Thursday, July 21, 2011

On a personal note

Yesterday my thesis defense was approved, so I am soon going to get my PhD from the University of Chicago. It appears as if next year I will be a Post-Doc at the University of Chicago. I will also continue to be a research affiliate the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (Institutet för Näringslivsforskning) in Stockholm.

For those who don’t know, the talent in the family is my younger brother, Nima Sanandaji. He is President and founder of the flourishing Think Tank Captus in Sweden.

My brother recently wrote this topical article, about Sweden’s fascinating transformation from a Socialist Example to a role model for Pro-Market reform.

He had developed the article further into a full report in English, which is finished. However the American publisher of the report fell through, for idiosyncratic reasons.

So my brother is looking for another English speaking Think Tank or the like to publish the report. Read the article, and if you like it, email me about it. You can find my email here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Multiculturalism is dead

Last week I participated in a debate about the failure of Sweden to successfully integrate immigrants, in Swedish, on Axess -television. If you speak Sweidsh you can see it here.

I said that multiculturalism has failed, and been replaced among the elites who themselves no longer believe in it by anti-anti-multiculturalism, a reflexive reaction on all critique of the multiculturalists project.

In this context I define culture as the informal rules of the game of society, informal institutions, etiquette, traditions, norms and values, as opposed to superficial cultural expressions such as what food you eat and what music you listen to. If multiculturalism was about what food people eat and how they dress it would be no problem at all.

The rules imbedded in culture are to a large extent there in order to reduce transaction costs in a society. If you have different rules for different people society doesn’t function smoothly. Multiculturalism is an attempt to recreate the Ottoman Empire, with separate rules for separate ethic groups, and with institutionalized segregation. The fanatical proponents of multiculturalism may not intend this, but this is the consequence of their poorly thought out social experiment.

I said that the people hurt most by multiculturalism are immigrants, many of whom are unable to integrate. They do not learn all the many subtle rules which guide life in Sweden, they do not feel welcome and they are unable add a Swedish identity to the one they already have. Instead many are embittered, and react by adapting the ghetto-culture of the United States, as a way to mark distance to mainstream society.

Multiculturalism is a lie. It is a lie by the left and left-libertarians to promise immigrants that they can migrate to Sweden and maintain all their traditions and norms and behavior from Afghanistan and Albania, without any cost to themselves. The personal consequence for immigrants from being unable to integrate is mass unemployment, low income, crime ridden neighborhood, and social isolation.

I propose that the solution to the obvious failure of multiculturalism is for Sweden to regain the cultural self-confidence it requires to integrate immigrants. As an immigrant it is impossible to integrate into nothingness, you need a clearly defined pole of Swedish culture, which must be open to immigrants, in order for more to gravitate towards Swedish culture and be accepted into society.

Integrating does not mean you have to destroy your identity. Learning Swedish doesn’t mean you have to forget your native language. Learning the informal rules which guide work and social life doesn’t mean you have to forget the rules from your home country. You can be proud of your Kurdish heritage, but simultaneously proud of your Swedish upbringing and citizenship. Indeed hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Sweden have integrated and adapted multiple identities, which proves my point. We just need the other half to do the same. The historical American ideal, E pluribus Unom, is the only path to successful immigration.

In the following debate I repeat arguments familiar to readers of this blog, especially against left-libertarians and their dogmatic obsession with completely open borders combined with a welfare state. I point out that Classical Liberalism does not support this insane idea.

Some people have come up to me, said that they agreed with me, but expressed concern that I was helping the anti-immigration party The Sweden Democrats.

The truth is the opposite. The left-libertarians have bullied the right into proposing open borders, in order to prove they are not racist. This policy has never been attempted by any country in modern history. Open borders is a social experiment on the grandest scale, yet its proponents have hardly thought it through, other than through clichés and slogans. Not surprisingly, open borders does not have any electoral support in Sweden. By pushing open borders as the only alternative on the right and shouting down any problematization of immigrant segregation as racist, some young voters are forced into the Sweden Democrat column, even those who are not xenophobic.

I attempt to offer an alternative to the Sweden Democrats, to keep voters who observe that Sweden’s current policies are not working but who do not dislike immigrants from being forced to abandon the right. By radicalizing the right, branding any dissent as racist and beating the drums of open borders libertarians are the ones who are helping the Sweden Democrats.

John Stuart Mill would turn in his grave if he saw what his acolytes on the right did to the tolerant, open minded and popular Per Gudmundson for citing some government statistics. We all know Per Gudmundson does not have a racist bone in his body, yet the left-libertarians merely joined with the socialists in demonizing him online, apologetic about the mindless anger Gudmundson was subjugated to. Would anyone deny that this shamefull behavior helped the Sweden Democrats take even more voters from us? If the right had taken the concerns of voters about crime, welfare dependency and segregation into consideration, the Sweden Democrats would not even be in parliament in the first place, joining with the socialists left in sabotaging the urgently needed reform agenda of Fredrik Reinfeldt and Anders Borg.

Why do we still allow a small number of shrill ideologies to erode electoral support for the Right, by driving all those who don’t share their extremist and unpopular "abolish-all-borders" positions into the open arms of the Sweden Democrats? Didn't we learn our lesson in 2002 about what happened when you let dogmatic libertarians dictate the policies and rhetoric of the center-right coalition?

P.S

I am still busy writing my book, so I do not expect any new posts until mid September. Please come back then.
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