Chaos, fascism and the UK

I’m still processing the UK election results. I wrote something yesterday and then trashed the post. I’m writing again from scratch.

My first observation is that while the results are heart achingly bad, they aren’t surprising. Of course it is very easy to say ‘I expected this’ after the fact but I wasn’t going to assert prior to the vote that the Tories would win despite their manifest incompetence as that would help nobody.

Should they have lost? Absolutely. Aside from a record of bad policies over multiple Prime Ministers, the Conservatives have even lost their veneer of competence. They are a broken party and Johnson is one of the least capable people to be in the role of Prime Minister since World War 1 (and I only stop there because my sense of who was PM when gets very hazy prior to that). By the very basic standard of whether there might still be meaningfully a ‘United Kingdom’ by the end of his tenure of PM, he has already deeply damaged Britain as a concept. Which helps mark out what his victory is and means — it is a victory for a particularly toxic and racist English nationalism.

The corollary of the victory of English nationalism (better symbolised by the odious Nigel Farage than Boris Johnson) is the increasingly plausible outcome of an independent Scotland and a united Ireland. Scotland also points the way to ‘nationalism’ in a different sense. Scottish people aren’t magical (despite the cartoons I’m watching) and are just as capable of bigotry and short-sighted thinking as the people south of the border but Scotland’s own very different concept of national identity as enabled the country to remain immune from the worst aspects of the divisions that have gripped England.

So why did I think the Tories would win? A few inter-related things but the common element is Brexit. There is obviously a lot to discuss about Labour, Corbyn, the Liberal-Democrats and how Remain campaigns stuffed up in various ways but I honestly think these all amount to a discussion how a very, very narrow path to a substantial Tory defeat was not met.

The predominate feature was the chaos around Brexit both in parliament and as a source of social division. Years now of wrangling around Brexit has only resulted in a political stalemate. It was that stalemate that resulted in two general elections, the first of which failed to improve the situation. That circumstance set up a situation where several things are in play:

  • The sunk cost fallacy. A huge amount of time, money and emotional energy has already been invested in the Brexit debate. That biases people towards seeing not enacting Brexit as a waste. This is fallacious reasoning but it is a very powerful kind of cognitive error, one that will incline people to ignore or repress the more obvious doubts they may now have about the wisdom of Brexit.
  • The problem of coordinated action. There are many reasons to oppose Boris Johnson and the conservatives but with multiple positions and opposing views beyond the Conservative Party there was no clear, simple alternative position.
  • Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats had a way of making Brexit magically vanish. That’s part of what is so poisonous to public discourse about Brexit as an issue. Jeremy Corbyn’s compromise policy of offereing a new deal that would be ratified by a second referendum was credible but by its nature it was a policy that would prolong the pain. A more assertive Remain policy would be more promising but that also would not end the pain UNLESS there was a massive and unambiguous vote for staying in the EU. A small-majority or a coalition government hoping to end Brexit would be facing a very politically determined opposition. Which takes me to the last point.
  • Bullying works. People know who the scary, less than rational group is in the Brexit debate and it is the pro-Brexit side. There is a disturbing result in game theory were an apparent loss of rationality is a rational manoeuvre. If one side cannot be reasoned with, that can (in some circumstances) place the more rational side at a disadvantage in a negotiation. In this circumstances people know that the pro-Brexit politicians weren’t going to stop if Labour won, or if (somehow) the Lib-Dems had won or if a Lib-Lab coalition had won or if Parliament had completely realigned to form a Remain Government of National Unity. We are back to the situation of were only a massive Remain victory to the point of utter humiliation would bring the poisonous debate to an end.

In these circumstances, it becomes clearer what a dithering voter might do. The clearest route and the route that it is easiest to enact as an isolated voter at the ballot box is to hope that they only way out of the Brexit chaos is to push through. It is also self-destructive ‘madness’ and rewards the very people who created the mess but illustrates something we know about fascism in general. Fascism feeds on chaos by creating a climate of turmoil and offering authoritarian control as the antidote. It’s a poison that markets itself as the cure for the symptoms it creates.

Am I saying Boris Johnson is a fascist? Meh. That’s not my point. He’s not-not a fascist but no, his core ideology is “cynical opportunist” and I very much doubt there is anything much deeper than that going on in there. However, that hardly matters. It’s not the inner personal qualities or personal ideological commitments of Boris Johnson that are in play but the policies and program he has committed Britain to. His personal route to political power as a jolly oaf was never going to get him any further than Mayor of Greater London. His political success since has been via exploiting English nationalism, racism and xenophobia and doing so has kept paying off for him again and again. He’s hardly going to stop now that using the dark-arts of appealing to the worst aspects of English culture has delivered him a substantial parliamentary majority. Nor will he be able to pivot back to the centre because the fundamental problems with Brexit are still there and when/if the UK leaves the union those deep issues will only get worse. Boris’s problems are only just beginning and he has only one move that has worked for him: double down on the racism.

Well, that’s not a very happy account. I’ll concede that I’m writing from a long way away and from all the frustration and fear that entails. I was hoping to think of something more positive or at least hopeful to people in Britain. I’m sorry but I don’t have anything. This will be hard and it is on top of years now of misrule and hardship. It will be especially hard (and often needlessly cruel) to so many different groups of people in Britain.

64 thoughts on “Chaos, fascism and the UK

  1. I made it through several stages of political grief already – denial, depression, drunkenness.

    I’ve got a bit of a worry on whether the now-inevitable Brexit will head down a particularly dumb path, which might depend on how much power the ERG have along the new intake of Tory MP’s. Ironically the strength of the victory might mitigate against that. Boris will want a smooth delivery to burnish his credentials, and not too much economic damage to put a downer on his plans, so I imagine the stupider options will be discarded.
    That said, no-one who isn’t a Tory MP or the EU has much influence over what happens, so I’m mostly just not worrying about it.

    The Labour fallout is to come. Corbyn clearly wants to mold a successor but I can’t see that sticking. Makes sense to take a breath or two rather than starting an immediate and public bloodletting but I can’t see the PLP accepting someone in his wake. (The membership might be another thing).
    Frankly I’m in a burn it all down mood, the evidence that Corbyn himself was the single biggest issue for voters casts doubt on the ability of Labour to sort itself out.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The power struggle in Labour between the membership and the PLP is unresolved by Corbyn’s defeat and a key element of Corbyn’s original win (no strong alternative) is probably still in play. The leave-remain division in Labour is still in play and also unresolved. So all in all, Labour still has all the same headaches it had before.

      Of course, that partly points to Labour pragmatically needing Brexit to magically disappear. I wouldn’t normally countenance adopting supernatural methods in a democracy but I think Labour should consider whether witchcraft or time-travel are available options.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Time travel is a fully democratic medium, just like Wikipedia, as long as *everyone* has the means to alter undesirable events. If enough people don’t like the result then they can change it back. Granted they will be unaware that things weren’t always this way, but for many people that’s already the case.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. From my non-involved observer’s stool across the pond, two things have struck me:

    1) the extent to which left political commentators in the US were willing to valorize Corbyn’s refusal to straight up oppose Brexit. “Oh, he’s following the will of the Labour voters. That’s what democracy is all about. The working class will vote with their heads and recognize just how bad a Tory government would be.” To quote John Scalzi: Yeah, no.

    2) Also, the extent to which voters in the UK appear to be nostalgic for a glorious past that never really existed. Or if it did exist, was the freak anomalous circumstance of winning WWII and having enough cash (in no small part from the US: over 1/4 of total Marshall Plan funding went to the UK) to help re-build things in a semi-stable world economic order.

    It will be profoundly interesting to see over the next 11 months whether the UK vote presages the US presidential election next fall, just like the initial Brexit referendum foreshadowed Trump’s victory. I’ll admit I’m tempted to preemptively commence Mark’s grief process.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. (2) is regrettably correct, although the hazy glorious past is more up to and including WW2. There’s an interesting (or depressing) split between those people who actually remember WW2 and the rationing that lasted for a decade afterwards, and those who grew up shortly afterwards being taught a rosy version of it.
      Guess which demographic is much larger and helps form the “nostalgic conservative” bloc?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Funny, hear in the US I think the old pissed-off voters who remember the glory days of the 1950s aren’t that different from the pissed-off young voters who only know them through sitcoms.But that’s because the 1960s made such an apparent break from the era when WASP men who appeared straight could stride the world like gods.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Leftists like to proclaim that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Along the same lines, why can’t we say that anti-immigrationism and nationalism is not xenophobia? It could be argued that people want to preserve homogeneity of national character without saying that other people are bad. In any case, the party that firmly advocated for Brexit just won a huge landslide; perhaps you should come to terms with the fact that Brexit is now what a majority of British voters really want, instead of making lists of why you think they don’t really want that but voted that way anyway.

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    1. In any case, the party that firmly advocated for Brexit just won a huge landslide; perhaps you should come to terms with the fact that Brexit is now what a majority of British voters really want

      Your second point doesn’t follow from the first. The Conservative party won a major electoral victory, yes, but they only received 43.6% of the vote share. (We can blame FPTP for that one.) Whereas the combined Labour + Lib Dem + SNP + Green + Plaid Cymru vote share was 50.8%.

      So actually, it looks as though a majority of British voters opposes Brexit–or at least that they oppose a Tory Brexit–but they’re being forced to have it anyway, due to the way votes are allocated.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. “It could be argued that people want to preserve homogeneity of national character without saying that other people are bad.”

      And the people arguing that would be wrong.

      (For the record, I think Labour has an anti semitism problem and failed to fix it)

      “In any case, the party that firmly advocated for Brexit just won a huge landslide”

      A landslide in terms of seats, under the current FPTP system, which means they get to do Brexit as they wish, yes. Actual vote share was 43.6%, so not a majority of British voters. If you tot up the parties taking an anti-Brexit line then you end up with the same result as we’ve been getting for the past few years: opinion is closely divided.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. “Homogenous national character” is a fiction. It doesn’t exist, not in the UK (try telling someone from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or even Yorkshire that they share a national character with the English), not in Germany, not in the US and not anywhere else.

      And personally, I believe that the antisemitism problem cost Labour many votes, because many people will not vote for antisemites no matter what and so voted for one of the other parties opposed to Brexit. The British voting system did the rest, because simple majority systems ignore the will of huge swathes of voters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Cora

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the anti-Semitism issue caused a fair number of switches to the lib dems or simple abstentions, but it’s impossible to quantify because it’s tied up with the overall effect of Corbyn’s personal unpopularity which stems from multiple issues.

        The sad thing is that I’m sure it could have been largely fixed with fairly simple decisive action – just saying something like “whatever the scale of the problem truly is, even a small element is unacceptable, we will investigate properly and take strong action where it is found” followed by actually taking proper action would have satisfied a lot of people I think, but instead there was waffle and vacillation about losing “good” people over one issue (as if you want open anti-semites anywhere in your party no matter what their other credentials). Even where they ended up acting it was accompanied by pubic reluctance from sections of the party which made them look complicit.
        And so they ended up being vulnerable to false-equivalences with the Tory problems with Islamophobia and racism, and unable to properly emphasise those b/c every time they did the first question was why they didn’t get their own house in order – perhaps not fair, but inevitable.

        Liked by 6 people

    4. Well, Zionism is ethno-colonialism and anti-zionism is to be against colonialism, even more when it is based along racist lines. What we could is see is how many apartheid-supporters who were willing to use anti-semitism as a shield to deny Palestinians basic human rights. Kind of sad, but in line with the new wave of racism and nationalism in UK.

      I can’t really see the argument that being against racism also should mean that we should see ethno-based nationalism as something acceotable.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. //Leftists like to proclaim that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism//

      Leftists like to proclaim that anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitism. It is true however, that a significant number of people express anti-Zionist sentiment because they are anti-Semitic.

      Do you see the distinction?

      //why can’t we say that anti-immigrationism and nationalism is not xenophobia?//

      You can *say* what you like about “anti-immigration” but creating a coherent ideology that was opposed to immigration but which was not based on fears about foreigners would be very difficult almost by definition.

      //…and nationalism//

      On that point, certainly. There are many kinds of nationalism. It is more than possible for there to be nationalisms that aren’t xenophobic. However, the kind of nationalism we are talking about regarding Brexit support in England is very much the xenophobic kind.

      //perhaps you should come to terms with the fact that Brexit is now what a majority of British voters really want//

      It is very unclear if it is true that a majority of British voters want Brexit. Numerically, even if it was a majority it would be a very slim one. Measuring it by “number of MPs won” is a very inaccurate way of doing so.

      // It could be argued that people want to preserve homogeneity of national character without saying that other people are bad. //

      Arguing for a homogeneity of national character in the UK is IPSO FACTO arguing that other people are bad. There is at no point in British history a homogeneous national character and the nature of the UK is a union of several countries. This demand for homogeneity is causing deep rifts within a nation whose premise rested on non-homogeneity. The likely outcome is that the UK ceases to exist in its current form and in the process the ‘national character’ ceases to exist.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve always seen nationalism as a tool that the rich and powerful use to motivate people into fighting their wars, asserting that people from different regions cultures and with different viewpoints are all part of one country and then claimed that that country is imperilled and needs to be defended at all costs is in my opinion the best way to get an army to fight for you, and most nationstates are geopolitical fictions carved up by The French and British in order to get the best financial advantage, it benefits them for people to think of themselves as different to each other and to be fighting constantly.
        It reminds me of a quote from them for the Portuguese ambassador who said that the best thing about Portugal is that it’s not Spain, The average Portuguese might not even have met a spaniard before and yet now in order to truly be Portuguese he has to hate them.

        Liked by 1 person

    6. Opinion surveys report that there is a small majority in favour of remaining in the EU.

      Labour Leave supporters crossed party lines. Conservative Remain supporters didn’t do that in the same numbers, with the result that the Conservative gained seats in the north and didn’t loose seats in the south. A general election is a poor substitute for a referendum on Brexit.

      Liked by 2 people

    7. It is amazing how many contortions right-wingers will engage in to try to pretend that their racism and xenophobia are okay. hyrosen is a case in point.

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      1. Yeah it’s pretty much that you shouldn’t get mad if somebody punches you in the nose and then kicks you in the shins because we can imagine a very implausible scenario in which it would be ok for somebody to punch you in the nose and kick you in the shins. How dare you suggest I might be a nosepunchingshinkicker just because I approve of Bob Nosepuncher and Joe Shinkicker running this town.

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      2. My racism and xenophobia is at least ineffective, since I vote only for Democrats. But speaking of ineffective, how well is shouting about racism and xenophobia and white privilege and disembodied gender and the end of the world from climate change working out for you? Are you converting anyone new to your beliefs?

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      3. “how well is shouting about racism and xenophobia and white privilege and disembodied gender and the end of the world from climate change working out for you? Are you converting anyone new to your beliefs?”

        Sigh. Your first comment at least had some substantive elements for you to be wrong about, this one is just straight out of trolling 101. Far too many talking points crammed into a single ineffective taunt.
        It’s really just disrespectful of you to think that this sort of incoherent nonsense is going to get anywhere. Try harder.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. @Mark Hepworth Notice that my “first comment [that] at least had some substantive elements for [me] to be wrong about” was met by a response from @Aaron that it was a “contortion[s] right-wingers will engage in to try to pretend that their racism and xenophobia are okay”.

        So @Aaron is in fact shouting about racism and xenophobia, and it’s not unreasonable to ask whether it’s working, in the sense of convincing someone who does not already feel that homogeneity (or preventing rapid change away from it) is racist and xenophobic that they’re wrong.

        There is an Orwellian perspective that if you can control language and speech, then you will have won the day. (The purest example is the attempt to banish the term “illegal alien” despite the fact that “alien” is the term for non-citizen and it is against the law for them to be present in the country.) The problem is that cancel culture doesn’t extend into the voting booth, or into what people privately think.

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      5. //There is an Orwellian perspective that if you can control language and speech, then you will have won the day. (The purest example is the attempt to banish the term “illegal alien” despite the fact that “alien” is the term for non-citizen and it is against the law for them to be present in the country.) //

        “Illegal alien” is an example OF Orwellian language control. Hence the opposition to it.

        // The problem is that cancel culture…//

        …and there is a second example…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. @hyrosen

        Ummm, was that supposed to change my mind that you were doing anything other than trolling?

        You’ve had some facts pointed out to you yet you’re not engaging with those; instead you’re much happier just yelling talking points at people. Therefore, you’re still trolling. That some people are happy to play the same game doesn’t change that.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. My racism and xenophobia is at least ineffective, since I vote only for Democrats.

        I know you guys like to pretend that you are actually Democrats, but no one believes your shtick any more. At this point you’re about a half-step away from howling that “Democrats are the REAL racists!”

        But speaking of ineffective, how well is shouting about racism and xenophobia and white privilege and disembodied gender and the end of the world from climate change working out for you? Are you converting anyone new to your beliefs?

        Interesting. No one mentioned white privilege or disembodied gender until you brought it up just now. It is almost as if you are tilting at a strawman because that’s all your script allows you to do.

        In any event, given that the GOP suffered historic losses in the 2018 election, and then still more historic losses in the 2019 elections, and the Republican party is bleeding members at a rapid clip, it seems to be working out fairly well.

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      8. It’s not just about converting people, either. Sometimes it’s rallying the troops by reminding us what we’re fighting for or against. Sometimes it’s because calling out white privilege or racism is the right thing to do, whether it wins over the other side. And in the U.S. a lot of people on the other side won’t convert whether or not we’re nice to them. Moderates and pundits have beaten the “if you just respect their beliefs, they’ll be willing to compromise” drum since the 1990s at least, and it’s never been successful (some individuals may change, but not enough to make a political dent).

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      9. Notice that my “first comment [that] at least had some substantive elements for [me] to be wrong about” was met by a response from @Aaron that it was a “contortion[s] right-wingers will engage in to try to pretend that their racism and xenophobia are okay”.

        Imagine that. You tried to justify your racism and xenophobia and someone pointed that out. I guess you just don’t like it when people point out reality to you.

        So @Aaron is in fact shouting about racism and xenophobia, and it’s not unreasonable to ask whether it’s working, in the sense of convincing someone who does not already feel that homogeneity (or preventing rapid change away from it) is racist and xenophobic that they’re wrong.

        No one is yelling. You keep ranting about “homogeneity” and expect no one to note that your entire line of argument is inherently xenophobic and racist. I’m sure that in the circles you normally move in that racism and xenophobia are perfectly fine to espouse, but your attempts to justify them when you get into the wider world are simply not going to work.

        There is an Orwellian perspective that if you can control language and speech, then you will have won the day. (The purest example is the attempt to banish the term “illegal alien” despite the fact that “alien” is the term for non-citizen and it is against the law for them to be present in the country.) The problem is that cancel culture doesn’t extend into the voting booth, or into what people privately think.

        Reciting a bunch of right-wing buzzwords and talking points might impress your buddies in whatever locale you are used to frequenting, but they just won’t sell here. To bring this back to Brexit, one might note that the kind of immigration that was considered objectionable (to the extent that it was immigration that was considered to be the problem) was legal immigration.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. @Aaron

        “To bring this back to Brexit, one might note that the kind of immigration that was considered objectionable (to the extent that it was immigration that was considered to be the problem) was legal immigration.”

        Indeed, the main thrust of the immigration argument was about entirely legal immigration from Eastern Europe, albeit mixed up with some vague threat that “other” types of immigration might get through.
        Also worth noting that the use of “illegal alien” frequently gets applied to people following legal immigration procedures, and certainly in the UK the term “asylum seeker” gets used perjoratively even though it’s entirely legal to seek asylum here. Orwellian indeed!

        Liked by 2 people

      11. Legal Latino immigration is the real issue in the U.S. More and more people are comfortable admitting that it’s the number of Hispanics, not the number of illegal immigrants, that’s at issue.

        Liked by 3 people

      12. “Legal Latino immigration is the real issue in the U.S. More and more people are comfortable admitting that it’s the number of Hispanics, not the number of illegal immigrants, that’s at issue.”

        As has been noted elsewhere in this thread, by and large the people claiming that it is the number of immigrants that is the problem are people who live in areas where there are very few immigrants. The people who live in areas where large numbers of immigrants have settled generally vote against the kind of xenophobic policies that are aimed at “preserving homogeneity”.

        Basically, what it boils down to is that more and more people who don’t deal with immigrants much at all are comfortable expressing their racism and xenophobia in public.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Joshua Keating’s “Invisible Countries” has a lot of discussion in the role of ethnicity and homogeneity in nation-states. One of the problems he points out that keeps recurring is that even nations that break up into ethnic subgroups invariably have people in them who aren’t ethnic or don’t want to be broken up.

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  5. As has been often noted, another part of the problem is that the political spectrum is no longer “left/right” but “isolationist nativism v open internationalism” and most of us haven’t adapted to that yet (and many of us will never be able to.)
    So it became painfully clear that the successful metropolitan regions of the UK, who have benefited from immigration (at all income levels, notably) and an identity that encompasses more than just the nation state, all voted clearly to sustain that approach. [And, in passing, they were also the same places that voted clearly in favour of changing our broken electoral system and for Remain in the two UK wide referendums of the last decade.] And those places are, in the main, also the drivers of our modern economy.
    This is going to cause even bigger tension in the years to come, especially if the Conservative party resorts to gerrymandering to keep their hold by reducing the presence of those big cities in Parliament.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. @Kat Goodwin: Thank you for that thread link. It pretty much encapsulated my experiences too, which is why I do not think that the “open/closed” divide is illusory – there is an entire generation (the 50-75 yr olds) that is feeling that they paid into the system all their lives and are being cheated of their just rewards. And they are not living in the big metropolitan areas, and even those that do are not a part of the culture simply because it skews younger, so they are not participating in the social changes which makes them feel even more cut-off. (I am willing to bet that, for instance, the folk that complained about the mere idea of a gay couple on Strictly Come Dancing were all in that cohort.)
        So you get whole swathes of England that were devastated by the (arguably very necessary) industrial changes of the 1980s, but who, when they were offered some level of self-determination in the late 90s by the Blair government, turned it down. And so, twenty years later, those areas have struggled to move on precisely because they have had no-one seriously in power to speak for them for decades.
        And unless the new Conservative government can do something very quickly for them (which seems unlikely given everything else that is going on), they will fall further and further behind.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that the globalism versus Antiglobalism dynamic is mostly illusionary, it’s used by Conservatives and some liberals also as a rallying cry but I don’t think they actually believe it.
      One of the goals of the Conservative party post Brexit is to reduce the tax rates in Britain so that large multinational corporations can easily make a home here, and many of these so-called anti globalists wax lyrical about the days when the British Empire control the world and ruled over all of its subject populations, they don’t mind so much if it’s they who benefit the most from globalism but if anyone else does, it’s a great evil which needs to be destroyed.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “Homogeneity of National Character is a Very Recent Idea and Non-Natural State of Being: A Short Introductory Reading List.”
    ——–
    Atwill, David. The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873

    Clark, Johnson and Dooley, eds. Dublin and the Viking World. Dublin’s origins as a vibrant multicultural settlement

    Cook, Karoline. Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America

    Fraser, Elizabeth, ed. The Mobility of People and Things in the Early Modern Mediterranean:

    Galliccio, Marc. The African American Encounter with Japan and China: Black Internationalism in Asia, 1895-1945

    Heng, Geraldine. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages

    Hsy, Jonathan. Trading Tongues: Merchants, Multilingualism, and Medieval Literature – documents how Europeans have always been multicultural and multilingual

    Johnson, J. ed. Life in a Multi-Cultural Society: Egypt from Cambyses to Constantine and Beyond.

    Kennedy, R. F. Immigrant Women in Athens: Gender, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in Classical Athens.

    Menocal, Maria Rosa. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

    Miller, M. Athens and Persia in the Fifth Century BC: A Study in Cultural Receptivity

    Northup, David. Africa’s Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850. – all the ways Africans were present in Europe: diplomats, royals, merchants, students, runaways, enslaved, tourists etc.

    Noy, David. Foreigners at Rome: Citizens and Strangers.

    Parker, Charles. Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age, 1400 -1800. Chapter 4: Movement of Peoples and Diffusion of Cultures.

    Parker, G. The Making of Roman India.

    Porter, David. The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England.

    Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Lots of Muslim West African people were present in the Americas since the 1600s

    Seijas, Tatiana. Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico: From Chinos to Indios. Asian residents in Mexico: slaves, merchants, samurai guards at palace court; founded the famous porcelain works in Puebla

    Spellberg, Denise. Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders

    Ther, Philipp. The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe since 1492

    Thornton, John. Congolese St-Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpe Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684-1706. African woman believed self to be reincarnation of St Anthony, led millenarian religious movement

    Thrush, Coll. Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire. Includes Pacific Islanders, Hawaiians, Native Americans etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Citing sources is elitist 🙂

      I think that problems occur as the first derivative of non-homogeneity. That is, people become upset at rapid changes in the status quo. You had white flight when it looked like black people were moving rapidly into white neighborhoods. You have gentrification protests when it looks like white people are moving rapidly into black neighborhoods.

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      1. I think we will have to differ between racism and nationalism. Racism has a longer history than the idea of the nation state. The latter is a new thing dating from around the French Revolution. White flight is not tied specifically to the idea of national homogenity. It is tied to the idea of falling prices for property because people with the wrong skincolour moved in.

        Gentrification is also not tied to the idea of national homogenity, nor necessarily even to skin colour, it is a problem with changing neighbourhoods with bars and clubs closing, again often tied to worry about property prices for the newly moved in.

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      2. //I think that problems occur as the first derivative of non-homogeneity. That is, people become upset at rapid changes in the status quo. //

        Well there is a testable hypothesis. Let’s consider the implications. It implies that we would see the biggest reaction against immigration and the strongest nationalist vote in areas with the most rapid social change and with the highest levels of immigration. So we should see in the recent UK elections and referendums the biggest pro-Brexit and pro-Brexit party votes in the cities…except…we see the exact opposite…

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      3. you still havent defined what you mean by cultural homogeneity, for example some people speculate that there are at least 12 separate cultures in the US Pacific Northwest, southern, midwest et cetera, so you can’t just put everyone into one box and label it American.
        Black people have lived in the US for since its founding, and much of the American Southwest used to be part of Mexico many of those people have absorbed into America.

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      4. @Annie
        I can’t define it, because it exists in people as the uneasy feeling shading into panic that things around them are changing too fast, and that they’re facing influxes of people not like themselves who will change everything and and oh my God! You can see this in the greater New York area when Hasidic Jews move into neighborhoods, with resistance coming even from established Jewish but non-Hasidic communities. There’s a video online of black people in Jersey City being interviewed after the recent murders. It’s full of comments about how the Jews deserved to be killed for moving there.

        We have zoning laws and landmark laws in order to preserve characteristics of neighborhoods. It should not be surprising that some people feel that they should be able to control who gets to reside there, for the same reasons. Like it or not, those feelings are real, and the expression of those feelings comes out in the voting booth, and not all the yelling in the world is going to change that.

        I’ve yet to see coherent policies from Democrats laying out a consistent immigration policy, in which they describe who should be allowed into the country, who should not be allowed into the country, and what should happen to people who are here but are not legally allowed to be here. It always seems that their position is to point at some particularly needy case – a person facing violence for being transgender, a person who came to this country when they were very young, a person who performed some heroic deed – and say “well, isn’t it wrong to send this person back?” But that’s not policy, that’s more like abdication. (On the other hand, Republicans are racist and xenophobic, so looking to them for guidance is hopeless unless you think “get more people from Norway” is a solution.)

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      5. Yes, there are people who wants segregated communities (Hasidic Jews are hardly exempt from this, seen the book “Postville – A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America” as an example. As you say, it is not a surprise that people want segregated communities in US. In fact, segregation used to be enshrined by law.

        But that’s hardly an argument for letting politics help to enable their wish for segregation. Regardless of how real peoples feelings might be about not allowing jews to live in their neighbourhood, as an example.

        I also have hard time to understanding your argument that with regards to letting needy people enter US. Why is it an “abdication” to let a transgender person threatened by violence enter US according to you? You want a policy that says that transgender people threatened by violence should not be allowed into US?

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      6. @Hampus Eckerman

        It’s not abdication to let needy people immigrate. It’s abdication to fail to make laws and then abide by them. Pointing at isolated sympathetic cases is not a way to conduct policy (although it may be a way to help decide what policy should be). In particular, it is unfair to other people who may be in the same circumstances but are more ordinary, less photogenic, or just not first. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men, so that we do not play favorites.

        Politicians who do not support completely open borders must perforce say who may enter, who may not, and what should happen to those who have entered without permission. However, politicians are craven and despise being forced to state a position forthrightly. This results in laws that are vague, and whose enforcement is arbitrary.

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      7. Exactly what laws is it you mean aren’t followed when transgender people that are threatened with violence comes to the UK? My guess is that UK will follow article 14 in the Human Rights Act which covers the status of transsexual.

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  7. I can’t define it, because it exists in people as the uneasy feeling shading into panic that things around them are changing too fast

    You can’t define it because defining it will expose it as racism and xenophobia. You cite New Jersey and New York as cases in which people are “scared” of immigrants moving into their neighborhoods, but New York and New Jersey overwhelmingly vote against politicians who espouse policies that would restrict immigration, so your example is little more than a strawman you’ve created to prop up your groundless arguments.

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    1. We tried cultural homogeneity back when we had the might of an empire to crush countries with and it really just doesn’t work. We couldn’t even eradicate the Welsh language, but our efforts did send some Welsh people to South America. To this day there are still Welsh speakers in Patagonia, of all places.

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    2. @hyrosen,
      Fundamentally, this comes down to The belief that people who are a different race to you are completely and irreconcilably different.
      Heres an experiment, find a barber shop or restaurant in your neighbourhood that is frequented by people who are completely unlike you superficially, go inside order a drink or have your hair cut and observe the people, how they behave what they talk about et cetera.
      You might feel uncomfortable at first, they might be speaking a different language or using unfamiliar words but what you’ll find is that they are just like white people.
      There is also the difference between media driven fear and lived reality, older people are more likely to view nonwhite people as dangerous or threatening because of what they read in the news or seen on TV and they don’t have any lived experience to balance this out with, but younger people who have spent time in university or in shops or restaurants with people of all backgrounds ages and races will be much more accommodating because they know more.

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      1. Yeah, what was striking in the poll numbers was the enormous generation gap in who voted for Labour or Tories. There was an enormous loss in Labour among the older generation, not weighed up by new voters in the younger generation (as they vote to a lesser extent).

        The real question is how to win the older generation over and I don’t think immigration and Brexit are the only solutuions for that. Pensions, elder homes, available care and so on are other ways that could get more emphasis.

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  8. Wow, it’s not often that you run into an open segregationist who thinks that race is real and homogeneous, that “white” is an actual culture that must be preserved and that gentrification is just a matter of “white” people happening to move into a “black” neighborhood. Way to cling to bigoted myths completely divorced from history, dude.

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  9. It always seems that their position is to point at some particularly needy case – a person facing violence for being transgender, a person who came to this country when they were very young, a person who performed some heroic deed – and say “well, isn’t it wrong to send this person back?” But that’s not policy, that’s more like abdication.

    It is, in fact, policy. That’s what immigration courts and asylum hearings are for. Supporting well-run immigration courts staffed by qualified judges is a policy. It isn’t a simplistic policy like you seem to want, but it is a policy – and it is the only cohesive policy possible. I would also add that those appearing in immigration courts should be entitled to legal representation and all of the other protections accorded by the U.S. Constitution, many of which are currently denied to them.

    Through the history of the U.S., every time the U.S. has tightened up on immigration, it has been to the nation’s detriment. The exclusion acts, the restrictions based on national origin, the limitations placed upon American Samoans, and so on have only served to impoverish the country. Through most of the 19th century there were no limits on immigration, and the nation was at its most dynamic and prosperous. Entering the country “illegally” wasn’t even a crime until the 1990s, and making it a crime has done nothing useful for the country.

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    1. Entering the U.S. became illegal and a crime in 1929 (Section 1325). Up until that point, certain ethnic groups of immigrants were considered undesirable and periodically banned from immigrating to the U.S., specifically Asian immigrants because Asian groups were doing well in the U.S. and they wanted to seize their property and businesses. Immigrants who entered the U.S. anyway despite bans were then sometimes deported, but it was not a crime/against the law to enter the U.S. and they could not be criminally prosecuted for it. The borders were open borders.

      In the early 20th century, white supremacists like hyrosen here back then wanted to stop Mexican immigrants who mostly weren’t even immigrants — they were farm workers going back and forth across the border — and immigrants/refugees from southern and eastern Europe who weren’t considered white at the time (some of them still aren’t but the rest was of course flexible to enhance the numbers,) and were felt to be undesirable and competition for “white” workers. To please the white supremacist Klan while still keeping the agricultural industry happy with enough Mexican workers, they came up with a law that made entering the country without going through an official entry point, subject to a crossing fee and tests, a crime. First time you got caught was a misdemeanor, second time a felony. Mexican workers mainly ignored the official entry points since they couldn’t pay the fees and didn’t want to get flea dipped baths because of bigoted views about Mexicans from the newly formed border patrol. The U.S. did prosecute a small percentage of them over the next ten years for “illegal” border crossings but their main strategy was to continue to deport huge numbers of Mexican laborers during the Great Depression as supposed competition for starving “white” workers in agriculture.

      That changed in WWII when they desperately needed agriculture workers. They brought Mexicans in on guest work visas and stopped bothering to prosecute those entering “illegally.” That program continued up till 1964. After that, the U.S. still didn’t bother prosecuting Mexicans and other immigrants for criminal entry. It takes up a huge amount of money and resources and they still needed to exploit the Mexican labor for agriculture. Instead, they would just periodically deport groups of them to pretend they were doing something for the white supremacists. It was George W. Bush’s administration that started criminally prosecuting more Mexican and Latino immigrants under Section 1325. This resulted in a massive labor shortage in agriculture that destroyed large amounts of crops as fewer Mexican workers were willing to come and work. It’s Section 1325 that is being used to kidnap Latino (and almost all Latino) kids from their families, throw them in cages run by for profit cronies and occasionally sold off to white supremacist evangelicals who will abuse them. Essentially, criminally prosecuting the Latinos at least became more profitable and so started being used more often in the 21st century. It’s got nothing to do with “homogeneity,” which has never existed, and everything to do with money and political consolidation, with who is white and/or “desirable” flip-flopping as needed.

      None of which has anything to do with the historical situations and cultural issues of the U.K., of course.

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    2. Aaron, this is intended as a real question, not a rhetorical one, so please don’t assume the worst: Which limitations on American Samoans are you referring to?

      I’m an amateur legal-affairs geek, and my best guess is that you’re referring to the ‘unincorporated-territory’ (hence no 14th Amendment birthright citizenship) one arising from the Insular Cases when the USSC was sorting out how to deal with bits of not-well-planned empire around 1901 (starting with Puerto Rico and the Philippines).

      The USSC held that the USA could lawfully gain/conquer/come-by-somehow territorial possessions without those thereby becoming literally part of the USA, hence the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause wouldn’t apply — unless Congress separately decided that it would, anyway. A few territories were made specifically and unreservedly part of the USA by Congressional actions, such as Alaska (purchased from Russia) and the recently and suspiciously overthrown Kingdom of Hawaii (which at the time included Palmyra Atoll).

      This set up a weird and morally troubling (to me, anyway) situation where — until Congress said otherwise — persons born in US outlying (and ‘unincorporated’) possessions weren’t by birth US citizens but rather ‘US nationals’, with more-limited rights, e.g., no voting rights for US elections. Since then, things have been mostly sorted out, e.g., Congressional statutes gave birthright citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. Treaty (the 1976 ‘Covenant’, upon its Congressional approval) gave it to people born in the Northern Marianas Islands. That leaves exactly one ‘unincorporated’ territory without (as yet) that curative: American Samoa. FWIW, I’ve been trying to raise awareness of this situation for quite a while. Near as I can tell, it result from pure lack of mindfulness in Washington about those 55,000 Americans far away, most of the way across the Pacific. Out of sight, out of mind. (To be clear, I strongly favour Congress acting ASAP to give the last and most neglected of the USA’s five populated, unincorporated territories the same legal status as the other four.)

      It’s possible that, at some points in history (and if you say including today, I won’t say you’re wrong), a desire to limit immigration might have been a motivating factor, but my shirtsleeve reaction is that would seem a really exaggerated concern, given how few people live on those 199 square kilometres: 55,000 American Samoans wouldn’t even overfill Dodger Stadium.

      Very recently, a Federal District judge for the Utah District has purported to right the American Samoans’ citizenship for them, at least for American Samoans residing within Utah. Problems with that decision include clash with other Federal courts’ rulings including the DC Court of Appeals, and (FWIW) my legal-amateur assessment that the judge erred in brushing aside the ‘incorporation’ issue in his 60ish page opinion. But we shall see.

      Palmyra Atoll is, BTW, a unique legal edge-case: It’s a US territory that’s ‘unorganised’ (has no devolved government) but also ‘incorporated’, because when the US grabbed the Kingdom of Hawaii and Congress incorporated it in 1898, Palmyra was part of the Kingdom. At the time of statehood in 1959, Congress sawed Palmyra off from the State of Hawaii, but that leaves it still incorporated.

      This makes Palmyra the unique case of a US territory where if non-citizens give birth, the child would be a US citizen (by automatic operation of the 14th Amendment). Of course, it’s not only rather remote, tiny, and difficult/expensive to get to, and lacking visitors except a few for ecotourism and sportfishing, but also officially uninhabited (not counting a few US officials and Nature Conservancy people). But maybe a non-citizen expecting mom will go that route before… well, sea-level rise removes the opportunity.

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    1. @Mister Dalliard I misread a line from the Wikipedia page. I submit that mistaking 1875 for 1870 is not as severe a mistake as mistaking the 1990s for 1875, as @Aaron did.

      @Mark Hepworth Why do you think I’m not elitist? Also, I’m pretty sure that going with “That’s not funny!” is an even less winning move than shouting leftist tropes.

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      1. You’re still wrong. “Unlawful” does not equal “criminal”. “Criminal” means that you can be prosecuted. And the legal basis for this is Section 1325 of U.S. immigration law which was passed in 1929 or so.

        As Kat Howard pointed out above.

        https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/chaos-fascism-and-the-uk/#comment-41744

        And while Aaron is wrong that immigration is criminal since the 90s he has a point insofar as there was little prosecution until Bush II.

        And you’re the only one who is shouting cant here.

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      2. Yep (though I am not Kat Howard, a writer worth checking out.)

        Immigrating to a country and entering a country, crossing a border, are not the same thing. The 1875 act banned certain groups, mainly Chinese folk, from immigrating into and settling in the US and could cause people to get kicked out through deportation if they tried to stay. But it was not a criminal act for a Chinese person to enter the U.S. The borders were open and there was no border patrol until the 1920’s. The 1929 act/section was the first to criminalize entering the country and it was aimed not only at Mexicans but at Eastern Europeans who were not then considered white. As the 20th century progressed, Eastern Europeans would be drafted as “white” to make up larger numbers of supposedly white people in the U.S.

        In the U.K. currently, Eastern Europeans are considered white but also a threat, which is part of what is fueling Brexit philosophies. The prominence of France and Germany (supposedly “white” countries, at least this century) in the EU over Britain is also a factor. Taxes on the rich required for participation in the EU is another main factor for Tory politicians. And fear that non-white Britons will have an equal voice in local politics and business in the U.K., equal stakes, equal aid, equal use of resources — and blaming that equality on the EU parceling out refugees, requiring policies, etc., also plays its role. There has never been a homogeneous population of different “white” groups in Britain but there has been an imperialistic white supremacy strategy in Britain, a concept that the English made up to justify slavery and exploitation 450 years ago. It isn’t sharing a country (also a made up concept) that is a problem; it’s sharing leadership, status and control that’s a problem.

        Scientists have for decades studied and found that people’s willingness to believe in bigoted social myths rapidly degrades for most if people in different designated identity groups live and work together with relative equality and common cause. They learn that the bigoted myths (such as homogeneous populations,) aren’t real and they stop othering and dehumanizing marginalized people. That’s why segregationists want segregation — keep artificially created groups apart and you can more easily control them to believe in the bigoted myths (including the myth of segregation,) and set them against each other — while the rich pick their pockets.

        Segregation creates stagnation and the decay of trade. Britain isn’t going to profit from it, but a number of very wealthy people — many of them not white nor British — will. And who’s white and who’s not will continue to shift and change as those in power and using the myth of it find the concept most useful.

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      3. The EU is not distributing refugees among its member states. There have been calls to distribute refugees more fairly among all EU countries based on population, size, GNP, etc… (similar to the system according to which refugees are distributed domestically in Germany) for years now, but certain countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, but also the UK, always block such plans.

        I totally agree with the rest of what you said.

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      4. Yes, exactly. The Brexit activists and the people they sold it to used the claim that the EU would force the UK to take refugees in quotas, etc. as a threatening fear. The whole scam was that the EU controls Britain too much and will control it more in the future, undeservedly taking the UK’s cash and giving it to the undeserving — those who aren’t white Britons (preferably not lower class.)

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