1 Analysis‎ > ‎Society‎ > ‎Principles‎ > ‎Equality‎ > ‎

Discrimination and Nationality

I think we all agree that the demise of racism is to be celebrated but the majority of us are quite happy to accept nationalism as part of the institution and support keeping foreigners out. Sexism, racism and nationalism are all ways of maintaining inequality within a society. Ways of using the law in order to keep one group on top of another and in particular to keep us on top of them. This is an affront to the notion of liberty.

Since the first life forms existed they have exploited other life forms to gain advantage in life. Cells joined to form organisms and then  organisms have joined together to form social groups, actively cooperating to exploit outsiders even more effectively. Whether the outsiders were simply the materials nature had to offer, or other organisms, the cooperating groups gained advantage over them.

In human society what did and what does this mean? It means that if you as a group of human beings wish to exploit another group of human beings the first and foremost thing that you need is a means of discrimination. Without that one basic thing you cannot distinguish the groups and so you don't know who to exploit or who to cooperate with.

Once a means of discrimination has been established then the dominant group finds ways to exploits the disadvantaged group. These ways can be more obvious like discriminatory laws or less obvious like discriminatory customs. Laws may act directly by being written differently for the two groups, slavery of black Africans in the Americas was simply law, not allowing Polish people to work in the UK was simply law.

Laws can be written more subtly by indirectly discriminating, i.e. if the disadvantaged group consists mostly of small farmers then we bring in legislation disadvantaging small farmers as the British did in India.

Customs however are more subtle for example some modern Indian middle class households shun a household that pays more then the going rate to its servants thus keeping the servant class in poverty and ensuring they continue to work for the middle classes.

Some very old fashioned ways of discrimination were colour and race. Colour was a very convenient way to discriminate because it was there in your face. Race was a little harder because variations were not always so obvious. However these old methods of discrimination are now declared unacceptable in some countries.

Other forms of discrimination are religion and class, neither are taken as seriously as the above because there is some mobility. You can change your religion and to some extent your class.

However luckily for some of us and unluckily for others discrimination is alive and well, and living under the umbrella of nationality. We in Great Britain complain bitterly of the threat to our jobs from those kept out as much as possible on grounds of nationality.

Yes there are laws in almost every western country that directly discriminate against those from other countries. Laws and systems that ensure that they continue to work for us. Put more directly there are laws that allow me to benefit from the work of somebody on $80 per month or less in India for example.

Here in England we have preached the benefits of the free market for some time saying that trade barriers were wrong and that we should have the right to buy a Romanian plate at the same price as any Romanian, bar the cost of shipping it here of course, but we say the Romanian government should not impose any tax on the export of products from Romania and similarly we won't impose any import tax on the same. This free market has lead to great benefits for us.

I know that plates in Romania, made in Romania are about the same price as Romanian plates were in Ikea for example. BUT while preaching the free market for goods, when it comes to labour we have persistently blocked the free market. Simply put we put up trade barriers. We don't allow Romanian workers  to work in this country on the same terms as their English counterparts. This is fair we say, because why should they take our jobs, bring down the price of labour here, but then why should we raise the price of plates in their country, and we do. Also who made those jobs, the employers, not the employees.

The result of all this is that Romanian people produce decent plates for English people for money the English wouldn't look at, and it isn't just plates. The list of goods we import seems to go on for ever, and the prices we pay are extraordinary. Anybody who remembers when the iron curtain fell recalls how quality increased and price dropped on many goods. What is sad is that many eastern block people remember the reverse, so much for the promise of capitalism.

In the eastern block capitalism has brought poverty and suffering to the majority. I've been to Romania and Moldova and seen it and the older people I have met say that economically they were better off under communism. Despite many of the economic gurus like Peter Schiff using the former USSR as an argument against government economic control. This simply isn't a good example.

Just to clarify a few points, yes $80 a month is a good manufacturing wage, no it isn't much cheaper out there and especially since we keep buying their houses and pushing the price up.

Notably keeping restrictions on employment abroad is usually supported by the employees where wages are high and the employers where wages are low. While removing restrictions on employment abroad is usually supported by the employees where wages are low and the employers where wages are high.

This is why often our government has turned a blind eye to illegal cheap foreign workers, its good for industry.

(C)2010 Tom de Havas. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.