Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Ethno-Tribal Loyalty

I recently came across Marc MacYoung's post "Tribes, Super-tribes and Uber-tribes" which discusses how we are hard-wired for belonging to tribes. One of the points he brings up is that people aren't really wired for large tribes, especially multinational:
      ... I want you to understand something about an idea you take for granted. Nations [i.e., nation-states] are a VERY recent invention in terms of humanity. (250 years vs. 200,000 years.) Here’s another kick to the gut. The idea isn’t global yet either. But let’s look at what you were raised in in the West. We are told that as a nation we are a giant Uber-tribe. If you are a US citizen you have 324,000,000 fellow tribes people. You’ve been conditioned to accept this as ‘normal.’ 

      Except there’s just one little glitch...

      This is beyond most people's functional ability -- WAY beyond. Dunbar's number postulates that we can only maintain between 100 to 250 stable relationships. That is our actual ‘tribe’ (or village if you will). With a little mental gymnastics most people can be comfortable with the idea of a Super-tribe (lots of people like them). We start gritting our teeth at the Uber-tribe. Where people really glitch is when someone tries to promote the idea that the 'tribe' is global. Ummmm I owe tribal obligations to 7 billion people? Totally over the sanity horizon, for anyone not espousing it, is saying animals, trees and Mother Earth are also your tribe -- and you owe them the same obligations. 

     Riiiiiiiiiiiigght.
And he's correct. The idea of the modern nation-state is generally traced back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It is a European concept that was imposed on the rest of the world simply by virtue of the dominance of the West over international relations. It is not universal and, in fact, many of the ethnic tensions and conflicts we see in Africa and the Middle-East are the result of the European powers drawing artificial boundaries that do not correspond to tribal or ethnic boundaries, and then attempting to enforce those boundaries even as the West lost control over those regions. This Western system also allows us to gloss over instances of ethnic expansion as long as they are an "internal" or "domestic" issue. For instance, China has pursued a policy of displacing and replacing non-Han Chinese within its borders, such as what happened in Tibet and is currently being carried out against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China.

      Yet we are also told that it is a moral imperative that the West forego nationalism and embrace the uber-tribe of all humans. The Small Wars Journal recently published a piece by Louis RenĂ© Beres with the title, "Getting Beyond Belligerent Nationalism: A Global Survival Imperative," calling on the United States to reject nationalism and embrace globalism. Beres begins his article by quoting from Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, "What does not benefit the entire hive is no benefit to the bee." He then traipses through the old, tired tropes of globalism. "There absolutely must be a firmer and more willing embrace of global interdependence and human 'oneness.'" He warns of "proliferating nuclear weapons and infrastructures," and adds:
... the time for celebrating science, modernization and gleaming new information technologies is at least partially over.  To survive, together, on this imperiled planet (and together is the only meaningful path to survival) all of us must sincerely seek to rediscover an individual life that is detached from long-patterned obligations "to belong." Indeed, it is only after such a crucial rediscovery that we could ever hope to reconstruct world politics on a sound and viable basis.
He continues:
      After all, what cannot benefit the world system as a whole (the "hive") can never benefit the individual nation-state (the "bee").

      Like it or not, the American "bee" – together with all others - must learn to live cooperatively, within the "hive." To ritualistically suggest otherwise, as does US President Donald Trump, would be nothing less than to willfully surrender all residual human advantages of intellect, analysis and reason. Following any such still-preventable surrender, America and all other state members of our integrated global system will have done nothing less than reinvigorate the dissembling forces of an uncontrollable “tribal” chaos.
Beres apparently rejects, then, Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations and instead believes we should give Francis Fukuyama's "end of history" and George Bush's "new world order" another try in the hope of a dead cat bounce.

      Much as Beres may wish otherwise, ethnicity is important, even central, to the identity of most peoples on Earth. For instance, The Daily Caller recently reported that "Foreign-Born Researchers At US Agencies Were Secretly Working For China And Recruiting Others, Senate Report Finds." Although the article doesn't expressly say it, this is a case of Chinese researchers spying on behalf of their mother country. From the article:
      China’s Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) aims to get foreign governments to finance the communist power’s military and economy by buying off researchers who are doing work abroad. The experts apply to the program, and if approved by the Communist Party, they join China’s payroll and sign secret side agreements that the experts will share their research with that country, according to the investigation.

      Some of the information captured by TTP had significant military value. For example, in 2016, Dr. Long Yu, a Chinese citizen and U.S. permanent resident working for a U.S. defense contractor, applied for Chinese talent plans and was arrested for attempting to give hundreds of gigabytes to China, including design info on military jet engines, according to the investigation.

     “China wins twice. First, the American taxpayer funds China’s research and development. Second, China uses that research to improve its economic and military status,” Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said in a statement.
This isn't surprising. The Washington Post reported in June of this year that "Beijing also compels members of the Chinese diaspora, Chinese students and business executives abroad to work as 'political agents' on behalf of Beijing." And on November 22, 2019, we learned that a former CIA officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was sentenced to 19 years for conspiring with Chinese spies. Yes, money exchanged hands and perhaps there were some threats. But this is, overall, an issue of ethnic loyalty. John Kao, writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1993, noted the extra-territorial "oneness" of Chinese communities around the world:
     What we think of as Chinese now encompasses an array of political and economic systems that are bound together by a shared tradition, not geography. For many generations, emigrant Chinese entrepreneurs have been operating comfortably in a network of family and clan, laying the foundations for stronger links among businesses across national borders. And Chinese-owned businesses in East Asia, the United States, Canada, and even farther afield are increasingly becoming part of what I call the Chinese commonwealth.

     Not based in any one country or continent, this commonwealth is primarily a network of entrepreneurial relationships. From restaurants to real estate to plastic-sandal makers to semiconductor manufacturing—from a staff of five or six family members to a plant floor of thousands—the Chinese commonwealth consists of many individual enterprises that nonetheless share a common culture.
War on the Rocks explains that the Chinese government is leveraging this "commonwealth" to its benefit:
[Chinese] Authorities have long regarded diaspora Chinese as important sources of capital and technology who can contribute to national development. In recent years, however, officials have started to see the diaspora not only as a key conduit for high-end technology through involvement in Chinese-led multi-national technology development initiatives, but also as a way to realize broader geo-economic ambitions. Chinese leaders regard the diaspora as critical enablers of ambitious projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). One Chinese academic explained that the success of the initiative will depend on ethnic Chinese communities in countries along the route serving as “guides, go-betweens, and participants” because they “have a deep understanding of the local situations and run business there.” 
This is a nation, in the truest sense of the word, pursuing its national interest irrespective of where the members of the nation reside.

     Indian workers are notorious in the Information Technology (IT) world for their discrimination against non-Indians. One of the IT workers interviewed in the foregoing article stated:
I have worked in Silicon Valley in both startups and big companies and my experience is the same as what the question says: Indians will ONLY hire other Indians and, like other people mentioned, they will only hire Indians like them. This is true most of the time with Indians who arrived in Silicon Valley to work or to go to University to study.
Another similarly explained:
I can tell you it is something that is recognized and spoken by everyone here. I have friends from all ethnic groups (Latino, Chinese, Japanese, White) and they all say the same thing: once an Indian is hired in a position of relative power (say middle management) a constant stream of resumes from his family or friends will come and, after that, most of the group will be Indian. I, like other people who answered, also have very good Indian friends and they themselves say the same thing: Indians have a long-running tradition of nepotism and cronyism and they do the same here in Silicon Valley. It is not uncommon to go to a startup run by Indian management or a big company with Indian managers and see their relatives working there (the second cousin, the brother-in-law, the wife, the son and so on). This, of course, is not a problem, if people were qualified for the job they do. Sadly, in a lot of cases that is not the case, they get the job because a relative got it for them.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little push-back against this problem (and the similar issue of Chinese only hiring Chinese), although in 2013, there was a class action law suit filed against the company Infosys for discriminating against Americans in its hiring. According to an Ars Technica article about the suit:
      Infosys has about 15,000 employees in the US "and approximately 90 percent of these employees are of South Asian descent (including individuals of Indian, Nepalese, and Bangladeshi descent)," the lawsuit states.

      Infosys allegedly achieved this ratio "by directly discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian decent in hiring, by abusing the H-1B visa process to bring workers of South Asian descent into the country rather than hiring qualified individuals already in the United States, and by abusing the B-1 visa system to bring workers of South Asian descent into the United States to perform work not allowed by their visa status rather than hiring individuals already in the United States to perform the work." Infosys "used B-1 visa holders because they could be paid considerably lower wages than other workers including American-born workers," the lawsuit states.
As Breitbart reported earlier this year, the result of the preference for Indians and other low-cost foreign labor has driven Americans out of jobs and prevented new STEM graduates from being hired. (See also this investigative report from NBC on the abuse of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, an extension of the F-1 student visa program).

     Another example is African-Americans. It is well known that Blacks are the single most loyal supporters of the Democratic party. The Economist reported earlier this year that since 1964, no Democratic presidential candidate has captured less than 80% of the black vote. Earlier this month, The Unz Review looked at how White, Black, and Hispanic conservatives voted in 2016 and found that 95% of Blacks that supported conservative positions nevertheless voted in favor of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Why the disconnect between what they valued and how they voted? Identity politics. Something that Stacey Y. Abrams argued in Foreign Affairs actually strengthens democracy. (See also this article from Vox praising Abrams for her stance on identity politics).

     Central to some group identities may be the hatred of another group. The certainly seems to be the case of the recently deceased Noel Ignatiev. The son of parents he described as "Russian Jewish intellectuals," he is (in)famous for his push to destroy "whiteness" and founding the journal Race Traitor, with its slogan “treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity,” and whose first words in its first issue urged readers to "Abolish the white race - by any means necessary." Demonstrating the truth of the saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Al Jazeera ran an article praising Ingatiev and his works under the title, "Abolishing whiteness has never been more urgent." Thus, we see the modern American Left go absolutely apoplectic over flyers that simply state "It's okay to be white."

     Although not as frank as Ignatiev, Beres seems struck from the same mold. He possesses an irrational paranoia concerning President Trump, and is fearful that Trump will not be good for Israel, as if that is a prerequisite for being President. (Although his fear of Trump seems more rooted in his distaste for those Americans that elected Trump). His call for surrendering sovereignty and abandoning national interests is pointedly directed at the United States. Beres does not suggest that his national tribe, Israel, surrender its sovereignty for the betterment of "the hive," but he has instead argued that "Israel should remain the only regional nuclear power" and prevent other nations in the region from obtaining nuclear weapons in order to secure Israel's security. But then, to take his analogy a bit further, perhaps he sees Israel as the "queen bee" that rest of the bees serve. I normally wouldn't begrudge Beres for wanting to defend his tribe's interests, but I do so if he misrepresents himself as being an "American" at the same time as arguing that American should surrender its sovereignty.

1 comment:

  1. Shhh, those things aren't meant to be noticed, unless they're being celebrated in the New York Times.

    ReplyDelete

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