Note; eksentric spellings are deliberate.
As a word, ‘racism’ is used somewhat indiscriminately. This is unfortunate, because there is a world of difference between racial supremacy beliefs and a group’s desire to retain its ethnic character. The former is held by a tiny minority. The latter is widespread. One holds that races are unequal and that some are superior. The other holds no such conviction; rather, it merely seeks to prevent the transformation of its culture and ethnicity into something unrecognizable. This distinction is lost in the heated, moralistic debates about race and immigration, and an opportunity to find common ground, sadly missed.
The ‘Anglo-zone’ in particular is grappling with this issue – each country in its own way – as the movement of people continues its trend from global majority areas; just about every other country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South and East Asia. Meanwhile, globalization undermines and destabilizes them as functioning nation-states.
Let’s look at an historical example, and use the wisdom of hindsight to postulate a better outcome that might be applied to our present circumstances. The USA’s Civil War was fought over the issues of racism, slavery and the right to seccede. The different distribution of wealth and development played an important role in the dynamic between the industrial north and the agrarian south. The North (the Union) eventually sought to abolish slavery, upon which the economy of the South (the Confederacy) depended.
Instead of spending enormous numbers in finances and human lives pursuing a punishing war, what if the North had said to the South, ‘we’ll help you turn your slaves into employees’? This sounds simplistic, but it illustrates a strategy of owning each other’s problems and finding a shared solution. It wouldn’t have solved the issue of co-existence because the actual manumission, or emancipation of slaves in the USA was complicated by racial supremacist beliefs. The idea of transportation back to Africa was widespread and in fact birthed the nation of Liberia. Nonetheless, if the industrial strength of the North had been invested in transitioning the South’s economy towards a more employee and technology-reliant one, there would have been few losers, many more winners, and a lot less carnage.
Of course, hindsight is an easy thing. How can we apply this to today’s problems?
As I said, every immigrant nation is responding differently, although there are common threads; Brexit and Trump are cries to reclaim control of borders. In the United States, a recent documentary filmaker, Lourdes Lee Vasquez produced Immigration Paradox and found that many people in the so-called ‘alt-right’ were not racial supremacists; all they wanted was for their country’s border laws to be respected and put into practice. This shows that the divide is not as extreme as it appears. In Canada and Australasia the discussion is possibly a little more advanced, although there is still no distinction between supremacy and preservation.
Let me speak as an Anglo-Celtic Australian resident and citizen. Even here, there is polarization around these issues. The only way to overcome this is to reach out to your ‘enemy’ and find common ground, with a sincere desire to understand and look for solutions. This involves give and take. The ‘watermelons’ in the Greens and the ‘rednecks’ in the countryside may seem a world apart, but there is commonality; a concern for humanity and our future together. Whilst one side may be keen to see racial and ethnic differences melt away and our human commonalities emerge, the other side seeks to retain the colour of national diversity and the time to absorb and process changes. Whilst for one side, change can’t happen soon enough, the other side calls for change to stop. In reality, neither side is as extreme as they appear. In a democratic community, it means there HAS to be a compromise to avoid conflict. Ethnic preservationists ask for a slow-down, a chance to assess mutliculturalism and make it true. To me, multiculturalism has become bastardized by economic opportunism and rapid, high levels of immigration. A significant drop in Australia’s immigration levels would slow the unprecedented rate of population growth and prevent the ravaging to the environment that breaks the hearts of Greens. It would also afford time to make sense of our current cultural mix. Business, government and other open-border advocates have different motives, but they all give little consideration to the social stresses their policies create. Living cheek-to-jowl with every conceivable ethnic group increases the psychological load on individuals, many of whom are already cognitively occupied with issues of sex and sexuality, not to mention stagnant wages, technological change and the disruption of infrastructure expansion. The complexities of these issues are repeatedly underestimated by the advocates of non-discriminatory, high immigration levels. It’s a win-win for both sides to slow this down. However, the radicals on the left will have to accept that ethnic diversity between nations remains more or less as it is for the time being and borders are not going to be as open as they’d like them to be.
What will the ‘alt-right’ have to compromise on?
The momentum behind current immigration patterns comes in part from perceived historical injustices. The Age of European exploration, colonization and imperialism included tragedies and atrocities that are shared by countless earlier invading, conquering tribes and nations. The pattern continues today, and not just by Europeans. This pursuit of glory has earned the nation-state a bad rap. If we are to learn anything from it, it is that the desire to dominate is at the core. The biggest culprits today are, not uncoincidentaly, the biggest nations; the USA, China, Russia and the EU. They have only come to be because individuals, rich and poor, have lent their support to competitiveness; the competition for economic, military and material supremacy. What the ‘alt-right’ should yield on is this tendency to dominate. Australia can lead by example by calling for multi-lateral disarmament, a military retreat to within our borders, greater economic self-reliance and a massive beefing up of the United Nation’s capacity to host conflict resolution and conduct peace-keeping interventions. It is a very difficult thing for a country like ours not to be caught up in the geopolitical shenanigans of larger nations. But as a continent with a wide variety of climates and resources, we could be far more self-sufficient and therefore politically independent. This would at least help to diffuse the combustibility of geopolitical conflict. And by the way, the far left would do well to also drop its habit of attempting to dominate debate.