Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: The Atlas Society Asks Jens Heycke

February 07, 2024 01:01:28
Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: The Atlas Society Asks Jens Heycke
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: The Atlas Society Asks Jens Heycke

Feb 07 2024 | 01:01:28

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Show Notes

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman for the 191st episode of The Atlas Society Asks, where she interviews research, writer, and competitive cyclist Jens Heyckle about his book "Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: Multiculturalism in the World's Past and America's Future," the origin of the terms “melting pot” and multiculturalism, along with surveys of multiethnic societies in history.

Jens Heycke is a researcher, writer, and competitive cyclist. He studied economics and Near East Studies at the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and Princeton. Jens worked as an early employee and executive in several successful technology startups, including one that pioneered the mobile internet. Since retiring from tech, he has worked as a writer and researcher, conducting field research around the world, from Bosnia to Botswana.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hello everyone, and welcome to the 191st episode of the Atlas Society. Asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. Most of you know me as JAG. I am the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization introducing young people to the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways. Graphic novels, music, animated videos. Today we are joined by Jens Heik. Before I even begin to introduce our guests, I want to remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Go ahead, type your questions into the comment sections of your platform and we will try to get to as many of them as we can. Though, fair warning, I found this book very fascinating, so I have a lot of questions of my own. Jens Heika is a researcher, writer, and competitive cyclist with degrees from the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and Princeton. Jens worked as an early employee and executive in several successful tech and companies startups, including one that pioneered the mobile Internet. He has worked since he retired from Tech as a writer and a researcher, conducting field research around the world from Bosnia to Botswana. His book, out of the Melting pot into the fire, multiculturalism in the world's past and America's future, discusses the origin of the term melting pot and multiculturalism, and surveys multi ethnic polities throughout history with starkly different outcomes depending on whether they pursued a more unified or group identity model, and explores the implications for the United States, especially given our current obsession with DEI and identity politics. So, Jens, thank you for joining us. [00:02:12] Speaker B: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on today. [00:02:15] Speaker A: So our audience always likes to learn a little bit about our guests origin stories. I'm curious if, looking back, there were any early childhood experiences or mentors that may have put you on the path to exploring how different approaches to ethnic diversity can yield dramatically different results. [00:02:38] Speaker B: Yeah, so my origin story is really an immigrant origin story, and that's where I got a lot of the thinking for this book. My father was an immigrant. He came over on a boat right after, well, eight years after World War II. He had just turned 18 as a teenager, with one suitcase all by himself, he sailed into New York harbor and became an American. And the most incredible thing about his story is he came from Germany, yet he was actually sponsored by a jewish american family. A jewish american family had lost people, family members in the Holocaust. And what an amazing thing that this german kid gets basically adopted by a jewish family here in the US. And how does that happen? Well, it goes down to this very american notion that people should be treated as individuals and not as members of groups. There's no group guilt or inherited guilt that everybody can come to this country and be seen and valued as an individual. And that went on when he joined the military, joined the military within a year of arriving here. And he had officers who had fought against Germans, and they also accepted him. And once again, they treated him as an individual. And I think people who've lived their whole lives in America don't realize what an amazing thing that is, this notion of valuing people's individuals and not seeing them as members of distinct groups. So that was kind of the start. [00:04:24] Speaker A: Yeah. Well, interesting, you know, that your dad, as an immigrant now, he could have named you Jim or John or Joe, and perhaps growing up, maybe you had wished at times that he had. So I'm wondering if just as a little boy growing up with a name that isn't obviously clear in terms of how to pronounce it, did you feel a separateness, or did you feel that the schools that you went to, you, too, were pretty much accepted for who you are? [00:05:01] Speaker B: I did, and I was. And that's what's so cool, is that somebody can have a name like mine, or they can be called Vivek Ramaswami. Right. The two of us don't look anything alike. Our origins are completely different, yet nobody would ever question that we're both as american as apple pie. And you go to other parts of the world and you quickly realize things don't work that way. There are people, turkish descent, who have lived in Germany for three generations, and they're still called Turks. People, ethnic Chinese in Malaysia who are still called Chinese after 500 years of living there. So this is a really special thing about America that I came to value highly, and I think all Americans should, that anybody can become part of this american team. [00:05:54] Speaker A: So if I understand this book, the research for this book began many years ago. What was the inspiration for it? Obviously maybe a bit from the kind of assimilationist America that you remember growing up in to this current, again, preoccupation with separate identities and segregation. Tell us a little bit about your. [00:06:26] Speaker B: It really, most of it went back to a single seminal moment when I was a PhD student at Princeton, and I was selected for this group of PhD students to recommend new faculty members. And there's like four or five of us. And the first thing anybody in that committee said was what the skin color and gender of that recommendation needed to be. It needed to be a woman of color. Mind you, this is back in 1989. Right? So this has gone on a long time, and it was kind of at that point that I started thinking, what are the long term implications of distinguishing people by group like this, going against that experience that my father had, that suddenly you're no longer an american, you're this group, or you're that group. How does that play out? How has it played out in history? And that's when I started to really think about it. And one of the other things that happened with that episode is it actually led me to leave the university because I figured that sort of conversation was happening in faculty lounges around the country and that the future in academia for me might not be so good, given that. So that's when I drove out to Silicon Valley and taught myself how to program and ended up writing. [00:07:50] Speaker A: You learned to code in the common parlance and struck out for places where I guess you felt that your contributions would be evaluated on an individual basis and not based on your group identity. So let's start with an understanding of the term and the title out of the melting pot. What's the history of that concept here in America? Was it explicitly considered an ideal model? If so, when did we begin to turn against that? To the point where even the mention of the term melting pot is apparently considered a microaggression on some campuses? [00:08:36] Speaker B: Yeah. So the melting pot model occurred in the United States organically, almost from the get go. You can go all the way back to one. Six hundreds. New York was called New Amsterdam at the time. There's less than 1000 people there. 18 different languages were spoken, and over time, those people melded together. But it was really in the early 19 hundreds. 19, eight specifically that Israel Zhangwell, who's a russian jewish immigrant, wrote a play called the Melting Pot. And that really put the term in the popular lexicon. And Teddy Roosevelt was a huge fan of it. And it was at that point that the government actually started talking about it in literature. So by the time you get to World War II, the US was issuing a guide for new immigrants that specifically said, our country is a melting pot. We expect you to come here and share your culture with all of us, and together we'll form sort of a unifying american identity. So that was roughly 1940s. If people who are boomers like me will remember. What was that show called? American schoolhouse, the one that had the songs, I'm just a bill on Capitol Hill, all that stuff. They had a melting pot song too, right? In 1970s, 1980s. Interesting. And it was all over in textbooks when I grew up. It was in most of the social sciences textbook, and it was lauded as this great thing. [00:10:17] Speaker A: When did that start to. [00:10:21] Speaker B: Like a lot of the nasty trends? It started with elite academics, specifically with elite academic anthropologists. Franz Boaz, notably other people, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead. In the 1950s, they started this notion of cultural relativism, the idea that you can't judge cultures. You can't say one is better than another. And that undermines the whole melting pot ideal, because that ideal is based on taking this and that from different cultures, whatever you deem best for your circumstances. And when you have cultural relativism, that no longer makes sense because you can't evaluate cultures against each other. It took decades for that thinking to kind of seep into the broader society. But by the time you get to the 1980, Jimmy Carter gave a speech where he said, I don't see this country as a melting pot. I see it as a mosaic. Different values, different morals, different cultures. [00:11:31] Speaker A: Interesting. So you observe that the political elites tend to be the most prominent proponents of prominent opponents of melting pot integration and the biggest supporters of policies that distinguish and divide people by ethnicity and race. What are some examples of that, for example, with regards to political initiatives? Maybe that one. But then you see support for them among more elite populations. And any thoughts on what is motivating that divide? Is it, again, kind of elite education? [00:12:16] Speaker B: Yeah, this is a thing that goes all way back in history. It can go back to the Otoman Empire. And the way. A lot of people don't know this, but the muslim otomans who ran that empire were a tiny minority for hundreds of years. They ruled over Christian, Jews, all kinds of different groups. And the way they did that is by dividing. They took a divide and conquer approach. They kept those groups separate and kind of made themselves the distributor of goodies. So all those different groups had to appeal to the otoman central command to get their goodies, and they contended against each other to do that. So it was a divide and conquer approach. Same thing happened during the colonial era. The british and belgian colonialists in particular took that approach, divide and conquer. If we keep groups separate and kind of do favors for this group or that group, we can pit those groups against each other and maintain our own position and our own control because they're focused on competing with each other instead of challenging us. So that goes all the way up into the modern era. When you think of modern elite politicians, one of the ways they gain a loyal constituency is by appealing to specific ethnic groups or saying, I'm going to do this for you, group a or group b that way, by kind of dividing people up like that. They establish a loyal constituency. [00:14:01] Speaker A: Interesting. So what are some of the examples like, let's say, propositions to end affirmative action. How does this actually show up in terms of. [00:14:13] Speaker B: Yeah, this is kind of an interesting thing that I don't think many people know. But starting in the have been a number of state propositions to basically outlaw affirmative action. Prop 209, I believe it was in California, was the first one. Ward Connorly sponsored that, and that passed overwhelmingly. People said, we don't want affirmative action. Well, guess what? It failed among the wealthiest, most educated people in the state. So it failed miserably in Marin county, which at the time was the richest county in the country. And the same thing. There was a similar initiative in Washington state. It passed overwhelmingly statewide. But then when you took the contingent of people making over 100,000, they all voted against it. So curiously, the wealthiest, most elite, most educated people were the ones most opposed to getting rid of affirmative action. [00:15:18] Speaker A: Fascinating. And I think that this is continuing to show up with recent polling that we've seen on the Supreme Court decision to ban racial preferences in university admissions. Actually, you think that it would be universally opposed by groups that might benefit from them. But I think that it's almost as if you're seeing little green shoots of melting pot coming back with people across different so called identities actually saying, no, you know what? I think people should be treated based on merit and individualism. [00:16:03] Speaker B: If I could add something, one of the reasons that position is palatable for rich elites, and it's the dirty little secret of legacy admissions, right? This came out in the Harvard case that nearly half, something like 43% of the white kids at Harvard are admitted for legacy or deans list type reasons. They didn't get there by merit. If you're a wealthy elite, affirmative action is no skin off your nose because your kid's already getting in under the legacy preferences. So my take is, if you want to get rid of affirmative action, get rid of the legacy preferences. And then all those elites will come around and pretty soon they'll be against affirmative action too. [00:16:51] Speaker A: And yes, also get rid of preferences for the children of school administrators and professors and make it a purely merit based affair. So one of my greatest delights in reading out of the melting pot into the fire is the history that I learned as you survey various ancient civilizations and experiments with either the melting pot or multicultural approach. We can't get to all of those examples in 1 hour, but perhaps you could contrast a couple of the earliest and most striking instances of the divergent approaches to diversity and their consequences. [00:17:41] Speaker B: Yeah, I really have to start with Rome because that's the most profound example. And interestingly, and I cite them in my book, early roman figures, people like the emperor Claudius and Cicero, specifically acknowledged that Rome's success was due to it following a melting pot approach. They didn't specifically use that term, but they actually described the said, you know, anybody can become a roman and join the roman team, and that's what makes us so resilient and so strong. And Cicero and Claudius are just two people that said that. There are many other historians along the way that know this is why Rome works. And it goes back to the very beginning of the Roman Republic, that we tend to think of Rome as being kind of this homogeneous entity. It wasn't from the get go, it was actually a fusion of volskian and Sabines and Etruscans and all these different groups. And as it got into the imperial era, that model continued and they continued to bring in people from all different races and ethnicities and Romanize, make them roman in this roman melting pot. So I give one example, Lucius Quietus. He's a black african guy who joined the roman legions and he was really talented and he rose up the ranks, became a general, eventually became a consul, which is like being prime minister or president. So 2000 years before Barack Obama was elected, the Romans have a consul who's a black african. So your race and your ethnicity were no bar to becoming roman and to rising up the roman ranks. And what that did is it gave people from all over the Mediterranean, regardless of their origins, this sense that they could be roman and that they had a stake in roman success. And a lot of these people had never even been to Rome, yet they considered themselves roman. So you get to like the first or second century AD and roman legions. They're not a bunch of italian guys, they're Panonians, they're Spaniards, they're Britons, people from all over the place. And every single one of those people considered themselves to be roman, even though they came from somewhere else. And what that meant is whenever the roman empire faced external challenges, there were a lot of people willing to lay down their lives. In its defense. You didn't have 1 million people who lived in Rome who were roman. You had 50 million people all over the ecumen who thought they were roman. And it just gave that Rome this amazing resilience that allowed it to last 1000 years, or 2000 years if you include Byzantium. [00:20:46] Speaker A: So why did the roman empire fall? Just kidding. Obviously beyond the scope of your book and certainly this interview. But you do venture some explanations of how the shift from the melting pot model to more of a multicultural one helped maybe hasten the decline. So can you explain? [00:21:12] Speaker B: Yeah. So, again, I would not cite this as the only reason, but a significant reason was that beginning in the fourth century, the Huns started to push people across the eurasian steppe onto roman territory especially. And this wonderful assimilation Romanization model that Rome was using up until then started to break down because it's kind of like our southern border today. They had these massive incursions of Goths who were basically fleeing the Huns, settling on roman territory. And in one instance, 200,000 Theravingi crossed the Danube and the emperor Valens settled them on the roman side. So you started to have all these segregated ethnic enclaves of people who were no longer being assimilated. They were just settling in their own little areas, and they provided fighting men. But those men didn't integrate with the roman troops as they had for all the previous generations. Instead, they were sort of segregated out, spoke their own languages, they had their own leaders. And eventually they became a kind of a dangerous third column within Rome. And there was, I wouldn't say a right wing backlash. That's sort of what we have today. But there was a backlash, and it really tore the roman empire apart. And it was eventually those goth immigrants who dismembered the roman empire. [00:22:55] Speaker A: So in terms of relatively recent history, obviously the example of Rwanda jumps out not just because of the scale of the genocide committed there, but how policies implemented by belgian colonialists help to set the stage for the eventual violence. Could you talk a bit about that experience and also how Rwandans themselves reacted to it by essentially abolishing ethnic identity with regards to policy? [00:23:32] Speaker B: Yeah, it's a fascinating story. And I know there's a tendency of people to think of countries like Rwanda as places that have these ancient tribal rivalries that go back hundreds of years. The reality is quite different. Before the belgian colonialists arrived in the early 19 hundreds, there were these two groups, the Hutus and Tootsies. But there really wasn't any regular violence between the two. They have exactly the same language, culture, everything's identical. And there's a lot of intermarriage between them, and Hutus could become tootsies, and Tootsis could become Hutus. And when other outsiders invaded, the two of them banded together to fight them. So they actually got along pretty well. And the Belgians, when they came in, they decided, kind of like the Otomans, that the best way to manage this vast territory with just a handful of Belgians is to take a divide and conquer approach. So based on some kind of weird racial theories, they separated the two out and issued mandatory identity cards that said whether each person was a hutu or a tootsie. And then they implemented a system of affirmative action that favored the tootsies. They had that for roughly 30, 40 years. So if you wanted a government job or education, it was really easy as a tutsu. It was almost impossible as a Hutu. And then, bizarrely, just before Rwanda got independence, they flipped that system on its head and favored the Hutus instead of the. You know, if you were to develop an exercise in how you could pit two groups against each other in homicidal furor, this would be how to do know. You couldn't dream of a better way to do it. So after Rwanda got independence, the Hutus maintained that system of preferences, where they got favored for employment, for education, for everything. And that went on for another 30 plus years. And all along, the tension between those two groups is just simmering and getting worse and worse, because we know from sociological experiments that just the mere act of separating people and saying, you're group a and group b, you're group b, that that has a really terrible, invidious effect, and it did here. And the preferences made it worse. So you get to 1994, and the Hutu president's plane was shot down, and then it just exploded. The Hutus went on a rampage and killed roughly a million tootsis and moderate Hutus in just 100 days. Most of that with machetes. And the amazing thing about this is it wouldn't have happened if the Belgians hadn't come in there and distinguished between the two groups, it never would have happened. It was issuing those identity cards and having 40, 50 plus years of affirmative action that pitted those groups against each other in a death struggle. [00:27:04] Speaker A: And then what was the reaction? After the blood? [00:27:09] Speaker B: Yeah, after all that happened, the Atutsi militia came in the RPF and managed to stop it. At that point, they said, this division between our two groups has caused these unimaginable whores. We have to end it now, and there's not going to be any payback. What we're going to do is, from this day forward, declare that we're all Rwandans. There are no more groups, we are all Rwandans. And that's kind of a national motto there. And their constitution forbids political parties or any other organizations that are based on group identity. And I should add the other thing they did. They switched from what was more or less a socialist economy to market capitalism. And what happened after that? Their economy soared. They went from being dead last in the world to having the highest economic growth for many, many years in the entire world. [00:28:12] Speaker A: Wow. Well, that kind of feeds into a question that just came up on Facebook. Jacob Sawicki asks. You mentioned the Ottomans and the divide and conquer approach. He once heard the Soviets did the same thing in moving people around the USSR. Do you know if that's so? [00:28:35] Speaker B: So the Soviet Union is really an interesting scenario that really hasn't gotten the coverage it deserved. It was actually the first modern nation to institute affirmative action. And Terry Martin wrote a wonderful book about it called the affirmative action empire and talked about how that evolved. And basically what it came out of is that Marx didn't have a good. He didn't have any theories for how to deal with ethnicity. He thought ethnicity was irrelevant. Yet Lenin and Stalin were confronted with this former empire that had literally dozens of different ethnicities. It's like, okay, what do we do? Well, they came up with a theory that said that ethnicity and nationalism are forces that need to exhaust themselves. It's like one of these marxian stages that we have to go through to achieve socialist utopia. So they actually encouraged having distinct ethnic identities as perfect multiculturalism. In fact, they stamped these identities in people's passports. So it said if you were a Kazakh or whatever in your passport, and they instituted a system of quotas and affirmative action. And how did that end? Well, it turned out that these distinct identities that they encourage started to go at each other. And there was lots of ethnic antagonism, and I'm forgetting the exact number. But ultimately it ended in either nine or ten different episodes of ethnic cleansing. It was an absolute disaster, and it's an episode that I think has largely been forgotten. But that book by Terry Martin covers it very nicely. [00:30:36] Speaker A: When you say kind of. Or Terry Martin had the title affirmative action empire. Other than stamping the ethnic identities on people's identification papers, I mean, were there quotas or sort know, we're going to accept this many students of that particular ethnicity or for jobs, how did that kind of work? [00:31:03] Speaker B: Absolutely. Yeah. There were indeed quotas for various groups over. I don't remember the exact period of time. I think it was maybe a little less than a decade, and it ended very badly. [00:31:21] Speaker A: Ended in tears. All right, my modern gault on Instagram, always the first to the races with the question, says, it used to be said that immigrants coming to America would integrate pretty quickly. But that does not seem to be the case anymore. Is this due to the rate of immigration or the rise of identity politics? So I guess we'll just start with the premise. Do you think that it is true that there is less assimilation, or is. [00:31:57] Speaker B: That something which can be quote, that's an excellent question. I wish I had it right at my fingertips because I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think it was a Pew survey back in the early two thousand s of hispanic immigrants, and 90 plus percent of them thought it was very important for their kids to learn English. And I believe a large majority of them were even opposed to bilingualism. They said, I just want my kid to learn English. And one of the things this poll showed is that the longer immigrants had been in the United States, the less they felt like that. So why would that, you know, you think about it, because they are being told, no, you don't need to learn English. That's an imposition on you for you to have to share our language to learn and learn the american language. Because most of these immigrants come in, they want to assimilate. They know that's the path to success. It's these elites that are telling them that somehow that's bad for them to do. And again, to me, it goes back to the question we were talking about earlier, how elites seem to be the ones that are most opposed to having everybody be one united country and being together. [00:33:24] Speaker A: All right, well, I had a question about immigration, given that this is an election year and the border is an issue on everybody's mind. So we have a question along those lines from Alexander Sabinatov on X, and he asks, is there data that shows a host nation's response to open or know forest borders versus something more regulated, like the Ellis island model? How does that play into the phenomena that you research and discuss in the book? [00:34:04] Speaker B: I'm sorry, you could be that question one more time. I didn't understand the first part. He was talking specifically about the United States. [00:34:11] Speaker A: Yes. So this is Alexander Sabanatov on x, and he asks, is there data that shows a host nation's response to open or loose borders versus something more regulated, like the Ellis island model? [00:34:29] Speaker B: Okay. Yeah. It was the host nation part that threw me, because I wasn't sure if he was talking more generically or just about the, you know, the United States itself has had both approaches. Up until between the 1920s immigration laws, which set a quota system up until the 1965 Immigration act, we had actually fairly limited immigration in this country. And in 65, it opened up and we can see how it's worked. There has been less integration and countries, there haven't been very many, frankly, that have allowed completely open immigration, I think have had problems with, you know, I'd specifically look at some other countries in the Anglosphere, Canada and Australia in particular. People think they have open immigration. They actually don't. They both have point systems that are very restrictive in terms of who they allow in. Most of them have to be qualified professionals. They don't just let anybody in. The record around the world, frankly, isn't that great because most countries have not had open immigration. There are very few that have done that over the years. [00:35:59] Speaker A: All right, I'm going to take just a couple more then. As I said, I have been fascinated by this book and it's very unique perspective and dive back into my own questions. But Alex Morena on Facebook asks, do you think the concept of globalism or supranationalism has further strayed us away from the concept of a melting pot? [00:36:24] Speaker B: It absolutely has. And if you look at some of the first opponents of the melting pot back in the early 19 hundreds, people like Randolph Bourne and Horace Cowan, they had a philosophy called cosmopolitanism, which is kind of the forerunner of modern multiculturalism or globalism. And it's the sense that people can be global citizens rather than attached to any national community. And there's no evidence that that works. We need communities. We need to have entities where people have a shared sense of belonging. And the global scope is a little bit too big for that. I think it needs to be a little more local. And even a country of 300 million, I think, is kind of stretching it. [00:37:24] Speaker A: One of the, we talked in the past about this dichotomy between the wealthier, more educated elites being for this multicultural model and opposed to the melting pot. But the irony is that modern progressives are pushing both the hard multiculturalism, multicultural particularism, and a more expansive interventionist approach to government. Why are the two such a toxic combination? [00:38:00] Speaker B: Yeah, that's a great question. And really it gets right to what I think is one of the most important points of my book, and that's that I'm trying to think of the best way to, way of putting it. If you step back and think, first of all, in what circumstance does a big expanse of government work? It works in a nuclear family, right. My nuclear family is communist. Right. Everybody gives according to their abilities and takes according to their needs. And maybe a slightly larger group, a clan, can work that way, or kibbutz in Israel. But the more and more that you have divergent group interests within a society, the more difficult it is to make big government. And so we can see this play out in real life. Who are the countries that have the greatest success with big government? It's Sweden, Denmark, Iceland. Right. What's distinct about those countries? They're the most homogeneous countries in the world. What happens? [00:39:17] Speaker A: Natural resources in some cases as well. [00:39:19] Speaker B: Yes, exactly. I talk about that in the book. Norway, they have a trust fund from their oil that's equivalent to practically a million dollars a person. So that helps pay for a lot of socialism. So that's a big factor in there, too. But even when you take that into account, they have a little more success because they're all on the same page. What happens when you have divergent groups who have different values and different priorities and see themselves as groups and then you have a big government? Well, two things happen is that when the government is distributing all kinds of different goodies, each group has a strong incentive to gain control of that government and divert those goodies to people like them. And this is a story of Africa. And so the stakes for controlling that government become very high. And this is why all over Latin America, all of Africa, you have continuous revolutions and coups, because each group wants to seize that big government and devote the resources to themselves. That's one big piece of it right there, is that it raises the stakes for controlling the government. If all the government were doing was providing a national defense and designing flags, nobody would fight over it, right? There would be no contention over it. [00:40:50] Speaker A: But if it's now about the curriculum and it's now about the kind of books that we're going to have in the schools, and it's about when we're going to talk about what kind of sex education, then all of these, there's pretty divergent views on that. There's not a complete, unified view. And so you could see why that would set up this kind of very contentious competition over who gets to impose their view of the best way on everybody else. [00:41:24] Speaker B: Exactly. When the government controls 60, 70% of the economy, there is a huge desire to seize control of that. So there's another piece to this too, and that's that all the bad things, the negative aspects of ethnic diversity that do occur, they mostly occur through government. So the bigger the government is, the greater those effects are going to know. Let's just take racism as an example. I think I have this from Walter Williams. He talked about in South Africa originally, the mining companies, who were terrible racists, they hired all kinds of black people, right? Because not hiring black people imposed an economic penalty on them. They're like, yeah, I'm racist, but I'm still going to hire black people because it's in my interest. It was only when the government stepped in and compel them not to hire black people that that happened. Racist effects are often achieved through government. It's one of the ways that division has a way of propagating itself. So let me give you some concrete examples to give you a sense of the numbers. And I'd say, first of all, if you take a look at the top 20, top 30 countries in the world for per capita GDP, living standards, the first thing you'll notice is almost all of them are ethnically homogeneous, right? It's Japan, it's Norway, it's Finland and so on. And then you look on that list and there are some. Hmm, Switzerland, Singapore, Mauritius. What are those? Chile. What do those countries have in common? Well, they also have the freest economies in the world. So there's this interesting interaction between multi ethnicity and the type of economy you have. Multi ethnicity works okay if you have a free market capitalist economy, because it's all based on voluntary, as in the South Africa example, free market exchange kind of tends to prevent, or it tends to obviate racism because could it also. [00:43:57] Speaker A: Maybe channel existing rivalries or group pride into productive pursuits? So rather than saying, I'm going to try to capture more government jobs for my team, or I'm going to try to capture more affirmative action at universities for my race that you're kind of, then I'm going to show that it's us jews that have the smartest doctors or what have you. [00:44:32] Speaker B: That's a really nice way of stating it, that each group's productive enterprise is directed at making stuff, at succeeding and not just diverting, getting themselves a larger slice of the government pie, and that's why it's so important to make sure you have a market economy when you have so many ethnic groups. And to give you some hard numbers on it, let's take the countries of Singapore and India, go back to World War II, or even, say, 1960. Their per capita income, Singapore and India, wasn't very different. So you fast forward 50 years later. Singapore increased its per capita income by a factor of 50, right? Over almost $30,000 per person. Right? India, well, they only increased by $500. They had a centrally planned economy. You take ivory coast, african country, one of the most diverse countries, ethnically diverse countries in the world. Yet after World War II, they called it the ivory miracle. While all these african countries got independence in the 1960s, most of them took the socialist command control economy route, and most of them had either flat or negative growth. I mean, some of them, literally 15 years after independence, they were worse off than they were under colonialism. Ivory coast increased their GDP by 400% in 15 years because their president, Jo Fett Boni, opted for free markets instead of socialism. Same thing. It was even more profound in Botswana. Botswana increased their per capita GDP by 1200% over that time frame. Why? Free markets. [00:46:39] Speaker A: So, in chapter ten, the social and economic costs of ethnic division, you introduced this metric that I hadn't heard of before called ethnic fractionalization. So what is it? How is it measured? And beyond the examples of outright violence and strife, what are some of the other less obvious effects of ethnic fractionalization? [00:47:05] Speaker B: Yes. So ethnic fractionalization is a numeric measure of diversity. What it measures is the probability that any two individuals drawn randomly from that country will be from different groups. So that ranges. It's sort of a zero to one proposition. So in a country like Iceland, it would be zero. In Papua New guinea or Nigeria, it's around 0.9. And there's a whole gamut. So it's a really nice way to associate multiethnicity or ethnic division with all kinds of other social phenomenon, GDP and so on. And one of the things we see is that that fractionalization index correlates very strongly with practically every single social pathology you can think of. Higher corruption, government coercion, riots, political violence, civil wars, you name it, almost every single one. And it correlates very strongly with per capita GDP. Roughly 38% of the variation in per capita GDP is attributable to that one factor. How diverse a country is, which is incredible for a single factor to be associated with that much of GDP. It's really remarkable. [00:48:38] Speaker A: What about the United States? How fractionalized, ethnically fractionalized, are we relative to other countries, and what impact does that have or not have on our relative prosperity per capita? [00:48:53] Speaker B: Yeah. So we actually come out as not that fractionalized on the global scale of things. I wouldn't have thought that it has to do with the way you do this measure. It's by identification. So if we actually did it by origins, the United States would be fractionalized. Countries in the know. I don't know. You and I have probably fairly different backgrounds, but I think we would both just identify ourselves as american and not know, in my case, German or French, part German, part Swiss, because most of us are so mixed, anyhow. It's kind of nonsensical to even state what that is. And that includes many people of color, too, who, at this point, the intermarriage rate for asian people in this country is nearly 50%. It's close to that for Hispanics. It's about 20% for black people. So to even refer to yourself as a single ethnicity in this country anymore almost doesn't make so. On that measure, the United States is less diverse than roughly two thirds of the world. And again, that's because of this sort of melting pot paradigm. [00:50:20] Speaker A: In your conclusion, you made what I thought was a really ingenious comparison of the concept of cultural appropriation. For example, dressing up as an indian chief for Halloween, bordering on a hate crime from some perspectives, to the ottoman millet system. So explain. [00:50:44] Speaker B: Yeah, so I think I alluded to that system a little earlier, where one of the ways the Otomans succeeded is by siloing all these different groups, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Armenians, all, into these separate millets. And one of the ways they enforced that distinction is they had specific kind of dress codes and cultural sanctuary codes about what people could do. And in one of my footnotes, I actually cite an example of a muslim elite guy who a judge sentenced to be flogged because he wore a turban that was reserved for jewish people, or it resembled the jewish turban too much, so he got in trouble for that. And it's kind of a weird analogy to what we have today, where. [00:51:36] Speaker A: If you put cornrows in your hair. [00:51:39] Speaker B: Exactly. Or in the case of my own state in Oregon, if you open a mexican restaurant and you happen to be half asian, as was the case with this person in Portland, people pick at you because you're not entitled to make mexican food because you weren't born mexican. It's this terrible form of racial and ethnic know everywhere. And you'll see this in the book everywhere that is practiced. It ends badly. It ends really badly. [00:52:17] Speaker A: Well, beyond encouraging people to go out and read your book, which we hope, as we discussed earlier before the show started, will be being made as an audiobook before long. What do we do to turn this situation around beyond, again, just getting more people to understand the history of the melting pot and these very cautionary tales throughout history of what happened when governments pursued this sort of divide and conquer or ethnic particularization? Beyond the history lesson, is there anything that each of us can do as individuals or members of our community to perhaps start turning things in a more individualist, meritocratic? [00:53:15] Speaker B: Yeah, I think, first off is, politically, you have to support any kind of resension or repeal of all these measures that distinguish people by group. And some people may think that this supreme court decision with Harvard ended things. It did not at all. I just got a few days ago, a couple of weeks ago, my middle son, who's in college, got an internship offer, and it was like, yeah, this looks really exciting. At the bottom, it says, this is for Latinx, native american, and black students. I guess if you're asian, whites need not apply. Yeah, to my knowledge, that's illegal. And we have to start protesting stuff like that every single time it happens. I have a friend who works for division of IBM. They got a dictum from above saying that their performance reviews would be based on how many underrepresented minorities they hire not qualified people. Underrepresented minorities. And if you work for a company like that or your kids are in a school like that, you have to protest it vigorously. And I think it's gotten to the point where people are shaking off their fears about speaking out, because the one thing I can tell you, and this is probably the most important point I can impart to you guys, is that some people think of these measures as hurting white people or hurting asian people. They do. But the reality is they hurt all of us. I got that from talking to Hutus in Rwanda. I said, okay, did all those years of preferences, did that make it better for Hutus? And they said, no, of course not. We all ended up worse off because of this stuff. So these measures aren't just hurting whites and Asians, they're hurting blacks. They're hurting Latinos, too, in ways that people don't realize because they're dividing us. So speak out if your school does that crap, say something. [00:55:38] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. Whether it's as a parent or as a taxpayer or as a shareholder, even with companies that are pushing these kinds of metrics, I think that speaking out, and in some cases, maybe even taking legal action, should be. I recently. I sometimes like to close with this question. After I interviewed Jonah Goldberg for his book, he shared some advice he received from Charles Murray, who said, if you set out to write a serious book and it doesn't change your mind on at least a half a dozen issues, you're doing it wrong. So you've been working on this book over, really, the course of a couple of decades in terms of the research that you're doing. So the AHA moments might have been less dramatic, but were there ways in which you changed your mind or at least things that surprised you as you did the research and the writing of this book. [00:56:43] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm not sure. So many things really changed my mind. It was more like, wow, this is an even bigger deal than I imagined. And that came from reading the book. I actually spoke with people who participated in the rwandan genocide and same in Bosnia and the other places I visited. And the one thing that really caught me off guard is how violent and how strong these feelings of group antagonism can be and how basically irrational they are. So I managed a team of engineers in Belfast in my working career, and I asked people there, because there's a protestant catholic divide there, I asked them, okay, you're opposed to these Catholics. Can you tell me what's different about the catholic faith from Protestantism? And most of them couldn't tell me. It's like, well, how many times do you go to church? Well, I went three years ago to the Christmas mass. So here's this difference that is a big deal, yet when it comes down to it, they can barely identify what the difference even is. People can seize on the tiniest arbitrary distinction and turn it into a nasty conflict. And that's what I saw interviewing these genocid heirs in Rwanda, too, that ordinary people became mass killers because of group. [00:58:28] Speaker A: You don't reach the scale of that kind of genocide with just a few bad actors. [00:58:36] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. And I cite in the book that one out of four adult male hootus participated. That blew me away to think that it was the same with the Holocaust, too. Right? How do you turn ordinary people into killers? And the answer is, you divide them into groups and you tap into that tribal sense. I'd say that was my biggest revelation in this research. I knew that was there. I just had no idea how powerful it is that just by dividing people into groups, you can get them to kill each other with machetes. It's just stunning. [00:59:24] Speaker A: Well, and also, I thought a big revelation, at least for me, in reading this book, was the number of examples from both ancient history and more modern history. Not all of the countries that decided to pursue more of a melting pot had to go through a Rwanda. There were countries and civilizations and polities that adopted that more consciously early on. But I think that even in those examples, what the stories you share in this book show is that it's not always easy to maintain and that there are forces that will try to take advantage, the ethnic opportunists that will try to stir up these resentments in order to gain more power. So read the book stay vigilant. And Jens, thank you very much for this marvelous achievement and for taking time to talk with us today. [01:00:31] Speaker B: Thank you, Jack. It's been great. Thank you. [01:00:34] Speaker A: And I want to thank all of you who joined asked the great questions. Again, thanks also for your patience. As I mentioned, this was one of those interviews where I had a lot of my own questions. As always, if you enjoyed this video and you are not a something for nothing kind of person, you enjoy the work of the Atlas Society. Please consider making a tax deductible [email protected] slash donate and make sure to tune in next week. I'm very, very excited about my interview with author Jennifer Burns. Of course, she is the biographer behind the goddess of the marketplace, one of the early biographies of Ayn Rand. And her latest biography is Milton Friedman, the last conservative. So we'll see you then. Thanks.

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