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.