Immigration and the Unmentionable Question Of Ethnic Interests
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Arguments over immigration are usually limited to cultural or economic factors. Political scientists like Samuel Huntington point out that the culture of the country will change dramatically if there is a continued influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants. And economists like George Borjas have demonstrated that large masses of newcomers depress wages and create enormous demands on the environment and on public services, especially health care and education.
These lines of argument are, of course, legitimate. But there always seems to be an element of timidity present. No one wants to talk about the 800-lb. gorilla sitting over there in the corner—the issue of ethnic interests.
Any attempt to bring up the ethnic issue is usually strangled in the cradle. Indeed, other lines of argument are frequently met by assertions that they are masking ethnic concerns. Thus immigration enthusiasts are quick to smear arguments that immigration will harm the environment as the greening of hate.
This strategy has been highly effective—because, if there is one area where the intellectual left has won a complete and decisive victory, it is in pathologizing any consideration by the European majority of the United States of its own ethnic interests. By pathologizing I mean not only that people have been indoctrinated that their commonsense perceptions of race and ethnicity are an illusion, but, further, that the slightest assertion of ethnic self-interest or consciousness by the European majority of the United States is the sign of a grave moral defect—so grave that it is a matter of psychiatric concern.
Of course, this is hypocritical. While assertions of ethnic interest by Europeans are stigmatized, assertions of ethnic interest by other groups are utterly commonplace. Mexican activists loudly advertise their goal of reconquering the Southwestern United States via immigration from Mexico—which would obviously be in the ethnic interests of Mexicans but would presumably harm the interests of European-Americans. Jewish organizations, in the forefront of the intellectual and political battle to pathologize the ethnic interests of European Americans, have simultaneously been deeply involved in organizing coalitions of minority ethnic groups to assert their political interests in Congress and in the workplace. Plus the Jewish effort on behalf of their ethnic brethren in Israel is legendary—and can only be described as awesomely effective.
I believe we should get rid of the hypocrisy and discuss ethnic interests openly and honestly.
Until recently, ethnic interests were understood intuitively by everyone. People have an interest, or stake in their ethnic group in exactly the same way that parents have a genetic interest in raising their children. By bringing up my children, I ensure that my unique genes are passed on to the next generation. This is the fundamental principle of Darwin’s theory of evolution. But in defending my ethnic interests, I am doing the same thing—ensuring that the genetic uniqueness of my ethnic group is passed into the next generation.
And this is the case even if I don’t have children myself: I succeed genetically when my ethnic group as a whole prospers.
A major step forward in the scientific analysis of ethnicity is Frank Salter’s book On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethny, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration. Salter’s basic purpose is to quantify how much genetic overlap people in the same ethnic group or race share, as compared to people from different ethnic groups or races.
Different human ethnic groups and races have been separated for thousands of years. During this period, they have evolved some genetic distinctiveness.
But, Salter notes, measuring these differences is now a straightforward process, thanks to the work of researchers like Luigi Cavalli-Sforza whose book The History and Geography of Human Genes documents the genetic distances between human groups.
It turns out that the distances between human populations correspond approximately to what a reasonably well-informed historian or demographer or tourist would expect. For instance, Scandinavians have greater overlap of genetic interests with other Scandinavians than other Europeans. Europeans have a greater genetic interest in other Europeans than in Africans.
In fact, on average, people are as closely related to other members of their ethnic group, versus the rest of the world, as they are closely related to their grandchildren, versus the rest of their ethnic group.
Salter suggests we think of it this way: citing authors like Garret Hardin and E. O. Wilson, he argues that we can’t just keep on expanding our numbers and usage of resources indefinitely. If immigrants contribute to the economy in ways that the native population cannot, the national carrying capacity is raised. But if they are a drain on resources or even of average productivity, they must take the place of potential native-born in the ultimate total population. It’s a zero-sum game.
Let’s suppose that immigrants have equal capacities to the native born. Then if 10,000 Danes emigrate to England and ultimately substitute for 10,000 English natives, the average Englishman loses the genetic equivalent of 167 children (or siblings) in the ultimate total population, because of the close genetic relationship between Denmark and England This is not a great loss.
However, if 10,000 Bantu emigrate to England and substitute for 10,000 English natives, the average Englishman loses the genetic equivalent of 10,854 children (or siblings).
And, of course, it works the opposite way as well: If 10,000 English emigrate to a Bantu territory and substitute for 10,000 Bantu natives, the average Bantu loses the equivalent of 10,854 children (or siblings).
This is a staggering loss. Small wonder that people tend to resist the immigration of others into their territory. At stake is an enormous family of close relatives. And history is replete with examples of displacement migration—for example, Europeans displacing Native Americans, Jews displacing Palestinians in Israel, Albanians displacing Serbs from Kosovo.
All of the losers in these struggles would have been better off genetically and every other way, if they had prevented the immigration of the group that eventually came to dominate the area.
Nevertheless, the big story of immigration since World War II is that wealthy Western societies, with economic opportunities and a high level of public goods such as medical care and education, have become magnets for immigration from around the world. Because of this immigration, and high fertility among many immigrant ethnic groups, the result is rapid displacement of the founding populations, not only in the United States, but also in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and The Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
If present trends continue, the United States’ founding European-derived population is set to become a minority by the middle of this century. In the British Isles, the submergence date is just two generations later, around 2100.
European populations that are allowing themselves to be displaced are playing a very dangerous game—dangerous because of the long history of ethnic strife furnishes them no guarantees about the future. Throughout history there has been a propensity for majority ethnic groups to oppress minorities. A glance at Jewish history is sufficient to make clear the dangers faced by an ethnic group that does not have a state and political apparatus to protect its interests.
It does not take an overactive imagination to see that how coalitions of minority groups could compromise the interests of formerly dominant European groups. We already see numerous examples where coalitions of minority groups attempt to influence public policy against the interests of the European majority—for example, affirmative action hiring quotas and immigration policy.
Besides coalitions of ethnic minorities, the main danger facing Europeans is that wealthy, powerful European elites are often unaware of, or do not value, their own ethnic interests. Frequently, they in effect sell out their own ethnic groups for short-run personal gain. There are many contemporary examples, most notably the efforts by major corporations to import low wage workers and outsource jobs to foreign countries.
Of course, these elite Westerners are the last to suffer personally from ethnic replacement. They are able to live in gated communities and send their children to private schools. They are intensely interested in obtaining wealth and power in order to promote the interests of their immediate family, or, sometimes, their social class. But they completely ignore their enormous family of ethnic kin.
This extreme individualism of Western elites is a tragic mistake for all ethnic Europeans—including the elites themselves, who are losing untold millions of ethnic kin by promoting mass immigration of non-Europeans. It is a case of putting short-run class interest and self-interest before long-run ethnic interest.
In the long run, globalism and multiculturalism are a threat to almost everyone’s ethnic interest because both ideologies actually legitimize and increase ethnic competition. Globalism results in increased competition because everyone has potential access to everyone else’s territory, opening opportunities for plundering another’s backyard. Multicultural societies sanction ethnic mobilization because they inevitably become cauldrons of competing ethnic interests.
In this very dangerous game of ethnic competition, some ethnic groups are better prepared than others. Ethnic groups differ in intelligence and ability to control economic resources. They differ in their degree of ethnocentrism, in the extent to which they are mobilized to achieve group interests, and in how aggressively they behave toward other groups. They differ in their numbers, fertility, and the extent to which they encourage responsible parenting. They differ in the amount of land and other resources held at any point in time and in their political power.
Given these differences, it is difficult at best to ensure peaceful relations among ethnic groups. Even maintaining a status quo in territory and resource control is very arduous, as can be seen by the ill-fated attempts of Americans to achieve an ethnic status quo with the 1924 immigration law. Accepting a status quo would not be in the interests of groups that have recently lost land or numbers. It would also likely be unacceptable both to groups with relatively low numbers and control of resources and, conversely, to high-fertility groups.
Yet the alternative—that all humans renounce their ethnic group loyalties—seems unrealistic and utopian.
Indeed, given that some ethnic groups, especially ones with high levels of ethnocentrism and mobilization, will undoubtedly continue to function as groups far into the foreseeable future, unilateral renunciation of ethnic loyalties by other groups means only their surrender and defeat and disappearance—the Darwinian dead end of extinction.
The future, then, like the past, will inevitably be a Darwinian competition. And ethnicity will play a crucial role.
Salter’s conclusion: the best way to preserve ethnic interests is to defend an ethnostate—a political unit that is explicitly intended to preserve the ethnic interests of its citizens. Promoting ethnostates is not only fair, it also serves the interests of most peoples. All existing nations are vulnerable to displacement by highly mobilized ethnic minorities, especially if the minorities have high fertility.
As Frank Salter argues, a far better solution is to acknowledge everyone’s right to live in a state dominated by their ethnic group.
This universal nationalism would allow people the right to live in an ethnostate that would protect their ethnic interests—and therefore, by extension, the genetic interests of the vast majority of the human race.
Kevin MacDonald [email him] is Professor of Psychology at California State University-Long Beach.
(Posted on October 28, 2004)