Some Problems with ‘Diversity’

By Garrett Hardin
Volume 28, Number 4 (Summer 2018)
Issue theme: "Are there no limits? The crisis of overpopulation, mass immigration, and overconsumption"

The waves of immigration into the United States during the first decades of the twentieth century were bearable because both residents and immigrants agreed that the newcomers should adopt the language and ways of the residents as rapidly as possible. The process was called “assimilation.” Today, however, assimilation is out of favor, diversity is the magic word. “Ethnic pride” causes some minorities to resist assimilation. We can all rejoice when ethnic pride results in the descendants of immigrants becoming genuinely bicultural. But in recent years self-appointed leaders of immigrants have interpreted ethnic pride to mean ethnic intolerance—of the ways of the majority. This new development bodes ill for future peace in America.

Many of the resident intellectuals, overanxious to avoid all appearances of bigotry, support the radical ethnics in their resistance to assimilation. Cosmopolitans terrified of “ethnocentrism” embrace what can only be called “ethnofugalism”—a flight from the ethnic center of their own upbringing. Those who promote limitless diversity seem not to have noticed the disorder and violence associated with massive diversity in Africa and the Balkans. The faster the rate of immigration and the more diverse the reluctantly conjoined cultures, the greater is the threat of balkanization….

It cannot be too often repeated that an extravagantly multicultural nation is poorly positioned to compete with nations that have not succumbed to the siren call for more “diversity.” Think of Japan. In facing the real dangers of overpopulation following World War II, Japan showed that she could achieve a unanimity of purpose that is hard to imagine in a multicultural nation. Whatever measures may be required to tame population growth, their difficulty will increase strictly in proportion to the amount of diversity in the population. In a multicultural nation patriotism withers under the onslaught of internal competition between ethnic groups. The nation is then less favorably positioned to deal with external competition. Everyone within the multiethnic nation suffers.

—Garrett Hardin, Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos,

New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 289-290.