The world is becoming less multiracial and less multicultural, says ANTHONY BROWNE. People like to live among their own kind

Many on the Left believe that the only way to end racism is to end races. The only way to conquer Nazism, they argue, is mass miscegenation - interracial love, rather than war. The champions of diversity believe our future is not as a species with many races, but with one race - a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, a quarter African and a quarter European.

There are a lot of good things to say about a future of mixed-race people such as champion golfer Tiger Woods and actor Halle Berry. Ever since I fell in love with a beautiful woman who was half Scottish, a quarter Thai and a quarter Jamaican, I have been convinced that mixed-race people combine the best of all their parts. As the Mayor of Vancouver said, reacting to public concern about the extent of Chinese immigration: We re going to have a generation of the most beautiful babies."

The developed world's immigration industry insists opposition to mass immigration is futile because it has been made inevitable by revolutions in transport, communications and human rights. There is only one future for human society, they insist, and it is multiracial and multicultural.

But this is looking at the world and history from the little bubble of the contemporary "West" - the island of prosperity and tolerance encompassing just one eighth of humanity in North America, Europe and Australasia. Surrounded by a world of deprivation and tyranny, it has become far more diverse.

However, the rest of the world, over the past hundred years has become less diverse, with multiracial societies turning into monoracial ones, and multicultural societies turning into monocultural ones. It is not inevitable that societies will become more diverse. Although emigration may be easier for more people, there may be fewer people wanting to do it. The urge for selfsegregation - surrounding yourself with people like you - is likely to triumph over the more ephemeral economic and political incentives to leave what you know.

The great engines of multiracialism over the past few centuries were the empires of Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, bringing Europeans as settlers to the Americas, Africa and Australia; bringing Africans as slaves to the Americas; and bringing Indians as indentured labourers to south and east Africa. But as the empires unwound, so did the multiracialism they brought, except in the lands where Europeans became a majority.

After the collapse of the French empire in North Africa 1.5 million "pieds noirs" - European settlers in Algeria - returned to France. East African states reduced their Asian populations by persecution, or, as with Uganda, expulsion. White populations in Africa have declined, with the white population of Zimbabwe dropping from 3 per cent of the population in 1950 to 1.1 per cent now.

In half a century, sub-Saharan Africa has gone from being a multiracial society to almost monoracial, with only South Africa holding out.

Across much of what is now the Islamic world, multifaith societies have become monofaith ones, with Christian and Jewish religious minorities dwindling to vanishing point. Afghanistan's Jewish community has fallen from 30,000 to just one Zebulon Simentov. In Morocco, tour guides show off the ghost towns where the Jews used to live. A hundred years ago, Baghdad was half Jewish, but now there are only a few dozen Jews in all Iraq. In what is now Turkey, the Christian minorities have been all but wiped out by the genocide in 1915 of 1.5 million Armenian Christians, and the expelling in 1923 of almost the entire Greek population, inhabitants of Asia Minor since before Troy. During the 12th century, Turkey went from being a quarter Christian to 99.8 per cent Muslim, while Syria has gone from 15 percent Christian to 5 percent.

David Coleman, a professor of demography at Oxford University in England, said: "There is a simplification of the Third World while the industrial world gets more complex."

The trend towards diversity is a uniquely Western phenomenon. Few in Japan are remotely bothered that, outside a couple of districts of Tokyo, you never see any whites or blacks, and the Ghanaians are unperturbed that white people there are as rare as snow.

The Japanese emigrated in large numbers during their turbulent and impoverished period last century, notably to North and South America. But as Japan became peaceful and prosperous, emigration all but stopped. The Japanese like being in Japan because they can speak Japanese, measure their homes in tatami mats, and eat Japanese food. And they don't have to catch a plane to visit relatives.

Sharing the same language, culture and values as the people you come into daily contact with may not be excitingly multicultural, but it means you end up with deeper relationships, a sense of community, belonging and security. From the English in the south of France and the Canaries, to the Bangladeshis in London, the Jews in Israel, the African-Americans in Harlem, and the whites in South Africa, self-segregation is one of the most powerful forces in human communities.

The white flight - or white self-segregation - which is such a feature of US cities is now endemic in the UK, with hundreds of thousands of white Britons fleeing the effects of the Government's open border policy. Self-segregation is apparent all around us, but there is a reluctance to accept it because it mocks multiculturalism. And as minorities keep telling us, it is not easy, since in democracies it is the majority that sets the rules.

Despite all the celebrations of diversity, people prefer the familiar. We are a world of stick-in-the-muds.

In the late 20th century, the desire for the familiar was overcome by the desire to escape poverty, hopelessness and tyranny. Tens of millions left their languages, cultures, families and communities to seek money, hope and safety. It may seem unlikely now, but the era when the world went to the West to escape their problems is coming to an end. With prosperity, democracy and declining birth rates spreading around the world, the desire for the familiar will bring the age of mass migration to a halt. We have been here before: Europe stopped unloading its demographic surplus on the New World - the 19th century's so-called golden age for migration - when it could start offering hope to all its citizens.

As China hurtles towards becoming the world's largest economy, the economic incentive to emigrate is shrinking. There is still mass poverty, but no one will escape it by paying a people-trafficker to take them to the other side of the world to work illegally in an alien culture where they don't speak the language, if they can just take the bus to Shanghai instead. Asia, with its rapidly developing economies, powerful culture and traditional family values, is likely to stop being a major exporter of people in the near future.

With their economic and population growth going in opposite directions, Africa and the Islamic world will be a source of push-migration for a long time to come, but they will be the exceptions, and not for ever.

The West is likely to harden its attitude to multiculturalism even further than it already has. As it begins to lose its dominance to China and India, it will lose the guilt that provided the psychological drive for diversity. Instead, Westerners are likely to rediscover the historic and cultural identities they have been so busy trying to forget, as is happening in the UK.

Not only will migration slow, there could also be returns, as the factors that originally drove people from their homelands disappear. When Spain and Portugal stopped being impoverished tyrannies, their diaspora returned from northern Europe. Ireland, whose historic export has been its people, is now welcoming many back. With startling economic growth, India is now seeing its 20-million-strong diaspora return. An Indian industrialist told me last month how he was stunned on a recent trip too the US at being mobbed by Indian professionals asking about opportunities to work in the mother country.

"Back to India" job fairs are spreading across the US, offering a better quality of life, and fuelling a reverse brain drain that has seen 35,000 emigres return to Bangalore alone. India has speeded up the process by adopting a racist policy of giving the right to live and work in India to "any person of Indian origin", carefully drafting the legislation to exclude any white Britons whose family spent generations there. (Ghana has an even more blatantly racist policy, offering citizenship to "any black person living in the West".)

The slowing of mass migration is good for those who appreciate real diversity. The decline of diversity within countries preserves the diversity between them. As Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech attacking multiculturalism, "the disappearance of nations would have impoverished us no less than if all men had become alike, with one personality and one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind. its collective personalities."

March, 2005

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