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 to 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?
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1Chris Gander May 20th, 2015
If you have a penis, or breasts, then feel proud of it/them and respect it/them. I’m not too sure I want it/them shown in public and I certainly DON’T want it/them shoved down my throat.
The same applies to ethnicity/nationality/religious conviction and any other form of ‘evangalism’.
And the same goes for ‘corporate’ enterprises, whether they be in agriculture or manufacturing.
Diversify don’t conglomerate
2Dave Darby May 20th, 2015
But nationalists I’ve debated with would say that the big conglomeration would be the melting pot, and only by keeping races and cultures separate can we guarantee diversity. My argument is that with the melting pot, there would be less overall diversity in terms of different cultures, but there would be a lot more diversity in the average person’s life – and in his or her genes.
Not sure which of those is your position, but I completely agree with you as regards having a penis shoved down my throat.
3AnnieV May 21st, 2015
Well. I’m not sure tribalism or clannishness is really the problem, although I realise these terms have come to mean a certain kind of thinking. I believe in multiculturalism and equality, but I don’t believe that homogenisation is a good thing. I love that if I go to another country I experience a different culture, cuisine, religion, lifestyle etc and I don’t think it would be a good thing if cultures became diluted or swallowed up. I feel that we humans have the capacity to celebrate our differences without being threatened by them, and perhaps it’s down to education to enable us all to respect each other. I realise that may be very unrealistic of me though.
4Dave Darby May 21st, 2015
Yes, I agree with your position more than with his, but his position was more about ethnicity / race than culture.
As for culture, what about if people in (say) India sometimes want to eat pizza, dance salsa, wear jeans and watch Japanese movies? People everywhere like to experience different things, and when they get the opportunity, they do. So British culture now includes curry, pizza, dancing salsa, Buddhism etc. – as does Italian culture, French, Japanese and Mexican culture, and people in those countries wear much the same clothes. I don’t think we can expect people to keep to their traditional cultures just for tourists. And second-generation Asians (like my partner) are (mostly) culturally much more British than Indian.
We can’t force homogeneity, surely? But cultures that have remained separate feed into a much more diverse society when they meet and mix. I have friends of many different nationalities, and we do the same kinds of things together, eat the same kinds of food, wear the same kinds of clothes etc. I don’t live in a ‘British’ culture, while the people of Indian or Middle Eastern origin I know live in a distinct Indian or Middle Eastern culture. There are many more similarities than differences, and the differences are around the edges. For example, my partner might wear a sari for a special occasion (but not all the time, because they’re not very practical), and obviously she’s much better at cooking Indian food than me – because she learnt from her mother. But we’re much the same really.
But – as I said, the ‘melting pot’ I was talking about was racial rather than cultural.