"When everyone is free,
each able to walk a path of his own choosing, free to choose it, when a farmer, a mechanic,
an eccentric artist, an old widow, all get the same respect in the plaza,
the courtroom and the councils of government as anyone else, then our
fight will be done.
--Umac Dherein, 1927.
the glue needed to hold multiethnic societies together
Nearly all major ethnic strife is predicated
on inequality in power and status.
This is the inequality produced by the traditional hierarchical structure that
has prevailed since the times of the first cities. Such
structure concentrates power & wealth in the hands of a small upper class,
which is usually culturally dominant-- so inevitably social hierarchy
produces a ruling culture, with a ruling religion, race or language.
Upper classes tend to be homogenous;
in ethnically diverse societies the upper class consists of a single ethnic group that oppresses every other group in the country. In many countries there is a dominant ethnic/cultural group (Han Chinese, Russians, W.A.S.P. Americans, Thai) with a number of territorially, economically or culturally marginalized minorities.
Large human societies, including capitalist societies, depend on
social classes (i.e. "specialization of labor") which in
turn entail social division and generate class antagonism. It is no
surprise then that class divisions
too often fall along racial or other ethnic lines.
In fact, capitalist and other hierarchical
societies have often employ racism and ethnic hatred to reinforce class
divisions. A rime example is how union- busting efforts
before 1940 in the U.S. so often involved using blacks as scab labor
We can't be surprised to find that bitterness against power abuses
often exacerbates the ethnic divisions in such societies. Most recent cases of ethnic violence-- Northern Ireland,
Yugoslavia, Sudan, Israel-Palestine, -- have resulted from one ethnic group lording political and
economic power over another.
If people perceive that access to power does not depend on one's
race religion or language, then racial, religious and linguistic
differences become less important.
The more egalitarian a society in attitude, in practice, in exercise of power and
in access to wealth and justice, then there is less disposition to
fight, and more of a disposition to resolve disputes through
democratic (i.e. civil) means. Thus, in
societies where egalitarian values prevail, where every individual is
counted and weighed the same, ethnic groups have far less at stake,
less to fight over.
Therefore, a genuine democratic and decentralized socialist society should
inherently generate less ethnic
friction than any capitalist society, especially the unrestricted form of capitalism practiced in the U.S. and
in "lawless" capitalist societies in the Third World.
People may not particularly like each other (e.g. Belgium), but a cultural & legal inclination toward egalitarianism propels them to mutual accommodation rather than fighting
or mugging each other in the streets.
all the ethnic groups must
share in common:
(Everything of course exists in degrees, and every set of relationships are merely points or stages within a process dynamic of historical change, and in history as in all other processes of change there are many permutations of common themes. History often shapes attitudes of communities and cultures toward each other.)
Sometimes fusion occurs after one culture invades or colonizes another. Sometimes they truly fuse (e.g. the disparate peoples of Britain), or one gets slowly absorbed by another. Less often fission occurs, with cohesive cultures dividing and painfully splitting.
Many countries get nothing but unrest and civil war from their ethnic diversity, imprisoned in fixed historical patterns of intercultural hatred. Fortunately a few countries have figured how to benefit from diversity. Of course the ability of different races and ethnic groups to live harmoniously depends on what they do share. Complete diversity means they have no common ground, and a split society results. On the other hand a little diversity spices up a generally homogenous society. But no group benefits from the mixture unless the people of all the different groups
(a) share with each other
a set of essential civic values, which are cosmopolitan
(b) enjoy equality in practical terms of every day
life, e.g. access to power, wealth, status.
These two things are prerequisites for the
fusion of disparate ethnic groups into a single, solid
The Nature of Shared Values
In the last two hundred years, in many small steps, Bergonia has managed to largely fuse disparate groups into a
commonality of shared values, which they now like to say aloud are democratic values.
The values required for national unity, that men and women of all constituent groups should
share, in Bergonia and elsewhere,
(a) a common belief in or preference for
non-violence in resolving disputes, such as election, accommodation, ritual, negotiation or litigation,
(b) an explicit recognition of
absolute legal equality among individuals and communities,
(c) a day-to-day sense of
live-and-let-live mutual tolerance, coupled with a general custom of politeness and mutual respect, and
(d) a reflexive
willingness to reach across lines to build both ad hoc and permanent alliances and joint ventures with members of the other groups.
The marketplace mentality (which by at least 2,000 years preceded
capitalism) promotes such joint ventures.
It is a big thing for a man to reach out in
such a way to another man whom his religion requires him to regard
as a heathen. The very habits of religion, to see the world
(hence other people) through a myopic prism that splits the world
into categories of "the initiated/the faithful" and
everyone else-- the heathens, the barbarians, the
We know these values as cosmopolitan values
because in most eras and civilizations cultural diversity has first occurred
in the city. These cosmopolitan ideal inevitably grew out of the city experience, where people of different cultures, languages and religions mingled. On streets, in the markets and in the bars, people of different races, languages, religions, occupations, and degrees of morality lived both together-- interwoven by the inevitability and desirability of a million individual economic transactions and casual public encounters-- and separate-- people returning to a culturally distinct set of practices in their private lives, especially in family and home life.
The Usefulness of Cognitive
No matter how a society manages its diversity, what counts is that the diverse groups unanimously share the same core social values. There can be little diversity here. A clear line must be drawn here-- everyone must consciously acknowledge a core set of
values. The necessary core contains values that often
conflict with some cultural or religious belief.
Because it is true that people can, on both an individual level and a collective or cultural level, compartmentalize their thinking (often involving complex feats of cognitive dissonance), it is possible for the various peoples of a diverse society to share
the core set of civic values while disagreeing on religious truths, cultural outlook and football allegiances.
The Dumping of Historical Memory
Often a society's ethnic tensions relate to
historical grievances. Sometimes the grievances grow
justifiably out of past oppression. Sometimes the grievances
depend on a fantasy story-line (e.g. the Serbs' version of how
they're entitled to Kosova), and justify aggression or oppression
against another group. Every cultural group seems to have a
historical mythology, and sometimes the myths relate to actual
historical occurrence. There is commonly an emotional flavor
to the story, usually either an aggrieved bitterness or a naive
triumphalism. Every group Wherever the emotional
pitch is high, the likelihood of sectarian violence or civil war
increase. It is the memory of unsettled scores, of unresolved
tragedies, of victims' suffering, and every ethnic group is the
The fusion of disparate groups with a
history of internecine bloodletting-- as in Bergonia-- depends on
the forgetting of the unsettling history, certainly not in the
libraries or universities, but forgetfulness within the public
consciousness, or at least memory drained of emotional content.
The first step in stopping the mutual antagonisms is usually wrought
by stalemate or exhaustion, and comes with the mutual decision that
the costs of continued strife outweigh any further achievable
Once the decision comes, the first steps in
erasing historical memory involve official action to end all
repetition of the old story-line, at least in public media and
textbooks. In time the process extends to the actual
recallable memory of the various individuals in the society, and is
The Coincidence of Religion:
In many, probably most, historical cases
of prevailing social equality, the uniting cultural values are
actively integrated with a dynamic religion. In other cases the
cultural values have religious antecedents, e.g. Western
civilization's Christian foundations, or rather
In a corollary fashion many of the deepest most inflamed social fissures have occurred along religious fault lines, often creating opposing cultures within a single social setting.
This is especially true wherever one finds Christianity or Islam,
the two most temperamentally intolerant religions in the
world. It is a big thing for a man to reach out in
such a way to another man whom his religion requires him to regard
as a heathen. The very habits of religion, to see the world
(hence other people) through a myopic prism that splits the world
into categories of "the initiated/the faithful" and
everyone else-- the heathens, the barbarians, the
But in many
places (such as Christians & Jews in North America, and Buddhists &
other religions in China and Japan) different religious communities
very nicely coexist within the context of common values, though in
the past they did not always do so. The various religions
become sub-cultural variegations of a common national culture-- the
United States for all its weirdness is becoming a good example of
how this pattern works successfully.
On this page:
Nature of Bergonia's Cultural Divisions
in "Hiring" Practices: some is bad, some is good.
Wealth among Ethnic Communities
Hatred & Racism
Whites, always called "Europeans," 9%
of the population,
largely the descendants of British, French and Portuguese settlers who live in coastal areas and in cities. They speak English, French or Portuguese and a smattering of other languages. No one in Bergonia, including the white people themselves, refers to them as "white" or "blanc" or "ser" (Nac.), but rather as "Europeans."
The "Atrei," darker-skinned indigenous people
of Bergonia, 73%
of the population.
These indigenous people are universally referred to in all languages as the "Atrei," a word derived from a medieval Nacateca pronoun (in a no-longer existing "formal" case) meaning more or less "We-People" or
Miradi Atrei, 56%
of the nation: atrei who follow Miradi, the native religion.
Christian Atrei, 11%
of the whole, lie in the middle of the cultural
rainbow, people of the atrei race who follow Christianity (mainly Catholic), and in general more receptive to Western influences. Overall, 27% of the people are Christians.
Minidun, Nacateca and the other native ethnicities no longer have clear defining lines (besides language),
were distinct physiological differences before 1000 AD.
3) "Sherei," 16% of the population, people of mixed heritage, part white and part atrei,
also occasionally called "mêlangais."
8% are Christian,
but only 6% declare a European language as their first language.
People of mixed race are in all languages called "Sherei," derived from a Nacateca word for "striped." It was originally meant as a pejorative, but since most Atrei tended to find it more funny than insulting it passed into general use. For many years the Miniduns & Europeans had their own terms, but by the mid-1800s everyone of all languages had adopted this one term.
Bergonia's History of Colonization and Immigration
The colonization by French, British and Portuguese in the 1600s was the
primary wave of immigration that had the greatest influence on
subsequent history. The flow of French and Portuguese settlers ended when Britain took over the
entire island in 1763. British immigration reduced to a trickle in the early 1800s.
However, beginning around 1850, the promise of work and refuge drew a second, much smaller wave of immigrants, primarily Jews, Germans, Italians,
Greeks and Arabs. The numbers were not dramatic, far smaller than the numbers that sailed to the USA, Canada, Argentina &
other nations in the Americas, since Europeans typically chose to go to countries already dominated by Europeans.
European immigration to countries colonized or controlled by Europeans typically stops whenever political control reverts to the non-White majority. Bergonia does not provide a clear example of this, since Whites constituted a major part of the ruling elite of the independent republic. Europeans arriving in Bergonia would find a familiar sense of order, and the institutions resembled European institutions. Bergonia was especially attractive to certain Europeans, not just for its good land and economy, but because it had a reputation for exotic openness and relaxed tolerance, so many of the Europeans who went there were either adventurers, criminals or refugees.
Many Bergonians, with optimism that is perhaps unwarranted, are fond of saying that "race doesn't matter."
Bergonian cities and towns are more like those of the Old World, where families still remain planted in their traditional homes, like trees, with roots going back hundreds if not thousands of years, rather than American cities all in a constant state of flux from Americans moving around so often like grasshoppers. Thus there are very old, stable neighborhoods based upon ethnicity. The Europeans tended to live on one side of town, and the Atrei Christians tended to live close to wherever churches were built and tolerated. In most big cities the Pasans have their own "ghettoes"-- this was so even during the Shufrantei Era (200 BC- 1000
AD), and many southern cities have always had Faroi neighborhoods. Even Nacateca or Minidun speaking Christians tend to prefer their own kind, though otherwise Nacateca and Minidun
intermingle easily. So a strong racial subtext has always existed
in national and local life.
For example, in Minidun-speaking Ceiolai, there have always been certain neighborhoods where the Nacateca, Pasan and Faroi speaking people concentrated, each in their own section, as well as the big "French Quarter." Even in a small town, such as Seichaloi, in Paiatri, with a population of 20,000, there is a French neighborhood, a Coninipati quarter, and
maybe a few blocks where Minidun-speakers concentrate.
A degree of racial identity and exclusion is tolerated, and even preferred by most groups, in order to preserve & strengthen peoples' communities, all so long as each group enjoys equal access to power and equal standards of living. As long as the differences which comprise "diversity" are of the politically irrelevant variety (e.g. dress, food, folktales & drama, music, language-- and even religion), then diversity is good. Politically relevant means access to power, and access to power (especially in a democratic institution) nearly always means access of power to communities and community leaders.
No Bergonian has ever suggested breaking up ethnic communities by "integrating" housing. Instead Bergonians have carefully worked to insure that the housing and the schools in each and every community are equally good. Since Bergonians see the need to balance and equalize communities as well as individuals, they see it important to impose quotas not just to insure "opportunity" but to insure a proper sharing of power. Counties, commune and ward boundaries are drawn according to ethnic residential patterns, so that ethnic groups generally have their own self-government. Even State boundaries were adjusted after the revolution to account for ethnic settlement patterns. Quotas exist for corporate executive and government hiring, in order to interject diversity into high-level bureaucratic functioning.
The celebration of cultural diversity within a given nation does not mandate that it open its borders to all peoples of all nations. As a matter of law and political theory, a sovereign nation has the right to control its own borders. Immigration is a matter that seriously affects the nature of the entire society, and a democratic society should not as a matter of policy and law invite such major change without the consent of the governed.
The prevailing socialist and ecological perspectives permit Bergonians to see immigration first and foremost as a question of population increase. The reason why North America and Europe grapple with immigration issues is capitalist need for an ever-expanding base of cheap labor, part of the positivist-capitalist rationale of perpetual growth that drives the unceasing attack on Earth's environment. Bergonians do not understand why environmental groups in capitalist countries have only recently begun to question open immigration policies.
Bergonia's immigration laws are now strict, and have been so for many decades. The only class of people freely allowed to enter and stay are political refugees and persecuted minorities. Bergonia's remote location discourages most thoughts of illegal immigration-- it is a long way for smugglers to travel by boat, though it has been done. In 1986, when Harmony held control of the Commonwealth government, an old ship crowded with hungry and thirsty Nigerians sailed into coastal waters near Bergoni-Tunec. How to deal with the 1,506 people rescued off the boat became an election-year issue.
wealth among communities:
Bergonians believe that good racial relationships and healthy diversity in a society depends on the vitality of all ethnic communities, and their economic equality. This reflects the overall Bergonian emphasis of group-processes and a de-emphasis on individual importance. Bergonians believe that, while people live individual lives making strictly personal choices, they
usually do so within the folds of their religious and ethnic communities, not to mention their families, and
they often rise or fall in their personal aspirations according to the fortunes of the communities that contain them. It is rather pointless, say the Bergonians, to expect individual blacks to do well if black communities overall are maimed.
How the USA destroyed its black communities:
Discrimination in employment and housing becomes less important if all ethnic communities have equally good buildings and equally prosperous business and factories. Bergonians do understand the concept of "separate but equal." Jim Crow hypocrisy in the USA horribly abused the "separate but equal' slogan because Southerners never intended the "equal" side of the equation, but boasted it in order to justify the "separate" side. Separate in America means that whites use every means to force blacks into separate, inferior schools and separate, inferior neighborhoods. But for a while Black-owned businesses did well in serving the separate Black market. In the USA's northern cities during the middle third of the 1900s, black-owned businesses produced a measure of prosperity for many blacks who immigrated from the South. The Black Muslims of the 1960s-70s deserve some praise because they insisted on the importance of Black-ownership of businesses.
Though the civil rights movement shamed whites into granting political rights, the capitalist establishment starved black-owned capitalists by denying them capital for their businesses. Capitalists had in the early part of the 1920s used blacks as scab stooges in union-busting. After the 1950s, White-owned chain stores came into the "ghettos" and put thousands of locally black owned businesses into the tank. In order to further wreck the coherence of the separate Black community, the power structure allowed and perhaps promoted the huge surge of drugs in the 1970s, and then in the 1980s initiated a wave of racially weighted criminal prosecution. By subjecting such a huge percentage of all black men to the criminal justice system, the powers have effectively emasculated the black community.
After 1960 the goal of black "integration" in the last third of the 1900's entails the strategy of gaining acceptance in white dominated society, which is to implicitly say white-controlled corporations and bureaucracies, as well as white cultural norms. But while a substantial minority of blacks have enjoyed success, most black communities in the USA have suffered badly.
White-owned corporations only reluctantly locate any enterprises (other than retail) into black communities, and black (as well as all other) communities must beg the corporations to locate new factories and facilities near them.
How Bergonia builds up all its ethnic communities:
In the US, and many other countries besides, discrimination is typically viewed as a matter of unfair treatment of an individual. Since Bergonia is more communalized, it is not surprising that people tend to get much more outraged at "communal discrimination." People who care about equality will always ask if ethnic neighborhoods, "or ethnically-identifiable" collectives, suffer discrimination.
Collectives sometimes suffer discrimination based on the prevailing race, religion and language of its members. Government agencies have been known to improperly discriminate in contracting, favoring one ethnicity over another. Development banks have discriminated in lending money. The leadership of syndicals have discriminated against member collectives. Collectives have improperly refused to do business with other collectives of different ethnicity. Neighborhoods have suffered discrimination by the city bosses because of their ethnicity. All this is judicially remediable in the courts, using the same discrimination laws available to individuals.
The syndical, regional and local public development authorities have the task of organizing and capitalizing new collectives in new industries. Public banks (the major sources of capital in socialist Bergonia) make loans to the new collectives, and also to existing collectives needing to recapitalize. The development programs and banks have discriminated in passing out capital. Regulations now apply quotas in lending to assure that every group gets a proportional bite at the opportunity pie.
There are also
quota assignments in the location of new work-creating enterprises.
Capitalism makes location of new plants a matter of private convenience, with many discriminatory effects. In the USA the decision to locate itself becomes a commodity, forcing states and cities to waste money bidding against each other and buying new plants. Moreover, corporations uniformly refuse to locate industries in inner city locations where minorities dominate, despite a willing and desperate labor pool. This in part has to do with the tremendous economic bias in favor of tearing up virgin farmland for new plants instead of rehabilitating brownlands and old, existing buildings. Bergonian concerns for communal equality make plant location a crucial matter of public concern. The first priority of new plant location is to replace plants that have closed-- insuring that communities do not wilt and sicken after a major industry closes. (Even Bergonia has closed steel mills, coal mines and textile plants.) Bergonia will not permit bulldozing farmland to build new plants if brownlands exist. This is a major component of equal opportunity in Bergonia.
To prove the point, any casual observer in the USA will find that brownlands often are located near black and Hispanic communities. Healthy corporations and small businesses should exist in equal measure in all the nation's communities.
In all this there is revealed another difference between the socialist approach and the capitalist approach to insuring equality. In the capitalist mode, discrimination is a matter of whether doors are to be open, while by contrast Bergonians seek a proper sharing of wealth by the various communities.
Nature of Bergonia's
The cultural fault lines that divide Bergonia is according to how "Euro" or "Western" or "Coastal" a person is, or how "Atrei," Miradi or "Interior" she is. This single value of course correlates highly with a person's race, language and religion, but more individually and subtly her individual outlook and values, her taste in clothes, food, art and music, the way she lives.
The USA, for all its racial foment, at least has had a single language and a dominant religion. Bergonians are a bit jealous of that homogeneity, since they have had to suffer with linguistic and religious divisions, as well as racial ones. All in all Bergonia's history records far more bloodshed from ethnic divisions than any other New World country, reaching a violent apogee during the civil war of the late 1830s, but these were acute episodes that thankfully never occurred after 1860, and Bergonia never experienced any chronic or congenital trait like American race-based slavery.
Bergonia's ethnic divisions superficially resemble those of Peru in these respects: (a) a large, rather homogenous, "civilized" indigenous population, (b) invading European colonizers who became a dominant minority, (c) a subsequent class of mestizo (mixed-blood). Unlike Peru, however, the invaders' religion did not supplant all indigenous religion.
Bergonian linguistic and racial divisions reinforce reach other, since racial heritage tends to predict the language that a family speaks. Essentially the white-skinned descendants of European settlers stand in contrast to the brown, buff, golden, copper and bronze complexions of the atrei. But race is not what Bergonians consciously refer to when delineating "us" versus "them." And while in contemporary Bergonia, Europeans live in European towns and neighborhoods, and Pasans still live in Pasan communities, the underlying divide in Bergonian society is cultural.
This, however, may beg the obvious, since all discrimination is discrimination between cultural groups, and often "race" is nothing more than how boundaries between cultures are drawn. Indeed, "race" is itself a cultural term, and in many times and places (e.g. Islam) race means little as a term of cultural significance. Obviously, as Northern Ireland, Lebanon, India and Rwanda demonstrate, you don't need racial division to explode a society. However, where racial tension does exist, it tends to trump all other divisions.
In substance, Bergonia's divisions depend on the degree of acceptance of European culture versus indigenous atrei culture.
The United States' version of "democracy" makes no explicit effort to include minorities in political power, other than to have finally ended all legal barriers to the franchise. This does not reveal anything particularly nasty in the American character, but is rather natural to any state demographically dominated by a single ethnicity and with significant minorities (say in the 5-20% range). Many European & Asian nations are likewise
composed, and likewise do little to extend power to their minorities. Even in nations where the minorities are politically enfranchised and leveraged by the majority, such as with proportional representation, the ultimate outcome is little changed, since the
majority's shear numbers still usually prevail on a fair & level playing field. Typically the majority inexorably exerts a normalizing, assimilating influence on the minorities.
Bergonia belongs to the ranks of nations afflicted with heterogeneous populations, with no group
has an unqualified majority, and with a whole raft of small minorities. As elections for local, state and national elections go, proportional representation again works best for fairly allocating power.
European nations have attempted institutional and collective methods of power-sharing. One name for these arrangements is
"consociational." Belgium, Switzerland and Lebanon are prime examples of where ethnic power sharing arrangements are explicitly made.
Power Sharing Arrangements
and Democracy in Switzerland
Democracy" in Canada
discrimination in work
The Bergonians attach a great deal of importance to building & strengthening communities, almost as much as on equality among individuals. Bergonia does not have so many new businesses enterprises springing up, transforming, collapsing and replacing one another-- therefore there are far fewer hiring decisions in Bergonia than in the US.
Many explicit quotas exist for allocating both individual and collective "opportunity." Except for the executive and governmental positions, no quotas exist in private hiring. The quotas existing for the executive positions extends across the entire society, applying to all executive positions in all law institutions. The lawmakers also fix explicit quotas for admission to colleges, trade schools and craft guilds.
Small employers, limited by law to 12 employees, are nearly always professionals working in their offices,
or shopkeepers and craftsmen. It is generally expected that they will hire relatives, friends, and people in their neighborhoods, all people typically of the same race, religion
& language. The same is true of small collectives (machine shops, trucking services, computer services), which
(should) comprise a great stable part of every local economy. No one wishes to disturb this with government intrusion. The typical idea is that the workers in a bakery, law firm, bicycle factory, glass plant, broom factory are the people who live in the very close neighborhood. As, as seems to be the case in every country around the world, Bergonians of the same race, language, religion divide from one another into their own neighborhoods.
Thus small collectives, typically defines as those with fewer than 32 workers, can discriminate all they want on the basis of race, religion and language. However the ends of preserving the local community are in no way served by discriminating against the women and gays within the community; thus such discrimination is outlawed.
All larger enterprises are worker-owned & controlled, and a debate continues about whether government should keep pestering the workers with rules and regulations. It is illegal for collectives to discriminate in taking in new workers (the socialist equivalent to employment) based on race, religion and language, as well as on gender and sexual preference. The legal standard for proving discrimination is basically the same as in the USA: proof that a person, collective or community suffered an adverse affect as a result of discrimination of , as laws define in how they work resemble the USA's EEO and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Discrimination complaints may be brought by are screened by a first-level bureaucrat, and then referred to an administrative law judge, who will apply the law to a case of undisputed fact, or who will schedule a trial in front of three-panel judges. The procedure is at least a little better than the protracted multi-step bureaucratic plodding of the USA's EEOC. Worker-owned industries have been sued for discrimination in hiring, and they quickly decide they don't like it. Many large, federated corporations out-source their hiring (or at least their pre-screening) to insure a blindly fair assessment of candidates.
There are fewer "equality guarantees" in the matter of internal promotions, discipline and demotions. This is because the socialist-syndicalist outlook leaves such matters up to the internal deliberations of worker democracy. In hierarchical capitalist enterprises a boss makes decisions on promotions and work assignments, and may inflict his personal bias upon his subordinates. In work-owned industries, promotions occur by election or consensus, while work assignments are often rotated or settled on the basis of volunteering and job sharing. Individual complaints about promotions or work assignments are often resolved by group debate. Many women have stood up in worker assemblies and councils to reproach the men for their attitudes. So, the absence of unjust hierarchies, and the socialist collectivist practices, reduce the opportunities for discrimination against an individual.
There is a shaky balance between the need for equal opportunity for all members in the national community and the need to allow people to associate freely and organize their own collectives. (Bergonian socialist political science recognizes that most public policy requires the balancing of differing interests and the balancing different needs that tend to pull in opposite directions.)
One must remember that Bergonian hiring is not to "fill jobs," but to add members to a collective. When someone applies for work as a new member, he is looking for more than the bare-bones economic trading relationship of labor for wages. It is much like applying to join a club, a community, a team, a fraternity, for a long term relationship. When the collective is looking for new members, it wants compatible folks, people who will fit in, sharing the same perspective and locality, and the applicant is hoping pretty much for the same thing. The group cohesion necessary for collective functioning comes easier to a homogeneous group, and more difficult in a diverse one. Thus many out-of-work people tend to seek out employers that hire "their kind," and a great deal of "de facto" discrimination exists among smaller corporations, and blatantly so among sole proprietors. There is an implicit understanding that preferences for friends and family of are acceptable, and this quite frequently results in ethnic homogeneity.
This understanding allows small independent collectives to discriminate all they want, so long as they are hiring relatives, friends and people who live in the immediate neighborhood, but that the work forces of federated collectives and other large enterprises must proportionally reflect the local ethnic diversity. The big industries and enterprises in a city or county-- factories, mines, government agencies, banks and construction enterprises-- that require a lot of manpower and give work to hundreds if not thousands of people, have to abide by the stricter guidelines, so as to share out the prosperity proportionally to every part of the larger community. Yes, these are the type of "quota" hiring requirements that so anger the krypto-racists among American conservatives.
Many collectives and other enterprises hire from labor pools, which parcel out employment on an ethnically proportional basis. This is a kind of "out-sourcing" and frees every participating enterprise from having to figure out the proportionality requirements themselves. Instead, any enterprise deciding to add new workers may call upon the local labors pools, and then take the first qualified applicant on the labor pool list. The result is that, while an individual enterprise's workforce might not be representative, the overall workforce generated from the labor pools are representative. The labor pools are rather the equivalent of both state government employer services in the USA, but specialized labor pools exist for the professions, crafts (e.g. plumbers), including all skilled & semi-skilled labor requiring certificates (such as miners, commercial truck drivers, and haz-mat handlers) operate under the supervision of the specific professional or craft syndical. All labor pools, including all the syndical labor pools, operate on the county level, and are essentially local services, although they are now all networked with one another over the internet.
of racist & ethnically offensive speech
Many if not all modern episodes of genocide have been preceded by a wave of party or government sponsored hate speech. The Nazi juggernaut of anti-Jewish propaganda prepared a facile German public to become Hitler's "Willing Executioners." The Hutu-led government in Rwanda produced a wave of radio hate speech against Tutsis before radio broadcasters read the explicit orders to commence the massacres. Milosovich's Serbian propaganda machine described Albanians as beasts before he began the massive ethnic displacements in Kosova. The truth is that the age of mass media is not coincidentally the age of genocide. The truth also is that mass media propaganda works. This ugly truth justifies a certain limit on speech.
Racist and "racialist" thinking has infected Bergonia's modern history. First came the aggressive racism of European invaders and colonists. They erected colonial regimes that denied offices and power to atrei. The atrei retaliated with a racism of their own. The brutal Pasania war of the 1830s was racial in nature. Other local flare-ups of ethnic violence punctuated the 1800s. Usually they too were preceded by flare-ups of racist propaganda.
After 1850 Bergonia's liberal intelligentsia examined the history of violence and discerned that in nearly all cases the violence was preceded by a wave of incendiary speech. Thus, it seemed to many (particularly by the Ciranic Movement) that the state had a legitimate interest in suppressing such speech.
But true suppression is not possible without replacement, since (human) nature abhors a vacuum, including mental vacuums. You cannot force out a bad cognitive set without having a new one ready. So there was a concerted effort to create new images and new habits of speech. The government-appointed commissions sponsored newspapers and magazines throughout Pasiana, and arranged for numerous cultural exchanges. Even more significantly, the commissions assumed the power to take over banking and budgeting, in order to effect diversity in control of the money in Pasiana, and in order to make acceptance of diversity a condition of accessing capital.
The Kilitan Movement espoused the superiority of native culture and the inferiority of Christianity and Western civilization, sometimes with racial undertones. This incited some communal violence between Christians and non-Christian atrei in the turbulent 1930's Now the Bergonian constitution allows the suppression of speech expressly advocating ethnic (including racial) hatred or ethnic (including racial) superiority. As a matter of policy, and people are not encouraged to identify themselves racially. Bergonians would not pussyfoot with KKK marches and Nazi websites. To them speech in favor of racist discrimination is like speech in favor of rape, child abuse and torture, which good people would not tolerate. Free speech is a vaunted political ideal, but in service to higher purposes, and not the sole end in itself.
But again a balance must be achieved between the need for an open forum in society (paired with the need for full individual expression), and the need to suppress harmfully hateful and inciting speech. As in all matters of applied moral-based legislation, definitions are hard to articulate, but usually fairly easy for the average person to discern. A US Supreme Court justice (was it Potter?) once remarked that it is difficult to define pornography, but that a person "knows it when he sees it."
The limits that exist in Bergonia are (to their mind) modest:
the law prohibits only "explicit declarations of race
or religious hatred or racist or religiously-exclusivist doctrine."
In the United States it is legal to burn a cross if done with the landowner's consent; Bergonians would not hesitant to outlaw all cross-burnings. Just as it is illegal to sell Mein Kampf in Germany, the Pasiana commissions
in the 1840s outlawed the distribution of incendiary books and tracts that both sides had circulated before the fighting broke out.
Thus Bergonians do not often engage in extreme forms of "politically correct" censorship.
Everyone implicitly and explicitly understands the difference between
deplorable racist jokes, while not illegal certainly is derided
and condemned, and acceptable though spicy & abrasive ethnic-- as
long as it remains even-handed and good-natured. Some Berg ethnic
divisions are over a thousand years old (Pasan><Zilsi, Corifoi><Balupi)
and have generated thousands and thousands of ways for Bergonians to
insult and make fun of each other. One fines edgy ethnic insults
sometimes on TV and in movies, but everyone in the audience accepts them
as long as they are evenhanded and reciprocal-- every insult gets a
reply, and often everyone ends up looking a little stupid.
A certain amount of friction is regarded as inevitable and indeed mildly cathartic.
exchanges in public and in private everyone understands generally that it is (a) rude to speak offensively to anyone in any abrasive way, and (b) rude to make stereotypical assumptions about individuals.
Common courtesy therefore should be the primary constraint on the speech of civilized men and women.
Such courtesy and consideration will remedy a multitude of sins
besides racism-- gossip, feuding and other forms of defamation and
The most effective way of reacting to offensive speech is to dismiss the speaker as a fool. Children in Bergonia are therefore taught that racial, sexist and other offensive labels are above all immature, and the mark of an inferior mind. Therefore a person on the receiving end of the labeling should not become offended, for to take offense is to take it seriously, and one should never take an immature fool seriously. A smart person deprives an immature fool of a reaction to his immature behavior, since the immature fool just wants to puff himself up and get attention. In the 1940s a popular Berg radio show depicted two witless racist brothers who went to the big city with their smarter, wiser younger brother, and became laughable fools that the other characters derided.
However a persistent fool may earn a thrashing,
so while there are no "hate crimes" laws in Bergonia, the
criminal law in all states explicitly requires acquittal in any battery charge involving a reaction to racist
taunts or insults.