I’ve grown up in a relatively multicultural part of Britain. It’s all I had known for 22 years until I was thrown into one the most homogenous places on earth, China. Homogenous, in this context means those that are the most similar ethnically and culturally. The most accurate way of measuring this may be the Fearon list, which puts South Korea as the most homogenous and papua new guinea as the most diverse, culturally. There are many that argue for both sides and in some cases, like China’s, it’s not intentional homogeny, but more geographical. I’m not for one second saying that China isn’t vast and diverse, it still has 56 ethnic groups and thousands of languages and dialects, but when I think of multiculturalism I think of Countries that have a population that spans a larger area.
Why am I raising this question? well, I didn’t think of it that much until I went to Poland for the first time. Poland is one of my favourite countries in Europe and by coincidence it is also Europe’s most homogenous. I met many Polish people who welcomed me into their homes and lives and treated me well, but they had an ideology which I’d never encountered. They were very much against immigration into Poland from non-white citizens. In fact, their governments agrees and has denied to take in refugees from Syria in order to keep their heavily catholic roots. 92% of the population consider themselves Catholic and even those that aren’t may still be proud to throw that number around like a title. Their arguments to keep Poland the way it is may divide a room with anyone in it, but given their history of persecution and adversity, it’s hard to disagree. Here are some of the points they raised.
- In a country where most people are of the same faith and very similar upbringings, there aren’t many challenges or cultural differences that have to be overcome.
- Listening to people speak one language connects and unifies you with that person
- People are less likely to commit a crime or act of unkindness to someone they may know or relate to.
- Crime is lower due to consensual understanding and agreement on many things.
You can see the angle that many of them came from, so using the Fearon list and checking homicide rates should show a pattern if they right. So if I take the top 10 homogenous and top 10 multicultural countries, I should see a clear pattern, right? Not so fast. Many other variables could mess with statistics such as population differences, conflicts, government’s attitude towards firearms and so on. However, there do seem to be some patterns. Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Finland a few others fit the homogenous and low crime profile. So now I’ll search for a multicultural …. it’s a waste of time and I’ll tell you why. The fearon list is based on a few things, the main being the humber of languages spoken in that country and not how history affected the country genetically. So while Japan is a great argument for homogeny, it seems it’s just a great country all around and a role model for something much bigger.
Japan has done something which no other country has done on the same scale. Preserved its culture and history and modernized simultaneously. Surely, this is where the argument all began? Countries that fear invasion usually fear adapting to a new way and embracing things that challenging their identity. If every country could learn from Japan’s modernization, homogenous and multicultural societies wouldn’t have to worry and I believe there are countries going through that process now, but on the next level.
France and UK are the top 2 multicultural mixing pots in Europe and although they share higher crime rates than other countries in the region, they are going through a new wave of mixed culture. Let me show you why. Dubstep invented in UK fusion of Caribbean musical styles and electronic music, Tikka masala a fusion of Indian and British cuisine invented by Indian’s in Glasgow, Balti – the same but Birmingham instead of Glasgow, British Carbonara – Italian and British fusion, there are more examples springing up all the time. Foreigners have been in Britain for long enough to contribute more than most countries (other than America) and actually continue to do multiculturalism proud. It’s often stated by some that London would collapse if just the Polish workers alone didn’t show up for one day. London being the 2nd richest city in the world and all, I think that makes quite a bold statement.
Is there a conclusion to all of this? Not really. Some people have already made up their mind. I had a coworker that moved back to London from Singapore and claimed it was safer to live with just white and yellow people ( blunt, but that’s how he said it) than live in multicultural London. I also had friends who lived in Countries that had only limited types of food and they really missed being around people from different backgrounds with different perspectives. Whether you want the country to be gated off or international borders to be opened, there is big change coming and adapting first is key.