Diversity versus Trust: A morality play in which the wealthy and educated are the goodies

Diversity versus Trust: A morality play in which the wealthy and educated are the goodies. By Ed West.

Confusing cause and effect:

The anti-racist norm is part of a wider package of high trust towards outsiders found in the most pleasant parts of the world.

Most of the things which people attribute to the benefits of diversity are actually due to the benefits of the conditions that allowed for diversity: liberalism, a free labour market, wealth, tolerance, trust towards outsiders.

These are all conditions for liberal immigration policies, they are not created by immigration. Where there is selective immigration, either from countries of similar wealth, or people with particular qualifications, and where there are financial incentives in place, immigration may augment these qualities (the US, for example, attracts huge numbers of entrepreneurs).

But with less restrictive – ‘mass’ – immigration, greater diversity tends to erode those high trust norms.

Saying diversity is our strength is like saying wealth is our strength, when of course it is hard, smart work that is our strength. Diversity is not the cause of our nicer societies, but an effect.

The trust issue contradicted the most popular slogan of the time, ‘Diversity is our strength’, which I thought was clearly not true. …

I knew from history that liberalism had failed to establish itself in diverse societies, because it required a level of trust that just wasn’t possible, and politics too often fell along tribal lines.

They lie about immigration, while fundamentally transforming our societies:

Similarly, the idea promoted from around 2000 that Britain was a ‘nation of immigrants’, when the number of migrants between 1066 and 1947 was very small; even the most well-known examples, the arrival of French Huguenots and eastern Europe Jews, were miniscule by today’s standards. On some naïve level, I think it’s wrong for the authorities to lie to people about their own history – a trend that became far more extreme in the decade since.

I don’t think the trends are all negative, by any means. … Upper-middle-class London applaud themselves for the cosmopolitanism of their neighbourhoods, which contrast with the monotone towns and villages they grew up in, but upmarket areas are largely insulated against unsettling change by high housing costs and the distribution of social housing.

Elsewhere, though, the story is different. Immigrants tend to bring their culture with them, even beyond the second generation, and so parts of the city heavily populated with people from other countries start to resemble those countries.

Our moral leaders consider being unhappy about this to be some huge personal failing, yet the fact that minority status is a risk factor for mental illness suggests that this supposed moral failing is part of human nature. Being around people unlike us is often stressful (that includes being around people of the same ethnic origins but who have very different values and opinions).

That means that, if you wish to make your country more diverse, you will impose that sort of stress on a certain number of people, and those people will tend to be the poorest, least powerful and least articulate.

The wealthy and educated turn diversity into a morality play in which they are the goodies, but wealth just maximises its benefits and insulates against the downsides. The educated are also better at negotiating and understanding social taboos, and dissembling on delicate issues. …

Overdoing diversity because it cannot be criticized:

My basic premise was — and still is – that diversity is like most things, good in moderation but beyond a certain point bringing more downsides than benefits. And because it has become such a sacred topic, moralised like no other, diversity was inevitably going to increase beyond that point; there is no taboo on saying that Britain should be ‘more diverse’ as there is on saying it should be ‘more white’.

There is no end point, where it is permissible to say ‘enough’; it is an unstoppable force meeting a moveable object.

Low trust Britain:

As of the 2021 headcount the capital of England is now 36.8% white British, down from 44% ten years ago, following a rapid transformation in the past five decades; England as a whole is under 75% white British, down from 87.5% in 2001. …

This is the greatest transformation in British history for centuries; for better or worse, its impact will be vastly more important than that of Brexit. And it is one that most opinion-formers treat with either glee or insouciance, and to which even the Conservative Party’s response is ‘so what?’ …

Did we win the debate? No. But did we win the moral argument on some deeper level? Also no.

When I was a kid, no one locked their house or car. And nor did we give our selves airs for not being as “racist” as the deplorable half of the country.