Is Diversity bad for A Nation's Prosperity?

Feb 2015
111
south Slavic guy
#91
I don't know. I tjink tension is caused by people being out of their comfort zone and feeling unsafe when others around them don't look or act like them, and particularly speaking a different language. Have you ever experienced cukture shock? I did, in Japan the first time I went - and that's despite speaking Japanese and knowing largely what to expect. It's like that but because it takes place over a longer period of time, it's more insidious.

As an example, I stayed in the Marble Arch area of London some years ago, and the area was largely populated by people of Middle Eastern origin (at least, it was then). People were speaking Arabic, shop signs were in Arabic, and people dressed and acted as they would in the Middle East. There were very few people of obvious white British descent around. I felt uncomfortable, and that's despite the fact that I grew up in the Middle Eas.

Whereas going into London's Chinatown, which is in the centre of the tourist district, where there are lots of British people around,I felt perfectly comfortable despite the shop signs being in Chinese (which I don't speak), and the locals speaking either Chinese or heavily aaccented English.
Well.. it makes sense.
If you go to England you expect to see English. Ain't that the logic?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,542
US
#92
Have you ever experienced cukture shock?
Yes, I have and can relate. I once worked in a African American neighborhood at a institution that served African Americans. I was virtually the only person who was not African American. Once when I was walking from one of my workplace's buildings to another a few blocks away, a group of men driving down the street stopped their car, rolled down their window and asked what I was doing in their neighborhood. I simply stated I worked here and they nodded then drove off. I think they were making sure I wasn't there looking for trouble or some sort of gawker or curiosity seeker, wondering how the other half lives. The odd things is, this neighborhood was multi-ethnic just a generation or two before. Both my grandmother and grandfather were raised there. In a way, it was a homecoming of sorts. Also, many years ago I spent a week at a conference in Washington D.C. The neighborhood consisted exclusively of people who had recently immigrated from Central America. I was walking on a side street one evening and saw what appeared to be some sort of nefarious interaction, probably a drug deal. The two people broke up their meeting, one moving away from me, the other walked in front of me. He was somewhat paranoid because after about a minute of me following behind him, he turned and asked if I was following him in an aggressive manner. I was angry, to be honest, because I felt unwelcomed on s street in the capital of the nation where I was born. I snapped back at him that I was simply walking from point A to point B, my destination. He then crossed the street and walked in the opposite direction.
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
13,523
Europix
#93
The US having a federal government, state governments and then local governments each with their own taxing structure, meaning more cost for less government especially in such an austerity ravaged country as a whole, as the lower governments simply don't have the funding the large one's do but yet citizens feel more taxed with a smaller government.
Thank You.

Personally, I don't think that that is the real issue, or better said, it's a lesser wrong: You can have one central government, one taxation ... do You believe Washington D.C will deal more eficiently with the traffic light regulary out of service in Your street? Or the other variant: would Your local Council deal better negotiating the trans-Atlantic flights regulations?
 
Apr 2018
726
Upland, Sweden
#94
Personally, I believe it's an extremely generalized mistake this projection of nation-state/nation/nationality and it's not only blurring the historical vision, it's also creating false understanding of the present, not to say it serves as "foundation" for some very debatable concepts and ideas (it's not referring to You, BTW).

Although the word "nation" is extremely old, the concept evolved and fluctuated a lot and in time and in space. If You want an example, "Hungarian Nation" concept exists for almost 1000 years, but it's related to Hungarian language, culture, people only for the last two centuries. Most of it's existence, it wasn't related to ethnicity.

An other example (it's a reminiscence of the "ante-nation-state" period) would be that today, in Central and Eastern European states there's a clear distinction between "nationality" and "ethnicity" from the legal, constitutional level down to the individual perception. "Nationality" is simply the citizenship and has nothing to do with ethnicity.

A Serb will answer You he is a Serb, regardless he has the Serb "nationality" (= living in Serbia and being a Serb citizen), or the Hungarian, Romanian, Croat citizenship.

So no. I strongly disagree with the idea of "proto-nation-states". It doesn't reflect the historical reality in most of the cases in Europe.
It is an interesting point you raise, and I think it deserves to be addressed (by the way, no offence taken, if that is what you meant).

What is a nation? Many nationalists (who defined themselves that way voluntarily) during the 1800s would say that the distinctions you make between ethnicity, language and culture are arbitrary. Also, I think the destinction between "culture" and "ethnicity" (if by ethnicity you mean what is sometimes sloppily called "race", which is quite close but not identical to how I used the term) is similarly a quite modern distinction, from my understanding. For most of history "culture" has been an aspect of ethnicity - with ethnicity being an umbrella term for everything related to "a people" (i.e. an ethnos). It is possible I am wrong about all this, I just want to throw in here that I find trying to make black and white distinctions between any of the terms we're throwing around here to be quite artifical - they're all part of the same "spectrum" of characteristics that a particular group of people or a person can have, which is what matters. Anyway, according to "etymonline" a nation is:

"c. 1300, nacioun, "a race of people, large group of people with common ancestry and language," from Old French nacion "birth, rank; descendants, relatives; country, homeland" (12c.) and directly from Latin nationem (nominative natio) "birth, origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of people, tribe," literally "that which has been born," from natus, past participle of nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. "

So where do you draw the line? Let's take your example of Hungary: When you say that the concept of nation has existed in some form for 1000 years, and yet you say that it has only implied language and culture for the past 200 and ethnicity for a fraction of these 1000.... then what did it mean before? Are you saying it only related to people living under the same ruler, and that it had nothing to do with ancestry, language, continuity of habitation in a specific place etc.? It seems strange, my interpretation is that for much of European history all of the terms we're using here were even less clearly distinguished than they are today...

I agree about your description of the current state of the Southeastern/Central European countries you describe, but I disagree with your overall interpretation of that state of affairs. Yes, you are right - there is not a 100% overlap between ethnicity and political allegiance today. But surely there is a greater overlap today than at any other recent period in history?

Honestly?

No, it doesn't stand, at least in the sense You haven't brought any convincing argument.

I might be wrong, but from what I understood, You are saying that states containing different ethnicities are non-viable in long term, and that, because of the diversity that is a destabilizing factor.

The second idea that I felt in the subtext is a sort of a "natural coagulation" of the Nation (ethnically homogeneous).

Both ideas are in a lot of cases wrong, as it's ignoring the religious aspects, the political, the social ones, plus the simple randomness, plus the interactions between all those factors.

I'll will go a bit to a couple of examples for explaining why I believe that.
The first thing is not something I have been claiming (or it is not something I wanted to have been claiming - I might have actually written that in my last post: it was rather late, and the post was rather long, so sorry if I wrote that). In my first post in this thread I wrote: "Austria Hungary - worked in a sense. Whether it could have worked democratically is another matter."

I don't think multi-ethnic states are non-viable, but I do think that having different ethnicities in the same state is generally a destabilizing aspect, or at least an aspect that complicates many things. Obviously there are multi-ethnic and multicultural states. In many parts of the world different ethnic groups live relatively jumbled together making coherent state formation in the European sense impossible - Nigeria comes to mind. However, it also seems to be a common denominator that many of these states do not work very well, at the very least they have trouble reaching the "top" of Human Development. If you look at the top 30 countries by GDP/ capita (and you discount for example the oil-states in the Gulf, as their entire economies are basically fake) or HDI it seems clear to me that most of these countries do not have very many different ethnic groups with divergent interests in them. There are some arguable exceptions - we have brought up Switzerland and the United States - but if you can find very many countries in either such list with a demographic profile similar to Nigeria I would be very surprised.

I never said it was impossible to "engineer" a sense of national unity by religion and politics, and very often (if not always) this is part of what makes a nation-state. But the point I was making (or that I wanted to make, I believe there may be a tension between my latest post and my posts before that - so once again, sorry for that) was that even in the cases where that seems to have been succesful, like the United States or arguably Switzerland there is not an infinite degree of difference between the different kinds of ethnicities. In the United States only the descendents of Europeans were for a long time counted as "true Americans", and even after that those same descendents have made up the demographic majority of the country.For a long time a kind of "white American commonality" was also encouraged as government policy, for example by the immigration act the US passed in the 1920s (if I am not mistaken, it positively discriminated against Northern and Western Europeans). In Switzerland 2/3rds of the population are various kinds of "germans", and even so French, Italians and Germans are not so different from each other, if you take a global perspective. Once again, it is nothing like my example of putting a bunch of Afghans and Japanese on an island and having them form a country.

As for your second point about me talking about "natural co-agulation", I might have overstated my case, and saying that "European nation-states began to form in the Middle Ages" as a blanket statement is clearly wrong. But many of the most succesful European nation-states still in existence (the UK, Sweden) have had some kind of political existence that roughly matched a set of ethnic boundaries more or less similar for that amount of time. I don't see how that is in dispute? It also seems to me very clear that none of the most diverse European state-formations (Austria-Hungary, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) are here anymore.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
726
Upland, Sweden
#95
Switzerland is one of the most atypical states in the world and it was from the very beginning. And it's also very misunderstood, as it's "red" through an "ethnic lens".

Switzerland is a confederation, created by local communities (not unlike USA that was born in a similar way), communities that weren't bond by language but by a common enemy (initially) and a "way of life", a bond that remained the real cohesion factor, so strong that it surpassed language and religion. It is why it's still there.

The "diversity" (language/religion) was, and still is surpassed by the homogeneity of the "way of life".
So, essentially Switzerland is divided into several even more ethnically homogenous mini-states (the cantons) that have banded together for political reasons? ;) Okay, so why do the boundaries of the cantons look the way they do? Is a canton more or less ethnically homogenous than a state?

I do not disagree with what you write, but I will refer to what I wrote in my last post.


I was talking about the "state-nation", not about "nation".

And France is the best example in how "ethnic diversity" has so little to do with.

France became a "state-nation" starting with the Revolution, and it wasn't anything "natural" but pure political will, based on a theoretical concept that was applied/imposed.

[...]
Well, even if I would agree with you that state-formation in France only really started with the revolution, which I don't (also, what is a state? It is clear to political scientists, but I am not a political scientist, and all of these concepts are a bit fluid) the France of 1700 or 1600 still seems a lot less ethnically diverse than Nigeria, or the Ottoman Empire. The France of 1700 seems to have had a clearer "national-character" than either of these political entities, it seems to me anyway: France was mainly catholic, its people mainly spoke some form of language that was more similar internally (although obviously there will be differences in the extremesthan to German, Italian, Spanish or English. Etc. etc. (Btw, I will relate the chapter from John Hale tomorrow or on monday - it is quite interesting, and discusses the way Europeans understood each other from the Late Middle Ages until the late 1500s).

I see your point though, and I have admitted that regional identites (which is what I believe you are driving at) are important and even contrasted them with Australia in a previous post, where I called Australia "more homogenous" than even Estonia, because I surmised that it lacks meaningful regional identites (rightly or wrongly, that is not my point). But as I said before, France is not the Ottoman Empire, and was not during the Middle Ages either. You are right that I have perhaps emphasized ethnicity (although I believe my definition of it is broader than that of some posters) too much - it is certainly not the only factor in deciding whether a state is formed, or even effective. But it is a, if not the crucial factor most of the time.


Sorry, but no.

Spoken language (and it's really what it counts, up to the late 18th- early 19th) was anything but mutually intelligible. Even today, good luck in understanding a Bayern dialect, or a Frisian one.

Meanwhile, a northwestern German dialect is much closer (=> mutually intelligible) to Dutch than to Bayerisch.

[...]

Another example would be Croats and Serbs. Even today the two languages are extremely close (a lot closer than dialects of other languages). Normally, he Croats and the Serbs would have become one nation, only that religion, politics decided something else. It's an example of how linguistic/cultural homogeneity can be over-run by religious/political diversity.
Why is spoken language what counts? Most people never moved very far, and for political, administrative, judicial and commercial purposes written language seems just as if not more important, as the King and his ministers can hardly be everywhere in the country all the time.

Yes, I agree - but most German dialects are, as I said with French, close to each other than they are to Polish, Swedish, Italian, Czech etc. That is why they are called German dialects... Interesting example about what seems to be the "artificial" creation of Dutch (is that what you are saying?) though!

Once again you are correct... but you seem to interpret this fact differently from how I do. Allright, so the Croats and Serbs are not one nation? Instead they are divided into even smaller nations, with even more restrictive ethnic, cultural and linguistic characteristics? Or are you saying that they mainly divided because of Political/ Economic reasons and not because of feelings of separate nationhood? Once again, what is a nation...?

AH isn't there anymore also because of the political use (by both Austrians and Hungarians) of it's diversity.

Basically, for Hungarians, Austrians were nothing more than the janitor's son sneaking in and becoming the Lord.
I don't understand, are you saying that I am right? Not to be an ass - but that is what it sounds like. :cool: I have repeatedly claimed (but perhaps not explicitly?) that one of the consequences of too much ethnic diversity is that the rulers or dominant ethnic groups start playing of different groups against each other. This can work for a time (perhaps a very long time), but it hardly seems like a workable strategy for creating a sense of trust between the different demographic groups of the population.

I like your metaphor about the Janitor's son though haha! Also I am curious, did the Hungarians really percieve the Germans as part of the Hungarian nation? Once again I am curious what you mean by this, and what your understanding of the Hungarian conception of "nation" is before the last 200 years, since you seem to claim, if I have understood you correctly, that it is - contra to the etymological definition I provided - not related to language and ancestry?


So to summarize - I agree completely with your analysis that ethnic divisions can be misused! My point is very simple: If they all had been Germans that particular problem could never have arisen in the first place, could it?

I'll stop, as it's already a too long post.

You enumerated a lot of "exceptions", (and yes, there are a lot of them).[...]

Bref, to overemphasize the ethnic diversity, to reduce everything to it, it's, well, reductive.
Great and jumbled ethnic diversity within a state area is the norm in some parts of the world, not every place of the world looks like modern Europe (comparatively one of the more ethnically homogenous places in modern history, if you take boundaries into account). I never meant to say it was the norm, if I did (which I might have, I was very tired) then I clearly was wrong to say so.

I agree, diversity and homogeneity is not just about ethnicity - but they are central factors, and many people have recognized this for a very long time. Aristotle recognized it, I believe Machiavelli did too, and I am quite certain John Stuart Mill explicitly said that "a representative government is impossible in a country where there are large differences in language, race and religion" (or something along those lines) in "On representative government".

I agree with many of your points, and that a singular focus on ethnicity is reductive - but I think I addressed them at the beginning of "Post 94".
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
726
Upland, Sweden
#96
The US having a federal government, state governments and then local governments each with their own taxing structure, meaning more cost for less government especially in such an austerity ravaged country as a whole, as the lower governments simply don't have the funding the large one's do but yet citizens feel more taxed with a smaller government.
Well, it also means that there are more checks and balances on the central government not growing too large and inefficent.

France is probably the most centralized state in Europe and is hardly a wonder of efficiency. I am not saying centralization cannot be efficient, obviously a state needs to centralize a minimum of some aspects of governance (foreign and defence policy, some judicial and administrative aspects) to even be a state - but I am a strong believer in the principle of subsidiarity.

Also, I was not really talking about decentralization in the geographic, but rather the political sense of the word. As in there not being a single source of power with no spheres of autonomy, a total harmony of political incentives etc.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,425
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#97
I don't believe diversity is a strength, at least not such type of diversity that is being sold to us today and for the past few years.

It's the same thing ad oposites atrackt. BS. The Swiss aren't as diverse as people here seem to think. They don't mix much inside the country. The official language of each Canton is unchangeable. Go to the Francophone part - they don't speak much German there and vice versa. They share a common history, a tendency to go democratic and they chose to stay together. But the 4 linguistic communities probably don't intemingle as much as they would if the country was monolingual. They still work together for a common goal though. They learned to live together by leaving each other alone.

Deaf tuner will disagree with me anyway, so I can just as well say it. Belgium isn't exactly the role model of a successful diverse country. The Flemings and the Waloons aren't exactly best friends and I know too little about how the German community and the Limbourgians feel or if they even feel special or not ...

Canada has been taken hostage by the Francophones. It made a 180 ° turn. You can watch it and its diversity go down the crapper as we speak.

Bosnia is a prime example of diversity not working out. Heck, the whole of Balkans is.

I could go on.

Diversity has no place in nation states built upon the ethnicity of a majority. Newcomers have to be assimilated. Minorities are often being either suppressed and marginalised or given so much authonomy that they become like a state within a state. Countries that are built upon emigration still have some kind of culture to which the newcomers have to assimilate. Then they're successful. Nowadays more and more people seem to stick to their original culture and not adopt the culture of the host state. A lot of Hispanics in America, Hmong, other East Asians, Indians and Pakistanis in the UK, Arabs, Turks in Germany - they form their own enclaves within major cities. A lot of people there get everything they need for daily life without the need to know English, German or whatever the official language of the country is and with that the need for learning it is gone too.

Groups tend to be homogenous and have something in common. We are on Historum because we like history. The US marines shave your head and break you to take away your individuality, so the unit becomes homogenous. Diversity gets you killed in war.

Xenophobia is just as natural as the desire for company. Contact with outsiders brings the exchange of ideas, trade, new items from which you can benefit. But it also brings actual patogenes from which you can die as well as metaphoric ones, which also bring doom. Alcohol to the Native Americans and Australian aboriginees, small pocks, communism. There's a lot of examples for this. Numerous tribes call(ed) themselves "the people" while everyone else often weren't propper humans.

I think limited diversity can be beneficial, but it quickly gets too much. Change is inevitable and constant but it is foolish to force it and search for it where it is not needed. Let it come naturally. Don't force diversity and other ideas on people who don't want it. Sadly today even simple disagreement has become reason enough to be labelled fascist and similar names by people who themselves act as fascists. Fighting for diversity by suppressing diversity of thought and believes. Some diversity indeed ...
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
13,523
Europix
#98
but I think I addressed them at the beginning of "Post 94".
It also why I said at the beginning of the post that I don't refer specifically to Yourself but to a strong trend in the approach of the matter.

If they all had been Germans that particular problem could never have arisen in the first place, could it?
It really depends on how You look at it.

Problems in a society/state are arising when tensions/disfunctions accumulate and the said organization (society/state) fails to adapt itself and find solutions to eliminate those tensions.

From that POV it's irrelevant if they are all Germans or not in the end.

If it failed as "not-all-German" society in evolving/adapting thus finding a solution on that particular problem (=> ethnicity) it's possible that as "only-German" will fail in finding solutions on a social problem (and we know it really happened). The "other" will no longer be the Jew, the migrant, but the lazy poor, or the bigot Catholic, or the fat Bourgeois.

There is always an "other".
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
13,523
Europix
#99
Deaf tuner will disagree with me anyway, so I can just as well say it. Belgium isn't exactly the role model of a successful diverse country. The Flemings and the Waloons aren't exactly best friends and I know too little about how the German community and the Limbourgians feel or if they even feel special or not ..
Of course I'll disagree! :)

Belgium as a not successful country ... using what referential for concluding that?

- It's "an artificial country" (90% of Belgians will launch You that if You talk with them more than 5 minutes). An artificial country, that shouldn't, couldn't exist. Still there, closing to 200th anniversary.

- Economically, social welfare, health care ... check any rating and look were it's situated.

- Best friends ... honestly, I've heard worst from Germans from Munchen on Germans from Rostok. I have a good friend from Toulouse, that when it comes to history, invariably gives me : "since French occupied us ..."

Anyway, I entered a bit too much into this ethnic thing and by contradicting some things I consider false I might have a false idea: that I deny the importance of ethnicity, of language.

I don't.

I contest the projections and the over-emphasizing
 
Apr 2018
726
Upland, Sweden
It also why I said at the beginning of the post that I don't refer specifically to Yourself but to a strong trend in the approach of the matter.
Allright. I address such trends as well, so I should not complain...

It really depends on how You look at it.

Problems in a society/state are arising when tensions/disfunctions accumulate and the said organization (society/state) fails to adapt itself and find solutions to eliminate those tensions.
Doesn't there seem to be fewer and often less workable "solutions" available in multi-ethnic societies, though?

From that POV it's irrelevant if they are all Germans or not in the end.

If it failed as "not-all-German" society in evolving/adapting thus finding a solution on that particular problem (=> ethnicity) it's possible that as "only-German" will fail in finding solutions on a social problem (and we know it really happened). The "other" will no longer be the Jew, the migrant, but the lazy poor, or the bigot Catholic, or the fat Bourgeois.

There is always an "other".
Well, I do not intend to defend Nazi Germany on moral grounds, but looked at from a purely functional/ state-survival standpoint the successorstate to Nazi Germany lost a lot less territory and population than did the successor state to AHE :p - althoug they both did a rather crappy job at it...

On a more serious note, where I think I disagree with you is in our attitude to "the other" (I often strongly dislike this concept, as I think it is politicized from its very inception, most of the people who use it are either Marxists or "Post-Marxists" of some kinds... but in this context it is useful, and I understand what you mean). I do not believe "acceptance" of the other is a workable solution. That does not mean extermination is somehow desirable, heaven forbid - but I do believe that if a society must be succesful the elements of it that are "other" must be either 1) re-channeled into something that is productive somehow 2) redefined so they stop being other or 3) society must redefine itself.

"1)" can be good, but is almost always a temporary or otherwise imperfect or impracticable solution if the "other" is sufficiently big enough and sufficiently "otherly", "2)" is difficult, and can seem tyrannical to the elements that are "other" and "3)" is impossible without allowing a minority interest to dictate over a majority interest - and will just like "2)" seem tyrannical to the majority instead.

So, where does that leave us? I agree with you that no society will be 100% homogenous - how does one deal with that? Are all forms of "otherness" the same? We seem to return to square one... That which makes ethnicity so common as something to debate I think is that it is, arguments to the contrary aside, relatively stable - and thus it is always a factor in "othering" or being "othered" (isn't turning words into Verb-form a favourite among the different strands of post-modernists?).

I also want to emphasize that "100% homogeneity" is not desirable - but we should be under no illusion that diversity = difference, which always implies conflict. It is the way this conflict is channeled and dealt with that is relevant, yes... but if the conflicts become big enough (like massive ethnic diversity) I think they effectively become impossible to manage in any productive way...
 

Similar History Discussions