Immigration and normative science


Democratic societies have a built-in sociological mechanism of gravitating towards moderation and social evolution



There are two different styles of debating an issue: those who prefer the pretty arguments (normative) and those who choose the forthright albeit ugly arguments (descriptive). Most pop-intellectuals adopt the former approach, but unfortunately the truth is generally ugly. I understand that the race relations is a sensitive issue in western countries; especially when millions of highly skilled immigrants from the third world flock to the well-off developed countries every year to clinch the right price for their education and skills. However, instead of bending over backwards and demanding from the natives of their host countries to be more accommodating and totally non-communal, the immigrants need to understand that migration is not a natural order of societies. You uproot a flowering plant from a garden and try to make it grow it in a different environment, sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the adaptability of the plant and the nature of the environment. If you want to change the whole environment to suit the needs of that particular uprooted plant, such an artificial and unrealistic narrative may not be conducive for the flora and fauna of those habitats.

The right way to tackle the migration problem is to discourage it by reducing the incentive for the prospective immigrants to permanently abandon their homes and families and communities to find a job in a foreign country and culture, where they would be materially better-off but socially isolated. And to do that we need to revamp the global economic order which makes the rich nations get richer and the poor poorer. Once an economic isotropy (partial or complete) sets in all over the world then there will be no need for the people of one region or culture to relocate to another, except on a temporary basis for education, travelling, sight-seeing and cultural exchange.

Throughout our anthropological evolution, from our nomado-pastoral hunting-gathering phase to the golden era of agriculture, humans never lived as individuals, but as groups, households, clans and tribes. The ‘individual’ is only an artificial modern construct to suit the needs of industrial economies. The individuals must have intellectual autonomy and freedom of inquiry and information, but capitalist-individualism as an ideology with complete disregard for our innate social nature, only nurtures lost souls who sometimes find solace in existential acrobatics and sometimes in marijuana and alcohol.

The pop-intellectuals often try to occupy the moral high-ground by positing the hackneyed secular-humanist platitudes of unity and equality: all humans are alike, there is no difference between cultures; some day all cultures will evolve to become exactly like the western culture: the pinnacle of human civilisation and all that is glorious and worth keeping; rest is all expendable trash. Your social Darwinsim is duly appreciated folks, but the subaltern peoples and cultures don’t find that ‘vision’ of yours particularly appealing. If the so-called ‘humanists’ are so considerate and inclusive then they should learn to accept the difference; and let people choose to live by their own ethos and values rather than shoving western values down their throats. Oh! But the subalterns are intolerant, bigoted, inferior beings? They lack the requisite education and mental capacities to choose for themselves? There goes your moral high-ground of equality and unity; debunked and thoroughly discredited. You don’t accept people on their terms; you are only willing to accept them on your terms; they too might be willing to accept you on their terms; education or no education, people are the same after all, whether from east or from the west. Ill-founded ‘beliefs,’ heuristic rules of thumbs and a subjective biased approach to the issue which suits the selfish interests of the subject, which tries to elevate the exceptions to the status of a norm, without any regard for the general interest of the society.

The pop-intellectuals often try to occupy the moral high-ground by positing the hackneyed secular-humanist platitudes of unity and equality: all humans are alike, there is no difference between cultures

There is an obvious difference between a Chinese and an American: a Chinese speaks Mandarin while an American speaks the language which is spoken in the Nation of Five Eyes; they don’t understand each other because they can hardly communicate with each other, due to the difference of language. If the differences among the peoples on the basis of language are duly accepted and appreciated with the naked eye, we should try to understand that under the sociological microscope the cultural ethos and social values of two different cultures don’t always blend seamlessly. Humanism only implies that we should be just and fair in our approach; try to understand that the foreign people and cultures also have their legitimate material, moral and social needs and aspirations; instead of imposing our ‘vision’ on them, we should let them choose and facilitate and expedite their choice and vision.

Certain renaissance political scientists, JS Mill for instance, were open to the notion of a ‘benevolent despot’ to curtail the scourge of majoritarianism. In his times, physical-colonialism was the order of the day; perhaps this is the reason why he came up with an absurdity of such proportions as a ‘benevolent despot’ who rules for the benefit of the ruled without exploiting them. Plato propounded the theory of philosopher-king in his Republic in 300 BCE and he made more sense than JS Mill. Some contemporary ‘renaissance thinkers’ are also casting aspersions on the ideal democratic model to make room for the likes of Sissies: liberal and ‘friendly’ autocrats over the hostile democratic leaders in the oil-rich Middle East. But they need to understand that there is only a minor artificial distinction between legit consensual sex and a rape. Rule by force is a rapacious dictatorship, no matter how ‘benevolent’ it may be, and rule by the consent of the ruled is sexy democracy; even if it is a bit conservative for our tastes in its initial stages.

The people of countries with a history of foreign colonisation, like India and Pakistan, suffer from a colonial slave mentality and a cultural inferiority complex (culinferplex): no race like the master-race and no culture like the Christian-European culture. The Imperial British legacy and the education system introduced by Lord Macaulay in British India engendered a social stratification and an informal caste system in India and Pakistan. The English-speaking Anglo-Indian and Anglo-Pakistani Khatris (Kshatriya), whom the British empowered to act as their lumberdars to subjugate the natives, look down upon the Urdu-speaking Vaishyas and the Punju-talking Shudras as inferior breeds, who are never deemed worthy of the ‘fraandship’ of the socially-elevated Khatris. By the way, I am not sure whether my PEW assessment is correct or not, but the number of Anglo-Pakistani Khatris has significantly increased in the last decade or so; could be the outcome of the huge number of immigrants which we sent abroad and the multiplier effect of their progeny.

[Disclaimer: don’t take my frivolous ‘creative’ gibberish to your heart; I understand that it sounds racist; but do try to understand that when westernised liberals mock natives for their language, accent or values, that too sounds racist. Sometimes people mock a culture under a bona fide assumption that since ‘they’ also belong to the same culture therefore they are engaging in self-criticism; but these liberals generally have more in common with western culture than their native culture. They commit a fallacy of incorrectly defining themselves.]

Human minds, attitudes and behaviours are structured and conditioned by their respective cultures and environments. A person born and bred in Pakistan generally has more in common with Pakistanis. Although there are quite a few ‘Pakistans’ inside western countries and numerous ‘Americas’ within Pakistan (sub-cultures and family-cultures.) The first generation of Indo-Pakistani immigrants finds it hard to adjust in foreign countries initially. However, it would be imprudent to take a simplistic approach because it depends upon the disposition and inclination of the immigrant and his level of education and the value-system which he had imbibed during his formative years. There are many sub-cultures within cultures and numerous family-cultures within those sub-cultures. The educated Indo-Pakistani liberals generally integrate well into western countries; but many conservative Pakistani immigrants, especially from backward areas, find it difficult to adjust in a starkly different culture. They, on the other hand, find conservative societies of the Gulf countries more conducive for their individual and familial well-being.

The people of countries with a history of foreign colonisation, like India and Pakistan, suffer from a colonial slave mentality and a cultural inferiority complex (culinferplex): no race like the master-race and no culture like the Christian-European culture

In any case, the second generation of immigrants, which is born and bred in a different culture, seamlessly blend into their host environments and cultures; and they are likely to have more in common with the people and cultures where they are brought up. Thus, a first generation Pakistani-American is predominantly a Pakistani while a second generation Pakistani-American is predominantly an American, albeit with an exotic name and a naturally-tanned complexion. Here let me clarify that I am no authority on psycho-social matters and my knowledge of the subject is fragmentary at best; the structuration of mindsets involves an interplay of innumerable factors and the outcome could be very unpredictable.

However, I concede that some affirmative action is needed to improve the lot of the minorities in any given majority culture; but constructing artificial narratives and taking cosmetic steps doesn’t help. Americans were very proud to elect Obama as the first black president, but how did it turn out? He is one of the worst ever president of the US, trailing only slightly behind the fascists such as Truman and Bush. What makes Obama the worst ever president? I concede that he may not be evil by nature, but it’s the banality of the evil which is the worst evil. The absence of light is darkness, and the absence of good is evil; if you are too weak and impotent to take a moral stand then you are likely to become a puppet in the hands of vested interests and the entrenched forces of structural injustice. But what makes Obama a weak president? I think it’s his skin colour. In a majority culture if you belong to the majority, you don’t need to prove your loyalty because your loyalty is a given; but the members of the minority need to bend over backwards to prove to their peers that they are more loyal than the king. This perhaps is the psychological mechanism which explains the fierce Islamo-phobia of some so-called Muslims like Tarek Fateh, Hirsi Ali and Tasleema Nasreen. Whatever their ‘cause’ may be, whether it’s reforming Islam or pissing off Muslims, in effect it is only a clever technique to blend in their hostile foreign societies by castigating their own kind; shows that they are an insecure bunch which is so malleable that the social pressure can bend it any which way.

When Obama agreed to wind down the Iraq war in 2011, he had to simultaneously pledge the surge in Afghanistan, because he didn’t want to appear weak or pacifist. What role do the 35,000 US troops play in the Persian Gulf? A strong president would have the guts to call back all forces from the Middle East after the carnage and apocalypse which the US caused all over the region: whether it’s Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or Palestine. However, even a white US president would lack the moral courage to take such daunting steps. Reminds me of an anecdote about Zalmay Khalilzad; after hearing his Afghan-sounding name, one wonders whether he was the US ambassador to Afghanistan or the Afghan ambassador to the US?

Regardless, the fact that western powers are clinging on to the Middle East region like oil-sucking leeches despite the sheer magnitude of catastrophe that they have wrought, debunks the liberal interventionists’ narrative that US forces are stationed in the region for altruistic reasons: that is, to protect the natives against the natives. For obvious reasons, they are there to protect their self-interest: 800 billion barrels of ‘proven’ oil reserves in the Persian Gulf out of a global total of 1500 billion barrels. But who can convince the misinformed comprador liberals of our regions that your elixir is actually a poison? Only one litmus test can convince them, I guess. They should plead to western powers to sanction Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait for their tyrannical governance style and their dreadful human rights record. They could do that, you know. But just for your information, these three countries together hold 465 billion barrels of most easily extractable crude: Saudi Arabia 265 billion and UAE and Kuwait 100 billion barrels each. And if you add the ‘proven reserves’ of Iraq and Iran to the equation then the figure reaches to a whopping 800 billion barrels, more than half of world’s proven oil reserves in an energy-starved world.

Any US president who would only hint at abandoning the Persian Gulf will meet the same tragic end which Kennedy did. Nothing wrong with wishful thinking, though, if a Panglossian worldview makes you feel better. Instead of abandoning the Persian Gulf, the western powers would rather take the side of Syrian mujahideen, the so-called secular/liberal/moderate blah blah ‘rebels’ on the behalf of the Gulf monarchies; even if such an antithetical stance runs diametrically opposite to their war on terror/jihad narrative on the basis of which they invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and buttressed their military presence all over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Regardless, in the Pakistani socio-political milieu there are three important political forces: the dominant Islamic nationalists; the ethno-linguistic nationalists; and westernised liberals. Islamic nationalists are culturally much closer to the traditionalist ethno-linguistic nationalists, but politically due to frequent interruptions of democratic process and the martial law administrators’ suspicion towards the centrifugal ethno-linguistic nationalisms, the latter were politically marginalised. However, they were alienated by the military but they became averse towards Islamic nationalists.

As we know, politics is mostly about forming alliances, therefore the shrewd comprador-liberals wooed the naïve ethno-linguistic nationalists and struck a political alliance with them. But this alliance is only a marriage of convenience because culturally both these camps don’t have anything in common with each other. The Islamic nationalists and the ethno-linguistic nationalists belong to the same social strata and go through thick and thin together. While the comprador liberals derive their inspiration from foreign sources.

Ostensibly westernised liberals preach minority rights and take a less hostile approach towards ethnic minorities’ cultures than they take towards the majority’s culture. At times they are even generous enough to wear a Sindhi ajrak in a function or listen to the folk music, but their indigenousness never goes beyond cuisines and music. Pray tell us, which local traditions or values you live by? You live in your quarantined suburbs; study in London; vacation in Hawaii but when it comes to politics and getting the votes of the masses you think that you are a native? What do you have in common with the local cultures? You employ a Pathan chowkidar; a Punjabi cook; and a Sindhi chauffeur; certainly quite a blend of local cultures you have in your household. So, spare us the lectures on minority rights and cultural diversity and preach the things which you really believe in: complete westernisation, liberal values and social Darwinism.

Finally, liberalism in Islamic societies is only skin-deep; it is restricted mostly to the privileged elite. The real flesh and bones of the Islamic societies comprises Islamic nationalists, moderate-democratic as well as extremists, and the even more backward: traditional ethno-linguistic forces. The latter’s slick leadership may sometimes employ Gandhian pacifist rhetoric to create a constituency for itself, but the bourgeois liberals have as much in common with the Muslim-majority cultures as Nehru’s political dynasty has in common with the Indian masses. In the existing stage of social development of the Islamic societies, blending a radically different liberal western culture and ideology with an Islamic culture is impractical. A top-down approach has already been tried and tested in 60s and 70s and it didn’t work. The only other viable option is to take a gradual and incremental approach: democracy first and liberalism second, because democratic societies have a built-in sociological mechanism of gravitating towards moderation and social evolution. I have discussed this subject in one of my previous write-ups for Pakistan Today: Is democracy consistent with Islam?


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