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Razib Khan
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As you all know by now the eligible electorate of Scotland has voted “No”, against independence. At least 55 percent has. I think that the fact that this has occurred relatively peacefully and in a civilized manner should be edifying to all. Though I do not have great passion on this subject, I am broadly sympathetic to separatist movements within the European Union, as it strikes me that the existence of the European Union itself obviates many arguments for the gains of being part of a larger nation. Scotland though differs from the Catalans in that the United Kingdom is not part of the Euro, and the claims by the Scottish independence camp as to their ability to remain with the pound did strike me as disingenuous. In fact, I found the “Yes” camp ludicrous in terms of their economic arguments, and the “No” camp quite sensible and conservative in the literal sense. I am not particularly sympathetic to social democracy, and much of the pro-independence elite seems to have been arguing that their goal was to transform Scotland into a Nordic welfare state. But economists more sympathetic to the welfare state are also confused as to the cost vs. benefit calculation.

The issue here is that sometimes a cost vs. benefit calculation is not the point. The global elite, high earning cosmopolitans extracting incredible gains from free flow of capital, goods & services, and people, feel the modern nation-state to be simply a device which exists to enact and execute laws which can serve as a framework for the free market. In other words, the nation is a means toward economic welfare. From that perspective Scottish independence seems irrational. But the average Scot is not a part of the global elite. Of course the pensioners and much of the middle class seems to have voted against independence, so one can’t assert that resistance to separatism is just a feature of the wealthy elites. But it does seem likely that a larger proportion of those who voted “No” were voting to keep what they have, rather than looking toward future gains. It wasn’t passion or enthusiasm, but prudence. A bourgeois virtue, which has its points.

But a nation is more than the sum of utils. Would anyone ask that soldiers should sacrifice their lives for productivity gains? Should Britain have yielded to Germany in 1940 because of rational calculations? Or more to the point should the Scots have bowed down before bourgeois, when it seems clear that the odds beforehand were against them? What the global elite seems to not comprehend when facing ‘irrational’ nationalism is that their opponents do not share their premises. In the developed nations of the West there is a sense of ennui due to the lack of motivating spirit. The goal of economic well-being above and beyond basic needs has long been met. Now it is on to the bigger house, the bigger car, and so forth. This rush toward competitive consumption results in short term happiness, but it is often ultimately empty. The cosmopolitan elites may be wealthy in money, but they are also often wealthy in life satisfaction because of the nature of their careers, and the experiences which they can indulge in. They do not comprehend the vacuousness of the lives of the middle to lower classes, because they live lives with verve and excitement. But at some point they will have to face the reality that the 90 percent do not exist purely as means to the ends of the 10 percent. If a system is not sustainable, it will not be sustained.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism 
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A party, the Sweden Democrats, is about to enter the Swedish parliamanent which is described in this way in Wikipedia:

The party has its origins in the nationalist movement Bevara Sverige Svenskt (“Keep Sweden Swedish”)…During the mid 1990s, the party leader Mikael Jansson strove to make the party more respectable, modelling it after other “euronationalist” parties, most prominently the French National Front. This policy continues to be followed by the present leader Jimmie Åkesson. This effort included ousting openly extremist members.

Yes. More respectable by modeling itself on the National Front. Here’s a bit about the organization which eventually grew into the Sweden Democrats:

Bevara Sverige Svenskt (“Keep Sweden Swedish”) was a Swedish nationalist movement based in Stockholm and is a slogan used by various Swedish nationalist parties. The stated objective of the BSS movement, and the aim of the slogan, was to initiate a debate in order to reduce immigration from non-European countries and repatriate non-ethnic Swedes.

The Swedes, and the world, are shocked. Should they be? From what I can tell the Social Democratic Party of Sweden no longer has a hegemonic grip on Sweden’s politics. But the core working class base of such coalitions is shrinking because of economic restructuring throughout the developed world, with the remnants often defecting to Right-populism. Today Gunnar Mydral would have to look to writing a book about his own nation, which has about the same foreign born proportion as the USA (though that is a touch deceptive as many of these are other Scandinavians or Finns).

This prompted me to look in the World Values Survey. Specifically, the last wave which started around 2005. One thing you notice in the survey is that Swedes are very politically correct, even compared to their Nordic neighbors. I have read that the ecological awareness imputed to Native Americans in part because of the Noble Savage idea has actually resulted in a real shift and striving by many Native Americans to actually implement those ideals. Sometimes I wonder if the Swedes are so “progressive” and “forward thinking” in surveys because everyone always pats them on the back for being progressive and forward thinking. Sweden sure is the least sexist and nativist nation in the WVS.

There are two questions which ask about job preference in times of scarcity. First, “Employers should give priority to (nation) people than immigrants,” and second, “Men should have more right to a job than women.” There are three responses: agree, disagree, neither. Let’s code agree = 1, disagree = -1, and neither as 0. Weight by proportion and get an index of “nativism” and “sexism” within the population. If you get a score of -1, that would mean everyone was nativist or sexist. If you get 0, that would indicate perfect balance. 0.5, a touch on the nativist or sexist side. The plot below has sexism on the x-axis, and nativism on the y-axis.


Though I think racism is more taboo than sexism internationally (if Saudis explicitly treated blacks in their nation as they do women there would be a natural boycott. One of the reasons the Saudis banned slavery in 1960 had to do with protests which they kept encountering in the civilized world). But sexism is more taboo than nativism (I think there are important reasons for the rank order, but that’s not a matter for this post). The correlation between nativism and sexism is ~0.76, so variation in sexism explains 58% of the variation in nativism. As you can see Sweden is a definite outlier.

Note: don’t attach too much normative baggage to my use of the terms “sexist” and “nativist.” They seemed compact and communicated the underlying sentiments.

Here are the raw values:

Men should get preference in jobs over women
Country Agree Disagree Neither
Sweden 2.10% 94.10% 3.80%
Andorra 4.40% 89.90% 5.70%
Ethiopia 6.00% 85.60% 8.40%
Norway 6.50% 88.60% 5.00%
United States 6.80% 66.40% 26.80%
New Zealand 8.00% 72.60% 19.40%
Finland 9.60% 81.50% 8.80%
Netherlands 12.50% 81.40% 6.20%
Serbia 12.50% 63.10% 24.30%
Slovenia 13.60% 73.50% 13.00%
Australia 13.90% 64.70% 21.40%
Canada 14.30% 77.90% 7.80%
Great Britain 16.20% 76.10% 7.70%
Spain 17.40% 76.00% 6.60%
Peru 17.70% 72.80% 9.50%
Germany 17.80% 66.80% 15.40%
France 18.10% 73.80% 8.10%
Guatemala 19.10% 72.30% 8.60%
Hong Kong 21.60% 44.20% 34.30%
Uruguay 21.90% 69.30% 8.90%
Italy 22.00% 59.20% 18.80%
Switzerland 22.10% 62.90% 15.00%
Brazil 22.30% 64.10% 13.60%
Bulgaria 24.20% 52.60% 23.20%
Mexico 25.30% 67.60% 7.00%
Trinidad 25.30% 65.70% 8.90%
Rwanda 25.30% 64.20% 10.50%
Japan 27.10% 17.90% 55.00%
Argentina 27.70% 60.00% 12.30%
Chile 30.20% 46.30% 23.50%
Poland 30.80% 51.00% 18.20%
Thailand 32.30% 40.60% 27.20%
Ukraine 32.50% 44.70% 22.80%
Zambia 33.60% 51.50% 15.00%
Romania 35.20% 40.90% 23.90%
South Korea 36.50% 26.40% 37.10%
Cyprus 36.50% 46.40% 17.10%
Russia 36.60% 43.70% 19.70%
South Africa 37.10% 49.50% 13.40%
Moldova 38.10% 39.00% 22.90%
Viet Nam 40.80% 37.70% 21.50%
China 42.30% 32.70% 25.10%
Taiwan 43.60% 36.00% 20.40%
Malaysia 49.00% 15.20% 35.70%
Morocco 50.80% 33.20% 16.00%
India 51.40% 20.50% 28.10%
Burkina Faso 52.30% 34.80% 12.90%
Georgia 52.50% 26.10% 21.40%
Turkey 53.30% 29.80% 16.90%
Ghana 53.60% 37.40% 8.90%
Indonesia 55.40% 36.20% 8.40%
Mali 62.40% 22.80% 14.80%
Iran 69.40% 16.50% 14.10%
Jordan 88.20% 7.90% 3.90%
Egypt 89.10% 4.30% 6.60%
Natives should get preference in jobs over immigrants
Sweden 11.80% 79.90% 8.30%
Andorra 29.80% 53.20% 17.00%
Norway 34.70% 57.30% 8.00%
Netherlands 40.10% 49.80% 10.20%
Canada 40.90% 46.10% 13.10%
Australia 41.60% 36.40% 21.90%
France 42.10% 46.40% 11.50%
Serbia 44.70% 28.80% 26.40%
Switzerland 48.00% 35.50% 16.50%
New Zealand 51.90% 29.30% 18.80%
Great Britain 52.90% 36.40% 10.60%
Ethiopia 54.70% 29.30% 16.00%
Finland 54.90% 30.80% 14.30%
United States 55.40% 20.00% 24.60%
Germany 55.70% 27.90% 16.40%
Spain 57.70% 34.20% 8.10%
Thailand 61.20% 16.80% 22.10%
Japan 62.70% 6.10% 31.20%
Italy 63.90% 19.10% 17.00%
Turkey 64.40% 23.20% 12.40%
Romania 65.10% 14.60% 20.30%
China 66.00% 13.70% 20.40%
Ukraine 69.90% 16.20% 13.90%
Burkina Faso 71.70% 18.80% 9.50%
Argentina 71.90% 17.40% 10.70%
Hong Kong 72.30% 3.80% 23.90%
Uruguay 72.50% 21.30% 6.30%
Rwanda 72.60% 18.00% 9.40%
Slovenia 73.70% 15.00% 11.30%
Viet Nam 74.30% 10.80% 14.90%
Mexico 74.80% 19.60% 5.60%
India 75.20% 6.10% 18.70%
Moldova 75.50% 8.50% 15.90%
Bulgaria 76.60% 14.70% 8.70%
Zambia 77.00% 11.40% 11.60%
South Africa 78.30% 11.00% 10.70%
Cyprus 78.60% 12.20% 9.20%
South Korea 78.90% 2.40% 18.70%
Guatemala 79.60% 10.20% 10.30%
Chile 79.80% 7.50% 12.70%
Brazil 81.40% 9.50% 9.10%
Russia 81.40% 9.00% 9.60%
Poland 81.60% 8.40% 10.00%
Peru 82.20% 12.50% 5.30%
Mali 83.80% 7.10% 9.10%
Trinidad 84.00% 10.80% 5.30%
Morocco 84.90% 5.60% 9.50%
Ghana 85.20% 8.60% 6.10%
Malaysia 86.10% 2.10% 11.80%
Georgia 87.00% 4.50% 8.60%
Indonesia 87.40% 5.50% 7.10%
Iran 89.00% 5.40% 5.60%
Taiwan 91.00% 3.80% 5.20%
Egypt 97.90% 0.20% 1.90%
Jordan 98.50% 0.80% 0.70%
(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"