There is no Paradox of Diverse Communities; one horn of the dilemma is simply false. So, the answer to his question is, yes, we shouldn’t fight against self-segregation, because divisiveness and a lack of community cohesion are intrinsically dyscivic. In fact, we should actively promote racial, cutural, linguistic, religious segregation in the interest of long term peace and harmonious civil relations across various human differences:
Urbanists and planners like to imagine and design for a world of diversity. Diversity, we like to think, is both a social good and, as I’ve argued, a spur to innovation and economic growth.
But to what degree is this goal of diverse, cohesive community attainable, even in theory?
That’s the key question behind an intriguing new study, “The (In)compatibility of Diversity and Sense of Community,” published in the November edition of the American Journal of Community Psychology. The study, by sociologist Zachary Neal and psychologist Jennifer Watling Neal, both of Michigan State University (full disclosure: I was an external member of the former’s dissertation committee), develops a nifty agent-based computer model to test this question.
Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual “neighborhoods” demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals. As the authors explain, integration “provides opportunities for intergroup contact that are necessary to promote respect for diversity, but may prevent the formation of dense interpersonal networks that are necessary to promote sense of community.”
They are correct to point to the “federation” concept as a possible solution, but they are thinking on too small a scale. Neighborwide segregation is not enough. It should be state-wide. People like to point to the Swiss model as being an example of successful integration, what they don’t realize is that religious, linguistic, and ethnic cleansing were utilized in establishing the Swiss cantons; that is why the cantons are still identified as “Protestant” or “Catholic” cantons as well as being on one side or the other of the Franco-German divide.
But more importantly, the federation concept cannot work without decentralized government. There is no point in encouraging Somalis or Nigerians to live in segregated neighborhoods if they are legally held to German or Japanese standards by a higher-level government.
The fact is that diversity is a social ill and it exacerbates rather than reduces racial tensions. I can attest that no one in Minnesota had an opinion about Somalis or Liberians 20 years ago. In only two decades, diversity has caused tens of thousands of formerly indifferent people to actively despise them. It would be interesting to test this hypothesis by using contributions to African-related charities as a metric. I surmise that there is a lower percentage of White Minneapolis residents donating to charities that aid Africa now that diversity and immigration have given them some first-hand experience of actual Africans.
Diversity destroys communities. That is the observable fact. Diversity destroys the common interest. To be pro-diversity is necessarily to be anti-communitarian and against the common interest. There is the real paradox: the progressive who claims to be a pro-diversity communitarian.