May 28, 2014

Diversity: How the Swiss manage

From PLOS One (via HBD Chick):
Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence 
Alex Rutherford, Dion Harmon, Justin Werfel, Alexander S. Gard-Murray, Shlomiya Bar-Yam, Andreas Gros, Ramon Xulvi-Brunet,
Yaneer Bar-Yam mail

Published: May 21, 2014
We consider the conditions of peace and violence among ethnic groups, testing a theory designed to predict the locations of violence and interventions that can promote peace. Characterizing the model's success in predicting peace requires examples where peace prevails despite diversity. Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas.

Switzerland, unlike, say, most of sub-Saharan Africa, has a lot of topography. Mountain ranges tend to reduce intercourse between the two sides, and lakes make better political borders than rivers. Moreover, the Swiss tend to be fairly cooperative so the people semi-isolated between a mountain range and a lake, say, get along pretty well with their neighbors. People who don't want to adopt their neighbors language or religion can move a relatively short distance to an area more suitable to their predilections.
Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

So, in Switzerland the internal boundaries have largely been worked out by the locals over the centuries, but in Yugoslavia they were imposed by the half-Croat, half-Slovene Tito to keep the Serbs down. Tito's plan worked pretty well for a long time, but eventually led to fighting and ethnic cleansing, such as the expulsion of Serb residents from Croatia in 1995's Operation [Desertless] Storm.
I wrote about Switzerland back in 2000 for VDARE.


ATBOTL said...

Serbia will get back Kosovo and Republika Srpska and maybe more of Bosnia once NATO is rendered toothless by rising nationalism in Europe. The USA, weakened and likely in turmoil, will not challenge a strong Russia over Albanians in Kosovo. At that point, we will be ruled by a Hugo Chavez MECHistA type who couldn't care less about what happens in Eastern Europe. American politics will be consumed with witch hunts against "wreckers" after decades of economic decline.

2Degrees said...

1). There can be quite a lot of hostility between linguistic groups in Switzerland. Bern Canton had to be split up because the Francophones and German speakers couldn't get along. Jura Canton was created in 1979 to solve the problem.

2). Switzerland is far more homogeneous than it pretends. Over three quarters speaks German. Italian is spoken by 1% and Romansh is in danger of dying out.

Anonymous said...

OT, Fraternity Chief Feared for Son as Hazings Spurred JPMorgan Snub

A bunch of intertwined topics: Fraternities, WASPs, decline of WASPS, Jewish fraternity leaders leading confused WASP children, etc.

What I got from the article is that as Fraternities became less like the "Fraternities" of old, they have just turned into drinking clubs.

Anonymous said...

Social scientists forever demonstrating the value of their discipline - Explaining phenomena everyone ought to grasp intuitively.

Anonymous said...

OT, Egyptian TV Swayed Public Against Morsi, in Favor of Sisi

This is a pretty good article on the power of TV media. It would have been really interesting if there were some statistical/empirical comparisons of Pre and Post the Morsi position change, to have a quantitative value of media influence.

Luke Lea said...

Maybe something like that will evolve in this country? If so, it will have to be a voluntary, self-segregating process. Maybe it is already happening, and not just locally but at the state and regional levels.

slumber_j said...

Spain is forever looking for a way to get to where Switzerland is, with the Basques and Catalans often working against it.

Headed to Galicia in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula at the end of June, where they have a lot of Romanesque architecture and speak (in addition to Spanish) the quasi-Portuguese language called Gallego. There's also a dying Portuguese-descended language spoken in the Spanish region of Extremadura. I gather there are some crazies in Galicia who favor union with Portugal, but not many.

Anonymous said...

Switzerland is far more homogeneous than it pretends. Over three quarters speaks German.

Switzerland may actually be more German than Germany-maybe they should exchange names. BRD is said to be 80% ethnic German, but no doubt that includes lots of Halfricans with German mothers, Asian adoptees and miscellaneous hybrids.

Anonymous said...

Being neutral demonstrated the value of their territorial borders. They missed WW 2 and made it a profit center.

They aren't in the UN, much less NATO, the EU, or the Euro Zone.

What's a little ethnic head butting compared to the Germans or Russians getting involved.

Anonymous said...

OTOH, the Swiss did have a mini civil war just about the same time the US was having its. As I remember the issues had something to do with Catholic objections to some federal education policies and the Catholics sorta lost the war.

Anonymous said...

Bavarians moving into Switzerland insist that their dialect be taught in schools instead of Schweizdeutsch causes a lot of problems.

Rohan Swee said...

The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

So all this "import the Third World" and "diversity is our strength" stuff was really just a cleverly disguised make-work program for social scientists?

Great way to insure that everyone keeps needing one's "expertise", I guess. For a few decades you make the rent pushing desegregation and providing diversity and "cultural sensitivity training". Then you switch to promoting re-segregation and give seminars in fence-building.

I'm looking forward to PLOS One's 2030 issue: "Transferring Swiss Success: Why Keeping London a 'No English(men) Allowed' Zone Will Ensure Peaceful Coexistence in Britain".

Anonymous said...

The Swiss don't generally import low income immigrants. They have low taxes and less regulation which attracts a lot of very smart people from Europe and across the world.

An open borders policy would ruin Switzerland very quickly.

HA said...

but in Yugoslavia they were imposed by the half-Croat, half-Slovene Tito to keep the Serbs down.

Again with the Serb propaganda. The one change that Tito’s map-makers (among them Milovan Djilas) made to Yugoslavia’s borders that eventually cost the Serbs was to make Kosovo a semi-autonomous republic. At the time, neither Tito nor anyone else saw what would happen as a result of that, but that is just as much Milosevic’s fault as Tito’s or NATO’s. And in compensation for Kosovo, if you want to call it that, the Serbs received the far more prosperous region of (heavily Croat/Hungarian) Vojvodina, again, as a semi-autonomous republic. That is now firmly part of Serbia, and that might have also been Kosovo’s fate had Milosevic played his cards better. Montenegro (i.e. Serbia-on-the-sea, for those keeping score) also got the predominantly Croat-populated city of Boka Kotorska. Moreover, the Muslim-populated region of Sandzhak lost out on the possibility of becoming a republic, and had to remain part of Serbia. This amounts to some scheme to "keep the Serbs down"?

The border between Bosnia and Croatia where operation "Storm" took place is centuries old and so the map makers chose to leave it alone (except to give Bosnia a little coastline sliver from Croatia), though their colleagues did pack the local government throughout that area with Serbs.

But of course, none of this matters: facts are just trivia to Serb propagandists. Anything less than 100% of Serboslavia is just part of some Croat/Slovene/German/NATO conspiracy to disenfranchise them.

Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia

On September 10, 2002, Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, after a referendum supporting full membership won in a close vote six months earlier; Swiss voters had rejected membership by a 3-to-1 margin in 1986.

Anonymous said...

Italian is spoken by something like 8 percent. It's Romansh that's somewhere between half a percent and one percent.

Romansh is fascinating, it's one of the languages I'll be really sad to see go.

Anonymous said...

Spain isn't really looking to get where Switzerland is. They're totally different situations. There's no way for Spain to have as many fences between its ethnic groups as Switzerland. The linguistic and ethnic situation is much more complex and mixed up in Spain, which makes everybody much more bitter.

Whitehall said...

For a leftist's predictions about the future of Yugoslavia, made in the mid-70's, check out this book:

Do leftists have the mental tools to correct predict the future?

Art Deco said...

No. See here the internal boundaries of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in effect prior to 1929.

The Tito era boundaries incorporated three modifications: Macedonia (which has few ethnic Serbs and was acquired by Serbia in 1912/13) was made a separate component, Vojvodina was rendered an autonomous subsidiary of Serbia, and Kosovo (which has had an Albanian majority since the late 19th century) was also made an autonomous subsidiary within Serbia.

The boundaries of Croatia in 1925 were derived from those of the Hapsburg provinces of Dalmatia and Croatia-Slavonia. Slovenia was derived from the Hapsburg province of Carniola appended to fractions of Styria and Kustenland. Slovenia may have been cobbled together, but it was long the most ethnically homogeneous part of Yugoslavia. The boundaries of Bosnia and Hercegovina were set after the Berlin Conference in 1878.

Gottlieb said...

Canada has a high quality of life and yet always there was a great conflict between the Francophone and Anglophone community. The same happens in Belgium, where the Walloon community has a lower standard of living than Flanders. The unequal political representation in a pattern of centralized government causes low-intensity conflict in Quebec and as high intensity as the war of independence of the Yugoslav republics.
The secret of Switzerland is a centralized government with equal distribution of power among the different communities or a relative independence of federalist nature between them, which is basically the same thing, a decentralized government where the production of regional wealth is held in the region. (unlike Italy).
In summary, what causes conflict in multicultural societies is the central government on the overrepresentation of power of one of these communities.

Anonymous said...

I gather there are some crazies in Galicia who favor union with Portugal, but not many.

In Spain, Ukraine, or both?

Pat Boyle said...

In the article they say Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity.

Switzerland is also almost unique among nations for requiring it's young men to own an assault rife. Yet gun ownership is not considered an independent variable in this study.

I don't want to jump to any conclusions but the simple equation (most peaceable nation)= (best armed nation) should merit at least a mention.

Pat Boyle

Anonymous said...


Economists Bisin et al have a nice paper concerning integration and the intensity of ethnic identification:

They find (empirically with a nice theoretical model) that for the UK, "ethnic identities are more intense in mixed than in segregated neighborhoods."

Ray Sawhill said...

FWIW, I once shared a drink with an American banker who was just returning to the States after a decade of work in Switzerland. Smaller-is-beautiful ex-hippie that I am, I got a little carried away raving about what a fan I am of Switzerland. (Never been, but I like the idea of Switzerland that I carry in my mind.) He waved away my silliness and told me that all the apparatus of decentralization -- the cantons, the referenda, etc -- is largely there for show, and that Switzerland is really run by a dozen or so powerful families.

Just tossing that out there. No idea if it's true or not.

Anonymous said...

Switzerland, unlike, say, most of sub-Saharan Africa, has a lot of topography.

Apropos of this and a random universe, "In Alpine villages, Hobbits lurk", Mike MacEacheran, BBC, 29 May 2014:

"...head southwest, past the misty mountains... and the lake town of Interlaken, and up the deeply cloven valley that winds from Lake Thun into the heart of the Bernese Oberland region... the true inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas...

The author acknowledged as much in the 1950s in a little-known letter to his son, Michael. “From Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains,” he wrote, “the journey... including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods... is based on my adventures in Switzerland in 1911.”

... Tolkien and his party of 12 continued across a number of high altitude mountain passes, crossing from Grosse Scheidegg to the town of Meiringen, famous for the nearby Reichenbach Falls..."

Anonymous said...

Steve, it might be a good idea to get your history facts from someone other than Greater Serbia/Yugoslavia enthusiasts. One such interesting fact is organized plan of Serb leaders to get serbs to leave croatia and resettle them in Kosovo after it became clear to everyone that they would be unable to hold onto occupied parts of croatia. so much for "expulsion".

Anonymous said...

I think that there are 4 variations of Romansch which might qualify as being different languages.

Switzerland is home to the coolest breeds of dogs, sheep, and cattle.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my Swiss ancestors didn't always find it necessary to climb over the next alpine ridge to find a mate who wasn't their second cousin seven times over. The proof is that I and a good share of my family were born with extra fingers and toes, compensated for by misshapen or missing palates.

Mark Eugenikos said...

Re: HA, Art Deco, and Anonymous 5/30, 2:44am:

Sorry guys, Steve got this one (about Tito drawing the borders to keep the Serbs down) basically right.

Under the influence of Comintern, the policy of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 3rd state conference in 1924 was to work on the dissolution of Yugoslavia and to oppose Serbian "hegemony", directed not just against the bourgeoisie but against Serbian people. The source material for the Wikipedia article is The International Newsletter of Communist Studies Online, Vol. XI, no 18, starting on page 48. (Written by a Slovenian historian, btw.)

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes from 1922 till 1929 was divided into 33 administrative counties (oblasts), not along ethnic lines. From 1929 the Kingdom was divided into nine provinces (banovinas) which purposefully did not correspond either to boundaries between ethnic groups, or to pre-World War I imperial borders. As an accommodation to Croats in 1939 the Banovina of Croatia was formed along ethnic lines, and the Communists under Tito mostly kept the Croatian borders after 1945.

So yes, Tito and his lackeys, many of which were Serb Communists, did draw the borders to keep the Serbs down, both as a matter of policy starting in 1920s and in practice after WWII.

Anonymous said...

Singapore manages diversity fairly well without geographical walls. One party state and mandatory military service might have something to do with that.