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Part 2 Chapter 1 Myths
Pre-amble to Are We a Nation of Immigrants
So let’s get started. Before the 1950’s most of the inhabitants of the UK’s DNA was not just of the same pool but also revealed that many families had existed for centuries within the same localities, some for millennia . I’m going to focus on DNA before looking at culture because there’s been a lot on social networks about how we are all much more related genetically than we imagine. This is somewhat inaccurate, so I will just dwell on that for a while. Quite simply most of the DNA in Britain is from a pool that has resided here (and in much of Western Europe) for over 6000 years. But what of the invaders, the Romans, Vikings, Anglo Saxons, Normans and so on. Well of those 4 invaders, only the Anglo Saxons had an effect on the DNA in some regions of the country, namely around 20%. Other than that the Romans, Vikings and Normans did not leave much of a mark within the DNA pool. Needless to say, these were not examples of immigration, but invasion. I couldn’t help but laugh when researching this section when I came across a BBC page that said:
“the Vikings arrived, bringing a distinctive new influence to the cultural pot.”
I doubt very much that the locals particularly appreciated the Viking’s distinctive new influence. But then this was a BBC report and the BBC seem openly biased when it comes to the perpetuation of the benefits of diversity.
If we go back in to pre-history (around 6,000 years ago) we can see that the early settlers in Britain had DNA that can be linked to that of early settlers in Germany and France and those living around the Iberian Peninsula. These people were mainly Celts and whilst all humans are related in terms of being the same species it is the differences that come about from living away from each other over many centuries, both within our DNA and our cultures that tends to create a sense of “race”. To pretend that we are not different because we are similar rather misses the point regarding friction between certain cultural groups. It is not just that DNA and “the look” of a people that creates issues, it is often cultural incompatibilities that lie at the heart of the failure of people to get on with each other. For instance, Northern Europeans have more in common culturally with each other than they do with Southern Europeans and consequently divisions and allegiances have come about because of that.
It is also pretty much without debate that people can often divide within communities because of class / cultural group, no matter how much their DNA is linked. However, the importance of tribe and kinship is often dismissed by those pushing for more immigration. The innate need for kinship and consequentially “otherness” is not going to be got rid of by social manipulation, just as you won’t get rid of love or jealousy. What this means is, as a number of studies suggest, as a culture becomes more diverse there is less trust between members of the society. Unfortunately rather than accept such findings people continue to try to re-train humans to fight such tendencies, yet they would never try to retrain a gay person to be straight or someone not to fall in love. My approach would be somewhere between the two camps. I’d contend that we accept that this is indeed our nature but through awareness and some control try to treat people as fairly as we can.
DNA like culture continually adapts and changes, it may only take a few centuries for genes to become more dominant within a group and thus create a distinctive, identifiable look to the group. Therefore, it is easy to see how both DNA and culture have a significant impact within the Kinship theory, however, in many ways culture has far more bearing. For instance, most people would feel more connected to a person who shared their culture and social class but had different skin colour than with someone who was of a different class and cultural background but had the same coloured skin. However, it also worth noting that varying degrees of separation come in to play, whereby, for instance, people of colour may well be treated with more kinship by both the black and white communities than each group would treat each other. It seems there may be 50 shades of prejudice in the hearts of all.
There are also studies to support the idea that socio-economic identification supersedes ethnic association, it can also be argued that different reactions to dissimilar cultures and classes may be experienced due to carrying contexts, especially when peoples’ economic status is similar but greater. In other words the middle classes are more adept at being less divided on the grounds of race.
I realise that what I’m going to describe next is this is just my own experience but it should illustrate a few related points. In the 1980’s I lived in Fulham, London. I lived in exactly the kind of environment I just described, diverse and not particularly poor. Across the road from me lived the famous couple Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant, the guy who lived below me was from Ireland, my neighbours on one side were an Indian looking family who’d come over from Mauritius, the people in the house next to them were an Irish family, the family next to them were from the West Indies, the next house along was an African Catholic family, then there was a white English middle aged couple…It was pretty much multicultural and most of the people were quite neighbourly for a while. But the thing is, this was really just a moment, and in time it changed. I can’t say that we all got to know each other well, but I do remember one of my neighbours who was black, telling me he thought white people were evil, so it wasn’t that lovey dovey. I’d say that maybe ¾ of the inhabitants were white along the street, yet it had a multicultural / middle class feeling along with a generally good atmosphere. But before this moment of diversity the street had been far more connected, there were still multiple ethnicities’, but the class level was generally working class. My neighbours on the other side of me came from an even earlier era, they had lived there for over 70 years, apparently, when they were younger everyone knew everyone, doors were not locked and there was generally a far greater sense of community. Now I imagine a lot of people would want to stomp on that notion as being just nostalgic clap trap, but there is plenty of contemporary evidence to suggest that the more homogenous a culture is the more trust there is. For instance, Japan is far less pluralistic, has very little immigration, is comparatively xenophobic yet has a great deal of trust weaved in to its society.
So whilst Fulham during the 80’s and 90’s was a good example of how people of varying ethnicities could live in close proximity with each other, it still felt fragmented to those who’d experienced Britain pre-1950’s. I never scratched the surface to know what feelings were bubbling underneath with my neighbours there, because in many ways there were already divides between us. we would wave hello, but often it didn’t go much deeper than that. It was in many ways a lonely time for me, but that may have been more to do with me than my surroundings, but I can’t help but wonder about the emotional effect of such fragmentations. As the area gentrified there was a further separation between the locals and incomers, polite conversations, but not much more interaction than that. Later, in the first decade of the twenty first century another set of incomers arrived, this time from North Africa, once again there seemed to be further fragmentation and the start of white flight for those who wanted to take advantage of the boom in house prices. What was left was a rich white class, and a poor, generally non-white, socially housed section, and neither would mix much. So, for me, from my own experience, and from research that seems to support my theory, I’ve come to believe that culture and class unify people more than colour separates. However, people will often avoid mixing with others they see as very different to them, especially if one combines differences in class, colour and culture. This somewhat leads to a conclusion that says if people are poor there will be more division especially based on different appearances and cultures, however if people are wealthier they will be more civil but still not come together much unless their cultures seem to be compatible. Here lies one of the main failures of multiculturalism. If people are told to hold on to their culture then interaction between the cultures will be less likely. Telling people that integration is a 2 way street also keeps up the division. There is no logical reason that people of a host nation should have to learn about the hundreds of cultures immigrating in to their areas. Whilst there may well be benefits to learning about other cultures that is another matter and often such benefits find their way in to the host culture over time anyway. As someone said on TV the other day, integration is more like a slip road on to a motorway, people should make a safe space for those joining the motorway to do so, but that’s it, the responsibility to become part of the flow is manly that of the immigrant. Obviously, people who deliberately make it difficuly for immigrants should not be tolerated, but otherwise, to me, this seems like a good metaphor.
Another downside to cultural relativism and multiculturalism has been the pressure put on people that they are betraying their ethnicity if they try to integrate. For instance calling someone an Uncle Sam or a coconut because they wish to take on the host culture creates a lot of pressure not to do so. The consequence of this is that often the host nation will reject the “in-between” culture which in turn reinforced the idea that the host culture does not want to accept them either. Ironically these in-between cultures are often adopted by sections of the host culture, but often lead to further segregation and mistrust.
It’s easy to see that instead of paying heed to the expressions of resistance demonstrated in the Brexit and Trump votes, the political establishment think (as expressed via council policies, BBC agendas, party political doctrines, the so called progressive media) that stamping down on anti-immigration utterances harder, especially by applying even more stifling laws will remedy the situation. After Brexit one could hear the words unspoken by those who wanted to remain and they went something like this: “let’s get rid of the proletariat vote altogether, after all they are a bunch of ignorant, racist, sheep”, or as in the video that spurred me to write this “We just need to educate them more”. So, I thought I’d try taking their advice, and educate them instead.
Before going back to history, let’s look to the future. If we keep ignoring the concerns of the indigenous population (including those of different colours) then the pendulum will swing the other way. Instead of finding a peaceful way forward there may well be a rise of the far right and drastic actions sought to remedy the issues. The words “Civil war” (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) seem to have been on the tips of people’s tongues, especially after the Trump vote.
So maybe by stepping back from further mass immigration, finding a more forceful approach to assimilation, as illustrated by the Swiss approach to integration, (more about that later) and over a period of many decades through which the country can settle in to forming a wide spectrum of cultures but not so wide that people feel no connection with each other, then maybe such drastic possibilities as a rise of the Right could be avoided. In later sections, I’ll be covering some examples of what might not be acceptable in terms of a future British society which are currently allowed to proliferate, and why it may be a good idea to exact a little control. For now, let’s go back to a bitter time.
Today I was talking to an historian who said those trigger words to me “We’re all a bit of a mix”. The reason why it’s an issue is because firstly it’s propaganda, secondly it’s not particularly true, thirdly it’s a justification for further expansion of immigration, and fourthly it’s pretentious in that it indicates knowledge where there is little. It is also dangerous because if the so called progressives are perceived as taking us towards a future that they would never think is appropriate for any other race in the world, then you can guarantee a backlash. If people believe it’s the start of a genocide of the white European race (and it doesn’t have to be accurate to cause a far-right swing) then it needs to be dealt with carefully. Anyway back to the historian, I told her that I believed we are not as much of a mix as she was suggesting and unsurprisingly it didn’t end in us becoming Facebook friends.
As I drove home the talk show radio host was speaking about immigration and managed to get me feelings even more exasperated. The presenter, when confronted with a caller who said he felt concerned by levels of immigration, decided to trell the caller in a rather patronising tone that it was a natural fear but it wasn’t a justifiable one. That immigrants weren’t a threat. Herein lies the crux of the matter. History has continually seen such fears expressed, sometimes without real cause but sometimes with. The question is: Are they justified now? I mean for example, were the fears that migration in the 1950’s not justified in hindsight? Has the society that those who lived here then been torn up and replaced with a better one? Some say yes but many don’t believe so. Later when I will list the advantages and disadvantages of mass immigration in the UK, I think many people will find it sobering.
One of the more contentious issues doing the rounds today is that many people are expressing fears about the demographic threat posed by Muslim birth rates and the Islamisation of the UK. Are these threats real? How much do people know about this who dismiss it and what risks should be taken seriously? Are our liberal values worth risking being lost in a few generations time because we can’t bear to even research in any depth whether there are possible threats now? Most so called progressives will bury their head in the sand or vehemently deny there’s even a possibility that there’s a threat, whilst on the other hand many people may be over-exaggerating the threat. The stock arguments against such worries are: Immigrants traditionally have a higher birth-rate at first but it comes down to the host country’s level in time; religion becomes less important over generations; that even if Muslims became a dominant group it would be a British version of Islam that would be much more liberal than other Islamic countries; and that physically it would be impossible to out breed the indigenous population. Even so, by ignoring the concerns of those worried about this seems to be playing in to the hands of the far right, and would it not be better to approach this more openly to see if there really is an issue that needs to be confronted? For those who think not, we should ask the Native Americans of America (and Canada), and the Indigenous people of Australia & New Zealand, those Indians who lived in the area that is now Pakistan, the Christians in Lebanon, The Copts in Egypt, the Zoroastrians in Persia, about the long-term consequences of becoming minorities in their own lands.
Faced with projection that in the United Kingdom Muslims are expected to comprise 8.2% of the population in 2030, up from an estimated 4.6% today. Is it not surprising that people are concerned? In effect a change to the population make-up of the United Kingdom has been enacted without a democratic vote on the matter. There has been a significantly greater number of immigrants coming in to Britain over the last 70 years than any other invasion over the last 2000 years. Whilst those who support further immigration seem to think this is a good thing they are unable to demonstrate how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages so consequently there is bound to be an unease and subsequent backlashes. The answer seems clear to most people that a pause in mass immigration whilst a consensus is reached, whilst those who have immigrated and their children start to integrate is probably a safer route than the continued and unchecked onslaught.
- At least 60 per cent of the DNA in the cluster had survived from earlier migrants (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature14230). In fact, all 17 clusters are dominated by DNA from settlers that arrived prior to the Anglo-Saxons.
- Research carried out by Oxford University found that many Britons are still living in the same ‘tribes’ that they did in the 7th Century, archaeologists and geneticists found that genetically similar individuals inhabit the same areas they did following the Anglo-Saxon invasion and pre-Viking “influence”. This suggests that local communities have stayed put for the past 1415 years. Many people in Britain claim to feel a strong sense of regional identity and scientists say they the new study proves that the link to birthplace is DNA deep.
- in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. Also there are some strands that are associated with the Iberian Peninsula. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_immigration_to_Great_Britain
- the British welfare state (Goodhart 2004)
- (Baldwin and Rozenberg 2004
- Social cohesion is usually defined in reference to common aims and objectives, social order, social solidarity, and the sense of place attachment (Forrest and Kearns 2001). Social capital, i.e. “features of social life – networks, norms and trust – that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives”, constitutes therefore its key dimension (Putnam 1996: 56, see also Forrest and Kearns 2001; McGhee 2003). Although social capital is a desired resource that both individuals and communities can use for good ends (Fukuyama 1995; Putnam 1993a), it seems that for social capital to emerge, a high degree of homogeneity is required: empirical evidence suggests that communities with high levels of racial and cultural diversity have lower levels of interpersonal trust and formal and informal networks (Alesina and Ferrara 2000, 2002; Costa and Kahn 2003).
9. “strength in diversity” should be achieved through promoting shared values and creation of “unity from diversity” (Cantle 2001; Denham 2001; McGhee 2003)
- Although the debate about the impact of ethnic fractionalization on social cohesion and social ties seems fairly developed and its impact can be noticed far outside of academia, the empirical evidence for the eroding effect of ethnic heterogeneity is mixed, and largely confined to American examples. Recently, researchers investigating the impact of neighbourhood racial and ethnic composition on individuals’ attitudes and behaviour started complementing the race or ethnicity-related predictors with the socio-economic characteristics of an area. They present evidence that socio-economic status of a neighbourhood affects interactions with, and attitudes towards, fellow neighbours. Disorder and poverty negatively influence individuals’ ability and willingness to engage in social activities with neighbours, they amplify the sense of powerlessness and mistrust, and amplify inter-group prejudice and competition (Li et al. 2005; Marschall and Stolle 2004; Oliver and Mandelberg 2000; Oliver and Wong 2003; Ross et al. 2001; Sampson et al. 1997). It is also an empirical fact that poverty and disorder tend to be highly correlated with racial diversity (Sampson and Groves 1989; Sampson et al. 1997). In this paper I argue that to properly assess the effect of racial diversity on social capital, such strong correlation between diversity and low neighbourhood status needs to be taken into account. Therefore, in explaining levels of interaction within community and attitudes that result from them, deprivation should be treated as an equally important neighbourhood characteristic as racial diversity.
12 However, recent studies show that such a change of perspective was not fully justified empirically, and that social inequalities and social deprivation still offer powerful explanations of political attitudes and behaviour (Evans 1999).