Friday 15 November 2019

When World's Collide.

Different Strokes: If a multicultural immigration policy imposes no obligation on immigrant communities to acknowledge and ultimately embrace their host nation’s most cherished traditions and values, then how is that nation to prevent itself from being reduced to a collection of inward-looking and self-replicating ethnic and cultural enclaves?

THE COALITION GOVERNMENT’S new “Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitors Visa” offers a powerful demonstration of multiculturalism at work. It signals to all those persons intending to settle in New Zealand that their traditional cultural practices will not be forbidden or discouraged by the authorities of their prospective new home. Regardless of how jarring those practices might be to the native-born population, official tolerance is guaranteed.

The cultural phenomenon of arranged marriages is widespread in the Developing World – with good reason. In traditional cultures, the extended family and its resources – both social and economic – has for centuries been the most important means of protecting and advancing its members’ interests. In circumstances of crippling poverty and inequality, the institution of marriage not only regularises procreation, it also offers multiple opportunities for increasing family wealth and prestige. The personal desires of the man and the woman involved are secondary to the advantages accruing to both sets of parents (the groom’s especially) from these carefully arranged and fiercely negotiated family alliances.

Westerners find it difficult to accept the level of individual self-sacrifice which arranged marriages require of the young men and women involved. Our own culture long ago abandoned the notion that parents are entitled to expect the unquestioning obedience of their offspring. In traditional cultures, however, such expectations remain extremely strong. Defiance of parental wishes is not just frowned upon, it can lead to the offender’s expulsion from the family home; withdrawal of financial and emotional support; and, in the worst cases, to their complete disinheritance.

Historically, immigrant children broke free from the strictures of their parents’ cultural traditions by taking advantage of the host nation’s more liberal legal and cultural regimes to seek partners and establish families independently. One or two generations was usually all it took for the cultural traditions of immigrant communities to become more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

Crucial to this process of assimilation was the host nation’s unashamed assumption of cultural superiority. Immigrants were told that they were joining a “modern” society founded on the principles of personal liberty, private property and human equality. Clinging to the ideas and practices of the “old country” was not the way to make “progress” in the new.

This “Melting Pot” approach to resolving the cultural tensions inherent in mass immigration worked relatively well in the age of “scientific racism”. This was because the diverse cultural practices of European ethnicities could be subsumed, in the racist ideology of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, by lumping them all under the broad category of “Caucasian”. In essence, the Melting Pot “worked” because the only peoples thrown into it were white. The populations constructed in this way – especially that of the USA – are, therefore, best described as multi-ethnic, rather than multicultural, societies.

It is significant that the assimilation processes which transformed Europe’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” into “Hyphenated Americans” – as in Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Polish-Americans and, more grudgingly, Jewish-Americans – were simply not equal to the task of assimilating either the descendants of former slaves or, until quite recently, immigrants from Asia. In this regard, New Zealand and the USA have much in common. In both countries the hatred for Asian immigrants – the Chinese in particular – was so intense that their respective governments were obliged to pass legislation which viciously restricted Asian immigration.

The scientific racism of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries also accounts for the dramatic difference between the way Australians treated “their” indigenous peoples as compared to the way Pakeha New Zealanders treated the Maori. According to leading New Zealand historian, James Belich, a small monograph entitled The Aryan Maori goes a long way to explaining the difference in treatment.

Penned by Edward Tregear, a senior and well-respected public servant, The Aryan Maori purported to prove that the Maori were a far-flung offshoot of the Caucasian (or, as they preferred to say in those days, “Aryan”) race. Whether Tregear truly believed this claim, or whether he made it up for the express purpose of bringing the races together, is difficult to establish. The important point is that it worked. The idea that Maori and Pakeha were racially kindred was reiterated everywhere: in political speeches, newspaper articles and school textbooks. In Belich’s own words, The Aryan Maori “arguably ranks with the Treaty of Waitangi as a key text of Maori-Pakeha relations.”

Alas the Australian Aborigines had no Edward Tregear to soften the extreme racial prejudice of Australian settler society.

Influential monographs aside, the driving conviction of European settler societies was that they represented the distillation of all that was most admirable in the “old world’s” civilisation. In these far-flung outposts of the West, the “pioneers” asserted, all that was rotten in Europe had been discarded, leaving only its most wholesome influences in play. New Zealand’s national anthem asks God to “guide her in the nations’ van/preaching love and truth to man”, all in the name of “working out [the Almighty’s] glorious plan”. Or, to quote the Louisianan populist, Huey Long, in these “new worlds” it was a case of “Every man a king – no one wears a crown”.

Who wouldn’t want to assimilate themselves into the very point of civilisation’s spear? That’s the question a great many Pakeha still (very quietly) ask themselves. Scratch the descendant of a New Zealand settler, and the dull gleam of assimilationism, with all its vices and virtues, remains the most likely result. Much less common, outside the universities’ sociology and anthropology departments, is the deep cultural pessimism born out of twentieth-century Europe’s horrific self-immolation.

In the ears of post-war intellectuals, Europe’s claim to global moral leadership sounded obscene. What sort of civilisation could produce Auschwitz?

The First World War had raised all manner of questions about the moral endurance of the West – and the Second World War settled them. European “civilisation” had turned the world into a charnel house. And it refused to stop. In Vietnam, the New World appeared to have decided to carry on from where the Old World left off. Post-war Americans may have looked upon their country as a “shining city set upon a hill”, but non-European eyes saw only cities burning under American bombs.

The central moral question of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries thus became: by what right do Europeans pronounce upon who is, and who is not, “civilised”? After Auschwitz, and the Gulag; after My Lai and Srebrenica; who dares assert cultural hierarchies in which killers and colonialists occupy all the topmost places? And right up until the moment when the “wretched of the earth” started flying airliners into tall buildings and posting beheadings on Facebook, these were good – and fair – questions.

Here are some others.

In a world where no culture or ethnic group can credibly lay claim to moral superiority, is it not permissible for the citizens of a nation to demand that their government take particular care to nurture and defend its unique traditions and values?

If a multicultural immigration policy imposes no obligation on immigrant communities to acknowledge and ultimately embrace their host nation’s most cherished traditions and values, then how is that nation to prevent itself from being reduced to a collection of inward-looking and self-replicating ethnic and cultural enclaves?

Though the ashes of our fathers be scattered and dispersed; and the temples of our gods stand cracked and blackened; should not the voices crying out to save such treasures as still remain within – be heeded?

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 15 November 2019.


John Hurley said...

I think "hatred" of Chinese is an over blown term. They are simply seen as not us and as a competitor. All very well:
Spoonley adds that any change in New Zealand’s ability to attract skills from overseas could have serious implications for our economy. “ If you look at the last 20 years, migration has been a huge part of the economic growth of this country... In fact, if you take migration away, you would have literally no growth, no economic growth.”
With calls for less tourism and a downward trend in wages and conditions, how have we benefited when they dominate at least half of it?
I see multiculturalism as a garden where a gardener chooses simply based on variety and then lets the plants go for it, blithely hoping an enlightened spirit of goodwill will dominate?

Trev1 said...

New Zealand is the target of human trafficking. How do we ensure these visas don't facilitate that trade? How many arranged marriage visas can be issued to one male applicant, or do we now support polygamy? Is the age of the prospective arranged partner taken into account or do we now accept child brides? Even Angela Merkel was forced to admit that multiculturalism doesn't work and that integration was essential for a peaceful, productive society. Are we living in an alternative universe? Or is it the votes of ethnic communities that really count?

guerilla surgeon said...

"I think "hatred" of Chinese is an over blown term."
If that's what you think, and I think you don't know enough about it. Joe Kum Yung was shot and killed in 1905 by someone with an attitude very close to "race realists" today. And there were reasonable amount of approval amongst the general public. Not universal, but enough people were willing to say it out loud.
Not to mention the very methods used to keep them from migrating, and the stereotyping in typical European early 20th century style. Supported by people who believed in eugenics, and the usual hierarchy of races bullshit. They were not regarded as simply "not us", but as inferior, willing to work for low wages, but very definite as you said – about the only correct thing you did say – competition.

Noel said...

"If you look at the last 20 years, migration has been a huge part of the economic growth of this country.."

Except you don't know what would have happened without the migration - maybe for instance we might have set up the local population and especially Maori with more trades training much earlier to meet the demand and would now have a more skilled population, maybe the horticultural sector would have accelerated the use and development of robotics in order to meet labour shortages resulting in a new export market for such equipment, maybe less money would have flowed overseas via those companies and their workers resulting in more money circulating in the local economy, maybe less shonky companies would have been around resulting in less money being not paid to IRD allowing the government to do more, maybe there would have been less house price inflation resulting in more people able to afford homes, less offshore profit for the banks and less millions going to old rundown motels and slum landlords. Lots of possibilities without the migration having occurred.

Tom Hunter said...

In a world where no culture or ethnic group can credibly lay claim to moral superiority, is it not permissible for the citizens of a nation to demand that their government take particular care to nurture and defend its unique traditions and values?

Better watch yourself, Chris: your Leftie critics are gathering and now you're approaching Trump World, or more to the point, their voters....

Yoram Hazony to Bret Stephens: You Hate Trump, But You Created Him

Hazony makes the point that the public has rebelled against Bret Stephens' philosophy. Stephens would call his world-view "anti-nationalist." Hazony would call it "imperialist," because the point of his book seems to be that the opposite of nationalism is imperialism. There is no such thing as a sprawling transnational democracy; it will simply become a corrupt empire where all real power is held by an ostensible elite ensconced in the capital city.

He makes a great point. He says that he hopes that someone comes along to push Trump's nationalist policies but who has sharply-creased trousers and the other superficial markers of the transnationalist elite that Stephens pledges his allegiance to -- Stephens and his NeverTrump fellow travelers sneer at people who feel loyalty to a nation, rather than feeling loyalty to a borderless transnational class of would-be elites, as they do - without themselves being transationalists or imperialists.

Kit Slater said...

Wise words, though “Defiance of parental wishes…can lead…in the worst cases, to their complete disinheritance” misses an important point.

Looks like you missed the Belgian film A Wedding on Maori TV a while back. Murder and suicide are frequent results – see’s Crimes of the Community report. Phyllis Chesler has written in depth on this matter.

John Hurley said...

People are individuals and people have group identities. Big difference people introduced and absorbed within society and introduced enmasse because a leftist government envisages a utopian ethnicless society. And no one said anything about shooting anyone but are happy to see a cohesive status quo remain (past tense). East Asians are more ethnocentric than Europeans (by the way).

Odysseus said...

@John Hurley: Spoonley is pedaling snake oil. Mass immigration has indeed been manipulated by successive governments to boost total GDP, but GDP per capita, the most important measure of productivity and prosperity, has been static or in decline for some time. Immigration delivers a short term sugar rush of apparent prosperity but the medium term impacts on infrastructure, services, wages, the housing market and indeed social cohesion result in an almighty hangover of the kind we are struggling with now. Far better to train New Zealanders who by OECD standards are already more highly skilled than many, including most of the immigrants we have received in the past decade.

guerilla surgeon said...

John. Your first couple of statements make very little sense. You can't complain about leftist governments wanting an 'ethnicless' society and yet also complain about people being allowed by the same government to maintain their culture.

"East Asians are more ethnocentric than Europeans (by the way)."
I know. I have been to Asia. But the question arises so what?

Shane McDowall said...


I could not have put it better.

Perhaps some kind Greenie can tell me why human population growth is bad for the planet, but good for New Zealand.

Perhaps someone can explain why Western nations have to take in every Tom Dick and Harry, but Japan and oil-rich Muslim countries do not.

Perhaps someone can explain why close to 10% of the people living here are on some kind of temporary visa.

But nothing will change because the right love cheap labour and the appearance of economic growth, and the left is dominated by multiculturalist muppets.

greywarbler said...

Noel good point. Reflection on alternatives. Has much of that ever happened in NZ, certainly not much of late. Agencies may hold consultation, but those involved end up knowing that the decisions had been made and their input was time wasted.

Noel you point out the 'maybes' and they all deserve deep consideration. Maybe something can be saved from the mostly unsatisfactory outcomes and turned to better ones. IF is one of the strongest, most pregnant words, in the English language yet so tiny! It asks for scenarios, for imagined outcomes, for tweaking of a plan till it seems to offer satisfaction in completion. IF ONLY, is the opposite I think, and the saddest. Can we pull a rabbit out of this empty hat? We need humour, esprit de corps, and also coeur, imagination, some resignation and stoicism, but we are mercurial here in NZ at times, we could upturn our stoicism and make it a base to rise on.

John Hurley 'a leftist government envisages a utopian ethnicless society'? Maybe that was publicly said, but I think it was more about the economic advantages to the financial elite in the left and right, that were the real reason. An important spur was running NZ on a business model NZ Inc, or in this case Ink! Education to be a business earning its way, funding the important nation-raising education of NZs from the export dollars brought in by the product, the paying customers from overseas. The poorer but aspirational were enticed with offers of work to help pay the bill, which unhappily, took those useful jobs needed by NZs trying to get-by in a denuded small business environment.

Odysseus - good point that Spoonley skates across. 'GDP per capita...has been static or in decline for some time...immigration [gives] sugar rush of apparent prosperity...' As said housing demand rockets out of our orbit. And a final blow, the overseas interests who come here catering for their fellows, compete for revenue from the immigration market, so earnings do not necessarily stay in our financial pool, the profits can float off overseas.

Presently NZs live on borrowed dreams, makeshift structures poorly built and maintained and feverishly replaced, patched or denied. Wake up all of us bozos. But we would rather spend energy criticising the incorrectness of the previous sentence, than amending the other sort of sentence we are imposing on ourselves, family, friends and fellow citizens.

petes new write said...

When they are aware that asians are definately running second in our fair land, Maori and Pasifika will want to be more kindred with the Pakeha, especially considering they,especially the Maori,are pretty much mixed up with pakeha ancestry anyway. I'll be gone before then anyway and it will be up to my Maori and Pasifika descendants to make that decision. Immigrants should remember the adage of when in Rome do as the Romans do.

Ian said...

Shane McDowall said "Perhaps someone can explain why Western nations have to take in every Tom Dick and Harry, but Japan and oil-rich Muslim countries do not."

Every country makes its own decisions about who they let in. Though some countries with land borders have trouble enforcing those rules (NZ is not one of those countries).

Qatar the only oil rich Arab country that is significantly richer per capita than NZ has a population of 2.6 million people of which 2.3 million are foreigners and 300,000 are citizens. UAE is the next richest per capita (about on par with NZ) only 15% of the population are citizens, it has the highest net immigration rate in the world. How does NZ compare with its ratio of foreigners to citizens?

Lebanon a country of 7 million people, no oil and 4% of the land area of NZ and 25% of our GDP per capita hosts close to 2 million refugees. Whereas much larger and richer places like the EU complain that they can't host 1 million refugees. Other Muslim countries like Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan also host very large numbers of refugees. Think about that the next time our refugee quota (i.e. restrictions) come up for discussion.

John Hurley said...

It seems as though the nazis started as a vision of purity. As with today professors and university students were right in behind the Nazis, students were the book burners (not that they would have seen what was up ahead). I don't know if you can blame civilisation that's like blaming the weather for a storm?
You write that “diversity falls flat for many because we’re not all wired the same way.” What do you mean by “wired”?

This gets at political-psychology literature on authoritarianism and conservatism, which shows that between a third and a half of people have a hereditary disposition toward preferring order and security to novelty and change. What that means is that you’ve got members of both the majority and minorities who have that more conservative, order-seeking disposition. The problem we’re in is that when multiculturalism enjoins the majority to be individualistic and post-ethnic, and not to be attached to its groups, and minorities conversely to be attached to their groups, this doesn’t really fit. If you are wired in the conservative, order-seeking member of a majority psychologically, that’s not going to work for you. This is really where I think populism is coming from.

The Burke Review of Immigration deemed diversity to be "of immense value". To whom then? What's more there is no evidence that surface level diversity has any benefit (despite Spoonley's claims of a "diversity dividend").
What's more we have high house prices so you can't just move to an amenable neighbourhood [people; environment]. We live in different spaces to the sort of people whose voices are heard. The Burke Review of Immigration signalled the death of a nation and birth of the Politically Correct State.

There is something very funny about our current culture factories. Cultures are made to fit in life's current realities so a new library gets a Maori name , imagery and language. I wonder how Maori feel about that as the library and it's buildings are 100% European. In other words this is just about power. Elites are designing culture to fit. I recall a letter to the Editor where a watersider and conservationist complained about a real estate agent who had attacked watersiders. He described him as "prowling dingo like for the rich pickings around Lyttelton Harbour". I got the sentiment: place and just being and I would imagine there there is a commonality between Maori and Pakeha in the picture, without the "culture". However all is on the move.

ngawaka19 said...

"If you look at the last 20 years, migration has been a huge part of the economic growth of this country.."

....and a huge part of the homelessness growth. The only difference is, its NZers who are homeless, not the migrants. When Key loosened our immigration laws, the doomcough was so transfixed with exercising his "economics". His short sighted view, never stretched to the longterm results. He never predicted the end game....he wasnt even here for the end game. He ran away like a thief in the night, b4 the end. Great idea, lets make huge money by bringing immigrants in. Boom. Homeless NZers everywhere, like an explosion. Before our very eyes.