No Magic Dirt

No Magic Dirt

While there is a form of diversity – that of available options and paradigms to analyze a problem and find a solution – that actually helps, there is little inherently superior in “diversity” that actually accomplishes that.

For that matter, while for the longest time an argument for Macs and Linux in the workplace has been diversity and not having everything go down to a single vulnerability, in practice, what’s I’ve seen is the same thing that happens in the wilds. There may be one or two exceptions here or there, but largely you have clusters of windows, *nix, and Mac machines by department, with one or two occasional exceptions.

Think nations, tribes, people, animal populations and their territories.

Arbitrary diversity there, in practice, unless there’s a damn good reason you need something different, means learning additional tools, having separate processes on tap to handle computer A than B, and so forth. You can sneer, with some justification, at the retarded Windows-only admin who’s not willing to take on something different, but one cannot pretend honestly that there is not a cost.

So, people.

I believe that the historical norm of cross-pollination of ideas, merchants, traders, the occasional bride, etc. between populations will continue. But historically, this has not happened on large scales without one population displacing or absorbing the other. So while we’ll never entirely rid ourselves of immigration, etc., I think we should take the default position of “why does this help us more than it hurts, in the long run” (because you can always make the argument “no-one else does that job”, or try, in the short run).

But, muh sins of the parents! Law abiding (except for not being legally registered by established law)!

I want to tackle today though, “wants to be an American!”

So? Who cares?

There’s an old joke about a man who propositions a woman to sleep with him for one million dollars. She blushes, but agrees. He then asks if she’ll sleep with him for $1. Furious, she slaps him, asks him what kind of person he thinks she is. He calmly replies “we’ve already established you’re a whore and now we’re negotiating a price.”

So.

What if we swapped the population of Los Angeles with the population of Yokohama since they’re both around 3.7-3.8 million people – even though the population densities are vastly different.

Would the people living in what was L.A. be Americans?

They’d be on American soil, we could offer them paperwork that says they’re perfectly legally able to reside there as citizens, with voting rights, etc.. We could give them time to find the local markets, industries, factories, and get to know how to work them.

But would they be Americans?

Would they speak the same language? Would they expect to use the local resources the same way, celebrate the same holidays, negotiate the same way, have the same assumptions and body language? Would they feel the need to assimilate with the surrounding cities or learn their neighbor’s language? Could their neighboring towns have the same assumptions of the new LA that they would have in the past?

I’m sure some are tempted to answer “why yes,” but the obvious answer is no, because if Japanese wanted to act like Americans, they already would be.

And they don’t.

Granting them papers, giving them time to figure out where the stores and factories are, much less how to make movies or whatever else, would not suddenly make them like the Angelinos they replaced.

And the same holds true of our Americans in Yokohama. They will not be Japanese. They won’t wander into the countryside and have the same attitude towards the shrines and mountains they find there as the natives they displaced.

There is no magic dirt. The remaining question is what level can be tolerated without destroying the culture accepting the immigrant?

It takes time to assimilate, and a desire or need to do so. A large culturally homogeneous population center develops its own inertia and may adapt to its neighbors, but won’t assimilate. A large enough group will not assimilate, and a small group will still displace the culture around it, cause inherent friction as Putnam’s study showed, just due to different assumptions and worldviews.

For that matter, how long does it take to assimilate? It may be a conservative assumption (in other words, too cautious), but we know culture and other personality factors imprint at a young age, that you carry them throughout your life, and that that manifests in following generations as well, though to a lesser degree. No genetics required, though that is also likely a factor. To support this, we often find that the second and third generation descendants of immigrants often become more radical as they react against the culture their parents tried to assimilate to. To push back against the conflicts internally engendered between two cultural outlooks.

If one assumes one generation is a “half life” – three half lives are needed to reach 80% of the final state (in this case, full assimilation with the surrounding culture. Or 80% of radioactive materials decayed, and so forth). Five are needed to achieve 95%.

We know two is definitely not enough, and have evidence that three, whether it’s actually 80% of the way assimilated or less, isn’t quite enough either, so I don’t believe a generational half-life is too conservative. So we’re talking four or five generations before they’re fully integrated and no longer to a significant if small degree “strangers” to the culture.

In light of that, I’d be willing to have a second-tier permanent residence status that makes you a non-voting citizen for at least several generations. Why? because the children and grandchildren may begin fitting in, but they won’t have the deep, subconscious understanding of the multi-generational natives of the culture. They can still work to convince others, but they don’t have the long term skin in the game to make binding decisions for it.

And yes, that means I wouldn’t be able to vote.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.