Many of the problems brought on by America’s changing population are so serious that even the most resolutely mainstream scholars have begun to sniff around their edges. In the latest issue (Summer, 1991) of Foreign Affairs, one of the most influential periodicals in the country, there are two articles that gingerly raise the subjects of race and population. Both describe the realities that America faces, but then turn the intellectual equivalent of double-back-flip somersaults when it comes to policy recommendations.
The first article, “The Roots of American Power,” starts from the position that economic power is at the heart of any nation’s ability to influence world affairs. The author, Robert Hormats, notes that the American economy suffers from declining investment, quick-fix thinking, collapse of infrastructure, poor education, and an abandonment of the notion of individual responsibility. He further points out that of all the industrial nations, the United States has the largest number of racial minorities, and that the weight of their failure is a serious obstacle not only to economic progress but to social harmony.
The Dangers of Diversity
Mr. Hormats warns that ethnic diversity “could become a source of political friction, social fragmentation and economic disarray. . .” For anyone who has actually set foot in Detroit (see cover story), Miami, or virtually any other American city, the warning comes a little late. Further on, Mr. Hormats admits as much when he asks, “Can an America whose cities are in some parts indistinguishable from Third World slums, and whose already large underclass continues to fall behind the rest of society, maintain the moral authority required for world leadership. . . ?” He also notes that “large numbers of blacks and other minorities fall outside the productive economy and [have] become alienated from mainstream society.” Clearly, the problems that ethnic diversity “could” bring are already upon us.
Do these problems have any implications for immigration policy, or for welfare programs that encourage the incompetent to have as many children as they like? Do they say anything at all about the desirability or even the possibility of a multi-racial society? Might they suggest inherent racial differences? Certainly not. “America has not done well at incorporating blacks and Hispanics into the work force or tapping their full productive potential,” writes Mr. Hormats. He suggests that we have only to reform our education system and introduce free child care in order for non-whites to become just like the rest of us.
Non-whites fail because “America has not done well.” If white society can only reform itself, non-whites will reach their “full productive potential.” For how long will academics and intellectuals recite these mantras while society decays around them?
The second article is “Population Change and National Security,” by Nicholas Eberstadt. It focuses on the effect that rapidly growing Third World populations will have on the industrial West. Between 1950 and 1985, the underdeveloped nations grew at nearly three times the rate of the developed nations, despite steady emigration from south to north. By the year 2025—just 35 years from now—the United States is expected to have a smaller population than Nigeria, and the aggregate population of all industrial nations (including Japan), will be smaller than the population of either India or Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr. Eberstadt points out that these bloated, Third World countries will very likely be poor, fractious, hostile to the developed world, and increasingly demanding. He goes so far as to say that the new international environment will be “even more menacing to the security prospects of the Western alliance than was the Cold War. . . .”
What are we to do about this? End the foreign aid that only expands the rate of Third World population growth? Strengthen the security of our borders against the inevitable push of illegal immigration? Try to increase our own birth rates? No, none of these. Mr. Eberstadt offers only one solution: try to spread Western values to nations that still find them “fundamentally alien.”
But here, too, the author reveals his own inconsistencies. In a very interesting passage on the nature of demographics, he writes:
“Demography is the study of human numbers, but it is the human characteristics of those numbers that define world events. What is called a demographic problem may better be described as a moral and intellectual [emphasis added] problem that takes demographic form. Indeed, divorced from an understanding of the people behind the data, population studies can provide little insight. . . .”
It is unusual for a mainstream writer to acknowledge that populations are not equivalent. Perhaps Mr. Eberstadt even realizes that it is a moral and intellectual failing not to recognize that the successes of certain groups and the failures of others are not simply demographic curiosities but reflect the “people behind the data.”
When liberals and minority activists can find no explanation but “racism” for the disproportionate failure of non-whites, they are dressing up moral and intellectual problems to look like demography. When immigration activists argue that anyone from any place has full title to American citizenship they are doing the same thing.
Does Mr. Eberstadt—a man who understands that numbers mean nothing without an understanding of the “people behind the data,” —really think that the West can spread its values to Third World nations that find those values “fundamentally alien”? The United States has been unable to spread Western values even to populations within its own borders. It will be a rare achievement to get Nepal and Nigeria to embrace what Harlem does not.