Xenophobia signals crisis


A clear connection seems to exist between an economy’s health, on the one hand, and that society’s handling of religious and ethnic minorities, on the other. In fact, I would venture that one can best identify a society in crisis by studying the xenophobic tendencies in its majority group.

We see this as much in European countries today as in Asian ones, following drops in living standards and cultural optimism. Yet, the lesson to be learned from history is that any economy, at its most expansive period, depends on, and encourages, pluralism and mobility. Ethnocentrism, in turn, is an expression of a shrinking economy.

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