Monday, December 11, 2006

Thou shalt conform - pt2

I mentioned a couple of posts back that I come from an immigrant background. Admittedly a White European immigrant background, but immigrant nevertheless.

A few days ago I was chatting with a friend who came over as part of the exodus of Ugandan Asians back in the early 70s. Unlike me he wasn’t born here and his skin colour was a bit of a give-away. I was curious to know if he shared any of my concerns about the current level of migration into the UK and they way it is being handled.

To cut a long story short, we both agreed that we weren’t particularly comfortable about expressing concerns that might be misunderstood but that, yes, something is going wrong.

And it’s not that immigrants are coming to exploit 'Our' benefits system or to steal ‘Our’ jobs – a nice example of doublethink if ever there was one.

No, it’s something woollier, more difficult to define than that.

We both share a sense that somehow Britain, well our part of Britain at least, isn’t Britain any more. That somehow the framework of shared experience, shared culture, a sense of commonality with those around us is being eroded.

I think it used to be called ‘Society’.

You could rattle off a virtually endless list of reasons why that framework has been eroded, including…

  • The fact that lots of things were wrong and needed fixing
  • A government that really seems to get off on change for change’s sake
  • A good dollop of white middle class cultural guilt that led to throwing out the baby with the bath water
  • The impact of globalisation and corporatisation – a curious combination of too much choice in some areas and too little in others that has left a lot of people dazed, confused and, often, nihilistic

And many, many more

With all that already on our plate adding a few million immigrants into the mix, and we are talking millions, in a half-arsed way, in circumstances that virtually guarantee a significant level of associated criminality is begging for discord at some point down the line.

The issue boils down to simple numbers. How many people can we take on board at any one time without imploding the host society. Presumably there must be an upper limit. What is it? How near are we to reaching it?

And I am painfully aware that the Conservative Party fought and lost the last general election using very similar language.

I can only speak for my home city but…

  • If London were a country compared to other European countries its levels of child poverty would be second only to Slovakia
  • Something like half the kids in London primary schools and 40% of the kids in secondary schools don’t speak English as a first language
  • Because so many of the migrants have had to come in illegally we have seen a boom in human trafficking, sex slavery and other forms of exploitation on a scale unseen here since Victorian times – Victorian? It’s fucking medieval.
  • And let’s not forget the explosion in the drugs business - 300,000 people addict nationally to heroin alone and rising…

And, incidentally, a fair few of our new arrivals come from cultures that have absolutely fuck all experience of racial tolerance and diversity. The kind of countries where they slap pictures of severed Turks’ heads on beer bottles and think making monkey noises and gestures whenever they see Black people is really, really funny.

The migration issue isn’t about Left versus Right politics though a lot of people have been suckered into thinking it is. Which is how you can have knobs like this bloke and well-intentioned people on the Left both agreeing that everything is more or less peachy in London. The first because he’s a knob who measures the health of a society by the number of expensive restaurants he can eat in and the second because they believe that if they admit to a problem it would open the gates of racism.

The sad truth is that we’ve found it much easier to import poverty than to export wealth.

And contribute to the erosion of social cohesion in the process.

Social cohesion is important because successful welfare systems work because people believe that they are contributing to a system that will safeguard the welfare of people just like them. Not necessarily exactly the same colour or religion but people who share at least some basic, often intangible, things in common.

Social cohesion, at the risk of sounding a tad Marxist, also acts as a counterweight to the power of naked monopolistic capitalism - whilst companies are getting bigger and their power more concentrated our social groupings are doing the exact opposite

We're being chopped into little pieces and there are few good reasons to believe that it's not intentional.

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