Robert Putnam is a Havard political scientist who became famous for his 2000 book “Bowling Alone”. What was so remarkable about this book was not the findings — these had been well-known in dissident circles for decades. Instead, the book became widely known in large part due to the circumstances surrounding its publication. Putnam was so shocked and affronted by the findings of his own research that he sat on the results for more than five years, finally deciding to publish them in 2000 when he realized the grave implications that not disseminating his insights would have on the course of public policy.
The findings were simple enough. Ethnic and racial diversity, far from being a great source of strength, utterly destroyed social capital and tended to create an environment of low social trust. This effect was not limited to interethnic trust; it even extended to members of the same ethnic or racial group. Introducing diverse ethnicities into a given area actually caused members within the same racial or ethnic group to trust each other less. And this effect represented a quantifiable and large destruction of social capital.
In this piece, a progressive author describes the body of work of another progressive-leaning author who is coming to grips with the hard realities that Robert Putnam described, much to his own dismay, in his book that was published 18 years ago. It turns out that many of the Nordic countries, especially Denmark, have made highly socialistic systems work where they have been catastrophic failures elsewhere. But the author is surprised to learn that the reason heavy socialism works in the Nordic countries is due to the fact that it is filled with Nordic people. And these people create high-trust societies. He notes that immigrants from extremely low-trust societies, such as those found in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, where extreme corruption and high levels of criminality are endemic, have a difficult time assimilating and tend to quickly erode the social capital that exists where they are permitted to settle in large numbers within high-trust societies.
Indeed, a quick look at any corruption or crime index will leave little doubt that certain groups of people tend to create higher social capital than others. And this is an intractable problem that boils down to biologic reality. The liberal’s fantasy world of every subspecies of man living in one harmonious global utopian village is dangerously deluded.