Sunday, March 04, 2007

The left & the multicult

Let's say that liberals want us to be self-defined. What kind of communal identity might allow us to achieve this goal?

Certainly not the traditional ethnic one. A traditional ethnic culture is inherited rather than self-selected, so it fails the test of allowing self-definition.

Liberals, therefore, have offered two basic alternatives. The first, most popular on the left, is multiculturalism.

The good thing about multiculturalism, from the left-liberal viewpoint, is that it apparently offers the chance to select. There is no longer a single ethnic monoculture for the individual to fit into, but many different cultures to choose from, and to construct our "self" from.

This multicultural self need not settle on any one cultural standard, but can seemingly be multiple, hybrid and fluid, further ensuring the sense of continuing self-authorship.

Here is left-wing Melbourne academic Mary Kalantzis giving her version of the benefits of a multicultural identity:

Instead of a nation as it might be represented through some 'distinctively Australian' essence, the essence of a postnationalist common purpose is creative and productive life of boundary crossing, multiple identities, difficult dialogues, and the continuous hybrid reconstruction of ourselves. This is the new reality of Australian identity, multicultural and multilingual.


To summarise, the left-wing multicultural "solution" is to replace an ethnic monoculture, in which self-definition seems limited, with multiple ethnic cultures, in which we can selectively move about and hybridise ourselves.

But it doesn't work. First, we generally maintain a primary loyalty to our own ethnic tradition and feel most comfortable within it. Second, we don't really continuously reconstruct our self-identity from multiple ethnicities paraded before us - this isn't the reality of what happens. Third, having 150 ethnicities in the same place is really the same as having none, since an ethnic culture requires its own territory to create a distinctive cultural environment, which might then be picked up on and reproduced as an ongoing tradition.

The reality is that the main effect of multiculturalism is to undermine the influence of the mainstream ethnic tradition, thereby allowing a more commercialised pop culture to extend its influence.

The left itself has noted this effect and railed against it. One of the foremost figures of the Australian left, Phillip Adams, is a good case in point. He has written on the one hand that "the things which divide us create a cultural diversity that's endlessly fascinating".

At the same time, he has attacked the influence on Australian children of a "global culture of breathtaking crassness and stupidity," which has left them with "fully fledged appetites for junk - junk food, junk films, junk ideas, junk toys and junk culture."

He has similarly complained about Aussie kids wearing "reversed baseball hats, baggy shorts and those preposterous brand name shoes" while "giving each other fives" and "talking jargon derived from rap and LA gang talk".

Adams doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that the "diversity" he finds fascinating (multiculturalism), in undermining the place of the established national culture, has inevitably allowed the internationally dominant pop culture to fill the vacuum.

Two further points. What is it which comes closest to fulfilling the multicultural ideal, in which we self-select according to multiple ethnic cultures? Restaurants! We do get to choose between a whole variety of different ethnic cuisines, and what's more we enjoy it.

So it's no surprise that liberals often emphasise restaurants and food as a justification for multiculturalism. It might seem shallow to do so - to base such an important policy on cooking - but it makes sense in that it's the nearest that multiculturalism really gets to fulfilling its aims.

Second, it's noteworthy that the established, mainstream ethnic culture isn't allowed to be celebrated within a multiculture, as the others are. Again, I think this makes sense within the terms of multiculturalism.

Wouldn't a multiculturalist fear most the reassertion of the traditional, mainstream culture? Isn't it this culture which is the only likely candidate to become a mainstream, national "monoculture"? So why would a multiculturalist want to give it equal treatment and celebrate it like the other ethnic traditions?

Furthermore, the "threat" of a return to a national culture is made all the more real by the fact that right-wing liberals often call for this to happen.

Right-liberals commonly prefer the idea of assimilation into a single national culture. They often criticise multiculturalism as being too divisive, too much based on collectives and too negative toward the mainstream.

The right-liberal "solution" to establishing a communal identity, is to have a single identity but to base it on liberal political values, rather than ethnicity. The identity, in other words, is based on a commitment to qualities like tolerance, democracy, the rule of law and so on, which do not limit individual self-definition.

Leftists often don't get this aspect of right-liberalism. They frequently express the fear that right-liberals want to go back in time and reassert the mainstream ethnicity etc. It's a little bit dopey of left-liberals to think this way, but their fear does make some sense if you remember that the big threat to multiculturalism is the reassertion of the traditional ethnic culture, and that right-liberals do often criticise multiculturalism and urge assimilation to the mainstream.

In practice, there is an overlap between the politics of the left and right on this issue, which is to be expected since both accept liberal assumptions about self-definition as a goal of individual life.

Even so, there is also room for a sharpening of political differences, given that the left want to replace the traditional ethnic culture with a multi-ethnic one, whereas the right's strategy is to replace it with a non-ethnic one.

At the moment, the right is ascendant, perhaps because the argument that multiculturalism is divisive seems more pressing given the existence of home-grown Islamic terrorism. So there is a greater stress on assimilation than multiculturalism in today's political climate.

17 comments:

  1. So what's the solution Mark?

    *The reality is that we already live in a society with multiple ethnicities and cultures. What should we do about this?

    * The reality is that Australias birth rate is not high enough to sustain us, so either we allow people to immigrate, or we die out.

    And there is no point in "forcing" people to have children - children should be born because they are wanted, not as a tool to keep a country going.

    You argue against assimilation, so what is the solution then? Would you kick everyone who isn't "australian" out? How would you define them? Those who don't have citizenship? Those who weren't born here?

    What are your solutions Mark? Seeing as you are so unhappy with the current situation, what would you like to do about it?

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  2. Brett, "you don't have to kick everyone out", to protect the majority culture.

    The majority of the population wants limited immigration, so why not limit immigration and allow the majority some imput into saying who gets to come in?

    Limited immigration is also good for the global environment - its forces countries to be responsible for their own demography, and the welfare of their own citizens.

    A cornerstone of the liberal era has been the use of immigration as a pass the buck solution to problems like pollution, overcrowding and overcrowding.

    Globalism equals global irresponsibility.

    Liberalism's solution to helping poor countries is to abolish countries and turn the world into a gobal market, where the rich and intelligent of all countries can maximise their potential by dropping all responsibilities to the communities from which they came.

    Conservatism is about being grounded and responsible to community from which you came - it actually ties in well with the aims of environmentalism, so its very much a valid philosophy for the present era.

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  3. NZConservative,

    Unfortunately, that doesn't answer the question.

    Mark has made it pretty clear that he is unhappy about the current state of affairs. He complains about the current state of dilution of the Australian culture with (presumably American) pop culture, and he makes statements like this:

    having 150 ethnicities in the same place is really the same as having none, since an ethnic culture requires its own territory to create a distinctive cultural environment, which might then be picked up on and reproduced as an ongoing tradition

    Seeing as he is so dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, my question is what he would like to do to remedy that state.

    Unfortuntely, the things you've mentioned (limited migration etc) do nothing to address the concerns that currently exist and that Mark has mentioned in the original entry. None of the things that you've mentioned will address either the US pop culture "invasion" or the 150 ethnicities "problem".

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  4. Sorry - that last paragraph should read:

    Unfortunately, the things you've mentioned (limited migration etc) do nothing to address the concerns that that Mark has mentioned in the original entry as they exist today. And it's the remedies for the "problems" today that I'm interested in Marks response to. None of the things that you've mentioned will address either the US pop culture "invasion" or the 150 ethnicities "problem" as they exist today.

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  5. Brett,

    One part of your question is easier to answer than the other.

    I don't think that any country really needs to rely on immigration for population growth.

    Most people still want to have 2 to 3 children. A lot aren't managing to do this, because married life is being pushed back into the 30s, when it's more difficult both to partner and to conceive.

    The (main) reason married life is being pushed back is because of the idea that autonomy and independence are what individuals should aim for.

    This has meant, in particular, that women have been encouraged to string out a single girl lifestyle for as long as possible (which has then had an influence on male culture).

    I don't think it's impossible to imagine this situation being reversed - there are, after all, some powerful natural instincts encouraging young men and women to partner and start families.

    Which leaves the more difficult question. It's true that there are now multiple ethnicities in Australia. So there's no easy return to an ethnic monoculture.

    Still, as NZ conservative has pointed out, it's possible to limit immigration to allow the situation to at least stabilise.

    If we were to accept, as a principle, that it's a positive thing to maintain Western ethnicities, then it might become possible to consider a range of further policies designed to advance this aim.

    I don't like speculating too much on such things, as it's a bit pie in the sky at this stage, and as I don't know what will be politically possible in the future.

    But, there might be agreement that future immigration should be tilted toward the ethnic mainstream.

    Or, there might be parts of the country in which the ethnic mainstream might be allowed to maintain a natural preponderance.

    It might be the case, too, that in the long run the ethnic mainstream would tend to stay put to a greater degree than minorities, due to a stronger connection to their ethnic homeland.

    So there do exist at least some reasonable scenarios by which a Western ethnicity might survive into the future - but this requires, before anything else, a rethink by the political class of the prevailing orthodoxy.

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  6. Brett, if my solutions aren't easy, I think they're nonetheless better than the option of letting things go on as they are now.

    The situation for white Australians, unfortunately, will most likely get much worse than it is now.

    At the moment, people have to be a bit careful about upsetting us too much, as political power is still decided by the votes of conservative working-class white Australians.

    Things will be decidedly different when the numbers are different and the appeal is to other groups.

    This is especially true given the way that politics is currently understood.

    Whites are already identified as a dominant class which "has things". The idea is that we "have things" at the expense of others - that we have "unearned privilege" to put it in academic terms.

    So there's a sense in which we're considered the legitimate target of resentments or grievances.

    Being thought of this way makes us, effectively, an unprotected class, whose rights and status aren't such a matter of concern compared to other groups.

    So when the numbers change, we shouldn't expect just treatment.

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  7. Medicine is making it safer to have children into the late 30s and 40s, and this is indeed one of the reasons we are seeing a baby boom - people do indeed want to have larger families and now they are more in a position to support that dream financially.

    As has been noted elsewhere, mass immigration to fill economic needs is a sign of a structural weakness in the economy. Better to fix that weakness than kick the problem down the road.

    On multiculturalism, it is clear that people feel safer and happier living with people of similar character - it is just that less stressful. The elitist bid to overcome this understandable human nature is of a kind with building Soviet Man. And we know how that turned out.

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  8. Brett Mcs, I agreed with your entire comment, except for the first half sentence:

    Medicine is making it safer to have children into the late 30s and 40s

    This just isn't my experience. In my wife's mothers' group the four younger women have all gone on to have a second baby, but the four older women (late 30s) have been unable to do so.

    I know it's a considerable sadness for them (I've had to console two of them), and that they bitterly regret not starting their families earlier.

    Women should be aiming to have finished having their families by the age of 35, not starting them at this age.

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  9. Mark,

    I don't think that any country really needs to rely on immigration for population growth.

    Most people still want to have 2 to 3 children


    It appears that the statistics don't support your ideas here.

    The fertility rate has been falling since the mid 60's, and has been below the replenishment rate for about 30 years. That means that two generations (the current one and the tail-end of the previous one) have had a declining interest in producing offspring.

    Couple those statistics with growing emigration movement (Sydney airport reported recently that they had the biggest number of travellers passing through it ever in 2006, including an increase of long term exits) the emergence of movements (and some would argue the growing popularity) like VHMET, childfree etc, and the ever increasing abortion rates, it seems that the only way a country like Australia will survive is via migration. We simply aren't staying here, and those who do aren't reproducing enough.

    If we were to accept, as a principle, that it's a positive thing to maintain Western ethnicities,

    I guess my first question is whether we can agree that as a whole, the Australian culture is flawed - our (almost) zero savings rate and continually growing girths are just two examples of this. Can we also agree that perfection is impossible, if for no other reason that perfection is subjective and will be different per person.

    Can we also agree that while anything is not perfect, it can be improved and that it is wise to look for improvements? If we take the two issues raised above as an example, this will lead to better health and better financial security for all Australians.

    I don't think should limit ourselves to other western cultures to fix these issues. A better place might be India, for instance, where they have achieved remarkable social-reengineering to create a middle class and have allowed people to move from poverty in the lower castes to that new "middle class".

    Or maybe looking at Taiwan where they have created an entire semiconductor manufacturing industry where they are making bucket loads of money. This is particularly relevant given our woeful performance in manufacturing in the last 20 odd years.

    "But, there might be agreement that future immigration should be tilted toward the ethnic mainstream."

    How do we define "ethnic mainstream"? Australia has huge populations of Germans, Greeks (particularly in Melbourne) Srilankans etc.

    Take Perth for example which has large South African and English populations.

    Or Sydney where there is a large Vietnamese population. Or Canberra which has a (comparably) large Srilankan population.

    Not to mention the continual movement backwards and forwards across the Tasman.

    How would you limit based on this? We already have a smorgasboard of people from various countries. And how do we address the obvious claims of racism if we choose people only from certain countries and exclude others based solely on their country of origin? I'm not an international law expert, but i would imagine we would be breaking all sorts of conventions if we were to go down this path.

    Brett Mcs, I agreed with your entire comment, except for the first half sentence:

    Medicine is making it safer to have children into the late 30s and 40s

    This just isn't my experience.


    On this we can agree. While the technology can enable births to older women, it isn't necessarily in the childs interest to do this. Older women tend to have more pregnancy failures, have a greater incedence of post natal depression etc.

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  10. Brett,

    You imagine incorrectly regarding international "conventions" etc. over immigration. If that were the case than the system we had which allowed travel to and from New Zealand without a passport would have been illegal. It is also far easier for someone from a commonwealth country to get a holiday makers visa than for an American. Not to mention the EU: which allows free movement between member countries, but has restrictions for people outside. In fact the Germans and French (and others) placed restrictions on some of the new members, such as Poland, from entering and working in their countries, which is one reason why there are so many Poles in London now, as Britain is one of the few nations in the western EU that allows them in. If we'd be breaking "conventions" et al, surely none of this would be legal.

    As for your other "non-mainstream" comments. This is an attempt to muddy the waters. It was a feature of the 1970’s to boast that Melbourne had the “second largest Greek community outside of Athens”. The reason why Melbourne's Greek community was presented as being so large is because Greek towns and cities tend to be small. Athens is a major city, but Thessalonica has a population of 600,000 odd, and it then drops down to 161,000. Also there has been increased urbanisation in Greece over the last two decades, so those centres were even smaller back then.

    It is true there are a lot of Vietnamese in Sydney, but they are hardly the majority of the population, simply a substantial minority. Protestants made up 15% of the population of southern Ireland after independence (although they're now down to roughly 1% - ethnic cleansing?), but that didn't mean that southern Ireland was not a largely Catholic Country. I suspect that your line was to attempt to force Mark to either throw things into the "too hard basket" or to force him to "come out" as some racist who wants to deport large sections of the population.

    It does indicate the dishonesty (or lack of judgement?) of such people who promoted this multicultural, mass immigration policy who claimed that this either wouldn’t change Australia in any real sense, or that would diminish the sense of identity of the existing population and all the other soothing arguments. It calls into question the notion that it can be dismissed that whites may one day be a persecuted minority in Australia, or that Australia may, due to immigration, become a majority Muslim country complete with calls for the introduction of Sharia law and the Jizya.

    My personal view is that many members of the new left seek to use the fact of immigration, together with the theories of “multiculturalism” because they seek to use other ethnicities, and in particular the spectre of demographic change, to undermine and demolish the old culture and social view. They also see “ethnic minorities” as natural allies in their efforts to destroy the old “Anglo” culture, and ones that can be recruited at little cost. This is one reason why the intelligentsia left says less and less about the “working class” and more and more about the plight of “minorities” and the evils of whiteness and “white racism”. To my mind this is one reason why the supposedly “multicultural” industry seems to be steadfastly opposed to any celebration of old “Anglo” culture, or Australia’s British heritage (compared to continually telling us about the wonders of the Italian heritage, the Greek heritage, and the various Asian heritages). It isn’t simply that they fear that we may revert to the old “monoculture” (although I suspect they do, witness the hysteria back in 2001, and again over the Cronulla Riots) but because they see Multiculturalism as a means to destroy the old order. As it is used for basically a negative purpose (as an instrument of a cultural revolution) the positive arguments are really limited to restaurants, and to claiming that the old culture was grossly inferior to just about every other culture in the world. If Multiculturalists really believed their own propaganda, they would encourage Australians on British decent to take pride in Anglo culture as much as they encourage those of “ethnic” origin to take pride in their own various ethnic origins. As they singularly do not do this, I am lead believe that there are other motivations at work.

    As for your other condemnations of Australia. A low birth-rate is something that we should seek to change. I believe that there are several things at work here. For one, and an obvious one, is the current high price of housing. I earn over $100,000 per year, but would be looking at spending the next 30 years paying 40% of my income to buy an average house in Perth. How can I look at starting a family until the mortgage is under control? Most people earn less, and so both spouses have to go out and work. Then there is the question of job security, which until fairly recently would have encouraged people to focus on their careers until they were sufficiently experienced. As for the low savings ratio – things change with time as well as demographics. At the end of World War II Australia had a very high savings ratio, and kept this up well into the post War. Three things have helped lower it. Firstly the gradual increase in taxation as a proportion of income. More people spend have more of their income taken by the State these days. Secondly, the high cost of housing, with mortgages and rent taking a higher proportion of income than they did during the Post War. Thirdly, and this is related to Mark’s points, the growth of consumerism and particularly consumerist pop culture. I should point out to you that old “monoculture” Australia of the late ‘40’s had a much better savings level than this “vibrant” “multicultural” Australia of today. I don’t think that ethnic minorities are to blame for the low level of savings, but they certainly haven’t changed our culture in such a way as to boost savings, and the success of a comparatively small number of immigrant businessmen doesn’t change the basic point.

    I don’t see how actively changing Australia into say an Indian colony through mass immigration would enable Australian society to be perpetuated, rather it would convert it into an Indian society. From a global perspective this may not matter, but it surely does to people who live here. Our lack of fertility will ultimately have to be addressed by other means – perhaps we could have a sliding scale pension system saying that you get a higher pension up to 3 children to compensate for the costs of raising them when you’re younger. As it is now, the poor parent has to pay for children entirely, with minimal tax offsets (Keating reduced the level of deductions to virtually nil), whilst pensions are paid equally to everyone no matter how many children one has. This is surely a positive incentive for people to let others have their children “for them”.

    I do commend you for not resorting to the Ad Homonym though. A reasoned, and non-hysterical, discussion can at least lead to an understanding of different points of view, and may change some minds, and mitigate against some more extreme positions.

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  11. I only have a few minutes, so I’ll quickly address a couple of points Brett raised.

    Our birth rate is among the highest in the Western world and is much higher than that of industrialised Asian nations like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. It is only slightly below replacement rate, and the issue isn’t one of ‘dieing out’ but of the median age rising. Immigration does nothing at all to lower the median age.

    The industrialised Asian nations are addressing this with robotics and technology, whilst western nations are exacerbating the problem through immigration.

    Both in regards to demographics and the environment, Australia needs immigration much less than most other nations, but currently has the second highest per capita intake. This serves one group only – the business lobby, who look solely at short term benefits. If, like the USA, our birth rate was at replacement level, the business lobby would put out a different meme to encourage immigration – over there they ‘need it’ because immigrants ‘do the jobs that Americans won’t do’.

    Just a point when discussing ethnicity – you have to be careful not to confuse it with recent country of origin. The only measurable ethnic difference between most people of north western European descent is language. For example, Anglo-Saxons are Germans who moved to the British Isles. When a German and an English person move to Australia and both speak English, there is no ethnic difference between them.

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  12. Anonymous,

    I do commend you for not resorting to the Ad Homonym though. A reasoned, and non-hysterical, discussion can at least lead to an understanding of different points of view, and may change some minds, and mitigate against some more extreme positions.

    I do try to keep the ad hominem out of these discussions. I am the first to admit that it doesn't always work out that way, but I do normally try.

    For whatever reason, be it my writing style or another reason, I think you've missed the point of my last comment.

    Regarding India and Taiwan, I was not suggesting that wholesale immigration from these countries should be enacted, but rather that we, as a society have a lot to learn from them. Engineering change, in any form let alone social, is a difficult thing, yet the Indians (for example) have managed to create a middle class where the caste system has existed for thousands of years. Sure, the transformation isn't complete and there are groups that resist the change, but they've gone a long way and should be commended for it.

    To reiterate: we could learn a lot from them in terms of how to create social change.

    Our savings rate problem and obesity rates are symptoms of our culture at work. Particularly white Australia has a fixation with the McMansion, plasma TV's etc - this is part of our culture now.

    Perhaps this can be partially attributed to the emergence of "low doc" homeloans and "30 months interest free" offers, US gangsta culture or whatever - I'm not going to speculate at the source. However the reality is that we like to live in excess, which results in our savings rates and girths.

    But the point was that our culture is not perfect and when we need to engineer social change, we should consider looking outside of traditional western cultures (as opposed to Marks suggestion) and instead we should look to cultures that have managed this change.

    You imagine incorrectly regarding international "conventions" etc. over immigration. If that were the case than the system we had which allowed travel to and from New Zealand without a passport would have been illegal.

    2 points:

    1) You do need a passport to cross the tasman. I communted backwards and forwards to Auckland weekly for almost a year and required a passport in both countries every time. Until NZ becomes a state of Aus, this will likly remain the case.

    2) We have obligations under the refugees act and several other places under international law to accept people. I grant you that we're not doing a very good job at it at the moment (and I'm not particularly interested in a debate on the plight of refugees - tho I can refer you to one who is) but that doesn't change our obligations.

    Re 2, I suppose that we could repeal our committment to those international treaties, but I suspect that the ramifications of that action (particularly on trade) would be profound and we could kiss our way of life good bye.

    Re the various countries and their representatives:

    The point was that we have significant communities of people in various parts of this country. The fact that we don't have the second largest Greek community outside Athens is irrelevant - whereever there is a large grouping of like-people, they will have an influence on the overall culture of a country, whether they nationalise or not.

    My question remains: How do we define "mainstream Australian culture"? To say it's of English descent is not a very valid statement as this document shows that less than 50% of Australians claim english heritage as at 1999, with the prediction that it will continue to decrease over time.

    It's also not true to say that it's of European descent as this is no longer the most active growing segment of the community, and hasn't been for some time.

    So, the question remains - how do we define "mainstream Australian culture"?

    or that Australia may, due to immigration, become a majority Muslim country complete with calls for the introduction of Sharia law and the Jizya.

    This is a very real possibility. I don't hide from that. And there was a parlimentarian who caused as stir when she mentioned this recently.

    However that might be the way things are. "White culture" (however you define that) may have had it's day, and much like the neanderthal, will be overtaken by something far more virulant (and I use that term very losely).

    We must all remember that nothing is forever, and that the only certainty is change. Perhaps this is just the way it is.

    My personal view is that many members of the new left seek to use the fact of immigration, together with the theories of “multiculturalism” because they seek to use other ethnicities, and in particular the spectre of demographic change, to undermine and demolish the old culture and social view.

    I have to laugh - this is the first time I've every been accused of being "left" of anything :P

    Seriously tho - I've made my position on this clear before: I don't view the concept of countries as relevant anymore. This has been debated previously and I don't think we need to dredge it up in this entry.

    re Fertility rates:

    I earn over $100,000 per year, but would be looking at spending the next 30 years paying 40% of my income to buy an average house in Perth.

    2 point on this one:

    1) Perth is in a terrible state at the moment: a 46% increase in median house price in one year? That's amazing. Unless you're in the mining industry, you might have some trouble, and even if you are, thats no guarantee.

    I lived in Perth a couple of years ago - I really dig the place. I love the beach culture that exists there. It's so very different to east coast Australia, which I think is a good thing.

    If the mining boom ever ends (which by rights, it has to at some stage), i wonder what will happen to property prices then?

    2) There are a number of economists, financiers and others who all cast a gloomy image on the wisdom of home ownership. One commentator (and I apologise - I can't find a link to the article) mentioned that they don't own any property at all because the opportunity cost of investing in a home over the last 20-30 years outweighs the average return on the sharemarket (taking into account the cost of rent) by an order of magnitude of tens of percent. If you were to invest that money in the sharemarket, then you'd end up with a whole lot more mulah than if you had to keep paying rates, maintennance, improvements, not to mention interest and insurance. The commenter (I really wish I could remember his name) still rents, in Sydneys CBD even tho he is well past retirement age.

    I think that it's ingrained in the Australian psyche that home ownership is mandatory, however people who follow this without doing the sums could cost themselves a lot of money. And perhaps cost themselves children, if that's what they want.

    But I don't think this is a real reason. Fertility rates have been dropping from the 60's - right in the halcyon days of home owndership. So while home ownership is no doubt difficult (i'm not denying this in the slightest), i don't think it's a historical factor, nor one in the current scheme of things.

    As it is now, the poor parent has to pay for children entirely, with minimal tax offsets (Keating reduced the level of deductions to virtually nil)

    On this we certainly agree. I've suggested a massive overhaul of the tax system before, and I've also said that any government who commits to removing the tax on superannuation would get my vote, almost irrespective of their other policies.

    Tax in Australia is terrible. I would love to see a Hong Kong style tax system (meansing a flat 25% tax rate), however I realise that that's not necessarily possible given the differences between our countries.

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  13. Interesting discussion. Anonymous, I enjoyed reading your comment. Your argument that the left uses multiculturalism as a tool to attack the old order is worth consideration.

    The reason I don't focus on it, is that when you look at what's happening you notice two things.

    First, we seem to facing what is mostly a Western disease. At the very least, it's the West which is the major carrier of the illness.

    Even Japan, which is a modern society most closely aligned to the West, hasn't yet moved to erase its own national tradition.

    So what is there peculiar to the West which has brought this problem upon us?

    I think the answer must have something to do with the political understandings developed in the West and which permeate our societies more deeply than elsewhere.

    So the answer most likely has something to do with the liberalism which has become orthodox in the West ("liberalism" here being understood in the broadest sense).

    In support of this approach is the second thing to be noticed. Whatever is wrong isn't limited to just one field. It affects not just immigration and nationalism, but also gender, family, morality, sexuality, art etc.

    Again, I think this supports a focus on a more general milieu of ideas, values and principles bringing about a whole series of changes through society.

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  14. O/T

    Mark, you seem to have disappeared off MR completely. I can't say I blame you, I am beginning to get disenchanted with the tone of the place. However, the fact remains that the only way to change this tone is by posting their more.

    Alex.

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  15. I agree that the cost of housing seems to be a significant factor in birth rates.

    Most Eastern European countries have a housing shortage, which is a legacy of the communists state planning era. This is a major reason for their conspiciously low birth rates.

    In the US, people in cheaper states have bigger families.

    In New Zealand, housing costs are lowest in Southland and this where where people of Caucasian origin have the largest families.

    Immigration creates a vicious circle where increasing property prices discourage locals from having children and so more immigrants have to be bought in to comepensate for ever declining birthrates.

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  16. Look some versions of MultiCULturalsm are fine. There can be middle ground between rejecting everything that is "foreign" and regarding Western civilization as an evil, racist, imperialist, criminal conspiracy. MultiCULTuralism is firmly entrenched in Australian politics as just such a middle way. There is general agreement that other cultures should be generally accepted and that we should all be open to whatever good might be in them.

    And I fully accept that. What I do NOT accept is the bullshit claim from touchy feely hippy leftists that all cultures are equal no matta what and instead of ethnic minorities adapting to the culture of the host nation, minirties can continue their medievil practices. i.e. Its obvious that modern Western culture is more civilised than aboriginal or Islamic culture.

    MultiCULTuralism has its roots in Marxism, see here:

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/11/background-of-multiculturalism.html

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/09/what-is-nature-of-multiculturalism.html

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  17. Anonymous, your argument is inconsistent. At the start you present multiculturalism as something benign, as a "middle way".

    By the end, though, you're arguing for assimilation and describing multiculturalism negatively as being a product of radical Marxism.

    I don't like either the option of multiculturalism or assimilation. Neither works out as intended. Both are used as strategies by those who wish to radically transform the West through mass population transfers.

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