The burden of imperialism, the virtues of immigration, and the importance of data

One thing I have noticed about the terrorist attacks in Paris is the relatively little that imperialism is brought up. The Muslims of France hail from parts of the world that were once a part of the official French empire. This empire is still a force in much of its old official boundaries. The British and the Dutch also have problems with Muslims that were once a part of an official empire. The Germans and the Turks are a different case, as the Ottoman and German empires had more of a deal between themselves in regards to cheap labor than the cases of Western Europe, but the relationship is still not one of immigration – not in the sense that is perceived by Americans, Canadians, and Australians.

I wonder how much of the tension between natives and immigrants is due to the imperial relationship of the sides involved. I would wager quite a bit. I also have to wonder about the role of land in all of this. Land, of course, is the ugly cousin of labor and capital, two of the three factors of production utilized by economics (there is a fourth sometimes cited, entrepreneurship, but I am not yet convinced that this belongs and neither are many economists).

Immigration is different than what the former imperial states of Western Europe are dealing with. I know the similarities are seemingly the same, but they are not. I would be happy to flesh this out more in the ‘comments’ threads if anyone takes issue with it.

Here is the abstract from an excellent article in Social Forces on the futility of deriving any conclusions about a society based on simple perceptions:

We investigate the thesis widely credited to Max Weber that Protestantism contributed to the rise of industrial capitalism by estimating the associations between the percentage of Protestants and the development of industrial capitalism in European countries in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Development is measured using five sets of variables, including measures of wealth and savings, the founding date of the principal stock exchange, extension of the railroads network, distribution of the male labor force in agriculture and in industry, and infant mortality. On the basis of this evidence, there is little empirical support for what we call the “Common Interpretation” of Weber’s The Protestant Ethic, namely the idea that the strength of Protestantism in a country was associated with the early development of industrial capitalism. The origin of the Common Interpretation and its popular success are probably derived largely from selected anecdotal evidence fortified, through retrospective imputation, by the perceived well-being of contemporary Protestant countries.

The article is titled “The Beloved Myth: Protestantism and the Rise of Industrial Capitalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe” and it can be read here (pdf). As you read through analyses of the terrorist attacks in Paris, be sure to keep this in the back of your mind.

By the way, the piece is co-authored by Jacques, who has failed to adhere to his own standards when it comes to discussing Islam.

20 thoughts on “The burden of imperialism, the virtues of immigration, and the importance of data

  1. I am, glad that Brandon is finally reading good authors. However, he should not invoke Delacroix to try and suppress pop-sociology, including Brandon’s own. I am pretty sure that if he were here, Delacroix would tell him, “Go right ahead, do it and don’t forget to undermine orthodoxies, including your own, Brandon.”

    I don’t know where I have failed to adhere to my own standards. (Brandon lives in his own mental world.) I have posted almost nothing about the Jan. 2015 jihadist massacre in France. I am working on a think piece about it that I hope you will be able to read in a good journal soon.

    Here is an excerpt: “The complete truth is that people with Muslims names are present at all levels of French society, from street sweeping to cabinet posts, through university faculties. Thus, the police officer executed in the street by a Charlie Hebdo assassin had a Muslim name. Many French nominal Muslims are highly visible and beloved in show bus. and in sports: The French national soccer hero after all is named : “Zinedine Zidane,” not “Pierre Dubois.” In my necessarily subjective judgment, the only good popular music in France in the past thirty years is Rai, composed and sung by North African immigrants. (It’s sung mostly in French.) The first French soldier killed during the NATO action in Bosnia in the nineties was named El Hadji.’ Large numbers of people from predominantly or totally Muslim countries have lived in France (France narrowly defined) for more than one hundred year. They are deeply rooted there. Ten of thousands of them lie in French military cemeteries.

    [O.M.G, they are black, someone or other will be sure to exclaim!]

    There is little ‘friction’ between French people with Muslim names and French people with other kinds of name. There is a lot of friction, daily, harsh friction, between people with Muslim names who are religiously indifferent like most French people – and real, devout Muslims.”

    I add that the disturbing recent electoral success of the Front National is rooted in several causes of discontent only one of which is recent immigration (recent). I believe even the Front National has no plan to expel people with Muslim names. There is a wish, shared by many on all sides, to stem the flow of immigration or to slow it down beaus the French economy has been stagnant for thirty years. It’s not mine and it wouldn’t be mine if I lived in France. I have expressed my views on immigration several times on my blog:

    Brandon is editorially desperate to provoke me. He succeeds often. It’s a Freudian thing.

    • First of all, if I may, I would just like to extend a heartfelt, public ‘thank you’ to His Excellency, Jacques Delacroix, for gracing us with His presence.

      May we long benefit from His essence.

      Your points don’t really address anything I’ve put forth, though. For instance, the United States has a black President, black Senators, black policemen, black CEOs, black professors, black journalists, black entrepreneurs, black judges, black athletes, black immigrants, and black soldiers. The US government still oppresses black individuals, and black individuals are still considered to be Others by the majority of the population here in the US. It does not happen overtly anymore, but it happens. Legislation – beholden to the interests of the majority – on the difference between crack and cocaine is upheld by judges everywhere, for example.

      It will be interesting to see how you twist the events in Paris so that Islam is to blame for the violence. I hope I am wrong, of course, but I seldom ever am.

  2. “Immigration is different than what the former imperial states of Western Europe are dealing with. I know the similarities are seemingly the same, but they are not. I would be happy to flesh this out more in the ‘comments’ threads if anyone takes issue with it.”

    In the interest of having it fleshed out, I hereby take issue with it.

    • Thanks Dr A.

      No seriously.

      I would start by arguing that the influx of migrants from former colonies to the center is more of an internal migration rather than actual immigration from one place to another, much in the same way that Michelangelo describes American blacks in the South moving to industrial areas in the North and West.

      The patterns of interaction between colonial powers and colonial subjects lasted much longer than the short-lived, official empires suggest (the French and British empires lasted from the Conference of Berlin, 1880s, to the end of World War 2, 1940s, a span of only 60 years). They also created remarkably similar relationships between colonized and colonizer as those found between US whites and blacks.

      These relationships are different, starkly so, than the relationship between Chinese or Japanese immigrants leaving their homelands to settle in a white-dominated US or white-controlled Peru.

      I am actually 100 percent on board with full political and legal integration of peoples around the world, for what that’s worth. I just think it has to be done the right way (aka my way!).

  3. There is hardly a relation between the problems with (some) islamist in The Netherlans and the former empire. The empire only included one country with a islamic nature, nowadays Indonesia, the largest muslim country on earth, whcih happens to be fairly democratic to an extent at present. However, the main problems with islam are with some of the (second or third generation) immigrants from Marocco and to a lesser extent Turkey. So other explanations are needed …

    • Thanks for your input, Dr van de Haar. It was just what I needed!

      I think your excellent, much needed critique helps to prove my more mundane point: that Islam is not to blame for the violence or the unrest in Europe (or the Middle East for that matter). If I am not mistaken (and I may very well be) there were two major waves of immigration to the Netherlands after the collapse of its empire. The first wave was made up of immigrants from Indonesia, a heavily Muslim state (I don’t how democratic it is, though…). The second wave came from Morocco and Turkey, as you state, which are also heavily Muslim countries. Yet the violence and the social unrest in the Netherlands can be attributed almost entirely to the Moroccan contingent, correct?

      This, to me, suggests that Islam cannot be blamed in any way whatsoever for the problems facing the Netherlands.

      I also noticed, after doing some cursory reading on wikipedia, that the Netherlands entered into treaties with Turkey and Morocco specifically in regards to labor. This bears a striking resemblance to the deal Germany made with Turkey (and the prior deal the German and Ottoman empires had) and suggests that there was (is?) probably an element of coercion involved somewhere in the pipeline from Morocco/Turkey to Noord-Brabant or Randstad.

      Again, I am eager to learn more details. But it appears to me (at least at the moment!) that neither Islam nor immigration can bear the brunt of Europe’s problems and, of course, I still think imperialism plays a more prominent role than either Islam or immigration.

    • I’ve had this book on my wishlist ever since Tyler Cowen mentioned it.

      Alas, I haven’t got to it yet!

  4. “…considered to be Others by the majority…”

    Brandon: It’s good to see that you base your declarations on carefully gathered quantitative data.

    It seems to me that you, I, anyone, don’t have to comment on everything that happens, however important. As I said, I am working on an essay regarding the massacres in France. It’s a difficult task; it should not be rushed lest it turns out silly. There is silliness inside me too. I am not rushing it.

    • A quick Google search of “how do whites feel about blacks in the US?” will produce a number of academic studies on the topic. While there was no comprehensive study on the first two pages of results there was still plenty to suggest that blacks are indeed viewed as the Other in American society.

      I think this can change, of course, but only if more people start listening to me!

  5. Brandon: I have no strongly held opinion on black Americans’ Otherness. I was reacting to the word “majority.” Words often matter because they affirm facts. I affirm that you have no idea whatsoever about whether the majority of Americans think anything in particular about Americans with visible African ancestry. You are just verbally forceful and careless, a bad combination.

    I am just trying to help you to the straight and narrow. Now, excuse me, I am busy. I am watching “Lo que manda el amor.”

    • More wise words from Michele Obama’s fiercest critic!

      Incidentally, nothing in the studies from my ultra-scientific Google search suggests I am wrong.

    • Jacques has even worse things to say about her husband. Here’s a little know fact for your edification. What do Jacques and the President have in common? Both adamantly refuse to publically release their college transcripts. I’ve even offered to pay the small fee for Jacques but he’ll have none of it. Jacques thinks that it would reveal Obama as an ‘affirmative action’ recipient. Maybe he knows first hand about such things…..

    • Hahah! Do you think this odd – but definitely unhealthy – obsession with the President comes from a certain reading of Max Weber?

      I ask because you were in the same program as Dr Pinocchio.

  6. I am far too lazy at present to read the links you embedded in this article, so I will shoulder the lazy man’s burden, and provide some simple anecdotes.

    A very common reaction is to blame Islam itself for the problems Islamists cause in the West, and in their own countries. I have never opened the Koran, and I have only cursorily read the statements of Islamist groups such as Hamas. I cannot honestly speak to whether Islam is at fault in toto, because I know too little about Islam’s tenets to deduce a causal relationship between Islamist extremism and the creed they espouse. What I have been noticing, however, in my brief travels in the Islamic world (I am currently in Meknes, Morocco) is the difference in practice between what I will call “media Muslims” (the straw men the media set up as representative of all Muslims) and the real, flesh and blood Muslims you meet in your every day encounters. I have met pious Muslims, who pray five times a day, and have had theological discussions over the differences between Judaism and Islam. I have not hidden my Judaism, as many Jews do out of fear for their lives – misplaced oftentimes, I would say – and have had no problems. I have met young Muslims who eat pork and drink alcohol and don’t give a jot about Allah or Muhammad. I have tried to flirt with Muslim girls and failed, probably because my only Berber words are “yaaah” (yes) and “oho” (no).

    There is a very large pressure in culture and in the media to reduce everything to social forces. We must fear “Islam,” and “Communism,” and “Terror,” without considering that all of these social forces are composed of many individuals, with different ideals, and different means of pursuing them. Islam is, like everything else, a pluralistic social movement. There is Wahhabism on one end, and cultural Islam on the other, and many people fall in between. So, I do not think Islam can be blamed for the West’s problems with Muslims. A particular strain of Islam, adhered to by a particular type of individual, is one factor. Western meddling and overt racism is another.

    • Bullshit! Those militia’s formed are purely defensive in nature and reactionary. You need to use physical force and violence when Islam wants to take over your country by numbers, violence, and cultural degradation & retardation. The extremists are the REAL MUSLIMS B/C THEY ARE EXACTLY FOLLOWING THE TENETS OUTLINED IN THEIR BOOK.

    • Why do I get the feeling that Mr Batterytrain here has never read “their book,” much less Uncle Terry’s link?

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