This is pretty disturbing. A new study by Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam say that the more diverse a community is the less likely it is that anyone in the community will trust anyone else.
A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University's Robert Putnam, one of the world's most influential political scientists.
His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.
This is a contentious finding in the current climate of concern about the benefits of immigration. Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it "would have been irresponsible to publish without that".
The core message of the research was that, "in the presence of diversity, we hunker down", he said. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us."
Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, "the most diverse human habitation in human history", but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where "diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians' picnic".
At the risk of pointing out what I think is the obvious here, what this says to me is that encouraging separate ethnic/cultural/religious identities is counter-productive to a healthy society. The wages of multiculturalism is a destruction of the cultures involved all the way around. Putnam hints at this, but in a politically correct way.
Prof Putnam stressed, however, that immigration materially benefited both the "importing" and "exporting" societies, and that trends "have been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed".
In an oblique criticism of Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, who revealed last week he prefers Muslim women not to wear a full veil, Prof Putnam said: "What we shouldn't do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us."
Where America used to excel was in the melting pot, before the onset of multiculturalism. Was it perfect? Heck no. It took years for society to adapt to successive waves of immigrants. But it did so by encouraging an American identity over any other differences. I think we, as a nation, started to slip when people started calling themselves a [ethnic/cultural/religious]-American. That hyphenation began the slide. Putnam is right in a way. The new us we should construct is the old us we used to be.