Is there a correlation between opinions on ecology and opinions on ethnicity?

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Posted May 20 2015 by Dave Darby of

The reason you’re on this website, I guess, is that you believe that there’s something wrong in terms of ecology, or nature. You may not know the details, but you have a strong feeling (or even quite a precise understanding) that we’re not living in harmony with nature, and that’s going to cause us more and more difficult problems in future. I’d agree with you of course, but what I’d like to know is: does that inclination tend to correspond to a ‘melting pot’ position when it comes to ethnicity, rather than racial separation?

I was at a party last week – the hosts were a Jewish/Catholic couple. There were several Jews there – one of whom had a Muslim partner. I was talking to them and to other people about that, and most people thought it was a good thing. OK, it wasn’t a random sample – it was a sample of people whose social group includes Whites, Jews, Muslims, Blacks and Asians.

But one guy didn’t. He felt that his national identity was under threat, and wanted to protect it. It wasn’t completely based on ethnicity – he said, for example, that Indians are Indo-European, and therefore he could possibly envisage having a family with an Indian woman – but not an African. I asked him why not, and he said it just didn’t feel right.

I said that the priority for humans should be to unite to try to prevent the coming ecological catastrophe, but he didn’t know anything about it (although he did respect peer-review, so he said he’d look into it). But for him, nationalism is important, and it isn’t for me. For me it represents tribalism, and for true progress, I think we have to jettison that notion.

I wouldn’t use force to prevent people having ‘enclaves’ if that’s what they want, but I’d continue to try to persuade them that that’s a retrograde step in evolutionary terms. I said to him that I couldn’t provide evidence for my position, but this party of all different colours and creeds (and it was a great party), indicated to me that together is better than separate.

He said that he could handle disagreement, as long as people didn’t try┬áto blow him up for thinking differently. He said that everything should be up for civilised discussion, and I said that that was my position exactly, and we shook hands on it. At the end of the party, he made a point of coming over to me, looking me in the eye and shaking hands with me – and I respect him for that.

I’d like to persuade him and everyone else to come and join the party. I’ve known Indian, Slavic, Latin, Japanese and African people well, and really, what separates us is only superficial – and very interesting. And we don’t see it if we live separately.

What’s your position?