My first commenter has suggested that I repost things I post at other blogs here. One fairly lengthy post I remember making was in response to Arnold Kling pointing out the upsides of a two-tiered society. Let me say up-front that I’m not an egalitarian. I’ll support Benjamin Tucker’s “principle of equal liberty” on Stirnerite contractual grounds, but I don’t place any moral value on equality. Here is what I wrote:
“Many years ago some people thought it would be a good idea to bring in some foreigners to do jobs “Americans won’t do”. They were called “slaves”. It turned out there were some serious problems with this social policy. Haiti found this out first the very hard way, and America later did too. Eventually every country gave up on that old system, with Brazil being the last.
The descendants of these people did not achieve the American dream at the same rate as Jewish, Irish, Italian and Asian immigrants to which their modern day replacements are often compared. This was true after the system of oppression their former rulers enacted when they found themselves possible minorities in a political system their conquerors pledged to make a race-blind democracy. This was true after many well-meaning political figures attempted to assist them, including in areas which had never had slavery. So they find themselves alienated in a society which has greatly wronged their kind, and nobody of importance any solutions other than platitudes.
Fortunately for their luckier neighbors, they do not have enough numbers and power to do anything about this. This was not the case in other two-tier societies that were found throughout Africa, and no sensible person would want to follow their example (especially Zimbabwe). In Latin America the elite have been better able to retain power, but a choice between Castro and Pinochet is not one I would like to be confronted with, and it is only recently that this conflict there is beginning to take on the framing of race, which is far uglier than that of class.
You might say that this is different. These people are not the victims of kidnapping and have not been explicitly oppressed by our government, although some of them resent the territory we seized from them and our interference in their political systems in a manner that generally entrenched the elite. This is true. The same was true of the Jews of Europe, the Armenians of Turkey, the Indians of East Africa and the Lebanese of West Africa and the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (to leave aside the closer but smaller example of Korean grocers in inner cities). This does not matter. The children of these immigrants did not ask to be born into a two-tier society, and the data indicates they are not escaping into the upper tier but becoming more and more like our old underclass than their parents or grandparents did, with the advancement of technology making their unskilled contributions becoming less and less necessary to the society they find themselves in. The inhabitants of Indonesia and the Phillipines similarly did not ask to be placed below the Chinese that live among them, and every once in a while this animosity boils over into indiscriminate murder. It was the murder of Amy Chua’s aunt by her Phillipine servant that is partly responsible for the book “World on Fire”, which deals with this issue more thoroughly than I can here. I do not want to have to build walls with broken glass or spikes on the top around my house. I do not want to be murdered because the combination of my comfortable status and my skin is an affront to those in the second tier. I also do not want to live in Sparta, transformed into a garrison society due to the need to suppress the helots. I urge you to seriously consider the experience of all the other such two-tier societies we have seen before blithely endorsing the turning of our own society into another one.”
I suppose it sounds rather over-dramatic and frightening. It just appears to me that all such societies are not the kind of places I would want to live. Perhaps we won’t go as far absent some disaster making large parts of the world less than habitable, but I suspect the creation of a large underclass will make things less pleasant ceteris paribus on the margin in the short run as well.
I realize there are some typos in the quoted portion, but I don’t feel like fixing them. Tough noogies.