Saturday, December 14, 2019

Self-refuting scholarship

One of the signs of the increasing intellectual conformity of the academy, particularly the social science and (even more) the humanities, is the rise of scholarship that treats voting the "wrong" way as a pathology, to be explained pathologically.

In the US, analysis of voting Republican is increasingly treated in this way. Even more since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and then the Electoral College and so the US Presidency. Brexit has received similar treatment.

A recent paper, Growing sense of social status threat and concomitant deaths of despair among whites, by Arjumand Siddiqi, Odmaa Sod-Erdene, Darrick Hamilton, Tressie McMillan Cottom, William Darity Jr. is a case in point.

The paper starts off well, carefully examining the data and assessing various explanations for the rise in mortality (and so falling life expectancy) about "white" Americans. Then it gets to its own explanation and the intellectual quality rapidly goes downhill.

The abstract sets out their findings and conclusion:
Rising white mortality is not restricted to the lowest education bracket and is occurring deeper into the educational distribution. Neither short-term nor long-term economic factors can themselves account for rising white mortality, because parallel trends (and more adverse levels) of these factors were being experienced by blacks, whose mortality rates are not rising. Instead, perceptions – misperceptions – of whites that their social status is being threatened by their declining economic circumstances seems best able to reconcile the observed population health patterns.
Conclusion: Rising white mortality in the United States is not explained by traditional social and economic population health indicators, but instead by a perceived decline in relative group status on the part of whites – despite no actual loss in relative group position.
To put the finding at its most blunt: they are dying because they're stupid. Or, to put it in a little more elevated way: they are dying because they have a false consciousness of their social position. 

This is a very large claim. So, what have the authors done to test the proposition about falling social status? Nothing substantive. 

Let's us put the question in another way: is there any other group, particularly any other racially defined group, that the authors would explain seriously adverse outcomes by arguing they had brought it on themselves because they are too cognitively incompetent to accurately assess their social position?

If they answer is no, as surely it is, then what does that say about the social status of "white" Americans? After all, such things as having various academic fuss over "it's OK to be white" posters are also, in their own way, signs of loss of status.

These authors have the gall to sneer at the reasons people are dying when the way they have "conducted" their own research shrieks sneering condescension towards the people they are studying because those people lack the social status to protect them from said sneering condescension.

This is self-refuting scholarship.  But self-refuting in a revealing way. It is scholarship unable to see itself critically. 

It is revealing that the paper's Fig. 4, which is adopted from a WHO document (pdf), puts in 'race' where the WHO document has 'ethnicity (racism)'. American race talk is typically a clumsy and unfortunate way of talking about ethnicity (i.e. ancestry and culture). For example, disaggregating PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results for the US by "race" is informative, because it disaggregates by ancestral commitment to formal education (with exactly the ranking results you would then expect). 

The only thing race talk is really good for is stigmatisation, as it either strips away a whole lot of relevant factors or reduces them to skin colour. 

Homo sapiens are a group-living, pair bonding species. We are typically good at social cues, especially social cues about status. We evolved to be, because that is how you acquired a mate and successfully reproduced. 

To claim that an entire group of people (who you have defined racially) are incompetent at such a basic human skill is a very big claim. It runs against evolutionary biology, anthropology, psychology and sociology. Such a claim requires a lot of supporting evidence. 

The first evidence offered is that "whites" still do better by various health and other indicators, such as median household income, than other groups whose mortality has not worsened. In fact, has improved. Yes, but that is perfectly compatible with a loss of status.

The authors agree that perceived status threat is the most powerful explanation for the mortality results. They then cite various studies of "white" Americans having inaccurate view about the situation of African-Americans ("blacks"). As they say:
These findings suggest whites perceive that blacks are economically catching up to them, even though this is not the case.
But status is not merely a matter of income. The authors note that "whites" show declining happiness and their sense of class status has generally fallen, particularly among the less educated. This is revealing, since class is a rather different metric than race. The authors state:
In other words, absolute declines in economic status of whites may produce a hyper-vigilance of sorts. This explanation would suggest that the short-term and long-term economic circumstance hypotheses forwarded by Case and Deaton (2017) are in some ways integral to the explanation of white status threat, rather than true competing explanations. However, we do not have sufficient evidence to test the veracity of this claim.
But on they march:
Put differently, given our modeling strategy, if county-level changes in the share of Republican voters is associated with changes in county-level white mortality, then it is highly likely that this association is indicative of a link between rising white perceptions of racial threat and rising white mortality, rather than traditional economic and social population health indicators.
So, if we treat voting Republican as a racially-based pathology, our modelling will demonstrate our case, despite the fact we have made no serious attempt to determine:
(1) How important "racial" identity is to the target group.
(2) What components of status matter to the target group.
(3) How good humans tend to be at rating social status, particularly their own.
(4) What it takes to misperceive status.

Donald Trump won the Electoral College because a whole group of counties that had twice voted for Barack Obama voted for Donald Trump. Obama was much more electorally successful than Trump, winning in 2008 (53% to 46%) and 2012 (51% to 47%) by absolute majorities of the popular vote while Trump famously lost the popular vote (46% to 48%). 

Given the nature of the Party coalitions, Obama did less well among "white" votes (43% in 2008, 39% in 2012). Trump got 54% of the "white" vote in 2016, but since 1976 among Republican nominees, only Gerald Ford (1976), Bush Snr (1992) and Bob Dole (1996), got a lower share of the "white" vote than Trump. So, if rallying "white" voters was Trump's thing, he did a comparatively bad job of it. Every other Republican elected President since 1980 did a better job.

But the author's analysis is concentrating on particular counties. There they find that:
Of all covariates, change in share of Republican voters (r = 0.24) and college degree attainment (r = −0.24) were the most strongly correlated with change in white mortality, suggesting that counties that became more Republican and that did not experience much change in college attainment also had increased rates of white deaths.
Folk in those counties changed votes because they perceived their situation deteriorating. At no stage have the authors demonstrated that white/black relations or standing is crucial to the target population. Yet the authors find that:
Rather, we hypothesize that the anxiety of whites is coming from a perception – a misperception – that their dominant status in society is being threatened, which is manifesting in multiple forms of psychological and physiological stress. While stratification economics suggests that this misperception may actually be quite functional for preserving relative group status, it may have health consequences. Indeed, the empirical test we provide of our hypothesis suggests this to be the case.
Yet, there is lots of public comment on how "whites" will become a minority in the US in the next few decades. The US as majority-minority country. Does that not constitute a threat to "white" Americans "dominant status in society"?

Let's put it another way: if you already think you are facing declining economic circumstances and various levels of cultural dislocation, with limited ability to influence events, how does no longer being part of the majority group sound? Not enticing. A loss of status. A basis for rational concern. Yet, migration is not mentioned as an issue once, except to bring up Trump's infamous comments about migration. Comments which, we might note, were not directed to African-Americans. 

The authors continue:
To be sure, this is a startling finding. The social status threat mechanism clearly has emerged as a way to explain the election of a presidential candidate who espoused highly racist views (Green, 2017), but we are now suggesting that this mechanism also explains the highly unusual phenomenon of worsening white mortality – and worsening white health more generally. Moreover, we are suggesting that the perception of racial threat among whites is occurring in the absence of substantive evidence of a decline in their relative social status, since both whites and blacks are experiencing parallel economic declines (Badger, 2017).
It is a startling finding that is derived only by carefully not enquiring about things that might get in the way and not noticing that Trump's infamous comments were not directed about African-Americans but about Mexican migrants.

Besides, think how many progressive narratives would be upset if the study concluded that the sense of loss of status was rational. The study reaches the progressively acceptable conclusion by progressively acceptable scholarly tropes.

This is bubble scholarship: we are going to characterise things racially, we are going reduce complexity to (literally) "black" and "white", we are going to treat voting Republican pathologically and we are going to say "white" people have rising mortality, and so declining life expectancy, because they are cognitively incompetent. A finding we would, almost certainly, not dare to make about any other racially-defined group. And then we have the gall to say that any sense they have of a loss of status is a misperception as we demonstrate in our own analysis how little status they have.

Self-refuting scholarship. A prime example of why more cognitive diversity is so needed in contemporary academe.

[Cross-posted at Skepticlawyer.]

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Working class alienation as a driver of political polarisation

This is based on a comment I made here.
The US has a legislated two Party system. (Left-cynics say that if the Soviet Communist Party had divided itself into two wings who disagreed on abortion, it would still be in power.) 
The UK has working class voters who will never vote Tory, so the Labour Party can take them for granted (but we will see how well the Brexit Party does in such seats on Dec.12). 
Political economist Thomas Piketty has pointed out (pdf) that politics has become dominated by a struggle between an educated (human capital) elite on the centre-left and a business (commercial capital) elite on the centre-right. Which often leaves working class voters trying to work out which side of politics will betray them least.
In Australia, compulsory voting and preferential voting means you cannot drive groups away from voting, but must aim for 50%+1. So working class voters can’t be ignored.
In Canada, class voting is a lot weaker than in the UK, and the Conservative/Liberal/NDP/Quebecois struggle also means that significant slabs of voters cannot be left out.
Australia and Canada have high migration policies whose content minimises any costs, and maximises any benefit, to local working class voters. Migration is a peripheral issue in politics, provided there is border control.

Remembering that the benefits of migration go first overwhelmingly to migrants and then to the holders of capital with local providers of labour being, at most, marginal beneficiaries and, if factors not normally included in the current economic literature regarding migration are included (disruption of local networks, pressure on culture and institutions, notably from physical and institutional congestion), are much more likely to be net losers, even over the longer term. 
UK and US have much lower levels of migration than Australia or Canada, but there is very little effort made to ensure migration minimise costs, or maximises benefit, to local working class voters. There are much higher levels of alienation and polarisation in US and UK politics compared to Australia and Canadian politics. This presentation, for example, documents the alienation of working class voters in the UK.
The polarising/alienating effect is particularly likely to kick in, given that evidence suggests, the less control voters have over matters of concern for them, the more likely they are to take refuge in some congenial identity.

If democratic politics becomes dominated by the interests of capital (human or commercial) in a way that leaves working class voters largely frozen out, politics becomes increasingly dysfunctional. A process that, in the US, the dominance of donor class and interest group preferences in policy outcomes (pdf) intensifies. Indeed, political rhetoric tends to become more febrile the more intense the gap between donor (and activist) preferences and the voter base becomes, in an attempt to cover that gap. (The Republicans and British Labour being cases in point, though the Democrats seem to be more than catching up.)

Show me a country with high levels of polarisation, and the chances are that working class voters are not having their concerns and interests addressed by mainstream politics.

[Cross-posted at Skepticlawyer.]

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Firms, Cities, States: who has open borders and why?

This is based on a comment I made here.

Econblogger Robin Hanson notes that firms and cities have open borders and argues that:
So if nations act differently from firms and cities, that should be because either:
1) there are big important effects that are quite different at the national level, than at firm and city levels, or
2) nations are failing to adopt policies that competition would induce, if they faced more competition.
My bet is on the latter.
This comparison is more complicated than it at first appears, but still (it turns out) revealing, if you consider how state behaviour has changed over time.

Firms (at least as employment entities) have highly controlled borders--they have to hire you, you can be fired. They also have expansionary tendencies and can operate across jurisdictions. That is not really open borders as such. Indeed, the harder it is to fire people, the more cautious they tend to be about who they hire (i.e. "let in"). You can buy your way in to a firm as a shareholder, but then you become a risk guarantor. It is a particular form of commercial exchange to which you commit capital.

Cities are ambiguous between jurisdictional entities, which are generally not allowed to control movement of people across their borders, or as some (territorially contiguous) level of density of population, in which case it is not clear exactly what one means by "borders" and who would "control" them.

Source.
City governments do tend to control land use, often in considerable detail, and that has sometimes been used to block the residence of certain groups (pdf). Politicians such as James Michael Curley and Coleman Young have used city policies to drive away folk in order to make their own ethnicity dominant, what economists Edward Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer called the Curley Effect (pdf). The returns to controlling land use are much higher than any returns to controlling population movement as such, so there seems no reason for cities to demand the right to their own border control from states that are not likely to grant it.

States are the only one of the three (firms, cities and states) with hard territorial borders. That is, borders that are policed, that separate entire legal systems, that have no overlapping political authority. (Obviously, some arrangements, such as the European Union, pool a certain amount of sovereignty, but they are exceptional to the normal pattern.)

Leaving aside labour bondage systems (serfdom, slavery, Communism) which, by their nature, have to control exit-movement, states have historically not sought to control inward movement. Indeed, attracting more people meant more tax payers. 

What states have had strong controls over is who gets to control the state. Historically, that has been bitterly defended. It is conspicuous that border controls over inward movement start happening when states start acquiring broad electorates. In particular, working class voters have tended to be strong supporters of various forms of border control. Indeed, generally they still are.

Ceuta border fence.
So, the question is not "why do states control borders?" in the sense of movement across borders, because historically many have not, but "why do working class voters support border control?". That is not a hard question to answer. Especially when the vote is their only significant political leverage and they are the group (unlike migrants and holders of land and capital) who do not gain significantly from migration, indeed, can be net losers from migration, and who are much more reliant than more educated voters on local networks for support and risk management that can easily be disrupted by migration.

So, once we have worked through the what do you mean by borders? question, yes it is about competition pressures and how much capacity working class voters have to push back. But it is the comparison with state behaviour over the long run that is the most revealing, not the comparison with firms and cities.


[Cross posted at Skepticlawyer.]

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Montesquieu and the US: explaining the US's Presidential aberration

That pioneer political scientist Montesquieu's theory of the separation of powers was both a very odd take on the English system of government (which he claimed it to be) but also very influential in the drafting of the US Constitution.

Listening to a paper on considerations of Montesquieu's The Spirit of Laws by Louis Althusser and Albert Hirschman, a plausible reason for the appeal of Montesquieu to the US Founding Fathers occurred to me. The notion of executive, legislature and judiciary as separate and balancing branches of government solved a problem the separating US colonies had: what to do with the office of governor in each of the revolting colonies.

Source.
The 13 colonies that revolted against British rule had the normal government pattern of British colonies. There was a governor, appointed by the Crown, and a locally elected/selected legislature.

Separation from Britain was separation from the Crown. So, how was the governor to be appointed and what did his office mean and do? Having the governor elected by the local populace and heading the executive branch of government was an obvious solution, one that Montesquieu's theory gave an intellectual framing to.

Hence, the governor-and-local-legislature pattern leads to gubernatorial/presidential government in the US but parliamentary government everywhere else that began as British colonies, because they either do not separate from the Crown at all (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc) or do so after an initial period of still having the crown (India, Pakistan, Malta, etc) and so, in the latter cases, ended up with a figurehead President and a Prime Minister with the real power--provided they have a majority in the lower house of the Parliament.

A late C19th newspaper wrote:
Great Britain is a republic, with a hereditary president, while the United States is a monarchy with an elective king.
The notion being that in Great Britain, the Parliament is the seat of power and members of Parliament run the government while, in the US, voters elect a ruler who has a status approaching that of ruling monarch. (And the dynastic principle keeps popping up.)

The English Parliament
Montesquieu's notion of the separation of powers was not a very sensible analysis of British government. (Historian David Starkey is characteristically rude about Montesquieu and even more so here.) The office of Lord Chancellor, who was the presiding officer of the House of Lords, head of the judiciary and a member of Cabinet, was as great an offense against separation of powers as can be imagined. 

Moreover, the notion of the separation of powers gets quite wrong why the English Parliament survived when most of the comparable medieval legislatures were eventually abolished. It was precisely because in England, the executive and the legislature were not separated. The members of Henry VIII's Privy Council were members of either the House of Lords or the House of Commons. The Parliament was where the political nation met the government and therefore operated as a central instrument of government. A pattern that continued. It was the breakdown of that pattern under the first two Stuart monarchs, but particularly Charles I, that led to the (English and other) Civil Wars in the British Isles.

In the C12th century, Song Dynasty China had one imperial official per 15,000 people. In 1750, Qing China averaged one civilian official per 11,250 people while there was one per 10,000 people in Tsarist Russia.

C16th England could manage an official per 4000 people (pdf), making it by far the most intensely governed of contemporary territorial states. It could have such a level of official penetration because the information flows from the society, and about such officials, was strong enough to make it work, and the deep involvement of the executive government in the Parliament was the essential capstone of that. British colonial governments replicated the pattern (albeit initially with appointed members of the Legislature Councils) because those information flows were so central to making the system work,

The American Revolution
Only 13 of 35 British colonies in the Americas revolted in 1775-6. The 13 colonies that revolted were the 13 that least needed the Crown--that is, they least needed the protection of the Royal Navy against French or Spanish aggression. 

Island colonies did not revolt, as, without the protection of the Royal Navy, they would be desperately vulnerable to French or Spanish naval power. The Canadian colonies did not revolt, as they needed the Crown to arbitrate between British and French settlers. It was the "in between" colonies who revolted.

While various taxes and Navigation Acts were definitely irritants to all the colonies, the notion of no taxation without representation was a brilliant formulation of deeper issues. The wish within the seceding colonies to appropriate Amerindian land, blocked by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and to defend slavery, threatened by Somersett's case (1772), generated much more visceral reasons to not defer to authority in London if and only if the need for Royal Navy protection was no longer a constraining factor

But keeping slavery, and seizing Amerindian land, does not make for grand legitimacy--most needed, if one was going to revolt against the Crown. Hence the necessary utility of no taxation without representation, which has the great advantage of being a perfectly reasonable take on the British constitution. The underlying intent might have been to grab land and keep slaves, but the engine of justification used as cover (above all, to themselves) had much greater implications, implications that still resonate through American history down to the present.

Slavery clearly deformed the US Founding, but it did not invalidate it because the Founders were forced to erect this notion of a government by consent to justify (including to themselves) what they were about. The ejection of the US Tories meant there was no substantial internal objection to the Revolution Settlement, an advantage of that the Glorious Revolution of 1688 did not have achieve, with resistance to its Revolutionary Settlement still prompting armed rebellion in 1745. Nor did the French Revolution, which parts of France have never reconciled themselves to.

With the status of the American Revolution uncontested within the US, both sides of the US Civil War invoked the Revolution in its defence; the North as defending the Union created by the Revolution and the ideals that underpinned it; the South as defending the right to withdraw consent (so as to, of course, defend the interest of slavery against distressingly natural extension of the legitimating ideas of the American Revolution).

Contemporary slavery posing
The current fascination with slavery is a simplistic narrative designed to feed the arrogance of the progressivist human capital (education) elite by reinforcing how inadequate the past was (and so what we have received from the past) because it was not blessed by such moral and intellectual paragons as themselves. (Folk spouting ideas utterly conventional in their own social milieus pretending to themselves, and others, that they would not been equally conventionally conformist if they had lived back then is a risible sight.)

Canada, Australia and New Zealand had no slavery but ended up very similar societies to the US (though without its enormous geographical advantages for sustaining a prosperous population). The section of the US which had no slavery was much productive than the section that did, something that de Tocqueville remarked upon of 1830s US. The United Kingdom abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in the Empire in 1833-4 and proceeded to become much richer.

Mass slavery or serfdom was what happened across human history when labour is much more valuable than land so bondage can eliminate their scarcity premium and force them down to subsistence wages (plus the costs of imposing the bondage). If the population is local, you get some form of serfdom (binding them to the land or the landowner). If the labour has to be imported, you get slavery (turning people into property, so they can be moved around). This pattern of mass human bondage occurs again and again in such circumstances, the only sizeable exceptions to the pattern across the whole of human history being (1) the failure to have re-enserfment in medieval Europe after the Black Death and (2) the abolition of slavery in the C19th. Both achievements of Eurosphere civilisation and no other.

Sub-Saharan Africa was a centre of slavery because it was where humans evolved, so there were many diseases and predators who preyed on humans, which kept the human population down and so labour more valuable than land, leading to pervasive slavery. Something intensified by, first, the Arab-Muslim slave trade and then the Atlantic slave trade that the British Empire, through the Royal Navy, eventually sought (successfully) to suppress. For example, the British forced all the signatories to the Congress of Vienna treaties to agree to the abolition of the slave trade.

Source.
The striking thing about slavery and Eurosphere civilisation was not that slavery occurred, it was not even the scale of slavery (that just reflected the expansive capacities of that civilisation), it was the (ultimately successful) campaigns to abolish it. In the UK, it was the first of what became the Emancipation Sequence, which starts with abolition of slavery and ends with queer emancipation.

In the case of the US, abolitionism led to the creation of the Republican Party as an anti-slavery Party and Abraham Lincoln in particular mobilising the rhetoric, and legitimating ideas, of the American Revolution against one of its basic motivations, the preservation of slavery. Those ideas have, admittedly somewhat fitfully, and often far too tardily, continually trumped slavery and its destructive legacies (notably Jim Crow). Which is a remarkable legacy from an enterprise whose founding documents were largely written by slave owners.

As economic historian and Nobel memorial Laureate Robert Fogel pointed out in his Without Consent or Contract: the Rise and Fall of American Slavery, in the US in the 1840s and 1850s, mass migration was adversely affecting the income of resident workers in the US (so seriously it can be seen in declining height of local National Guard recruits), leading to strong support for Nativism. But there were too many immigrants for that to be a viable election strategy, so the Republican Party finessed Nativism by supporting trade protection and focussing hostile attention on "the Slave Power". In other words, the Republicans finessed the pressures of mass migration by demonising (Southern) slave interests and politics. (A very easy target, it has to be said: and just because it was good electoral strategy does not mean the revulsion against slavery was anything other than sincere.)

The most bloody trumping of the legitimating ideas of the American Revolution over slavery being, of course, the American Civil War itself. There are persistent nonsense claims that the American Civil War was not about slavery. It absolutely was, one can tell simply by reading the Confederate Constitution (pdf) and the debates of the various secession conventions of the seceding states.

The Presidential capstone
The normal claim is that the North, the Union, won the Civil War because it had a greater and more productive population (even though it took 4 bloody years to do so). Well, yes, but that obscures the reason why that was so--it was because the North retained the Presidency. Not all the slave states seceded, substantial sections of the Southern population remained loyal to the Union, and a key residue of the armed forces remain loyal to their Commander-in-Chief. If, say, anti-slavery New England had revolted against the Union under a Southern president, then the balance of advantage would have been with the pro-slavery forces.

Source.
There is increasing speculation in the US about the possibility of another civil war, given the intense political and territorial polarisation. See, for example, this podcast. Or these YouTubes. The idea being that it would be the urban archipelago up against the ruralist homeland.

A similarity with the lead up to the original Civil War that is not much noted is that, once again, political interests within a Party with their base in New England and the West Coast are demonising the supporters of a Party with much of its base on the South as a strategy to finesse mass migration. They are even using the taint of slavery to do so. History may not repeat, but it can sometimes rhyme pretty strongly.

Both sides in this putative civil war have some clear advantages and disadvantages. The ruralist homeland has better geography, a more armed populace and controls the domestic food supply. The urban archipelago has more economic activity and the march-through-institutions leaves the progressivist side with better organising capacity. If such a war did break out, I would again predict that, again, whoever retained the Presidency would win, though far more slowly and bloodily than people would expect.

But a strong argument can be made that the Presidential system is much of the problem. That putting so much power and status in the hands of a single figure actually helps the polarisation. After all, Clinton Derangement Syndrome has been followed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, Obama Derangement Syndrome and, the most intense of all, Trump Derangement Syndrome (most intense because there are so many legitimate grounds of criticism of President Donald).

There could be a very strong cost for the US Founders using Montesquieu's (daft) theory about the English constitution to give the newly Crownless colonial governors a role and a legitimacy.

[Cross-posted at Skepticlawyer.]

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Giving something away for free is not a sign of it having value

The progressivist push against citizenship took another big leap forward with the British Labour Party decision committing the Party to giving the vote in general elections to all UK residents. As things reveal their nature (and importance) in their history, a quick trip through citizenship's backstory helps to see what is going on.

Origins and decline
Citizenship originally dates back to the city-states of Ancient Greece. The basic idea was that if you took the risks and effort of fighting for your city, you got a say in the politics of your city-state, your polis. Political citizenship was therefore male, but legal and social citizenship extended to all members of citizen families. 

Eventually, one citizenship-polity, Rome, managed to work out how to scale-up citizenship and, coupled with a very effective military system, conquered the entire Mediterranean littoral. Civil war then culminated in replacing the Republic with the Empire. The Republic itself being conquered from within by the march of Roman imperialism.



Roman Emperors did not need people to vote for them, and had a (relatively) small professional army, so the link between taking risks for your polity and getting a say steadily weakened. The offer of Roman citizenship could entice outsiders into serving in the legions, and cities were still largely self-governing. But the trend was against any strong notion of citizenship.

Eventually, citizenship was universalised in 212 by the Constitutio Antoniniana to all freeborn folk in the Empire. This is usually written up as a noble act, but it expressed what limited value citizenship had by then. The division between honestiores (respectables) and humiliores (lessers) had already developed, indicating how citizenship itself had lost status.

Rather predictably, even citizenship's one remaining status claim within the Empire (a citizen was a free person) declined with the development of coloni, who became tied to their states, so a type of serf. 

Revival
The revival of citizenship in medieval cities also had an implication of readiness to fight for your city, helping to create tough urban militias which were a feature of medieval and early modern Europe. The later, post-American and -French Revolutions, revival of citizenship also had some flavour of fighting for your country (hence the infamous Second Amendment). 

But citizenship became more tied to being who the state was committed to defend and to serve. The term "to protect and to serve" invokes protecting and serving a community of citizens. The ultimate expression of citizenship became having the vote. But it had already been connected to all sorts of other freedoms. Indeed, it had those connections before the vote. One could easily be "a free born Briton" but not have the vote. (This applied especially to women, of course.)

As is so often the case, the UK had somewhat particular history, in this case with the notion of a British subject, but that became trumped by citizenship.

The structure of citizenship flowed from all of this. You got it from being born in the country, because that established you had lots of links and connections and so could be reasonably presumed to have strong attachments within the society that the state was supposed to be serving. You could become a citizen, but only by long enough residence that you could be reasonably presumed to have built up such attachments. Continued residence was a strong signal of commitment. You were committing to the society that the state was supposed to be serving. Some states insisted on unitary citizenship, others permitted dual attachment.

Social bargaining
The history of the spread of the suffrage, of the right to vote, throughout Western societies is the history of the expansion of the ability to participate in social bargaining about the policy and laws of the state. That votes determined who held office at the peak of the state (apart from any monarch) made votes matter. Hence the importance of voting mechanisms and electoral systems. For these affect how much voter concerns have had to be paid attention to, that being what makes voting "real". The legitimacy element involved in the practical and expressed consent of the people is a consequence of the power it gives to participate in social bargaining in this way, it is not a driver of the significance of voting.

After all, totalitarian states hold elections. But they are mere rituals of dominance, forcing mass participation in rituals of legitimacy. It is the ability to vote in and out people who make decisions that matter that gives the vote its power. Provided, that is, there is some genuine bargaining element involved, which requires that there be genuine alternatives, both offered in the public space and adhered to by serious competitors for office. In particular, that voters have the capacity to articulate their concerns, and have them heard.

This is why the old centre-left, back in the days when they overwhelmingly represented (and their candidates and activists often came from) people of low income, assets and education, were stalwarts of democracy. The vote was by far the most important social lever that their voters had. It is also why such voters now dominate (pdf) the increasing proportion of non-voters in societies with voluntary voting: an increasing, and largely accurate sense, that the political class is indifferent, or even hostile, to their concerns.

Undermining citizenship
For things have changed profoundly for progressive politics. Modern progressivism has been mounting a multi-level attack on citizenship. This is because, as French economist Thomas Piketty has documented in his revelatory paper Brahmin Left v Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict (Evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017) (pdf), left-of-centre politics has become dominated by a human capital (i.e. educated) elite. And the way an educated elite turns its human capital into a position of social dominance is by controlling public language within the society; by setting the limits on who can express what, when and how, on whose concerns will be deemed legitimate or not. By controlling what is to be legitimate for any social bargaining to be about, thereby determining what social bargaining (if any) will be permitted. Eric Weinstein's Four Quadrant model provides a useful heuristic.


In other words, social dominance is achieved by controlling the Overton window and by undermining any area of social bargaining it cannot dominate and control. Piketty's use of the term Brahmin Left is inspired because being secular Brahmins, the folk imposing rules and taboos, is an excellent description of what they are increasingly about. (How Left they are is another question, hence I will refer to them as Brahmin progressives.) 

Any strong concept of citizenship gets in the way of this strategy of social dominance. Moreover, it does so comprehensively. 

For instance, the notion "I am entitled to say that, I am a citizen" has to go. Hence the enthusiastic adoption of the Stalinist concept of hate speech. "Hate speech" is a conceptual and rhetorical device used by Brahmin progressives seeking to gain control over who can say what. Thus the use of terms of reputational aggression ("racist", "homophobe", "misogynist", "islamophobe", "transphobe" etc) to police speech and destroy reputations. It sets up the mechanisms for dominating public discourse by controlling legitimacy. As does, of course, calling lots of people fascist or nazi

The ostentatious and intense moralising Brahmin (i.e. diversity) progressives engage in is ideal for this strategy of social dominance. First, because morality is trumps; to say something is moral is to say it is what you should do. So, intense and ostentatious moralising mobilises that trumping value of morality for the strategy of social dominance. Second, because it hides from themselves and others what they are about. They are, of course, not trying to impose their own social dominance, they are just being moral, they are just doing the right thing. This is a classic example of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt's point that morality blinds and binds.

It is important to understand the selection processes here. People seek to economise on information, minimise reputation risk and maximise status. A set of received opinions which denote being a good, even morally superior, person does all this. But it only works if the opinions being used as moralised markers of status generate moral prestige, and they only do that if dissent is morally retrograde. Indeed, the more morally reprehensible dissent is, the greater the moral prestige. Hence the “pile-ons”: people are protecting their investment in moral prestige.

Once these mechanisms are in play, then a structure to generate and enforce social dominance has evolved. One, moreover that both gains strength the more organisations and institutions it dominates and also fosters colonising said organisations and institutions. (Inconveniently principled believers get in the way, as they elevate some other consideration above the prestige-and-dominance game: see the current use of trans activism and the war on biology-affirming feminists.)

The power and status implied in citizen-as-voter gets in the way of this sought social dominance. So the vote becomes hemmed in by judicial power, by an expanding administrative state, by supranational authorities. All increasingly run by people like them, according to their attitudes and serving their social dominance. The Brahmin progressives are, therefore, overwhelming pro-EU because it is such an excellent vehicle for all that. (The old working class Left was always much less keen, as is still true of their remnants.)

The vicious and continuing attacks on the 52% of voters participating in the UK's 2016 referendum who voted Leave is all about Brahmin progressivism--what UK writer Ben Cobley called the system of diversity in his very useful book The Tribe: The Liberal-Left and the System of Diversity--seeking to re-establish their control over the public discourse and keep the UK tied to supranationalism, hemming in the power of voting and the status of citizenship. No revolts are allowed. Especially not revolts that celebrate and elevate citizenship. 

Considering citizenship in terms of the history of its role and functions is the only way to understand the implications of undermining or eliminating it. That way, any trade-offs with various moral principles can be understood in context. If, however, one simply ignores the purpose, and consequent structure, of citizenship then those trade-off considerations are eliminated, so any infringement of some declared moral principle becomes a simple infringement of morality or consistency, and so illegitimate. It becomes easy to make "knock down" criticisms of citizenship (as is done, for example, here [pdf]).

But, of course, for Brahmin progressivism, it is precisely those purpose and functions which are the problems. Even more, that their moral lessers (those xenophobic, race-cursed, heteronormative, insufficiently educated modern humiliores) become people who politics should be about and the state should be in service of. For, whatever else Brahmin progressivism, or diversity progressivism is, it is urgently concerned with elevating the status of the Brahmin progressives, with boosting their sense of moral prestige against, and their social dominance over, their fellow citizens.

That term
The attempt to control the public space by controlling what is deemed legitimate to discuss, and how it is deemed legitimate to discuss it, brings us to that fraught term political correctness. In particular the two uses that essayist William Deresiewicz discusses in his essay, “On Political Correctness: Power, class, and the new campus religion”.

There is political correctness-as-verbal-civility:
the expectation of adherence to the norms of basic decency, like refraining from derogatory epithets.
This is the cover usage, the one that those who wish to dismiss any concern over political correctness invoke. What Deresiewicz is concerned with is:
the persistent attempt to suppress the expression of unwelcome beliefs and ideas.
The longstanding campaign to undermine any use of the term political correctness is all about hiding that attempt to suppress behind a fog of morality. Though, more recently, with the term free speech itself becoming an object of criticism, of diminution, held to be a block to progressivism, even treated with punitive derision, there is rather less hiding, and even more puffed up moralising.

Deresiewicz is well aware of, and invokes, the history of the term political correctness:
The term political correctness, which originated in the 1970s as a form of self-mockery among progressive college students, was a deliberately ironic invocation of Stalinism. By now we’ve lost the irony but kept the Stalinism—and it was a feature of Stalinism that you could be convicted for an act that was not a crime at the time you committed it. So you were always already guilty, or could be made to be guilty, and therefore were always controllable.
People suddenly finding they are catastrophically on the wrong side of a norm that they did not know existed, or did not know would be applied in that way, has become almost commonplace. The world of Young Adult fiction has recently provided several examples, but they are just instances of a much wider trend.

Cultural Stalinism
Brahmin, or diversity, progressivism, can be reasonably described as operating as cultural Stalinism. Not because it is inherently Marxist, though there are certainly some Marxist antecedents. The term cultural Marxism is way over used, given that most folk involved are not Marxists, are not aware of how much of the ideas they are using or actively or passively endorsing have Marxist origins and that genuine Marxists are often quite hostile to contemporary diversity politics. Not surprising, as actual Marxists are Enlightenment universalists, and identity politics/diversity progressivism's creation of a series of sanctified, versus various tainted or demonised, identities based on what are often innate characteristics involves a clear rejection of Enlightenment universalism.

The point is not that Stalinism was a manifestation of Marxism, but that it was a strategy of political action and dominance. In particular, it was the attempt to apply Leninthink to operating in liberal democratic societies. Consider the characteristics that Brahmin/diversity progressivism and Stalinism have in common.

(1) Endorsing and using the concept hate speech. As noted above, it is a Stalinist concept used to arrogate to Brahmin progressives the right to decide who can speak, how and about what.

(2) Use of the terms fascist and nazi as a standard term of rhetorical abuse. Fascism was an early C20th ideology characterised by expect rejection of democracy, belief in the purifying effect of violence, extolling of military virtues and organisation that sought to attain and impose complete national unity of purpose. With a few exceptions, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, fascism is nothing but a reviled fringe in Western politics. Which is why movements that have fascist antecedents have had to work to shed them. (Even the Golden Dawn denies being fascist, though it fairly clearly is.)

The use of fascist and nazi as standardised terms of rhetorical abuse against people who simply are not fascists, or versions of fascists, shrieks of the ambition to control public discourse, to determine who is, and who is not, a legitimate participant in the public space. It is also a classic characteristic of Stalinism (for, of course, the same reason).

(3) Internationalist. The denigration of ethno-cultural identities, the contempt for nationalism, the sense of belonging to a transnational elite practising transnational politics, is bog-standard Brahmin/diversity progressivism, hence the use of the term globalist by opponents. Also a classic characteristic of Stalinism.

(4) Know, and are working with, the proper direction of history. An obvious feature of Brahmin/diversity progressivism; all that talk of where the arc of history bends and being on the right side of history and how their opponents are against modernity. Also a classic characteristic of Stalinism.

(5) Dogmatic. The Brahmin/diversity progressives are a highly opinion conformist group. The dogmas may keep shifting, but that Brahmin/diversity progressivism is dogmatic, at times viciously so, is an obvious feature of it. Also a classic characteristic of Stalinism, including there being precipitous shifts in dogma.

(6) Unlimited in social ambit. There is no part of one's life that the strictures of Brahmin/diversity progressivism do not reach, because they want to impose their norms and taboos on all language everywhere. There is no such thing as exempt private speech or exempt social action. Again, a classic characteristic of Stalinism.

(7) Unlimited in action. Any level of destruction of people's lives--sacking, destroying their business, career, livelihood--will be engaged in. Maximising reputational risk is a great way to enforce conformity. 

The major existing limit at the moment is actual violence, except that Antifa is breaking down that limit. But, again, this is replicating Stalinism in the West, which also had limitations on its ability to use violence. Except that Brahmin/diversity progressivism has penetrated Western institutions far more thoroughly than Stalinism ever did, so can range much more widely in the destruction of people's careers, reputations, public standing ...

(8) The inconvenience of principled believers. Even the split with serious Marxists replicates Stalinism, because as Gary Saul Morson points out in his Leninthink essay, serious believers in Marxist ideology were targeted under Stalinism, as they might hold the leadership to account according to Marxist principles. Contemporary Marxists who think that concern for the working class is a bedrock of being on the Left are definitely not what is wanted within Brahmin progressivism. Sneering at, and lauding over, the citizen working class is so much of the point of Brahmin progressivism, whose politics reek of contempt for their fellow citizens. Which is epitomised by stripping of them of status of citizens, and giving them no status markers that sets them over the romanticised newcomers, newcomers treated as economic saviours with lots of desirable traits (e.g. initiative) and no taint of the oh-so-awful Western past.

A salient example of this "true believers not wanted" phenomena is the anathematising of biology-affirming feminists such as Germaine Greer and various radical feminists (the infamous TERFs). The whole trans madness being Brahmin progressivism displaying its social dominance. It both selects for reliability (who breaks ranks?) and expresses dominance (how much can we force people to acquiesce in things they do not believe?).

There is so much overlap between Stalinism in the West and Brahmin/diversity progressivism (far more than there is between fascism and almost anyone currently being accused of it) that Brahmin/diversity progressives are clearly practising what can be reasonably described as cultural Stalinism.

Nor is this overlap surprising. Both Brahmin/diversity progressivism and Stalinism are about a human capital elite striving for social dominance in mass communications and mass politics societies. It is hardly surprising that the new wave of such would adopt the most apposite available strategy they can pick up. Even more so, as similar aims and constraints lead to similar selection pressures.

The convergences between Stalinism and Brahmin/diversity progressivism really are no accident. A process of both adoption of available strategies and of convergent evolution is in play.

Divide and rule
The level of institutional penetration is such that we can reasonably talk of a diversity imperium, and any imperium knows the importance of divide-and-rule. Which brings us to multiculturalism. Or, as political scientist Eric Kaufman nicely expresses it, asymmetric multiculturalism, which elevates (and, indeed, romanticises) the cultures of newcomers while ignoring or denigrating the culture of the heritage citizens. Thus, a Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Hindu festival is "multicultural". A Christian event is not. One cannot say that London is no longer an English city, because there is no English identity except living in England.

In his excellent The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart makes the observation concerning multiculturalism that:
But by cordoning off minorities in their own districts with their own leaders and social centres and often making their progress dependent on white advocacy, white liberals were merely continuing the colonial heritage with a smiley face pasted on. (P.167)
Indeed. Citing Goodhart's previous book, The British Dream, Ben Cobley, in The Tribe, notes that:
The figure of the colonial administrator, presiding over, accepting representations from and giving favours to various different groups under his purview, has a lot in common with contemporary administration of multiculturalism and diversity. For a start it is an elite role; it oversees and directs its politics through group or tribal leaders, giving them access to higher power. It also stands apart, not interfering with the representatives’ relationships to their group members, thereby outsourcing power over what is good and bad within those groups and conferring political power on to the representatives it favours. As the first waves of mass immigration came in from former Empire countries, colonial-style multiculturalism effectively allowed Britain’s governing elites to pick up where they had left off in the Empire—slipping into old ways that were familiar to both administrators and many of the immigrants themselves. Goodhart says that ‘in the 1960s this translated easily into the cosmopolitan manners of a new liberal elite too—allegiance was now to tolerance and openness instead of the monarch, to England’s “genius” for multiculturalism.’ He adds: ‘The core members of this new elite, according to [the sociologist] Geoff Dench, were “policy-makers and the public servants responsible for carrying out social policy but it extends widely into the educational establishment and liberal professions… and their role is to stand impartially above and integrate different elements of the population.” This is what both imperial and multicultural elites do. (Loc 1087.)
Quite so. Imperial systems are naturally multicultural: it maximises the number of their subjects while dividing them from each other. One certainly can't have some strong notion of citizenship bringing them together.

Importing people of a different cultural background to improve the local economy was a standard device of colonialism. Academics have had no trouble identifying it as a divide-and-rule technique. Except, of course, when it is people like them doing so to serve an imperial cause they support.

Resentment and condescension 
It is not as if the general public, the general citizenry, have not noticed. When asked in polls, huge numbers define pc as a problem. Across all ages and races. Of course they do, attacking their ability to express themselves about matters social and political assaults the bedrock of their citizenship quite directly. 

Citizenship defends the status of the somewheres (those rooted in a sense of place and community) against the endless vote-trumping social imperialism of the Brahmin progressives, acting as the vanguard of the anywheres (those not so rooted). Citizenship, and its implications, gets in the way of the mobility and status claims of the anywheres. 

And they are typically mightily offended by any notion of serving their moral lessers. In his The Road To Somewhere, David Goodhart cites some revealing conversations:
The first conversation took place at an Oxford college dinner in Spring 2011. When I said to my neighbour—Gus O’Donnell, then in his last few months as Cabinet Secretary, the most senior civil servant in the land—that I was writing a book about immigration, he replied, ‘When I was at the Treasury I argued for the most open door possible to immigration … I think it’s my job to maximise global welfare not national welfare.’ I was surprised to hear this from the head of such a national institution and asked the man sitting next to the civil servant, Mark Thompson—then Director-General of the BBC—whether he believed global welfare should be put before national welfare, if the two should conflict. He defended O’Donnell and said he too believed global welfare was paramount. (Pp14-15)
The global welfare they see themselves as serving being what looks like global welfare to people like them. Which, strangely, will tend to reflect the perspectives of people like them. Global welfare is grand enough for such moral paragons, while serving their fellow British citizens is clearly not. Even better, taking such a lofty view also releases them from any constraints the concerns or actions of said citizens involve that they deem incompatible with said global welfare.  

In their combination of moral arrogance and feckless irresponsibility, the above-quoted sentiments are perfect Brahmin progressivism. The globe does not give feedback, but the voters do. But that feedback can always be ignored in the name of the greater global good. They are both morally ennobled, and freed from burdensome responsibility, all at once.

Brahmin/diversity progressives just know the direction of history. They own morality. They collectively possess the power to punish any public dissent. Even what the migrants, those romanticised outsiders they are so solicitous of, might want does not matter. Just ask Israel Folau. So, there is "nothing to see here" when it comes to migrant attitudes and outlooks. Besides, those migrants can be expected to (mostly) vote the correct way.

The Brahmin/diversity progressives replacement for citizenship, for voting that matters, for the social bargaining that is the very stuff of democratic politics, is their own moral dominion; their right to decide what people are permitted to say and what concerns they are permitted to express and how. So, it does not matter how socially conservative the romanticised newcomers are or may be, the Brahmin diversity dominion, the diversity moral imperium, will control all.

No matter how many newcomers turn up. Even if one has created a massive extra incentive to just turn up:  as if enough of you do, you get to dominate the political system. An effect that obviously depends on what level of filter there is for simply arriving: open borders says none at all, except the willingness and ability to travel.

As economist George Borjas says:
Our immigration policy—any immigration policy—is ultimately not just a statement about how much we care about immigrants, but how much we care about one particular group of natives over another.
Yes, and the statement is being made loud and clear.

Devaluing their inferiors
It is entirely appropriate that the decision of the British Labour Party to hand out the right to vote as a reward for getting off the plane was matched by a commitment to open borders. Migration is a key element in the future direction of any society, and Brahmin progressivism has been fighting a long battle to remove migration from the ambit of social bargaining. An open and complete commitment to open borders (any opposition to which is, of course, "racist" and "xenophobic") just cements that removal.

After all, our new Brahmins are far too morally lofty to be dictated to by mere shudras. Citizenship implies that politics is about serving their moral inferiors. Clearly, it has to go. And for it to go is clearly the plan. The British Labour Party conference has told us so.

Handing out the vote merely because you have arrived while putting no barriers to arrival does not represent the peak of democracy, it represents the trumping of it. It does not represent the apotheosis of broad social bargaining, but its effective elimination, its reduction to whatever minimal ritual form suits Brahmin/diversity progressives. The British Labour Party wants to bury citizenship, to empty it of status and content, and in so doing bury any chance of the citizen working class having a serious say in its future. 

Whatever that is, it doesn't look very Left. Not in any sense that Keir Hardie, the first Labour Leader, and those who built the Labour movement, might recognise.