Two years in Europe

Two years ago today, I got off a Lufthansa flight from LAX to Munich and passed through Schengenland customs. I had originally been scheduled to fly on September 12, from San Francisco to Brussels via Frankfurt, but when it became plain that no one was going to be flying on September 12th, I called Lufthansa and changed my flight before the rush. After five hours in LAX getting past security (I had a very scruffy beard and a well-worn passport full of Asian entry stamps, so I got picked for a “special” screening) and ten hours in the air, I passed through customs in Munich, getting nothing but the most cursory glace at my Canadian passport and Belgian student visa from the Bundespolizei, even though it was barely a week after September 11. There was no passport check at all when I landed in Brussels.

My biggest surprise in moving to Flanders was how easy it is to get by here. Language doesn’t constitute a huge barrier either to school or to employment. My landlord doesn’t speak English, but he is old enough that he speaks fluent French, so my lease is actually in that language. I think finding an apartment is the only thing I’ve done here where I couldn’t use English.

There are a lot of non-natives living in Belgium who primarily use English, many of them are also non-native English speakers. There are so many that I’m beginning to think they form a sort of “Euroanglo” culture that merits some study. It is a culture that has adopted largely continental norms, but that still speaks English and has a set of common cultural references taken largely from the anglophone world.

These are people who will tell you far it is from one place to another in kilometres, but who remember what TV show Bo and Luke Duke were on or can name at least two actors who’ve played Doctor Who. They usually cook local food and prefer to shop at the weekly market instead of Carrefour, but they might also make burritos now and then. The easiest way to recognise them is when they use a local term in English for some distinctive institution – here in Belgium, if they know what a “night shop” or a “nachtwinkel” is, that’s a good sign that they’re Euroanglo.

This hybrid culture strikes me as interesting because in most places where English is widely spoken, it is so much the dominant culture that you see almost no recognisable influence from outside the anglophone world. I find it fascinating to see what happens in places where English is a minority or immmigrant language. I saw something like this in Montreal, where many long term resident anglophones – especially the young and the anglos who live in the centre and east ends of the city – now have a very distinct culture, quite different from the rest of Canada and from their francophone neighbours.

What has happened in Quebec and what I think is happening in Belgium is quite different from the classical pattern of immigrant and minority integration. Thanks to TV and the ‘Net, there is no need to ever really cut your ties with the old country if the old country is a wealthy English-speaking state. I get CNN and BBC on cable, and Flemish and Dutch TV broadcast quite a lot of English language programming. I have about as much access to American news here as I did in California. Euroanglos don’t seem to feel any pressure to change their identity to align themselves with their neighbours, and there are enough of them that an entire network of English-language institutions and social services keeps them from ever having to feel left out because they live here. I’ve never really seen anything comparable in the English speaking world. You can live in some parts of the US in Spanish, but if you do, you will still feel plenty of pressure to integrate into Anglo-American culture. You don’t feel much pressure to integrate in Flanders.

I’m curious what happens to second generation Euroanglos.

The thing that makes all this possible is something I usually take a dim view of: nativism. Many Europeans seem to regard their national identity as something they are born with, not something that can be acquired. However, at least in Belgium, people don’t seem to feel bothered by the idea that their neighbours might not be Belgian. You don’t have to be native to live here and to enjoy substantial equality in the eyes of the people around you. I think European tolerance of alternative communities derives at least in part from this sort of nativism.

Belgium is not a paradise of tolerance. No one seems to mind having German or French neighbours, but clearly not everyone in Belgium feels the same way about people from the Middle-East or Africa. I am very disappointed by how many Europeans limit their tolerance on what appear to me to be purely racial grounds.

However, despite my poor opinion of nativism in general, I am beginning to think that the kind of tolerant multi-culturalism found within the EU is a better model for the future than cultural integrationism. Multilingualism and multiculturalism are increasingly the norm within states, and I don’t see anything likely to change that in the forseeable future. Finding ways to keep diverse societies functioning is a better project for the future than reinforcing the nation-state.

That is the source of my optimism about the EU, an optimism I hold despite the all too apparent flaws in really existing European society and European governments.

40 thoughts on “Two years in Europe

  1. Don’t think too badly, Scott, of the ancient ties of the heart that you call nativism. Your very use of an “ism” suggests a distance, an unemotionality, that cannot easily be bridged. But perhaps this is more particular to your cast of mind than anyone else’s. In any case, the natives will always be there, in the same place.

    They may not forever be the majority in their homelands, of course. I know that European Canadians like you are in more imminent danger. The 2001 census revealed that 18.3% of the present population was born outside Canada. White America is due to lose its majority a little later probably, around 2050. But France, Holland and the UK should consider the long-term impact and desirability of continuing third world immigration.

    Remember, we Europeans were never asked if we wanted to so change our nations. We have simply been silenced by an aggressive and intolerant political and cultural elite, and fed endless propaganda. Do we really believe it? Are we happy? Are you right that tolerant multi-culturalism blossoms in the EU? Well, beyond the cafe-chic of central London I haven’t met a single English working man, not one, who thinks so. I am very sure that the same, stubbornly recidivist, illiberal tendency obtains in every European population. That is only human nature, after all. People do prefer their own kind. Only a marxist or a fool doesn’t know that.

  2. Guessedworker (Gastarbeiter?), England is not typical of the EU. The future of the EU is here; it’s not evenly distributed; that Nick Barlow can write _nine words_ on non-British European tourists in an entry on “Creating Europe through Tourism” should be sufficient proof of that. Ask a German or a Walloon to do that, and they’ll have a bit more perspective.

  3. Guessedworker, I did something particular in this post and talked about the continent, more or less explicitly excluding the UK and Ireland. I have spent almost no time in the UK and Ireland, just a couple weeks in 1995, not counting interminable hours spent in one of the most miserable places on Earth: Heathrow Terminal 4.

    I didn’t say that anyone – even Belgians – prefers spending time with foreigners. Rather, they are largely indifferent to the idea of sharing space with foreigners, at least so long as they are Europeans. Americans, Canadians and I imagine Australians and NZ’ers seem to count as European. The idea that a German living in Flanders should have to stop being German and become Flemish seems very strange to people here, while the same German living in the US would be expected to integrate. The idea that a German might live in Flanders isn’t strange to anyone.

    I suspect the UK is more like the US in that respect, but I can’t make that claim from first hand knowledge.

    I’m not quite sure what danger Euro-Canadians are in and I suspect that to whatever extent there exists a Euro-Canadian identity, it isn’t worth trying to save. My grandparents weren’t born in Canada and no one wigged out when they immigrated there. So what if Canada ceases to be mostly white. Canada has always been a nation of immigrants, so there isn’t much risk that it will cease to be Canadian. It is an integrationist state of the kind I’m claiming that Belgium isn’t. I would say that Canada is probably the place least threatened by immigration in the world, because immigration is one of the most normal features of Canadian society. If immigration stopped, then Canada would have to change.

    You have missed the whole point about multiculturalism. No one asked you if you wanted your country to change because no one really had a choice. I suppose one could close the borders, or reintroduce racial interdictions or regional quotas for immigration, but the idea that a country can shut itself off from demographic change is silly. Japan’s been trying far harder to do just that than any nation in Europe, and all that trouble has got it absolutely nothing. Faced with low birth rates, it’s aging even faster than western Europe. Faced with demand for labour, it now has illegal immigrants from all over the world. There even used to be a white guy – a Finn, I think – who was a member of the Diet. Germany, which has always considered citizenship primarily a matter of blood, not only has a large non-citizen immigrant population – some 8% of German residents – it also has a surprisingly large number of black citizens, primarily the product of marriages to foreigners and a lot of black American soldiers behaving like heterosexual men. (There is an entire German TV channel whose on-air personalities seem to be virtually all black: Viva TV. Viva liebt dich!)

    My point is that there isn’t any way to bring back monoracial, monocultural societies, and that I don’t think it’s worth trying to do. The EU represents at least an effort to make an interdependent multicultural society work.

  4. If I remember my 20th century history correctly, when France occupied the Rhineland after the First World War it used soldiers from Senegal and other parts of French West Africa. Relationships between black French soldiers and local women, and their mixed-race offspring, outraged the Nazis and other like-minded Germans.

  5. David, there are not many surviving decendants of the “Rheinlandbastarden.” There were among the first people on Hitler’s list to get rid of. As far as I know, all of them were either killed or sterilised or had ceased to live in Germany before 1937. The best guess is that there were around a thousand black people living permanently in Germany when Hitler came to power, and the decendants of French west African troops in the Rhineland came to about half of them. The rest were largely from Germany’s pre-WWI African colonies.

  6. Please mr Guessedworker

    Just to stating the fact that most workingclass man are a bit racist does not justify it.
    Im hopeful that we in the future will realize the futile in dividing people because of their colours.

  7. Re the Rhinelandbastarden, I hadn’t known what had happened to them. I’m also humbled by the historical knowledge displayed here. I didn’t mean to imply that what Scott wrote was wrong or incomplete; I was just observing that when black American soldiers started hooking up with German women it wasn’t the first time that such things had happened.

  8. David, I didn’t think you were being critical. I just thought you might have believed that some of Germany’s present black population came from before the war. As far as I know, virtually none of Germany current black population traces its ancestry to black people living in Germany before 1945, but quite a few have fathers from the US military.

  9. hmmm,
    I think that you are optimistic in this situation perpetuating itself. From your description, it sounds as if the english-speaking permanent residents will likely follow the 3-generation (American) pattern of integration:

    Generation 0: adapts to the local culture but retains their original cultural identity.

    Generation 1: familiar with both their parents’ and the local cultures; However there is conflict between their two cultural identities; they often have a better understanding of the local culture than their parents, but their understanding of their parents’ culture is worse than their parents’ understanding of the local culture.

    Generation 2: near full integration into the local culture.

    There’s a relevant immigrant-french song whose refrain goes something like:

    Mon pere est ne la-bas,
    Ma mere est nee la-bas,
    Mais je suis ne ici,
    et mon fils aussi.

    My father was born over there,
    My mother was born over there,
    But I was born here,
    and my son as well.

    Zebda’s song “J’y suis, J’y reste” is also apropos. Actually, there’s another song on that same album that ends with a father (I think) is berating his french-speaking son in Arabic…both understanding each other, but the languages they choose to use is the crux of the generation 1 conflict.

  10. Talking about race.

    In Sweden a farmer who did not want to mark his cows with the yellow EU registration numbers, thus making them europeans, had to witness his cattle being shot by the police.
    They where healthy in their best age but shot because they didn?t want to join the European family.
    The farmer did not get any compensation, but the officials later apologised for the inconvinience.

  11. Life is full of curiosities. One is complaints about migrants in Britain from those who know so little of its long history that they don’t know Britain was populated by migrants.

    When Celtic tribes settled in Britain, Stonehenge had been constructed long before. The Romans came here after Celts had been long settled, and then Saxons, Angles, Jutes and more before the Danes and Vikings came raiding and staying. Famously, the Normans came to conquer in 1066.

    Dutch, Walloons, Flemmings, Irishmen, and Scots,
    Vaudois and Valtolins, and Hugonots,
    In good Queen Bess’s Charitable Reign,
    Supply’d us with three hundred thousand Men.
    Religion, God we thank thee, sent them hither,
    Priests, Protestants, the Devil and all together:
    Of all Professions, and of ev’ry Trade,
    All that were persecuted or afraid;
    Whether for Debt, or other Crimes they fled, . .

    The source, a deliciously satirical poem on English chauvinism: The True-Born Englishman (1700) by Daniel Defoe, perhaps better known as the author of Robinson Crusoe, can be found at:

    A few hundred metres from where I sit is a bricked-up sandstone cave which once contained evidence of human habitation going back at least to the middle stone-age, according to the London Encyclopaedia. Three summers back the local library had a presentation on an archeological dig of the foundations of a substantial Roman villa in the neighbourhood. The place name ends in -ton, characteristic of Saxon settlements and five miles away seven Saxon kings were crowned before the Norman conquest. The local parish church is part Norman.

    Pray tell me, just who are the native inhabitants? One true answer must be the foxes who still roam the neighborhood; very properly the traffic on the roads slows or stops to let them pass safely across.

    Another curiosity is places in Britain – and I’ve lived and worked in a few – where any migrants are regarded with suspicion, meaning by migrants anyone born more than 5 miles away: try George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and ask how come the second person singular (like “tu” in French) still survives in a few local dialects long after it became extinct in the vernacular of almost all regional variations of the English language?

    Yet another is Samuel Johnson (1709-84), author of the famous: Dictionary of the English Lanuage (1755):

    “Sir John Hawkins’ “Life of Samuel Johnson” was published in 1787, three years after Johnson’s death and four years before Boswell published his biography of Johnson. Hawkins’ biography was available in two forms: as one volume in a set of Johnson’s collected works, and as an independent volume. You could not buy the works without getting Hawkins’ biography. . .

    “Another issue for many, contained here, is Hawkins’ objections to Johnson’s bequest to his servant Francis Barber. Hawkins raise objections on three grounds: it’s overly generous for a servant; it’s overly generous due to Barber’s race (Hawkins himself writes that his argument is a caveat against “favour to negroes”); and third, Johnson seemed to ignore a relative in his will.” – from:

    Btw I was born about 5 miles away from where I sit but then my father was born in Odessa, now part of the Ukraine, then part of Czarist Russia, where his father was an English migrant come to work on a utilities project constructed by a British transnational company. My grandparents used to tell me that before WW1 it was no problem to pass across European borders without a passport. Paul Krugman again: “Nineteenth-century trade was accompanied by massive international capital movements, which were much larger relative to the size of the world economy than anything seen since WW1: in a typical year in the late 19th century, Britain invested about 40% of its savings overseas.” [Peddling Prosperity (1994) p. 258]

  12. Hello Scott,

    Thanks for the long and interesting reply. To get a couple of points straight …

    I do challenge the principal issue you raise, namely that Europe, continental or otherwise, is relaxed about multiculturalism. I believe that it is all too easy to miss the real response. People have driven their feelings deep within, out of sight from all but the most trusted. If you haven’t found that you aren’t looking right, perhaps because you are content with the surface appearance.

    We in Britain, by the way, did not succumb to an unstoppable, spontaneous wave of Commonwealth immigrants. They were invited here in 1948 because General Montgomery insisted on a 500,000 strong conscript army of young Britons to confront the Russians in Germany. There was, alas, no one left to do menial work. The tap was turned on intentionally.

    As to the racial future of the old nations of Europe, we shall see. Certainly, because the present political, academic, media and legal establishments are so liberal, so politically correct it is all too easy to believe that this is everything and forever, that no other ideas can or should obtain. But, as I frequently mention elsewhere, there ARE other ideas, some of them utterly fatal to the old gods of Boasian liberalism. There is not only one possible future. Action and reaction will take its course, but it is inscrutable to us now.


    You talk about an ancient Britain of migrants as a justification for present-day coloured immigration. This is a common liberal deceit. All countries are susceptible to population movement from bordering countries. In Europe that means northern European populations with minimal genetic differentials. For example, for the BBC’s recent Blood of the Vikings series an Oxford geneticist (jewish – or Arab – as it happens) found that Danes, Jutes, Engles and Saxons could not be genetically distiguished in any maningful way.

    My surname means “path” in old English, the first transmogrification of the Saxon tongue in England. My mother’s surname is Norman. I, too, am a mongrelised Englishman. But the peoples from whom I draw my genes are gifted with the same intellectual genius (a heritable mean IQ of 100), the same particular sociobiology with all its cultural and behaviourial consequences. I am, actually, a northern European. You ask who are the real natives of our country. That is good enough for me.

  13. “But the peoples from whom I draw my genes are gifted with the same intellectual genius (a heritable mean IQ of 100), the same particular sociobiology with all its cultural and behaviourial consequences.”

    I know one or two things about population genetics, and I’d like to see you prove that this “intellectual genius” you speak of is as population-specific as you think it is, or that non-European populations don’t possess it to an ever greater degree. Your statements about “heritable mean IQ” and “sociobiology” lead me to suspect that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

  14. @Bob
    I don’t like the politically correct (I prefer “politically wishful thinking” btw) slogans like “we are all immigrants”. Arguments in the form of summing up groups of immigrants that came here throughout history is missing every commitment. That you pass by real problems is best illustrated by your own including of “the Danes and Vikings came raiding and staying.” !
    They caused some problems that our ancestors would have liked to prevent didn’t they?

    I think I have to agree with Guessedworker that “beyond the cafe-chic of central London I haven’t met a single English working man, not one, who thinks so.”
    (If you want you can read a more elaborate post on my own site ( on this subject.
    Core: “The fact that his (Fortuyns) panicking opponents kept implying that he was a racist gave his electoral campaign an enormous boost: all people that once had had some tactless remarks on immigrants and were then faced with unjust accusations became absolutely sure Fortuyn was their guy.”

  15. Guessedworker and Frans

    But what’s this thing about “colour”?

    We all most likely come out of Africa: Recent genetic research suggests that perhaps 70,000 years back humans faced extinction with only some 2000 people remaining from whom all humans subsequently evolved:

    Most European languages have Indo-European roots, our number system has Indo-Arabic roots, and the notion of an alphabet originated in the middle east. Archeological digs in London of Roman burial sites have discovered remains of people mostly likely of north African origin – Roman legions and camp followers came from all over the Roman empire.

    As mentioned above, Samuel Johnson’s servant, to whom he bequeathed most of his legacy, was a black man. A recent BBC programme traced a descendent living in Staffordshire, not too far from Johnson’s home town.

    However, the real point at issue is that Britain has been multicultural for thousands of years. New groups of settlers have come and have been assimilated in the mainstream just as Defoe remarked in The True-Born Englishman, written some 300 years back in response to an upsurge of complaints then that king William III came from the Netherlands.

    The only reasonable conclusion to draw from Britain’s long history is that for better or worse it is a vibrant result of multiculturalism going back at least since Stonehenge in Wiltshire was constructed c. 2200 BC mainly from stone transported from Wales by means no one understands for sure:

    Disraeli, prime minister of Britain in 1868 and 1874-80, was the grandson of immigrants whose own roots went back to the middle east via Italy. There is absolutely nothing new about multiculturalism in Britain. In 1847 Disraeli wrote: London is the modern Babylon. That is perhaps one reason for its vitality and its enduring appeal. As Samuel Johnson could say: The man who is tired of London is tired of life.

    If a Harvard historian like Niall Ferguson in: Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2003), can argue that Britain has had a disproportionate influence on shaping the present world then that has been the undoubted outcome of our multicultural heritage:,6550,881030,00.html

  16. We are all equal

    Bob im glad you explained how shallow etnicity and racism is.
    Because there is no and has never been any particulary english stock nor a swedish or dutch one. Every cultur is an open book that changes every day.
    Open societies flourish closed ones like Japan during hundreds of years will become backwarded.

    I would however not be positive if someone
    compared my capital with the old city of babylon, nor se it as a form of vitality because that old city was a degnerated society run by a dictator worshipping all kinds of rubbish its predecessor Saddam Hussein saw himself as the new Neducadnezzar.
    By the way in Babylon they all had the same language, so much for multiculturalism

  17. Frans, I think you’ve missed my point. I don’t remember Fortuyn ever complaining about all the Germans and Italians living in the Netherlands. I am well aware that tolerant multiculturalism in Europe extends, at most, to the Mediteranean Sea. Living in Belgium, I see other Europeans who live here, many for a long time, and never transform themselves into Belgians nor want to. Belgians seem to be quite indifferent to that, and I have the strong impression that it’s not that different anywhere else on the continent.

    The kind of laid-back multiculturalism I’m talking about is already in place in terms of other Europeans. I wish it did extend to other people as well, but I agree that it doesn’t. I said so in the main post.

    I have heard plenty of Belgians stereotype other Europeans, but I have never once heard one claim that Belgium needs to stop them from moving to Belgium, or make any substantial effort to integrate them once they are here. On that count, no one seems to care. No one cares if a German lives in Belgium and speaks German at home, or reads only the German newspapers. I doubt very strongly that it is any different in the Netherlands.

  18. Patrick, you may be right, but I have some reasons to suspect that things have changed. The big difference between now and the days of classical American immigrantion is that the world is smaller. People can return regularly to wherever they came from and they can have nearly unlimited access to media from the rest of the world. This is even more true for anglophone immigrants than for others. I don’t know how the second generation regards these sorts of things. I’m curious to see if they really do just follow the pattern and integrate. The whole phenomena is recent enough that I don’t know.

  19. Bob – take a look at the quote on the top of the page. At least on this one thing we do seem to agree. Modern Europe is a set of national borders overlaid on a mongrel population.

    Guessedworker – I said that I know very well how Europe’s tolerance for multiculturalism stops at the Mediteranean and it seems very much to have a racial tone. Where we differ, I guess, is that I wish it didn’t. But you have basically made my point. You identify yourself as “racially northern European”. I presume that means you don’t have any difficulty with all the Scandinavians and Frenchmen who live in the UK, even when they never identify themselves as British.

  20. Being a “je suis n?e l?-bas” in Brussels, I must say that I haven’t felt any pressure to integrate or even to acquire an identity in all the many years that I’ve spent here. Recently I’ve become worried, though. It seems many of the immigrant communities feel that this general tolerance poses a threat to their own identity. This september in Brussels it’s been young girls insisting on wearing Islamic scarves at school, very much as an affirmation of their cultural and religious identity. Many people have a problem with this – it seems that identity, a bit like religion, is something to be nurtured in your private life whereas in the public domain it unavoidably leads to confrontation. BTW, Belgium is a bit of a special case, given the fact that it’s own identity is completely schizophrenic (I find it worrying, for instance, that so many young people learn English as a second language, as you rightly stress, while they seem to think that acquiring the country’s other official language, regardless of their “native” side, is considered to be less worthy of an effort).

    Very interesting reading anyway!

  21. Well, what can one say to Bob’s question “What is this thing colour” or Magnus’s magnmanimous but utterly wrong “we are all equal”. How about “quite a lot” and “no we aren’t” respectively?

    The great jewish anthropologist, Franz Boas, died in 1948 (having spent the last years of his life trying to prove that whiteness did not exist). His concept of environmentalism (or the native equality of all people and peoples) underpins cultural marxism and, thereby, the modern liberal-left. But the sociobiology that Abiola obviously feels so uncomfortable about explains, among many things, that IQ is substantially heritable and averages differ widely between populations. I am sure many of you know the debate well. I won’t reprise it here. I will say that IQ measurement is not a matter of metric transparency, and this allows critics to wriggle on the hook. But genetics is steadily advancing towards the requisite measure and will settle the debate soon enough. Until then, the work of Jensen, Murray & Hernnstein, Rushton, Lynn & Vanhanen etc stands unchallenged and in firm denial of Boas’s largely 19th century thinking.

    Of course, liberal opinion might not want to change even if/when its intellectual underpinning is gone. In his book The Blank Slate, Stephen Pinker admitted that environmentalism was wrong and sociobiology right. Be he still couldn’t discard his emotional attachment to liberalism.

    Accordingly, the race debate will change its tone only slowly. But it will change. As I said in my first comment, there are alternative ideas.

    Finally, Scott, third world immigration in Europe is not a fixed situation. It is a long-term process that, if unchecked, eventually must lead to miscegenation, displacement and dispossession. By 2050, it seems, we in Europe will have the example of Canada and the US to ponder. I wonder whether there will be any liberals left in Europe after that.

  22. Scott — What about that earlier generation Euraglos — the class depicted in the movie “tea with Mussolini”. They were alse connected to their homeland, and seemed to face no special preussre to become Italian. How do today’s euranglos compare to those earlier ones?

  23. Ok, so white people have higher IQs on average than “coloured” people. Gosh, how convenient. And how wonderful it is to be of pure vaguely defined northern European-ish blood.

  24. To prevent misunderstanding: I’m not a racist and i don’t feel accused of racism.
    Still I want to emphasize that the “boundaries of tolerance” have nothing to do with race. Very little Belgians or Dutch discriminate between Americans of different colors.
    The boundaries have to do with fear. The euroanglo group (intellectuals mostly) form no threat to anyone; certainly not when they stay shorter then one generation. The fear of immigrants from former Yougoslavia and from muslim countries is not just a racist thing. The group first mentioned contribute more then proportional to violent crime. There is a real tendency that immigrants from muslim-countries (especially Turkey and Marocco here in the Netherlands) form “colonies”. There is segregation (in neighbourhoods – gettos are developing; in schools) in majority they get their partners from the birthland of their parents and some of the immams call on the faithful not to integrate with the unbelievers. It’s a minority; but it is felt as threatening by many and should not be denied.

  25. Boas was not racially Jewish. He was adopted by Jewish parents and raised as a Jew, but his birth father was a Wend and his birth mother was a Mingrelian.

    There are aspects of this thread which I find annoying.

  26. Frans – I wasn’t accusing you of racism. I’m not suggesting that multiculturalism is never problematic. I realise that there is a strong element of fear in what distinguishes immigrants that no one seems to feel threatened by from immigrants that people do feel threatened by. What I’m trying to understand is what makes one group of migrants a source of fear and another not. I’m not convinced that there really is a well-founded distinction between the two groups.

    Ikram – that’s a good question. I haven’t the historical background to know. I suspect that the pre-WWII European anglos largely disappeared in the war and its aftermath, otherwise, the answer might be obvious. Certainly Paris has had an established anglophone community for over a century, and I don’t know what happens to them over the course of several generations, but it ought to be possible to find out.

    Guessedworker – Boas is a great many things, but while I’m not sure what “cultural Marixsm” is, I’m pretty sure any ideology that regualrly calls itself Marxist probably doesn’t have Boas underpinning it.

    Ania – My impression of Belgum is the same, although I’m not sure whether the rather schizoid nature of Belgian identity is really the cause. Instead of having an ambiguous identity themselves, Belgians seem to be even more adamantly nativist about their two identities – Flemish and Waloon – than the French are about being French. Non-Belgians in Belgium are explicitly not Belgian, and integration is neither manditory nor especially desireable – at least as long as you fit he category of “European” by some definition.

    I remember in Canada the public debate that Sikh turbans caused. It resembled the troubles that Islamic scares have caused here. The result, however, was very typically Canadian: Sikh kids can wear turbans in school. In one school, they procured special non-flammable turbans for boys studying chemistry. When a Sikh man eventually became a Mountie, they changed the Mountie dress code to include an official RCMP turban, made of blue cloth and held together with a maple leaf pin. This solution works well because it makes being Sikh a category of being Canadian, rather than forcing the two to be separate things. It says that it is okay to be Sikh in Canada, and that there is a *Canadian* way to be Sikh.

    If it were up to me, I would have the Belgian school system devise an Islamic dress code of some kind, one that says, yes, this is an Islamic scarf, but it’s a *Belgian* Islamic scarf.

    Zizka – I’m afraid I agree. I really didn’t want this to be mostly about race. It is simply, unfortunately, regrettably, and obviously true that the kind of tolerance I’m trying to identify here has a limited scope in practice, and I would have thought it terribly uncontrovertial to think that those limits are primarily racially motivated. I really didn’t think it was controvertial to point out that other Europeans are tolerated without any consideration of their desire to integrate into the countries they live in – or in many cases even to learn the language.

    I support the latter and deplore the former, but I think expanding on the kind of tolerance that Anglos or Germans get in Belgium is a better way of handling the apparently inevitable multiculturalism of modern society than integrationism. I figured that the debate would be over whether integrationism – of the kind found in Canada and the US, and to a significant degree in France – really is better. I think I may have touched a nerve.

  27. “But the sociobiology that Abiola obviously feels so uncomfortable about explains, among many things, that IQ is substantially heritable and averages differ widely between populations.”

    This is quite simply stupid! I asked you to explain what you think “sociobiology” and “heritable” mean, and you launch into a political tirade laced with ad hominem, refer to a bunch of fringe kook “researchers”, and simply re-assert the same old nonsense you put out in the first place!

    For a person who’s so proud of his “race” and its’ supposedly superior intelligence, I must say you make a shockingly poor exemplar. Let me ask you again – what do you think “sociobiology” means? Can you give me a technical definition of the term “heritability” as used in population genetics? Are you able to do more than spout the sort of nonsense cribbed off “Stormfront” and other neo-nazi websites?

    Answer my questions, if you know what I’m talking about; don’t waste everybody’s time with attacks on mythical “Marxists” who exist only within your imagination.

  28. “The fear of immigrants from former Yougoslavia and from muslim countries is not just a racist thing.”

    I don’t think racism in a strict sense (‘scientific’ racism) plays a great part of it, but xenophobia surely does.

  29. Debates about race and IQ are apt to generate more heat than light. We do not find it strange – as far as I can tell – to learn that that average life expectancy in Japan is greater than in other OECD countries and we tend to seek explanations in terms of observable differences in dietary preferences.

    We do not find it objectionable, even if it is disconcerting, to discover Japan and SKorea regularly feature at or near the top of most international league tables of attainment by students at school. In England, by reports several studies show various ethnic Asian groups achieve better results on average in school leaving exams than do students from the indigenous white population. We also know that the percentage of single parent households with children is unusually high among ethnic caribbeans compared with other ethnic groups.

    The question is what conclusions can we reasonably draw from these statistical associations. I don’t claim to be thoughly familiar with the vast professional literature on nature versus nurture but have the impression that the extent to which measurable personal characteristics are attributable to genetic factors remains unresolved. Genetic factors are certainly a significant influence, perhaps a predominant influence, and may set upper bounds, but no one is denying that environmental factors or nurture also count. There is also the question as to what significance we attach to having a high IQ beyond the ability to perform well at IQ tests.

  30. Bob, nature and nurture doesn’t even come into it.

    I’m no expert and Abiola or someone would do a better job, but here’s my understanding of the current science:

    Dividing people into negroid, caucausian, mongol has nothing to do with genetics. A black african might (with no caucasian ancestors) might very well be more closely related, genetically speaking, to me than to another black african. There are no accepted ways of assigning small populations to larger categories.

    Differences between various small populations are fairly minimal too. There not a lot of genetic doiversity in our species. Talking about races is not warranted.

  31. David – We can’t dismiss race altogether. We know that the frequency of the ABO blood types differs as between the three main racial groups, as does vulnerability to sickle-cell anaemia.

    The question is what kind of conclusions we draw from this, particularly for public policy. Very sensibly, many developing countries screen routinely for sickle-cell anaemia at birth. The affirmative-action policies advocated and practised in America depend on making ethnic distinctions. Curiously, those most incensed by the Jensen-Eysenck academic papers associating racial groups with IQ attainment also tend to be those most disposed to promote and defend affirmative action programmes. This is not something I understand.

    Least you suppose I’m staking out a case for white supremacy, there is a district in the north of England I could mention which is hostile to incoming settlers from anywhere. It is one of those places where the second person singular – “tha” as a general substitute for thou, thee, thine – still survives in the local vernacular. Results recently published from the 2001 census show the local population to be 99.1% white. The district regularly features near the bottom of the schools league table for England based on school leaving exam results. It seems difficult to resist concluding that settlement there by immigrants could only improve educational standards. Indeed, I have met math teachers from inner city areas who say incoming ethnic asian children certainly improve math standards in classes.

    Whether we attribute this to genetic or cultural differences is arguable but there is mounting evidence that different ethnic groups in Britain do show differences in average attainment in school leaving exams in which children from indigenous backgrounds do not show up particularly well.

  32. Abiola,

    You are using language of a temper that a skilled debator would not require. Perhaps you would benefit your own case by a little moderatation.

    I don’t know what your professional standing is. But if you have one I am astonished that you consider the eminent and influential psychologists I have mentioned, these being Arthur Jensen, Charles Murray, the late Richard Hernnstein, Philipe Rushton, Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, as “a bunch of fringe kook researchers.” I would ask readers to google each and check a few facts. You, too, Abiola, apparently.


    I didn’t know that about Boas. Thank you. We can only speculate what effect on his mentality the inherent separateness of a jewish upbringing gave him, or how he would have developed under different circumstances. What we do know now, following the 2002 investigation by Sparks and Jantz of his 1910 figures on head sizes, is that Boas’ findings are nowhere in the original data. It is either the most extraordinary error or he simply made them up. Either way, social anthropology in general and environmentalism and anti-racism in particular have feet of clay.

    The same applies to those strands of the post-war marxian left that took to abstracting group dominance from culture. They drew from social anthropology the confirmations required to go beyond a purely class analysis and to insert race into the equasion (one should remember that Karl Marx was himself a racist and didn’t even believe in equality with the Irish). This is the context in which Boas ties in to the marxian development of racial equality.

    The point of all this is that multiculturalism is not as well founded as its proponents wish to believe. This is true of its intellectual foundation and, in my own judgement, also of its acceptance among white European hosts.

    Finally, two questions to Abiola …

    What percentage of non-whites do you think should obtain among the populations of Europe before the growth of the non-white element is limited? And how on earth would you do it?

  33. Any with the time and inclination to look into the official figures for the ethnic mix in Britain can try chapter 1 of Social Trends for 2002 available at:

    They can there find:

    “The pattern of people entering and leaving the United Kingdom changed over the 20th century. There was a net loss due to international migration during the first three decades of the 20th century and again during the 1960s and 1970s. However, since 1983 there has been net migration into the United Kingdom.”

    In table 1.11, the estimated total population of Britain (that’s excluding Northern Ireland) in 2000-1 was 57.1 million, of whom 53 million were white.

    Btw about half of all the ethnic minorities in Britain live in London, which is hugely cosmopolitan and also rated as being one of the most prosperous regions in all Europe in terms of GDP per head. Taken all together, ethnic minorities are estimated to comprise about 30% of London’s population. The local superstores I visit to buy groceries look like the united nations out shopping. It is not unusual to overhear Japanese being spoken or the Chinese dialects and mainland European lanuages or to see ladies dressed in full burqas. The people serving at checkouts must come from every continent on earth. I occasionally visit one huge superstore nearby which specialises in Chinese and east Asian foods. It would be an unusual day if I did not see groups or couples walking along, out shopping or playing in the parks where the individuals plainly come from different ethnic origins. No one bothers about this.

  34. “there isn’t any way to bring back monoracial, monocultural societies”

    Isn’t the point that, at least since the end of hunting and gathering type societies and nomadic tribalism there never have been monocultural societies, so there really isn’t anything to go back to. This idea is really a naustalgic invention of nationalism, which is a modern phenomen.

    “likely follow the 3-generation (American) pattern of integration:”

    Patrick, I agree completely, indeed this is even very clear with the grandchildren of Andalusian immigrants here in Catalonia. The fathers continued to support real madrid, but the 3rd generation speak Catalan and are almost all fanatics for Bar?a. Of course they feel Spanish-Catalans, but unless you’re a purist nationalist, where’s the problem here.Place of birth is also important, my wife’s brother was born in Valencia, he came to Barcelona when he was three, and he continues to feel very Spanish, my wife was born in Barcelona, and she feels completely Catalan. At the same time the second generation is where the greatest tensions arise, born ‘here’ but belonging ‘there’.

    And what doesn’t happen in the third happens in the fourth.

    On the part of all my four grandparents I’m Celtic, but celtic seems to have been a culture not a race. I guess that makes us the largest ‘stateless minority’ in the EU. Equally I don’t feel any special desire to cling to hard to this identity. I’m happy to become a mongrel.

    “Another curiosity is places in Britain – and I’ve lived and worked in a few – where any migrants are regarded with suspicion”

    Nice point Bob. My brother moved back to my grandad’s village a few years back. He left the area – as a migrant – in the late 19th century, but before that we can find parish records of the family going back several hundred years. Still he is treated as an ‘outsider’ by people who arrived only a generation ago. All this just has to be bunk.

    “The big difference between now and the days of classical American immigrantion”

    The classical American immigration was almost entirely European. But there are Irish, Greek, Italian etc Americans from this generation. Being Armerican or being Europena doesn’t mean giving up all other areas of your identity. But on the more recent US migration, the studies I’ve seen on the ‘Latinos’ seems to suggest that the situation is repeating itself. Terra-Lycos is an example of a business project based on trying to benefit from the ‘Spanish speaking’ dimension and it failed completely.

    “reasons to suspect that things have changed”

    This may also of course be true. Do ‘bloggers’ have a nation, or are we another stateless, non-geographical community. Castells is very good on the trans-national communities (and check out Vertovec if you don’t know him). This is all evolving and no-one knows where this is going. Bulgaria, for example, seems to be disintegrating, and I have jokingly described the Bulgarians as the first ‘virtual country’ since the young Bulgarians are everywhere except in Bulgaria. But I still think after the third generation things will change…….but it does depend on the relations between virtual and physical in our social structure.

    “insisting on wearing Islamic scarves at school, very much as an affirmation of their cultural and religious identity”

    these are very definite second generation – neither from here nor from there – phenomena. Frans is right to point out that people fear what they do not know, but the fear is on both sides. That’s why talking is important.

    “the public debate that Sikh turbans caused”

    We had this in the UK in the 60’s about driving buses, and then the motor cycle helmets. Fortunately this all seems well behind us. (BTW I don’t buy the ‘British working man’ bit. I was born in Liverpool just after WWII, there was a black population from the time of slavery, and they were completely ostracised. I am proud to be able to say that I was the first person I knew who entered the house of a member of this community. I was a young student outside the house of commons in 68 protesting Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech when we were charged by a group of extremely violent east London dockers who were there to support Powell. Ten years ago I met a group of recycled ‘dockers’ after the Thatcher years down here in Barcelona. Their attitudes on this and many other questions were very different. Or I look at the Man United football supporters in the metro when they come for a match here, obviously there is still racism, but the world has changed a lot. I would say it is in the pubs of rural England – and there may even be an evolutionary selection according to attitudes taking place – where you will find more ignorance-based xenophobia.

    David, the situation with population genetics is a bit more complicated. We are different, but you can’t deduce anything important from this. Try Cavalli Sforza for a nice explanation of what seems to be the modern consensus, and Matt Ridley’s ‘genome’ for a well-informed critique of any simplistic theory of genetic reductionism. Abiola and I probably look very different. So what. Vive la Difference.

    What kind of Europe do we want. One where you can have a European passport, and no-one can make any assumptions about what colour eyes and skin you have, what your religion is, what kind of food you eat or what kind of music you listen to. Free and inclusive.

  35. Edward,

    “BTW I don’t buy the ‘British working man’ bit. . . I would say it is in the pubs of rural England – and there may even be an evolutionary selection according to attitudes taking place – where you will find more ignorance-based xenophobia.”

    FWIW my impressions – based on living and working in four different regions in Britain, including London, my present home – are that the “social dynamics” of racism and xenophobia in Britain are very complex.

    (1) London is a special case as it has always been more open than most other parts of Britain because of its size, the financial markets of the City and the port of London – which is why we still celebrate in pantomine the remarkable story of Dick Whittington from the 14th century: This is not to say racism doesn’t exist in London but it tends to be focused in particular professions or occupations and a few localities.

    (2) Consider this from George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier (1937):

    “The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a ‘job’ should descend upon anyone at fourteen. Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography. To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly.”

    Similar attitudes persist even now in neighbourhoods with entrenched working class cultures, which is why Britain rated 21 out of 24 OECD countries for staying on rates in full-time education after 17. One outcome is hostility towards: (a) immigrants who compete in the unskilled part of labour markets in regions with high unemployment rates and limited job markets, and (b) ethnic cultures which esteem education as most asian cultures do. Several commentators have drawn parallels between the cultures of jews who came to settle in Britain around 1900 to escape the pogroms of mainland Europe and asian settlers who came in the 1960s and 1970s.

    (3) Your comparison with rural areas is likely to be statistically biased. Rural England and small towns tend notoriously to be wary of incomers. Consider this example of parochial chauvinism from Orwell again:

    “A year or two ago a friend of mine, brought up in the south but now living in the north, was driving me through Suffolk in a car. We passed through a rather beautiful village. He glanced disapprovingly at the cottages and said: ‘Of course most of the villages in Yorkshire are hideous; but Yorkshiremen are splendid chaps. Down here it’s just the other way about – beautiful villages and rotten people. All the people in those cottages are worthless, absolutely worthless.’ I couldn’t help inquiring whether he happened to know anybody in that village. No, he did not know them . . .”

    (4) As The Economist of 9 Aug commented, after WW2 London’s population (along with most other cities) shrank and went on shrinking until the 1990s when it grew: “Foreigners are moving in, and Britons are moving out, faster than at any time on record.” We can only speculate as to why. Monday’s Telegraph reported that many out-movers took advantage of the booming London housing market to cash in and move to lower priced property in rural areas in pursuit of the rustic idyll – and to places with much lower settlement by ethnic minorities who tend to be drawn to cities with larger labour markets. The Telegraph also reported that many who moved out are now trying to move back to London having lost their taste for rural living. . .:

  36. Guessedworker,

    it’s news to me that Charles Murray is a psychologist, eminent or otherwise. Anyway, perhaps Abiola was too harsh labelling those men ‘kook researchers’. Herrnstein, for one (and unlike Murray), seems at one time to have more or less on the rails, before he went off them. Let us be diplomatic, then, and call them, ehh, ‘fringe researchers’. ‘Kook’ certainly does apply to Rushton, though, I’m afraid. I mean, sure, his work in researching penis length down at the shopping mall is (wait for it) seminal and all that, but beyond that, I’m not certain his contribution will prove lasting. I’ve read some of his papers, you know. Don’t know whether he calls himself (as you have called him) a psychologist, but if he is, that might explain his sadly tenuous grasp of basic concepts from a different field that clearly fascinates him, evolutionary biology. (He relies heavily on the concepts of r- and K-selection in one of his major works, for example. Now, these are real terms, but Rushton gives the impression that he heard them explained a long, long time ago, and wasn’t paying close attention even then.) Pity you didn’t think to include Chris Brand amongst your eminent psychologists.

    But all this is digression. What I notice most about your responses to Abiola is that you won’t answer his questions. Do you have the first clue what ‘sociobiology’ and ‘heritable’ mean, or do you not? If you do, it might be as well for your argument to reverse the first impression you’ve given and start demonstrating your knowledge right about now.

    One of the proprietors of this site (SM) and I had a bit of a ding-dong about sociobiology a while back, when I was still bothering to blog. We didn’t agree about much on the topic, but I think we’d agree it doesn’t mean ‘black people are stupider than white people, so thank God I’m a Northern European’.

  37. Mrs T,

    I’m not sure whether you are any kind of authority on biology’s role in social behaviour. You may not even be an environmentalist. You are appear to be more of a leftist agitator. This I construe from your employment of the time-honoured, liberal-left tactic of the slur. Then there’s the famous, all-conquering reduction (Rushton researching penis length at the shopping mall). To top it off we get the outright lie placed in the opponent’s mouth (black people are stupider than white, so thank God I’m north European). Not a very detailed or impressive response for someone who claims knowledge in the field.

    It is courteous to treat your opponent’s arguments with the respect you would wish in turn for your own. But, regrettably, you seem to want to belittle, to humiliate if possible.

    POn the one issue of substance you raise you are deeply unfair but you are not entirely wrong. Rushton, of course, is capable of defending himself and has done it to stunning effect. He is vulnerable, though, on some aspects of his thesis. The R-k issue that you mention is a regular point of attack. Even CB, on whom we may actually agree, challenges him there. For what it’s worth, I have some sympathy for Rushton’s migrationary model though I concede its speculative nature. The other danger area for Rushton is skull size and brain weight, and their relationship to IQ. Since Boas was utterly fraudulent in the head measuring department, even inventing 4,000 subjects to strengthen his conclusions, I can’t see that environmentalists would wish to protest too loudly here. But the point remains, of course, that
    the link between brain weight and IQ is presently too tenuous to support the assertions Rushton makes.

    You are apparently also suggesting that Rushton be considered suspect because his work brings sociobiology close to evolutionary biology. I am not aware what work evolutionary biologists have done on the issue of encephalisation and whether its opposite is really, as Rushton claims, sexualisation (to which his brief comments on testosterone production and penis length actually apply). It is a rich concept, though, and there is a vast amount of evidence available, for example in US victimisation studies.

    The great issue of immigration deserves to be freed from the hate-speak that the liberal-left routinely employs against those with whom it disagrees. You, like Abiola, have preferred this tactic to answering the real questions that sociobiology raises. You do it because those questions are political anathema, not because they are in some way scientifically illegitimate. You must know that. It’s time to change.

  38. Guessedworker,

    I’m honestly not trying to belittle you (I’ll confess I don’t have the same reservation about Rushton). Like Abiola, though, I do want to know something about your understanding of sociobiology. I don’t accuse you of holding the ‘sociobiology = stupid blacks’ view, but that is the reductio ad absurdam of what you seem to be saying. And I’d like to have what you’re saying clarified before deciding whether it is (a) in fact the load of old bollocks that it might well possibly be or (b) something I might not agree with but can entertain as a reasonable hypothesis.

    One indication that you might labour under a misunderstanding of sociobiology is your complaint that I blame Rushton for ‘trying to bring sociobiology close to evolutionary biology’. Whatever I’d blame Rushton for, surely not that. But nor need he try so hard – sociobiology _is_ evolutionary biology! (I.e., not every evolutionary biologist would accept its conclusions, but evolutionary biology is precisely what it’s about.) If you take the trouble to read Wilson’s book of the same name (and perhaps you already have), you’ll see that 90% of it or so is utterly noncontroversial (there might be contoversy among academics about the one idea or other, but not the sort of emotional controversy that led protesters to pour a pitcher of ice water over Wilson’s head). I should add, in case it isn’t clear already, that (unlike Scott Martens) I view sociobiology, on the whole, pretty favourably. I do dislike the cheap pulp fiction versions of it, whether these be used by sociobiology’s detractors or by people like Murray and Rushton to bolster their own dubious musings. I have no idea whether Wilson has ever made known his views about people like M. and R., but they would certainly be interesting to hear.

    As for my politics, well, I am indeed quite liberal, but where I live that means something very different to the rather American way you are using the term. I’m afraid that I’m not terribly leftist, though. (Though in my younger days I did wear nine earrings, a leather jacket and a Palestinian scarf, so perhaps that counts.)

    I don’t think the question of immigration ‘politically anathema’. As it happens, I’m generally in favour of free immigration, but don’t automatically condemn those who think otherwise (they’re not _all_ Le Pens). But sociobiology, or any sort of biology, has sweeet Fannie Adams to do with the question.

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