Many countries want new citizens to have a basic grasp of the native language or the ability to contribute to the economy, but equally important is an understanding of culture and customs. In Western Europe and America, which have seen the emergence of many new demographics in recent decades, this idea has become a pertinent one. Though many ethnically diverse communities can attest to the success of economic migration policies, tensions have also risen. The term ‘culture war’ has become inescapable. For example, one survey saw claims 4/10 British people feel their culture is undermined by multiculturalism. Naysayers may still be in the minority, but so are immigrants from outside the anglosphere- for now. In the UK, it is projected that the white population will continue to see negative rates of replacement, whilst minority demographics expand. In some cases, an influx of first or second generation immigrants in urban areas has corresponded with the mass departure of white citizens in a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘white flight.’The result? Self-imposed segregation; both a response to the changing face of city culture and an acceleration of it. This is no more evident than in London, with a current white British population of 44%. In cases like this, not even integration and cohesion can protect culture. The result of a dwindling white population in traditionally white-native countries is, for them, a loss of identity. For white Americans, this might translate as a detachment from European heritage, existential angst or, as an extreme, white-nationalism. Europe’s relationship with burgeoning ethnic-diverse demographics is different, but equally troubled- note the rise of far-right groups and anti-immigrant sentiment. With the stage set like this, it’s hard to envisage a loosening of citizenship requirements in economically desirable nations. That culture can bend doesn’t rule out that it will break.
Rather than threaten cultural identity, immigration, in many cases, has proven to revitalise it. Consider all of the culinary imports, art, and customs from immigrants that have enriched western nations. In the UK almost everything of note is an import, and is widely recognised for its diverse yet largely cohesive population. Then there’s America, substantially recognised for the European, Mexican, Asian and Filipino influences which have defined its relatively short lifespan as a nation. Cross-cultural immigrants also highlight awareness of global issues, allowing natives to gain an understanding of the bigger picture, while accelerating the progression of human rights. This also creates a more educated population. Yet there is little to suggest the inception of foreign customs diminishes the native cultural identity. That culture will shift is inevitable, as technology and social forces transform how people live, and in many ways immigration has been spurred on by the demand for labour expansion. If there is a problem with the national identity of anglosphere countries it perhaps stems from an inability to reckon with their complex histories- Britain’s obsession with their colonial heyday, or America’s deep-rooted conservatism. There is also the widespread economic disenfranchisement to account for this- its also relevant that immigrants have filled the gap in this sense, being found to encourage capital development rather than ‘steal jobs’ or fail to contribute. With this is mind, countries could continue to see positive returns from further diversity- or at least those with an already established history of it. Commercial air travel and other developments in transport opened up a world of possibilities in tourism- if this is widely encouraged for its economic benefits why not abandon travel restrictions outright? Long term stayers may provide the benefits of tourism, whilst living within- rather than passively observing- local customs.
Rejecting the premises