’t see a sort of “return to capitalism” as changing this trend.

    Belloc was correct in warning of the return to slavery. And Burnham was correct in diagnosing our elite as a “managerial elite”.

    And we’ve been vulerable to hostile cultural elites due to our lack of our own cultural elite. For example, Hollywood and the mass media today. Also, democracy seems to be the institution of preference for the current elite. The host population then blames itself rather than an elite, and that host population seeks to vote change rather than pursuing real change such as in a culture war.

    Also, in our current system, we have a sort of revolving door between the public and private sectors. What “Protestant” solution is there to that? What happens is the bureaucrat or politician serves a private interest, and then he is rewarded with a lucrative job. We essentially have a form of legal bribery.

    I tend to blame the Enlightenment. And I wonder whether the Reformation isn’t also to blame for going overfar. I am Reformed, could never accept the institution of the papacy; but I can’t help looking back to find solutions to our problems today. Hereditary occupations and monasteries, for example, would be more independent of outside corruption.

    Anyway, even if the author rejects everything I say, I believe we can both agree that a homogeneous Christian society is best. And I don’t pretend to have solutions. I just make points. I think it’s important to keep an open mind, to keep first things in focus. It is fully well possible that there are “Protestant traditions” which I cherish.

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    • Darrell Dow says:

      Thanks for the comment. I find myself nodding in general assent. I am a child of the Reformation but my faith is increasingly catholic and backward looking in its disposition. I think it is also fair to concede at least parts of the Roman Catholic critique of the Reformation. I spend most of my time kicking at those in the Anabaptist tradition such as Russell Moore.

      So why include a reference to Protestantism–tacked on at the end of an article with no clear references to religion? There are several reasons. First, I linked to an academic article in that section of the essay which referenced the impact of ethnic homogeneity and Protestantism. Second, I hope to write a brief essay about the Nanny State, particularly the impact of public education–the rise of which coincided in large part with an attempt to “assimilate” Roman Catholics into “Americanism.” In general, it is fair to say that had I lived in the 19th century I would have opposed Catholic immigration into the United States. Third, I am Reformed and a Paleo. I am continually baffled that so few Reformed people share my politics. A Reformed view of the law, the role of the magistrate, sphere sovereignty, and much else should yield support for Paleoism. At this point my comments are designed to kick my fellow Protestants, not Roman Catholic or Orthodox readers.

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      • weavercht says:

        I look forward to what you write.

        I came into politics during a period of ideological rigidness and conformity. All who resisted the “Conservative” narrative seemed suspect of Communism. And there was great vanity around our English liberal traditions, a refusal to even consider criticism of them. All blame was focused on Marxists, never on ourselves.

        Even today we see Keynesians condemned in favour of Austrians. And similarly faux free trade condemned in favour of true free trade. Trade protectionism and an outright end to usury are seen as dirty.

        And it seemed also as if popular books had lost real content. They were but propaganda or written by poor scholars. Then the Internet hit!

        Anyway, watching the Hillary campaign, it appears she wants the narrative to be:

        Rich vs. poor and white vs. other (Rainbow Coalition), with the former in each case the oppressor.

        If we lose to Hillary in this election, I fear only the American Solidarity Party could offer an alternative to the otherwise one party domination of the Dem. If the core of the Constitution Party is the Founders, then the core of the ASP is Catholics, suggesting whites and Latinos could unite politically. And Hillary would no longer be able to use white vs. Rainbow Coalition.

        And it’s possible that political parties are just a waste of time, that doing much more than voting is wasted energy that could be used more productively. We know that power tends to balance, suggesting our future isn’t as bleak as it currently appears. And in this society wealth (as well as position, such as bureaucrat or CEO) is power anyway; so it almost doesn’t matter what we do without first acquiring the power to matter.

        In conclusion, yes, we should have opposed Catholic immigration then. Today, it’s best to have minimal immigration. Trump’s proposal for bringing in the best immigrants would also mean bringing in fewer, though in theory high quality immigrants could exert higher per capita influence on society. So counterintuitively, it’s murky whether we’d truly want high or low quality immigrants. Certainly we want minimal immigrants.

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    • jrroesch says:

      “Statism” doesn’t necessarily mean “supporting the existence of some form of a state,” as autistic anarcho-capitalists define it. Mises’ definition, that statism (or, as he preferred, “etatism,” to clearly mark it as French rather than English in origin) was the belief in the primacy of the state over the nation is much better. Remember, Mises thought that a state must exist and was exasperated with anarchists: “Liberalism differs radically from anarchism. It has nothing in common with the absurd illusions of the anarchists. We must emphasize this point because etatists sometimes try to discover a similarity. Liberalism is not so foolish as to aim at the abolition of the state. Liberals fully recognize that no social coöperation and no civilization could exist without some amount “of compulsion and coercion. It is the task of government to protect the social system against the attacks of those who plan actions detrimental to its maintenance and operation.”

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      • weavercht says:

        jrroesch,

        didn’t Mises believe secession was fine provided it didn’t orient around nationalism but rather some smaller societal level?

        I think he was rather against nationalism.

        Right-libertarians are very strange creatures to me. I don’t think their heroes held the beliefs they perceive them to have held. I haven’t studied Mises closely enough to know though. I tried libertarianism, for a week, when I was still a teenager. It was too ridiculous for me.

        I do like your definition of anti-statism, btw. I probably would like your perception of Mises.

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  2. Pingback: Immigration Undermines Social Trust, Part II: The Rise of the Nanny State | The Paleo-Populist

  3. Pingback: Immigration Undermines Social Trust, Part III: Immigration Undermines the Free Market | The Paleo-Populist

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