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October 28, 2018

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Blissex

«I fear that centrists are committing an old error, a version of the Wykehamist fallacy. This is the tendency to believe that their interlocutors are, at bottom, good chaps who are amenable to reason because they went to the right schools»

I fear that our blogger suffers from the same fallacy, because he rather rarely mentions the possibility of conflicts of interests, rather than error, as the basis of disagreement.

In this post he seems to me to rather endorse the wykehamist attitude but wiuth the exception that people who have opinions he considers nasty are obviously not wikehamists, so they should be marginalised rather than debated.

Rob

I can see your point, but there's a few problems here.

Your arguments run as follows:

1) This topic should not be up for discussion
2) Even if it were up for discussion, we are not rational enough for the discussion to produce useful outcomes
3) Even if we were able to rationally discuss it, the opposing side is dishonest and will argue in bad faith
4) Even if we clear the field of bad faith argumentation by simply asserting our own views without response, we risk drawing attention to the question, which opens up the possibility of erroneous response from those who become aware of it
5) Even if the debate proceeds entirely according to our own preferences, it is pointless anyway as we do not have the right to debate the question
6) Even if none of the above were true, there are still more important things that we should focus on, and we must choose priorities

I broadly agree with your position - that immigration is not a problem, and that even if it were a problem for some, the ethical demand for open borders overrides it. And, if we care about improving the condition of our society, there are many other issues we should be devoting our time to.

But. But. But. At this point we are left arguing that there is no alternative, that any restriction on immigration is immoral, that even to debate the question risks incredible harms. This is not a standard that we impose anywhere else. If I were less sympathetic, I might see this as simply an attempt to shut the debate down. Even as a sympathetic person, I'm not sure that this is entirely wrong.

I suspect that we take this stance here because we are very afraid that we might lose the debate. After all, debate is not about uncovering moral truths, so even if we are convinced of the rightness of our cause we might be afraid of losing the debate.

For my part, I would have to begin by acknowledging that yes, a certain conception of the West is threatened by diversity. Certain patterns of social behaviour can and will be disrupted by it. Certain social institutions might find it harder to survive. Building a multi-ethnic society that allows for cultural variation while maintaining high levels of trust and cohesion is bloody difficult, which is precisely why we ought to do it.

The threat to "our way of life" is real. But our way of life is imperfect, and the chance to change it is an opportunity as well as a threat.

The reason we don't want the debate is that, to be honest, most people wouldn't agree with what I just said. There's a large conservative faction that would like to keep things as they are (or were some decades ago), and a middle-ground faction who would quite like an easy life with some safe cultural diversity so long as no conflicts occur, and there is the smaller still faction that sees creating a new society as a challenge and a calling. So we try to get our way by default, muddling through, making as few arguments in favour of our position as possible so as to avoid arousing our enemies.

In the 90s and 2000s, this seemed to be working. The middle faction was happy with their easy life because the economy was strong(ish) and conflict was minimal. Now things have changed, and we discover that relatively few people are willing to fight for an open immigrant-friendly society. The reactionaries are not really any greater in number than they ever were, but the middle-of-the-road types are willing to give them a hearing now. I am not sure that we have the option of refusing to discuss the matter, if the alternative is losing by default.

B.L. Zebub

@Chris,

In my experience a most important variable influencing public debate is the side cashed-up groups take on the debate. Wealthy proponents of irrational stances seem to be able to make a difference, for the worse.

Take the ill effects of smoking as an example. It may pay financially to foster irrationality.

Are there extremely wealthy, die-hard supporters of the anti-diversity point of view? If there are, then debate might be counterproductive.

Scratch

"Are there extremely wealthy, die-hard supporters of the anti-diversity point of view?"

I doubt it. Capital seems universally devoted to the concept - which renders it automatically beyond the pale. I'm guessing they see it as fundamentally a method of undermining solidarity.

Jim

The question I want answered on the diversity issue is this: would Nigeria be a better country if it had more white people living in it?

Noah Carl

I am a big fan of your blog, but this is a very disappointing post. Yes, refusing to debate someone does not infringe his rights, but do you really suppose society would be better off if, whenever a disagreement arose about a controversial issue, people refused to debate one another? You could make the argument above about essentially any controversial issue (e.g., abortion, death penalty, socialism, etc.). It is not good enough to say 'You can’t debate with liars'. There are liars on both sides of every controversial issue.

Debating whether ethnic diversity is a 'threat' is not equivalent to debating creationism (and you should still be willing to debate creationism). The latter is a set of positive claims about the world that can be shown to be wrong. The former, by contrast, is a political position, which rests on many different (and often highly contested) positive claims, as well as a certain normative claims about what society should or should not prioritise. Again, it is not good enough to simply pretend, 'my ideological opponents are like creationists'.

The fact is that a large number of people in society are already concerned about ethnic diversity. These people range from those with highly unsavoury views to those who are a little bit socially conservative. Your suggestion not to debate the issue seems to me unlikely to convince any more than a tiny fraction of such people to abandon their positions. On the contrary, it seems likely to embolden those with the most unsavoury views. And to the extent that this is the case, your position can be regarded as potentially unethical.

Handy Mike

Oh come *on*.

This is a personal blog. You don't write it against a deadline to earn a crust.

What possible excuse can there be for will-this-do? rubbish like this?

Ralph Musgrave

I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of the political left. Chris apparently does not understand why the idea that diversity threatens the West might be valid. So I’ll explain in as simple language as I can.

Why is Pakistan culturally very different from the UK? Pakistan is poorer, more politically corrupt, etc. Is it due to Pakistan’s proximity to the Himalayas? Obviously not. It’s either down to genetic (i.e. racial) differences between Pakistanis and Europeans or cultural differences. If we import Pakistanis in large numbers, the proportion of the UK population with deficient genes or culture increases.

And what d’yer know? The UK is rapidly being Islamised: FGM is now effectively legal, halal animal cruelty is now OK, women who step out of line in Islamised areas are tried by Sharia courts, etc etc.

TowerBridge

Very interesting, both article and comments. I particularly liked the one from Rob and it is a dilemma I am dealing with at the moment as one of my acquaintances is "Alt-night" and all he ever talks about is race. Pointing out statistics and citing information from the ONS or full fact is simply met with the idea that these people who gather such information are all in it together.

It is a lot like the bad faith and you can see that in the whataboutery from Jim above and in the comment from Ralph which begins "... Stupidity of the left..." which is about as arrogant a stance as one can take (i.e your opponents are stupid).

I do like the idea of asking the question, "what can we take from these cultures to advance our own?" Whilst also maintaining the question of "what is it we do not want?" Rather than just "send them all back/kill them".

Anyway, thanks all, food for thought.

Robert Mitchell

Fix the supposed opportunity cost by writing programs that will make your arguments on any topic for you.

Dipper

Well, where to start. Lets start with "Diversity"

who owns the definition of Diversity? What is that definition?

Is a society which consists of segregated silos based on race/religion actually diverse? Or is it simply a collection of non-diverse micro-societies? Should we have a diverse set of opinions about the place of women in society? Should women be expected to embrace a diverse set of attitudes towards them?

Should we have mandatory diversity training for Imams? for Rabbis of ultra-orthodox jewish sects?

How "diverse" should our laws be? Should we have a "diverse" set of laws that reflect "diverse" attitudes about, say women in society, and allow individuals to select which laws they believe should apply to them?

Diversity, as in expecting that people in a society should be different and be allowed to express that difference, is IMHO a good tihng. But that isn;t what you are talking about. You are using Diversity as a stick one part of society uses to beat another part of society into submission.

Dipper

Just to go on, what is the intended outcome of a "Diversity policy"? What is it that you are trying to achieve?

From what I can see, "Diversity" as you call it, is actually Identitarianism, which is a wholly bad policy and a racist one too.

Consider the following example: a class room with pupils with different races in a deprived area, walk in and say to the non-white children, "people of your colour on average have lower outcomes than the average white person, so we will give you more opportunities than your white class mates because white people on average do better."

The white children in that scenario are being classified with more privileged people and hence being denied opportunities simply because they are white; had they been able to claim a different ethnicity, they would have had a different outcome.

To assign individuals to groups based on their race, and then provide outcomes for those indivduals because of what other people of their race have achieved even if they share nothing with them other than their race, is a clearly racist policy. This is what Diversity means in practise. It means grouping 80% of the country into one category, and delivering outcomes based on averages of that category, and ignoring massive differences in circumstances within that category. it is not a policy designed to liberate people, It is a policy designed to oppress people based on their race.

MJW

When someone says it's better the question isn't asked at all, it normally means they already suspect the answer is one they don't like.

Is diversity a threat? In some cases, very probably. If along with the definite positive contributions it makes it also introduces degenerate stuff too. Not debating it seems like an attempt to maintain taboos around problematic things like FGM, the rate of disabled offspring amongst immigrant groups that practice inbreeding (you married your cousin, your parents were cousins, their parents were cousins), proprietary attitudes to female members of your family, homophobia, honour killings etc...

Should we just turn a blind eye; whilst week after week articles appears in the Graun about how bad poverty is in communities where women 'choose' to stay at home and pop out sprogs, or how terrible it is when the father tends to be missing from their child's upbringing, and how shocking it is the NHS/schools/social care doesn't have enough money for kids with disabilities, and the outrage of nobody ever getting prosecuted for FGM? But always being 'culturally sensitive' enough not to correlate underlying causes with 'diversity', ask for more money yes, looking under the covers no!

Blissex

BTW our blogger is cleverly misunderstanding that there are two debates about "immigration", the one about cultural migration and the one about economic migration, when he writes:

"So far, all I’ve said rules out debating with anti-immigrationists as equals"

The difference is between freedom of movement of people and of workers: AFAIK countries like the UK, USA, etc. have pretty much absolute freedom of immigration for people of independent means, the restrictions apply only to economic migrants.
Rentiers have in effect complete freedom of movement across first-world countries, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Jim

"I do like the idea of asking the question, "what can we take from these cultures to advance our own?" Whilst also maintaining the question of "what is it we do not want?" Rather than just "send them all back/kill them"."

Good luck with that.

'Ok Mr Ahmed, we really like your hard working attitude, and your culture's respect for the elderly and family oriented nature, but if you want to come into the country you're going to have to lose the rampant homophobia, disrespect to women, genital mutilation and violent refusal to accept criticism of your religion.'

Cultures are not divisible at an individual level. If you accept the individual, you get all the facets of their culture, not just the good ones. The only way to not accept the bad ones is not accept the individual in the first place.

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