Eric Kaufmann responds to David Aaronovitch’s column referencing Kaufmann’s recent Policy Exchange report

Mar 19, 2017

In a letter published by The Times, Eric Kaufmann — Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London — responds to a column by David Aaronovitch that discusses Kaufmann’s recent Policy Exchange report, Racial Self-Interest is not Racism:


David Aaronovitch accurately notes Shadi Hamid’s distinction between racism and ‘racial self-interest’ which David Goodhart mentioned in his article and I take up in my report for Policy Exchange. However, he suggests that when we use the term ‘white’ we refer to a hermetically-sealed racial unit based on skin colour rather than an ethnic community united around a myth of descent and common culture whose proper name is ‘white British’. Irish, Jews and now African-Caribbeans and others are intermarrying and becoming absorbed into the white majority ethnic group. I am a product of this, as a white Canadian with Chinese and Latino ancestry. And so his black nephew has the option of identifying with his European heritage — indeed the data tell us someone of his background has an 80 percent chance of marrying into the white majority. In the future, he may well consciously or unconsciously view himself through this prism.

Group self-interest shades into racism when it begins to negatively impact on other groups. That’s as true of Shona-on-Matabele racism in Zimbabwe or Japanese-on-Korean racism in Tokyo as it is of white-on-minority racism in Britain. Racism is not just a white thing. The point should be to maintain equality between different ethnic self-interests, one of the issues raised by my work on preventing so-called ‘white flight’. Material inequality and discrimination is a key challenge for minorities, and defines the minority self-interest. Majorities, on the other hand, face a subtler challenge: cultural loss. Immigration produces demographic increase among minorities, bringing hope and optimism for high-identifying members of minority groups. It produces unease and pessimism among high-identifying members of the majority. On the other hand, assimilation buoys many in the majority and produces a sense of loss among minorities. It is no more racist for whites to want less immigration than it is for minorities to want slower assimilation. When immigration rates outpace assimilation, those who identify with the ethnic majority may legitimately argue their interest is for migration to be slower. It is up to government to balance majority and minority interests alongside wider national priorities such as staffing the NHS.

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