February 14, 2006

Kotkin on Immigration

Joel Kotkin offers some fact-based analysis of the The Multiculturalism of the Streets now ongoing in America. Kotkin details how, below the radar, immigrant America is integrating itself into the American economy, and American life more generally. He also notes that the idea that our Southwestern states will become "Spanish Quebecs" is not supported by the evidence:

Linguistic trends show a similar trajectory. Despite fears of an emerging Babel, Latinos and Asians are becoming ever more English-dominant. Ninety percent of Latino high school graduates prefer to speak English over Spanish. This is largely a matter of generational change. The Spanish-dominant first generation is becoming a progressively smaller percentage of the Latino population. By 2040 the second generation is expected to double while the third generation, the vast majority of whom speak no Spanish at all, will expand threefold. As a result, English-dominant Hispanics, who already account for some three-fifths of Latino spending power, will become the prime “ethnic” market.

Though some people won't like to hear it, the prognosis is for America remaining "the young, dynamic world-nation of the 21st Century", as I previously predicted.

To be sure, this culture fusion will not please some conservative intellectuals, who will not look kindly on the incorporation of Spanishisms into our daily language any more than the rising popularity of Yiddish words appealed to Henry James a century ago. For the most part, however, this informal, undirected and mostly market-driven form of integration bodes very well for the continued dynamism of both American culture and economy. It guarantees that America will remain youthful, changeable and, very likely, strongly family-oriented. And it points to a major difference within the civilizational West—for most European countries have yet to figure out how to blend and thrive as has the United States.

Contrary to the concerns of some conservative critics, or the hopes of P.C. campus radicals, the emerging American national reality will not be shaped by the pronouncements of either left-wing academics or conservative political warlords. The new America will be more the product of the street-level trends that operate below the radar of intellectuals—just as it always has. If we’re smart, we’ll let what comes most naturally to American society take its course.

Sounds good to me. (RTWT)

UPDATE: Peter St. Andre offers some thoughts in response to the Kotkin article.

(Cross-posted at ChicagoBoyz)

Posted by Lexington Green at February 14, 2006 09:08 PM

The safe prediction is that the 21st century won't belong to any one nation state. Whereas the 20th century belonged to the state, the 21st will belong to the individual.

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at February 14, 2006 09:51 PM

False dichotomy, Michael. Some 20th century states, like Britain and America made it possible for individuals to survive and preserve their liberties by destoying the Third Reich, for example. There is no such thing as "the State". There are states, some better or worse than others. This post is about particular groups of people settling in a particular state, the USA, and what they are doing what is happening to them there. There is no utility in talking at your level of abstraction. Go read the whole Kotkin piece, it is worth your time.

Posted by: Lex at February 14, 2006 10:00 PM

Why do the open borders advocates keep claiming that a more Latin American USA will be more family-oriented?

Hispanics have far higher illegitimacy rates than white Americans and if anything the situation seems to be getting worse. Hispanic women also have more abortions than white women. Then there's the criminality...

Given that Hispanics will be an ethnic minority in a country with an Anglo-European ethnic core they are likely to define themselves in opposition to that group's continuing dominance of US society. Just as Canadian ethnic minorities (not just non-whites but Italians, Greeks) still see the Tories as the old WASP Canada party Hispanics, especially chip on the shoulder Mexicans, will see the GOP as the American WASP party no matter how much it grovels to the newcomers. So the country will be pulled left.

The Latin Americanisation of parts of the US will continue; but since the negative impact will only be felt by Middle American whites and poor blacks Kotkin, the WSJ, and the rest of the open borders lobby will barely notice.

Posted by: Matra at February 14, 2006 10:58 PM

Yes, I've read with interest this article, but I'm still making the point. The 20th century was a titanic struggle between nation states and competing ideologies, during which individuals made great sacrifices to ensure their collective survival. Now that we have won, I'm just saying the individual will be chiefly concerned with empowering himself against the greedy tendencies and natural imperatives of the state. I agree with this blog that we are gradually moving away from nationalism to spherism, that cross border cooperation, wealth generation and technological interconnectivity will flourish for like-minded people, largely at the expense of the traditional sovereign state.

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at February 14, 2006 11:20 PM

I've just read the full article by Joel Kotkin. I had to laugh at the suggestion that immigrants had brought dynamism to a particular part of Paris, France. No mention of what they've brought to the surrounding suburbs of the city!

He makes the same argument that all those who are optimistic about immigration do: Previous waves of immigrants eventually integrated into American society so will these new ones. But the 19th century Irish and Italian immigrants didn't move from next door. It was extremely difficult for them, never mind their children, to maintain strong ties to the old country. They could not remain aloof to the greater society and succeed. That is not the case today. Satellite TV, the internet, and cheap air travel make it possible to remain in touch with the cultures of countries half a world away. There will be less need for full integration than in the past. With so many of the immigrants to the US coming from one country - Mexico - that could lead to serious problems.

Posted by: Matra at February 15, 2006 12:12 AM

I think Matra's last comment is somewhat countered by the recent experience of the official Mexican attempt to get overseas Mexicans to register to vote in the next federal election, in July 2006. The number of Mexican voters registering was so low (according to the head of the Mexican Electoral Institute, speaking to Mexico's Congress on 25 January 2006, as of 24 January the authorities had received 53,426 applications from Mexicans in 78 countries, having distributed 3.69 million forms) that no matter how this is spun -- illegals don't want to register, the process is too complex, the system is primarily designed to avoid fraud rather than help the voter, etc -- it is clear that most overseas Mexicans don't want to remain "in Mexico" while living somewhere else. Sure, they use the United States as a cash register, and sure, they resent being put upon, but they do not seem to want to live in two places at once, and having made their choices, will probably gradually slip into becoming American rather than staying Mexican.

Posted by: David Fleming at February 15, 2006 05:57 AM

For Mexicans who are in America legally, it is not surprising that they did not register to vote as they are now Americans. For Mexicans who are in America illegally, it is not surprising that they did not register to vote because they do not want to bring attention to themselves.

It is this later group that is the problem and the threat. Because they are illegal they, and more importantly, their children cannot become Americanized as rapidly as legal immigrants. This situation will be aggravated by a formal guest worker program such as Bush proposes. It creates a two class society in the US that is repugnant to our republican principles.

Another issue for the 21st century that will be very interesting to watch evolve is European emmigration. Our immigration law changed from favoring Europeans to disfavoring them in 1965. Given the post-war prosperity in Europe, this was not a problem. Looking at demographic and economic trends, it is not unreasonable that large numbers of well educated Europeans will wish to emmigrate by mid century, accelerating all of Europe's problems. Will we welcome them? How will they accomodate to the American way of assimilation, start at the very bottom and work your way up? I suspect this and not Mexicans may prove to be the more challenging immigration issue in the 21st century.

Posted by: richard Heddleson at February 15, 2006 10:50 AM

Richard Heddlestone - Yes, the statism, socialism and authoritarianism of the EUSSR will drive hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of British and Europeans away. However, your question: "How will they accomodate to the American way of assimilation, start at the very bottom and work your way up?" is naive. Most people who are emigrating from Britain to the US, for example, are extremely qualified and they walk into very good jobs. The same, it must be said, of French folks with good qualifications. I believe, about two or three years ago, something like 200 French telephone engineers got hired in CA. French engineers are highly valued.

So you have a completely different level of person - better educated, more successful, more civic-minded, as is the Anglosphere way - coming from Britain especially, than from Mexico.

Oz, on the other hand, wants people with practical skills. So your qualified plumbers, electricians, car mechanics, nurses - especially if they married with a couple of children and are around age 30-35 are sought after. They have no reason to try to get into the US to start at the bottom, when they're welcomed into OZ and good-paying jobs.

I don't know the situation in the US regarding highly qualified Mexican immigrants. That in itself would be an interesting study. For sure, they all speak English, and good English at that. Are they motivated to emigrate to the US? That would actually make an interesting study.

But I think harking back to the 19th Century when people who didn't speak English did indeed start at the bottom and work their way up - many of them magnificently - just doesn't apply today. Today's immigrants from the other side of the Atlantic are either native English speakers, or they're educated and speak English.

Posted by: Verity at February 15, 2006 05:14 PM

Verity, I agree we're getting the cream now. But I am anticipating that in a few decades we'll be looking quite a bit further down the skill scale as well as the language problem you mention.

Posted by: richard Heddleson at February 15, 2006 05:25 PM

It's always fun to watch how the WSJ tries to avoid numbers when writing about how much more "dynamic" and "vibrant" illegal immigration makes America. They skip over that the Hispanic imprisonment rate being 2.9 times the non-Hispanic white rate (and 13 times the Asian-American rate) and the illegitimacy rate being twice the white rate (and is notably higher among American-born than among Mexican-born immigrants).

There's no question that a lot of Hispanic immigrants will assimilate into the middle class. But there's also no question that a lot will assimilate into the underclass. The magnetic pull of African-American gangsta rap values on impressionable teens should not be overlooked. What the U.S. is creating for itself is a second underclass that will eventually be as large as the black underclass, and likely cause us as much trouble.

Keep in mind that when Europe started importing large numbers of Muslims to "do the jobs Europeans just won't do," it seemed like a good idea at the time. Islam seemed like a burnt out force in 1965. Times change. Immigrants who were happy for any job give birth to sons who resent not being qualified to do the fun jobs. Today, we can look to Latin America and see the anti-white populism of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales on the march. We're kidding ourselves if we ignore the possibility of that spilling into America's Hispanic coummunities.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at February 15, 2006 06:47 PM

Steve Sailor says: Keep in mind that when Europe started importing large numbers of Muslims to "do the jobs Europeans just won't do," it seemed like a good idea at the time.


This was never the case. There were always plenty of Brits (and probably in other countries too) who were willing to take a job as street-sweeper, let us say. The non-availabilty of indigenous workers was manufactured. They got bumped onto "unemployment" and let the Islamics in to do these "dirty jobs" that people in the West were "above".

It was all manufactured.

Posted by: Verity at February 15, 2006 08:28 PM

There has always been a steady flow of non-desperate, well-qualified intra-Anglosphere trans-migrants (you can't really call them immigrants) throughout Anglosphere history. In the 19th Century, there was a steady flow of industrial workers with special skills and knowledge across the Atlantic - skilled machinists, mould-makers in iron foundries, all the special skills it took to make the Industrial Revolution work. They could always make more in the States for the same skills, and usually when one got established, he would recruit more from his old workmates and apprenrices. With the Methodist or Presbyterian congregation, the craft union local, and the Masonic lodge, he and his family had an immediate social network to plug into. I knew some of these old guys in Pennsylvania and Michigan when I was growing up --every industrial town had a little group of Brits like this. Up the skill ladder, there was a significant emigration of aerospace and industrial engineers, and electronic engineers and computer scientists, and medical personnel and researchers from 1945 to today. I have met many Brits who had been in the UK rocket programs like Blue Streak, or had been early computer people, some even from Bletchley Park, and who had come to the US lured by higher pay and opportunities. This will continue, and if the UK does not insulate itself from the accelerating problems of the Continent, it will substantially increase.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at February 15, 2006 09:21 PM

Every poll I've ever seen of Mexican opinion regarding the border question has shown that a clear majority of Mexicans believes the US Southwest belongs to them. Their school textbooks (some used in US schools) still claim the land was stolen by the Gringo imperialists. Expecting them to give up such beliefs just because they've crossed the border is naive.

Until recently living standards in Northern Ireland were considerably higher than in the Republic yet that had little, if any, negative impact on support for a united Ireland. Muslims who are better off in Europe aren't exactly getting hoarse thanking Europeans for letting them live in Europe. Mexicans strike me as a strong and proud people and so I don't see them exchanging their national identity for the nothingness of US liberal multiculturalism.

Posted by: Matra at February 15, 2006 10:47 PM

Matra, I agree. Mexicans won't change their minds. Mexicans who become Americans will. It takes three generations, but it happens every time. That is why the guest worker program is a mistake. It brings foreigners into the country without the intent of turning them into Americans. That is a mistake.

Posted by: richard Heddleson at February 16, 2006 06:50 AM

Matra mentions "the nothingness of multiculturalism" and I think this is eating away at our societies from within. No one asked for it, but it has blurred identities, which was the Leftist intention. No one wants to become a citizen of nothingness. They want a strong national identity.

Yes, the Mexicans do think the southwestern US belongs to them but, in my experience, not in a violent,hostile way. It's more a quiet huffiness.

Posted by: Verity at February 16, 2006 08:01 AM

"Every poll I've ever seen of Mexican opinion regarding the border question has shown that a clear majority of Mexicans believes the US Southwest belongs to them. "

As if that will ever make a difference. The Hopi and the Zuni settled that question 300 years ago once and for all. The Mexicans are just too racist to admit it.

The analogy to Quebec applies more to states like Oaxaca and Guerrero than to any US state, with English as the distinctive language.

A lot of the panic about Mexicans in the US ignores the disitinction between people who immigrate i.e. come with the intention of settling, and those who go back and forth. There is a lot of this long-term commuting and it inflates the apprehension rates that are the basis for all the other guesses about the numbers of illegals.

As for the slopines of equating "Mexican" with "Hispanic" - recently a radio station in Fresno started transmiting in Mixtec rahter than Spanish. They estimate that 10% of all Mexicans in the state are Mixtec. That's 100,000. They expect to reach an audience of 50,000. Not bad. Also, not Hispanic.

Posted by: Jim at February 16, 2006 04:00 PM

Dear Lexington Green,

I sincerely and whole-heartedly apologize for mis-spelling your name. It was quite inadvertent I assure you, as similar errors with the names of two other posters on this site will testify. The truth is I am getting old and senile, especially in the short-run memory department.

I want to state for the record that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a racist by any stretch of the imagination. Nor were my parents or grandparents, my brothers and sisters, my wife, or my children. I am now, and always have been, absolutely and unequivocally committed to the moral, legal, and political equality of every human being without regard to race, gender, religion, or national origin. Indeed, my commitment to this principle forms an essential part of my private self-identity as well as of my public identity, as a careful reading of the relevant entries of my blog on the website BornAgainDemocrats.com will amply confirm. There is no conceivable empirical finding of fact in biology or any other natural science in the years ahead that could possibly alter, or even challenge, my commitment to this principle, which I hold sacred.

Bigotry in all of its forms is morally repugnant to me just as it is repugnant to all of my family and friends and to the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens. That being so I must respectfully ask you, upon due consideration, to withdraw your false, reckless, and damaging public ascription of me as a "racist" or else I shall institute civil proceedings against you for defamation of character.

A complete copy of this exchange has been preserved for the record.


Luke Lea

Posted by: Luke Lea at February 21, 2006 10:13 AM

OK, Luke. For some reason beyond my ken you persist in wanting to have a conversation with me and I would have to be an ever worse swine than I actually am not to respond to this.

Let's leave it this way. If you are going to talk about the supposed genetic deficiencies of entire populations of people, please reserve it for your own blog. The blogosphere is a big place.

This Anglosphere business is too often falsely accused of being disguised racism. I do not want anything that can give ammunition those kinds of false views to exist even on the comments on this blog, since comments left on a blog are sometimes imputed to the proprietor's of the blog.

Also, be aware that a lot of people are going to take that kind of thing personally.

Posted by: Lex at February 21, 2006 10:38 AM
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